In the past two years, there has been increasing focus by developers on the quieter, suburban districts to the North of Dubai, and developments like Meraas’s The Yard are a fine example of the new, funkier vibe that permeates much of what is being built. The Yard, in Al Khawaneej, is already winning popularity with the residents of Mirdif, a district that is also drawing increasing interest, as its first freehold development Mirdif Hills, is under construction. A chic new boutique mall, Mirdif 35, which opened last year, is one of several other new properties that demonstrates a new and different focus for the area.
Mirdif and its neighbouring northern district of Al Khawaneej have previously been given over mainly to the development of family homes, but, as Dubai as a whole changes and develops, residents increasingly expect more lifestyle destinations to be on their doorsteps, and The Yard is an example of that. It is a rare example of a place that just brings a smile to your face, as adults will love contemplating the eccentric exterior design features by the peaceful lake, and children will enjoy the kid-friendly activities that are on offer. So, what can you do at this surprising new development, and why should you visit The Yard? Read on to find out.
see a part of dubai you haven’t seen before
If you are new to Dubai or the UAE, you have most likely heard of Mirdif, but you may not know Al Khawaneej, Mirdif’s quieter sister district. Meraas has picked up on the opportunities available in this sleepy suburb to build The Yard, which is just inside the Al Khawaneej border on its western side, literally across the road from Mirdif. Al Khawaneej feels a million miles from the international image of Dubai, which is one of skyscrapers and super cars. Instead it has quiet streets lined with unique family villas, as well as its own park with walking and cycling track. If you like the sound of that, take a look at some properties for rent in Al Khawaneej.
foodies will love the yard
The Yard draws on the success of Meraas’s previous projects, offering a selection of food trucks with outdoor seating under its existing Last Exit brand, which follows the success of earlier branches on Sheikh Zayed Road near Jebel Ali, and near Al Qudra Cycle Track. Even if you are not eating, there are plenty of other things to do in The Yard, taking a stroll around the rows of vintage-style food trucks is diverting enough, and you can have your pick of burgers, Indian cuisine, Arabian-inspired dishes and more. Any street food you can think of is available , and it is the perfect choice for groups who cannot agree on what they want – everyone can have something different.
it’s instagram heaven
The Yard also taps into the Instagram-friendly vibe that seems to be de rigueur for Meraas developments, La Mer included, with quirky hipster-centric vintage style and, in this case, cool murals, reclaimed agricultural equipment and farm-inspired installations, offering plenty of spots to get that perfect ‘Gram shot. Whether you want a sunset shot by the lake, to pose next to a giant newspaper-reading plastic cow, fake a conversation with a rustic-looking scarecrow, do a bouncey shot on a trampoline, or appear sitting on a reclaimed vintage tractor, The Yard has you covered. Someone inside Meraas has clearly picked up on the current generation’s obsessive need to create the quirkiest possible shots for their social media feeds. We take our hats off to them.
teach your kids about food
In addition to the food trucks, there is an emerging selection of restaurants, starting with Homestead, which also incorporates a bakery, and focuses on locally sourced organic ingredients where possible, serving a range of cuisines from local Emirati to Persian and Indian. It is a big venue with ample indoor seating, meaning it is likely to be a popular spot once the weather heats up. Homestead continues the vintage vibe – think reclaimed water butts for taps in the washrooms – country-style décor and twee fake bird in cages on available surfaces, and out front, there are numerous models of farm animals and displays invoking life on the farm to get your offspring thinking about how the food on their plate gets there from a field. This feeds off a quiet movement that seems to be emerging in Dubai and the UAE, a place known for being reliant on food imports due to the harsh climate, to consider food security. This is seen in local attempts to farm organically, such as the Emirates Bio Farm, and organic food initiatives such as the Ripe Market.
IT’S SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT
The Yard gives off a slightly different vibe than you would normally expect in Dubai. The “suburban hideaway” slogan attached to it by the developers feels appropriate, as there is something of the countryside about The Yard, and that is a rarity for many city-dwelling Dubaians.
the kids will have fun
When we visited, activities in The Yard included pony rides for youngsters, and a chance to buy a padlock to clip to the Promise Bridge, which is inspired by the famous Pont des Arts in Paris, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and sit and contemplate by the quiet lakeside, home to some bird sculptures, but soon likely to be populated by fish and local bird life if conditions allow. Young children will love playing on the reclaimed vintage tractors that are dotted around the lake, (it took quite some time for our offspring to agree to relinquish the tractor seat) and older kids will have hours of fun bouncing on the trampolines and exploring the quirky installations around the lake.
it’s open 24/7
As with any outdoor venue in Dubai, the question automatically arises as to what will happen to The Yard in summer. Well, the Last Exit food trucks definitely have the potential to be a hit with those who want to gather outside and breathe the air for a quick bite on a summer’s evening, and The Yard’s inland location may mean it is spared some of the worst of the humidity. Current information suggests that it will be open 24 hours a day, and add to that the pretty, atmospheric lighting that has been installed around the lake, and it could potentially be a great spot for late night, or even very early morning, get- togethers.
Have you visited The Yard? Tell us what you think of it in the comments below. Or, find out more about another Meraas development in our blog, What’s new at La Mer?