Traffic congestion in Dubai results in annual losses of US$1.25 billion, equivalent to 3.15% of GDP. According to Dr Abdul Malek Ebrahim Abu Shaikh, head of Transportation Studies and Planning at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), transport policy and concomitant legislation have to strike a balance between demand and supply. He points out that at 541 cars/1000 population, Dubai has higher car ownership than New York (444), London (345) and Singapore (111). Furthermore, if current purchase trends continue, Dubai will have 5.3 million registered cars by 2020. As a result, measures will have to be taken to discourage car usage and promote public transport. Under consideration are limits on the number of driving licences to be issued, an increase in vehicle registration fees and higher road tax. There is currently insufficient road capacity, which is the main cause of congestion. However the number of roads now crossing the Dubai Creek will have increased from 40 to 47 by the end of 2008, while nine new ring roads will be in place by 2020. Existing road projects are absorbing $2.178 billion of new investment.

DATED: 14th January 2008