Dubai residents might not realise it yet but the city has a new seafront district between The Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island.
The vast Dubai Harbour infrastructure project includes the region's largest marina, two cruise terminals, 24 residential towers, a yacht club, skydiving runway, helipad, event space and three restaurants.
Built on reclaimed land, the development is not immediately obvious from the shore, because much of the infrastructure built so far is located at sea level or below.
But that will all soon change, as Emaar constructs the residential towers stretching into the skyline and cruise ships start to arrive next week.
Dubai Harbour is owned and curated by Shamal Holding, which also manages Kite Beach, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Skydive Dubai, Deepdive Dubai, X Dubai and Dubai Films, among other enterprises.
Abdulla Binhabtoor, chief portfolio management officer for the company, said the new district was designed with the maritime lifestyle in mind.
"The space is open and accessible to visitors whether they choose to live in the district or visit," said Mr Binhabtoor, who is responsible for the companies operating in Dubai Harbour, including the cruise terminal and the marinas.
"We would love to host you if you own a boat, but you don't have to own a boat to come here.
"You can spend time around the marina and enjoy that lifestyle and enjoy being close to the water and the many amenities that we will have."
Superyachts and cruise ships
The district is designed to be walkable, catering to both the mega-rich who arrive by yacht and the masses who visit Dubai on a cruise or already live in the emirate.
Visitors will be encouraged to walk around the marinas and admire the boats, in much the way holidaymakers meander around European ports.
There should be plenty to see, with a mix of shops and restaurants planned for the area, plus events such as #NOFILTERDXB – the largest automotive event in the region, taking place this month, and the Dubai International Boat Show in March 2022.
The harbour's managers also hope to attract the world's superyacht owners, with space available for ships measuring up to 160 metres in length.
Only a few of the 700 berths are occupied but that will soon change, Mr Binhabtoor said.
"Dubai is a city on the water and we believe the sector of boat ownership in Dubai will continue to grow," he said.
"What we've tried to create in Dubai Harbour is a marina that is well operated, with a long list of amenities, starting with the convenience of accessibility from the main road to the sea.
"We have the facilities that make it easy to own and operate the boat. We have a marine patrol station right in the marina and once our food outlets will open, this will be a seafront destination."
The new yacht club is close to completion and will include a variety of shops and restaurants catering to boat owners, residents and visitors alike. Two restaurants, one called L'Amo Bistro Del Mare, will open to the public in December.
The district will also include the Dubai Harbour Pier Club for VIP guests, which is located further from shore near the superyacht berths. With a helipad, executive gym and a fine-dining restaurant called Bar Du Port, the area is designed to attract the mega-rich.
Tourists arriving in even large ships will be received in the two cruise terminals, which were completed last year, but remained closed after Covid-19 shut down the cruise industry.
The first official guests are set to arrive in great fanfare when the harbour's cruise season starts next week and thousands of people are expected to pass through the harbour every hour, every time a ship docks.
Residents will find homes in the 7,500 Emaar Beachfront apartments, which are currently under construction. So far only a few have been built, but one tower is to welcome its first residents early next year.
Built on a beach, the towers have views of The Palm Jumeirah in one direction and the skyscrapers of the Marina in the other.
Emaar Beachfront is one of several recent seaside infrastructure projects in Dubai, but Mr Binhabtoor believes the harbour's offering will attract residents from around the world.
"Someone asked me recently where I would like to live if it wasn't Dubai, and I answered 'Dubai in 10 years time'," he said.
"Dubai continues to grow and seafront living continues to be a growing demand. We've designed Dubai Harbour for people who would like to live on the water and experience a maritime lifestyle.
"Globally, some destinations are dated and some are taking time to evolve. We offer something very new, something very different."