What makes JBR’s The Walk tick?

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What makes JBR’s The Walk tick? Kelly Clarke / 23 March 2014 Dubai’s thriving hotspot attracts people from all over the UAE, even neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Take a stroll around JBR’s The Walk and you’re pretty much set for a great day out. From coffee to shisha, or lunch to a quick dip in the sea, the thriving hotspot attracts people from all over the UAE, even neighbouring Saudi Arabia. So what is it exactly that makes The Walk tick? “It’s wonderful here. It’s got all the points of interest in one place and it’s our favourite place to come on a Saturday,” says Egypt-born Cherine Ragab. And true to her word, I catch Cherine, and her partner Hussam Rezk, strolling along The Walk at noon on Saturday. Living in Dubai for 13 years, the couple says they are big fans of the popular shopping and restaurant strip. The fact that the beach is just a hop, skip and jump away, makes the area even more attractive, especially when friends come to visit. “It’s just everything you need in one place, but we do try to manage ourselves so that we don’t come during peak hours when the crowds are huge,” Hassam says. There is one slight drawback to the beachside destination, though he says. “Parking can be difficult because spaces are usually full. We tend to park down at the end which isn’t too bad as the long walk back to the car helps us burn the calories we just consumed,” he jokes. With the new Beach Mall recently opened to the public — adding a much-needed 1,200 parking spaces to the area — it seems visitors are being put off by the steep pricing, with a hefty Dh20 per hour being charged for the privilege of being smack, bang in the middle of it all. “It’s too expensive, but maybe after this gets printed, prices will be reviewed,” a hopeful Hassam and Cherine say. A tourist’s point of view Continuing my march along The Walk’s cobbled pavement, I spot a couple snapping a photograph of a Dubai Police 4WD, and immediately make a bee-line for the duo. “I take it you guys are tourists,” I ask them, and the response is yes. This is Padraig and Clare McAdam’s first trip to Dubai. Staying at a nearby hotel, the Irish couple says they’ve been down on The Walk every day since arriving on March 17. “It’s nice to walk it and there’s a bit of a buzz about the place. The crowds last night were unreal, and the traffic too. We saw so many vintage cars driving along the strip, it was fantastic,” they tell me. Catching the couple in full tourist mode and fresh from sipping on a coffee at one of the new cafes along Beach Mall, Clare says the location is the area’s biggest selling point. “We heard this mall is new and I think it’s lovely, especially with the beach so close by, although he’s really not a fan of the beach,” she says, pointing to her husband. So how does it compare to other holiday destinations? “We’ve been to Spain, Turkey, France. I think the culture, in this particular area, is missing a wee bit, but I tell you what is nice. The people and the food. The variety is great and the people are so friendly, so that will keep us coming back,” Padraig says. And will JBR be the area of choice on the couple’s next visit? “I think so yes. It was about 50 per cent more expensive to stay at our hotel, compared to the city hotels, but the area was recommended to us and it suits us down to the ground. It’s better than being in the middle of a concrete jungle,” they say.   Growing appeal Opened to the public in 2008, JBR’s The Walk is one of Dubai’s most favoured hotspots among residents and tourists alike. As the area continues to expand, with the addition of the Dubai Tramway — which opens its first phase to the public in November — and the new Beach Mall, hosting the world’s biggest TV screen, prices in the area have already begun to rise, but it doesn’t seem to be denting its popularity. Syrian resident Hassan has been living in JBR for two years, and with his tenancy contract up for renewal in a few months, rent is due to increase, but he says he is staying put. “The fact that the beach is close by is a big bonus for me, and some of the shisha on offer is very good, too. My rent is rising, but I need to stay here, so I’m just going to pay whatever they ask ,” he says. Although Tracey Spiller and Dan Minks already live on one of Dubai’s most recognisable landmarks, The Palm, they still find themselves drawn to the JBR area. “We’ve just come down today to grab some breakfast and go to the beach,” Dan says. For Tracey, the visits have not been so frequent since the opening of the new mall. “To be honest, we always used to come down here before, but we don’t come as much because it’s just so packed on the beach and it’s quite far to walk to the restaurants.” But like Cherine and Hassam, the crowds haven’t put them off completely as they say it’s always a place they’ll bring visiting friends and family. So despite a hike in prices and the often-overbearing crowds, it seems the lure of JBR will continue. kelly@khaleejtimes.com FACTS > 1.7km stretch along The Walk > 2008 saw the official opening of The Walk For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/khaleejtimes , and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes Continue reading →

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