Dubai: When you live in such a vibrant and unique city like Dubai, it’s tough to choose a favourite neighbourhood. You’ve got the bustling authenticity of Deira, the glamour of DIFC and homey feeling of the Palm.
But Jumeirah is an OG neighbourhood and one of my absolute favourites in Dubai. It’s not as new as Downtown Dubai or as old as Al Fahidi but has always been one of those charming neighbourhoods that has aged really well and it kind of suits different types of people.
The coffee lovers, drive-by Karak drinkers, the casual beachgoers or those who want a very fancy lunch by the water. It suits any budget and any preference. It has a touch of old and plenty of new.
To me, Jumeirah is the neighbourhood where I’d like to spend all my time.
To me, Jumeirah is the neighbourhood where I’d like to spend all my time.
Where exactly is Jumeirah?
The borough of Jumeirah starts from the Second of December street, also known as Al DIyafa road and goes until Um Al Sheif Road. The area’s width spans from west of Al Wasl Road until you reach the Arabian Gulf. Think of it as a long rectangle, spanning 10.5km by 1.5km. Jumeirah may not be considered large but it is absolutely one of the most well-known boroughs in the entire country.
Many believe that Jumeirah extends even further all the way down tot he Madinat Jumeirah, but in actuality, anything past Um Al Sheif qualifies as Um Suqqeim 1, 2 and 3. Then you cross over to the Al Sufouh area.
A brief history
Historically, Jumeirah, before it was even known as Jumeirah or before the UAE even existed, has been inhabited since the Abbasid era in the ninth century. At the time, the coastal area served as a caravan stop along a trading route connecting Iraq and Oman to India and China.
The Arabs living in the Jumeirah area were fishermen, pearl divers and traders. In the early 1900s, Jumeirah consisted of a village of huts, inhabited mainly by settled Bedouin of the Bani Yas and Manasir tribes according to historian John Gordon Lorimer in his book the Gazeteer.
In modern times, from the 1960s onwards Jumeirah, became the area for expatriate residences.
Eventually, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel was built, which was for the longest time known as the Chicago Beach Hotel and the area became more popular and with that living there, more expensive.
Bus: There are several bus routes leading in and out of Jumeirah including bus routes 12, 88, 93 and X28
Metro: Nearest metro stations to access Jumeirah are northernmost Emirates Towers station, Financial station, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall station, Business Bay and southernmost Noor Bank Station.
Jumeirah 1 starts at 2nd of December Street, formerly known as Al Diyafa Road until Al Urouba Street. Jumeirah 1 is mostly a residential area with lots of amenities, like beaches, restaurants and less than a handful of hotels. Jumeirah 1 is considered the “older” of the Jumeirahs. Some buildings have been around since the mid-80s and thankfully haven’t been built over or knocked down, but restored.
"Living in Jumeirah is like being in a holiday home permanently. The charm of the old villas, access to the beach, coffee shops on every corner," Helen Webster, a Jumeirah 1 resident told Gulf News.
Jumeirah 1 is home to many villas and compounds, you won’t find any high-rises here, so generally larger families tend to live in Jumeirah, both Emirati and expats.
Grand Jumeirah Mosque
This neighbourhood is where you will find the iconic Grand Jumeirah Mosque, which was built back in the 1980s. It is one of only two mosques in the city that allows non-muslims to enter as they have plenty of educational and cultural programmes to teach anyone willing to learn and open their minds about Islam and UAE culture.
Dubai Marine Resort and Spa
Some of the other places you can find in Jumeirah is the Dubai Marine Resort and Spa, also one of the old school hotels in the neighbourhood. It is home to several restaurants and the few nightclubs in the community. Maybe Boudoir, Malecon and Traffic rings a bell, to those who frequent nightlife spots more than others.
Amongst Few Cafe
You can also find plenty of up and coming breakfast cafes, that distinguish themselves with rustic decor and good coffee. These include Amongst Few, which is a very cool spot at Palm Strip Mall. It’s basically a coffee shop meets creative space. They serve mostly plant-based food, but also have organic eggs and meats on the menu.
Society DXB Cafe
If you like things a little bit on the fancy side, then your dining spot should probably be Society DXB Cafe and Lounge. This beautiful, light-flooded venue is very popular among the Emirati crowd in Dubai. So popular, that you may struggle to find a spot to sit if you go on a Friday or a Saturday morning. They serve eggs, bubble tea, great coffee and creative pastries like a charcoal croissant.
Another hidden gem coffee shop in the Jumeirah 1 is Daily Dose Coffee Shop, one of my favourite places to sit quietly and work. Daily Dose, like many coffee shops in Jumeriah, is tucked away in a villa, which has been converted into a relaxing space. They have a nice selection of high-quality speciality coffee, as well as iced lattes and milkshakes. They also have an extensive food menu, which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Jumeirah 1 is also home to La Mer, the beach destination for residents in the area. Great if you don’t mind more of a generic selection of restaurants. It looks wonderful and was designed with a lot of art spraypainted on the walls little touches here and there. However, it does feel a hint mass-produced.
You will also find the five-star hotel, Mandarin Oriental in Jumeirah 1, which caters to a more niche, and higher spending crowd.
Al Ijaza Cafeteria
Now onto something a little different. If you are in Jumeirah, make sure you drive by Al Ijaza Cafeteria late at night and you will see tonnes of cars with people leaning out of the window, trying to place an order at this affordable venue. They serve the “typical UAE cafeteria food” and a massive list of the most unusual combination of juices you will ever come across with unusual names like Abood, Nokia and Burj Al Arab. In the winter, customers will sit on plastic chairs on the sidewalk, eat shawarma and finish off their meal with a cheap cup of Karak tea.
