Dubai Waterfront Area Guide 2023

Dictricts Dubai Waterfront Area Guide 2023
~18 min


The Dubai Waterfront is a planned project of Nakheel Properties, which is expected to become the largest waterfront and largest man-made development in the world. The project is a conglomeration of canals and an artificial archipelago, it would occupy the last remaining Persian Gulf coastline of Dubai, the most populous emirate of the United Arab Emirates. It was planned to consist of a series of zones with mixed-use including commercial, residential, resort, and amenity areas. The vision of the project is "to create a world-class destination for residents, visitors, and businesses in the world's fastest-growing city".

Dubai Waterfront will be situated in close proximity to the Jebel Ali industrial areas and it will offer direct access to major attractions in Dubai, such as Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa. This waterfront development will be easily accessible via public transport, including the UAE Exchange Metro Station and Sheikh Zayed Road.

One of the key features of Dubai Waterfront will be its large balconies, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy the stunning views of the sea and the Persian Gulf. The development will provide a variety of amenities and leisure activities, including fine dining restaurants, shopping malls, and theme parks like Dubai Parks. Also, modern infrastructure and convenience would make it a preferred address for tourists and businesses.

The Dubai Waterfront project will include a range of residential properties, including apartments, villas, and luxury residences. It is considered to become one of the largest man-made developments in the world. The development's strategic location near Jebel Ali and Al Maktoum International Airport will add to its appeal.

History of Dubai Waterfront

The initial phases of the Waterfront project witnessed major civil works and infrastructure development, with a focus on the first phase called Madinat Al Arab. A pivotal step was the commencement of the construction of the 8.0-kilometer Palm Cove Canal in February 2007. This canal ran parallel to the coastline and held a completion rate of over 65 percent before the project encountered suspension.

The first glimpse of the Waterfront's potential was unveiled in July 2005 when the first phase of Madinat Al Arab, constituting 30 percent of the project, was revealed to private property and investment institutions from the United Arab Emirates and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. Remarkably, this initial phase was completely sold out within just five days, generating revenue exceeding 13 billion AED.

However, the Waterfront project's trajectory was altered due to external challenges. The global financial crisis and the subsequent Dubai World's debt crisis in 2009 dealt a blow to the project's progress. Nakheel, the developer behind the project, faced the necessity to restructure over $11 billion of debt and consequently curtail the scope of many ongoing projects, including the Waterfront.

So parts of the Waterfront project were suspended, while other segments were earmarked for development in the near-term, including the Veneto and Badrah neighborhoods within the first phase of Madinat Al Arab. The project's progression hinged on the anticipated resurgence of demand in the future.

Geography and Architecture

The Waterfront project is a grand undertaking set to significantly alter Dubai's geography and skyline with its distinctive architectural elements and innovative layout. Covering a vast area of 130 square kilometers (1.4×109 sq ft), it is planned to extend Dubai's coastline by over 70 kilometers, making it a monumental addition to the city's landscape. This ambitious development is anticipated to house a substantial population of around 1.5 million people.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Waterfront's geography is its strategic location near the Al Maktoum International Airport, offering seamless connectivity. With direct access to key transportation arteries such as Sheikh Zayed Road, Jebel Ali Freezone, and even Abu Dhabi, the development promises accessibility on both local and international scales in the future.

The core of the Waterfront's architectural vision lies along the shoreline, with its influence extending inland. This expansive stretch will incorporate diverse elements, including various types of residences, commercial districts, and industrial areas. These components will be thoughtfully complemented by major tourist attractions and recreational facilities, creating a dynamic and engaging environment for residents and visitors alike. Moreover, the development's unique design will extend into the Persian Gulf, where a series of interconnected islands are planned to host luxurious villas and high-end accommodations, further enhancing the project's allure.

Divided into ten key areas, the Waterfront's layout will encompass a range of zones, each with a distinctive character. One of these key areas will be Madinat Al Arab, poised to become Dubai's new downtown and central business district. Crafted by an international consortium of architects, planners, and urban developers, Madinat Al Arab is envisioned to encompass a blend of resorts, retail spaces, commercial establishments, public areas, diverse residential options, and a comprehensive integrated transport network. This network will include light rail and a road system, underscoring the development's emphasis on efficient mobility and connectivity.

