Capitalist idealism may be death of the idea Image Credit: SEYYED DE LA LLATA/ Gulf News

A community where a lawyer's one hour is equal to a gardener's one hour may not last long in a capitalist world, where majority are hard-wired to make money, financial experts say.

However, if it does survive, time banking may just limit its scope to less costly services that people are willing to trade without monetary benefits. The idea is also not likely to lure highly skilled individuals, like doctors or dentists, to offer their professional time in exchange for labour of low financial value.

"It sounds like Utopia, and it might be a wonderful thing to live in a society like that. The closest the world has come to it is probably communism. The idea that everyone is equal and worth an equal amount of pay for their hour of work is worth a thought, for a minute or two," Steve Gregory, managing partner of Holborn Assets points out.

"How about you? Let's say you study to age 18, do well, go to university for four years at huge cost to yourself or your parents and learn a profession. Are you going to give an hour of your professional time in exchange for an hour of babysitting?" he asks.

Considering people's religious, cultural and racial differences, Gregory says, time banking may have a "limited time span" in the UAE.

"People here are not normally keen to do something for nothing, perhaps much less here than in their home country. There is little interest in being worthwhile member of the community, and people tend to keep to themselves," Gregory adds.

Sandi Saksena, financial planner and member of Million Dollar Round Table, an association for financial professionals, says using time as a unit of exchange can only work for people who are willing to offer child care, home improvement, transportation, cooking, cleaning, music, art, dance lessons and other similar activities.

"This is feasible for example if one says I will do the laundry if someone baby sits my kid for one hour. On the other hand, if you go to a doctor and say I'm not well, so please check me out, diagnose my illness and write out a prescription and in return (the doctor will get free laundry) or whatever, it won't really work because it's not that simple," Saksena adds. Founders of Time Dirham, however, point out that the core values of their organisation should not be viewed through the lens of market economics.

Their group is a grassroots level kind of initiative that primarily attracts people who have the desire to make a positive change for the community. It promotes inter-dependency, brings social cohesion to people and provides a "complementary system" that satisfies "unmet needs with untapped resources."