Dubai (2003 – 2012) / Business Bay / the Transformation and Recovery after 2008 Economic Crisis

During the development of free zones at the beginning of 21st century, one important event which had significant, or in other words, destructive impact on those free zones driven by the external force of globalization cannot be ignored, the economic crisis starting from 2008. With the aim of being the ‘regional business capital as well as a freehold city’[1], Business Bay was affected much in terms of investment and project construction, for example, the extension of the canal was shelved at that time.[2] During this stage, transformations and urban changes happened within Business Bay in the aspect of planning and program, reflecting much on how this zoning reacted to the challenges from globalization.

In spite of some stagnation in Business Bay, other construction progress was still made during that stage.[3] For instance, the first project in Business Bay as is discussed in the last entry, Executive Towers, were completed its construction under the impact of the economic crisis.[4] Gulf News in 2011 pointed out that there would be a potential for good return in Business Bay with more projects completed and more investment mainly from end users attracted by the improvement of facilities and living conditions.[5] The strong government of Dubai may be an important reason for the recovery of the crisis.

Another reason of the recovery can be the transformation of the original planning during this stage. As is mentioned in the entry about the zone planning of Dubai, the whole area is planned to have 22.1% for residential, 18.5% for commercial and 59.4% for mixed use.[6] In this vision, the residential building cannot be called a dominant part in the project. However, the economic crisis made a huge difference to the real estate in Business Bay. According to The Arabian Post, after the crisis, the speed of recovery between office market and residential market turned out to be quite different, with an increasing demands of apartment and residential project and highest vacancy of office rate in the world.[7] This phenomenon created by the economic crisis and different properties of different programs leading to the result that some main developers started to make a conversion from office building to the residential building, for example, there are five office projects in Business Bay made into hotel apartments by Damac Properties during their different stages of construction.[8] Therefore, a huge difference between the original planning and the project in reality was pushed by the force of globalization. On the one hand, the change of the ratio of residential and commercial buildings in Business Bay not only led a change of the ratio of occupier, but also had a significant impact on the urban operation which is more closed compared with the original planning. On the other hand, this conversion embodied the way that Business Bay’s project responded to the possible challenges caused by the instability of globalization, through the transformation of program according to the demands of reality. This transformation may be perceived as a compromise to the changeable factors in globalization which led to the slight deviation to the original planning to some extent.



[1] “About Business Bay,” Business Bay Office, accessed December 16, 2016,

[2] Mitya Underwood, “From Business Bay to Jumeirah: Dubai’s ambitious new canal plans to bring a cool future,” The National, November 2, 2013, accessed December 16, 2016,

[3] Suzanne Fenton, “Construction industry in Dubai ‘still way ahead,” Gulf News Construction, March 17, 2009, Accessed December 16, 2016,

[4] “Executive Towers,” Business Bay, accessed December 15, 2016,

[5] Deepthi Nair, “High hopes for Business Bay despite infrastructure woes,” Gulf News Property, March 1, 2011, Accessed December 16, 2016,

[6] “Business Bay, Dubai UAE,” Business Dubai, accessed December 16, 2016,

[7] “Business Bay turns out to be more residential,” The Arabian Post, January, 2016, accessed December 16, 2016,

[8] “Business Bay turns out to be more residential”.



Business Bay Office. “About Business Bay.” accessed December 16, 2016.

Business Dubai. “Business Bay, Dubai UAE.” accessed December 16, 2016.

Business Bay. “Executive Towers.” accessed December 15, 2016.

Deepthi Nair. “High hopes for Business Bay despite infrastructure woes.” Gulf News Property. March 1, 2011. Accessed December 16, 2016.

Mitya Underwood. “From Business Bay to Jumeirah: Dubai’s ambitious new canal plans to bring a cool future.” The National. November 2, 2013. accessed December 16, 2016.

Suzanne Fenton. “Construction industry in Dubai ‘still way ahead.” Gulf News Construction. March 17, 2009. Accessed December 16, 2016.

The Arabian Post. “Business Bay turns out to be more residential.” January, 2016, accessed December 16, 2016.

2 Comments on “Dubai (2003 – 2012) / Business Bay / the Transformation and Recovery after 2008 Economic Crisis

  1. It occurs in many cities that there is planning on the proportion of the residential, commercial and other function with policy like zoning and restricted land use. The significant of such policy other city planning and the organization of infrastructure accordingly. However, as stated in the essay, it may restricted the adaptability of the district the changes like economic crisis, globalization force, etc. I wonder whether Dubai government take any step to tackle with the changing demand, to keep its originally planning or allow free-market operation? And what government or planners should do regard planning, should it be a master plan or a system? To me, it may be the later one given the rapid change in the contemporary society.

    • Thank you for your comment. Actually no such effort was taken according to the historical documentation and description I got. Although the government of Dubai can be a relatively strong one compared with most countries with free economic policy, the overall phenomenon of economy and culture is quite free in the country. To my point of view, the starting point of Business Bay, and other free trade zones in Dubai, is to respond to globalization and stimulate the economic development of Dubai, as we have discussed in many entries, so the influence of the change of the economic can never be ignored. In this way, properties and companies are always quicker and more sensitive than original planner in order to keep their interests. Planners and government, of course, should help to guarantee the process of construction, and help to make a better arrangement according to the change of the economic situation.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.