DUBAI // Beachgoers yesterday gave a mixed reception to new rules surrounding the use of jet skis.
Under new regulations introduced by the Dubai Maritime City Authority at the end of April, jet skis are limited to areas designated by yellow buoys in Dubai Marina, Umm Suqeim 1 and 2 and Jumeirah 2 and 3 beaches. Each area is adjoined by a 300-metre buffer zone to separate the machines from swimmers.
The new rules also stipulate that jet skis must be parked in specific areas and that users below 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult guardian.
But the rules were greeted with a mixed reaction from beachgoers, with the age limit in particular being seen as contentious.
"If people aged 13 and under are jet skiing it is dangerous, but for those under 16 it doesn't make sense," said Mohammed Al Falasi, 15, a Grade 11 pupil, who was towing home his stand-up jet ski.
"People should wear life jackets. That is an important rule," he added, admitting he had not previously been aware of the new rules, but was keen to find out more.
Another jet-ski user, Ahmed, 25, said anyone older than 13 was old enough to be left unsupervised.
"I was jet skiing when I was under 16 and I did not have any accidents," said Ahmed. "Anyone 13 years and above is good. Life jackets are a must. They are like seat belts in cars and people who don't wear one should be fined.
"There should also be separate borders for swimmers and jet-ski users. But in Abu Dhabi there are no rules, and everybody is happy."
Mohammed Al Muhairi, 30, who was taking his jet ski out for a spin, disagreed. "Users need to be above 16 years," he said. "They are kids and they don't know. In Abu Dhabi, there are many under 16s on jet skis and they drive like crazy. They like the speed. This causes a lot of accidents."
Mr Al Muhairi, who was also unaware of the new rules, said he had rarely seen checks being conducted in areas such as the Umm Suqeim harbour, where jet skis are permitted to launch. "Nobody here checks. They should do."
He said the buffer zones would help ensure people's safety. "If people are swimming and if the sun is in your eye, the chances are you may not see them. You could hit someone."
Other beachgoers welcomed the new rules but warned they would only work if people were made aware of them - and if they were enforced.
"People don't respect the borders and they are always coming ahead of the yellow buoys," said Aseem Kabesh, who was at the Umm Suqeim 2 beach for a Stand-Up Paddling session with his son, Abdullah.
"Unfortunately it is dangerous and people don't understand until a disaster happens. It is important to have rules, to communicate them to people and to enforce them."
Although the rules were implemented at the end of April, Mr Kabesh said he had already seen breaches.
"There were two people speeding and entering the borders. People need to know the rules, and they should be punished for violations. It's all about education. Even a 12-year-old can be made to understand the rules and be responsible."
Another surfer said it was important to demarcate zones for jet-ski users. "They used to come where the swimmers were and zoom around," said Trevor Halton. "The sound is horrible, it spoils everything and is not kids-friendly. Jet skis and swimmers just don't mix."
He said the age limit should be strictly enforced. "I see young kids on highly powered jet skis. It is very dangerous."
Water sports activities can only be undertaken between sunrise and sunset
Life jacket must be worn at all times while on the water.
Do not exceed the limit for number of passengers on board.
Be aware of traffic, take caution, respect speed limits and leave a safe distance from other water craft and floating objects.
Do not attempt any activities in waterways or entrances and exits of marinas, ports and resting areas.
Do not attempt any activities near restricted areas.
Children below 16 years must be accompanied by a guardian.
Do not attempt any activities near shores marked by yellow buoys.
Jet skis are allowed to stay at the resting areas for rest only and must abide by the speed limits when entering and exiting these areas.
Jet skiing is prohibited within the beach limit line marked by yellow buoys.
Jet skiing is not allowed in the water channel or passage of port/marina entrances.
Launching or retrieving of jet skis is not allowed from the rest areas.
A maximum speed of 5 knots must be maintained while entering and exiting the rest areas.
Water craft left behind in the rest areas after sunset will be confiscated by the authorities.
Never moor craft to any buoy.