The 'Dubai Mall Metro Link' walkway is expected to come as a huge relief to Metro passengers going into Downtown. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulfnews

Dubai: Commuters of Dubai Metro on Wednesday hailed the opening of the new walkway that directly links the Burj Khalifa Metro station with the Dubai Mall.

The 820-metre temperature-controlled footbridge provides a convenient and leisurely alternative to regular visitors as well as tourists to visit Dubai Mall.

“This is a fantastic move by the authorities to open the walkway as it saves a lot of time and it is much more convenient than using a bus from the station to the mall,” said Syed Zahoor, a 23-year-old Pakistani salesman working in Dubai Mall.

Families and tourists could be seen ambling around and enjoying the great view outside the glass structure.

“The Metro is the best way to see the city and this walkway has made visiting Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa by Metro easier. I wouldn’t have thought of coming by Metro to this place with three kids and my wife if not for the walkway, I would have definitely taken a taxi,” said Nicholas Leven from UK, a former resident of Dubai who is currently on a visit with his family.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Wednesday toured the walkway which is built by Emaar in cooperation with the Roads and Transport Authority at a cost of Dh120million.

Shaikh Mohammad visited the walkway on his way back from his visit to Concourse three of Dubai International Airport. As he rode the Metro along with his entourage, he expressed pride at the implementation of the Dubai Metro, which he described as ‘’the project of the century’’.

Shaikh Mohammad stopped by a coffee shop in Dubai Mall and had a coffee before he headed to the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.

Apart from adding to the convenience of the commuters, the link will significantly add to the number of visitors to Downtown Dubai, which will host a series of celebratory events leading up to the spectacular New Year’s Eve Gala and Fireworks.

“The opening of the link is timely as it will help people coming to enjoy New Year’s even, when thousands visit the Downtown area. In the long run, the walkway will help increase ridership of the Dubai Metro as well as customers to the Dubai Mall,” said Ahmad Al Hammadi, Director of Bus at RTA’s Public Transport Agency, who was also on a visit to the walkway.

He said that walkway provides a convenient alternative for visitors who can also take a feeder bus from the station to Dubai Mall or a taxi.

“I think the footbridge is much more convenient with air-condition and travellators, however, we will not stop buses, those who want to use the buses can continue to avail them,” added Al Hammadi.

The Metro link has ten travellators — each between 70 and 120 metres in length and 1.4 metres in width, with a central aisle for pedestrian use. The travellators 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 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,” said Ahmad Al Matroushi, Managing Director, Emaar Properties.

The link is designed in glass, drawing on traditional Arabian architecture styles, enabling spectacular views of Downtown Dubai including Burj Khalifa. The ‘Mashrabia’ styled façade and colourful lighting will complement the existing architecture and add to the lively ambience of Emaar Boulevard.

The elevated walkway snakes through the Emaar Boulevard and enters the Dubai Mall with the Burj Khalifa on the right and The Address Dubai Mall on the left. The passageway leading up to the Dubai Mall is lined by small retail outlets on either side and 30,000 people are expected to enter Dubai Mall through it each day.