Dubai: Tourists and residents have been taken by surprise to find the popular Jumeirah Open Beach shut down indefinitely.
A sign on the fencing around the beach simply says that it has been closed since October 26 and adds ‘we are working to enhance your experience. Apologies for inconvenience’.
Beachgoers claim that there was no notice that the 1.5km-long stretch of beach, which includes a jogging track, would be closing. There is also no clarity why it has been sealed off.
Mohammad Al Fardan, head of parks section at Dubai Municipality, said the beach “used to be” under its management, but was closed for “some project” . He expressed his inability to share any more details.
It is not clear who ordered the closure and what work is being carried out at the beach.
According to cleaners and construction workers in the area, a hotel, villas, shops and a new beachfront are coming up.
They said the “private project” will take two years to complete, but their claims could not be independently verified.
The jogging track has been dug up and a major contracting company has set up a worksite there.
“I drove all the way from Sharjah to the beach last Friday only to find it closed. They could have given us a heads-up this would happen,” said a young Pakistani, who did not wish to be named.
Another man, an Arab national, said he saw “tourists” getting dropped off by taxis, who appeared taken aback by the barriers.
“Some people think maybe it’s partly closed, maybe there’s an opening further down. But no, the whole thing is off limits,” he added.
According to a French woman who lives in the area and used to visit the beach daily, another 1.5km stretch of the coastline immediately after the open beach “was opened to the public a couple of months back”.
“But I didn’t see any lifeguards around. People bring their children along and I’m concerned about them. There are also no public restrooms or stalls for refreshments,” she said.
Meanwhile, some joggers have moved to the “new” beach, making it “too crowded for my liking,” said a regular beachgoer.
Officials last month closed the beach at Jumeirah Beach Park, about 2km down the road. That beach was closed as part of development works related to the Dubai Canal project, which will be ready in 2016.
Also in October, authorities spruced up the beach from extending from Burj Al Arab in the direction of the open beach as part of the Dh100 Jumeirah Corniche project. The new facilities include shaded seating, stalls, walking and jogging tracks and services related to swimming and rowing.
However, it is understood some pockets on the 14km-stretch are being developed by private developers, with beach access temporarily or partly affected in those parts.