Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dubai authorities brace for New Year’s Eve

Dubai is ready for New Year’s Eve thanks to forward planning.

Dubai: Police and civic staff are as ready as they can be for an expected million visitors on New Year’s Eve to Burj Khalifa celebrations.

The Executive Committee for New Year’s Security hasfinalised its preparations for New Year’s eve, said a top Dubai police official.
Maj Gen Mohammad Eid Al Mansouri, Director of the General Department of Protective Security and Emergency at Dubai Police and head of committees for activities in Dubai, told Gulf News that police, ambulance and civil defence staff for New Year’s Eve festivals are ready forexpected traffic jams that have traditionally descended on the Burj Khalifa area due to the massive number of people expected to visit Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall at night.
“The new year celebration at Burj Khalifa is a very important event that attracts people from within the country as well as neighbouring countries and from all over the world,” he said. “We are expecting one million visitors to attend the celebration.”Major General Al Mansouri said the committee faces safety, security and organisational challenges.
“Our main concern is the traffic gridlock that not only affects Dubai Mall and the surrounding areas but also extends throughout the city and sometimes it makes traffic movement on Dubai roads stop completely,” he said.
Al Mansouri said the committee was working on an effective strategy to the traffic jam problem that will involve all departments including traffic and the Road and Transport Authority.
“In the past, there were some negative issues in relation to traffic movement at such events and now we hope to overcome this,” he said
“There are intensive security measures in place during the new year festivities at Burj Khalifa and the surrounding areas in cooperation with civil defence, the ambulance centre, RTA, Dubai Metro, Emaar and other sections from Dubai police.”
He said Dubai Police will manage the security procedures and massive security preparations will be put in place during this important event.
The Civil Defence will be ready and on alert on the scene along with a large number of firefighting personnel and rescue vehicles including helicopters in addition to ambulances from Dubai ambulance services centre.
Uniformed and undercover police will extensively monitor the area.
The Security committee comprises members from police explosive security department, police VIP’s protection department, emergency department at Dubai Police, Civil Defence, RTA, Dubai Metro, Dubai Ambulance Services, Emaar and others.

Friday, December 28, 2012

How Burj Khalifa residents will watch the fireworks

XPRESS catches up with the privileged few to get a lowdown on how they view New Year’s Eve spectacle

Dubai So what’s it like to be a privileged resident of the Burj Khalifa on New Year’s Eve when thousands of visitors brave long commutes and traffic snarls just to be at the tower to catch the most spectacular fireworks on earth?


NO WORRIES: Manju Chadrashekar (left) with his family in his 66th floor Burj Khalifa apartment. They won’t have to fight the crowds on the big night

The only privilege if you will is that you don’t have to fight the crowds,” said Manju Chandrasekhar, a resident of a two-bedroom 66th floor apartment.
Standing by the window of his dining room, he is inches away from the pyrotechnic spectacle that is set to envelope the world’s tallest tower as 2013 ushers in. “You see that big metal rig just outside? That’s where they mount the actual fireworks.”
But to take in the full view of the dazzle, he plans to go down the building with his family when the countdown begins.
“My parents have flown in from India and my sister, brother-in-law and nephew from the US,” he said.
On the 71st floor, resident Buffi Jashanmal has other plans. She is hosting a big bash for the special night and will watch the fireworks from her own apartment.
“I am having a red carpet event with around 30 people, a mix of family and friends. My mother’s in a wheelchair, so I plan to be indoors and see little flutters of the fireworks falling down on us. Isn’t that beautiful?” she said.
Jashanmal said her family also has the option of watching the extravaganza from the poolside on the 74th floor or going down the building like many other residents.
Chandrasekhar said he will watch the fireworks from a section of the Burj Park.
“This is a separate area with a separate access for residents. Last year I went down at around 11.30pm and stood a few feet away from the building to see the full panorama. I didn’t have to battle the crowds.”
A resident on a lower floor, who did not want to be identified, said: “I feel proud to be living in the world’s tallest tower. This pride multiplies many times when there’s an event like the New Year fireworks or the Mission Impossible feat. It’s like your own home being in the spotlight and making international headlines.”
She said she and her husband make it a point not to travel at about New Year’s so they can watch the fireworks. “You can’t get closer than us.”
Not surprisingly, residents receive a flood of requests from friends, colleagues and family to share space on the big night.
In his second year at the Burj, Chandrasekhar said: “Last year, I had a couple of colleagues over. This year, I have my family here.”
His family can’t wait for December 31. His sister Anupama said: “We timed our visit from New York around the fireworks. It’s my son’s first birthday on the 28th and this is a great way to celebrate. I am also curious. My brother told me the fireworks last year were spectacular and they would be getting bigger and better this year.”
Anticipation runs high as this year’s fireworks will be synched to live orchestral music and include several new sequences. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Downtown Dubai’s new air-conditioned link to Dubai Metro is now open