The Waterfront's other key zones, such as Al Ras, Corniche, The Riviera, The Palm Boulevard, The Peninsula, Uptown, Downtown, Boulevard, and The Exchange, contribute to the multifaceted nature of the project. Each of these zones will offer unique features, amenities, and characteristics, contributing to the diverse and dynamic nature of the development.

The Dubai Waterfront is an ambitious project to redefine Dubai's geography and architecture. Its vast expanse, strategic location, and innovative design aim to create a distinctive urban environment that seamlessly blends residences, commercial spaces, tourist attractions, and leisure amenities. While currently a vision on paper, the Waterfront project exemplifies Dubai's penchant for ambitious and visionary urban planning.

Key Attractions

While the Dubai Waterfront is currently a project and not an existing area, it was intended to offer a range of attractions for residents and visitors. Here are some of the main attractions that were planned for the Dubai Waterfront:

  1. JA Shooting Club. It will be located north of the Badrah and Veneto communities, the JA Shooting Club would have been a popular spot for entertainment. It was designed to offer indoor and outdoor shooting areas, archery facilities, and paintball activities.

  2. Dubai Parks and Resorts. This collection of theme parks will include Motiongate Dubai, Legoland Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, and Legoland Water Park. Visitors could expect a wide variety of rides and games suitable for both adults and kids. The Lapita Hotel and Riverland Dubai, a street filled with themed food and beverage outlets, were part of the resort complex.

  3. Palm Jumeirah. However, not part of the Dubai Waterfront itself, the nearby Palm Jumeirah is a recommended destination for those in the vicinity. This luxurious area is renowned for its private beaches, upscale hotels, resorts, and spas. It's an ideal place for fine dining, enjoying the beach's serene sunset, and indulging in shopping from prestigious brands.

  4. Yellow Boats. For a unique experience, the Yellow Boats offered sightseeing cruises around the stunning Palm Jumeirah and the impressive Dubai Marina skyline. This cruise would have allowed visitors to appreciate the beauty of the surroundings from the water.

  5. Roxy Cinema and VOX Cinemas. Movie enthusiasts would have had options for watching the latest hits at Roxy Cinema in JBR and VOX Cinemas at the Mall of the Emirates.

  6. Dubai Marina. Situated a short distance from the upcoming Dubai Waterfront, Dubai Marina offered a host of leisure activities. Residents could take a leisurely stroll down Dubai Marina Walk or visit Dubai Marina Yacht Club to charter a yacht and enjoy the marina's vibrant atmosphere.

Culture and Lifestyle of the Dubai Waterfront

Culture and Lifestyle

Dubai Waterfront will be a location with a rich culture specific to Dubai. The local culture, traditions and lifestyle of the famous metropolis will become an integral part of the lives of locals and visitors. Here are some important aspects of Dubai's culture:

  • Cultural Diversity. Dubai is known for being a melting pot of cultures, with people from various parts of the world calling it home. This multicultural environment would have contributed to the Dubai Waterfront community's rich and diverse social fabric.
  • Islamic customs. As throughout the UAE, Islamic customs are an integral part of life in Dubai. Observance of prayer times and respect for Islamic customs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, are important aspects of local etiquette.
  • Cuisine. Dubai's culinary scene reflects its diverse population. It is planned that Dubai Waterfront will have wide array of dining options, from traditional Emirati dishes to international cuisines, catering to different tastes and preferences.
  • Dress Code. Although Dubai is a modern and multicultural city, it is customary to be culturally sensitive and dress modestly (covering shoulders and knees) especially when visiting public and religious places.
  • Hospitality. Emiratis are known for their warm hospitality. The community would likely have embraced this tradition by creating a welcoming atmosphere for residents and guests.
  • Family Values. Family is central to Emirati culture, it is customary in the UAE to get together and spend frequent time with all family members.
  • Respect for Elders. The local culture places great importance on respect for elders.

