DUBAI // It was the first time for thousands to see rock legends Guns N’ Roses live but for many, the experience was marred by hours spent entering and leaving the venue.
Some fans reported delays of two hours because access to the Autism Rocks Arena from the Al Ain Road was clogged. Others walked up to seven kilometres along the motorway after abandoning gridlocked taxis.
Fans also said it took two and a half hours to leave the event car park. Some resorted to walking along the busy motorway to search for taxis.
Yet many of these fans paid as much as Dh4,000 for VIP entry.
Fan Claire Vargha said the lack of entrances were the issue.
“The problem is that the venue has only a one-lane entrance,” she said. “The Al Ain road is three lanes so all of that traffic has to filter in to one. A venue that can host 30,000 people needs more than one entrance point. People were abandoning their cars; it was chaos.”
Jamal Iqbal paid Dh995 for each of his tickets and said that despite the fact that he enjoyed the live entertainment and food vans, he tried seven booths in search of water and had to settle for a soft drink instead.
He said more must be done by authorities to help ease congestion for such big events.
“It took us 90 minutes to exit the car park and reach Al Ain road. We passed at least 100 people walking on the highway, trying to hitchhike.”
Thomas Ovesen, owner of organisers 117 Live, said such events posed challenges that were often beyond their control.
“Until we have an arena with public transport set up and a permanent, arena-employed events team, the very big shows will cause logistical challenges. We had 1,200 staff working on the event and more than 450 security guards.
“Our bus system was used well and we would have liked more taxis but the last batch only arrived once the main outbound traffic had subsided. For the very big shows, we will always have traffic issues at peak times until we get a tram or metro service or perhaps ban private car parking at the venue, an option we will discuss with the RTA.”
He said clearance of the venue’s car park took just over two hours, which “given the size of the show, was not too extreme”.
Barry Stormont and his wife decided to turn around when they realised they would have missed 90 per cent of the concert after huge tailbacks.
“We were coming on the E66 from Mirdiff and traffic was stagnant. We were told the gig had started and the GPS said we still had an hour and 30 minutes to go. I’m amazed no one was hit by a car. There was no security to maintain order.”
Maha Marhoon has complained to the organisers.
“The traffic was not on the RTA roads or highways, it was in the road that led right into the venue, meaning that the congestion resulted from poor management of vehicles coming into the venue,” she said.
“Overselling tickets to a venue that doesn’t have capacity for these volumes is a disgrace.”