Shopping, hospitality, golf courses and exquisite residences are all in heavy demand in Dubai and the promoters of Dubai Festival City (DFC) are all set to exploit these very same needs with top of the line facilities.

By Blessing Johnson

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Published: Sat 7 May 2005, 1:04 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:21 PM

Coming up on the banks of the Dubai Creek, the project is designed to be a city within a city, with retail outlets, hotels, resorts, schools and a 18 hole golf course, all going to make it the most exclusive address in town.

When completed, the Festival City will be have over 19,000 exquisite homes, where eventually over 75,000 people will live, work and play.

City Times caught up with Phil McArthur, Director — Leasing and Marketing, DFC to know more about the project.

Can you give us an overview of what the Dubai Festival City is all about?

The DFC is, as everyone knows, a major project in Dubai. The project is spread over 1,600 acres and is only two minutes away from the Dubai International Airport.

A lot of effort has gone into the making of this city within a city — I know the term is overused by property developers today. I live there, I play golf there and have all the comforts, and our vision is that people will have a comfortable life there, so maybe I'll call it a township within a city.

What is the idea behind such a concept?

The big idea behind DFC is that you could go there to shop or go to restaurants. Today we are providing a lot of area for restaurants because Dubai is on a big curve of swelling hospitality for the region and we are here to provide the accommodation. In the same premises, we also have offices, residential towers, marina and retail outlets.

But then doesn't everyone in Dubai offer these services?

I don't think they do. Not everyone is downtown. I don't think everybody is close to the airport and I definitely don't think everybody has a masterplanned community — ours is — in that, if you come to our site you see specific projects being built on the masterplan that had been on for over four years and we are now in the detailed development stage. So, it's not just pictures, we are actually building all of these things. But you are right to a certain extent, there are projects that offer retail and office space, apart from residences.

What's about this 'high street' concept?

High street is only one element of our shopping concept. I've been in the shopping centre business for over 25 years and have seen shopping centres of all forms, sizes, price points and it used to be that you could build a hundred stores with a parking lot around it and customers would be happy.

Times have changed. In Dubai, things are changing rapidly and we are seeing this tremendous growth in retail with our neighbouring projects, so we've created what we're calling 'fusion centres' — where we fuse ideas. Concepts such as Power Centre and Big Box retail are popular around the world. In UK, they call it the Retail Part. We are introducing the concept in Dubai. It is anchored by the largest Ikea store in the region.

The place, which will have an open parking area, will also house a large hypermarket. It's a place where people can park their cars and walk into a hardware store, without going through the complete mall.

Our fashion centre, which has over fifteen iconic flagship brands and they all have a high street address. So not only do you shop them when you're in the shopping centre, you also have the opportunity to go to them through their front door, so that's where the 'high street' comes from, for example retailers like Gap or Marks & Spencer will have a store inside the shopping centre but also have a major presence outside of the building with a shop-front like the high street.

How are the convention and meeting centres?

We have over 2500 rooms in our project and it is all connected to our retail environment, all a part of our masterplan community. Couple of big names in the hospitality sector will move in to Dubai Festival City. The project will also have a 15,000 seat convention centre right on the creekside.

Where does the golf course fit into the retail environment?

The golf course is all about creating a green environment for the community. It's a common practice for developers around the world, so that they get more than one benefit from the golf course. Not only do we get a great venue to play golf, we also get a great view to build houses, hotels and resorts around it, so it's very much a part of our masterplan.

When will the project be completed?

The golf course is open and so is the first phase of the residential block. Ikea will open in November. There are two schools with an intake 2,500 students, both opening in September — one with American curriculum and the other British.

How much has the project cost till now?

We have over Dh10 billion worth of development underway. The total cost of the project will be anywhere between Dh 30 billion and Dh 40 billion. So I'd say that every month from now till the next ten years something will keep opening up in DFC.

What about the marina concept?

With projects such as the Palm and the World, Dubai is bound to become the yachting destination of the region.

The creek is the original harbour of Dubai and our marina concept will extend the DFC right onto the water. One entrance of our shopping centre will be from the 150-berth marina, with cafes and restaurants around it.

DFC will also build a corniche, which will be open to the public and will extend to the Garhoud bridge.

With so many people coming in to the DFC, what arrangements have you made for parking?

We have 11,000 parking spaces just for the retail outlets. Offices, hotels and residences will have their own parking space. We have allocated more parking space to the retail outlets than required by regulation ... and it's not just any parking, we're building two levels of parking under the level of the water, right up against the creek.

So you park, come up the elevator and you're right on the water level ... it's an engineering accomplishment.

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