Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dubai Marina Dreaming

In 2002 Dubai Marina did not yet exist, apart from a few impressive billboards along Sheikh Zayed Road and the already dug out canal hidden behind a sand embankment.

Nevertheless, I was intrigued. Driving frequently from Abu Dhabi to Dubai at the time, this promised marina had a captivating allure for me.

<< the new (towers of the tallest block) and the old (traditional wooden abra) in Dubai Marina

It will probably never really get built, I'd think. But if it did, what a great place to live!

You keep dreaming... It wasn't really like me to let my imagination run unchecked.

By 2005 that dream for me and Dubai was closer to becoming reality. In the intervening three years Dubai had made immense progress on remaking itself.

The original Dubai Marina project consisting of six towers at the head of the canal was complete and occupied. Meanwhile hundreds of other towers and thousands of villas had been built or started all over Dubai--a city whose land area under development seemed to be doubling every three or four years.

the twisting Infinity tower (u/c) at left and original DM six-tower development at center

In the intervening years the thought of moving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai had also moved from wishful thinking to real possibility. In 2003 and 2004 I visited Emaar's sales centers in the Greens and the Marina. The prices, however, were too high I concluded. A year later, when prices had risen even higher, it began to seem inevitable that I would make a freehold home purchase in Dubai. The time to act had come.

(images taken 27 March 2011--click on for enlarged view)

I again visited Emaar's sales center, but didn't like the take it now or lose it kind of sales pitch nor the prices, still seemingly too high. I visited Nakheel and was smitten by the property on offer in JLT (Jumeirah Lakes Towers) but found Nakheel's sales technique and prices even more objectionable than Emaar's.

The last straw, so to speak, was Damac. They maddeningly pitched their latest project out in the desert in a non-existent development. They wouldn't hesitate to promise the world at the highest prices I had yet seen. I shouldn't touch them, I thought, with that proverbial 10-foot pole.

dragon boat practice near the DM yacht club harbor

Alas, I found some sense of comfort in the manner of the well-known rental agent Asteco, in partnership with the unknown developer, MAG. The high-rise tower on offer was to be built in the Marina--plus point one--and it was in a good location at that, just across from the original six-tower project.

Everything more or less coalesced around what seemed to be a good choice--location, price, design and manner of the sale. It wasn't, however, a sure bet.

Nothing in Dubai was then. It was an off-plan purchase which had not yet broken ground. The developer also had no track record, apart from a JLT tower in the early phase of construction. There was no surety, really, apart from the reputation of Asteco. Still, compared to everything else I had experienced up to that point, it seemed as good a bet as I was going to get. My Dubai dream was to be realized in the MAG 218 tower.

the Dubai Marina Yacht Club harbour

That was mid-2005. Five years later, with a couple of job changes and a world economic crisis in the interim, my Dubai Marina dream became a reality. It was two and a half-years late in coming and a lot of the Dubai development plan would--due to the crisis--not be realized.

That said, the Dubai Marina and Dubai on the whole has realized the most incredible transformation the world has ever seen, going largely from barren desert to supercity in the span of less than a decade. Dubai and the Marina are nothing short of miraculous.

Dubai Marina, from 63rd floor of my Dubai Marina dream home