Dubai Marina is Dubai’s brand-new city-within-a-city, most of it built at lightning speed between 2005 and 2010 (although further enhancements, such as the Dubai Tram, which opened in 2014, continue to be added on a regular basis). There’s no real precedent anywhere in the world for urban development on this scale or at this speed, and the area’s huge new residential developments and commercial and tourist facilities have already shifted the focus of the entire emirate decisively southwards.
Like much of modern Dubai, the marina is a mishmash of the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Many of the high-rises are of minimal architectural distinction, and all are packed so closely together that the overall effect is of hyperactive urban development gone completely mad. It’s all weirdly impressive, even so, especially by night, when darkness hides the worst examples of gimcrack design and the whole area lights up into a fabulous display of high-rise neon, while the pleasant oceanfront The Walk promenade and the parallel Marina Walk, just inland, now boast two of the new city’s best and liveliest selections of restaurants, cafés, shops and hotels.