Sunday, March 11, 2007

Avoidable chaos

I know I bang on about it, but I have to say it again - the 'planners' have let this city down disastrously.

The roads and parking are the problem of course, they're bringing the city to a grinding halt and depriving businesses of revenue.

The real tragedy is that it was all unnecessary. It could have been avoided simply by a bit of sensible thought at the beginning of Dubai's phenomenal development.

There was no secret about the vision - Sh. Mohammed was quite clear. He even said what you were seeing was only 10% of his vision for the future. So no-one can claim they didn't know the extent of the development that was planned.

It needed a law that said all buildings must have adequate parking for its residents and visitors. It's hardly rocket science that without such a law there will be a parking problem. Make that nightmare. The formula is not hard to work out either , you need a minimum of two parking spaces per unit plus visitor parking based on the number of units and whatever retail outlets the building will have.

We still have no such law.

Back in the seventies when the population was around 200,000 the buildings had no car parks, so we all parked all over the sand around them. Even then it could be a nightmare, so it's not a new phenomenon, not beyond the experience of people.

A good example of the disaster the 'planners' have given us is Dubai Marina. It was built from scratch, from empty land. No old buildings or streets to work around. Just empty sand. The perfect blank canvas. All the problems with traffic that other cities around the world are experiencing could, and should, have been avoided. It could, and should, have been a model for the world.

What did we get?


I had a stroll around on Friday and this is a typical street scene.

Narrow roads, parking both sides, other cars parked all over the footpath, even on the traffic island at the end of the road.

And only a fraction of the towers are complete and occupied.

The Phase 1 area is the same. Plenty of very good restaurants, with seating for hundreds. Just over a hundred parking spaces in the basement of two buildings, the overflow car park now closed because towers are being built on the land. We've simply given up trying to eat there, as I'm sure hundreds of others have.

Compare it with Singapore. Drive into the main business/tourist area and whichever building you're visiting you simply drive into its car park. They all have ample underground parking. You pay, but that's infinitely better than not being able to park. Added to which they have superb public transport options anyway.

But Dubai still has no law about parking space, there's still no planning. Thousands more towers are going up and none have adequate parking space.

It's the city's major negative and one that will seriously affect it's commercial success.

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