x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai Metro's Green Line has a golden lining

After months of disruption, stores look forward to a boost in business, and workers to a quicker, cheaper commute.

Sharif Jaman says business at the Stop and Buy store suffered during the Green Line's construction. But that, he says, is about to change.
Sharif Jaman says business at the Stop and Buy store suffered during the Green Line's construction. But that, he says, is about to change.

DUBAI // When construction began on Salah Al Din Metro station two years ago, the Stop and Buy convenience store lost a lot of business.

As work progressed, the store became increasingly obscured to potential customers by the five-metre-high station entrance that was taking shape, towering over it.

But now with the Metro's Green Line opening within days - and with it Salah Al Din station - the shopkeeper Sharif Jaman, 35, from Bangladesh, is stocking up for what he hopes will be a rush of customers.

"The store suffered for two years from when the construction began," Mr Jaman says. "The parking was removed for the Metro's construction, and when the station got higher and higher, people couldn't see the store any more from the street. Business really went down.

"But now I am very excited because we are the closest store to the station. When people come off the Metro they will see us. If just 500 people from the thousands who will use the station every day come into the store, we will be very busy again."

The expected increase in sales is not the only reason Mr Jaman is pleased about the opening of the Green Line.

"To get to work from my home near the Creek now, I have to take the bus, which takes a long time," he says. But thanks to the new line, "I can take the Metro all the way from my home to work. It will be much faster. In every way, I am very happy about the Green Line opening."

Josephine Malla, 24, a Filipina cashier, is also looking forward to using the new route, as it will slash the hour-long commute from her home in Deira City Centre to her workplace, The Gift Village, which is near the Salah Al Din station.

"Of course, I am very excited," she said. "I wait sometimes 45 minutes for the bus in the sun. This will save me almost two hours every day going back and forth from home to work. I have waited a long time for this."

Many residents, workers and business owners along the Green Line's route, which runs from the Creek past the Palm Deira and the Airport Free Zone to Etisalat, stopping at 20 stations, were pleased about the opening. But some said that even with both the Red and Green lines in operation, the Metro would still not cover the entire city.

"I live in Wahidiya and work at Reef Mall," said Yasser Amin, 29, an employee of the Emirates Driving Institute.

"To get to work from my home, I would have to take two buses, so it's just not feasible for me. So I drive. The Red and Green lines don't run near my home and I don't want to waste my time waiting on buses. So until another Metro line opens up near where I live, I will just keep on driving my car."

Yeleni Bobelena, from Russia, does not drive or take buses. She prefers taxis. But after learning the Green Line would begin operation in early September, she invested in a Nol card.

"I take taxis everywhere most of the time," she said. "They are convenient and private, but expensive. But now that the Green Line is opening I will begin using it to get from my home to Mall of the Emirates or Dubai Mall. Instead of paying Dh60 each way, I will pay much less by taking the Metro. That would make me very happy."

ealghalib@thenational.ae