An empty Sheikh Zayed Road at 8am. Surely this must be what motorists dream of every night before waking up to the morning rush hour on one of Dubai's busiest highways.

And yet that was the sight that greeted many residents today as a portion of the Sheikh Zayed Road was closed off from 7am-11am due to COP28 and ahead of UAE National Day celebrations.

The 6-lane highway going towards Dubai was empty for the most part, while a few cars could be spotted moving in the direction of Expo City Dubai, where the COP28 summit is being hosted.

The closure will be in place until December 3, from 7am-11am. Motorists have been advised to use alternate routes as overhead screens display traffic diversions. 

As the morning rush hour hit other roads in Dubai, motorists reported heavy traffic. The stretch towards Expo 2020 and Expo City saw road blocks.

Motorists on E44 or Al Khail Road saw tailbacks, as they used alternate routes to get to parts of Dubai.

Abdul Batin, an Iraqi sales executive in the FMCG company residing in Sharjah, had an important meeting scheduled at Jebel Ali for 10am. Unaware of the situation, he initially opted for Sheikh Zayed Road via Ittihad Road. However, upon reaching the World Trade Center roundabout, he encountered a diversion.

“Having taken the diversion, I had to navigate through Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road as Al Khail Road was heavily congested,” said Batin.

Batin had left home early, allowing for some additional time. “I was 25 minutes behind schedule but managed to make it to the meeting as my client understood my situation,” said Batin, adding that his client decided to postpone the meeting by half an hour.

Dubai resident Mehnaz had stepped out for some shopping but got caught in traffic as the roads were diverted. "I knew that Sheikh Zayed Road was going to be diverted," she said. "However, I was not expecting this kind of traffic. I have been stuck for over an hour and I think it is going to be a while before I get home."

The stretch is scheduled to reopen soon. 

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