Following complaints from residents and families, several malls in Qatar have banned shoppers from using two-wheeled motorized boards on the premises, saying that they pose a danger to the public.
Over the past month, signs prohibiting the use of the boards have been going up at several shopping centers around town, including Ezdan, Villaggio, Landmark and Dar Al Salaam malls.
Speaking to Doha News, Zahid Iqbal, the operations manager at Dar Al Salaam Mall, explained that the ban was initially informal:
“We were facing a lot of problems because children were hitting other people and bumping into them. It’s also very risky for people using these space boards too because they could hit glass or concrete and fall.
So we decided to ban the use in the mall and instructed our guards to tell residents to leave these boards in their cars.”
He added that the mall eventually put up official signs after parents and children resisted instructions from security guards.
Not all shopping centers have reacted to the rise of space boards by banning them, however.
City Center mall officials said they have discouraged their use but not prohibited them, and are now trying to find a more creative way to deal with the problem.
Speaking to Doha News today, mall director Jörg Harengerd said that management was considering creating a dedicated parkour area where kids and teenagers could ride their boards safely.
“Initially, we thought to just let them be and see what happened. Unfortunately, we found after a couple of weeks, that children were going very fast on these boards, bumping into people and were going down travelators (escalators for people with shopping carts) on them, which is incredibly dangerous.
There were a few small accidents, thankfully with no injuries, but that’s when we decided that something had to be done.”
I’m not a fan of banning things, especially because there’s no other place that children can ride these things in Doha as it’s so hot. We’ve discussed setting up an indoor parkour or skateboarding area in an open space on the third floor, where children can have fun with their boards. Let them have fun, but in a safe environment.”
No date for the opening of this area has been set yet, though Harengerd said that the mall was trying to expedite the process before the craze dies out.
Space boards began growing in popularity several months ago, when the two-wheeled self-balance electric scooters debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
A hybrid between a segway and a skateboard, the first boards were created by US-based companies IO Hawk and Solowheel.
Initially labelled the IO Hawk or Hovertrax, these futuristic-looking devices are battery-powered and navigated by pressure from the user’s feet and weight distribution.
To move forward, right, or left, users tilt slightly in the corresponding directions, applying pressure to the device’s sensor pads.
The gadgets have been embraced by several celebrities, including Jamie Foxx, Justin Bieber, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Brown, Kendall Jenner and Nicki Minaj, who have posted them on Instagram or featured them on their TV shows.
As their popularity grew, several copycat devices have been created. They are dubbed spaceboards, Phunkeeducks, smart balance wheels and the like, under brand names like Scoot, Future Foot, Monorover, Airwheel, Airboard, iEZWay, Overroad and Oxboard, among others.
In Qatar, the devices cost anywhere from QR3,700 to QR6,500. They were first sold by Instagram businesses like Top.BB and Cloud Scooters, who carried both original American-made models and cheaper Chinese knockoffs.
The gadgets hit electronic stores like Virgin sometime before Ramadan, where they have apparently been flying off the shelves.
Speaking to Doha News, a Virgin Megastore representative at Landmark mall said:
“Whenever we get them in store, they’re sell out immediately. There are a variety of different models that are priced differently, so everyone seems to be able to afford one. Earlier, there were just a few high priced ones, so we wouldn’t see people use them everywhere, but now that the prices have reduced, they’re selling out quickly.”
According to Harengerd, the fad has been growing in popularity over the summer, especially after the Eid Al Fitr holidays.
“We saw an increase of these scooters in the last two months. Initially, you’d see one or two and it wouldn’t be a hassle, but everyone seems to have gotten these as Eid gifts,” he said.
In probably one of the most unexpected uses of the smart boards, a man was seen performing tawaf in Makkah while on a space board a few weeks ago.
After a video of the action went viral online, several people on social media criticized him, deeming the action irreverent.
Mall officials are not the only ones frustrated by the increased presence of space boards in Doha. In tweets to Doha News, several residents complained about the trend:
@Chantelledmello @dohanews I saw a guy do some shopping while on the space board. Never felt this sorry for the human race. Was also jealous
— Sandeep Pamulapati (@PSandeepReddy) September 2, 2015
@rachelannmorris @Chantelledmello @dohanews I see them in land mark every time kids from the age of 8 those should be for the park and home
— مريم (@SaracenQueen) September 1, 2015
@Chantelledmello @dohanews most annoying thing invented and thank God villaggio banned this as its such a silly thing!
