Al Wahda Mall’s car park. The mall, which was the first to introduce paid parking, is allowing guests three hours of free parking after which a tariff of Dh10 per hour will apply. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Shopping centres across the capital are adopting a new paid parking system to prevent unauthorised overnight parking, mall officials in the capital said.

However, residents are not entirely convinced of the new push for paid parking, noting that the biggest loser will ultimately be shopping mall owners and restaurants.

Al Wahda Mall, the first shopping centre to introduce paid parking on its premises in Abu Dhabi, is allowing guests three hours of free parking after which a tariff of Dh10 per hour will apply.

Losing the parking ticket will cost visitors Dh150.

Al Wahda Mall officials were unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, a Khalidiya Mall spokesperson confirmed to Gulf News that the problem still persists despite mall authorities issuing warnings to those who park overnight without approval followed by a fine for repeat offenders.

“Those who work and live nearby sometimes leave their cars in our parking bays even though they are not visiting the mall. This causes a problem for our guests who end up struggling to find a spot to park. This is why we are still considering making the parking here paid, but we have not yet come up with a decision. We are still studying the issue,” the source said.

Call for alternatives

Long-term Abu Dhabi residents insist that alternative solutions can be found to the overnight parking issue that do not involve mass charging individuals for parking.

Mohammad H., a 36 year-old Emirati in the capital, said: “Restaurants will be the ones who suffer from all this because I know many people who like to sit and eat after they’re done with all their shopping and walking around. Plus, I think that fewer families will come to malls because this sector of society is the one who I believe consumes the most in terms of time and money because of the various activities they do at the mall. This will be very sad to see.”

Another Abu Dhabi resident said that she expects more people to opt for finding the same stores they wish to visit but in locations that are outside paid-parking malls.

“Honestly, right now we still have a few malls that are still free of charge and this makes things better. Dh10 per hour is ridiculous. Plus security guards can always lock up vehicles who remain parked overnight,” the 26-year-old Bangladeshi said.