Where exactly can we play football, sir?

DUBAI — Residents of Al Shaab area in Deira have urged the local authorities to build recreational facilities in the locality. Recreational facilities have been non-existent since the area was developed as a home for the many low- and middle-income groups.

By Nibin Mathew Thomas

Published: Sun 8 Jun 2008, 1:13 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:24 PM

The only place for recreation currently is a small playground cum basketball court which is not sufficient for a community of several thousand residents. The area, unlike many other residential areas in Dubai, does not have a park either, residents said.

Unlike the new residential areas and communities being developed in the emirate equipped with parks and other recreational facilities, the old areas of Dubai seem to be ignored by the civic body, residents complained.

Mathew, a resident, desperately feels the absence of a park in the area. "We are forced to drive to other locations if we need to take a walk in a park," he said.

While adults may still make do with an occasional walk around the colony, the children seem to have nowhere to go. Children living in the colony are left with no choice but to resort to playing in the parking lots.

Playing in parking lots could have dangerous consequences for both the children as well as the cars parked there. Children could easily get hit or run over by cars whose owners may not expect to find their regular parking lots turned into temporary playgrounds.

Dennis, a student says, "Sometimes adults tell us that we should not be playing in car parks, but we don't have any other place to play. On one occasion a police patrol party told us not to play in the car park as cars would get damaged but we requested him to allow us play saying we did not have a proper playground."l=5

What about girls?

The boys might still manage to play in the parking lots, but what about the girls? Elda, a student, says, "I wish there was a proper badminton court to play in. I don't like playing in car parks. Besides it is not safe and my parents won't allow me."

Parents are naturally worried about their children playing in parking lots. "Children are too busy playing that they do not notice cars that move in and out of the parking lots," said Rajagopalan, a concerned parent.

Playing in car parks also hinders the ability of children to enjoy their games. "While playing we often lose cricket or tennis balls that roll under parked cars and are difficult to retrieve. We also have to stop our play when vehicles enter or exit the parking lots," says B. Krishna Kumar, a keen player.

Having sufficiently large and properly maintained playgrounds and parks will go a long way towards improving the current state of affairs in the colony.

Jyoti, a recent arrival in the country and a resident of Al Shaab, feels there ought to be more parks in Dubai to meet the needs of the different localities. "I come from Delhi and there we have parks and green spaces pretty much everywhere."

But not everyone is too keen to see a park spring up in the area. Gopal, a resident of the colony says, "I'm all for parks and playgrounds but when parking spaces are limited and accommodation is also a problem, are parks the best thing to go in for at this time?"

Evolve a way out

Nancy, another resident, feels there may be a way to ensure suitable recreation without sacrificing parking spaces. "Perhaps there could be a fixed time slot when parking lots can be left vacant for children to play in without the threat of moving cars. Some time between 4 and 7 in the evening could be an ideal time as it is usually when children come out to play," she suggested.

The officials of Dubai Municipality said a total of 109 landscape and beautification projects, in addition to the setting up of 21 neighbourhood parks, 23 community facilities and four pond parks are being undertaken this year.

"Our officials always move around the residential areas talking to the residents about the parks and facilities. Decisions are taken on the basis of the area and the number of people," said a municipality official.

The requests of Al Shaab residents would be looked into, he assured.

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