August 24 2015
By Lookup.Ae Sales
Expansion of Business Bay Canal, Etihad Rail, Extension of Metro Line to Expo 2020, Blue Waters Island and Theme Parks.
Observers often talk about Expo 2020 and its impact on Dubai's real estate market. But Expo 2020 isn't about property prices rising another 15 or 20%. Let's be realistic. The Expo 2020 will last for six months and attract an additional 5 million visitors / tourists / businesspeople to the city.
The Expo 2020 is really about the larger picture; the picture that the Government of Dubai is intent to create to cement its place as one of the world's leading cities.
The Governments of Dubai and UAE aren't viewing Expo 2020 as an end-point but rather as an opportunity to take the city to the next level. There are dozens of major projects underway at the moment. Since 2014 some incredible propositions have been announced including the Deira Islands, Dubai Lagoons, Mohammad bin Rashid City, the Mall of the World and now Meydan One. While these will all in all likelihood be completed in different sizes and scopes – they are more traditional developments with an emphasis on residential, tourism and retail.
Below are 5 projects which aren't necessarily as hyped but are already underway and are all extremely strategic. These five projects will all complete between 2016 – 2019 – merely a 3 year period but will cement Dubai's position and add another layer of momentum to propel Dubai forward.
1. Extension of Business Bay Canal
Question: why would you spend $2 billion dollars to extend an existing canal by 3.2 KM and turn a major part of a city into an island when that city already sits by the sea, has a natural creek and over 500 KM of shoreline?
There is no obvious answer to that question. The extension of Business Bay Canal was proposed as early as 2008 but was put on-hold after the financial crisis. The ambitious plans were reconstituted in early 2013 and construction / diversions began to take affect later that year. Based on current progress, it appears this development will be completed by 2017.
The major motivation appears to be the beautification of the city and to create new public spaces along the canal extension. From its inception, a driving model behind Dubai's ambitions has been to rival a city like Singapore which is renowned for its incredible balance of big-city life and natural beauty. One of the motivations for this project may be to enhance the city's character in an area which is rapidly evolving into Dubai Central Business District (Business Bay). The expansion also greatly benefits the VIP area of Jumeirah.
2. Bluewater Island
Unveiled in 2013, Blue Waters Island is a man-made island off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Residence & Dubai Marina which will the world's tallest Ferris Wheel (called the Dubai Eye). Rising 698 feet, this new landmark of Dubai will be at least 64 feet taller than the New York Wheel currently under-construction in Staten Island. The whole island will be developed as an entertainment zone and will most likely feature hospitality and retail components. Completion of the Ferris wheel is expected for 2017.
The bridge connecting Sheikh Zayed Road to Bluewaters Island is nearly completed. The Ferris wheel's major holding structure is already visible.
Real Estate Impact & Opportunities: This new landmark will greatly enhance the energy, beauty and charm of one of Dubai's major tourist and retail hotspots – the Jumeirah Beach Residence, Palm Jumeirah and Mina Seyahi.
The sea facing apartments in Jumeirah Beach Residence and the left-sided development on Palm (Oceana, Viceroy, The One at Palm) will certainly rise in value with this new landmark view.
3. Etihad Railway
Proposed as early back as 2007, the Etihad Railway will eventually extend 1,200 km across the UAE. This is not a proposal; the first phase of the track is nearly operational in the state of Abu Dhabi and is designated for freight and cargo. The extensions of this network are in advanced stages and several discussions have been held between Etihad Railway and the RTA of Dubai to discuss proposed links with the Makhtoum Airport (Dubai World Central), existing Metro-Line and Expo 2020 site.
This track will eventually connect the entire UAE and potentially (if the politics works out)with all other 5 GCC states. The Etihad Railway over a period of 15 years or so has the potential to break down barriers, create new trade & tourism opportunities and ensure world-class infrastructure in this part of the world.
At the very least, it will have those same impacts within the borders of the UAE.