Once you’ve crossed at Urouba street, you are officially entering Jumeriah 2 territory. Jumeirah 2, similarly to the first Jumeriah, mostly houses large villas, rather than apartments. Actually, the more you move up south, the more expensive the properties become.
"I am so over living in a highrise building. I love my little bunglow in Jumeirah 2. It's close to the beach, which makes me really happy," Randa Qutan, a Jumeirah 2 resident said to Gulf News. "I spend my weekends on the beach with my kids and we go have breakfast every Saturday at the Turkish place down the street."
Jumeirah 2 ends right after you come down from the canal bridge.
Jumeirah Fishing Harbour
My favourite spot in Jumeirah 2 is the Fishing Harbour. It is a wonderfully quiet area, with views of the fishing harbour. That area is home to a collection of different and amazing homegrown restaurants among them is 3Fils, which is loved by locals and expats. Especially for their sushi and wagyu burger.
Other restaurants in this area include Shop One Seafood, an Egyptian spot, Brix a seaside cafe serving desserts and coffees and Seaview restaurant, another casual seafood spot.
Masgouf Iraqi London
Also in Jumeirah 2, an authentic Iraqi restaurant with a speciality in Masgouf, an Iraqi sweetwater fish cooked standing up near an open fire. It’s delicious, as it most Iraqi food. Funny enough, you will notice many Iraqi restaurants dotted along Jumeirah Beach Road. Down the street, you will find Kabab Ibril, an Iraqi kabab house and Samad Al Iraqi less than a kilometre away.
Four Seasons Hotel
Jumeirah 2 is also home to the Four Seasons, a luxury hotel with plenty of restaurants including the world-famous Turkish Steak house Nusr-Et, the Italian Scalini and Coya. All on the higher end of the spending spectrum.
Speaking of expensive, there’s also Nammos, which has been a huge hit in Dubai. Mostly because you can almost never get a reservation. The restaurant also has it’s own private beach, which is technically not marketed as a beach club. If you’ve been to the one in Mykonos, you might have heard that the Psarou Bay beach has had a slew of A-list visitors including Lewis Hamilton, Gigi Hadid, Kendal Jenner, Leonardo DiCaprio and Usain Bolt. They emulate the same vibes here as they do there, with a Dubai price tag of course.
And finally the Dubai Canal. The canal technically divides Jumeirah 2 and 3. The boardwalk is magnificent. A breezy, beautiful walk, where you can see the sunset over the Arabian Gulf as well as that same light reflecting against the city skyline. The idea of the Canal was unveiled in October 2013 and inaugurated on November 9, 2016. The boardwalk is now prime real estate, with tonnes of construction and new highrises being built in the area.
It is a running track, cycle path and peaceful area to take in the view.
Jumeirah 3 begins, where the bridge of the canal descends. The last of the Jumeirahs. This Jumeirah has more restaurants, coffee shops and roadside spots to enjoy a bite to eat. Jumeirah 3 has beautiful large villas, more modern than the first two and access to more beaches.
"I grew up here and my family and I spent years exploring different spots and restaurants around our neighbourhood," Ziad Amir, a Jumeirah 3 resident, told Gulf News. I feel like I am close to everything. Supermarkets, mosques and the amazing breakfast spots and beaches. It's my home and I love it."
To The Moon And Back Coffee
One of my favourite hidden gems in Jumeirah 3 is TTMAB. This cafe opened less than a year ago and is a quirky cafe, space-themed cafe, located near the canal. It’s a quiet place and has a homey feel to it. Their coffee is outstanding and their food selection is top-notch.
Lena Lu Bomboloni
Not far from To The Moon And Back is a little tiny shop that makes incredible doughnuts. Lena Lu Bomboloni is pretty new but has already amassed a cult following. Especially those who love a good doughnut. Their doughnuts taste like a proper piece of real dessert. The entire shop is pink, which adds even more of an appeal if you are a little girly like I am. Salted Caramel is my favourite flavour, but last time I went, I had their Karak ice cream doughnut. You can even order ahead of time and pick it up from your car.
The beaches in Jumeirah are arguably some of the best in the entire city. People flock from all over, to spend a cheap and cheerful day on the sand. The beach to go to in Jumeirah 3, is Sunset beach, right behind sunset mall. There’s a massive parking lot, so getting in and out is easy. The beach has bathrooms, showers, but unfortunately no kiosks, so this may be a turn off for some, but it makes the beach a much emptier one in comparison to the crowded others.
Sunset beach is also home to a bike rack and a bike trail. A great way to get exercise in.
I go down to this Karak place so often. It’s another one of those “order from your car” spots where the guy knows exactly what to do. You park, he comes, you order he comes back with your hot tea and a card machine at the ready. Karak Ji makes an amazing cup of Karak, which could explain why the place is packed with cars anytime past 6pm.
Just down the road from Karak Ji, is the tiny eatery called Mamafri. Discovered it while I was on my way to work one day and made a mental note to try it out, without even seeing a menu. I can’t exactly pinpoint the cuisine, but they serve lots of fried chicken sandwiches, a wagyu steak in a toasted brioche toast slice with truffle juliennes on top and a whole lotta french fries. Expect to wait if you go on the weekend, but it is worth it once you try their food.