x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Trade increase following Green Line opening

Business owners who decided to hang tough through hard times while the Metro's second route was being built are seeing their patience pay off financially.

The Stop And Buy shopkeeper Sharif Jaman says sales have roughly quintupled since the nearby Salah Al Din station opened on the Dubai Metro.
The Stop And Buy shopkeeper Sharif Jaman says sales have roughly quintupled since the nearby Salah Al Din station opened on the Dubai Metro.

DUBAI // For three years, many of the small restaurants and supermarkets near the Dubai Metro's Green Line stations endured a dramatic fall in business.

Some owners, unable to pay their rent, bailed out as bulldozers tore up the areas in front of their stores and partitions covered them from public view.

But some were determined to hold on and others even invested in the area, confident they would eventually benefit from the passing trade at a Green Line station.

Last Saturday the Metro's second line opened to the public, and with it came vindication: an immediate pick-up in trade.

At the Stop And Buy convenience store just metres from the Salah Al Din station in Deira, the shopkeeper Sharif Jaman says sales are up from about Dh2,000 a day during construction to an average of Dh10,000 a day over the past week.

While the Green Line was being built, the shop was obscured by the 5-metre tall station entrance that was taking shape.

"Since the Green Line opened our average daily sales have been around Dh10,000 and we are going to extend our opening times by three hours," says Mr Jaman, 39, from Bangladesh.

"The new owner hoped that when the Green Line opened business would get better.

"He was right. Before it opened our sales were around Dh2,000 a day, sometimes more but often less. There was too much loss before because there were very [few] customers.

"The new owner is very happy now. I am happy too. Maybe I will get a raise soon."

Across the street at Al Sheraa Fisheries Restaurant, the Lebanese manager, Samir Najdy, 61, had been bracing for the business to be sold.

"When construction began we also lost our parking and the restaurant lost 50 per cent of its business because it couldn't be seen from the street," Mr Najdy says. "We were losing terribly.

"The owner wasn't encouraged to put any money in the business, but now that the Metro has opened here he has been encouraged.

"Sales at our sandwich stand have increased by 10 to 15 per cent, but sales at the restaurant haven't really increased because most of the people that take the Metro are not the kind of people that like to spend on a fish dinner. But we are hopeful.

"The Metro just opened so we are going to see what happens over the next five or six months. We are more hopeful now than before, but the problem remains that the Metro has covered 80 per cent of the restaurant's visibility from the street."

At Al Maya Supermarket just down the street from the station, a cashier says sales have increased dramatically.

"Before the Metro opened we would empty the registers only at 11.00 at night when we closed, but now we have to empty the registers by 7pm because the drawers can't hold all the cash," he said. "So yes, the Metro opening has definitely helped our business."

Many residents, workers and business owners along the Green Line's 22.5km route from the Creek past Palm Deira and the Airport Free Zone to Etisalat are pleased.

They say the Metro has made travelling in Dubai's oldest and most congested areas easier and far more appealing.

Manal Arada, 31, a Syrian corporate secretary who works in the Jebel Ali Free Zone and lives in Umm Suqeim, was at Al Reef Mall shopping for gifts to take home on annual leave next week.

"I spend most of my time at the other end of Dubai where the Red Line runs," Ms Arada said.

"But since the Green Line opened I have been discovering parts of Dubai I never came to."

ealghalib@thenational.ae