Travels on foot

Dubai is a notoriously unfriendly city for pedestrians. Most areas simply have no footpaths (/pavements/sidewalks). Those wanting to take to the streets are forced to do literally that, and walk along the roadway, or the dirt and rubble beside it. (Manicured verges? I don’t think so.) Yes, Dubai is very good at creating basic working infrastructure overnight, but the finishing touches often take years to complete. Temporary barriers are a permanent sight in every locale.

The opening of the Dubai Metro in September 2009 – and the subsequent roll-out of all stations on the Red Line over the next year – gave hope to wannabe pedestrians too. The stations along Dubai’s main thoroughfare, Sheikh Zayed Road, were built with footbridges, so the metro line could be accessed from either side. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) assured the city that these footbridges would be accessible to everyone (not just metro commuters) 24 hours a day, as discussed in this Gulf News article.

This exciting revelation would mean residents in Jumeirah Lake Towers could cross over SZR to eat in the Marina. Or that I could walk to work from The Greens to Media City.

I attempted this yesterday for the first time, giving myself a good hour to walk the 3km to work. There was a section of sand for about a few hundred metres, but otherwise, the walk was paved, and easy to manage. I arrived at Nakheel Station, outside the entrance to Emirates Golf Course and approached the stairs, but the automatic doors didn’t recognise my presence. I reversed and approached again, but was denied access, as was the case at each of the entrances.

Friday is the Muslim Holy Day and in Dubai, metro services don’t start until after 1pm (as opposed to 6am for the other six days a week). It would seem that the footbridges are not open to the public for general use, but are only open during metro operating hours. I returned home and grabbed my car keys, for the 7 minute drive to work.

Aside: When looking up the operating hours, I googled “Dubai Metro” and found that the RTA’s official website ranks around fourth in results, after several from a site called dubaimetro.eu. A bit of search engine optimisation needed?

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