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Dubai has earned its title as a formidable international power, but its tale begins at the trading entrepôt called Deira. Home to intrepid businessmen and industrious traders, it is Deira that powered the early growth of the emirate, and ignited some of the country’s biggest global connections.

Dubai’s oldest district is also one of its most beloved places. Tourists often extend their sightseeing trips to explore its sand-coloured facades and colourful marketplaces. Old stores in chaotic alleys maintain their look without adopting the glitz and glamour associated with the rest of Dubai. Successful conglomerates pay homage to their humble beginnings at their small first offices.

The old alleys, souks and markets of Deira reveal secrets, stories, mysteries and memories that cannot be experienced elsewhere in Dubai. Long-term residents return regularly to their favourite shops and eateries, in the pursuit of timeless memories, and what they know to be truly great bargains. Most of them say Deira is the real Dubai – and the really great part of Dubai.

Mindful revamp

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It is this historic quarter of Dubai that master developer and asset manager Ithra Dubai seeks to reimagine and revitalise through its Deira Enrichment Project (DEP). A mix of residential, commercial, retail and hospitality properties, the project aims to rejuvenate Dubai’s oldest trading hub and maximise the area’s potential, while preserving its distinctive culture and character. DEP focuses on enriching Deira in line with the objectives of Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan of upgrading the emirate’s urban areas, developing vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities, providing sustainable and flexible means of mobility, fostering economic activity, and safeguarding the emirate’s cultural and urban heritage. DEP promises to reposition Deira as the ultimate destination to live, work, visit or simply play and the ideal community for individuals and businesses to thrive.

The project aims to build on the district’s already extensive transport infrastructure, established industries and traditional businesses including gold, textiles and spices and expand it in line with the rest of the city’s modern vibe. From waterfront apartments to an extension of the historic Deira Souk, DEP promises to transform the residential, commercial, and retail experiences in Dubai’s original trading hub.

Along with high-quality, affordable urban living for new and existing commercial and residential tenants, the development will also offer several office, retail and F&B units. The urban planning has been done in a way where the community is enhanced and the distinctive character of the area is preserved and more greenery, rooftop experiences and neighbourhood parks added to the mix.

“The Deira Enrichment Project (DEP) is part of a broader vision to uplift and rejuvenate Deira, one of Dubai’s oldest community centres and original trading hubs. Its objectives are strategically aligned with the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan insofar as the project maximises Deira’s potential and opens it up for new business opportunities, all the while preserving its distinct cultural heritage,” says Lachlan Gyde, Executive Director- Asset Management Ithra Dubai. “We have a rich base of heritage, community and businesses in Deira, and our objective is to cater to our stakeholders’ needs individually and collectively, whether in alleviating congestion and providing more parking spaces to developing recreational and green spaces for the community, ultimately enriching the lives of residents in the city,” he adds.

A golden opportunity

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Being built in two phases spanning more than eight years, the development includes the Waterfront Market, which opened in 2017 and DEP, which includes the Gold Souk Extension.

The Gold Souk Extension is part of Deira Enrichment Project, a wider plan to rejuvenate Deira’s original commerce hub. GSE aims to boost the Souk’s economic activity, adding 295 retail units, 250 offices and 468 quality residences, spread over an area of 1,181,025 square feet.

Located within Maryam and Hind Plazas, GSE offers an elevated shopping experience catering to the needs of customers and retailers with modern commercial and retail spaces, shaded walkways, new bridges, open passages, and smart signage. The elevated comprehensive trade environment will maximise value for existing and new traders with workshops, a training centre, exchange houses, bullion dealers, banks, serviced offices, co-working spaces, F&B outlets, wide access to public transportation and ample parking space.

A thriving shopping destination

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The Waterfront Market is one of Dubai’s leading shopping destinations and a premier fresh food marketplace. Located in the heart of the city, the Waterfront Market represents a fusion of traditional Emirati souk and the multicultural spirit of the city in a modern purpose-built facility. The Waterfront Market builds on from the amazing heritage and iconic status of the old Deira Fish Market, preserving the essence of Dubai’s fish trade and freshness of local markets in a modern state-of-the-art facility located on the new Deira Corniche.

Deira Fish Market has been serving fresh catch and produce to consumers in the UAE since 1958 and the legacy continues with the new 120,000 square meters Waterfront Market. The new Waterfront Market hosts leading food and beverage outlets, retail shops, a multipurpose hall and a Lulu hypermarket. It remains one of the renowned markets in the country for fresh food like fish, meat, poultry, fruits, vegetables, dry goods and dates and the best prices.

This shopping experience is enhanced by 770 underground parking spaces and more than 470 outdoor parking spaces along with a designated fish auction area. The Waterfront Market serves more than 800,000 visitors, tourists and shoppers per month. Not only is the Waterfront Market a thriving shopping destination but also a hub for cultural activity – there’s always something exciting going on here!