Areas and Suburbs in Dubai

Expats will need to consider several important factors when choosing the area or suburb of Dubai in which to look for accommodation, including the proximity to their place of work and their children's schools.

Once these factors have been considered and priorities are clearer, it will then be down to the type of accommodation preferred, and of course the housing budget or allowance, which, in the case of most expatriates, is included in the employment package.

Beach lovers


Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)

The Jumeirah Beach Residence is a massive residential development comprising clusters of several high-rise apartment blocks overlooking the Arabian Gulf. The towers are built over an ocean-front promenade called “The Walk” which is lined with retail outlets, restaurants, cafés and hotels. Each cluster includes several swimming pools for the use of residents and a few gyms. Apartments with sea views are sought after and command higher rentals but, in general, the area offers good value. JBR is good for young professionals or those who wish to feel like they are always on holiday.

Pros: There is a holiday vibe all year round. Amenities like shops, restaurants and the beach are all within walking distance so no car is needed, and there is easy metro access.

Cons: Sometimes access and exit can be tricky at peak times and it can be noisy and busy. For nature lovers, there are no gardens.

Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah is a man-made island in the shape of a palm tree that extends into the Gulf. There are two main types of accommodation: medium-rise apartment blocks on the trunk, most with communal beach access, and expensive villas with private beaches and pools on the fronds. The apartments here are popular and prices remain stable due to limited supply. The area is good for young couples and families.

Though there are no international schools on the Palm itself, Dubai College is situated just across the bay. 

Pros: The area is quieter than JBR but has beach access. It is also greener, with more gardens.

Cons: A car is a must here as there is no direct access to the metro yet. The ocean gets trapped due to the shape of the island and the water can smell unpleasant at times.

Jumeira and Umm Suqeim

Older villas make up small compounds in this part of Dubai. The area is more established, with less construction and the villas near Beach Road are within walking distance of the beach. It's still possible to find a bargain here, but beware that some of these villas are not well maintained. Each compound will normally be built around a communal pool and garden. The area is great for families with pets; the villas also often include a room for domestic helpers.

Expats with children are spoilt for choice when it comes to international schools in the area. Options include Jumeirah English Speaking School, Emirates International School Jumeirah, Raffles International School and Jumeirah College.

Pros: The area is in a good central location and it is easy to get taxis. The area is also peppered with schools and is more cosmopolitan.

Cons: The call to prayer might disturb sleep as there are many mosques in the area. The villas are also older and less spacious.

City dwellers


Dubai Marina

Built around a man-made marina, and set one road back from JBR, Dubai Marina is a popular residential area of high-rise apartment blocks, some with great views of the Palm. Several hotel apartment towers can also be found here offering serviced accommodation for short- or long-term lets. Prices are average and availability is good. Marina is good for those accustomed to apartment living.

Pros: There is great metro access and good views. It is also quieter than JBR, but still close to the sea.

Cons: Ongoing construction can make the area noisy and there is also a lack of gardens.

Dubai International Financial Centre and Downtown

Downtown Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world. This is a fairly new and modern area built for mixed use; residential apartment towers are mixed in with office blocks and hotels. Prices are medium to high, but the build quality is normally very good. It's well suited to hip and trendy high-flyers.

For those with children, Hartford International School is nearby, just south of the neighbouring Dubai Design District, 

Pros: There is a very trendy area close to the metro and Dubai Mall and the area has good access to the older parts of Dubai as it is very central. 

Cons: There are no beaches, not many gardens, and it may be considered “far” by those living in “New” Dubai.

Fauna and flora


Emirates Living

An Emaar development known as Emirates Living comprises a number of different developments, all built close to the Emirates Golf Course. The Springs is a villa-style development in 15 phases, a two-bedroom unit being the smallest. The Lakes and The Meadows consist of larger free-standing villas with gardens. All the communities share parks, pools and, in some cases, basketball courts. They're great for families or people with pets. Rentals are reasonable, except for The Meadows, which remains very sought-after.

Nearby schools include Dubai British School and GEMS Dubai American Academy.

Pros: The area is very green and leafy, as well as child-friendly and central and established.

Cons: The villas are older and can look tired and there is some ongoing road construction in certain areas.

Dubai Silicon Oasis, Victory Heights, Motor City and Arabian Ranches 

All these developments can be found on Emirates Road between the Al Khail roundabout and the E66. The complexes consist of townhouses and free-standing villas, except in the case of Motor City, which also has some low-rise apartment blocks. These developments are popular with expats from South Africa, Australia and the UK due to the larger houses and gardens, and better value for money. Arabian Ranches is very popular, older and more established, and therefore more expensive. Built further out into the desert, these areas are quieter, but can be dustier.

Expat families will be pleased to know that there are several prominent international schools in the area, including GEMS Modern Academy, GEMS United School and Repton School Dubai.

Pros: There is more space and it is quieter, making it ideal for families with children and pets.

Cons: These areas are considered “really far” by many people in “Old” Dubai and, as there is no metro access, a car is a necessity.

Mirdif and Al Garhoud

Built on either side of Dubai International Airport, Mirdif and Al Garhoud offer older style villa compounds with shared pool access. The rental prices are low to medium in these areas. The close proximity to good schools makes these popular areas for people with children who prefer value for money.

For those with children, Cambridge International School Dubai is located in Al Garhoud, while GEMS Royal Dubai School can be found in Mirdif. Deira International School is situated in Dubai Festival City, an area just south of Al Garhoud. The Millenium School is also close by, north of the airport.

Pros: The areas offer more competitive rental prices and there are good schools nearby.

Cons: The proximity to the airport means it can be very noisy.

Culture lovers


Bur Dubai

Bur Dubai is one of the oldest parts of Dubai city. It consists of mostly low- to medium-rise apartment blocks built over shops and restaurants. Traditionally home to expatriates from the sub-continent and Filipinos, it is a bustling and vibrant area. It's great for singles or couples who enjoy the hustle and bustle.

Pros: The area is very affordable and very central.

Cons: Parking can be an issue and good schools are not close by.

On a budget


Discovery Gardens, Barsha Heights and Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT)

More high-rise apartment blocks are on offer in these areas but, sadly, in each case, there are no views to speak of. Discovery Gardens is situated close to Jebel Ali Port at the end of “New” Dubai, while JLT is directly behind JBR on the opposite side of Sheikh Zayed Road. Barsha Heights (formerly known as Tecom) is a free-zone near to the Mall of the Emirates. Accommodation is reasonably priced in these areas as there is plenty of availability. Serviced apartments are common in Barsha Heights and JLT. They are good areas for young couples or single people.

In this area, parents will find international schools such as Nord Anglia International School Dubai and Foremarke School.

Pros: The areas offer low rentals and good availability.

Cons: It can be noisy and dusty due to construction and sometimes it can feel that it lacks charm because of the limited views.

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