Dubai: Residents and visitors in Dubai will for the first time be able to rent cars by the hour, starting in 2017, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Sunday.

This announcement came on the sidelines of the RTA’s participation in the 36th GITEX Technology Week at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Currently, car rental firms charge by the day, whether the driver uses the car only for an hour or for the whole day.

Abdullah Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of RTA’s Public Transport Agency, said the pay-as-you-go option will initially roll out with a total of 200 cars provided by Ekar and Udrive, with all procedures done through a smart app.

He added: “The public in Dubai from all social segments will be able to use a smart application on their personal gadgets to book, pay the rate and open one of the cars available in certain locations all over Dubai — all this through their personal devices. To use this service, the client should first join by registering in the website of one of the two providers and then you would receive the approval in 12 hours. Then, you can reserve a car anytime 24/7. After reservation, you unlock the car using the smart app; make sure it is in a good condition and drive. It is as easy as one two three.”

Al Ali added: “It is time for a smart hourly car rental service, which is scheduled to roll out at the threshold of 2017 with legislating and franchising two leading companies, which would deliver easy-to-use, cost-effective and pay-as-you-go car rental/sharing services.”

He said the two companies were legislated by the RTA to extend the hourly service to the public, after winning RTA’s Smart Car Rental/Sharing franchises.

“We expect that this enjoyable smart service would receive a large response from car rental/sharing lovers including UAE residents, tourists and visitors flocking into Dubai from the world over, particularly as the tourism season is round the corner.

The development follows a new resolution, issued on September 27 by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, which aims to provide alternative low-cost public transportation solutions that meet the needs of the people in Dubai.”

The new facility will allow public transport users to pick up and drop off rented cars at metro and tram stations for short trips at a cost much lower than the taxi fare.