A cultural corridor rises along Dubai Creek

By December 7, 2015

1.8km Marsa Al Seef project will feature open-air museum, floating market, souqs, outdoor bistros and private docks

Dubai: An open-air museum, an amphitheatre, a floating market and outdoor bistros are coming up on Al Seef Road along Dubai Creek in Bur Dubai by mid-2017, officials said on Monday.

Covering an area of approximately 2.3 million square feet, the project will also feature traditional souqs, art galleries and shops for Emirati handicrafts.

The 1.8 kilometre stretch along the Creek, opposite the consulate buildings, is under development by Meraas Holding, who confirmed that the project, Marsa Al Seef. will become a new landmark in the city, which will help visitors discover various aspects of Emirati life and culture.

“While benefiting from its proximity to historical and cultural attractions, Marsa Al Seef will host abra stations, dhow and private yacht moorings along its edge. Additionally, visitors will have the chance to experience the UAE way of life, and familiarise themselves with the traditions of pearl diving, fishing and boat building,” said Abdul Wahab Al Halabi, CEO of the project.

The once lively Corniche along Al Seef Street has been closed for almost eight months now and residents will have to wait at least another 18 months before they can enjoy the array of restaurants, outdoor bistros and entertainment outlets that are currently under construction. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2016.

Once completed, Marsa Al Seef will also feature three hotels, comprising a 200-room heritage hotel, a 150-room contemporary upscale hotel, and a luxury hotel. Developers intend to reshape the destination that will give culture-seeking visitors a unique opportunity to stay in the heritage-focused area to enrich their insights and experience.

“We are confident that the development will raise awareness and teach visitors about the rich history of the UAE and its people,” said Al Halabi.

As construction takes shape, the areas cordoned off with metal sheets have temporarily altered the scenic landscape overlooking Dubai Creek.

“Parking is the biggest problem now because the Corniche has been closed, and everybody now has to park their car very far and walk [to get where they want to go]. The evenings are no better, and the traffic at the roundabout near Al Bastakiya is almost impossible to get through because the cars are backed up all the way from Al Maktoum Bridge,” said Mohammad Tanveer, a resident.

However, the development project will not deter authorities’ efforts in submitting their bid at the end of January 2016 for nominating the Creek as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Traditional features

Rashad Bukhash, director of Architectural Heritage and Archaeology Department at Dubai Municipality, explained that Marsa Al Seef will be built in a manner reflecting the traditional buildings of old Dubai, which will blend in with the architecture found in Al Bastakiya.

“The project will not hinder our bid but will, in fact, help it. As it is located in the buffer zone, construction is allowed to take place there and, as per our regulations, the buildings should not be more than two-storeys high, and have a traditional feel to them,” said Bukhash.

“We will continue with our plan to submit the Creek as a Unesco World Heritage Site on January 31, 2016 and, once the project is completed, we expect it to attract more tourists to the area as there will be a lot of business and leisurely activities that reflect Emirati culture and traditions,” he said.

After the bid, Unesco officials will visit Dubai in October 2016 to judge the area and a decision is expected in June 2017. A Unesco World Heritage Site is a place listed by Unesco for having great cultural or physical significance

Source: Gulfnews

Godwin Austen Johnson

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