Dubai's New Year revellers urged to leave bags at home to speed up security checks
TheNationalUAE -

Fireworks cascade from Burj Khalifa as the bells toll on New Year's Eve. Pawan Singh / The National

Revellers flocking to watch the fireworks at Burj Khalifa on New Year's Eve have been urged to leave larger bags at home to avoid being held up by police security checks.

With 1.5 million estimated to be in the streets and restaurants in Downtown Dubai, the policing and security operation is the largest of the year.

Officers said those bringing sizeable backpacks or picnic bags are likely to be searched, slowing up the process of getting in.

Streets around the Downtown area shut at 4pm and the metro stops at 10pm.

“Some people were seen carrying heavy bags at various locations in Dubai during the previous New Year’s celebrations, and this prompted police officers to search their bags,” said Brigaider Abdullah Ali Al Ghaithi, head of the protective security and emergency department at Dubai police.

“The bags typically contained food and drinks but people might fight feel embarrassed when we search their bags. So we do advise people not to carry large bags with them."

He said there are hundreds of places to eat on site and no need to bring bags of supplies.

He also voiced alarm at the number of drivers that in previous years have parked their cars on the Jumeirah side of Sheikh Zayed Road, then dashed across the 12-lane highway to reach the closed area on the Downtown side.

Others continue to pull up on the side of the road to watch the fireworks at midnight, he said.

"Some families, along with their children park their vehicles in the middle of the road and watch fireworks,” he said.

"By doing so, they clearly endanger their own lives and the lives of others," he said.

The authorities have urged public to use public transportation on the eve of New Year.

“Traffic will be blocked in Dubai’s downtown at 4pm. I advise people to use the metro. Metro stations will be available to transport people to the main spots in Dubai. Also, we will provide buses to transport members of the public for free from three metro stations near Burj Khalifa, Dubai International Financial Centre and Business Bay,” said Brig Al Ghaithi.

He said that there are plans to provide free parking at Dubai World trade Centre.

“Buses will be available nearby Dubai trade Centre to transport people in two directions, from and to Dubai Mall,” he said.

Brig Al Ghaithi added: “A total of 5,000 cameras will be enabled, mobile control rooms will be set up in police patrols and police members will be deployed in the streets to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and safety of community members.

“We have a responsibility to keep people safe."



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