With a 12km waterfront promenade along the Dubai Water Canal, Marasi Business Bay is one of the new destinations to look forward to Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

As Dubai gets ready to host the World Expo 2020, the entire skyline is undergoing a rapid change. Major tourist and leisure attractions across Dubai are taking shape, with projects worth billions of dirhams already under way. Here are our picks of the top 10 projects to look out for.

Al Habtoor City

Al Habtoor City boasts of three ultra-luxurious hotels – the city’s first-ever St. Regis, a flagship W Hotel, and a new The Westin Dubai, offering more than 1,600 elegant rooms. The city also exclusively offers three elegant residential towers, a 1,300-seat permanent water-based theatre production by Franco Dragone called La Perle, and numerous retail and leisure facilities, including boutiques, well-known restaurants and sophisticated cafes, a boulevard, a marina promenade, a tennis academy and luscious landscaped gardens.

The exclusive development also offers three lavish residential properties, Noura, Amna and Meera, in two 74-storey towers and one 52-storey tower, which includes stylish apartments, including 12 penthouses, three of which are VIP penthouses. Their lofts have roomy living spaces, spacious kitchens, and multiple balconies with mesmerising Dubai views. Three simplex penthouses cover an area of 800sq m of luxurious lifestyle with floor-to-ceiling windows. The towers’ six duplex penthouses cover 862 sq m, with an L-shaped living and dining area, giving residents unobstructed views of the private pool, jacuzzi and landscaped garden. Spread across four floors, the three VIP penthouses have lavish rooms, multiple garden terraces, open-air jacuzzi, a gym, a sauna and steam room – an ultimate luxury experience.

Completion date: 2018
Number of units: 1,460 apartments; 365 units at W Hotel
Type of units: hotels, residential apartments, penthouses

Other relevant information:
•  It is a 10-million-sq-ft development plan
•  It is the first hotel, residential and leisure complex on the Dubai Water Canal
•  It has 5,000 parking spaces
•  Has a budget of Dh11.01 billion


Al Seef

Stretching 1.8km along the Creek and close to Al Fahidi Cultural Historical Neighbourhood, Al Seef is designed to keep Emirati culture at its core. Relive the country’s heritage, journey through their past and immerse in their culture through shows and cultural events at their open-air amphitheatre and open-air museum, art galleries, Emirati handicraft selling boutiques and traditional souks, and floating markets. Visitors will see glimpses of Emirati culture such as pearl diving, fishing, boat building and have access to abras and dhows.

The waterfront promenade will also have cafes and restaurants where visitors can dine, relax and continue to breathe in the nostalgic atmosphere, where dhows float their way along the beautifully serene waterway.

The project will also be home to three hotels – a 200-key heritage, a 150-key contemporary upscale and a 200-room contemporary luxury hotel.

Completion date: 2017
Number of units: 550 hotel rooms
Type of units: hotels, commercial, retail shops, offices, cultural amenities

Other relevant information:
•  The cultural centre is set to be completed this year
•  The design was inspired by local historic districts as well as the traditional souqs in Oman
•  The project was announced at Cityscape Global 2015
•  The project costs more than Dh1.49 billion


Bvlgari Resort Hotel and Marina Village

Exclusively located on Jumeirah Bay Island, a seahorse-shaped island off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Road, Bvlgari Resort Hotel is developed by Meraas Holding and will be the world’s fifth Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts property. Planned to be operational this year, it is designed by an Italian architectural firm, Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners. The 1.7-million-sq-ft complex will comprise 101 rooms and suites, 20 residential villas and a marina engulfed by landscaped gardens and accompanied with a full range of luxurious amenities. The residents will have magnificent views of the Arabian Gulf and a white sand beach cove.

Completion date: 2017
Number of units: 101 hotel rooms, 20 hotel villas, 15 residential villas, 165 apartments, 8 penhouses
Type of units: villas and luxury hotel

Other relevant information:
•  The project’s built-up area is 271,000sq m
•  Alemco is the project’s contractor for all the MEP infrastructure
•  A carriageway bridge will connect the island and the mainland


Dubai Frame

Standing tall at 150m high and 93m wide in Za’abeel Park, Dubai Frame will be one of the city’s unique and memorable landmarks upon its completion by the end of the year.

