Dubai, Jan 14: A public holiday has been declared in Dubai today to prevent the city from plunging into traffic chaos during the visit of President George W Bush to the emirate. WAM, the national news agency, confirmed late yesterday afternoon that a holiday would be held for the private and public sector across Dubai to help avoid massive traffic delays in the city. Motorists were urged to remain at home today and avoid using their vehicles if possible, due to the closure of various main roads, bridges and tunnels across Dubai. The announcement followed hours of speculation from confused residents who had heard rumours that large stretches of Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Road, Jumeirah Beach Road and Al Wasl Road were to be closed due to the presidential visit from 6am until 5pm today.
Tunnels and bridges were also being closed across the city, according to the rumours. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) would not elaborate on the planned closures stating it was “unaware of any different traffic plans or diversions across the city”. Police said they could not comment on the closures due to security procedures and advised people to stay at home as it was a “holiday”. President Bush spent yesterday in Abu Dhabi and was due in Dubai this morning as part of his trip to the UAE - his first since taking office in 2001. Dubai residents and employees bombarded the 7DAYS offices with requests for information yesterday as rumours circulated about the proposed road closures. A headteacher at a school in Jumeirah, which was to be affected by the road closures, rang to complain that they had heard nothing about the holiday or planned road disruptions and didn’t know what to inform their staff, parents and pupils.
One company boss said yesterday afternoon: “I’ve heard rumours all day but absolutely nothing was confirmed. It is staggering that a modern city can suddenly close all its road network and announce a holiday with just a few hours notice. I have to give all my staff a day off work now. A little notice would have been appropriate surely?” Another businessman told 7DAYS: “It would appear that no information was the order of the day. I think people are just meant to guess what is going on.” Traffic was at a standstill in much of Dubai yesterday with motorists reporting huge delays and jams. The rain and adverse weather conditions combined with security arrangements were believed to be behind the delays.