Real Estate Impact & Opportunities: With Sheikh Zayed Road having mature and large parts of Mohammad bin Zayed Road also maturing, most future real estate projects will take place along Dubai By-pass Road. Already Mira by Emaar and Town Square by NSHAMA are being constructed here. Improved connectivity and cheaper housing along Dubai Bypass Road could potentially attract real estate buyers who are employed in other Emirates.
Recently NSHAMA, within its newsletter announced the fact that one of the advantages of purchasing within their community will be access to the Etihad Rail.
4. Extension of Metro Line to Expo 2020 site
This is a critical infrastructure to connect Dubai to the Expo 2020 site by Metro.
This project will see the execution of a 14 KM extension of the Metro from Sheikh Zayed through the Al Furjan master development through Dubai Investment Park all the way to Dubai World Central which houses the new Airport and importantly, the Expo 2020 site.
Real Estate Impact & Opportunities: This infrastructure will connect Dubai's Discovery Gardens, which has at least 25,000 mid-income residents to the rest of Dubai. It also connects an industrial hotspot (Dubai Investment Park) to the city in a better way. Dubai Investment Park is an area which will see a lot of expansion. Traditional industrial areas like Al Quoz will most certainly, over the mid and long term, be removed mainly because it is such prime real estate. Al Furjan itself is a master-development which is in its infancy. There are a number of projects that are under-construction here (Azizi, Furjan plots, Dreamz etc) which will benefit from improved connectivity.
5. Cementing Dubai as a Tourist Destination
In 2014, over 13 million tourist visited Dubai. The Government wants that number to reach at least 20 million per annum by 2020. In order to make this a reality, the Government along with its public/private sector partners are developing a number of attractions which will add to Dubai's attraction as a destination of choice.
Traditionally, Dubai attracts shoppers and beach-lovers. There is limited attractions for families and even less cultural activities. This is where Dubai can cement itself as a tourist destination by diversifying its offering to its visitors.
The great thing is that these things don't happen by accident. This strategy is years in the making and at the core of it is the Emirates Airlines. The Dubai Airport is already the busiest in the world and to cater to future traffic a new airport (the largest in terms of area) is now ready on the other side of the city.
There are a number of projects underway and here's a quick overview of them:
Dubai Parks: Located in Jebel Ali and currently under-construction. This is being developed by Meraas and will feature parks such as Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, Legoland and Riverland. Expected to be operational by 2017.
City of Arabia: located along Mohammad bin Zayed Road, this was one of the mega developments announced in the boom years. Its scope is now more focused and targeted. The IMG World of Adventure will have four zones: Cartoon Network, Marvel, IMG Boulevard and the Lost Valley. Expected to be operational by 2017.
Quran Park: The 64-hectare park is expected to be completed and opened for public in 2016. The new attraction is intended to educate the public about the Holy Quran and its miracles, and will showcase all plants mentioned in the Holy Quran and available in the UAE.
Dubai Frame: Located in Zaabeel Park, this giant rectangular 150 meter high and 93 meter wide structure is built to resemble a frame. From one side of the frame will be visible Dubai’s modern landmarks such as the Dubai skyline, Burj Khalifa and Emirates Towers. Looking through the opposite side of the frame, viewers can gaze into Dubai’s past and see older parts of the city such as Deira and Umm Harare.
Museum of The Future: this museum will be ready in time for the Expo 2020. The leaders of Dubai are intent on creating a culture of innovation in the country through the application of technology and sciences. The Museum of the Future, whose motto is “See the future, create the future”, aims to stimulate and incubate ideas and bring together researchers, designers, inventors and financiers to anticipate and create the future.
MBR City: Is set to have a park that is 3 times the size of Hyde Park. There is also talks of collaboration with Universal Studios for a theme park within this large master-planned mini city.
This report was written by Gibran Y. Bham, a Co-founder of Lookup.ae
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