Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

Noise from traffic or construction sites can ruin people’s quality of life

It could come from noisy cars or district coolers for air conditioning. The constant cacophany from building sites and airports can also lead to stress and hypertension for those who live near by. But acoustic-solutions experts say there are answers and they do work. Vesela Todorova reports.
Naghmeh Kavousi, a resident of the Golden Mile area of the Palm Jumeirah, moved out because of the noise from high-powered cars speeding or racing each other near her apartment block. Lee Hoagland / The National
Naghmeh Kavousi, a resident of the Golden Mile area of the Palm Jumeirah, moved out because of the noise from high-powered cars speeding or racing each other near her apartment block. Lee Hoagland / The National

DUBAI // Naghmeh Kavousi’s friends could not understand why she wanted to move out of her “gorgeous”, spacious home on the Palm Jumeirah, with its beautiful sea views.

That was until she invited them over for dinner one evening.

Her first-floor apartment in the Golden Mile 4 building was opposite one of the main roads off the island, which each evening doubled as a race track for sports cars.

“You would see a Ferrari and a Porsche racing each other,” says the sales director from Iran. “It was horrible. I could not sleep.”

Even when there was no one racing, Ms Kavousi says the sound of the powerful cars’ exhausts create “really disturbing noise” as they slow for speed humps, only to rev up again and accelerate away.

This would continue, she says, “easily up to 4am or 5am”.

Noise pollution, along with pollution of the air, are major problems for cities across the world.

Continuous exposure can cause stress and hypertension, says Vinayan Nambiar, director of Moov Group, a Dubai company that provides acoustic solutions.

Each day the company receives as many as 50 calls related to noise pollution.

Mr Nambiar says most inquiries came from the Mirdif area, where aircraft noise is a concern, and areas near construction sites. But noisy chillers on top of buildings are also a problem in residential areas, and the company has also received calls from schools complaining about high levels of traffic sounds.

Very often, people are not aware that measures can be taken to reduce noise, says Mr Nambiar.

Emilia Popova and Asiya Maksyutova are two such people.

Both women moved to new homes only to discover noise pollution was a problem.

In both cases, the issue had not been pointed out by property agents before lease agreements were signed.

Ms Popova moved to a villa on 83 Street in Mirdif four years ago.

While noise from the nearby Dubai International Airport is not a problem for all of the community, it certainly was in the area behind the Mirdif City Centre mall where the Bulgarian family lived.

Some nights they could hear two or three planes an hour landing or taking off.

“It was quite intense,” says Ms Popovat, a mother of one. “We eventually got used to it but when my parents came to visit they said they could not sleep.”

The family moved out of Mirdif two years ago, with noise being one reason for their decision.

Ms Maksyutova, from Russia, and her family moved a year ago to a building in The Greens, directly overlooking a building site for a new Emaar apartment block.

“In the beginning it was really noisy and he was waking up from time to time,” she says, pointing to her son Amir who is about to turn 3.

When the family complained to the agency that rented the apartment they were told the construction site was the reason their rent was lower than that of other flats in the area.

After putting up with it for three or four months, the family say the problem is getting better as construction work seems about to finish.

“We were not that happy in the past, but as it is about to finish soon, we are OK,” says Ms Maksyutova.

In Dubai, the municipality has published guidelines that include a need to limit noise levels to 55 decibels between 7am and 8pm, when measured outdoors.

This is equal to the perceived noise from a conversation at one metre distance.

After 8pm noise levels should be kept lower, at no louder than 45 decibels.

A spokesman for Dubai Municipality was unavailable for comment.

Mr Nambiar says technology solutions can also help to reduce the effects of noise.

The company instals Echo Barrier, a temporary, reusable noise solution that can be used at construction sites or events.

It is already in use at Dubai’s Barasti Beach Bar, where it was installed to reduce the effects of loud music, especially on weekends.

The barriers were also used to build a five-metre wall around a noisy outdoor chiller plant in Abu Dhabi.

“There was a huge reduction of sound,” says Mr Nambiar.

Unfortunately, very often the company cannot help residents bothered by chiller noises because action usually depends on the willingness of the owner of adjacent premises.

Costs depend on the nature of the problem and the layout of a site, and can vary widely, sometimes reaching substantial amounts.

But for Ms Kavousi’s problems, ultimately the only solution was to move out.

Since spring this year she has been living in a townhouse in Jumeirah Village Triangle.

Far away from construction sites and large roads, her new neighbourhood is quiet.

“You don’t hear anything but birds,” Ms Kavousi says.


Updated: October 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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