Car-parking spaces too small, or are cars too big?

Larger cars means parking spaces in the emirate's malls are often too small. Different minimum dimensions are set in a 2004 code from the municipality's building and housing department, with the smallest being 8.2ft by 18.5ft. However drivers are still feeling the squeeze.

An SUV parked close to another car in the parking bay of Deira City Centre in Dubai. Officials said if parking spaces have to be in accordance with municipality law.
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DUBAI // When David Chambers visits a mall in his pickup truck, he looks for two free parking spots instead of just one.

As the owner of a Chevrolet Silverado 2500, which is bigger than the average parking space, he often has problems finding somewhere to park.

"It's a constant challenge," Mr Chambers said. "It's probably the longest and the widest car in town. I always tell myself when I visit Mall of the Emirates I need two spots."

His car is 6.6 feet wide, not including wing mirrors, and 18.7ft long.

The largest space in the Mall of the Emirates, recorded by The National, was 8.3ft wide and 17ft long, within the guidelines set down by Dubai Municipality, but this doesn't help Mr Chambers.

"Theoretically, I can fit into most parking spots," said the American. "But if there's a car on either side, I can't normally get out of my door."

He is not the only motorist to have difficulty in parking. Owners of much smaller vehicles have also reported problems in public car parks.

That is despite local car spaces being much larger than those, for example, in the UK, which has minimum dimensions of almost 7.8ft by 15.7ft.

Shoppers at malls in Dubai have said it is the closeness of other vehicles that leads to the possibility of scratches or dents when opening doors.

"Whenever I park I come back and find that cars are so close," said Lesley Saudi, from Scotland, who drives an medium-sized car.

"Even though they're within the parking perimeter you always worry about scratching the car next to you if you open the door.

"Sometimes I've had to climb over the passenger seat to get out of my car."

Different minimum dimensions, depending on the angle of the parking space, are set down in a 2004 code from the municipality's building and housing department, with the smallest being 8.2ft by 18.5ft.

But it is not clear from the document what the precise specifications are for mall parking, and a spokesman for the authority was not available to clarify the issue.

A spot check of parking lots at several other locations yielded mixed results.

The average space at Madinat Jumeirah was 7.8ft by 16.3ft, while spaces at Dubai Mall offered a more generous 8.1ft by 17.5ft.

Gorashi Abdelghani, a building specialist at the municipality, said a building would not have been given a completion certificate without meeting the parking space dimensions, among other criteria.

"If it's not as per the law, no completion certificate will be issued," Mr Abdelghani said. "If they change it afterwards, there will definitely be a fine if it's less than the specifications."

Briton Jack Mousell, 20, said he had not noticed a difference in size from car-park spaces in Britain.

"It's not that spaces are smaller here, it's just that people drive bigger cars," said Mr Mousell, who drives an SUV.

"If I see a space with big cars on either side, I drive on until I find another space.

"It's just more convenient that way."