Living in... Bur Dubai

This popular part of the city is immersed in rich tradition, provides ample transport links, affordability and a wide variety of amenities

Bur Dubai, set along Dubai Creek’s busy waterway, is often considered the hub of the city by those who call it home.

Streets teeming with busy footsteps and roadside eateries offering up tasty snacks for just a few dirhams, like the mouth-watering shawarma, are all part of this neighbourhood’s charm.

Tens of thousands of residents live within the historic district and those that buy or rent homes there tend to stay long-term. Some of the most popular communities include Al Mankhool, Oud Mehta and Al Jaddaf.

For the most part, rents are affordable. Although some of the buildings might be a little older, with dated fixtures and fittings, apartments come with lots of space on offer compared to newer parts of the city.

Low-rise residential blocks are dotted throughout Bur Dubai and with pathways snaking alongside the buildings, it is considered one of the most walkable spots in the city.

The literal English translation of ‘Bur Dubai’ is ‘mainland Dubai’, which gives insight into how important this area was for trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The district is noted as the emirate’s original trading hub and was the commercial heart of Dubai until little more than 100 years ago.

The community is home to a number of historical sites which give visitors a glimpse at what life was like, then and now, in Bur Dubai.

Recently, the UAE government announced details under the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which outlined how the emirate will be developed over the next 20 years.

Part of that plan is the regeneration of older areas, like Bur Dubai, and repopulating them with Emirati families in locations where local families lived previously.

Transport links - how well connected is Bur Dubai?

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 1 MARCH 2021. Dubai creek seen from Bur Dubai. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National Reporter: Kelly
Dubai Creek seen from Bur Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National

Bur Dubai is one of the most well-connected areas in the city. For those without a car or bike, there is plenty on offer in terms of public transport including buses, taxis and nearby metro stations.

Some of the popular Dubai Metro stations that connect passengers to the Green Line include Al Fahidi, Al Ghubaiba and Oud Mehta.

For those looking to access the Red Line, they can hop on at ADCB and Burjuman metro stations.

With multiple bus stops spread across the district and taxis easy to flag down, commuters will not be hard pressed to get to where they want to go.

A unique feature of the area is the opportunity to jump on an abra or the water taxi, which has stations in Al Seef in Bur Dubai to get to the Deira area.

For individuals or families with a car, access to some of the city’s busiest highways, including Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Ain-Hatta Road and Al Khail Road is easy, though traffic does peak in the area during rush hour.

Types of property in Bur Dubai - can you buy or rent?

Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street in Bur Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National
Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street in Bur Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National

The majority of villas and apartments in Bur Dubai are leasehold, not freehold, which means sales are usually exclusive to GCC investors and Emirati locals. That makes buying as an expat a little difficult.

But renting in the area is fruitful. Properties for rent in Bur Dubai range from studio to four-bedroom apartments and four to five-bed villas.

Due to an abundance of local amenities, low to mid-rise apartment buildings in areas like Al Raffa, Oud Metha, Al Hamriya are usually snapped up by renters pretty fast.

As per a recent report by Bayut.com, Bur Dubai emerged as the second most popular area to rent affordable apartments in the emirate in 2020, just behind Jumeirah Village Circle.

Apartment rents decreased by about 10 per cent last year, due in part to the pandemic.

Bayut’s 2020 Real Estate Market Report for Dubai showed the average yearly rent for a studio apartment in Bur Dubai is Dh36,000. That rises to Dh49,000 for a one-bedroom flat and Dh67,000 for a two-bedroom dwelling.

When it comes to villas, families can expect a lot of space but need to be prepared to pay a little more for the privilege.

“Villas for rent in Bur Dubai are available in four- and five-bedroom bedroom layout,” the Bayut.com report said.

“The average rent for a four-bedroom villa is Dh186,000 while a five-bedroom house can be leased in D190,000 for a year.”

Schools, nurseries and hospitals in Bur Dubai

Bur Dubai is a big draw for families and with a number of well rated and affordable schools nearby, it’s easy to see why.

For the youngest members of the family, you can look to enroll them in a number of nurseries including British Orchard nursery, Chubby Cheeks and Hope Montessori nursery.

For those that have graduated to school-age, the choice of campuses in nearby areas is abundant.

One of the most popular choices is the Indian High School, which caters to pupils from Year 5 to 12 and offers the national curriculum of India.

For several years in a row, it has received an ‘outstanding’ rating from Dubai’s education authority. Located in Oud Mehta, it is just a short walk from St Mary’s Catholic Church too.

 A falconer at the cultural tent by Mohammed Bin Rashid Cultural Centre in Bastakiya district in Bur Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National
 A falconer at the cultural tent by Mohammed Bin Rashid Cultural Centre in Bastakiya district in Bur Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National

Ambassador School, located in Mankhool, is another good option that holds a ‘good’ rating and offers an ICSE education to pupils.

For parents looking to send their children to a school that offers a UK curriculum, there is Gems Winchester School and St Mary’s Catholic High School.

Moving on the all things medical, Bur Dubai has some good options on offer if you need medical treatment.

There are several large hospitals and clinics located in Dubai Health Care City, which is positioned within the greater Bur Dubai area.

Here, you can find a number of speciality clinics, with osteopaths, chiropractors, dentists and more.

Over in Mankhool, there is a large Aster Hospital and in other parts of the area you will find Mediclinic and Prime Medical clinics.

Facilities

If the walls dotted throughout Bur Dubai could talk, they would have a lot of tales to tell. One of the biggest draws of this area are the historical neighbourhoods and their nod to times gone by.

Positioned within the Al Fahidi Historical district is the Dubai Museum. The area is also home to a number of traditional Emirati houses, referred to as barasti or arish, and visitors can make their way through the winding alleyways and be transported back to the past.

Eye-catching artwork lights up the Bastakiya area of Bur Dubai.  Reem Mohammed / The National
Eye-catching artwork lights up the Bastakiya area of Bur Dubai.  Reem Mohammed / The National

Just a 10 minute walk from there is the traditional Bur Dubai Souk. It a popular spot for tourists, and visitors can haggle with sellers to buy everything from spices, fabrics, souvenirs and jewellery.

The residential district is also home to the Grand Mosque Dubai, which boasts stunning architectural details from the 1900s. It is noted as one of the most beautiful mosques in the city and can accommodate up to 1,200 worshippers at a time.

Looking to get a suit made or a fancy frock for that special occasion? Bur Dubai’s Meena Bazaar is another must-visit spot.

The bustling shopping area is packed with affordable tailors and dressmakers and is the go-to place for people looking to buy tailor-made outfits for Diwali and Eid, among others.

For those looking for shopping spots that are more contemporary than traditional, BurJuman shopping centre in located just a few seconds walk from the metro station by the same name.

The mall is packed with high street and designer shops as well as restaurants and a cinema.

Who lives here?

Bur Dubai has a real community feel and those that tend to rent in the area often stay long-term due to affordability and convenience.

Often, you will come across several generations of a family living together in one block or apartment, which gives the area a real close-knit feel.

Irish resident Pat Finn, 60, has lived in her one-bedroom apartment just a stone’s throw from the Al Fahidi Historic district for 21 years.

Last year, she was approached by her building management and was offered a newer version of her current flat for the same price, but declined the offer. Why? Because her apartment is “spacious, homely and I have good neighbours," she said, "it's my little nest."

Although she does drive, she said the apartment is close to her workplace in Zabeel and has shops and restaurants on her doorstep which means she can walk from place to place with ease.

Updated: March 23, 2021 12:53 PM

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