Dubai Enrichment Project
Bringing about a complete newness to one of Dubai's oldest neighbourhoods. The Deira Enrichment Project will give a makeover to a stretch of land from Port Rashid and much of the areas near the Corniche. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The first plots forming part of a major transformation of Dubai’s Deira neighbourhood will be handed over this summer, as per the original schedule.

The “Deira Enrichment Project” is split into two phases, with the first one itself being quite substantial in terms of scale. This will have 50 mixed-use buildings and together create 2,200 apartments and 416 commercial units. These units will only be for leasing.

Through the last two years, the entire stretch between Port Rashid and the areas adjoining the Corniche had been buzzing with activity to recreate one of Dubai’s historic areas. It was felt that Deira had, until now, missed out on Dubai’s real estate opportunities, and the DEP venture is an attempt to correct that.

Another element of the DEP project, the “Gold Souq Extension”, will begin its own handover programme from early next year.

“Deira Enrichment Project aims to breathe new life - and opportunity - into the emirate’s original community/trading hub while preserving its charm and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Lachlan Gyde, Executive Director at Ithra Dubai, the master-developer.

“The handover of plots 1, 2, and 3 is scheduled this summer, [and] accounts for a significant portion of Phase One.

And the “Gold Souk Extension is a key element of DEP’s overall intention to upgrade and revitalise the neighbourhood. The Extension is already attracting extensive interest from markets such as Asia and India.”

Deira Enrichment Project 2
The Deira Enrichment Project will create a sizable residential and commercial tenant base, which will benefit retailers and other businesses at Gold Souk Extension. Handovers are to commence early next year at the new gold retail trade hub.

Needs a boost

Dubai’s gold and jewellery trade is definitely in need of some revitalization. Until COVID-19 struck, it was the ratcheting up of gold prices that was getting to be a problem for retailers, with shoppers preferring to stay away. In early January, bullion shot past the $1,600 an ounce level, and gold sales were brought to a near halt.

So, for Dubai’s gold market, the onset of COVID-19 was a double blow, and it’s still reeling from the effects. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the original Gold Souk – the heart of Dubai’s traditional precious metals marketplace. Retailers and traders have been in constant talks with landlords to come up with some favourable arrangements on their rents. Stores have shut down, as some retailers feel this is a much better way to preserve cash.

‘Case by case’

It’s into this space that the Gold Souk Extension will try and integrate with.

“We work closely with these businesses by providing necessary initiatives such as promotions, offers and so on,” said Gyde. "We will undertake a case-by-case assessment to propose solutions that support long-term business continuity for these tenants.”

There is every reason to hope that by the time of Gold Souk Extension’s opening, the situation will be much improved

- Lachlan Gyde of Ithra Dubai

Would that mean straight discounts on rents?

“Rebates are not always the most effective answer,” the official added. “When we evaluate the situation, our aim is always to provide the right support for businesses - sometimes in terms of rebates, but also making sure the tailored approach will help preserve their profitability. Our ethos remains collaboration.

“There is every reason to hope that by the time of Gold Souk Extension’s opening, the situation will be much improved. And we will be able to have an event for the Dubai community to celebrate this new dedicated and specialised retail space for gold and jewellery with us.”

Vital to industry interests

According to local gold and jewellery industry sources, Ithra Dubai - as developer and landlord of the Gold Souk Extension – will have a decisive influence on the industry and its fortunes. What it is creating is nothing short of a reset of the way gold and jewellery should be sold and the sort of experiences shoppers should have.

The Extension will have a GFA (gross floor area) of 1.18 million square feet and “answers the need for retail, offices, and residences in the area,” Gyde added.

“In our initial study into the project, we found that the volume of demand is high for the project’s 295 shops, 250 offices and over 460 quality residences. The extension will also provide over 1,060 basement parking spaces and 640 spaces for multi-storey car parks.

Deira Enrichment Project 3
There will be three plots handed over this summer at Deira Enrichment Project. These will make up a significant part of the development's Phase 1. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

“The parking spaces complement a new transportation hub that will connect Deira Enrichment Project to the rest of Dubai. It will alleviate much of the existing congestion in and around this historic district.

“The area will be occupied with commercial and residential tenants, which will serve to enhance footfall to the Gold Souk Extension when it also opens.”