Culinary Scene

Dubai Waterfront is a project, but the local cuisine is expected to be cosmopolitan, as it is throughout Dubai. Dubai cuisine is renowned for its fusion of flavors from traditional Emirati cuisine and global influences. Several restaurants are close to the under-construction Dubai Waterfront:

  • Najmat Al Seeh Restaurant. This restaurant offers a wide range of Arabic and Emirati cuisine. Here you can enjoy traditional dishes and experience local hospitality.
  • Ghantoot Royal Restaurant. This is another Arabian traditional cuisine restaurant with a cozy welcoming atmosphere.
  • The Coffee Club - Dubai Parks and Resorts. It's a cafe with great coffee and a selection of international dishes on the menu.
  • Bol Gappa. A delightful choice for those looking to enjoy flavors from the Indian subcontinent, Bol Gappa could have offered a selection of street food-inspired items.

Shopping Experience

There are some very famous and popular shopping malls near the project location:

  • The Outlet Village. Known for its collection of outlet stores from renowned luxury brands, The Outlet Village would have been a resident favorite. Alongside these luxury outlets, the mall features high-street retail stores and dining options. Its proximity to Dubai Waterfront, just 15 minutes away, would have made it a convenient destination.

  • Ibn Battuta Mall. It is a unique shopping center that combines shopping and a fascinating journey into history. Ibn Battuta Mall is divided into separate sections, each carefully designed according to the theme of the country explored by the famous traveler and merchant Ibn Battuta.

  • Dubai Marina Mall. Located 25-35 minutes away, Dubai Marina Mall may be the closest shopping destination. It offers a mix of fashion, lifestyle and a variety of restaurants against the backdrop of the picturesque harbor.

  • Mall of the Emirates. Another renowned shopping center nearby, Mall of the Emirates offers a wide range of stores, including luxury brands. Complementing the complex is Ski Dubai, the Middle East's first indoor skiing complex, offering superb sports, skiing, sledging and snowboarding.

Accommodation Options

The properties in Dubai Waterfront are planned to be in two main categories, apartments and villas:

  • Apartments. The apartment buildings in Dubai Waterfront are planned to be based on Manhattan architecture and will be mid-rise buildings. There will be apartments of different sizes and with different number of bedrooms.

  • Villas. Along the shoreline of Dubai Waterfront, contemporary villas were to be built, with many community parks nearby. These villas will be available in 3-bedroom, 4-bedroom, and 5-bedroom configurations. They will offer amenities such as backyards, large balconies, and swimming pools.

The following popular hotels are located near Dubai Waterfront:

  • Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Autograph Collection. A themed resort offering a unique experience for families and leisure travelers.
  • Qasr Al Sultan. A luxury desert-style resort offering a glimpse into traditional Arabian culture and hospitality.
  • DAMAC Suburbia. A serviced apartment complex provides comfortable living spaces for both short and long stays.
  • Rove At The Park. A contemporary hotel catering to budget-conscious travelers with a focus on modern design and comfort.

Getting Around

Dubai is known for its efficient and modern public transportation system that provides convenience to residents and visitors. You can get around Dubai by metro, the nearest station to Dubai Waterfront is UAE Exchange Metro Station, buses and taxi. Car rentals are also popular in Dubai. 

It is assumed that the archipelago of Dubai Waterfront will be accessible by car, by water and by helicopter.

Special Events

Dubai is very famous for its amazing festivals around the year. You can visit them in the neighborhood districts of Dubai Waterfront. Here are the most popular celebrations:

  • Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF). This annual extravaganza is a shopper's paradise, offering incredible deals, promotions, entertainment, and activities across the city's malls and retail spaces. It typically takes place in January and February.

  • Dubai Food Festival (DFF). Celebrating the city's culinary diversity, the Dubai Food Festival features gourmet experiences, food trucks, and celebrity chef appearances. This festival usually occurs in February and March.

  • Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). Movie enthusiasts would have enjoyed DIFF, a prestigious event showcasing international and regional cinema. The festival has traditionally been held in December.

  • Dubai Jazz Festival. Music lovers could have attended the Dubai Jazz Festival, where international and local artists perform a variety of jazz, blues, and soul music. This festival often takes place in February.