Emaar Properties PJSC, the global property developer, announced the opening of the new 820-metre long air-conditioned metro link that connects the Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall Metro Station with the iconic attractions in Downtown Dubai described as 'The Centre of Now .

The opening of the link will significantly add to the convenience of visitors visiting Downtown Dubai, which will host a series of celebratory events in December to mark the festive season, including the spectacular New Year’s Eve Gala and Fireworks.
Ahmad Al Matrooshi, Managing Director, Emaar Properties, said: "At 820 metres, the metro link is one of the longest of its kind, linking Dubai Metro with the leading retail and lifestyle destination in Dubai. The direct connection with the Dubai Metro, which is now one of the most popular public transport modes in the city, will help in reducing vehicular traffic, and enable visitors to simply walk across from the station to Downtown Dubai through a temperature-controlled travellator."
He added: "The link has been a priority for us and we have achieved great progress in its construction as the foundations, columns and steel work have been completed with several professionals and skilled workers involved on the project on a daily basis. The work has been undertaken in close coordination with the Roads & Transport Authority and Dubai Police to ensure that traffic in Downtown Dubai has not been affected as work progresses."
The metro link has ten travellators - each between 70 to 120 metres in length and 1.4 metres in width, with a central walkway for pedestrian use. The travellators will move at an average speed of 0.5 metres/second, starting at the Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall Metro station entrance and travelling through the Downtown Dubai development before connecting directly with The Dubai Mall. At its peak capacity, it can carry over 13,500 people per hour.
The link is designed in glass, drawing on traditional Arabian architecture styles, enabling spectacular views of Downtown Dubai including Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The ‘Mashrabia’ styled fa├žade and colourful lighting will complement the existing architecture and add to the lively ambience of Emaar Boulevard.
Visitors will enter The Dubai Mall through the new metro link, with new retail stores set to open to cater for the 30,000 people expected each day. It will incorporate the highest safety features with exit routes along its length and easily accessible staircases.
The metro link will also provide a new marketing platform with multimedia advertising displays along its walls, providing organisations and establishments with the opportunity to explore newer, state-of-the-art marketing avenues for effective audience engagement.
Visitors will have an air-conditioned passage from the Metro to various leisure, shopping, commercial and lifestyle amenities in Downtown Dubai including Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, Souk Al Bahar, Emaar Square, the development’s commercial hub and several hotels. It will also facilitate the convenience of visitors to Downtown Dubai’s new commercial precinct, Boulevard Plaza and Emaar Boulevard, which hosts several lifestyle events including the popular Emirates Classic Car Festival and the Downtown Dubai Parade National Day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Unmatched fireworks and light show, dazzling lake performance and stunning live orchestra to herald in 2013 at Downtown Dubai

December 24, 2012: The world's most spectacular and unmatched extravaganza will be staged in Dubai to welcome 2013.

