UAE: Department of Transport Unveils Parking Fees in Abu Dhabi

Source : The National

Abu Dhabi reveals cost of parking

ABU DHABI - JUL 30: The Department of Transport unveiled its long-awaited parking fees yesterday, announcing that from October it would charge Dh3 an hour on main streets and Dh2 elsewhere.

The parking meters will be in operation from 8am to 9pm except on Fridays and public holidays.

Multistorey car parks will cost Dh2 per hour. Annual permits for unlimited parking in residential areas will cost Dh800 for a first car and Dh1,200 for a second.

The metered parking, which will start in three areas in the heart of the central business district, is the first element of the department’s grand plan to remedy the capital’s parking woes, first announced by Abu Dhabi Municipality more than two years ago.

“This is just the first step but we believe these measures will result in visible improvements by year end, with less congestion, fewer illegally parked vehicles and a better understanding among car owners of the need to park correctly,” said Najib al Zarooni, director of parking for the department, at a press conference yesterday.

Other elements of the plan include increasing the number of parking spaces and introducing park-and-ride options in some areas to encourage motorists to take buses from designated car parks.

Mr al Zarooni added that free-parking permits would be available for people with special needs.

It remained unclear what the penalties would be for parking beyond the paid time, or in prohibited areas.

The current fine for “abuse of a parking space” is Dh200 (US$55) and three black points, while parking in places designated for emergency vehicles and people with special needs is Dh1,000 and four black points.

Police handed out 39,215 fines for illegal parking in the first six months of this year.

Last year, the British company NSL Services announced that it had won a contract to manage the parking programme. It said that after a transition period, during which warnings would be handed out instead of fines, a clamping and removal service would be introduced for repeat offenders.

Mr al Zarooni said that the department would be responsible for managing enforcement.

He would not confirm NSL’s continued role in the programme, although NSL officials attended the news conference.

The announcement of the fee structure received mixed reactions from residents.

“It’s a lot,” said Hazem Ali, a 26-year-old Emirati.

However, Mr Ali said the charge would not make him consider public transport.

“You need a car for personal stuff and you can’t really take your family on the bus.”

Assil Mashlah, 27, a Syrian patient service officer at Al Noor Hospital, said he did not drive but thought the fee might be a problem for patients.

“We get 2,000 patients a day. Can you imagine for 2,000 patients paying Dh3 per hour every day?”

Karen Lovatt, a banking employee, said the charges were not a surprise. “I’d expect to pay it, like in any other country. I don’t think it’s bad at all.”

But, like Mr Ali, she did not expect to use public transport.

“It’s not widely available. It doesn’t go to all parts of Abu Dhabi. There is no sophisticated network here yet.”

The number of registered vehicles in the emirate grew by 16 per cent a year between 2005 and 2008, and motorists can circle for up to half an hour trying to find a parking space along Hamdan Street; some resort to parking on pavements or double parking.

“This sporadic parking is unhealthy and has had a negative effect,” Mr al Zarooni said. “This is a comprehensive plan to handle the increased demand.”

The department took over the programme last autumn and has been testing solar-powered meters between Hamdan Street and Capital Park over the summer in anticipation of launching the programme.

Paid parking will be enforced in that area as well as near the corner of Airport Road on Sheikh Zayed the First Street.

These were areas where paid parking could be easily implemented, Mr al Zarooni said.

Two locations have been selected for multistorey underground car parks, one on Hamdan Street and another on Zayed the First Street. A tender for the structures will be issued in the fourth quarter of this year and construction will start in early 2010.

The management programme will be rolled out over time to 75,000 spaces in 43 sectors stretching from the Tourist Club area to Khaleej al Arabi Road and from Khalifa Street to Hazza Bin Zayed Street.

An additional area stretches from Fourth Street to Al Karamah Street and from Hazza Bin Zayed Street to Al Saada Street.

Mr al Zarooni said residents would be spared parking fees so long as their areas were not congested.

The department has already announced its intention of increasing the number of parking spaces in the short-term by building temporary steel parking structures and redesigning existing car parks.

However, landlords who section off areas and try to charge people for parking there will be prosecuted under a proposed law expected to be passed in the months ahead, according to Khalid Hashim, executive director in the Land Transport Sector.

Details on where residents could acquire permits would be provided later, he said.

The Abu Dhabi Government had previously announced that hire car companies and car dealerships, many of which monopolise public parking spaces, would be moved to locations outside the city to help ease the congestion.

When asked about that plan yesterday, Mr al Zarooni said the department was working with the Urban Planning Council to bring it into force.

Families ready to defy villa law

DUBAI - JUL 30: Families across the city are making plans to defy the municipality’s latest push to enforce the one-family-per-villa law.

With a new compliance campaign due to begin on Saturday, an investigation by The National found that many families continue to live in villas accommodating as many as five families.

Many householders said they would risk heavy fines and loss of utilities to remain in their homes.

Some planned to keep their front doors locked to keep inspectors out and even use electricity generators to maintain their air-conditioning if the power is switched off.

Hussain Nasser Lootah, the municipality’s director general, said last week that tenants and landlords involved in multi-family living arrangements were facing fines of up to Dh50,000 (US$13,000). Other penalties could apply, he said, without elaborating.