  • Dubai World Cup. A major event on the horse racing calendar, the Dubai World Cup offers high-stakes races, fashion shows, and entertainment. It is usually held in March.

  • Eid Celebrations. Dubai celebrates both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha with grand festivities, including fireworks, traditional performances, and family-friendly events. The timing of Eid varies each year based on the Islamic lunar calendar.

Practical Information

When considering the practical aspects of visiting or residing in Dubai, it's important to grasp local currency, language, safety considerations, and emergency contact information. Here's a rundown of these practical aspects to keep in mind:

  • Local Currency. The official currency of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including Dubai, is the UAE Dirham (AED). It's advisable to exchange your currency for Dirhams at authorized exchange centers or banks upon arrival.

  • Language. Arabic is the official language of the UAE. English is widely spoken and understood, especially in urban areas and tourist hubs. Signs, menus, and information are often available in both languages.

  • Climate. Dubai has a desert climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters. During the summer months (June to September), temperatures can soar to extreme levels, so staying hydrated and using appropriate sun protection is recommended.

  • Dress Code. While Dubai is relatively liberal in terms of dress, it's respectful to dress modestly in public places, especially in areas with religious significance. Swimsuits are generally acceptable at beaches and pool areas, but covering up when outside these areas is recommended.

Safety considerations and emergency contact information:

  • Safety. Dubai is generally considered safe for residents and visitors. However, it's important to exercise the same level of caution you would in any major city. Avoid displaying excessive wealth, keep an eye on your belongings, and be cautious in crowded areas.

  • Healthcare. Dubai has modern and well-equipped healthcare facilities. Medical care can be expensive for those without insurance, so it's recommended to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers health emergencies.

  • Emergency Numbers. In emergencies, dial 999 for police, fire, or medical assistance. Dubai's emergency services are efficient and responsive.

  • Cultural Sensitivity. Dubai has a diverse and multicultural population. While it's relatively open-minded, respecting local customs and traditions is important. Public displays of affection, offensive language, and behavior that go against local norms should be avoided.

  • Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol is available in licensed venues such as hotels and certain clubs. However, public intoxication and drinking in public places are not tolerated and can result in fines or legal consequences.

  • Respecting Local Laws. Dubai has strict laws concerning certain behaviors, such as public intoxication, public displays of affection, and using offensive language. Familiarize yourself with these laws to ensure a respectful and lawful stay.


Dubai Waterfront is an exciting concept that promises an amazing combination of urban luxury, stunning waterfront views, and a host of amenities. Although the district itself is still an unrealized project, the concept demonstrates Dubai's grand ambitions as a city known for its innovation and splendor.

We've looked at the various aspects of Dubai Waterfront known to date, from its arrogant development plans and attractive attractions to its rich cultural life and general recommendations for living in Dubai. Prospectively the world's largest man-made archipelago, Dubai Waterfront will uniquely symbolize Dubai's commitment to creating world-class neighborhoods for residents, visitors, and businesses alike.

Dubai Waterfront is a project that pushes boundaries and beautifies the urban landscape. Stay tuned for updates to be the first to know about the project's construction progress and to be the first to purchase a property in a unique location in the world's premier metropolis.



  • 1.

    What happened to Dubai Waterfront?

    The Dubai Waterfront project faced significant challenges and substantial obstacles due to the onset of the global financial crisis in 2009. As a result, Nakheel, the developer of the project, was forced to restructure more than $11 billion in debt and downsize a number of its businesses. In particular, construction of the Dubai Waterfront project and other projects was suspended. Currently the project is on pause, it is planned that Dubai Waterfront will become the largest waterfront and artificial archipelago in the world.

  • 2.

    Is there a timeline for the completion of the Dubai Waterfront project?

    The project timeline has been affected by various factors, including economic conditions. As of now, there is no specific timeline for the completion of the Dubai Waterfront project.

  • 3.

    Are there any upcoming plans for the Dubai Waterfront area?

    As of now, there have been no recent announcements regarding the development of the Dubai Waterfront area. Future plans would depend on market demand and economic factors. For any official information about projects and plans, you can check on the official website.

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Update date: 05/24/2024