Sandance organisers offer refunds amid traffic chaos

Ticketholders forced to abandon event and NYE celebrations due to extraordinary traffic

Thousands of people have bought tickets to Sandance.

Thousands of people have bought tickets to Sandance.

Organisers of music festival Sandance have promised to issue refunds after extraordinary traffic forced thousands of ticketholders to abandon the event, and their New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Roads on the Palm Jumeirah and feeder roads were at bottleneck from late afternoon on Tuesday as Dubai geared up to put on a world record fireworks display covering 100 kilometres.

Organisers of the annual festival, held at Atlantis Hotel on the Corniche, had been told by authorities including Palm Jumeirah master developers Nakheel that last minute traffic arrangements including buses from American University in Dubai and a dedicated bus lane on the Palm would be sufficient to carry nearly 17,000 people to the event.

All ticketholders, including those with VIP access and Palm residents, were warned they would only be able to access the venue via bus from AUD, next to Nakheel metro station.

They were told earlier this week the trip would take only 8-10 minutes.

However, the dedicated bus lane was not made available and previously announced traffic restrictions, including only allowing residential pass and Sandance ticket holders onto the development after certain times, were not enforced.

The chaotic traffic meant buses used to ferry Sandance revellers were unable to return to AUD to make additional trips. 

Buses that left AUD after 8pm took three hours to travel the 9km distance to Atlantis Hotel, by which stage majority of passengers had disembarked, either to walk or giving up.

About 11pm, traffic restrictions were more heavily enforced, allowing buses an easier flow to the Atlantis. However, thousands of people had abandoned the event and passengers who had disembarked were no longer allowed pedestrian access, forcing many to experience New Year’s Eve on the road, far from their intended location and in many cases separate from loved ones.

Tara Mallon, 25, was hoping to celebrate the start to 2014 at Sandance with her two younger sisters visiting from the UK.

“The only reason we went to Sandance was so we could all be together,” Tara told Arabian Business.

“My sister’s boyfriend came from Kuwait so the four of us could be together. I think the most awful experience was when I felt I was going to faint and the bus driver wouldn’t allow me off the bus. He was allowing people to smoke on the bus but not someone sick to get off.”

A Sandance spokeswoman told Arabian Business ticketholders who did not make it to the event would be given a refund.

Organisers would announce details in the coming days.

About 30 Sandance events had been successfully held previously. Traffic is traditionally banked up along the Palm from 5pm and organisers had expected the shuttle buses to be even more efficient and were considering implementing them at future events.

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Posted by: abusidra

I pity those empty lives. If wished they would have tasted faith.

Posted by: Alex

I'm sure a pretentious holier-than-thou attitude will win them over!

Posted by: nassah

Guys, I faced a similar problem a few years ago when i thought i would be clever and park 4-5 metro stops from Dubai Mall, take the metro with my family to watch NYE fireworks at Burj Khalifa. What a disaster! the metro journey and the hike to Burj Khalifa should have warned me.. the metro was jam packed and all i could think of was what would happen if there was a fire... After waiting 2-3 hours for the fire works which lasted all of 3-4 minutes we waited a sufficient time to walk back to the metro & get to our car. On way back, all sign boards were directing only to Dubai Mall metro stn.. when we got there 20-30 mins later, it was obv. based on the mass of humanity there that we were not going to get on any train atleast for 1-2 hours & even then we would be packed like sardines.. We decided to walk back along SZR. it took 3 hrs!! From that day onwards, i decided never to go to any of these events..better to stay home n watch on tv then go sleep nice n warm...God help us for the Expo

Posted by: Punky Brewster

We went for the opening of Burj Khalifa. What a chaotic experience! Planners didn't even think abt the people stranded by the Dubai Mall metro station, where We were literally unmovable. Metro closed at 10:30 or so, as regular timings were initially. Families with children in prams were all frustrated, elders were being pushed around! Luckily, one of our friends' driver was in the area for delivery, and we were lucky to get out of there. No cabs would stop, even on Shk Zayed Rd, where people were just running, to get to the other side of the Dubai Mall Metro station. I think sitting at home was nicer, stress-free and cozy too. Organizers need to think of all options when planning something...... Dubai has a history of mess-ups!

Posted by: SA1

I feel sorry for those who had terrible experience... but as #Steady pointed out there were others who had good experience.

After reading most comments it just seem people were fighting, pushing and behaving in such unruly manners. Saw a video where crowd was shouting/abusing at a lone security personnel, even demanding refund from him.

Make me wonder what kind of people goes to such events?

No big deal if you lost 1000 AED or your night got spoiled. Abusing a worker who is already having hard time on duty and maybe earning 1000 AED in a month, is such bad too.

Dubai hosts many events, apart from Sandance where only a few thousands attended, millions where on road at other places having nice time... but for the organisation even the crowd is responsible.

Posted by: Steady

Cool down Sandance miss out's and stop bad mouthing Dubai! ten thousand of you missed out on a party but 2.1 Million of us had a ball watching the fireworks on the beaches, in our boats at the anchorage area between the Palm and World Islands, in our hotels and apartments facing the Burj and Palm, some of us spent 1000 of $$$'s and got our money's worth you did not tough luck but we did!

Posted by: Maurice

The Sandance NYE event was nothing less than a dissaster. There is just no other word for it. It was a complete screwup by all responsible parties involved: Sandance, Nakheel, Dubai Police and Dubai Municipality. There should be a collective settlement for all ticket holders. For the Many who didn't make it and for those who did but missed most or almost all of the performances as it was not all for the fireworks but to celebrate the new year. So ALL ticket holders should be compensated and not with something as rediculous as a discount on the next event but CASH as Many people travelled to Dubai specifically to attend this celebration!!! So for once, let organizations in Dubai take real responsibility like everywhere else in the world.

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