Retail, leisure and green spaces at DIFC's new Gate Avenue development

Dubai International Financial Centre has unveiled details of Gate Avenue, its new Dh475 million development, the biggest single infrastructure project it has launched since it opened 12 years ago.

The project – expected to be completed by the end of 2017 – is a vital component of DIFC’s strategy to triple in size by 2024. It will create a new retail and leisure destination in the heart of Dubai’s financial district.

“This is a significant step towards accomplishing our 2024 growth strategy that paves the way for the sustained development of DIFC,” said Essa Kazim, the DIFC governor.

“The project will be a significant value-add for professionals and residents currently working and living in the district, and create an even more attractive proposition for prospective clients and tenants, as we build on our already world-class infrastructure platform. This, in turn will elevate DIFC’s status as one of the most sought-after destinations in the world.”

Dubai was recently named as the 13th most attractive financial centre in the world, ahead of such established hubs as Frankfurt, Shanghai and Luxembourg.

The Avenue project was previously referred to as The Spine because it will link the main Gate and Village districts in the north of DIFC to the big commercial and residential developments in the south. It will comprise 660,000 square feet of built-up area including retail, leisure, dining and green spaces.

It will also have an “emblematic mosque, a beacon of modern Islamic design, that will host a total of 500 worshippers daily and for Friday prayers”, DIFC said. The project has been designed by the British architectural firm RMJM, which has worked on many significant jobs in the Middle East, including the original master plan for the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The cost will be met from the DIFC’s own resources.

DIFC said: “The project is set to emerge as a premium lifestyle destination offering vibrant and world-class amenities to the financial centre’s diverse community of professionals, residents and visitors. Gate Avenue at DIFC will also provide seamless connectivity to all building podiums within the district.

“The new destination will integrate the essential elements that make DIFC a remarkably rich international environment, and boast more than 150 of the region’s most distinctive and sophisticated dining, shopping and cultural experiences – all encapsulated in one iconic setting,” it added.

The Avenue will comprise three zones connected by an open-air promenade. North zone begins close to the Ritz- Carlton hotel, and will feature exclusive retail offerings, high-end stores and luxury outlets.

“The central zone will feature a plethora of high-street brands, a variety of beautiful indoor restaurants as well as sumptuous al fresco eateries. With easy connections to the Financial Centre metro station, the zone will also comprise convenience retail stores to cater to the metro traffic,” DIFC said.

The south zone will be aimed mainly at residents of the DIFC district, and will provide community and family facilities.

DIFC said that Gate Avenue would also host a variety of arts and cultural events, live music performances and festivals.

Existing office buildings along the Avenue – including the under-construction US$1 billion tower Brookfield Place, will be connected via promenade level walkways.

DIFC has grown rapidly since it was opened in 2004. Last year it reported its best-ever operating performance, with a 27 per cent rise in new registrations. There are now some 1,445 firms operating in DIFC, employing just short of 20,000 people.

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