Neighbourhoods in Dubai – A Guide for Expats
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Neighbourhoods in Dubai – A Guide for Expats

A look at the different areas of Dubai.

Dubai is one of the most attractive places for expats to settle down in. There is constant construction going on aimed at improving and expanding this desert oasis, Dubai currently has the highest rates of both construction and immigration in the world. Due to the large influx of expats, we thought we'd take a look at the different neighbourhoods in Dubai that you could settle down in. These neighbourhoods range from peaceful, gated communities full of villas and palatial homes to high rise flats in the hustle-and-bustle centre of the city; from beaches to the country, and from old traditional neighbourhoods to areas kitted out in the latest in modern facilities. Whether you  are moving to Dubai with your family in tow, or are heading out as a young enthusiastic couple or single person, there's somewhere to satisfy everyone's needs.

For an Interactive Map of Dubai, click here

There are an abundance of different neighbourhoods in Dubai, so this article might get lengthy. To try and separate the many areas into succinct groups, we've divided them into those neighbourhoods recommended for families, those recommended for those without kids, and ones that are suitable for both (although of course this is open to individual interpretation). Some neighbourhoods may have been left out, but we've included are the main areas that attract expats. Firstly, let's take a look at family-suitable neighbourhoods;


Emirates Hills

Emirate Hills is one of the most desired neighbourhoods for expat families. The neighbourhood is safe as the complex is composed of several small gated communities. Within the compound there are parks, playgrounds, lakes, swimming pools, areas for dog walking, and the Emirates Hills Montgomerie Golf Course with a clubhouse full of other facilities. The surrounding area is peaceful and relaxed, with plenty of green public spaces for socialising. There is great access to shops, as the neighbourhood is near to the Mall of the Emirates and Ibn Battuta.

In terms of schools for the expat children, there are plenty available; for the rugrats, there are nurseries such as Raffles and Jebel Ali. Dubai International Academy, Emirates International School, and Dubai British School are nearby for the older lot, and even The American University is close. In terms of healthcare, there are some small clinics locally, and the complex is near to the new Saudi-German hospital. Despite these positives, there are downsides to Emirates Hills. The schools have huge waiting lists, meaning many children are home-schooled, and the area has recently been suffering from a bug and insect problem. Still, the good most definitely outweigh the inconveniences of this family-friendly area.

Arabian Ranches

This neighbourhood is another perfect place to raise the kids. The Ranches are a gated community, with 24hr surveillance and maintenance making it a safe and secure area. Facilities are plentiful, with parks, pools, children's play areas, cycling paths and private gardens as well as the obligatory golf course, and to add its own plush twist, an equestrian centre. The equestrian centre holds 2 polo fields, as well as show jumping areas and boarding facilities for the horses.

Arabian Ranches is away from the city, and so offers villas in a quiet, spacious and attractive surrounding. The excellent community centre offers the ability for socialising with other expats with its 20 retail outlets as well as cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and other entertainment centres. There are schools for the kids such as Raffles Nursery, and the Jumeirah English Speaking School. The only negatives of living in Arabian Ranches is the lack of medical facilities and larger schools nearby, and the journey into Dubai city centre if you're having to make a daily commute. (As we'll see throughout this article, traffic in Dubai is a huge problem.)

Green Community

Secure and social life in Green Community, full of landscaped gardens, stone streets, and little traffic attract many an expat family with its quaint peaceful appeal. There are 67 hectares of residential, leisure, retail and commercial properties in Green Community. Mostly these properties are villas, which attract families over the single lot.

The Courtyard by Marriott Green Community Dubai is a community centre with an outdoor pool, kid's pool, gym, and jacuzzi. There is of course a golf course here, as well as health facilities and a selection of schools. Schools in the area include The Children's Garden (a nursery), and Greenfield Community School (an IB World School). With regards to one of Dubai's favourite pastimes – shopping - Green Community is home to The Market shopping centre. This is 86 units full of everything you could possibly need from restaurants to banks, cafés, supermarkets, a pharmacy and a clinic. The location is ideal for those that work in Jebel Ali Free Zone, however reaching other areas of Dubai is a pain; Green Community is outside of the city, so any daily commute into Dubai centre will be a nightmare.

