Jebel Ali Village 1978

Sheikh Rashid planned to develop Jebel Ali into an Industrial Complex with its own port, airport and township. He went ahead with building Jebel Ali Port but never implemented the other parts of his plan.
Jebel Ali Port Construction commenced in 1977. Jebel Ali Village was the name given to the accommodation complex built to house the Construction Contractors' Staff. JAV's remoteness from Dubai meant JAV had to be self sufficient. The resulting Community Lifestyle meant Residents had a strong attachment to JAV that remained even when they moved away from JAV.
Jebel Alii Village 1977

Jebel Ali Village 1978

JAV was not intended to be permanent but as Dubai expanded towards Jebel Ali, JAV continued to attract Expatriates as a deirable and economical place to live long after the Construction Staff had left. Eventually land on which JAV was built became highly valued with the prospect of JAV being demolished and replaced by modern and expensive accommodation.

Why was Dubai's Jebel Ali Village built?

Around 1977 Sheikh Rashid (then Ruler of Dubai) announced a new city, airport and seaport to be built at Jebel Ali. He ordered the seaport to be built and reserved land for the town and airport. His intention was to bring industrial development to Dubai. Around the time he also ordered Port Rashid to be extended. His intention was the two ports to be complementary. There was also a suspicion Sheikh Rashid had a hidden purpose in his announcement!

By 1977 Sheikh Rashid was dissatisfied with the lack of progress in UAE's development since 1971. UAE's original Constitution provided for a new Capital City to be built but no agreement had been reached on building it. Sheikh Rashid's announcement maybe have signaled his intention to build that Capital City -Jebel Ali New Town was close to Abu Dhabi's border.

In the late 1970s, a disagreement over senior appointments to UAE fledgling Army led to a UAE Government political crisis. This was eventually resolved by Sheikh Rashid being appointed UAE's Prime Minister and Abu Dhabi being declared UAE's Capital City under a revised Constitution. Jebel Ali New Town became Jebel Ali Village, the Airport was not built but remained on Dubai's Development Plan while Jebel Ali Port went ahead as planned.

About Jebel Ali Village

Building Jebel Ali Port was construction on a massive scale. It was destined to be the largest man made port in the world. Resources and manpower required were more than Dubai had previously experienced. Balfour Beatty was a British Company engaged as Construction Contractor for Jebel Ali Port. Stevin was a Dutch Engineering Company and Gulf Cobla a Dubai based International Dredging Company. The Village had to cater for these different Nationalities. Jebel Ali Primary School provided both British and Dutch education for the children of the many Contractors' Staff families living in the Village.

Jebel Ali Village comprised around 300 villas, a Primary School, Recreation Club, a "Green" Park, Medical Clinic and Desalination Water Plant to provide fresh water. Surprisingly the Village did not originally have a supermarket. Residents had to drive into Dubai to buy their supplies - a long hot drive in the days when cars were not air conditioned - and dangerous too. Abu Dhabi Road into town was single carriageway, unlit and used by trucks, taxis and camels! "Accident Risk" was high. Only in 1980 did Choithrams Supermarket open in JA Village. In 1979 Jebel Ali was considered to be "out of town" with few public services. JA Village became self sufficient as a consequence, home to people of many different nationalities and with its own unique Dubai Lifestyle.

Jebel Ali Recreation Club was one of very few original expat haunts left intact in Dubai. Like a favourite jacket, it is worn but comfortable, food is good and affordable and the atmosphere excellent. Smiling staff, heated and cooled swimming pool, depending on the outside temperature!

UK Expatriate's Comment in Daily Telegraph UK


Executive House - Jebel Ali Village

Images by Anita van der Krol JAV Resident 1977-79. More 1970s Dubai Images by Anita HERE

Changing Times

After Jebel Ali Port was finished, the Contractors' Staff began to leave the Village. Jebel Ali Port Authority were now responsible for Village's management. Houses were rented out at low rentals. People from Dubai moved in. JA Village living was cheaper than Dubai. Jebel Ali Free Zone growth in 1980s and 1990s led to a further influx of Residents but JA Village was not expanded. Instead other housing complexes developed around JA Village.

By the early 2000s Jebel Ali Village was no longer isolated. JA Village had become cheap housing sitting on very valuable land. Dubai Government planned to re-develop the area and closed JA Village in 2008. 2009 Global Financial Crisis put those plans on hold. In 2011 Jebel Ali Village lay abandoned and derelict. In 2013 Nakheel announced its intention to refurbish Jebel Ali Village instead of redeveloping......

We are restoring one of Dubai’s oldest and most treasured residential areas, much to the delight of the community’s previous tenants. Many people who lived at Jebel Ali Village before our renovations began have even asked to move back to their original villa or street.

Nakheel 2013

CLICK IMAGE to see an abandonded Jebel Ali Village 2008.