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11 December 2023

DMC: Is it bursting at the seams?

By Majorie van Leijen

Dubai Media City has a touch of unique charm. With its neatly paved roads and footpaths, many roundabouts and pedestrian crossings, plenty of greenery and low-key structures  it looks as if traffic is seamlessly integrated with this town within a town.

The freehold area houses more than 1,300 companies and has become a thriving community, with thousands of staff and visitors roaming the streets every day, on the way to office or to sit down in one of the many cafes and restaurants for an after-work treat.

However, when visiting the community during peak hours, you come to realise that the roads are maybe a little too small to accommodate its many users, and frequent commuters have argued that the infrastructure does not always support the natural flow of traffic.

Especially the pedestrian faces the brunt. While pedestrians are not at all seldom in the area and they are welcomed by many dedicated foot paths, zebra crossings and walk-in cafes and restaurants, the roads laid out do not always guide the people on foot to safety.

Linda Williams, an American resident who works in Media City, says: "There are some pedestrian crossings with a dead end. You take them, and while you are on them you realise it does not lead anywhere, and you are on the middle of the road," she says.

Indeed, a pedestrian crossing on Al Falak Street seemingly leading to West Tower in fact leads nowhere. The black-and-white markings end in a wall, and pedestrians have to take to the street to get back onto the pavement.

"When the road is empty, this is not a problem. But when there is traffic, it is very dangerous to walk on the road, especially as you have to walk in the same direction the cars are going," said Linda.

A little further down the road, a similar situation occurs.

Once having set foot on the road, the pathway leads the pedestrian into the valet parking slope of the building on the other end, a slope which is entered by cars from the main street, at the same point where pedestrians are getting off the crossing.

"Once I took this crossing, and as I hopped onto the slope the entering cars has to suddenly stop; they did not expect a pedestrian there," said Linda.

Commuters entering the community by car are equally frustrated over the infrastructure. Ali Iqbal, a Pakistani resident working in Arenco Tower, approaches his office via AL Falak Street.

"This pedestrian crossing is located just where cars get off the roundabout. If anybody is crossing, it means I have to stop on the roundabout in order to give way.

"This roundabout is already a challenge for those heading towards Arenco Tower, because the turn to the right comes right after the pedestrian crossing, which means that there is very little space to change from the left to the right. In many instances, I was more concerned with this turn than the pedestrian crossing, and I nearly hit those walking there," he admits.

Another challenge takes shape at the end of the day, when Ali leaves his tower and wants to get onto the service road towards Sheikh Zayed Road, he said.

"The service road is in front of Arenco Tower. There is a stop sign for those coming from the internal roads, because traffic on this service road may come at a high speed.

"The problem is that even as I stop, I can hardly see the cars coming, because the plantation on the side is too high. I can see the roof of the cars approaching, but I always wonder, what if a low-roof luxury car approaches..I would not be able to see it coming."

Raising the concerns with free-hold master developer Tecom Investments, the authority pointed out that currently some work is being carried out in the community, and more enhancements are to come.

"Tecom Investments takes the safety and well-being of all business partners and visitors to its business communities very seriously. We review our infrastructure and facilities on an ongoing basis to ensure it is fit for purpose, and we make improvements accordingly.

"In addition to ongoing works, we recently announced that we will be implementing a number of enhancements across our business parks over the coming year, about which we will be in a position to announce more detail about very soon," it commented.