x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Event planners keep the spectators moving at a steady trot

Meydan proved that it could provide fluent organisation, as well as a carnival-like racing atmosphere

DUBAI // Local and international race enthusiasts, hiding from the sun under conventional kaffiyehs and hyperbolic hats, praised the event planning that allowed them inside the new course without a hitch. In stark contrast to previous years, when the event was held at Nad al Sheba and resulted in mayhem for motorists, they said Meydan proved that it could provide fluent organisation, as well as a carnival-like racing atmosphere.

Men on stilts, juggling clowns and dancers in shiny, silver sequinned leotards greeted guests as they were shuttled from the external car parks to the 60,000-capacity venue. Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which opened new access roads last week, eased traffic further by providing more than 2,500 taxis, as well as a fleet of 30 double-decker buses - although massive queues erupted to board them after the race festivities.

"Hassle-free," 19-year-old Hayzoom Maghool, from Ajman, said of his experience travelling to the US$2 billion (Dh7.3bn) racecourse. "We got the shuttle bus here after driving to the car park and everything seemed to go as planned. It didn't take long and everyone was very helpful in making sure we knew where to go." Lavinia Hansen, 24, from Germany, said she was "surprised and pleased" by the efficiency with which she was transferred to the stands.

"Normally, we would be queuing for an hour, but they have got it spot on here," she said. "I got a cab straight here and the queue moved quickly." An RTA representative said the success of the operation was down to three key factors. "Firstly, the key to the smoothness is primarily down to the Dh1 billion investments in the infrastructure that we have made recently," he said. "The new bridges and roads have totally changed the landscape around the Meydan area.

"Secondly, we have been co-ordinating with Dubai Police for some time now, and by them setting up stations to ease the traffic flow across the city that is a massive help. "And thirdly, we were very keen to have clear signage around Meydan and plenty of taxis and buses available to those wanting to attend. We believe that is why it has been such a success." But although getting inside appeared elementary, not everybody was able to easily witness the racing action. Several media outlets struggled to cover the event after a production error forced long waits for accreditation, which denied correspondents access to the press centre until midway through the evening's action.

Meanwhile, Dubai Police enforced strict security measures. Airport-like scanners and policemen were all in evidence. A Dubai Police representative said that safety, as always, was the priority. @Email:gmeenaghan@thenational.ae