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Al Bahar: Getting the downtown feel

As the speakers played the Arab World's top-selling dance number Shik Shak Shok, and the Dancing Fountain came to life, Fortuna urged a tourist to spread her arms wide.

Every day the Filipina and her team of photographers shoot about 1,000 pictures of tourists posing in front of the world's tallest building and the world's highest musical fountain.

But it's not only tourists that walk along the boulevard of the 30-acre lake.

Priyanka Kedia was pushing her son Ved in a pram. She moved a month ago into a rented apartment in Tower-3 in The Residences, overlooking the Burj Khalifa Lake. "It's amazing living here," she said.

The expatriate from Mumbai said it was very relaxing living here, with the greenery and the fresh air. She said Ved, her seven-month old, loves the Aquarium Zoo with the penguins and Kid Zania in the Dubai Mall. Her favourite eatery is Ping Pong, she said.

"There's Souq Al Bahar," she said, pointing to a group of buildings with traditional architecture. The ‘Market of the Sailor', is located across the Lake on the Old Town Island, and features natural stone corridors, high archways and subdued lighting.

Priyanka cannot think of living anywhere else. She is thinking of purchasing a home here, she said.

Andy works in the oil and gas industry. He was walking home. He had taken the Metro from work at the Trade Centre. He usually cycles. "My training in Beijing," he said.

"Everything is [walking] distance," said Andy about his home in the Residences. He has been living here for four years. The rent in these Towers is between Dh120,000 for a two-bedroom apartment to Dh230,000 for a four-bedroom flat. The rents recently only went down slightly.

The only thing lackng is a bicycle track. Bicycles are not allowed on the walk as there are too many children playing here in the evenings.

He did not wish to recommend this area to anyone else. "We want to keep it to ourselves," he said.

Modern living

Downtown Dubai, the 200-hectare development, is also known as the "Centre of Now". It is a hub of leisure, entertainment and modern living.

We heard birds chirping as we walked towards Al Manzil District. It seemed like a movie set. A luxury trolley bus went leisurely past.

Kavita Shenoi was ready to begin her evening jog when we met her. She asked for a moment to speak to someone on her mobile phone. The Indian expatriate is planning to run a business. "This is so downtown yet so quiet," she said of the Old Town area. She's got a place of her own on the ground floor.

The expatriate was earlier living in Bur Dubai. The rents have gone down, she said and varies between Dh120,000 to Dh140,000 for a two-bedroom home.

She pointed across the street to the Walk. "That's where musical events are held," she said. There's even a small souq attached to this development called Souq Al Manzil. Residents were shopping at the Spinney's the only difference was the subdued lighting in the souq and the soft tinkle of a fountain. Old Town is a sprawling development with low-rise three-storey apartment buildings to exclusive mid-rise buildings with penthouses. The design is a modern twist on tradition.

Ghanaian expatriate Theo Aryee said he moved to South Ridge from the Residences three months ago because of the high rent. A three-bedroom apartment at South Ridge rents for Dh160,000 compared to Dh180,000 at the Residences, he said.

He was walking home holding his lunch box. Aryee works at the Barclay's Bank branch nearby. He said his son, Dromo's school projects usually centre around the Burj. His family enjoys the musical fountain. "There's a nice playground for kids," he pointed ahead.

When the musical fountain shoots up, it goes up 15 floors. Alvin Santos who moved into the 15th floor of Tower 5 of Residences, says he enjoys the view. His brother, a fashion designer, has rented the apartment.

Alvin, a beverage manager at Wafi, loves living in the area. "There's everything here," he says. "A pool, a gym."

1 Shopping:There's everything here from Dubai Mall to Souq Al Bahar and a Gold Souq. 2 Entertainment: For children there is the ice rink, Sega Republic, Dubai aquarium and Kid Zania.3 Restaurants: Eateries and cafes offer everything from Dim Sums to sandwiches

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