Martin Croucher www.khaleejtimes.com
DUBAI — After experiencing a year of poor customer turnout, Omar Hamza is hoping that the Dubai Metro will turn around his business as well as of those operating in the area.
The owner of Shaikh Al Shamzi Embroidery, a small shop near the Al Rashidiya terminal, has been holding out for a year while road closures and construction work depleted his customer base. “So many shops closed down because people stopped coming here,” Hamza said. “Now we are starting to see people coming back. Hopefully business will pick up again.”
Hamza’s embroidery shop is part of a rag-tag marketplace of sweet shops, beauty salons and a solitary Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, around five minutes walk from the platform at the Al Rashidiya Metro station. However, many of the small business have shut down after the Metro construction work closed access roads to the marketplace, for what traders claim was a year.
“People went away and eventually they forgot we were here,” Ali, another small time businessman in the area said, “This market is a ghost town now.”
Ali, who requested that his business name not be printed said that he had only a fraction of the customers he once had prior to the Metro launch. “I have no way to cover my expenses. I struggle to make even Dh100 in one day.”
The Al Rashidiya depot is the point of departure for the Red Line, and includes a car park for 2,700 vehicles.
With the increase in passenger traffic, it would only be a matter of time for businesses in the area to feel the benefits of the Metro, said Peyman Younes Parham, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at the RTA.
“If you look at the history of any new metro system, anywhere in the world, it has always driven economic development nearby stations,” he said. “People want to live beside the stations, so houses are built and businesses prosper.
“In order to have the Metro we have had to have some construction, and that’s inevitable. However, the long term benefits for businesses, which will stretch for 20-30 years, will be pronounced.”