Jebel Ali Village

This area contains a mix of older villas, and new plush properties in compounds. While it was originally considered too far out to attract many expats, with the constant growth of Dubai, it is now in an acceptable area with access to everything you could need. The peaceful, green location is making Jebel Ali Village increasingly popular. Perks include great access to Freezone, Media City and Internet City, which is ideal if you should work there. Also there is not much traffic in the area (which is something to appreciate compared with other neighbourhoods in Dubai), good access to health facilities, schools, social clubs, restaurants, the cinema, and malls add to the benefits of Jebel Ali Village. However, the Village's properties are in high demand and so are hard to come by.

Jumeirah (Beach,1,2,3), and Umm Sequim

This area has easy access to everything you could need for the children; clinics and hospitals for when they get sick or injured (including Medicare Hospital), and plenty of schools and nurseries for their development. Schools include the Emirates International School, Kings Dubai, Raffles International School, and Jumeirah Primary School. The abundance of nurseries include Raffles, Wisdom International, Small World, and Royal Beach although there are a considerable number of alternatives available.

This area is beach front property, and so is chock full of tourist attracting hotels including the 7 star Burj Al Arab, and The Madinat Jumeirah. Each hotel has numerous facilities, dining options, and private beaches. There are many other beaches nearby, as well as parks, and the Wild Wadi Waterpark. The highest rents for properties are on the beach front, as is to be expected, with some ridiculously expensive palatial mansions available. Properties here are in a great location for entertainment, you'll be hard pressed to be bored with all the facilities and beaches nearby. The area is also home to the world famous Palm Jumeirah and The World residential islands.

These communities are in the centre of Dubai, and so are not gated. This means some petty crime occurs, and the area suffers from ridiculous traffic and congestion. Construction creates a lot of noise pollution, and the hustle and bustle is fairly constant, so the area is not that relaxing which just goes to show there are downsides to living in paradise.

Al Safa and Al Wasl

Villas surrounded by open parks attract expats to this section of Dubai. There are a range of house types available for a range of prices, which attracts a diverse community. There is access to both healthcare and education facilities nearby, however the main draw back with this area is the lack of local amenities. This means that you will have to drive to get to most places and attractions such as the larger shopping malls, and schools.

Dubai Marina and Al Sofouh

These areas are made up of apartments and villas respectively. These homes are some of the most expensive in all of Dubai, which means they are going to be good. Though the apartments are relatively small compared with some areas of Dubai, the excellent location, stunning views and abundance of amenities make this a highly desirable region. You will obviously have access to the marina, and are close to beautiful beaches. This is a very glamorous area, however you pay a high price for such glamour. With ongoing construction creating noise, and huge problems with traffic and parking, many expats might find this area frustrating and simply not worth the money you will have to pay.

Oud Metha and Umm Hurair

Located on the west side of Dubai Creek, these areas have everything within easy reach. They are home to some amazingly beautiful parks. It is a short walk to great schools, restaurants, bars, malls, hospitals and clinics, all of which are in abundance. Frustratingly, however, it is hard to find free accommodation in the area as simply not enough has been built for the demand. Construction is expanding Oud Metha and Umm Hurair, but for many an expat family there may be a wait if this is your truly ideal location.

Mirdif and Rashidiya

These areas are outside of the central city of Dubai, but offer everything you could need in a more peaceful setting. New development has been going on throughout the area, so it is increasing in popularity. There are schools, healthcare facilities, sports facilities and shops available.

Mirdif and Rashidiya have a range of properties available with varied prices, meaning there is something here for every (or certainly most) budgets, as well as the option to lease, buy or rent properties. The area is definitely attractive, with landscaping and parks a plenty. The great outdoor communal spaces, no traffic or congestion, and peaceful setting make this area a safe place to bring up the children. The only downsides are firstly, that it is hard to find properties in the area, and secondly that when you've found one, it may be on a flight path, leading to irritating noise pollution. With this in mind, view the property multiple times before you sign any lease and make sure you view at different times of day.


Al Barsha

Al Barsha is split into 2 zones, spacious villas, and apartment blocks, which may account for why it attracts both families and young couples or singles. The range of properties mean there is something for most budgets. The area is safe, quiet, easily accessible, and is reasonably priced. There are plenty of things to do nearby, as the Mall of the Emirates is close. This provides access to a range of entertainment and facilities. For expats with children, there are good schools nearby and some spacious properties available. Some expat families are put off from living in the area though by the visible power lines.

