The Last Wave in Dubai

Chris Hunt

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As a country comprised mostly of desert, Dubai may not be the first in line to be labelled as a surfers paradise. But with a large expat population, Dubai has developed a surprisingly strong surfing community, who rely on the small wind swells that make their way through the Arabian Gulf. But, due to constant overdevelopment, Dubai's surfing options have been narrowed down to one beach. A beach currently under threat of becoming dry docked.

As a result of the newly proposed Jumeirah Beach Hotel, marina extension, Sunset Beach is under threat of being blocked from Gulf swells. The project, proposed by the large hotel group would privatise half of the beach and block the swell from the north west, Dubai's prominent swell direction.

15 years ago you couldn't even buy a board in Dubai, nowadays, even the smallest days at Sunset Beach can see 30-100 surfers in the waterArtificial waves brought the attention of the surfing media to Dubai, but ironically, it's the same company that built the Wadi Wave Pool and the flowrider who are behind the developments at Sunset Beach. The marina extension will ultimately be the end if surfing in the city, displacing a growing and strong community of surfers and depriving them of their favourite past time.The Jumeriah Beach Hotel made the following statement.

"The plans for the marina are still in development and we are not in a position to give an update as yet."

The proposed extension at Sunset Beach

The proposed extension at Sunset Beach

Surfing has rapidly gained interest in Dubai, with a number of surf schools popping up in the last 5 years and an annual event taking place on Sunset Beach. Shops have started stocking boards and dedicated surf shops have popped up around the city.

"15 years ago you couldn't even buy a board in Dubai, nowadays, even the smallest days at Sunset Beach can see 30-100 surfers in the water. But the future of surfing in the city is threatened by this large project," explains Dubai resident Owen Sparkes. Due to be completed in 2018, the marina will privatise half of Sunset Beach and block off swell to the beach altogether.

Like thousands of other residents, foreign and local here, I surf, my friends surf and my 3 children are learning to surf. It's fun, healthy and available to everyone. Every other surf beach has seen it's surf flattened. Don't let the same happen to the last remaining one"Like thousands of other residents, foreign and local here, I surf, my friends surf and my 3 children are learning to surf. It's fun, healthy and available to everyone. Every other surf beach has seen it's surf flattened. Don't let the same happen to the last remaining one," said Dubai surfer, Andrew Cumming.

Once upon a time, you could surf almost any of the public beaches along Dubai's coastline, but with the rapid urban developments and offshore construction, one by one surf spots have disappeared over the last ten years.

Developments of Palm island and World Island consigned Dubai's popular surf spots of Wollongong, Mamzar park and DOSC history in the mid 2000s, leaving only Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and Sunset Beach for the growing surf community in Dubai. The resultant dangerous overcrowding of Sunset Beach and inevitable collisions between surfers and swimmers led the government to ban surfing on the beach for a small period of time. A situation compounded in early 2014 by the construction of an offshore island just off the beach at Jumeirah Beach, making Sunset Beach the only spot to surf in Dubai.

Previously a petition to stop development on Sunset Beach was successful when the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed saw how many people would be affected. A feat which requires repetition.

To sign the petition and get more information, click HERE.


Chris Hunt

Content manager at magicseaweed