Dubai (2003-2012) / Business Bay / The Creek and its extension: the transformation of the city center under the capital power
In 2003, Business Bay was established in order to develop a new modern Central Business District just like Manhattan. On the one hand, under the context of globalization and industrialization, it is developed as a regional business capital which indicated a shift of city business and commercial center towards Jumeirah and the Sheik Zayed commercial precinct gradually since the 1970s. The Business Bay was planned to be a new free zone which guarantee the freehold of foreigners in order to attract investment, and on the other hand, the project was conducted with the further extension of the Creek, the one which had huge influence on the early development of Dubai’s urbanization. The Creek therefore became one of the dominant factors to decide the site of the project.
Due to the natural environment of Dubai with endless desert covering most of its area, the Creek area became an important site for the city to appear and growth. ‘Trigonometrical Plan of the Back-water of Debai by Lieut R. Cogan’ shows a record of Dubai’s early city in 1822, when the rudiment of the city started to appear by the Creek. It served as the means of transportation from the Gulf into the land during its period of Colony, and before Dubai’s industrial age, trade, fishing and Pearling were main activities which stimulated the development of the city.
With the increase of migrants, the city continued to grow around the Creek, and developed into several zones with different functions separated by the Creek. Commercial activities became the main driven force with the colonial power of British. When it came to the later 20th century, the demands of a better port to serve the international enter pot trade made the dredging of the Creek in 1961. This is the time when human’s activities started to modify the natural site for its better serve to the city development. John Harris’ master plan in 1971 showed the rapid sprawl of the city from the Creek with the strong water transportation and the high way infrastructure construction.
During the expansion of the city along the Creek and into the desert in 1970s, the commercial center on the east coast, the Deira started to give way to Jumeirah and the Sheik Zayed commercial precinct. Two structural plan on 1993 and 2003 indicate the government’s desire to make Dubai ‘a major international-quality metropolitan’. The policy of ‘One country two systems’ and ‘Freehold property available to foreigners’ stimulating the development of free zones and new business centers became an important reason to break the position of Deira as the only commercial center and stimulated the growth of the city through multiple centers.
As is mentioned above, Business Bay is the new business center which is proposed by Dubai’s government as the Manhattan of Dubai, even the Middle East, and the site proposed for it is the desert area which was not considered to develop in the master plans before 1993. From two structural plans above, the site for Business Bay was proposed as residential and recreation area rather than a business center. The reason to situate this important project here can be that the dredging and extension of the important Dubai Creek was planned in 21st century and other free zones, for example, DIFC, started to be set up nearby, both of which provided a strong infrastructural and commercial network for the construction of Business Bay.
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Pacione, Michael. ‘City Profile: Dubai.’ Cities, Vol. 22, No. 3 (2005): 255–265.