society

Longtime residents miss old Ramada Hotel

Multi-purpose luxury development to replace 33-year-old Ramada Hotel — but residents miss the old times

13:44 June 11, 2017
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Dubai: As demolition crew smashes and grinds the 33-year-old Ramada Hotel in Bur Dubai to dust and rubble, nearby residents say they are upset to see the building being torn down.

A month into demolition work, cranes pull and tear through the hotel’s lobby — once splashed with sun-speckled colour from the giant, 40-metre high stained glass mural.

The 174-room, four-star hotel, which first opened in 1982, was originally designed to cater to the growing number of businessmen who would pass by the emirate.

But over the years, as other buildings sprang up around it, the hotel became almost a community fixture — and handy landmark — for nearby residents.

Situated on Satwa Road, on the edge of the Bur Dubai’s Mankhool district, the area is home to many Indian families.

“It’s one of the oldest buildings in Dubai,” said Mahesh Natarajan. The Indian expat has lived in an apartment block just footsteps away since 1993.

“There were very good restaurants there. My son and daughter used to go there, and we used to buy birthday cakes from the confectionary there.”

The hotel wasn’t only good for food, he added.

“Our office conferences were held there, and practically every entertainment event from the office was held there.”

“I’m very sad to see it torn down.”

Out with the old

In the hotel’s place, its operator, Abjar Hotels International, will build a luxury complex which will include a 180-room five-star hotel, 120 residences, and a shopping mall.

The planned 8,000 square-metre mall will take the place of the Ramada’s car park, where neighbourhood children used to play.

Speaking to Gulf News on the streets next to the demolition site, many remembered the hotel’s restaurants, each of which served a different cuisine. The Chinese eatery, Dynasty, seemed to have been the most popular.

For the past month, since wrecking work began, the smell of diesel and dust has started to seep into memories of happy weekend nights of the past.

“We went to the restaurants many times, and a lot of my guests from India and Canada, they used to come and stay here, so it was very easy,” said Galani, an Indian expat who has lived in the area of five years.

“[But the demolition work] left all this mess,” he added, pointing to a row of dust-covered cars.

The hotel had given the neighbourhood a key landmark, said Asha, an Indian who had lived in the area for seven years.

“People used to recognise this place with Ramada,” she said. “We also used to go the pastry shop there.”

“When our visitors from abroad would come, from Muscat, they used to come and stay here.”

Another nearby resident, Lessy, has lived in the area for seventeen years. The hotel had been a fixture for some of her church’s meetings for many years.

“We used to have our prayer meeting in the ballroom. We used to have it for many years.”

“It was a very nice hotel, so many restaurants were there. The Chinese one was the best. There was a salon also.”

Nostalgia

For Kusharaj Kamal, another Indian resident who has lived in the area for ten years, the hotel was a key spot for social and work occasions.

We used to go to the Chinese restaurant and the Indian restaurant for individual and office parties, Kamal said.

He said for cricket matches and final matches, they would book a ballroom there.

Since the hotel closed its doors in August last year, he and his friends have taken to going to another nearby hotel instead but it’s just not quite the same.

“We are missing it here. This was the hotel that was good for everyone.”