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What you need to know:

  • Reader wants public parks to be accessible and for free.

Dubai

Having community parks is a must. In Dubai, many residential areas do have community parks, but lately, I have come across an issue that I wanted to raise. Some parks are charging residents to use the facilities, which I believe defeats the purpose.

It is wonderful to see public community parks with amenities such as jogging and cycling track, basketball courts, football fields, play area for children with lush green surrounding and people living in that community utilising the facilities to the maximum.

A decade ago when I was living in Dubai, I remember playing tennis in Safa Park for free. I later moved to Abu Dhabi and there were many tennis courts available absolutely free of charge there, too, and I enjoyed my time playing my favourite sport. But, as time passed, many courts started charging a fee when they were contracted to sports management companies.

A year ago I moved to Dubai again and the building I chose to reside in, located in the Al Nahda 2 community, was surrounded by a huge park, Al Nahda Pond Park, consisting of a playground fit for my children, a path with looming trees by a great pond, basketball courts and a tennis court.

However, in a span of a week, the tennis court was locked and was not accessible because it was contracted to some sports academy. I resigned to my fate and did not play tennis as I could not afford the fees charged by such sports clubs. The whole purpose of having community parks is for all the people living in the community and not only for those who earn a high income.

But, I decided to visit the park and ask the people at the courts anyway. To my surprise, they said I could bring my tenancy contract and Emirates ID between 8am and 2pm and book a court to play for an hour for free. It seems one of the courts is free to be availed by the community, whereas the other one is rented out to the academy, who charge a fee for access.

I still believe that the community parks should be free for all at all times, as it is solely built for the community and not for business entities.

Amanullah Shameem Khan, an information technology (IT) team leader living in the area, also agreed that community parks should be accessible to all.

He said: “During my student days in the US, I spent a lot of time in community parks as there are many, which offer free access to all residents at all times. It is not right to give the park to other entities, which makes it inaccessible to people in the community.”

Saad Mohammad Ghori, a student and tennis player also based in the same area, used to practice tennis in his school.

He said: “It would have been nice if the tennis courts in the park were accessible to all. I went there a few times and found it locked. A banner of a tennis academy was placed on the fence, and I thought it was exclusively for them.”

I am so glad that at least I can play tennis for an hour for free. However, it would be helpful if residents were allowed to use the facilities at any time. Additionally, if there is a court allocated to residents, there should be a notice or some kind of memo that informs residents of this.

I would like to suggest that the booking process also be improved by making it online, rather than having to go to the park to book a court. This would make it more convenient for the residents to be able to access the facilities.

— The reader is a commercial and technical auditor based in Dubai.

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FACTBOX:

The reader’s concerns were raised with the management of Dubai Municipality, because they manage public parks in the emirate. They immediately investigated the issue and responded to Gulf News.

The management stated: “Yes, the community parks are under Dubai Municipality, but some fields and courts are leased to private companies. And this is the case in Al Nahda Pond Park. The tennis court is leased to Dubai Tennis Academy and they rent it to the public.”