Dubai's Traffic Roundabouts

UK's John Harris's Dubai Master Plan influenced Dubai to build Traffic Roundabouts. Some roundabouts developed their own identity becoming part of Dubai's everyday language. Traffic Roundabouts required Road Users' cooperation and understanding of "Unwritten Rules" for negotiating Roundabouts. These were easily followed when Dubai had low traffic volumes. As traffic volumes increased, Roundabouts became obstacles to traffic flow. Road Users found highly individual and often dangerous ways for negotiating roundabouts. Accidents increased. In 1970s Traffic Lights started replacing Roundabouts until by 1990s just a handful of iconic Dubai Traffic Roundabouts remained.
Falcon Roundabout formed the Junction of Al Mina Road, Bank Street (later know as Computer Street), Al Ghubaiba Road on Dubaiside. Falcon Roundabout was built in the mid 1970s and subsequently "beautified" by Dubai Municipality into an attractive garden area with grass and flowers. In the centre of this garden area was placed a large statue of a Falcon. Its head was turned as if looking over its shoulder. This statue soon became known as the bird with the broken neck! Over time the roundabout became affectionately known as "Budgerigar Roundabout" alluding to the statue's similarity to a budgerigar.
The Falcon had plenty of feathered friends for company. Falcon Roundabout was located next to Dubai Flour Mills' Grain Silos in Port Rashid. These Silos attracted thousands of Dubai's pigeons as a source of easily accessible, inexhaustible food. Eventually traffic lights replaced the Roundabout. The Falcon Statue relocated to Mirdiff Park where it could lead a quieter but lonelier life.
Al Dhiyafa Street was built in the early 1970s connecting Jumeirah Beach Road with Dubai World Trade Centre and the old Abu Dhabi Road. The roundabout at Satwa controlled traffic on Al Dhiyafa Street, Al Mankhool Road and Al Satwa Road and still does today. Rydges Plaza Hotel was well known landmark located on the roundabout. Despite Dubai's move to Traffic Light Controlled Road Intersections, Satwa Roundabout remains. It seems an anomaly but the reason may be the Civil Defence Station located on the roundabout. Perhaps their Fire Engines needs quick and easy access to the road system.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, renamed Al Dhiyafa Street in Bur Dubai as 2nd of December Street, marking celebrations of UAE's 40th National Day in 2011.
Flame Roundabout started life as the Fire Monument built in 1969 and its flame lit by Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, then Ruler of Dubai, on October 13 1969 year to mark the start of Dubai's Oil Production. In 1975 as part of the Airport Road and Sharjah Road upgrade the Flame Monument was relocated to a roundabout at the junction of Sharjah and Airport Roads. Dubai's "new" Airport had not long opened. Flame Roundabout will have been the new Airport's arrivals' first glimpse of Dubai as it used to be. Its flame was "everlasting" but anyone driving around the Flame Roundabout had to look hard to spot the flame. Eventually the Flame Roundabout inevitably became a traffic obstacle as Dubai's traffic volumes grew. The Flame Monument was eventually relocated to a nearby traffic junction.

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    Flame Roundabout completed in 1969 to celebrate the production of Dubai's first barrel of oil that year.
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    Flame Roundabout 1969
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    Sharjah Road 1967 feeding into the Flame Roundabout.
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    Flame Roundabout was relocated in 1975 to the strategic junction of Sharjah Road and Airport Road, then the only two road entry points to Dubai.
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    Flame Roundabout in its original position prior to 1975
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    Flame Roundabout was later demolished and the Flame Monument relocated to land on the Airport Road Junction leading to Garhoud Bridge or Floating Bridge.
Original Defence Roundabout was a simple Traffic Roundabout linking Jumeirah with the old Abu Dhabi Road and also through to the new (then) Hatta Road. This Roundabout was built in the early 1970s when Sheikh Rashid was forming his Army which he named Dubai Defence Force. He built Barracks for his new DDF on the Zabeel side of the old Abu Dhabi Road adjacent to the "new" roundabout that had been built. The roundabout soon started to be referred to as "The Defence Force Roundabout", later abbreviated to "Defence Roundabout". Sheikh Zayed Road No1 Interchange is still referred to as Defence Roundabout (or Defense Roundabout).

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Until Sheikh Rashid's death on 7th October 1990, his Beach Palace was regularly used by him to entertain Foreign and local Dignatories. While he received his guests inside the Beach Palace, invariably guests would dine in the open air courtyard with food set out on trestle tables and guests sitting on plain wooden bench seats. The roundabout immediately in front of the Beach Palace provided easy road access to the Palace for those Dignatories. Image shows UK's Queen Elizabeth 2 arriving at Sheikh Rashid Beach Palace during her State Visit in 1979.
After Sheikh Rashid's death, his Beach Palace became a Museum commemorating the founding of the UAE. The roundabout was removed some time later.
Located near the Ramada Hotel, this roundabout took its unofficial name from that hotel but now the Ramada Hotel has gone. Demolished 2017

Dubai World Trade Centre Roundaboout circa 1978

I regularly drove around the Trade Centre Roundabout on my way to work or Dubai Country Club. I went on overseas leave for a month. When I returned I drove home from Dubai Airport but instead of negotiating the familiar Trade Centre Roundabout, I found myself driving through a new shiny underpass going to I was not sure where! Coming out of the Underpass my surroundings seemed unfamiliar. I found my way home by following the signposts!!

Len Chapman

A Roundabout existed where the Fish Roundabout is now since early 1960s. No indicated date as to when the Fish Sculpture was placed on this roundabout but the Sculptor is identified as an Iranian Artist - Mr Mir Ismiali. He apparently studied for a Doctorate in Architecture in France and produced sculptures for roundabouts in France. There are no records or surviving examples of his work other than the Fish Roundabout.
Dubai's Clock Tower Roundabout had a distinct function when it first opened in 1963. Then it was the first entry point to Dubai so visible to all Dubai's Visitors. It linked the Airport Road, Al Maktoum Bridge and Al Maktoum Street which were then the main thoroughfares in Dubai. While Dubai's Clock Tower no longer fulfils that role, it has achieved Icon Status as an internationally recognised symbol of Dubai.