People throng the environmental exhibition
People throng the environmental exhibition near Union Metro station that was held to mark UAE Car Free Day. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: When Dubai’s civic chief travelled on the Dubai Metro on Sunday, it may have been a symbolic gesture as it marked the 10th edition of Dubai Municipality’s Car Free Day.

But as Dawood Al Hajiri, who leads by example, pointed out, the Metro is his mode of transport on many other days too.

“I take the Metro when I have meetings in offices near Metro stations — like Dubai Municipality branches, Trade Centre, DIFC ...” he said.

We are pleased with the exceptional participation of various bodies in the country. Hence, we in the municipality decided to launch the UAE Car Free Day starting this year.

- Dawood Al Hajiri | Director General of Dubai Municipality

Al Hajiri was joined by Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment; Abdullah Mohammad Al Basti, secretary general of the Executive Council of Dubai, and heads of various other departments when he boarded the Metro at etisalat station, headed for Union station where he was to kick-start the Car Free Day celebrations.

With the theme “Not just a day, every day,” the annual event saw more than 10,000 individuals from across the emirates registered to participate in the campaign this year.

“That’s almost double the number of individual registrations we received last year,” said Al Hajiri.

“We are pleased with the exceptional participation of various bodies in the country. Hence, we in the municipality decided to launch the UAE Car Free Day starting this year,” he said.

Dr Thani Zeyoudi and Dawoud Al Hajiri take the Dubai Metro with senior officials of UAE government departments as part of 'car-free' day drive Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Last year, Al Ain, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah became the first municipalities to join the annual environmental campaign by their Dubai counterpart. A total of 5,270 individuals had registered via Dubai Municipality’s website.

Eco-friendly vehicles

Al Hajiri appealed to all members of the community to opt for eco-friendly vehicles or different modes of public transport to minimise carbon emissions.

After reaching Union station near the municipality’s headquarters, where the parking lot was closed for cars, the senior officials toured an exhibition of eco-friendly ambulances and other vehicles. They also visited a Tolerance Tunnel, an audio-visual display dedicated to the Year of Tolerance.

Various activities were held for people who participated in the initiative.

Dubai Police on bicycles at an environmental exhibition to celebrate the occasion of UAE Car Free Day. Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Aliya Sabt, a Dubai Municipality employee, said she joined the Car Free Day initiative by boarding the Metro at etisalat station.

“I live in Muhaisnah. When there is too much of traffic, sometimes I prefer taking the Metro,” said Sabt.

Carla Artil, an event manager, said she had to seek the help of Metro employees to buy a ticket.


number of people from across the emirates who registered for Car Free Day

“I just took a two- way ticket for today. I chose gold class because I was scared of the rush. I don’t think I can do it again because I live far off from the station.”

The municipality started the initiative in 2010 with just 1,000 vehicles — mostly those of officials — keeping away from the streets.

No cars at Dubai Municipality parking lot on Sunday, to mark the UAE Car Free Day. Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Event attracts cyclists too

Many participants came to the venue on bicycles.

Sama Khalid, a cyclist in the UAE who coaches Dubai Police’s women force, cycled along with a team of riders from Cafe Peloton in Jumeirah to promote Car Free Day.

“I would like to see more women taking up cycling,” Khalid said.

The team left the bicycle-themed restaurant at 6.40am and reached Union Metro Station by 7.30am, said Giovanni Cocuzzo, head of the cycling team.

Majed Saeed, founder of Cafe Peloton, said the team joined the initiative to promote the message that people should take up cycling, not just for fitness but also as a mode of transportation.

“Our team members cycle to work when the weather is good. We would like to encourage others also to that.”