Drivers going to Tecom-managed business parks often complain of too many vacant special permit parking spaces and the lack of paid parking available for public use. Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News

Dubai: Residents working in and visiting Dubai Media City who are not special permit holders have complained that finding metered parking in the area is like looking for a needle in a haystack despite the abundance of parking spaces there.

Parking spaces in Media City and other Tecom-managed business parks such as Internet City and Knowledge Village are divided between metered parking and special permit parking for building tenants in the area. But the special permit spaces are way more than the demand, motorists said, that they end up parking there, risking fines when all metered parking spaces have been taken.

On a random visit, Gulf News spotted four parking fines issued to cars illegally parked at a special permit parking (P-S4) behind the du office. One motorist argued his case with the parking attendant to no avail while Umm Al Quwain resident, Ahmad Hassan, who visited the area for the first time, got a Dh200 parking fine. The Egyptian questioned the fine as he had sent an SMS for metered parking. He was parked at P-S4, making his SMS invalid.

“What is P? To any motorist it’s ‘Parking.’ What’s S4? It’s meaningless! The sign is not very clear. It has to be stated very clearly that this S4 is for building tenants only and should be made five times larger for all to see,” the irate motorist told Gulf News, adding there was not enough parking space in the area for metered parking.

There were no signs stating clear parking rules at the parking lot where Hassan was fined although there was signage at other big parking spaces across the street.

At around 11.30am, the parking lot was packed. Motorists on the hunt for space had no luck. A silver Range Rover had to circle the area six times before giving up. A Black Honda Civic and silver Pajero had to go around three times before getting lucky. One of them was Aarti Nankani, a banker who was already running late for a meeting.

“It’s pretty tedious to find [metered] parking but there are too many empty special parking spaces in general. For the rest of the public, there’s not enough,” Nankani told Gulf News.

Gulf News’ repeated requests for comment from the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) Traffic and Roads Agency went unanswered at the time of going to press.

When contacted by Gulf News, a spokesperson from Tecom said demand for parking in Dubai Media City area has grown and traffic has increased due to its popularity as a free zone. The decision by RTA and Tecom to implement mixed parking system was to address the issue.

“The system gives priority to businesses in Tecom-owned buildings but also provides proper options for visitors and employees who do not have a parking card. Card allocation is based on the global industry norm of measuring against leased floor space. It is a generous and flexible system in the overall context of Dubai,” the spokesperson said.

But generous it isn’t, Lisa, a British marking consultant working at Media City, said. Lisa said an office with eight staff is entitled to one special permit. But not all those with allocated spaces had applied for special permits. Hence, many spaces are being underutilised.

The daily hunt for parking has negatively affected business, she added. “It’s very frustrating especially when we have prospective clients for meetings. Oftentimes they arrive late because they have to look for parking space when there’s hardly any,” Lisa said.

The Tecom spokesperson said feedback from road users may be sent to RTA to address the issue.