The municipality has warned that its two dozen building inspectors will intensify their checks from next month. Officials say shared villas pose health and environmental risks.

A resident of Al Rashidiya, an area of Dubai known for large villas housing multiple families, said the family would not move out of the villa they share with three other families – unless they were identified as violators and action was taken against them. A member of the family, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We had problems a few months ago, but no one has stopped us from living here in the last few months. Hopefully we will be all right.”

More than 5,000 households across Dubai have been identified as violating the law, according to Mr Lootah. They have not yet been fined, but he said action would follow next month.

The municipality said it would make no exceptions; tenants and landlords, be they nationals or expatriates, would be fined if found in violation.

In areas such as Al Rashidiya, families said that they were unable to find equally affordable accommodation in other areas of Dubai, despite a drop in rents across the city.

“We pay Dh3,000 [a month] for one bedroom and an attached bathroom,” said one resident whose family shares a villa in Al Rashidiya. “This is the best price we can find in the area.”

The villa campaign, launched by the municipality last year, forced many families to leave their shared homes. Notices were posted on villa doors in upmarket Jumeirah as well as in low-budget areas such as Satwa and Al Rashidiya.

In some cases, water and electricity were cut off.

Many tenants moved out, but others turned to stealth to avoid detection and stayed where they were. Some used generators when the municipality cut off their electricity.

Landlords and tenants alike indicated that they were prepared to resort to generators and other means once again.

Some who escaped detection the last time around planned to keep their main gates locked and use their back doors. They also intended to park their vehicles away from their homes to give the impression that their villas were single-family homes.

Adverts could still be seen outside several villas inviting families to apply to rent rooms. And one landlord told The National that families were still taking shared accommodations.

“There has been no problem, and people are still moving into villas,” he said. “Many families are living here.”

Rents in shared villas range from Dh2,500 to Dh3,500 per month for a single room and attached bathroom. Families often share the living room and the kitchen, but in some cases, separate kitchens are offered.


Apart from Al Rashidiya, areas such as Jaffliya, Satwa, Jumeirah, Umm Suquiem, Al Barsha and Mirdiff have been identified by inspectors as violating the villa rule.

Residents had earlier appealed for more time to move, but the municipality now maintains that enough time has been allowed and that no violators will be spared.

Bachelors, who are banned from living in villas, were also seen sharing homes in several areas. The municipality insists that only families are allowed to live in villas, as that is who they were designed for.

SKMC treats thyroid cancer

ABU DHABI - JUL 30:Thyroid cancer patients no longer have to leave the capital and stay away for days to receive radiation treatment.

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) began administering radiation therapy at its thyroid cancer clinic on Sunday, hospital officials said yesterday.

Because radiation can emanate from patients after they take the capsules that are used in the therapy, SKMC included a lead-lined isolation room in the clinic when construction began a year ago.

Patients will stay there for three to five days, until their radiation levels fall sufficiently for them to go home.

Previously, SKMC provided only diagnosis and surgery for thyroid cancer, meaning patients had to travel to centres elsewhere, and remain for several days to undergo treatment with radioactive iodine.

The SKMC clinic is currently treating 82 women for thyroid cancer, said Dr Ali Khalil, an endocrinology consultant and head of the clinic.

“It is now definitely more convenient to our patients to get fully treated here at SKMC and under the supervision of all their physicians rather than visiting other hospitals for the same purpose,” he said.

Thyroid cancer is the second most common form of the disease in Emirati women, after breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Registry.

UAE's first satellite in orbit

ABU DHABI - JUL 30: The UAE’s first government satellite, DubaiSat-1, is currently circling the globe after a successful overnight launch today from Kazakhstan.

Audrey Nice, spokesperson for Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), which is also using the Dnepr-1 rocket to launch a separate satellite confirmed that the launch sequence was “seamless”.

“The rocket lifted off at 00.46 [local time]. Everything went according to plan. All the satellites separated successfully and they are all currently in orbit.
“The launch went very well. It was an absolutely seamless launch.”

She added the satellites’ receiver stations would now begin a process known as “acquisition,” where they would establish contact with the satellites.

Nobody from the Dubai-based Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), which managed the Dh184 million (US$50 million) project was available to confirm the launch was successful. And the spokesman from Asda’a, the organisation’s public relations company, could not be reached.

The satellite will use a high-resolution camera to photograph the region; the images will be beamed back to the UAE for use in urban planning and disaster relief.

Experts say that in its low-altitude orbit, it should be visible to the naked eye and resemble a moving star.

Anxious Emirati engineers were gathered at a viewing station at the cosmodrome to watch the 200kg remote sensing satellite lift off.

The spacecraft was one of several attached to a modified Russian intercontinental ballistic missile.

Once it reaches orbit, the satellite’s orientation and communications systems will power up and test images will be sent back using a high-bandwidth radio transmitter.

Within days, the hexagonal satellite, which measures a little more than a metre across, should be fully operational.

“With the launch of DubaiSat-1, the UAE joins a league of nations that have made strong inroads in space research and technology,” Mohammed al Ghanim, the chairman of the EIAST board, said in May.


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