Dubai: Dubai’s Oud Metha Street, home to over a dozen schools, has become busier as Ramadan has more or less unified school timings, with parents dropping and picking up children at the same time.
Before Ramadan, parents said, schools on the busy road had separate timings, with family cars and school buses using the road in separate waves.
Now, schools open between 8am and 8.30am and close between 1pm and 1.30pm to keep classes within the five-hour limit for Ramadan, as directed by education officials.
While busy scenes around the school run are normal, Oud Metha is especially crowded during the morning and afternoon because more than half a dozen schools are located on a short section of the road (from Gulf Towers to Rashid Hospital).
Despite the fact that the street is served by Oud Metha Metro Station and public bus stops, it appears that many parents prefer to drive the family car on the school run in Oud Metha.
Some parents block traffic as they double park on the street or inside the parking lot as they wait to pick up their children, causing further delays to other road users.
Parents picking up their children on Monday afternoon told Gulf News they have had to change routines and habits to deal with the spike in traffic.
Crossing over from Dubai English Speaking School, UK mom Gurjeet Plahe said she used to pick up her children at 2.30pm but now comes at 12.30pm sometimes “just to make sure you don’t get stuck at 1pm”, when schools now close.
She parks her car opposite to the school, on the other side of the street, to find parking and leave the area with relative ease. She uses the footbridge to walk over.
Plahe said: “During normal times, schools had managed to agree a system where each school is finishing in a 15-minute difference. This allows a little bit of free flowing traffic. But during Ramadan, it’s always [congested] like this.”
Indian mom Seema Somavat has ditched her car to avoid parking and traffic problems, and uses the public bus instead.
She said she used to pick up her children from Indian High School at 3pm when there was less traffic. Now, like almost everyone else, she has to be there before 1pm.
“It takes me 40 minutes to reach home in Dubai Silicon Oasis from Oud Metha. Before, it used to take only 15 minutes. I spend 15 minutes just in Oud Metha. From today, I’ve started using the bus,” Somavat said.
“All the schools have almost the same timings now in Ramadan. I prefer not to drive in this traffic.”
Pakistani father Mohammad Ashfaq said shorter and unified school hours have led to a longer school run.
“The kids are let off early by half an hour at English Language School. They also start half an hour later in the morning. But they spend almost as much time in traffic,” Ashfaq said.
“This whole area is a schools’ area, with seven or eight schools near each other in a line. Oud Metha gets choked during the school run.”
Schools on the road include GEMS Winchester School-Dubai, Dubai Gem Private School, Al Rashid Al Saleh Private School, Dubai English Speaking School, St Mary’s Catholic High School, English Language School, Pakistan Education Academy and Indian High School.