UAE Area Guides: Dubai

Al Safa Area Guide

Nothing is impossible
“We, in the UAE, have no such word as “impossible”; it does not exist in our lexicon. Such a word is used by the lazy and the weak, who fear challenges and progress. When one doubts his potential and capabilities as well as his confidence, he will lose the compass that leads him to success and excellence, thus failing to achieve his goal. I require you, youth, to insist on number one.”
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE
Al Safa
Dubai, UAE
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A river runs through it. Well, a canal at least, slicing its way through the community, entering from Downtown, and leaving to head off to Jumeirah 1 and then the sea. In between it has wiped out half of Safa Park, one of the lungs of the city, and so far not replaced it with much. Landscaping - which will hopefully include a lot of vegetation - has yet to begin.

Consequently the northern side of Safa towards Al Wasl is not what it was. It has been sliced, diced and is currently on the operating table, in a state of recovery. We suspect once Dubai's landscapers move in they will do so with a vengeance, but it will be a big job. The canal is a key Dubai PLC strategic initiative, and it runs through Dubai. This is not a case of some grass and a few sprinklers.

As an area Safa has always carried a little bit of the laid back vibe of an older Jumeirah, with slightly more of its shabbier chic. With the canal, new transport infrastructure, and high end shops rising slowly along Al Wasl road it is beginning to take on a character of its own. On the main arteries it is becoming, correction has become busy, dusty, and congested, increasingly so the further towards the Satwa end you get. However a few metres in on any road of Al Wasl and peacefulness returns. 

Old Safa is particularly evident just off 19th Street where Pizza Express stands in front of a Park and Shop and a Shakespeare's, which is pretty much the area's community centre. The same faces have been showing up now for decades. We suspect unless someone knocks it down, they will still be congregating to read the newspaper, have morning meetings, coffees and to smoke (yes there is a smoking room) in ten years time.

However off the beaten track, change is coming. Communities that have spent decades minding their own business have slowly been awakened to the new Dubai. Roads have been ripped up as cables and other gubbins and run beneath. Slowly it is all being filled back in again, but nowhere does it feel quite the same. If there area could still be described as sleepy, it's now a disturbed slumber.

That said, this is still a good place for families to live. There are a wide range of villas available, some in mature compounds, although a lot less than there were. New, modern, more expensive villas have slowly been built in their place which while without the character, do have working AC systems. 

The area is incredibly well positioned. There is a Medcare hospital and numerous clinics. There are some great schools in or close to area (see below), and even if your school of choice is not in Safa itself, it is very connected. It is easy to get to Al Wasl road, and from there, anywhere in the emirate.

Al Safa Ratings





Family Friendly


Transport Links


Al Safa Pros & Cons


Safa Park
The Canal
Lots of schools in the area
Reasonable accommodation


Al Wasl road and congestion
Landscaping, building works, road works
Increasingly noisy and dusty

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