Dubai Canal to Catapult City’s Real Estate and Tourism Landscape

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The Dubai Canal project will transform the city through Real Estate and Tourism Innovation

dubai canal project 2
Computer-generated imagery of upcoming Dubai Canal project. The AED 2 billion (USD 544 million) project is anticipated to be one of the major tourists attraction offering a unique waterfront experience, touching every sector of international trade.

The Dubai Canal Project, a 14-million square feet mega development extending the Dubai creek water way into the Arabian Gulf offers a fresh perspective to waterfront leisure activities and is set to become a major tourist attraction of Dubai.

Announced by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the AED 2-billion (USD 544 million) long esplanade, bordering the Dubai Canal, will house retail, dining, hospitality and residential areas. It will include four world class hotels, a crescent shaped building, and as many as 450 restaurants.

The project symbolizes the innovative spirit of the Emirates for community enrichment and growth. 

The Architecture

The development stretches from the Business Bay district and crossing the Sheikh Zayed Road up to Jumeirah Park with an extension to the existing Al Safa park.  The canal will pass across Al Safa Park, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah 2 district, and Jumeirah Road before culminating at the Arabian Gulf near Jumeirah Beach Park.

Its starting point is the Canal Gate Tower at the intersection of the Sheikh Zayed Road and the canal, with an enclosed multi-level retail bridge containing retail, F&B and entertainment venues.

The Tower, a mixed-use development spread over 3.5 million square feet, comprises 468 apartments, 470 service apartments and 617 hotel rooms, besides over 400,000 square feet of retail and 735,000 square meters of commercial office spaces.

As well as included in the development are 1.5 kilometers of urban public beach and space for leisure and sports activities at the Safa park, an exclusive enclave of 19 water villas, 44 townhouses above the retail outlets at Jumeirah High Street area and an extended public beach front at Jumeirah Beach Park.

Marine transit stations throughout the canal are planned to ease the public movement and promote marine and tourist mass transit.

In line with the authorities objectives to make the city pedestrian-friendly, the new development will also have a free and safe movement for pedestrians through four pedestrian crossings over the canal with retail and dining outlets in one of the crossings, joggers and cyclists lanes, picturesque landscapes along both sides of the canal offering sitting areas and various relaxation and tourist facilities.

The completed development promises to add 6 kilometers to the Dubai waterfront with depth up to 6 meters on high tides. With provisions for automatically renewing the canal water without the assistance of water pumps, the canal will also renew 250 million cubic meters per annum of the Dubai creek water.

The water movement during the tide process is estimated to be 800 million cubic meters per annum. Its crossings rise is more than eight meters to ensure safe passage of large boats up to 200 meters in length. 

dubai canal project 1

The Project Team

The Turkish Mapa and Gunal Constructions will look after the development works, whereas the Halcrow and Parsons, an American joint venture, are the consultants for the construction supervision, who were also the designers of the project.

RTA will be responsible for the drilling works of the canal, the construction of crossings, roads and pedestrian paths, which the authorities plan to complete through three contracts.

According to Matter Al Tayer, the Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, the first and the second contracts will deal with the construction of crossings over the canal linking with the key roads intersecting the canal course, which include the sixteen-lane Shaikh Zayed Road, the six-lane Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah Beach Road. The bridges will be 8.5 meters above the water level to allow free navigation.

The third contract is for drilling and landscaping works besides the construction of pedestrian crossings and four marine transport stations, which is estimated to handle around six million passengers every year.

Parsons will be responsible for the construction supervision for the first two contracts related to roads and bridges while Halcrow will work on the third contract that includes canal excavation and marine works.

Myedaan and Meeras, two well know real-estate developers of Dubai, will construct hotels, shopping mall, retail and dining outlets, and residential units on the two banks of the Dubai canal.

The project is set to be ready by 2017. 

Project Progress

Ground mapping and geo-scanning works on the project begun in December 2013, with an idea to shift the cables and pipelines from the area before starting the canal excavation.

“We will have to move all the underground cables and pipelines and relocate them before we start the excavation. We will soon be completing the task of relocation,” a senior RTA official had said earlier.

