Shaikh Zayed Road is popular referred to when speaking of the area from the Trade Center to Dusit Thani Image Credit: Gulf News Archives
This is a stretch of Dubai boasting one of the most impressive ‘then and now’ photographs having been majorly developed over the last 40 years. Here's a picture from the 'then' collection of the Gulf News Archives dating back to 1978 that you'd never believe! 
The more recent Shaikh Zayed Road, however, from the Dubai World Trade Centre to the Thai-infused Dusit Thani Hotel (former Defence roundabout) comprises hotels, restaurants, gyms, schools, modeling agencies, shops, residential and commercial accommodation and much more.
There isn’t much you won’t find on this strip, once considered the ‘heart of Dubai’ prior to the birth of what is now known as New Dubai or Downtown Dubai.
A queue of low and extremely high rise towers line the highway from Trade Centre Roundabout to the new interchange for the Dubai Mall. The iconic Emirates Towers (one hotel, one office tower) still remain a focal point although, while once the tallest boys on the strip, are now over-shadowed by a number of new builds.
Accessible by either SZR service exits or by back roads on either the Jumeirah/Satwa or DIFC sides, the traffic can become congested on the inner roads running parallel due to the back log of vehicles in a confined area – especially if cars stop to grab parking spaces. However, the area remains popular and although many of the buildings are now showing their age, it’s still a popular choice for those searching for the hustle and bustle of city life without the trek into Deira or old Bur Dubai.
Rent remains at the higher end of the scale, even in some of the older builds and many towers have long-standing tenants or people waiting to move in. Served by the Dubai Metro (on both sides with the foot bridges) it’s well-positioned for access to both Dubai International Airport and Dubai Marina. You won’t find any of the landscaped finish of nearby villa community but you will be able to walk to a supermarket, pharmacy or hotel within minutes.
Where is it located?
Al Satwa is on the coastal side of Shaikh Zayed Road, while the Trade Centre is on the other side. 
The average rent for a two bedroom apartment on the Rera Government rent calculator for both Trade Centre 1 and 2 is Dh115,000 to Dh145,000 per year.
Good for
  • Reasonable residential rent in close proximity to the hotspots of Dubai. 
  • It’s still a practical place to live based on rent, amenities and transport links.
  • Everything is on your doorstep, from city living to beach-side fun.
  • The biggest mall in Dubai is just a stones throw away.
  • Metro links are top notch in the area, which does allow for the possibility of no car. Great for non-drivers.
  • Everyone will deliver to this area.
  • Many of the best hotels – The Fairmont, Conrad, Towers Rotana, Shangri La - and restaurants are within walking distance.
Bad for
  • Traffic can be a battle at the wrong time of day.
  • Towers and apartments facing SZR have a fabulous view but do consider the noise from the main road below.
  • Parking will be a problem if you are not offered parking spaces with your tenancy contract.
  • Be prepared for city living as life will rarely be quiet here.
  • Every time you park your car, even for five minutes, expect to come back to fliers on your car. This part of town is flier heaven.
Metro The Dubai Metro serves every section of the SZR stretch with the World Trade Centre station, Emirates Towers, Financial Centre and Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station. All stations have walkway bridges making access possible from both sides of SZR. Ticket prices
Bus The best of the buses leave from Financial Centre. F11 to Satwa bus station/ World Trade Centre station/Emirates Towers station. F13A pick up at Emirates Towers Metro station and Dubai Mall. See our Dubai Bus Route Guide with Timetables here
Taxi Generally very easy to flag down, particularly near hotels. Be prepared for backed up cars to beep incessantly if your taxi driver pulls over to either pick you up or drop you off. In the rare moment when you don’t find a taxi you can call for one on 04 2080808.
Traffic and Parking
Most of the parking in the area is now either private or paid. Wardens operate heavily in the area and will not give a minute if a ticket has expired. If using the mPark app be sure you remember to top up after the time has expired. It’s a car park you don’t want to be caught up in during rush hour as things can grind to a halt and not move for what feels like a month. Be extra vigilant while driving at these times as this is when the majority of slow-moving bumps occur.
5 to try 
Nestled away behind the towering blocks on SZR, Fibbers is a surprisingly good pub grub option with bags of character and a breakfast to die for. Excellent food and drink deals throughout the week on British favourites. The quiz on Tuesdays is fun, and there’s a ladies’ drink promotion too so you’ll need to turn up early to get a table.
Phone 04 332 2400
Your nearest Peri-Peri fix is closer than you think. Drop down onto the main road and head towards the Towers Rotana (beach side). It’s chicken, it’s quick, it’s great value and it’s delicious. 
Phone 04 3212000
With an illustrious history that includes a string of awards and a dedicated following across Europe, Mo*Vida is a popular choice with celebs in Dubai. A sophisticated blend of St Tropez service and European styling make it a dance club to visit.
Phone 04 3866844
Take a stroll through the Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers and allow your senses to roam. There’s international fashion on offer from celebrated designers and couture leaders, including Lanvin, Chloe and Ermenegildo Zegna, as well as dining options to suit all tastes.
Phone 04 319 8732
With having achieved an almost institutional status, this watering hole is one of the oldest bars (and rumour has it – the longest) in the area. With an old-school colonial feel, this restaurant serves up some yummy pub classics including fish n’ chips and deep-fried calamari rings. A good time is guaranteed.  
Phone 04 312 2202