 The gala of a lifetime, the Downtown Dubai New Year's Eve celebrations is expected to host more than a million visitors in a celebration that is unparalleled in scale, diversity and dazzle. The full-fledged production will stand out for its largest repertoire of events that will appeal to every visitor, from around the world.
Hosted by Emaar Properties, the Downtown Dubai New Year's Eve Gala will flag off in the evening with a cultural showcase of brilliantly choreographed music and dance performances.
Music aficionados are in for a special treat with a live performance by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, one of Europe's leading music ensembles. The world-renowned musicians will perform at Burj Steps, overlooking Burj Khalifa, transporting audiences to the nuanced world of classical music maestros.
The Downtown Dubai New Year's Eve Gala will also be highlighted by the first of its kind show on the Burj Lake. Choreographed live to perfection, the show will have three distinct elements – light, water and fire – and glitzy projections on a huge 210 metre long screen, in addition to live telecast to over 2 billion viewers, and simultaneous streaming online at
The cultural showcase for the evening will be a true reflection of Dubai's cosmopolitan outlook while celebrating the richness of the Arabian heritage. Live dance and artistic performances marked for their visual richness, and a video montage that underlines UAE’s multicultural diversity and iconic accomplishments will set the stage for the majestic finale – the dazzling fireworks atop Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.
Synced to live orchestral music, a feat never before attempted, the iconic fireworks display will envelope the tower in a rich wash of colours. Several new fireworks sequences will be created this year.
With the fireworks set to the captivating symphony of live orchestral music, audiences on the ground can have a greater appreciation of the full majesty of the pyrotechnic spectacle before them. 
Ahmad Al Matrooshi, Managing Director, Emaar Properties, said: "Every year when we plan the festivities for New Year we set ourselves an ambitious target – to make it the most watched spectacle on Earth. This year, we have the largest array of events – all scaled up in terms of creative excellence and artistic brilliance.
"Apart from the spectacular shows, the Downtown Dubai New Year's Eve Gala is also about celebrating the tremendous achievements of the UAE and Dubai, our people and our cultural diversity, in a befitting homage which salutes the success that Dubai has won as a global city.
"We want every resident and visitor to feel pride in being part of this vibrant city and to be exhilarated by their experience taking with them memories they can cherish lifelong. The spectacularly executed event will put the spotlight on Dubai underlining the city’s credentials as the world’s must-visit destination this New Year's Eve."
Today, described as the must-attend tourist attraction in Dubai's events calendar, Emaar's Downtown Dubai New Year's Gala will unite the world in one grandiose celebration.
On the night of December 31, 2012, Downtown Dubai will reiterate its reputation as 'The Centre of Now' with the attention of the world focused on the city for a world-class event of epic proportions.
For further information regarding travel maps, logistics and timings, visit
The Downtown Dubai New Year’s Eve Gala is supported by Emirates, Etisalat, Samsung, Mercedes, and Omega.
Visitors to Downtown Dubai on December 31 are advised to take advantage of options for public transport. It is also recommended that visitors arrive by 8pm to secure a good viewing location. For more details on public transportation and hours of operation, please visit


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis Hotel is world’s tallest hotel

The 355-metre five-star hotel opened to the public last month

Dubai: The city of superlatives has done it again with JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai, claiming the world’s tallest hotel title, the latest addition to Dubai’s growing list of world records.

New record for JW Marriott Marquis Hotel

We are excited and delighted to be officially recognised as the world’s tallest hotel. Dubai is a city of superlatives and the JW Marriott Marquis is an outstanding addition its iconic skyline,” said Rupprecht Queitsch, general manager of JW Marriott Marquis Hotel.
Located in the heart of Business Bay, the 355-metre JW Marriott Marquis Hotel was recently officially recognised by the Guinness World Record as the world’s tallest hotel. The iconic five-star hotel boasts of a height that’s almost half or 43 per cent of the height of Burj Khalifa.
The world’s tallest hotel title was previously held by the 333-metre tall Rose Rayhaan by Rotana on Shaikh Zayed Road, which opened in January 2010.
Dubai holds a number of Guinness World Records including the tallest building — the Burj Khalifa; the tallest residential building — Princess Tower; the largest shopping centre  The Dubai Mall; the largest indoor ski-resort — Ski Dubai; to name a few.
Currently, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel ranks 28th in the world’s top 200 tallest buildings, and the sixth tallest building in Dubai, according to Emporis, a global database for building and construction information.
The 77-floor twin towers opened its first tower to guests last month. The hotel’s grand opening is scheduled in February 2013. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in November ordered the implementation of the second phase of the project that is scheduled to be completed by 2014.
The hotel has 804 guest rooms with panoramic views in each tower, 14 restaurants, bars and lounges. It features more than 8,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor event space which includes two ballrooms.
“It’s sort of a small city within itself. Any business traveller can find everything he needs within the hotel itself,” Ashok Korgaonkar, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai’s leading architect, told Gulf News.
Korgaonkar said that when they designed the hotel in 2005, the primary goal was not just to come up with a good design but also to make it functional.
“We wanted the design to stand out in comparison to the surrounding buildings but we didn’t want purely aesthetics but also functionality. So the structure is basically the contemporary version of the trunk of the date palm tree which is part and parcel of the life in Arabian countries,” Korgaonkar said. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

DAMAC Properties launches 'The Distinction'

DAMAC Properties has announced its first major new product launch since 2008, with 295 premium serviced hotel apartments in the Burj Area.
'The Distinction' will be a 195 metre, 53-storey, iconic tower overlooking the platinum real estate in the heart of Dubai, with enviable views of the fountain, mall and world's largest tower.

