Dubai Police reveal New Year’s Eve safety plans
DUBAI // More than one and half million people are expected to converge around the world’s tallest building in Dubai to enjoy the New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
And in order to keep the area around the Burj Khalifa safe for visitors – many of whom will be tourists – police are considering closing the nearby metro station.
Because of the huge crowds last year police this year might direct passengers to the nearby Financial Centre station and Business Bay station.
Col Abdullah Al Marri, deputy director of the general department at Dubai Police, said: “This year we are looking to possibly close the Burj Khalifa station and divert people on foot to the other two stations as the distance isn’t that far.”
Last year an estimated 1.7 million people went to the Downtown area and a similar number are expected this time around.
A final decision on whether to close the Burj Khalifa station is expected to be made on Sunday.
Other contingency plans include providing a temporary pedestrian crossing on Sheikh Zayed Road, said Col Al Marri.
“The idea would be that in case of an emergency we would have a zebra crossing on Sheikh Zayed Road marshalled by police officers to allow people to leave the area safely,” he said, adding in previous years some people had risked their lives trying to cross the motorway on foot.
Roads around Downtown, and in particular Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, will be closed as soon as the area’s car parks are full, which is expected to be between 6pm and 8pm. Even if car parks are not full the roads will be closed at 8pm.
Financial Centre Road may also be closed from Sheikh Zayed Road depending on traffic. People are advised to reach the area before 6pm.
“Public transport would be best and if it was me I would probably use the metro, get off at Business Bay and walk to the area,” said Col Al Marri. “It’s less than 2km and people will avoid all the traffic heading to the area.
“From our experience people come to the event at the Burj Khalifa without any idea or information about the facilities,” he said.
New Year’s Eve is a huge logistical operation for the authorities and more than 2,500 police, ambulance, civil defence and RTA personnel will be on duty around Downtown.
Park-and-ride areas will be set up at Zabeel Park, Meydan, Dubai World Trade Centre and Al Jafaliya with shuttle buses to and from Downtown.
“It’s going to be a real challenge,” said Col Al Marri.
Motorists have been warned they face being fined if they stop on the hard shoulder to watch the fireworks.
“We have cases where drivers just park their cars over the yellow lines to watch the fireworks,” said Lt Col Juma bin Suwaidan, from the director for Dubai Traffic Police’s events department. “This happens on Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Khail Road and is extremely dangerous.”
At least 40 police patrol cars will be on duty on the night, he said.
A special events security committee smartphone app has been launched to provide information on parking and public transport for events such as New Year’s Eve. It has initially been launched for Android phones and is expected to be on iOS soon.
“Our main aim is for people to have fun and enjoy themselves on New Year’s Eve with zero injuries and zero accidents,” said Col Al Marri.
Published: December 25, 2014 04:00 AM