Many people end up frustrated with their unexpected parking bills every day at Dubai Marina Walk.
If you are planning to sit down in one of the venues at Dubai Marina Walk, your parking is free for the first couple of hours. At least that is if you park under one of the building complexes along the 4 kilometers-long stretch of restaurants and cafes.
But be warned: you must pick the right restaurant. Unaware of this rule, many motorists end up paying expensive parking bills every day.
Marinascape is one of the building complexes. "2 hours free parking for customers subject to validation & spend of Dh50 – receipt required," reads a notice hung next to the entrance.
Further down the notice is the list of restaurants and shops that the customer can go to; in this case 21 venues.
"The customer needs to have his receipt stamped at this venue, after having spent a minimum of Dh50 there," explains the security guard at the parking garage.
But there are many customers every day who do not realise that their free car park comes with certain conditions. "They either lose their ticket, or they have it stamped at a restaurant that is not in Marinascape."
If customers fail to present a receipt with the correct stamp they pay the regular parking fee, which is Dh20 for the first hour, and Dh150 in case of a
receipt lost. In Emaar buildings, where the same rules count, a ticket lost costs the customer Dh250.
"People get really upset about it, and we regularly have to call the police to settle the dispute," says the security guard at Marinascape.
"But these are our rules. It is not that we do not inform the customer. It is written on the board. We do not make any exceptions."
Afif, a 30-year-old Tunisian resident of Dubai learned about the parking opportunity eight months ago, when he decided to come to Dubai Marina Walk for dinner and sheesha.
"I parked my car under one of these buildings, but I was not informed about the selection of restaurants. When I presented my parking receipt in the restaurant where I was sitting I was told that the parking space did not belong to that restaurant, and they would not stamp the ticket. I told them that I had no idea about these rules, but he would still not stamp the receipt," he tells.
Although the security guard at Marinascape claims he always informs the motorist of the conditions of the free parking entrée, security personnel at an Emaar building admit that it is not always possible to point out the rules, as there are many cars entering the garage within a short time.
"Not everybody sees the board and we cannot inform everybody about the restaurants that belong to the building. Especially in the evening this can cause trouble, and we have had angry customers before," tells Rizwan.
On an online forum for expats in Dubai the rules are criticized for being too harsh, as many people are genuinely unaware of the importance of the ticket and the correct stamp, but security guards are known to show no mercy; there is no exit without payment.
On the same forum visitors to the popular area advise a detour to Spinneys in case the required stamp cannot be presented. As Spinneys is on the list for parking under Emaar buildings, people having their car parked there could make a last-minute purchase of Dh50 at Spinneys and then return to their car with the right stamp, rather than paying Dh20 more for the parking space that was supposed to be free.
Or, as Afif says, you must decide where to sit before you park your car. "For me, I do not park here anymore because I want to have the freedom to choose where I am going to sit down after I parked my car," he adds.
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