This week’s opening of the new Green Line of the Dubai Metro has hotels hopeful at the prospect of additional foot traffic.
The 22km long track costed an estimated US$8 billion Green Line and was opened on September 9. Combined with the Red Line, the Dubai Metro stands at 75km in total, the longest automated metro network in the world, a fact also recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Crowne Plaza Deira-Dubai is one of few hotels located within walking distance of the new line. The 281-room property (which is now managed by InterContinental Hotels Group after switching from the Marriott Renaissance brand in March) is already actively directing guests to use the Metro. Daniel Norman, director of Sales and Marketing believes the rail transport system will do much to improve Deira’s image as the traffic-choked part of Dubai’s arterial road network.
“We?re really very delighted about the Metro opening up just down the road which we?ve been waiting for quite some time,”?he said. “A few years ago, Deira was seen as a part of the city mired with heavy traffic jams. That has reduced a lot as the infrastructure has developed. After Garhoud Bridge?s expansion and the opening of different roads, we?ve seen that traffic is a lot better in Deira anyhow. Add to that the metro line and I think we?re going to be in an even better position now.”
The ongoing construction of the Metro has seen heavy disruptions and blocked access to many hotels in the area, but Norman said that the Crowne Plaza has been lucky enough to escape the worst of it.
“It didn?t affect us or bother us as such but it?s very nice to have all the roads looking very neat and tidy again. We had to go through the pain of having the work going on while they were laying the air conditioning lines for the Metro. It didn?t really affect access to the hotel but it certainly looks a lot prettier,” he added.
Distance from the station is a prime factor. Norman noted that the warm weather conditions meant that if the station was any further away from the property, it would pose a significant barrier to usage.
“If it was any further than it is, then I think it would be a bit too far. It?s literally about two minutes from the station to the hotel. We?re living in a very warm part of the world, but two minutes is about bearable. We?ve already had foreign tourists using the metro and reporting they were quite pleased and excited about it. We had people taking the Metro up to Dubai Mall, so they?re already taking advantage of it,” he explained.
Nick McLean, the Middle East managing director of CB Richard Ellis, a global property consultancy, says the new Green Line is vital for Dubai at a macro level. “It gives Dubai a critical advantage in terms of quality of infrastructure. For companies wanting to operate in the Middle East and North Africa at the moment, Dubai is the number one choice for many reasons, but a very important component of that decision making is the quality of the infrastructure.”
The evidence is weaker at a micro level. McLean says reports that buildings next to metro stations in Dubai command a 25 per cent rent premium may be exaggerated, though there is no doubt that most things within 500 metres of a station get a lift.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on Monday said 106,000 passengers used the Green Line on the first two days since its opening on Friday. Passengers travelled between 16 stations representing a full and substantial integration with the Red Line in serving the largest possible chunk of public transport commuters in Dubai Emirate.
Adnan Al Hamadi,?CEO RTA, said that this number was a clear testament of the growing culture of public transport in keeping with the excellent services offered by his agency to the public.
Dubai has now become a member of the elite club of 160 cities around the world with a developed Metro public transport system carrying millions of passengers to their destinations in the most efficient, economic and environmentally friendly way.
Sources: Hoteliermiddleeast, thenational, khaleejtimes, gulfnews