Proudly proclaiming its creations as benchmarks for urban development in Dubai, real estate developer Meraas believes its latest project will again deliver a lifestyle experience that will be a first in the emirate.
Bluewaters Island, the unmistakable man-made island development barely 300m off the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) coastline, is now sprinting to the finish line as workers on-site rush to deliver the first homes early next year.
The low-rise residences are right next to a plaza dominated by Ain Dubai, which will become the world’s largest observation wheel, and an assortment of retail and food and beverage outlets.
The layout, according to Michelle Saywood, Meraas’ vice-president of design, is meant to encourage residents and visitors to socialise and not to isolate certain sections of the community.
“Those courtyards, those squares, those alleyways, those streets and the big plaza that sits below Ain Dubai, those are moments for celebration, socialising and gathering,” says Saywood.
“The scale of all our master plans are not of over imposing and isolated places. Everything is designed considering the human in mind.”
Meraas, which has been behind other groundbreaking projects such City Walk and Box park, plans to deliver the residences by the first quarter next year. All other components could be ready in 2019. Here are five things you need to know about Dubai’s newest man-made island destination.
You can bypass the JBR and Dubai Marina traffic
JBR and Dubai Marina are unfortunately notorious for traffic jams, particularly during peak hours. But Saywood assures that residents and visitors to the island don’t have to worry about the traffic. “You bypass the whole thing,” she says. “You don’t actually go through JBR to get into Bluewaters. You come straight from Shaikh Zayed Road on a dedicated route onto the island.”
Apart from the direct connection to the main highway, the island will also be served by a Group Rapid Transit (GRT) service featuring a driverless vehicle system with 25 vehicles that will shuttle 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction between the island and Nakheel Harbour and Tower Metro station. The journey lasts four and a half minutes.
The island will also have a water taxi station operated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), while a 265m pedestrian bridge connects the island directly to JBR. With all the transport options, “you don’t really even need a car to live on the island,” says Manisha Dayaram, associate director and head of projects at Core Savills, the project’s exclusive agent.
An underground road network will serve as the main artery of the island. The tunnel will also have parking bays.
End users are buying the residences
Dayaram says 80-85 per cent of buyers are end users, while around 80 per cent of buyers are taking a mortgage.
“So we know that we’re very much appealing to people who live and work in Dubai and want to invest in Dubai,” says Dayaram.
The island will only offer a total of 719 residences, which Dayaram says is “pretty limited for a master plan of this size”. But she adds: “We really like the fact that the supply is scarce. We expect that everyone buying there is going to be part of a very exclusive urban island environment.”
The residences are distributed in 10 low-rise residential buildings, which will have 698 apartments and four penthouses, and 17 town houses. The one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments will feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows, while the five-bedroom penthouses feature 360-degree views.
The residences are finished with a neutral palette and a minimalist style, with Scandinavian wooden floors and soft metallic fixtures. The open-plan kitchen, however, may be a problem for those who prefer a closed kitchen layout.
Amenities include gyms, swimming pools, landscaped gardens, basketball courts and children’s play areas. Residents, however, will not have access to a marina, while the residential section will have a promenade instead of a beach.
It will have beach hotels and 200 retail and dining outlets
The far end of the island will feature the two five-star hotels, which will have direct beach access. Meraas, however, has yet to announce the operators of the hotels.
Bluewaters will also have around 200 retail and food and beverage outlets in the entertainment section of the island and in the ground level of the residential buildings. There is also a souq, which will feature “more intimate, smaller units where people can connect with the space and each other”, according to Brian Schofield, vice-president of projects at Meraas. “It’s more social.”
There is also a conference centre with glass windows overlooking the beach. “We believe we’re one of, if not the only, conference centre in Dubai with a big glass wall where you can look out over the beach and engage with this community space,” says Schofield.
An interesting feature around the community spaces are the “mushrooms” that provide shading and lighting effects, making the walkways “colourful and energetic”.
There’s more to Ain Dubai
The world’s largest observation wheel will rise 210m and serve as the centrepiece of Bluewaters. Two of the world’s largest cranes, each comprising a 180m-long boom and a lifting capacity of more than 3,000 tonnes each, were used to set Ain Dubai’s hub and spindle in place on top of the 126m legs.
“Something like this has never been done before,” says Schofield. “These components are all specifically designed just to erect the structure.”
Visitors enter Ain Dubai through a terminal facility, which has been designed as part of the community space where people can walk across the top of the building and events such as a farmer’s market can be organised. “These spaces are built for flexibility, so that the inhabitants and the owners of the island can partake in making it the place they want it to be,” says Schofield.
Previously known as Dubai-I, the observation wheel can carry 1,400 passengers at a time in its 48 spacious capsules, which will offer 360-degree views with is glass windows. “The glass is low-iron,” says Schofield. “The people who make the glass, build cockpit glass for fighter planes.”
Ain Dubai is expected to be ready in 2019, although Meraas has not announced an exact date.