On the back of improved market sentiment, which has shown average prices increasing by 14% in the first nine months of the year, according to the Reidin Residential Sales Indices, 'The Distinction' will serve to the very top top-end luxury sector of the emirate's real estate market.

The rental market is also seeing strong growth with yields up as much as 24% in prime locations across Dubai according to a recent report by CB Richard Ellis.

While Dubai's property market sees a strong growth path, hotels are also benefitting, with 87.1% occupancy in October according to the latest figures from TRI Hospitality Consulting - an increase of 7.5% year-on-year.

"Luxury projects in prime locations are driving the UAE property resurgence and 'The Distinction' will provide the quality of finish and service expected at this end of the market," said Niall McLoughlin, Senior Vice President, DAMAC Properties. "The serviced hotel apartments at 'The Distinction' will offer the highest levels of customer service, luxury and opulence placing it among the premium products DAMAC Properties has on the market today."

Main contractor, ANC Contracting, has already started work on the project, which is set for completion in the first quarter of 2015. The project will be a mix of studios, one, two, three and four-bedroom penthouses.

The company launched sales of the project from its offices at Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina and at Park Towers in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) early this morning (Saturday, 15 December 2012).

DAMAC Properties has a proven track record of delivering projects in the Dubai real estate, already completing 37 buildings across the UAE, with 7,817 units and nearly 14,000,000 square feet of space.

"DAMAC Properties has become an established brand, synonymous with quality and luxury throughout the Middle East," McLoughlin added. "We are chosen and trusted to deliver high-end, desirable living spaces in some of the best locations. 'The Distinction' certainly lives up to this promise."

The Distinction, which will be one of the most desirable projects DAMAC has ever undertaken, has been designed by architects ZAS with the interiors being undertaken by WA International.

"In Dubai there remains a strong desire for the very best, and this, combined with an improving economy and limited availability of high-end luxury developments, is driving the demand. We are anticipating a high level of interest in 'The Distinction'."

'The Distinction' comes lavished with the highest quality amenities to be enjoyed by the residents, including a luxury spa which houses a relaxing Jacuzzi and peaceful sauna. There is also a high-tech gymnasium and stunning swimming pool.

Hotel Serviced Apartments are a relatively new concept to the Dubai market, offering five-star concierge services to include everything from receiving fresh linen every day through to bookings for private jets and limousines and even having a top-end chef cook for you in your apartment.

It also provides a sound investment vehicle as owners can enjoy the luxury and services on offer, or add their property to a rental pool which will drive stress-free rental yields in addition to the tax-free capital growth, all managed by DAMAC Suites & Spa.

Tourism to Dubai has continued to grow in strong numbers with the Al Maktoum International Airport set to open next year set to cater for 160 million passengers a year. In addition, the UAE's GDP is set to reach 4.5% by the end of the year, reaffirming Dubai's sustained and steady economic recovery.

DAMAC Properties will have 4,000 luxury serviced hotel apartments under development by the end of next year, with its first project in this sector, Burjside Boulevard, overlooking the Burj Area, set to complete in

Emaar launches premium Sky Collection residences at The Address The BLVD in Downtown Dubai

December 15, 2012: Emaar Properties PJSC, the global property developer of iconic real estate assets, is offering an unprecedented opportunity for discerning customers to own a premium home within The Address The BLVD, the newly launched hotel and serviced residences in Downtown Dubai.

