Shaikh Hamdan shows his support for the campaign by cycling in Downtown Dubai. Image Credit: Courtesy: Dubai Municipality

Dubai: Tonnes of CO2 emissions were reduced in Dubai on Wednesday as owners of more than 7,000 private vehicles decided to leave their cars at home to take part in Dubai Municipality’s annual Car-Free Day campaign.

The exact figures of the number of participants are still being tallied, but a municipal official said that participation this year was slightly highter than 2014, when 7,000 vehicles stayed off the roads.

This is the sixth year of the annual campaign and 54 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been reduced in the last five Car-Free Day, with 18,900 vehicles off the roads.

All municipality staff, along with employees of 303 government departments, ministries, banks and private firms participated in the campaign, leaving their vehicles at home and taking the Metro and other public transport modes to reach their offices.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, took part in the campaign by cycling in Downtown Dubai along with several officials.

Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Ali Al Nuaimi, known as the Green Shaikh for making it his mission to make the country more environmentally aware, also participated in the drive.

Hussain Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), and Eisa Al Maidour, Director of Dubai Health Authority, were among the top government officials who left their cars at home and used other modes of transport.

“It’s a great feeling to successfully complete the Car-Free Day campaign for six years in a row. Every year the participation has increased and we have been able to reach a bigger group of people. Our idea is to encourage more people to use public transport and make them aware of the different options available,” said Lootah.

He added that the municipality intends to send a clear message to people about the benefits of using public transport, both in terms of reducing the CO2 levels and reducing the number of vehicles on the road.

He urged private sector employers to offer their employees benefits such as free Nol cards for using public transport, which the municipality is offering its workers.

“This is a good initiative and I am really happy to be part of the campaign. I left my car at home today and used public transport. It is good to have the freedom sometimes. I didn’t have to worry about anything like traffic and parking,” said Eisa Ahmad, an Emirati motorist

Arwa Hazza, another Emirati motorist, said people should try to use public transport or ride or walk to work whenever possible, even if it’s just for one day.

“The point is that people will talk about the reason why you they didn’t use their own car and that presents an opportunity to raise awareness about the environment. Thousands of cars not used means thousands of such conversations. Over time, this can add up to a lot and I’m sure it can change people’s habits. That’s why I decided not to take my car to work today,” she added.