x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Homes built but Dubailand waits for shops and restaurants

For many, the Dubai land project has induced a feeling of isolation, as they wait for malls, shops and restaurants to come up in the area.

Completed and partially completed villas sit next to stalled projects in Dubai Sports City.
Completed and partially completed villas sit next to stalled projects in Dubai Sports City.

DUBAI // The sprawl of construction rubble encircling the few Dubailand communities that have been completed is one of the issues facing the Dh235 billion development. Residents also complain about a lack of facilities. For many residents, the project has induced a feeling of isolation because of a dearth of places to meet. A dozen or so kilometres from Victory Heights - a collection of European-style villas and manicured lawns in Dubailand - were meant to be communities with restaurants, plush hotels and malls.

"There aren't any," said Donna Sheridan, a 42-year-old Briton who recently moved into Victory Heights, when asked if there were nearby restaurants, groceries or convenience stories. "Well," she said, "there is this one Portacabin shop nearby. I guess there are things to buy in there but it's not inviting. It's a prefab shack." Most of the area set aside for the Dubailand project's planned 55 hotels and seven theme parks have not yet moved beyond initial construction stages.

Just across from the golf course that winds its way through her neighbourhood are more villas. While unfinished, they seem to be the few buildings that soon could be completed. Still, slivers of Dubailand are slowly coming to life. Along the promenade of the Motor City development near the Dubai Autodrome is a Spinneys supermarket and there are restaurants bustling with people from Victory Heights and the nearby Arabian Ranches.

Tania Vaughan has revelled in the new shops since moving into a four-bedroom bungalow in the Green Community, a five-minute drive away. "Every week something seems to be opening," said the 38-year-old Australian mother of three. "There's a Starbucks. There's medical clinic down here, which is handy." Her main issue with the area is its school. It is not open, or at least not enough for her children to take full advantage of the advertised sporting facilities at the Boddington Preparatory Academy.

"Apparently there's going to be a pool, basketball courts, gyms," said Mrs Vaughan. "That was one of our main reasons of moving our kids to that school." The school specialises in sport and is tied to the facilities of Dubai Sports City, which was not completed in time for the academy's opening. "Sports City has promised us that the facilities will be open by September," she said. "Whether it is or not is anyone's guess."

Most of Mrs Vaughan's day is spent shuttling her children through a gauntlet of half-built roads to athletic activities in Safa Park and Umm Suqeim. "You have to drive through sand piles, construction rubble every day, but I guess it's just something you have to learn to live with," she said. "I wish they could just finish all these things." @Email:hnaylor@thenational.ae