The Address The BLVD Sky Collection is an exclusive portfolio of majestic residences, duplexes, and penthouses, set within the upper-most levels of Emaar's latest Address hotel, located on the Emaar Boulevard, near Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall, in the world’s most prestigious square kilometre.
Underlining the robust growth of Dubai's property sector, the launch of The Address The BLVD Sky Collection follows the earlier sell-out response to the serviced residences in the property.
Ahmad Al Matrooshi, Managing Director, Emaar Properties, said: "The Address The BLVD Sky Collection is envisaged to be the connoisseur's choice, and offers the opportunity to own ultra-luxury homes in the heart of Downtown Dubai.
"The Address The BLVD is being developed to the highest world class standards that define Emaar's projects, and the Sky Collection will offer residents unparalleled luxury living in our latest landmark property, set in the heart of our flagship development, Downtown Dubai." 
The Sky Collection features an exclusive portfolio of three, four and five bedroom serviced residences, spectacular penthouses, and duplexes. Residents will experience an exclusive lifestyle in the dazzling heights of The Address The BLVD with unsurpassed service from the renowned Address Hotels + Resorts brand.
Scaling new heights, the stunning serviced residences will offer unprecedented vistas of Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain. Residents will enjoy the finest lifestyle amenities and a new air-conditioned bridge link will offer direct access to The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destination.
The prime location of The Address The BLVD on Emaar Boulevard, with a range of leisure and F&B choices, offers residents an enviable address in chic Downtown Dubai. Residents will also be in convenient proximity to Dubai’s major business hubs such as Emaar Square and Dubai International Financial Centre.
Sales of The Address The BLVD Sky Collection serviced residences will be by pre-arranged appointment only. Interested buyers can register online for more information at on December 16, 2012.
The Address The BLVD, a five star premium hotel and serviced residences, is the sixth addition to The Address Hotels + Resorts portfolio of Emaar Hospitality Group in Dubai, scheduled for handover in 2015. Featuring 200 hotel rooms and 523 serviced residences, and billed to be another sterling addition to Dubai’s skyline, the 72-storey hotel is 370 metres high, and will be one of the tallest buildings in Downtown Dubai, next to Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Downtown Dubai New Year Eve 2013

On the night

Downtown Dubai will be all abuzz with excitement this New Year. We're putting on a whole production for you and the family to enjoy.  This big event, a world first, is one you will not want to miss.  Be sure to arrive before 8pm.  You won't want to miss a minute.
Limited parking will be available within Downtown Dubai, please see the map for locations.  . These are available from 1pm to 8pm on 31 Dec, 2012 and from 12:30am to 6am on 1 Jan 2013.
Alternative parking with Metro service is available with at Rashidiya station and the Etisalat station.
Follow @RTA_Dubai or visit for more information.

3- Taxi 

Please see the map for designated taxi holding area

 4- Feeder Buses

Please see map for the designated Rta Feeder Bas locations.
Follow @RTA_Dubai or visit for more information.

The Downtown Dubai app for iPhones can be downloaded for free following this link
It offers you an insiders guide to all you need to know, including information relating to the New Year's Celebrations, all at the tip of your fingers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Khalifa Port gateway to future

Facility, completed ahead of schedule at a cost of Dh26.5b, is part of Abu Dhabi’s diversification plan

Abu Dhabi: Khalifa Port, the Middle East North Africa (Mena) region’s first semi-automated container terminal, is built to support the multi-modal (transportation of goods under a single contract ) logistics capabilities, and which integrates into the new Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad). The port accommodates up to 12 million tonnes of general cargo annually and 2.5 million TEUs (twenty foot-equivalent units) of containerised cargo, said Tony Douglas, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC).

he Dh26.5 billion project will act as an economic gateway of trade for Abu Dhabi, and it has been completed before the required time while meeting the highest standards,” added Douglas. “As a sign of our success, we have attained profits in the last two years and we are expecting further profits in the years ahead.” Douglas explained that UAE ports will be complementing each other and will play a pivotal role towards the overall economy of the UAE.
“There is no doubt that Khalifa Port will be allotted for heavy industries in Abu Dhabi and some heavy and big vessels will be mobilised to it,” said Douglas, adding that “Mina Zayed will be restructured to handle cruise shipping and commercial activities.”
Mohammad Al Shamsi, Executive Vice President, at Ports Unit of Abu Dhabi Port Company (ADPC), told Gulf News that it is expected that handling capacities will increase to 5 million containers within the first five years.
Al Shamsi said that the cost of the port was “less than estimated figures,” with no further information about exact figures and savings.
“The Khalifa Port will be built in five phases. Khalifa Port will also have the ability to expand up to 5 million TEUs by 2018. It is projected to support an annual capacity of 15 million TEUs and be able to handle an additional 35 million tonnes of general cargo by 2030.
Primary agreements
Khalid Salmeen, CEO and MD of Khalifa Industrial Zone of Abu Dhabi (Kizad), told Gulf News that 50 companies had already signed primary agreements with Kizad to lease grounds.
“Kizad is expected to grow over the next twenty years to 417 square kilometres. As Phase I of the project is 51 square kilometres, which forms 55 per cent of the area of Abu Dhabi Island, 27 per cent Phase I has been leased out to Indian, American, Brazilian and Emirati companies,” said Salmeen.
He added: “We have signed so far primary agreements with 50 companies, 33 of them are final long term ground development lease [Musataha] or usufruct agreements. Six companies have already mobilized to Kizad.”
As per Phase II, Salmeen said: “We will start it when 60 per cent of the Phase I is leased out.”
Hesham Al Mutairi, manager of Kuwait Port Authority, told Gulf News that UAE ports complement the role of other GCC ports.
“The UAE ports are considered Kuwaiti ports in cases of emergency and there is a high level of coordination between our two countries in this prospect,” said Al Mutairi.
For his part, Captain Mousa Murad, General Manager of Port of Fujairah, told Gulf News that Fujairah Port will be connected to Kizad by 2016-2017.
“The Fujairah Port will be connected via Etihad Railway by 2016-2017. Right now 70 per cent of the Abu Dhabi oil is transported from Habshan via pipeline to Fujairah Port,” said Murad.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Metro to add Red Line station on 12/12/12

