Sitting on the northern flank of Dubai Creek, Deira was once an independent township with its own tribal history and ruler. Today, many centuries later, it is part and parcel of Dubai – but looks and feels decidedly different. It’s the feisty little town that refused to surrender its identity when swallowed up by its bigger neighbour – and is now a sparkling jewel in that neighbour’s crown.

If Dubai is the modern metropolis with its head in the stratosphere of world acclaim, Deira is the down-to-earth cousin that keeps its feet firmly on the ground. Deira is cosy, reassuring, neighbourly – a real community in every sense of the word. And at Al Ghurair Investment, sense of community is central to everything we do.

It was Deira that was chosen by Al Ghurair Properties as the site for its own jewel in the crown, Al Ghurair Centre – the first mixed use shopping mall in the Middle East when it opened in 1981. More than 30 years later the community and the mall remain inextricably linked and are currently reveling in a resurgence that has elevated both to new heights.

The newly refurbished Al Ghurair Centre has been the catalyst for Deira’s revival – rebranding itself as the ‘Soul of the City’ and Deira itself as “the real heart of Dubai”. An extravaganza of music, theatre and art has given the area an easy urban feel and a special ambience that has added to its charms as a special place to live, work and play.

But a spirit of revival needs to be matched by concrete plans for urban regeneration in the shape of new homes, shops and offices. And just like three decades ago, Al Ghurair Properties is once again at the forefront of these efforts. Affordability is key to long-term sustainable growth – and Al Ghurair Properties is committed to both.

The need for affordable communities in Dubai will become even greater in the build up to Expo 2020 when it is feared soaring rents could put reasonably priced accommodation outwith the reach of many ordinary people and their families. But Deira remains one of the few affordable areas in Dubai for limited income groups – and Al Ghurair is determined to help keep it that way.

Al Ghurair Properties has a significant land bank in Deira and other areas of ‘Old Dubai’ which are ripe for new development. But not development at any cost. As a long-time leader in urban regeneration, Al Ghurair is committed to providing the new while preserving the best of the old.

To us, history and heritage are not stumbling blocks to progress. They are what give areas like Deira their energy; their character and that indefinable ‘something’ that makes them special to residents and visitors alike. Deira is diverse, dynamic and indomitable. Deira is decidedly – and delightfully – different.