1,500 beachgoers sign petition to stop Jumeirah expansion at Dubai’s Sunset beach
DUBAI // More than 1,500 surfers and beachgoers have signed a petition to stop the expansion of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel marina.
The petition has been making its way through the surfing community via social media and will be delivered to the Dubai Government. There are fears that the expansion will affect the quality of waves, reduce the size of the beach and damage the ecosystem.
The beach, known as Sunset Beach to many residents, is the city’s most popular surfing destination.
“It’s the only location in Dubai with decent waves to surf,” said petition signatory Jeremy Klynsmith, 29, the manager of Zoo skatepark in Al Quoz.
“We wait and pray for waves in winter. It makes you appreciate it more because the days with good swells are so few and far between. Now with this wave-breaker there won’t be any waves at all. Some people surf at Mamzar beach but the waves are not as good as Sunset. The beach at JBR [Jumeirah Beach Residences] was a good location, but that is gone now.”
Jumeirah’s expansion plan involves the reclamation of a part of the beach and an extension to the existing breakwater further north from bar 360°.
Mr Klynsmith has been surfing since he was five years old, in his home country of South Africa. “I got a link to the petition from the surfing threads I follow,” he said.
“I really hope we can save that beach. I hope the international surfing community joins in to sign the petition.
“Dubai has welcomed people from every corner of the world, and people from South Africa, Australia and the US brought the surfing culture here. Surfing is more than a sport, it is part of our culture. We’ve built a community here. Without Sunset Beach, it would be so much harder for the community to get together. This will break up the community.”
Mr Klynsmith remembers surfing Sunset Beach in 2007. “The community was very small back then, and we were still being fined by the municipality for surfing,” he said. “We had to go and talk to them about it and get them to stop fining surfing.
“Surfers won’t stop surfing, it’s part of our culture, they will always find a way, even if they have to go to other emirates to surf.”
Some may go as far as Oman, said avid surfer, fitness instructor and former lifeguard Corey Oliver.
“The grassroots surfers will always find something but, for everyone else, families and young kids, it’s just going to be done and over.
“When there is a swell, you can find more than 300 surfers in the water at any one time.”
Mr Oliver, who also signed the petition after seeing the link on Facebook, said that 300 is a big difference from 2005, when he said there were hardly 10.
The owner of Oceanman UAE, which provides lifeguards for beaches in Abu Dhabi, Mr Oliver said that public safety would also be affected if there were no surfers.
“Many surfers have pulled people out of the water when they found them in trouble. I got an award from Emirates Airline for bravery in 2005 for rescuing a swimmer.”
He said that Sunset Beach is Dubai’s Bondi Beach, and he should know as he used to be a lifeguard at Bondi in Sydney, Australia.
“Sunset is Dubai’s busiest beach and there are no lifeguard patrols,” Mr Oliver said. “Tourists come by the busload to take photos of the Burj [Al Arab]. It’s the busiest beach and the most dangerous because of the waves. The crowds will still be there, but the surfers won’t, and on rough days it could be very dangerous.”
He said Mamzar beach is not a convenient location, and sometimes municipality personnel do not allow you to take a surf board there.
Surfer Anne Louvet said: “I have lived in Dubai for a year and getting some surf at Sunset Beach is by far my favourite activity in Dubai.
“We are so many surfers in Dubai and have only one beach left with waves. Please help us to save it.”
A spokesman for Jumeirah Group said: “Further to the announcement of the resort development adjacent to Jumeirah Beach Hotel, we can confirm that the beach area will remain accessible for the public in the future.”
Updated: August 27, 2014 04:00 AM