— Ahlam👽 (@ImDreamzy_) September 1, 2015
Fortunately for those who aren’t a fan of the space board craze, first movers said that their fascination with the gadgets has been diminishing.
Maryam Al Thani, 19, bought her space board off an Instagram account some four months ago for QR4,000. Speaking to Doha News, she said:
“My friends kept saying that the AirWheel will soon replace physical activity…I laughed and didn’t believe them. (However), as soon as i tried it out for myself, I was convinced. I would transport myself around the house through it.
But after months of having the AirWheel, I believe the fascination has died down. Personally, I don’t even know where mine is. Like all other things, people lose interest and hop on to the next new thing,” she said.
They should. Discipline your child as to where the proper place to use that. As to my experience they never said any apology. what a kind of attitude they had!!
Their parents lack those manners themselves! How do you expect them to pass them to their kids!
This goes back to home training. Parents don’t give their kids any home training so they go out in pibloc thinking they can do anything they want.
I can’t tell you how many times I nearly got ran over by these kids and teenagers on these hoverboards.
please dont call it hoverboards. hoverboards are awesome and this is insult for it.
ban these things outright inside malls!! once saw a kid weaving in and out of the traffic outside villagio! actually ban them everywhere! another one almost hit my one year old while we were walking [i was holding his hands] at the corniche. these things are silent they need to have some sound so that they warn the WALKING OTHERS that they are coming thru. the people who ride these things should give sufficient warning if they are coming from behind.
Great that parents have found another way of ensuring that their children will get even less exercise.
City Center Mall will install speed bumps inside the mall, because the speed bumps in the parking are not enough. /s
Prices actually start from 1,500 qr at dragon mart.
IO hawk is a brand name.
You can get generic brands for around 350 USD from Ali Express.
While they come in different prices, most have no difference at all.
yea but stores were selling at 6000+ before official store launch here in Qatar..
When things don’t improve in Qatar people complain but when new technology is introduced and is being used people still complain. I think people in Qatar need to stop nagging about such useless things. There are more important things to focus on like Chantelle calling a “SPACE BOARD” a hover board. -_-
I don’t think space boards should be banned anywhere, they are making the kids more active since they were sitting on their computers wasting their time on facebook. Spending hours standing on a space board is an improvement to being lifeless and staying home all day playing candy crush!
Self Balancing Electric Scooter.. not motorized space boards
I predict a lot of shops are going to get left holding huge stocks of these…… they are everywhere now and we have a really small population, as Ms Maryam said – the craze will fade, the shops will be left holding stock and I might actually be able to afford one……… (so if you see an old geezer riding on the Corniche – you will know the bubble has burst)
“Personally, I don’t even know where mine is.”…. No drama just another 4000 QAR disposable toy
so ?? , people are free to do what ever they want with their money .
not your place to decide what one chose to spend their money on .
You are correct, people are free to spend their money on whatever they want….and you and I are both free to think they are fools. 🙂
for sure , but ive seen way worst ways of spending money (wasting ).but, this is something new .ppl always go for new stuff , but i wont go tell people what I think is ok to spend money on or not .not my place.
Freedom to spend money comes with the freedom to be criticized. This is not unique to Qatar or the Gulf. Rich people exist everywhere and are regularly called out for their outlandish behaviors. It’s best to stay humble (at least on the outside, and keep your spendy nature private).
I saw few kids using it on the walk paths in Aspire Zone.. It was a sad sad sight to see… The whole essence of walking or jogging is gone out of the window!
What would happen if the offender was an adult in Landmark Mall standing on one while having a coffee and a smoke at Starbucks?
Precisely nothing I guess.
The mall management staff would present him with a courtesy ashtray and lighter, and the loan of a replacement board while his own was being charged up?
I don’t think that the Space boards is bad idea at all. Just use it accordingly, the use of it inside the malls in my opinion is totally unaccepted. When I was in Paris couple of weeks ago, I saw some working men on their suit using it as means of transportation to and from work. Here, kids use it as a hobby. Thats fine, but better use it in the park!
Yeah they need to be effectively banned. On countless occasions children and come screaming into a Starbucks or restaurant banging into chairs, tables and even waitresses. As a patron I find it highly disturbing, but the problem is I’ve seen arrogant kids fight with security guards refusing to stop. So if they don’t adhere to the ban…what’s the solution? Parents should at least encourage kids to bend their knees to get some exercise…but noooo.
Space boards? This is a wrong title! Technology is not there yet and this is not a good example of journalism because it is presenting wrong facts up in the title! This has nothing to do with Space people!