A multi-billion dirham development surrounding a multi-million dirham man-made lagoon, that can in parts look spectacular: water, trees, grass, fountains, shops, cafes, glass, steel and concrete - mountains of concrete - combining to create incredible structures that only architects that have failed to get a slice of the action seem to dislike.
Dubai Marina is bordered by JBR towards the sea, and Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) on the other side of Sheikh Zayed Road, a younger, dustier, less expensive but still quite spectacular looking clone albeit without the Lagoon, but with er, Lakes.
At the foot of each tower, especially (but not uniquely) facing the water are a slew of luxury shops, good quality restaurants, supermarkets, and boutique stores. If there is a centre, it is The Marina Walk, which is also home to one of the best craft fairs in town, the Marina Market. The Walk runs around the Lagoon, and in parts is a bustling centre of retail heaven, similar if not smaller to JBR's Walk.
Rents in the area are high, especially if you have good access to the Walk. Pretty much all accommodation in the area is apartment living, and pretty much all in high towers. The average height ranges between 250 metres (820 ft) to 300 metres (984 ft), which includes Ocean Heights, Marina Pinnacle, and Sulafa Tower. A fewer number range between 350 metres (1,148 ft) to 400 metres (1,312 ft) - Elite Residence, 23 Marina, Princess Tower, Dream Dubai Marina, Marina 106, Damac Heights, and the super tall Pentominium, which rises to 516 metres (1,693 ft) meters.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's favourite is the Twisty or Infifity Tower, officially called Cayan Tower, a 306 metres (1,004 ft), 80 story skyscraper that twists 90 degrees. The tower was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill SOM architectural group, the same group who built the Burj Khalifa. It is, we think, stunning.
Dubai Marina looks particularly fabulous outside of the area, either driving into Dubai from Abu Dhabi where tall towers loom in the distance Manhattan style, or from the likes of Palm Jumeirah, where the neon lights of the building put on a faux fireworks display every night.
With such accommodation density, there are traffic issues, although these do focus around the JBR area. If you can get on and off Sheikh Zayed Road with ease, it is a fairly convenient place to live. If you cannot, think Dante's seventh level.
Equally, with room for 130,000 inhabitants there is a range of pricing in accommodation, although the Marina is distinctly premium. A studio will cost an average of 69000 AED per annum, a one-bed 97000 AED to 106000 AED, a two-bed from 145000, a three bedroom from 221000 to 257000, a four bed from 230000 AED to 358000 AED and a 5-bed from 419000 AED per annum.
There are no schools in Dubai Marina, although there are pre-schools, which means cutting over SZR into the Meadows, Lakes, etc, or heading towards Al Sufouh. This is doable - if you can get onto SZR easily. Make sure you check you can do so.