Dubai uses special jet skis to ward off sharks; probability of attack extremely low: Municipality

Official details safety protocols followed in case of close encounters with marine life


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Tue 13 Jun 2023, 12:45 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Jun 2023, 3:27 PM

The probability of a shark attack in Dubai is extremely low. However, despite this slim chance, the authorities in the emirate are fully prepared to deal with any situation that may arise.

“Dubai Municipality (DM) has seacrafts, i.e. jet skis, to ward off aggressive cetaceans,” said Aisha Almurr Al Muhery, Acting Director of the Environmental Sustainability Department. “In addition, [we] already [have] an SOP in place in implementing a protocol to immediately call the attention of beachgoers for any potential close encounter with any marine wildlife, it may be a docile marine turtle or a passing shark.”

The Public Beaches and Water Canals Department of the DM takes the safety of beachgoers very seriously. If the department encounters any alarming situations, such as the presence of sharks, they would raise a red flag to inform the public.

Aisha added that Dubai First Responders are always on the emirate's beaches and can deal with emergencies, including an attack on land or at sea. Her comments come after a deadly shark attack that killed a Russian citizen at an Egyptian resort near the Red Sea on Thursday.

Low probability

The official pointed out that the probability of a shark attack on beaches here is extremely low. “Dubai beaches are usually crowded and are not frequented by large schools of fish,” said Aisha. “Also, Dubai has a low probability of a shark attack. Most sharks that frequent our shallow shores in the emirate are non-aggressive species.”

According to her, the species mostly observed in the shallow beaches of Dubai are reef sharks, which are mostly docile. “Since most of our beaches have seagrass meadows as the dominant habitat, it is unlikely that the sharks would be aggressive since beach activities are not in competition with food availability,” she said.

Shark behaviour, for the most part, is dictated by food availability. “Sharks usually stay away from areas with many people,” she said. “This is because human activities scare away its food. The Dubai beaches are usually crowded and are not frequented by large schools of fish.”

Advice for people

Officials have however warned Dubai residents to follow instructions in case they see sharks. "If a shark is observed in the water, it is best to get out of the water,” said Aisha. Residents have also been advised to follow and respond to any alerts and circulars from DM.

Aisha said that it was important for people to refrain from interfering in the activity of marine animals. “An attack may happen, if one is interfering with its activity to have its meal for the day,” she said. “That is a natural behaviour of animals in the wild.”


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