x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

People who regularly use a stretch of coast known as kitesurf beach say watersports will be severely hampered during and after the construction.

DUBAI // A Dh35 million scheme to protect the emirate’s coastline from erosion has been criticised by beachgoers.

The project at Umm Seqeim 1, 2, and 3 will involve a mix of beach nourishment works – adding new sand to beaches – and the installation of groyne piers, which are small barriers reaching out to sea.

But people who regularly use a stretch of coast known as kitesurf beach say watersports will be severely hampered during and after the construction.

“Dubai is known around the world as a safe place to come and take part in things like kite and wind surfing,” said the owner of a kite-surfing company in Umm Seqeim who did not wish to be named.

“The problem is that these groynes will make it dangerous for people and will become a hazard.”

He said that although work had not yet begun at kite surfing beach there had already been disruption at Umm Seqeim beach 2, with new cycle paths and walkways under construction.

“As yet the work has not started but I have seen surveyors doing measurements and checks.

“You need plenty of space to do kite surfing safely, but once the work starts we’ll have to look for somewhere else, if we can. Once the groynes are in place I think the only people you’ll see will be swimmers.

“There will be a real risk of people who do watersports like windsurfing hitting those barriers.”

Beachgoers said they had complained to Dubai Municipality about the disruption but had not received a response.

The civic body announced plans for the project in mid June. The initiative will stretch 3.5 kilometres from the second fishing harbour to the Burj Al Arab.

It will involve building five groynes of varying lengths – between 135 and 165 metres – and beach nourishment works involving 760,000 cubic metres of sand at Umm Seqeim 1.

No one from the environment department at the municipality could be contacted to confirm whether there had been alterations to the original project.

The protection of the beaches is of paramount concern to the municipality because the emirate’s coastline attracts thousands of tourists each year. But its beaches face erosion as a result of offshore development projects.

“This led to the loss of large parts of the coastal areas threatening the safety of buildings and infrastructure overlooking the sea, in addition to hindering the development works on these beaches,” said Alya AbdulRahim Al Harmoudi, director of the municipality’s environment department earlier this year.

The groynes will be made of timber logs and fixed to steel piles. They will provide minor changes to waves to allow the beach to recover. They have already proved successful at Jumeirah beach 1.

The work will be conducted in stages to avoid closing the beaches completely, although the public is urged to follow safety instructions and not enter work sites.

The initiative is part of the municipality’s responsibility to manage public beaches across the emirate and in line with vision2020 to further develop tourism, announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

nhanif@thenational.ae