Many residents admire Sustainable City’s lifestyle template Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

As community living becomes more affordable, Dubai’s population needs are also changing. From sustainable living solutions to more community gatherings, Dubai’s residents want “more”. Community residents are laying more emphasis on the environment, and more connectivity.

Tala Bitar lives with her family in The Villa community. While the area has developed with more facilities, she says a sense of community is missing. “Activities to bring families together, like garage sales, social events for kids and families, would be really nice,” she says. “There’s no community pool, and though most houses have their own, a public pool would be nice as a place where people can come together.” And while there is a “beautiful mosque”, she would also like to see more cafes such as the ones in Arabian Ranches.

Recycling initiatives

In JVC, residents feel the same. Walid El Khoury recently bought a town house where he lives with his wife and daughter and says the community has much to do to keep up with the rate at which people are moving in. “The recycling collection is still not there, and this is a big gap,” he says. “The parks are empty, so there is nothing to stimulate kids, or events to bring the community together.”

An owners’ association would also be useful. “We are the ones living here and know what we need,” he says. “Without this input, changes get made by people who have no vested interest in the community and things happen very slowly.”

British expatriate Sabeena Ahmed lives in Al Barsha 1. The passionate environmentalist, a UAE resident since 2008, says all residential buildings should have access to recycling facilities. “Recycling bins should not be a luxury but a necessity,” she says. She suggests that recycling campaigns should be promoted heavily on all social media platforms, particularly television, YouTube and Instagram.

“Unfortunately, the building management team where I reside are not interested to support recycling and are unable to help,” she says. “I recycle my waste by collecting plastic, paper and aluminium and glass weekly and driving to the nearest recycling centre, which is unhygienic and inconvenient.”

For Sally Chemaly, who lives with her family in Arabian Ranches, sustainable living is important. She too would like to see more recycling bins. “I would like there to be more education on how to recycle, what can be recycled and how to make your own compost and its benefits,” she says. “There could also be eco-friendly dog waste bags in the park instead of the current black ones.”

She would also like better facilities such as an outdoor gym, which Arabian Ranches 2 now has, as well as better security. “There really should be security cameras on each street, park and pool. People are becoming comfortable stealing from backyards and parking spots at Arabian Ranches because it’s just not tight enough.”

Youth initiatives

Jasmine Collin from the UK, who has lived in the UAE for 12 years, complains of a lack of activities for her children. A mother of two, aged 12 and 9, Collin lives in the Arabian Ranches where she would “like to see a free space where teenagers can hang out and socialise in a safe environment. These days it’s all very planned and structured for them with school and paid extracurricular activities.”

As a teenager in the UK, Collin says she had a youth club, with some music, sports and social activities. “It was a good way to practice social skills and it kept us off the streets and all other kinds of mischief.”

Pet care

A lot more needs to be done about pets as well. When Lauren Cina moved in with her husband and two young sons to Town Square last year, they were looking forward to a dog park for their pet pooch, and plentiful things to do for their two boys. However, the dog park is yet to open. “I feel like most communities in Dubai start off with all these great ideas, however, don’t always follow through with what they ‘sell’,” says Cina. She would also love to see the biodomes and environmental policy of Sustainable City, not far from Town Square, implemented across the emirate.