Holding up to its iconic reputation, it will glow against the blue skies with its two golden towers and a connecting bridge. The frame represents the old, the new and the future of Dubai. Visitors will journey through Dubai’s past at the mezzanine level, where the city’s history and evolution will be told through new and updated means of presentation.

After the old comes the new, which the visitors will experience at the sky deck level, with a 360-degree view of Old Dubai to the north and New Dubai to the south. They will experience interactive applications to supplement the New Dubai experience.

The final experience will be a virtual metropolis of the Future Dubai, taking the visitor from the present to 50 years into the future in the magnificent city.

Completion date: 2017
Number of units: N/A
Type of units: N/A

Other relevant information:
•  Total project area is 7,145 sq m
•  Launched in 2013 with an estimated budget of Dh160 million


Bluewaters Island

A Meraas project, Bluewaters is a contemporary family-friendly island destination located off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Residence. It is a man-made mixed use island that is home to an exclusive selection of luxury apartments, penthouses and town houses.

Within the island, one will not have difficulty locating the world’s largest observation wheel, Ain Dubai, standing tall at 210m high. Set to become one of the world’s largest tourism hotspots housing two luxury hotels, Bluewaters Island will also be a shopper’s paradise, with a wide selection of retail and dining concepts. JBR’s The Beach is also a few minutes of leisurely walk away.

The plan is to construct 10 residential towers, offering one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

The island will be connected to the mainland via a direct roadway from Shaikh Zayed Road. A monorail system will operate and transport visitors on a driverless vehicular system to Dubai Metro’s Nakheel Harbour and Towers station. A pedestrian bridge will connect the island to the JBR beachfront, giving its residents and visitors a few minutes of good old relaxing walk.

Completion date: 2018
Number of units: 702 apartments, 17 town houses, 150 retail shops
Type of units: retail shops, residential buildings, penthouses and town houses

Other relevant information:
•  Launched in 2013 and will reportedly cost over Dh5.87 billion
•  Developed by Meraas
•  About 75% complete


Marasi Business Bay

Marasi Business Bay was launched by Dubai Holding in May 2016 and developed by Dubai Properties Group. Set to span 12km of waterfront promenade along the Dubai Water Canal, Marasi Business Bay is divided into three uniquely themed areas — The Yacht Club, The Park and The Pier.

The project will feature floating homes, a first of its kind in the UAE, each having exclusive boat access and incomparable Dubai Water Canal views.

The beautiful waterfront will host five palm tree-lined marinas accommodating 1,250 yacht berths.

Local and international businesses, along with the parks and the waterfront promenade, are spread out in an open space of 250,000 sq m with over 100 shops and outlets. The park area spans almost 60,000 sq m.

Completion date: 2022
Type of units: residential and retail outlets

Other relevant information:
•  The project budget is Dh1 billion
•  Uses state-of-the-art Seaflex mooring technology
•  Expected to attract 20 million tourists in 2020


Jewel of the Creek

A massive-scale infrastructure developed by Dubai International Real Estate, Jewel of the Creek will be a luxurious address comprising an estimated 1,200-1,500 residential apartments and about 1,000 offices. Located in Deira, it has a budget of Dh4 billion and will be completed in two phases — first phase will be completed this year and the second by 2019.

Jewel of the Creek’s first phase comprises a 438-room flagship Roda five-star hotel, four towers of serviced apartments, a 60-berth marina and 20 retail and food and beverage outlets. To create the island, water from the Creek was brought inside, bounded, salted and filtered, and became a swimming pool of 400m wide and 4m deep.

The project’s second phase will be home to the Dubai Dome, a 3,000-capacity multipurpose hall, along with three hotels – a 389-room dry hotel, a 445-room fashionable four-star hotel and a 405-room plug-and-play three-star hotel.

The project is situated between Dubai Creek’s floating bridge and Al Maktoum Bridge on the Deira side.

