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13 April 2024

Global Village tragedy brings amusement park safety into focus amid public concern

By Bindu Suresh Rai

The tragic accident at Global Village on Thursday has brought amusement park safety guidelines under the scanner once again even as investigations continue into the death of the Emirati national who was fatally struck by a metal rod that broke off from a Ferris wheel at the funfair.

Three members from Freij Entertainment, which manages the funfair rides, have been arrested by Dubai Police, while the rides at the Global Village remain suspended under further notice.

When Emirates 24|7 contacted Dubai Municipality, the government body declined to comment during an ongoing accident investigation, adding that a fact-finding and technical report would be forwarded shortly to the police and the public prosecutor’s office.

Meanwhile, amid an unprecedented outpouring of grief from UAE residents, many have also voiced their concerns over safety issues that need to be addressed across amusement and water parks across the country.

In an email statement in response to an Emirates 24|7 query, Chris Perry, General Manager of Wild Wadi Waterpark responded, saying: “Jumeirah does not provide details on matters relating to health, safety and security in our properties, including Wild Wadi Waterpark, but I can tell you that the welfare and safety of our guests is paramount at Jumeirah.

“We can, however, confirm that Wild Wadi implements the highest levels of aquatic safety standards in line with our aquatic safety risk management consultant, Ellis & Associates.”

He added: “All our lifeguards are trained and licensed to an international standard and adhere to the protocols of our aquatic safety risk management consultancy. Wild Wadi is also a member of the World Waterpark Association and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.”

No comment was forthcoming from Wonderland Amusement Park and Hili Fun City at time of filing.

However, several members of the public spoke about their safety concerns, with K Chachara talking about an incident several years ago at a popular funfair arena in Dubai, which resulted in an injury and a trip to the hospital.

“I was seated with my family on one of the rollercoasters only to realise a few seconds into the ride that the safety bar holding us in place hadn’t snapped shut,” she recalled. “As the ride jerked, the bar fell down and locked, with my arm caught in between.”

Chachara said the pain that shot up her arm was excruciating and she and her daughter screamed at the operators to stop the ride, but to no avail.

“Finally, when the rollercoaster came to a stop, my daughter screamed for help and they freed my arm,” she said.

However, Chachara said the drama did not end there. Her arm was swelling up fast and was bruised badly, but she still wanted to ensure the operators were aware of the faulty safety bar.

“But imagine our horror that they completely ignored our concerns and continued to operate that carriage like nothing had happened,” she said. “I wanted to stay and fight, but my daughter urged me to leave for the hospital and we just let it go.”

Another hair-raising incident came to light when Dubai-resident Nihaal Irani recalled of his trauma, also in a rollercoaster ride.

“I was excited to try this ride out that I stood in line for an extra hour just to sit in the front row,” he said. “We were given extra safety protection for our face, which I complained at the time, was not fitting well, but nobody really listened.

“When I asked again, I was duly informed that many people were waiting in line, and so I sat down thinking, what’s the worst that could happen?”

A few seconds into the ride and the safety protection flew off his face and smacked someone in the back row.

“I put my hands up to cover my face instinctively and hurt my shoulder in the bargain,” he said, adding: “Ultimately, it turned out to be a sprain, but painful enough to keep me out of commission for a few days.”

Both Chachara and Irani said that after a few token complaints, no one was willing to listen so they let the matter go.

Gaganjeet Sethi, another UAE resident, also appeared vary of indulging in funfair rides here until some more stringent laws are put into place.

He said: “After reading about this terrible tragedy, I will admit that I am a little scared of going on amusement rides here. I truly believe this was an incident that could have been avoided; in fact, I even read that the Emirati victim had even pointed out the hazard before the metal object fell on him.”

When quizzed further, Sethi added: “I think this calls for a safety guideline that needs to be administered, with regular maintenance checks conducted by officials from Dubai Municipality to ensure the safety of all residents.”


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