Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Now that car-pooling has become legal in Dubai, residents who do not own cars, feel more comfortable hitching a ride with co-workers and friends rather than using public transport.
The decision has also left people in other parts of the UAE curious about why the same practice has not been made legal across the country.
While some feel car-pooling should be allowed across the UAE, others feel regulating it is not necessary, and that the act of car-pooling should be left up to the individuals.
The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) recently legalised car-pooling in Dubai, with the aim of encouraging motorists to drive their friends to and from work.
Gulf News took to the streets and spoke to different residents across the UAE about how they felt about car-pooling and whether it should be implemented in other parts of the Emirates.
Krithika Shankar, 32, India, is a manager in a well-known organisation in Abu Dhabi. She feels car-pooling should be implemented in the capital city as soon as possible.
"People in Abu Dhabi travel long distances, the city is expanding, especially with new areas coming up in Mussafah and Khalifa City, close to the airport. My office will soon relocate to an area far away from my home, and since I don't drive, the first option I'll be looking for is car-pooling. I definitely consider it a good idea, especially as I need a ride only when I go to work. Other than that, I have my husband to drive me around."
Grace D'souza, an examination officer from India agrees. "Car-pooling will help reduce traffic jams in Abu Dhabi, which is getting worse by the day. The RTA in Dubai made a wise decision, and I hope Abu Dhabi follows their step. I don't drive and car-pooling is an ideal solution for me, since it doesn't oblige the motorist or myself to stick to any rules or strict timings, we will equally share the ride and co-operate. I'm sure many people would prefer car-pooling than driving like I do, it's just more convenient."
Iraqi doctor Adel Shubbar feels that car-pooling is a good idea but should not be passed through a law.
"Even though car-pooling is convenient for people who live close to one another and work in the same organisation, car-pooling involves a lot of commitment and can put a persons' privacy under scrutiny. Some people don't like sharing their cars with others, and if I am asked to drop someone living far away or out of my route, it's definitely not practical and with it being legal, I will feel obliged just because I own a vehicle, which can result in an embarrassing situation. A law will infringe on people's freedom; it should be kept as a personal preference."
Sharif Anwar, Egyptian, a sales engineer, says: "Since traffic jams in Abu Dhabi have started to be as bad as in Dubai, car-pooling will help reduce the number of cars on the streets, especially during rush hour. The parking problem will also lessen, which has become a huge obstacle in Abu Dhabi, even worse than in Dubai. There will also be less pollution and less demand on oil and gas. Not to mention the fact that car-pooling will strengthen relationships between neighbours and co-workers. Even if it's not legalised, people should still share rides."
Merly Dres, a Filipina office administrator, 29, said: "It is a good idea because now I can start getting a lift again with my colleagues. A friend of mine was fined by Dubai Police because he was giving his friends a free ride, but now that it is allowed we will consider doing it again. It takes a long time to wait for the bus and the heat makes it almost impossible to stand outside on the main road."
Eisa Al Rashid, an insurance broker from Bahrain, 50, said: "It will reduce traffic on the roads and in turn, it will create competition with taxis because there will be fewer passengers. It will certainly affect the business of public transport because people will be more encouraged to commute to work in their friends' cars. If there is a demand for car-pooling in other emirates, then it should also be legalised there as well."
Filipina Catherine Catugas, a job seeker, 29, said: "I've been in the country for two months and was worried about finding transportation to work. I did not know that it used to be illegal to car-pool but now that I know it is allowed by the authorities, I will most likely car-pool with my friends."
Baby Rosal, a sales representative from the Philippines, 45, said: "It's a very good initiative from the authorities to make carpools legal because taxis are becoming expensive. I think that it should only be limited to Dubai because residents in the other emirates do not face the same problem that we do.
Taxis over here do not usually stop for passengers, but the service in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi is a lot better and people do not have to queue for a long time to get a taxi."