Motorists have described their “nightmare” after getting stuck in a mall car park in Abu Dhabi for two hours.
Shoppers complained about being trapped in gridlocked traffic in the basement of Abu Dhabi Mall in Al Zahiyah on Saturday.
Drivers said ongoing roadworks around the area aimed at creating cycle lanes and installing new street lights were to blame for the chaos.
One long-term resident, who lives in Dubai and was in Abu Dhabi to visit friends, said it was the worst traffic jam she had ever seen during her time in the UAE.
“We drove in about 7pm and it was busy outside and we wondered if there was an event at the mall as there was a queue to get into the parking,” said the shopper, who did not want to be named.
“What we didn’t realise at the time was that it was the beginning of the nightmare. You couldn’t move.
“People were coming out of the mall to get into their cars and they couldn’t pull out of their parking space because there was this winding queue of cars around them.”
The motorist described how she had parked as usual in the lower parking level of the mall before heading off to shop for about 30 minutes.
But after she returned to her car she realised she was stuck, and was unable to drive away for the next two hours.
After a long wait she phoned the mall to try to establish what the problem was. A sympathetic employee offered to bring her water, which she never received.
Eventually she rang the police, who told her they would try to send someone if they could.
“The mall closed and then it [the gridlock] got worse because everyone was trying to get out," she said.
“And people were honking their horns, but there was no point.
“The craziest thing was that whatever was happening, no one was directing traffic.”
Another shopper said it took her an hour to get in and another hour to exit the mall on Saturday afternoon.
“It messed up the weekend,” wrote Cynthia, an Indian national living in Abu Dhabi who posted about the traffic jam in a discussion on the Abu Dhabi Q&A Facebook group.
She said she lived right opposite the mall, and had she known how long it would take to drive there she would have just walked.
"The roadworks going on around Le Meridian Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Mall is never ending," she told The National.
“At the Electra Street end entering to Meridian and Abu Dhabi Mall there was work going on. Half of the traffic jams are due to people not knowing the diversions.”
TransAD, Abu Dhabi's transport authority, and Abu Dhabi Mall have been contacted for comment.