Jafza commuters hail facility which is expected to serve at least 10,000 people daily

Dubai: The Danube Metro station, which is the 28th station on the Red Line of Dubai Metro, will herald a world of convenience for workers and residents of Jebel Ali Freezone Authority (Jafza), a senior official said.

The Jebel Ali Industrial station, which was recently renamed Danube station after the popular building materials firm bought the naming rights from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), will open for the public on 12/12/12.
Danube station provides direct access to commuters living and working in the freezone enclave which is home to 6,800 international firms and around 170,000 people who either reside or work there.
Ebrahim Al Janahi, Deputy CEO of Jafza, commenting on the opening of the new station said: “The opening of the 2nd Metro station in Jafza will further facilitate 50,000 persons living in the staff accommodation in Jafza and almost the same number of daily Jafza commuters to use this most efficient and hassle-free mode of transportation. By using Metro, Jafza commuters are and will be contributing their bit in reducing carbon emission.”
Commending Danube for their initiative in partnering with RTA, Al Janahi said: “The Metro station is named after Danube, one of our most dynamic companies. The naming reinforces Jafza companies’ deep commitment to the UAE and its enlightened leadership’s vision to make the country one of the best in the world. Jafza companies together contribute more than 21 per cent to Dubai’s GDP year-on-year basis.”
Danube Group’s chairman, Rizwan Sajan, speaking exclusively with Gulf News said: “It gives immense pleasure to me to serve people. I feel if we are able to make a small difference to people’s live our purpose is served, our idea is to add as much convenience to people’s lives as possible.”
He thanked RTA and Dubai’s leadership for accepting Danube as a partner.
Apart from officials, residents and workers from Jafza who regularly commute by the Metro and have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the new station, have hailed the decision.
“I use Dubai Metro daily for my journey to and from work, but it wasn’t easy as I had to take buses from Ibn Battuta station; most people in Jafza using Metro had to face such difficulties but this station will really help all of us,” said Nancy D’Costa, who works for a logistics firm which is located just a few hundred metres from the station.
As usual, RTA is planning to deploy a huge number of feeder buses along various routes, though the exact numbers were not available.
“I urge RTA to have a wide network of feeder routes inside Jafza connecting Danube station so that it is convenient for all; our offices are located a few kilometres away from the station and if they have regular feeder buses it will really help all of us,” said Ahmad Basheer, who works for a shipping firm.
The new station is expected to bring on at least 10,000 new daily commuters to the already popular rail network which currently boasts a daily passenger volume of around 300,000.
The 52.1-kilometre Red Line has a total of 29 stations. The last station — Energy — which is also located in Jebel Ali, is yet to open for service.
The much shorter Green Line, covering a total distance of 23 kilometres, boasts 20 stations including two it shares with the Red Line, namely the Burjuman and Union stations. In all, 18 Green Line stations are currently functional. Al Jaddaf and Creek stations are yet to open for the public.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Salam Street tunnel renamed and now open to the public

ABU DHABI // After five years and more than Dh3 billion the 4.2-kilometre Salam Street tunnel finally opens to traffic at 6am today, with a new name and the promise of significantly easing traffic.

