It was not the most applauded announcement made, when residents in Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) first heard of plans to restructure the beach front that had characterised their seafront view for years. But as the plans materialised, the new development has been received with open arms.
If you did not visit the community for a while, you would probably start to wonder exactly how long you have stayed away when strolling down The Walk. What was once the simple view of a stretch of open beach with little human design, has now been turned into The Beach; a concept integrating the beach with the retail and leisure needs of the public.
Master developer of the community Dubai Properties Group (DPG) in 2012 announced the making of a 5000 5,000-square-metre low-rise complex offering a variety of shopping, dining and retail destinations. A shopping mall and an open air cinema were mentioned as some of the most prominent markers of the project, and the project would stretch from Hilton Hotel to Sheraton Hotel, comprising half of the area surface.
Although the mall and cinema are still under construction, dining and retail shops are starting to settle on the newly paved area between road and beach. Access to the beach is facilitated by stairs and welcomed by three large sand-made structures, one resembling the skyline of Dubai. Public bathrooms are aplenty and a jogging track and pedestrian lane run parallel to the sea. With or without getting sandy, the beach experience is present.
“The new development reminds you how gorgeous the sea is. It brings you very close to the see, said Zuhair Lutfi, a Palestinian resident who has lived in JBR for the last three years. “I love it. It makes me think that we have done the right thing by renting here.”
“It is clean, clear, and well organised,” added the French resident Ammia Lasnier, noting that the place has become much livelier with the influx of visitors to the area.
Whether it is the pleasant weather or the attraction of the new beach front, the streets and the beach are more than ever filled with sun-loving tourists, wondering visitors or residents who see their chance of a perfect after school afternoon for their children.
It does not bother the residents. “It used to be a bit dull before,” admits Rashi, an Indian resident who has been in JBR for the last ix years. “But when I look outside my window now, I see many lights and people everywhere. It has made the place much livelier.”
Perhaps the living style must suit you. As Rashi simply fell in love with the hustle and bustle of the beach front community and never wants to move again, others prefer the previous, more quite residence with a natural sea view.
“I think it is a space that should have been left for people not to develop, said Emara, a resident from Pakistan. “Dubai does not need another mall, and I think a mall was not really required in JBR. At the same time the structure is not very overpowering and easily blends in with the environment,” she adds.
Where the purpose of the complex is up for debate, the new facilities seem to be welcomed by everybody. “We are very happy with the bathrooms,” says a Lebanese mother living in JBR. “We can now bring the kids to the beach and clean them before coming home.”
However, stroller access, garbage bins and a women-only area are some of the suggestions made by residents.
Meanwhile, the increased number of visitors has resulted in more traffic on the Walk, which during weekends witnesses an ultimate gridlock where cars are likely to spend hours just driving through the community.
But a two-way solution is starting to appear, with road workers on The Walk digging up the pavement at some stretches. “A two-way section will be constructed here, with a two-lane exit instead of one,” tells one of the workers. Another two-lane section already exists at the beginning of the street, and although not extending the entire Walk, it is likely to improve the accessibility a little.
DPG told this website earlier: “The Walk is a very popular destination, particularly on weekends, and we encourage our visitors to utilize public transport including the Dubai Metro which has two stations within close proximity of The Walk (Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lake Towers). We work very closely with government authorities to regulate the flow of traffic to The Walk, especially at peak times.”
An underground car park with 1200 slots was recently opened to accommodate the increased number of visitors