Nine years in Dubai

Nine years ago  I arrived in Dubai.

I have mentioned how I got here in earlier posts, so I won’t repeat myself, apart from saying that I’m still extremely glad I ended up living in sunny Dubtown.

We have no plans to leave, as we’re very happy here.  That said, if something good came up, we’d consider it – right now, I can’t see better opportunities turning up elsewhere, certainly not in the UK.

Although Dubai is better than it was in many ways, I am glad I got to experience a bit of the old, pre-boom Dubai.  2002 to 2005 were a great mix of  what you might call ‘development with good value’.  Various projects were getting going, but the place was still a great mix of fun and quirkiness at pretty reasonable prices.  Rents were low, there was tonnes to do, the traffic jams hadn’t started and the city was pretty nice to look at – a fun time.

I think it’s a shame that a lot of the down to earth venues have gone – these days it tends to be tourist prices everywhere for anything that isn’t very basic.  I miss places like the Wakeboarding Club and ‘The Bunker’.  I am at a loss as to who pays the prices charged in the city’s restaurants and bars these days.  You’d have to be a millionaire to eat out regularly.

I do think Dubai has squandered the opportunity to create a truly beautiful, well thought out city. 

When I arrived, the cluster of towers along the Sheikh Zayed Road was something pretty amazing to behold.  To me, that same strip now seems overcrowded, jammed full of buildings whose designs clash terribly.

New areas such as Al Barsha and Tecom are frustrating to get around, due to the unusual approach to road layouts.  An uncontrolled mishmash of architectural styles means they are really quite ugly.  The buildings themselves can often be of a very high class, but they don’t fit in with their surroundings.

The Marina has some stunning buildings, but independent towers spoil the overall effect, sprouting up like weeds between the Emaar and JBR towers.

Our area, Downtown, is being spoiled by independent towers springing up on the edge of the development, ruining the look and feel of the place.

I’m not an expert on creating cities from scratch, but I can’t help feeling that all the various interested parties could still have had the chance to make some money by building their own towers, without creating the current mismatched chaos that seems to have become the norm.

Despite these offences to my unquestionable good taste and sense of aesthetics, Dubai really does stand out amongst its competitors.  When you compare it to its neighbours in the Middle East and beyond,  the infrastructure is simply stunning.  It’s safe, the schools are great, there’s lots of fun to be had, there are still jobs at all levels. 

Even the general standards of driving, the bloggers’ long term lament, have vastly improved.

Long may it last.  I hope to be celebrating my tenth anniversary next year.

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2 Responses to “Nine years in Dubai”

  1. Jens Says:

    It’s only been three years for me; but coming here in the crazy 2008 it could only get better… So far it’s been ok, I’d just hope they’d abandon their “we’re as good as NYC” and just make this as good as it can be. It’s never going to be NYC or Miami or Las Vegas, but then again, why would it want to be? It could be really great if it only would focus on making the mediocre stuff great!

  2. Al Says:

    If only Dubai had better designed and more pedestrianised roads, and neighbourhoods and shops that feel more ‘real’/ local it would greatly improve its world classability.

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