DUBAI // Taking the Metro to the Burj Khalifa or Dubai Mall still poses the challenge of covering the final 800-odd metres between the nearest station and the world’s tallest building largest mall.
Passengers currently must either join the long queues for ride on one of the crowded shuttle buses to the mall that run every 15 minutes, or walk there, negotiating traffic, roadworks and half-completed pavements – and the heat during summer.
From next year though, they will be carried to the mall on moving walkways in air-conditioned comfort, according to plans for a Dubai Mall Metro Link announced by the Emaar Mall Group.
The elevated link will extend 820 metres from the Burj Khalifa/-Dubai Mall station to the Downtown -Dubai development containing the mall, tower, hotels and offices.
It will have five 1.4-metre-wide walkways travelling in each direction at an average speed of 0.5 metres per second. The link, which will also feature exit routes, access stairs and glass views of the area, can also be used by non-Metro passengers.
“I can’t wait for this to be completed,” said Ajmal Malik, an Indian national. “At the moment you have to get a bus when you come out of the station and they take too long.”
For James Renton, from the UK, the lack of a convenient access to Dubai Mall from the station has put him off going there.
“It’s just a big hassle waiting for the bus but it’s worse coming back,” he said. “You wait forever on the way back and then the bus takes a really long route back to the station.
“They should have done this when the Metro first opened but it’s better late than never,” Mr Renton said.
“The Dubai Mall Metro Link will also serve visitors to Burj Khalifa and the various attractions in Downtown Dubai,” said Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar Properties, which owns the mall.
“While the mall offers covered parking for over 14,000 vehicles, we have been evaluating various alternatives to further streamline visitor traffic and add to their convenience.”
The aim is to improve convenience for pedestrians while at the same time reducing traffic in the immediate vicinity of the mall.
“The Dubai Mall Metro Link will contribute to the sustainable transport initiatives developed by the Dubai Government,” Mr Alabbar said.
He said the link had been designed to accommodate the maximum number of visitors to the mall, Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai.
“At its peak capacity, the travelators can carry over 13,500 people per hour, and is being developed to the highest international standards.”
Emaar did not say when work on the project, which will be carried out by Dutco, would start. No one from Dutco was available for comment.
There are plans to provide similar connections to Emaar Square and Boulevard Plaza offices, as well as Emaar Boulevard, in the future.
A regular shopper at Dubai Mall who did not wish to be named said he believed the project would increase visitors to the mall.
“I usually drive to the mall and find the car park there a complete nightmare to go around,” he said. “I’ll probably switch to using the Metro once the walkway is complete as it will save a lot of time.”