Dubai: Traffic congestion, the single biggest concern among Dubai's 1.44 million residents, inflicts losses of Dh4.6 billion or 3.15 per cent of the emirate's Dh146 billion GDP a year, a senior government official said on Thursday.

"The value of time 'aborted' due to the dire traffic situation is estimated to be Dh4.6 billion a year," Dr Abdul Malek Ebrahim Abu Shaikh, head of Transportation Studies and Planning at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), told Dubai's property developers at a breakfast meeting yesterday.

Dubai's fast-track growth will dictate how the traffic situation changes as a road traffic control mechanism is likely to come into place that will be based on the post-Metro demand and supply scenario, he said.


This may include curbs on the issuance of driving licences and an increase in vehicle registration fees and road tax.

"We need transportation policies and legislation to create the desired balance between demand and supply. Dubai is a vehicle-oriented city. It has a car ownership rate of 541 cars per 1,000 population. This figure exceeds that of cities like New York [444 cars per 1,000 population], London [345 cars per 1,000 population] and Singapore [111 cars per 1,000 population]," Dr Abdul Malek said.

He said that congestion was one of the main transportation challenges facing the RTA. If this trend continues, then by 2020, there will be 5.3 million registered cars in Dubai.

The intention is to discourage the use of private vehicles, and encourage people to use public transport.

Dubai's current urban area is 500 square kilometres, but this is expected to increase about 4.5 times to 2,200 square kilometres by 2020. The emirate's current 1.44 million population is projected to jump to 5.25 million by 2020.

Currently, insufficient road capacity is the main reason for the congestion in the city. Dr Abdul Malek said the RTA will expand the road network.

Road expansion

The number of roads across the creek, for instance, will be increased from the present 40 to 47 by 2008, and around 100 by 2020. There will also be 9 new ring roads by 2020.

The cost of road projects currently in progress exceeds Dh8 billion.

For pedestrians, 71 new grade-separated pedestrian crossings are under design and construction. This includes the Metro crossings. A bicycle network master plan is also being developed, and will be implemented in phases.

Have your say
Should the control on driving licences be moved forward to help reduce traffic congestion? Will more stringent tests ensure safer driving practices? Tell us at or fill in the comments form below.

Your comments

Driving licences should not be given to people easily. There should be an age-limit for people to apply for it, and more tests and classes to ensure safe driving on the roads. More roads need to be built and strict penalty issued against rash drivers.
From Mathew litty
Posted: December 14, 2007, 13:16

I think the increase in population coupled with the short-sightedness of the RTA authorities have contributed to the traffic woes. For example, the introduction of Salik was a good idea but no one thought what it would do to areas such as the Greens when the traffic would be diverted through it. The traffic will certainly be easier to manage if the roads are widened to accommodate two to three lanes.
Posted: December 14, 2007, 12:16

Public transport should be made available. Taxis are not available, buses do not have stops except at the start and the end, there is no affordable accommodation near respective workplaces (I have to commute from Sharjah to Jebel Ali every day) - these are some of the main problems.
Posted: December 14, 2007, 11:18

Controlling the issuance of driving licences is a positive move but I think increasing the registration fees or road tax will be a bad idea.
Posted: December 14, 2007, 10:31

Implementing the construction of new roads and bridges alone will not solve the traffic problem. To make administration easier, the Dubai government should divide the city into four or five zones, each having departments looking into the municipality, commerce, emigration, labour etc of that particular zone. This will ease the congestion in places such as Baniyas and Deira, where people flock to visit the various departments.
Posted: December 14, 2007, 10:29