Al Rigga Road: A hub where much of Dubai started
The Al Rigga Road in Dubai.-Photo by Dhes Handumon
Dubai - It is a home to the first mall that was built in the UAE. Al Ghurair Centre was built in 1981 and continues to thrive to this day.
Dubai attracts millions of tourists each year for its luxury offerings and world-class experiences, but the emirate does not fall short when it comes to showcasing its historical charm and culture.
Perhaps one of the most historical areas in Dubai is one we travel through regularly without realising it - Al Rigga Road in Deira.
Usually, it's packed with the daily hustle and bustle of residents and tourists - thousands of them entering and exiting the Al Rigga or Union Square Metro station, while others take a stroll along the 1.5km-long street.
It is also home to the first mall that was built in the UAE. Al Ghurair Centre was built in 1981 and continues to thrive to this day. The mall also has the first McDonald's branch, which was renovated a few years ago to give it a fresher look.
Al Rigga Road isn't just a commercial area, though. There are many people who have called this area their home for several years.
One Indian family, for example, has been living in Al Rigga for 18 years now. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Shilpa Parmar said she, her husband and her son can't imagine living anywhere else in Dubai.
"My husband moved to Dubai 25 years ago, as he is working in the airline industry, travelling frequently. He chose Al Rigga as his base and after marriage - 18 years ago - it was natural for me to move to the same place," she said.
"I was very comfortable from day one, as I was close to Deira City Centre (which was and still is one of the major attractions in the area), it's within walking distance from Al Ghurair Mall. It has a 24-hour supermarket; the creek is nearby; and it's a short drive away from one of the best golf clubs in the emirate - even the iconic Clock Tower is just a stone's throw away.
"The area is also linked to Al Maktoum Bridge, which connects us to other parts of Dubai."
Parmar said Al Rigga has changed tremendously since she moved there nearly two decades ago.
It has a lot more to offer now than ever before, in terms of restaurants, shops and transportation methods.
"Al Rigga has changed from a silent area, where mostly only hotels were present, to a bustling, popular area as two of the busiest Metro stations are here. Al Ghurair Centre was revamped and has become a major mall, with a Carrefour branch and popular cafés. There are plenty of multi-cuisine food joints, money exchanges, bus stops, salons on the street, which are all useful for residents. I love this area and I am a very happy resident," she added.
Another family who has been residing in the area for more than 10 years said living in Al Rigga feels like they are "on holiday" because of all the tourists who come to see the sights.
A Pakistani mum of two, Mehnaz Ibrahim, said she's been seeing a growing number of tourists in Al Rigga.
"It's like we are living in one of the most popular areas of the country. There are so many tourists taking photos here. Many of them are walking on Al Rigga Street. There is so much on offer here, making it a very convenient location, not just for the residents but also for tourists," she said.
"We've been living here since 2008 and it's really a second home for us. Rents over the years have gone up and down, but, overall, it's a very affordable area."
1- Home to UAE's firsts
Al Rigga is home to the country's first mall, Al Ghurair Centre, and the first McDonald's branch. Built in 1981, both continue to thrive to this day and have undergone renovations in recent years to keep up with the times. Al Ghurair is now considered a major mall, complete with a Carrefour branch and a host of popular cafés.
2- Bustling area
Two of the busiest Metro stations in Dubai - Al Rigga and Union Square - are in situated in the area, making it not just a bustling district but an accessible one, too. Thousands of people enter and exit the Al Rigga or Union Square stations on a daily basis, while others take a stroll along a 1.5km-long street.
3- Tourists' spot of choice
Residents of Al Rigga feel like they are "on a holiday" as their neighbourhood is almost always packed with tourists taking photos and exploring the historical sights of the city. There are also plenty of multi-cuisine food joints, money exchanges and transport stops, so it's a convenient choice for anyone visiting Dubai.