Completion date: 2017 (phase 1) and 2019 (phase 2)
Number of units: (Phase 1) 480 apartments, 438 hotel rooms, 28 shops; (Phase 2) 1,239 hotel rooms
Type of units: serviced apartments, hotels, shops

Other relevant information:
•  Project’s estimated value is Dh4 billion
•  Project size: 800,000 sq m
•  Main contractor is Habtoor Leighton Group
•  Design is a collaboration between Kling Consult and Kieferle & Partner


Dubai Creek Harbour

As the city’s natural harbour, Dubai Creek was the epicentre of Dubai trade, fishing and pearling. Focusing on the city’s source of livelihood and culture, Dubai Holding joined forces with Emaar for the Dubai Creek Harbour. Harnessing the historical and environmental aspects of Dubai Creek, they formulated a masterplan for a smart yet green city, while keeping its heritage radiant and secure.

Located next to Ras Al Khor’s national wildlife sanctuary, Dubai Creek Harbour is a 6-million-sq-m, mixed-use development with waterfront eco-resorts, a marina and yacht club, commercial and retail space, blending well with cultural, leisure and educational amenities. It will also create a sustainable transport system for community dwellers to commute to the city.

Dubai Creek Harbour will boast a new skyline icon, The Tower, planned to be the world’s tallest architectural design. Its form is inspired by a budding lily flower, influenced by local Islamic culture. It will have rotating balconies and observation decks and a hotel.

Launched in 2006, Dubai Creek Harbour will be twice the size of Downtown Dubai when completed.

Completion date: 2025
Number of units: approximately 3,035 apartments
Type of units: residential apartment units, retail shops and cultural amenities

Other relevant information:
•  Ten-minute drive from Dubai International Airport
•  The Tower’s designer, Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava, was approved by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
•  Will also be home to another ambitious project, Dubai Twin Towers, designed to be the tallest twin towers in the world


Jafza Convention Centre Complex

With a budget of over Dh 1.21 billion, Jafza Convention Centre Complex’s all three phases were awarded to Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG). It is located in the heart of Dubai Free Zone on Shaikh Zayed Road and in close proximity to Al Maktoum International Airport.

With a total built-up area of more than 363,000 sq m, the project comprises 33-storey twin office towers with three basement levels, a 1,000-q-m banquet hall, a convention centre that can accommodate 600 people with state-of-the-art auditorium, 22 meeting and conference rooms, a 22-outlet food court and retail area, an executive health club, a 2,200-sq-m business centre and around 4,000 parking bays spread over four levels.

Completion date: phase 3 by 2017 (phase 1 and phase 2 are complete)
Number of units: 1,274 offices
Type of units: offices, commercial, retail

Other relevant information:
•  Launched in April 2007


Marsa Al Arab

Marsa Al Arab is Dubai Holding’s mega project spread across an area of 4 million sq ft. It is composed of two islands on both sides of the Burj Al Arab Hotel with a 2.2km beach façade.

One island is designed for entertainment and for visiting families, complemented with a family-oriented hotel. It will have a Wild Wadi Water Park, offering exciting rides and amazing attractions. The resort will also be home to an unique Marine Park, the first edutainment centre in the Middle East. A 1,700-seat theatre will house the world-famous theatrical show, Cirque du Soleil. A pearl farm and a pearl-inspired boutique hotel will take form on the island, promoting the UAE’s heritage and culture.

The second island is for a luxury resort, located to the left of the Burj Al Arab. It will be an island of 140 luxury villas with their own private yacht marina, a yacht club and a boutique hotel with high-end facilities.

Marsa Al Arab will also have 400 new food and beverage outlets and a convention centre with a hotel, equipped to host very large international conferences and festivals.

Completion date: 2020
Number of units: 300 apartments, 140 villas, 2,400 hotel rooms
Type of units: apartments, villas and commercial units (food and beverage; convention centre)

Other relevant information:
•  Total estimated cost is Dh6.3 billion
•  Launched in May 2017 and will be completed by end of 2020

Source: Cavendish Maxwell