Ajman’s beaches should be cleaner, safer and family friendly, say residents

Beach goers have complained they do not feel as comfortable visiting Ajman’s coastline when compared to beaches in Sharjah and Dubai, which boast better facilities.

Residents say facilities on Ajman’s beaches fall short of those in Dubai, with women’s privacy a particular issue and littering a problem despite the imposition of stiff penalties for the offence. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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AJMAN // The emirate’s beaches need to be cleaner with more public amenities, private family areas and increased lifeguard patrols to make them safer and more attractive to residents and tourists.

Beach goers have complained they do not feel as comfortable visiting Ajman’s coastline when compared to beaches in Sharjah and Dubai, which boast better facilities. The waters off the northern emirate are also known for strong currents and tides that can catch out even the most experienced swimmers.

So far this year three people have drowned, while 95 others had to be rescued.

Residents say they are worried the onset of the cooler weather will see a rise in incidents and are asking the authorities to do more to make the beaches safer as well as more family friendly.

Salena Brahane moved from Dubai six months ago and immediately noticed a difference between the emirates’ beaches.

“Dubai is nice and I can feel free, but here I can’t feel free because of the stares of males on us while we are swimming or tanning,” said the 24-year-old saleswoman from Ethiopia. “When I cannot go to Dubai beach due to my work times, I go to Ajman beach but I still prefer Dubai.”

The lack of lifeguard towers is a concern for Wael Abdulwahid who often sees families at the beach with young children.

“Ajman beach lacks watchtowers. Any woman feels afraid for her child approaching the beach,” said the 31-year-old Egyptian who works for a construction company. “I prefer to go to Mamzar and Jumeirah beach in Dubai because everything is available there.”

More around the clock patrols would mean people wouldn’t be afraid to enter the water, said Mohsen Mohammad. “I can’t always swim because of the unavailability of lifeguards at all times, but I found that they come in the afternoon.

“The walkers are more than swimmers, especially in the weekend.” The 21-year-old Egyptian added he hoped the “authority will provide more protection for beach goers”.

Despite fines of Dh500 for anyone caught littering, the amount of rubbish left behind by people is still a source of irritation for many.

“People throw their garbage on the beach and make it unclean,” said 25-year-old Pakistani barber Mohammad Younis. “I go to Ajman beach one time per month when I can’t go to Dubai.”

He added most visitors to the beach are Indian and Bangladeshi bachelors who mostly come on Fridays.

Brigadier Saleh Saeed Al Matrooshi, general director of Civil Defence in Ajman, said the authorities are working to make the coastline safer and more appealing to all sections of society.

“The ruler of Ajman [Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi] asked the municipality and me personally to provide lifeguards in areas only allocated for swimming. We will not leave the whole sea for swimming.

“Ninety per cent of beach goers are Asian labourers who do not enter the sea, they sit on the beach and focus their eyes on people relaxing or tanning, especially ladies which makes them feel uncomfortable. Tourists and vacationers have complained to the police, municipality and tourism administration.”

Brig Al Matrooshi said the police can not stop people from visiting the beach, so plans have been made to make some sections private.

“We will close some of the beach with barriers to make it private for tourists and hotels. Ramada Hotel made a private sector. People feel comfortable and to pay to enter it.”

Rescue teams from civil defence will monitor the beaches in case of an emergency.

“Our patrols are available during the day between every three to five minutes, they move by 4x4s and jet ski,” said Brig Al Matrooshi. “In summer we increase the number of rescuers to cover the largest possible area. As for watchtowers, we put them in the places that are intended for swimming, but people swim in improper areas.

“Most cases of drowning comes from people who do not know how to swim and do not have experience, or who are under the influence of alcohol, in addition to suicide cases by people suffering from psychological problems.

“Most cases happen in the late evening and in winter when water and wind currents increase and waves become high.”