Dubai's Chicago Beach has disappeared!
Search Maps of Dubai and you will not find any reference to "Chicago Beach". In fact Chicago Beach never officially existed. "Chicago Beach" was the name everyone used to describe a stretch of beach where Dubai's Offshore Oil Storage Tanks were built and later became home to Dubai's first Resort Hotel - Chicago Beach Hotel - and Dubai's first gated community - Chicago Beach Village. Today the name has disappeared along with the beach, the hotel and the village. But memories of Chicago Beach remain.
How did Chicago Beach get its name?
Chicago Beach was a long stretch of open beach on Dubai's coastline towards Abu Dhabi, several kilometres from Dubai's outskirts towards Abu Dhabi. The beach was considered "remote" back then but was soon to become part of Dubai as Dubai expanded. In 1966 this beach was chosen to build Dubai's three Kazzans - Offshore Undersea Oil Storage Tanks. Chicago Bridge and Engineering Company was chosen to build these Kazzans.
Chicago Bridge Engineering and Iron Company from USA set up their worksite on the beach, erecting their construction crane which then dominated the skyline. This crane carried a signboard advertising "Chicago Bridge and Engineering Company" which could be read from miles away. This soon became a reference point for everyone travelling on Dubai's few roads or many desert tracks connecting Dubai with Abu Dhabi. "Chicago Beach" entered the Dubai everyday language as a means of giving directions. Chicago Beach was never an official name despite being subsequently used for a Government owned housing complex and hotels. "Chicago Beach"continued to be used as a destination name long after the Kazzans were completed and Chicago Bridge and Engineering Company had left the beach.
Chicago Beach Village
After the Kazzans were built, the area reverted to beach and sand dunes but the name "Chicago Beach" remained. Eventually a gated Residential Community was built near the site comprising about 100 villas and housing mainly Expatriate Families. This Residential Community was officially named as "The Chicago Beach Village".
Chicago Beach Village was built in the late 1970s to accommodate staff working in Dubai's Offshore Oil Industry. CBV was a gated community surrounded by a high wall with only one entrance and exit. Both of these had "drop Bar" gates controlled by Security Guards. Visitors needed to show a legitimate reason to enter CBV before the drop bar gate was lifted. Housing was mostly single storey Villas built around an internal road system. CBV's location out of town meant the Village had to be largely self sufficient with its own Club and Sports facilities etc. Although CBV was not the first gated estate in Dubai, it was the first "Exclusive Gated Estate"! CBV gained the reputation of being THE place to live in Dubai not only for its location and exclusivity but also for its value. Rents were relatively low and properties well maintained plus you got to live on the beach! Finding a CBV villa to rent was difficult because of the Oil Industry demand but over time more non Oil Industry people moved in to CBV.
Where was Chicago Beach Village located?
Chicago Beach Village was at the Abu Dhabi end of Jumeirah Beach Road. At least that is where it used to be! CBV was demolished in 2001 to make way for the Madinat Al Jumeirah
Chicago Beach Hotel
Chicago Beach Hotel was a great place for a Dubai Holiday in the 1970s, 80s and 90s! It was popular with locals too! Chicago Beach Hotel was ahead of its time in many ways. CBH offered the kind of exclusive resort holiday Dubai's New Hotels have only lately provided. 615 rooms, an exclusive beach, extensive leisure facilities, a range of bars and dining outlets, good quality rooms and excellent service were forerunners of what Dubai's Hotels began to provide in the new Millennium.
How Chicago Beach Hotel kept its name - then lost it!
The construction of an iconic hotel to be built offshore from the old Chicago Beach Hotel was the first of many astonishing projects to change the face of "Old" Dubai. Announcement said the hotel was to be called the "new" Chicago Beach Hotel. This hotel was Sheikh Mohammed's personal project. On the day the hotel was completed Sheikh Mohammed announced a new name for his hotel - Burj Al Arab. Chicago Beach Hotel disappeared from Dubai's map and the name Chicago Beach faded from Dubai's vocabulary.
Last Link with Chicago Beach
The only remaining link with Chicago Beach is its pier. Originally built during the construction of Dubai's Kazzans, the pier remained when Chicago Bridge and Engineering vacated Chicago Beach. This pier was later incorporated into Chicago Beach Village's beach entertainment facility. When CBNV was later demolished the pier remained in place. It is still there today, some 50 years after it was built. It is now home to Pierchic - an up market restaurant - part of the Al Qasr Hotel.