The eastern gate of Safa Park has been closed and the adjacent parking area has been cordoned off.

Earlier in January, the RTA officials informed the work began on the service road next to Shaikh Zayed Road and they have plans to move further West. More streets in the Al Safa area are also likely to be closed over the next few days.

The canal work is expected gather pace once the traffic diversions are finalized. According to RTA Dubai traffic diversions on the Sheikh Zayed Road will start from October 25.

dubai canal project diversion routes
Dubai Canal project diversion routes

The Project and Impact on Dubai

The project has been lapped up by hospitality sectors as well as real-estate developers with great business expectations.

Nick Maclean, Managing Director of CBRE Middle East, in an exclusive to Arabian Gazette, speaking on the significance of the project for Dubai, said:

“The ambitious Dubai Canal project will transform Bur Dubai into a new man-made island surrounded by water. These government initiatives are likely to attract significant attention from investors and further consolidate Dubai’s position as a regional commercial and tourism hub.”

Mahdi Amjad, Executive Chairman and CEO at Omniyat Properties, sees the project as a much needed acceleration to tap investors.

“Waterfront areas are a value addition and important indicator to the beauty of any city in the world — the canal will add six kilometers to Dubai’s waterfront which gives an additional edge to be one of the world’s best cities backed with uniquely constructed bridges, shopping and entertainment centres, luxurious marinas and world-class hotels,” he told Gulf News.

The project promises bounties for hospitality as well as real-estate developers.

“In the long run, the project will have a positive impact on the residential and commercial property in the surrounding areas including Al Safa, Jumeirah, and Business Bay. It will also have a strong impact on the retail sector as the development will house a 50,000 square meters shopping mall and over 450 restaurants. Thereby, transforming the area into a leisure hot spot giving further impetus to Dubai’s growing tourism sector,” said Maclean.

Amjad shares similar viewpoint, “In terms of hospitality [investment] play, there is huge demand in the marketplace; Dubai is phenomenal in tourism and it is a major motivator for large investors. Look at what Dubai has done in tourism — growing from 1 million to 10 million tourists now, which gives you belief in the Vision 2020,” he added saying that it will create a premium feel for its developments and investors.

“The new canal will have a similar role to play not only to the areas it covers — including Business Bay, Shaikh Zayed Road, Al Wasl and Jumeirah — but also to the wider emirate and give a shot in the arm to a variety of sectors including tourism, transportation, retail and shopping,” said Amjad.

Tanzeel Gader, CEO of Flash Properties, feels the project is quite innovative and increases the value of Jumeirah, Al Wasl, Sheikh Zayed Road, and the Business Bay area significantly.

The project, when complete, will have positive impact on travel and tourism sector of the UAE, which was quite high in 2013.

The sector has performed well on global scale as well in 2013, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world, according to a report published by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

“The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies,” he added.

UNWTO World Tourism Barometer reported growth in international tourist arrivals by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals and it forecasts 4-4.5% global growth for 2014.

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.

It also mentioned that destinations in Asia and the Pacific (up 6%), Africa (up 6%) and Europe (up 5%) showed strongest demand for international tourism.

The UAE was one among the top 10 fastest growing tourism hotspots in 2013 as it recorded 10.4% growth in international tourist arrivals last year. The country was ranked parallel to Russia, China, Turkey and Japan as the best performing cities.

And it was not just the real-estate developers and the hospitality sector that saw growth, the travel and tourism sector impacted the UAE job market as well.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reported the travel and tourism sector to have supported 497,000 jobs, which is 9.1 percent of total employment in the UAE. It also indicated that the industry will account for 523,000 jobs in 2014.

Furthermore, the total contribution of sector to the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) was USD 32 billion (AED 117.4 billion; 8.4%) in 2013 and will reach USD 45.6 billion (AED 167.4 billion; 8.5%) in 2024 with a 4.5% rise in 2014, according to the WTTC forecast.

Following Dubai being named host city of expo 2020, there are high hopes that the events will benefit the whole of the Middle East. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) reported over 11 million visitors in 2013 and expects 20 million visitors per year by 2020. 

Photo credits-RTA Dubai via Twitter

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