Wednesday, 1 January 2014

14 things Dubai residents can look forward to in 2014 XPRESS gives the low-down on what the New Y

DUBAI: The celebrations are over. The world’s largest fireworks have exploded. And Dubai has rung in the New Year with the biggest bang. Now that’s a tall precedent for the UAE to begin 2014 with, but the year ahead has lots more to look forward to -- the impending rent hike notwithstanding. From mandatory health cover to smart cabs, tram service and a 120-hectare safari park, here’s looking at 14 developments taking shape in the city and how they will impact you in the months ahead.
Mandatory health insurance
All Dubai residents will have health insurance in a phased plan as a new law has made it compulsory for companies to provide coverage for employees. Individual expatriate employees who sponsor their spouses and children will have to bear the cost of coverage. Linked to the visa, the health insurance will be a pre-requisite to obtaining a new residence visa or renewal as employers and individual sponsors must submit evidence of insurance coverage with the visa application. Basic packages beginning at Dh600 will cover emergency, primary, secondary, maternity and surgical procedures.
Smart cabs
Travelling in a Dubai taxi will be easier as passengers are being introduced to an all-new “smart” experience. What that means is that they can do everything from “shaking” down a taxi and checking flights on board to making payments by NoL cards, even credit cards. All that a passenger will need to do is download the Smart Taxi app on a smartphone. The free application allows people to book and track taxi orders in real time. The NOL cards can be topped up with credit to pay for other public transport as well, besides parking.
Dubai tram
Dubai Tram, the world’s first tram system that can ensure zero danger, will change the way in which residents of several New Dubai areas will commute. Phase one of the project will see 11 stations being completed by March. It will span 10.6 km starting from Dubai Marina and go along Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai Media City, Knowledge Village and Al Sufouh, before finishing at a depot next to Dubai Police Academy. The project will be fully operational by November.
Many new roads will come about in 2014. They include the Umm Suqeim Road, two new links between Shaikh Zayed Road and SMBZ Road, Jebel Ali-Lehbab Road, Yalayes Road and link between Business Bay and Al Khail Road and Jumeirah Lake Towers and SMBZ Road. The Al Asayel Road will also be extended to Oud Metha.
Number portability
With both etisalat and du launching the mobile number portability service on December 30, 2013, residents can now switch between the licensees while retaining their mobile numbers. In a UAE first, du has also launched a Multi-SIM that lets you manage five devices with one plan and one number. It will entail assigning one primary SIM to a main device, with up to four secondary SIMs in other devices. All SIMs will share the same subscription for voice calls, besides making video calls, sending SMS, MMS and using data.
Replaced labour cards
Emirates ID cards will replace labour cards early this year. In the second quarter of this year, a pilot project result will also determine when the Emirates ID cards could be used instead of ATM and credit cards for banking transactions, as part of cooperation agreement between Emirates ID and financial institutions.
Property handovers
An increasing number of residential projects are being delivered in Dubai. At the end of third quarter 2013, the residential stock in areas has been pegged at about 364,000 units. Over 3,400 handed over in the third quarter will be ready for occupancy. They include properties in Jumeirah Park, The Villa, Dubailand, Downtown, International City, Dubai Sports City, Silicon Oasis, Tecom and other areas. Around 45,000 under-construction residential units are expected to enter the market over the next one-two years.
More schools
A number of new schools will become operational, accommodating thousands of students. GEMS Education alone will be launching 10 new schools in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah, ensuring admissions to 33,000 students. Similarly, the Taaleem group will launch a foundation school in Jumeirah Islands that will feed into a new British curriculum school in Jumeirah Park the following term. According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), 11 new schools – four Indian curriculum schools and seven British/IB schools – opened in Dubai in 2013-14.
Dubai safari
The new Dubai Zoo, now called Dubai Safari, will be completed this year. The Dh150 million park, which has completed its first phase of construction, will cover 120 hectares and will house a zoo, safari and butterfly park, botanical garden, resort and golf course, in addition to educational and veterinary facilities. It is expected to feature over 1,000 animals and birds.
Green mosque
The Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (Amaf) will launch the Middle East’s first green mosque in Dubai in March. Located on a 105,000 square foot site, the 45,000 square foot mosque will accommodate 3,500 worshippers. The environmentally friendly mosque will use green building materials, thermal insulation for lowering energy consumption and air conditioners that emit reduced greenhouse gases. Nearly 60,000 square feet will be landscaped.
A Dh120 million Roman-style amphitheatre will open in Sharjah. Located on the banks of Khalid Lagoon, the 7,238 square metre facility will will serve as a venue for a host of activities for the Sharjah Capital of Islamic Culture 2014 celebrations as well as global events. It will include terraced seating that can accommodate up to 4,500 spectators, besides conference rooms, shopping galleries, restaurants and landscaped areas along the waterfront. The Al Majaz Island project will also include a Dh13 million bridge between the island and Khalid Lagoon Street.
Quran park
A new Quran Park being set up by Dubai Municipality in Al Khawaneej will be ready in September. The 60-hectare development, it will feature 35 plants out of the 54 mentioned in the Quran and will give residents a chance to learn about them. The solar-powered park will host an Andalusian themed garden and oasis-themed section. It will also have a tunnel that will guide visitors on the major miracles mentioned in the Quran with audio and visual aids.
Tallest serviced tower
A 432-metre high Marina 101, rechristened Dream Dubai Marina, billed as the world’s tallest serviced hotel apartment tower, will be completed this year. The tower will have 252 and 168 one- and two-bedroom furnished apartments, besides 60 three-bed units and eight duplexes. It will have a restaurant on the 101th floor and will be operated by Hampshire Hotels Management in association with Wyndham Hotel Group.
New pet market, hotel
Pet lovers can look forward to a 50-acre birds and pets market that will be launched by Dubai Municipality in Al Warsan 3 in March. The Dh54 million air-conditioned market will house a plush pet hotel, complete with facilities for dressing, grooming, therapy sessions, laundry services, playgrounds, supervisors and vets. Holidaying pet owners who leave their animals here would be able to monitor them online. The hotel will have 30 independent rooms and can accommodate 50 dogs at a time.

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