Al Garhoud

Al Garhoud has been described as an almost perfect place to live. The location is central, with excellent amenities and facilities available. There are an array of options when it comes to entertainment, shopping, schools, and medical centres. The area has varied accommodation options for a variety of prices. This attracts a diverse range of families and single people. The area is known to be a friendly and safe place. However, there are some pitfalls to living in Al Garhoud; congestion during peak times is irritating, and the region is near the airport which means both that there are problems with noise and fumes, and that it is hard to find properties because airline staff have snapped them all up.

Al Qusais

Al Qusais, on the other side of the airport from Al Garhoud, is an area that is considered up and coming. Currently there is not much to do in the area, but on-going construction will bring the area in line with the rest of Dubai. There are plans to build more accommodation, schools and all other necessary amenities in the area. Currently, Al Qusais is an affordable section of Dubai and is relatively quiet. For the young lot looking to move here, there is good access to night life too, as Al Qusais is not far from Deira.


Al Karama

This area is highly affordable, and possesses a range of both old and new apartments. The cheap price of apartments mean that they are in high demand though. Karama is well located, with great amenities, and close access to beaches and the attractions of Jumeirah. Because of its convenient location however, Al Karama suffers from Dubai's pesky traffic and parking problems. It is not such a relaxing area, with the constant action and vitality, which is why it is not highly recommended for families.

The Trade Centre

This is a young and trendy modern area of Dubai, with some great real estate. The properties are typically new, shiny, glamorous places. A lot of the region is composed of skyscrapers giving it a glossy, big city feeling. These towers are full of facilities, shops and other sources of entertainment. Obviously, this region is expensive to live in as a newer build, and because of the central location. This also means that it suffers from pollution, noise, and a certain amount of fervour that makes it hard to relax in.

Al Satwa

This is reputed to be the best place for young, free and single people. The life here is exciting, exuberant and vibrant. The area is not of the glitzy, luxurious style of much of Dubai which gives it its own appeal. There are a variety of properties available for a variety of prices. Properties are within walking distance of plenty of entertainment; Al Satwa is right in the centre of Dubai's night life, with bars and clubs to keep you entertained till the wee hours of the morning. This area attracts a diverse range of people which adds to the vibrancy of the community. The problems with living in Al Satwa are mostly traffic based, with lots of cars and people causing frustration to some. The lack of security and gated properties mean thefts are possible, so make sure to keep an eye on your belongings and lock up when you leave. The busy lifestyle and masses of people mean this area is not recommended for expat families with small children.


On the East bank of Dubai Creek lies Deira, the busiest area in Dubai. The properties available tend to range from old villas occupied primarily by local families to apartments of varied quality and normally relatively cheap price. There are no expat schools nearby, hence why this we've listed it in the singles section, however there are all other general amenities you'd need. Deira is not a plush luxurious area which is why its accommodation comes with a lower price tag, but that doesn't stop it from being an exciting and interesting place. Deira is full of souqs, with shops and market vendors selling practically anything you can imagine, from the gold souq to spice and fish souqs. If you can't find what you want in a souq, there are malls to shop in as well. There are plenty of big hotels, which have a number of entertainment facilities, restaurants and bars in them, and for the sport of choice for business men, there is the Dubai Creek Golf Course. Downsides to living in Deira include the standard traffic congestion and parking problems, and the potential harassment of women by leering men, especially on the way back from town after a night out.

Bur Dubai and Al Mankhool

On the other side of Dubai Creek lies Bur Dubai and Al Mankhool. This area is home to a restored historic quarter, The Dubai Museum, the Sheikh Saeed House (where past rulers lived), Heritage and Dining Village (a recreated Bedouin village), souvenir stalls, Dubai's Grand Mosque, Bur Jurman and Wafi malls, Creekside Park, Children's City – an educational play centre, and it is near bargain shopping location - Karama. The central location makes it possible to walk to almost anything that you'll need.

Regarding accommodation, there are various types and prices of housing available. The community is diverse, and this is an area where you don't need a car to go out and have fun. Bur Dubai and Al Mankhool have great night life, which is why it attracts the predominantly young and single expats. Problems with the region include some rather ugly cheap buildings, little public space and that the area is less safe in the streets due to the bustling night life. This means you need to watch yourself when stumbling home after a night out.

If you've read all the above information, thanks for sticking with us. We know that was a lot to digest, and we didn't even manage to cover all of Dubai. This Emirate is constantly growing and expanding, so make sure to keep up to date with the latest housing developments. The areas we've highlighted are the key areas for expats to consider though. Best of luck with your move to Dubai and with finding the right place for you (and possibly your family).


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