Living in... Dubai Marina
From selfie-friendly hangouts to winding walks, this lively neighbourhood is home to more than 300 towers and a world famous skyline
Few places in the UAE offer a generation fixated on snapping the perfect Instagram-worthy picture as Dubai Marina.
From its impressive sprawling skylines, winding boardwalk and quirky cafes, this is one place where you can capture photos that you will want to share with everyone.
Fun fact - this bustling neighbourhood was one of the top five most Instagrammable spots in the city, according to property portal Bayut.com in 2018.
While Dubai Marina plays host to some of the city's most magnificent architecture, there is more to the area than pretty exteriors. It has become a UAE institution.
Guides to living in...
Home to more than 45,000 residents, the waterfront promenade is unofficially considered the "end" of Dubai.
For the city’s long haulers, they will remember it took that distinction from the old Hard Rock Café in 2003, when the marina began sprouting from the sand.
The towering residential blocks are one of the last landmarks along Sheikh Zayed Road as motorists head south to Abu Dhabi.
"Dubai Marina is a lively hive of activity and with its famous skyline that is recognisable worldwide,” said Lewis Allsopp, chief executive of Allsopp & Allsopp.
"The community is an ideal location for people who enjoy being in the heart of an electric city and it is no surprise it is a favourite among residents.
“It is one of only a few beachside living developments in the city with shops, cafes and restaurants by the canal and the beach, all only a short walk away.”
Emaar designed and built the development along 3.6 kilometres of canal leading to the sea at either end.
Flats in Dubai Marina vary from studios, one, two, three and four-bedrooms.
Those who want something bigger and better can choose from an array of penthouses with five or more bedrooms.
“The majority of residential towers in Dubai Marina offer incredible views, have swimming pools, gyms, parks and sometimes BBQ areas for residents to enjoy,” said Mr Allsopp.
Although at less than 20 years old it may still be considered a new kid on the block, Dubai Marina is an established property hotspot.
It has become a second home for many expatriates over the years and offers the perfect mix of metropolis living. Those who tend to flock to the area include singles, couples and young families.
The winding marina, which snakes 3.6km through a landscape of residential and commercial towers, is home to more than 600 boats and yachts – many of them with multimillion dollar price tags.
The area is one of few walkable districts in Dubai, too. The total length of the promenade is just short of 8km and there are plenty of stopping points along the way, from coffee shops to cafes and more.
Public transport options from Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina is one of the best connected neighbourhoods in the city. If you are putting together a check list of areas that boast good public transport options, this place has it all. Dubai Metro - check. Dubai Tram - check. Dubai bus - check.
Several metro stations sit along the front of the marina, just a stone’s throw from Sheikh Zayed Road. They include Dubai Marina Metro and Jumeirah Lakes Towers Metro.
And if travelling by road or rail does not take your fancy, an impressive cruise awaits you aboard the Dubai Marina water bus. Visitors and residents in the hub of Dubai can hop on and hop off between four scenic stops, including Marina Terrace, Marina Walk, Dubai Marina Mall and Marina Promenade.
In 2014, the neighbourhood welcomed an addition to the city's public transport network.
Beams of white light shot into the night sky, fireworks exploded and the wheels began to roll on the Dubai Tram in November that year.
This service stretches more than 14km and allows passengers to travel between 11 stations along the marina.
Rent prices in Dubai Marina
The cost of renting a home in Dubai fell this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. That has led to greater choice and more space for tenants.
A report by property company Core said rental prices in Dubai Marina dropped by 12 per cent between July and September this year compared to the same period in 2019.
Studios now average at Dh44,000 per year. That is about Dh10,000 less compared to rental values a few years ago.
One-bedroom flats cost about Dh60,000 on average and that rises to Dh89,500 for a two-bedroom property and Dh135,000 for a three-bedroom.
For those with a larger budget and desire for more living space, there are villas in the marina. A four-bedroom duplex, although not abundant, would set tenants back about Dh175,000. And for the privilege of an extra room, be prepared to spend about Dh350,000 per year for a five-bedroom luxury flat or villa.
Dubai Marina's location and landmarks
For retail, the Marina Mall shopping centre is spread across four floors and covers more than 390,000 square feet.
It is hard to pinpoint one particular landmark in the district, unless you count the skyline. More than 300 towers - 152 of which are owned by the developer Emaar - are dotted throughout the marina, including 23 hotels, a seven-storey dining complex and 170 shops. It is also home to the Cayan Tower, an impressive 306-metre-tall skyscraper which rotates a full 90 degrees from base to top.
There really is no reason to leave the area as it also has nine clinics and medical centres to cater to residents living in more than 30,000 flats.
Facilities in Dubai Marina
The man-made marina offers a variety of shops and restaurants. The neighbourhood also boasts banks, pharmacies and supermarkets, all within easy reach of the apartments but mostly found towards the east end of the marina.
Access to the beach a few minutes’ walk away in Jumeirah Beach Residence is free. The sands stretch for 1.7km. Playgrounds are dotted throughout the district and offer the perfect haven for families looking to entertain the children on a budget.
Skydive Dubai is located nearby and is open four days a week for those in need of an adrenaline rush.
For dog lovers, Dubai Marina is also a pet-friendly area, but bear in mind that you are not allowed to walk your dog along Marina Walk. There is one area in the marina, a substantial strip of grass on the way to Zero Gravity beach club, where you can walk dogs on a leash.
Schools and nurseries in Dubai Marina
A popular first-time rental spot for young families starting out in the city, Dubai Marina does not have schools but a good selection of campuses can be found nearby.
Less than 2.5km away in The Meadows district is Emirates International School. It offers an IB curriculum and has been rated as Very Good by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority. EIS Meadows has an EY1 to Year 13 grading structure.
A 4km drive away is the International School of Choueifat Dubai in Al Sufouh.
It offers a UK and US curriculum and has been rated Acceptable in its latest inspection report. It also takes on children from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
In Jumeirah Park, opposite Dubai Marina, is the Dubai British School run by Taaleem education group. The UK curriculum campus has been rated Very Good and has a roll of more than 1,100 pupils.
What makes Dubai Marina a good community?
Dubai Marina is regarded as a party haven for singles and couples, and Natalie Brogan has called it home for the past six years.
Ms Brogan, who is from the UK, she said the area fits perfectly with her lifestyle. As a DJ at one of the local beach clubs, she said convenience is one of its biggest attractions.
“I love living in the marina for many reasons,” she said.
“The quick access to the beach, the fact I can walk to work, or in fact, walk anywhere.
“There are plenty of choices of restaurants, bars, cinemas and shopping so it’s perfect when friends and family come to visit, too,” she said.
Home is a two-bedroom flat with a sea view, and Ms Brogan said rents have come down since she arrived in 2014.
Scottish resident Kevin McFerren said he would not live anywhere else.
“I’ve been in Dubai for two years now and I did a lot of research about where to live,” he said.
“I’m 28 and was looking for somewhere lively with the potential to upgrade to a bigger place if I start a family.
“For my first year I didn’t drive because I could either walk everywhere, jump on the metro or grab a taxi.
“I call the marina its own mini city as I really never have to leave it - everything is on my doorstep.”
When he arrived in 2018, he paid Dh66,000 for his small one-bedroom flat. In April this year, his rent was Dh54,000.
A version of this article was first published on November 10, 2020.
Updated: February 7, 2021 04:51 PM