Al Salam Tunnel has been renamed Sheikh Zayed Tunnel and is set to open to the public at 6am on 5 Dec, 2012. Silvia Razgova / The National
Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, national security adviser and vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, yesterday inaugurated the tunnel, which has been renamed the Sheikh Zayed Road and Tunnel by decree from the President, Sheikh Khalifa.
The grand opening will be the final step of the multi-phase Salam Street redevelopment project that began in 2007.
“This main tunnel was completed today in time for the inauguration,” said Abdullah Al Shamsi, executive director of infrastructure and municipal assets sector at the Abu Dhabi Municipality. “We expect the journey time between Sheikh Zayed Bridge to Mina Road or the Corniche and back to be 20 minutes.”
The tunnel stretches from Delma Street, at the Sea Palace junction, up to the Corniche and Mina Road. The covered section of the tunnel runs for 2.4km, while the open  section covers 1.8km.

RTA confirms auto-update of Salik toll on taxis

Taxis will be charged Salik toll only when passengers are onboard

Dubai: Taxis in Dubai are to include Salik tolls in the fare total if they pass through a gate from mid January 2013, the Roads and Transport Authority has confirmed.
Gulf News was the first to report the reintroduction of the toll on Tuesday, which has now been confirmed by senior RTA official Eisa Abdurrahman Al Dossari.
However, Al Dossari added that passengers will have a right to choose whether they want to use Salik or an alternative route.
“The passage of taxicabs under Salik toll gates will be optional for taxi passengers. Before starting a journey, the cabdriver will offer the passenger the option of passing under Salik gates or using alternative roads, so that there is no dispute later,” explained Al Dossari.
He said the decision was taken to further ease traffic on Shaikh Zayed Road.
“This decision will clearly contribute to easing the traffic flow by re-routing the vehicular movement on a number of roads and streets in the Emirate. Most notably, it is set to ease the pressure on Shaikh Zayed Road, and encourage commuters to use the Dubai Metro in their daily travels,” emphasised Al Dossari.
The Salik toll system which was introduced by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in July 2007, was also applicable to taxis. However, following numerous complaints by commuters who felt cheated, the toll, which was entered manually by drivers was scrapped for taxis from December 2008.
To avoid the confusion now, the RTA has come up with a system which will automatically include the toll of Dh4 in the fare, if the taxi crosses the Salik toll gate.
However, taxis will be charged Salik toll only when passengers are on board, and the fare metres are running, a transport official has said.
“If a cab is crossing the Salik toll gate without a passenger, which is without the fare metre running, then no Salik will be charged,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
RTA is now upgrading the fare metres of all cabs in the city to a new system called D8 which allows the toll to be automatically added to the fare.
“The decision will be implemented gradually as RTA is working on upgrading taxi meter systems of a specific number of taxis on daily basis starting from the mid of next month. The addition of the Salik toll will be fully automated without any intervention on the part of the taxi driver; which will render the application of the procedures highly transparent and hassle-free,” explained Al Dossari.
Lashing out at the decision to reintroduce the toll for cab users, a resident said: “Already the taxi meters run like a horse, plus a new gift from RTA for 2013.”
Taxis are part of public transport, already we are paying minimum fare of Dh10 which is more compared to other countries, said another.
In a website comment a reader from Singapore said that there too a similar toll is collected from commuters by automatically adding it to the taxi fare. “Dubai is not the first place in the world to introduce this! All developed nations have this thing,” said the reader.
“Not fair... so what is public transport then. Isn’t it to help the people who don’t have cars,” Cynthia Fernandes commented online.
“It is the perfect way to discourage people from using public transportation. Now rich people should start using these taxis because an average person can’t afford the fares,” said another reader.
According to RTA statistics, the total number of taxi fleet in Dubai Emirate stood at 7,907 in May 2012.
New system
The new system, D8, allows RTA to monitor and control the speed of taxis. When a taxi driver exceeds the speed of 120 km/h, a recorded message is played asking to reduce the speed. In case, the driver does not comply within three minutes, the taxis’ central control room gets alerted, which then communicates with the driver. In case the driver ignores the warning, the fare metre of his cab will stop working and RTA will initiate disciplinary action against the driver.
With the new system, cab drivers will not get to choose whether or not they want to accept an assignment. The taxi nearest to the customer, who books through the dispatch centre, will be asked to go to the customer whether or not the driver wants to.
Taxis from other emirates, commuting through Dubai, have never been exempt from the toll.