Sharjah: Joggers and walkers who like to exercise in the park each morning must now switch to evenings or walk on the streets in the scorching heat.
Sharjah Municipality has just passed a law that keeps all parks closed to the public until 4pm.
They will stay open until 10pm.
The law includes free-entrance neighbourhood parks and those which have an entrance fee.
A Sharjah Municipality official told Gulf News the new rule aimed to prevent gardeners from staring at female visitors.
"The municipality cannot accept the responsibility of having its employees staring at women and making them feel uncomfortable," said Sharjah Municipality Agricultural Department head Yaseen Mohammad.
Mohammad said the gardeners tended to the greenery only in the morning.
Thus visitors would be permitted to enter when the gardeners were not at work.
"To combat this threat, the director-general of the municipality has instructed all parks to be closed during the morning, and all parks have to follow the new system," Mohammad said.
However, residents who use the parks in the morning said they were very upset about the new law and its timings.
As the summer heat approaches, residents who like to exercise in the morning would be forced to walk next to cars on the roads.
"I am a resident staying near Mahatta Park and [with the park being] closed during morning hours, this makes it difficult for about 40 people who go for a morning walk," F. Moosa said.
"All the people are forced to take rounds outside the park on the pavement, making it very congested.
"Despite sending a letter to the authorities concerned by all of us, no action has been taken. It is getting increasingly hot and more difficult for all of us."
Another resident who stays near Al Nahda Park said the park used to be vey popular at 6am.
People would not only jog there, but they also liked to feed the rabbits that inhabit the park.
Another resident, Vanita, said: "We called up the municipality, and they were also surprised that it was closed. "A call made by them to the park office yielded no response, so they told us to contact the office in the park," she said.
"When the lady at the office was contacted, she said she is only following instructions from the municipality.
"She pointed out that in the meantime, joggers and walkers must cram onto the footpath outside the park for their daily exercises.
"It is really funny to know that a watchman sleeps in the park every night but can not [open the gates in the morning]."
Is this a problem in your community park? What other facilities could compensate for it?