People & Places: Al Safa is an old stomping ground for Western expats
Built in 1975, the 64-hectare Safa Park is the central landmark of the neighbourhood.
Long before the development of the gated communities such as Meadows and Springs, Al Safa district in Jumeirah was the place for Western expats to base themselves.
Built in 1975, the 64-hectare Safa Park is the central landmark of the neighbourhood, which offers a family-friendly atmosphere and also hosts the popular British schools such as Jumeirah College and English College.
Thanks to the oil boom in the 1980s, many single-storey villas were constructed to house the new expatriate community that moved to Dubai. Though they have paved the way for more modern multi-storey houses, there are still a handful of the old villas that can be found by the Al Hadiqa road.
Twenty-eight year old Jonathan Grant grew up in Al Safa and pursued his early education, prior to a role in the construction industry in Fujairah.
The presence of a number of schools have been a major factor that had attracted Jonathan's parents to find a home in Al Safa. "I used to live opposite the Safa Park for over 15 years. The nursery, primary and secondary schools which I attended were all within walking distance of our house, which now is quite a rare occurrence in Dubai," Jonathan said.
For many residents, Al Safa Park was the place to spend their weekends, as Jonathan said: "As a child, I remember spending my weekends at the park riding the four-wheeled surrey bikes."
As a result of the construction of the Dubai Canal, Safa Park has been reduced in size. Still it continues to be popular among the fitness enthusiasts - thanks to its 3.5-km-long cycling and running tracks. It also has a picturesque backdrop as it now overlooks the skyscrapers of the new Downtown Dubai.
The new developments also include the retail complex Al Wasl Square, which has over 20 stores and is a stone's throw away from the long-standing supermarkets such as Choithrams and Union Co-op.
Despite the rapid transformation, local eateries such as Eat and Drink Restaurant and the Al Reef Lebanese bakery continue to fulfil the residents' appetite.
Ikram Abdullah, who has been serving his customers at the Lebanese bakery for over 13 years, said that the new developments have made it more accessible for them.
"All this parking area was empty when I first started working here. Now, thanks to God, it has become much better with more customers coming to taste our food."