The Palm Jumeirah residents call for clampdown on 'dangerous' jet ski riders

People demand action from authorities to avoid high-speed accidents

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People living on The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai have called for authorities to take action over "dangerous and irresponsible" jet ski riders posing a risk to the public by flouting speed restrictions.

The drone of jet skis racing off the shoreline has created an unwanted seaside soundtrack for those living in the area, but it is not only noise pollution that residents are complaining about.

Safety has become a real concern, with several near misses involving swimmers and paddle-boarders in recent months.

Most days, high-powered watercraft can be seen and heard on the island’s waters, even at the height of summer.

Those living nearby have united to call on the The Palm's developer, Nakheel, to tighten regulations on the water, with clear markers to separate swimmers from racing jet skis.

Daniel Wood, a lawyer who lives on Shoreline 3, is a regular swimmer and is often out on the water canoeing.

“It is frustrating and dangerous,” he said.

"There are swimming lanes but the jet skis get very close.

“A lot of the marker buoys have sunk, which makes it difficult to see where the swimmers should be.

“Jet skis come from the Burj Al Arab area through a channel into the bay anytime from 5.30am.

“They make so much noise, and they are often racing. Some are custom-made with engines tuned so they are very fast and sound more like a racing car.

“Jet skis have strayed into the family swimming area so something needs to be done.”

Security boats regularly patrol the channel to advise paddle-boarders on wearing life jackets or to protect privacy on the nearby private island.

There is a 10-knot (18.5 kilometres an hour) speed limit for craft entering Nakheel yacht destinations and ports, and a maximum speed of 4 knots permitted between islands, or about 9kph.

Rebecca Sutton moved to Shoreline apartments in December and said speed restrictions are often ignored.

“There is a lot of dangerous speeding and irresponsible behaviour by a pack of riders. The noise is horrendous and sounds like thousands of mosquitoes,” she said.

“It is always very close to Il Faro and Shoreline One. There is usually a police boat, but it only occasionally intervenes to ask them to slow down.

"A couple of months ago, there were as many as 13 jet skis racing at the same time.”

In December, a man was killed and another injured in a high speed jet ski collision off one of The Palm’s golden beaches.

'Speed limits must be enforced'

From left to right: residents Alex, Agustin and Marcus discuss the jet ski nuisance in Palm Jumeirah. Pawan Singh / The National

The incident led residents to call for tighter regulations on who can rent high-speed water bikes, and tougher penalties for those who ignore the rules.

Alex G, who did not want to give his full name, has witnessed several worrying near misses.

“We are seeing this kind of bad behaviour on the water every day,” he said.

“I paddle-board and swim a lot and there have been a lot of close calls. Mostly, the jet skis don’t realise there is a speed limit and what they are doing is dangerous.

“I saw a collision with a boat a few weeks ago and there was an ambulance in the water, so it was a serious incident.

“There is a speed limit, so it should be enforced.”

Jet skis can be hired with limited training and the sport is growing in popularity.

In July, a jet ski tour of Dubai was recognised as the world’s best tourism experience in 2021 by TripAdvisor.

Private owners are modifying their vehicles to reach speeds of more than 120kph.

Tough penalties are already in place to regulate jet skis.

Driving craft unregistered with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority can attract a Dh500 fine and impounding of the ski, with fines doubled for repeat offenders.

Anyone using a jet ski outside of a registered zone, recklessly or while drunk can also be fined Dh500.

Developer pledges to address safety concerns

Typically, jet skis can be hired for between Dh300 and Dh400 for half an hour.

Residents would like to see restrictions on jet skis ridden close to the shore, as is the case in West Palm.

A Nakheel spokeswoman said talks were under way to address the issue.

"We are aware of the situation and are liaising with the appropriate Dubai authorities,” she said.

“We assure residents and visitors at Palm Jumeirah that their safety, well-being and peace of mind is our priority, and ask for their patience and understanding as we work to resolve this matter."

Updated: August 02, 2021, 4:58 AM