In fast-changing Dubai, once-isolated village to be razed | Lifestyles

In response to a request for comment, Nakheel said it informed residents of its plans and complied with legal requirements.

“We recognize Jebel Ali Village’s importance to Dubai’s history and its residents and, for this reason, have taken the decision to redevelop the community to preserve and enhance its longevity for many more generations to come,” the company said, arguing that the planned pools, parks, sports courts and bike trails would bring residents together in new ways.

As oil boomed in the 1970s, American and European employees of international oil conglomerates, lured by generous cost-of-living allowances, descended on the dusty towns of the Persian Gulf. Expats settled with their families in well-guarded communities across the region, transforming outposts like Saudi Arabian Oil Co. compounds into meticulously landscaped replicas of California suburbia.

Dubai didn’t have much oil, but used what it had to build Jebel Ali, the region’s first major shipping hub and dry dock. Dutch and British port workers moved into houses made from concrete breeze blocks. As the neighborhood grew, a school sprouted up. So did horse stables, a pool and clubhouse where residents gathered to swap stories over brunches and beers.

“That sense of community is quite unique to this place,” said Donna Dickinson, a 40-year-old from Norfolk, England, who spent her teenage years in the village and moved back with her family last year “to replicate for my children the childhood that I had.”

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