In many ways modern, Dubai seems like some sort of science-fiction utopia. It emerged from the Middle East's desert seemingly overnight with some of the largest buildings in the world and it has police supercars patrolling the streets. It's not all perfect, of course, and like many cities, it's facing a mushrooming traffic issue. But officials may not deal with this growing congestion problem in a traditional way: the emirate is reportedly considering banning the poor from owning cars.

Hussain Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, reportedly suggested during a recent business forum in Germany that the emirate could impose motoring restrictions based on income. According to emirates-focused newspaper The National, "a salary limit scheme that would restrict car ownership to those earning above a certain monthly income" is among the options on the table. Lootah blames Dubai's rapid rise in wealth for clogging the emirate's roads with cars and dramatically increasing rush-hour traffic. "Everybody has their luxury life, but the capacity of our roads cannot take all of these cars without ownership laws," he said in a speech.

Even if the salary-related restriction does not go into effect, Dubai authorities are committed to reducing traffic congestion. They are also considering an increase on parking fees, fuel prices, toll road fees and insurance rates to further limit car ownership. As an alternative to driving, Dubai is attempting to improve its public transport system with a new tram system that began testing this week.


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  • 156 Comments
      Alfa Pete
      • 10 Months Ago
      The article says " Lootah blames Dubai's rapid rise in wealth for clogging the emirate's roads with cars and dramatically increasing rush-hour traffic. " That implies that it's the wealthy and the cars they buy with their wealth that are the problem. How will banning poor people from buying cars reduce the number of cars purchased by the wealthy?
        AcidTonic
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Alfa Pete
        To move them out of the way for more wealthy cars.
      MistyGreen
      • 10 Months Ago
      Raise taxes a ton, and then you won't look like even bigger douche bags. Seriously? Straight up not allowing poor people to drive? I'm sure that even in Dubai, there are poorly paid delivery kids who need to drive, as long as there are rich people who like pizza.
      Nathan
      • 10 Months Ago
      When Dubai means poor people what they really mean is predominantly South Asians and South East Asians. Dubai like the rest of the GCC countries are very unabashedly racist towards Asians (South and South East Asians) and Sub Saharan Africans. I lived in the Emirates for about 17 years from the 70s. Even way back in the 80s, there were various methods employed that made it much harder for South and South East Asians to get driver's lisences , relative to Western expats , Arab expats and Locals.
        Levine Levine
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Nathan
        That's because the Asians and Africans were recruited to the Middle East nations like the Emirates to perform manual labor work which is frown upon by the natives. Given the oil wealth has been shared among the natives and elevated their standard of living than for none natives, the result is an informal modern cast social system which engenders scorn and mistreatment of the less fortunate people.
      usa1
      • 10 Months Ago
      The people that do the "blue collar" work and build the fancy buildings, etc. are expatriates from countries like India and Pakistan, etc. They make up 80+% of the population of Dubai. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Dubai They are poor, can't vote, and now they won't be able to drive on the roads if this law passes.
        skoobey
        • 10 Months Ago
        @usa1
        It is ridiculous, but, on the other hand, Dubai is not your regular economy. If there were so many rich people concentrated in a single city in the US, problem would be solved by selling outrageously expensive "fast lane" licenses. But, as all of the Dubai nationals are wealthy, and only people that actually work are foreigners, you can't do that. So, yes it is wrong, so very wrong, but on the other hand no one forced them to come work in Dubai, and companies can pay the cost of car insurance for non-nationals(instead of them being banned of the road all together), if it is in the interest of company for their employees to drive a vehicle. Simple
      anon
      • 10 Months Ago
      Yup typical solution from a country that has a repressive government. They would never ever tell you that their fantastic cities are essentially built on the backs of south asians........it's pretty much slavery. But they'll deny deny deny.
      johnnyhedwardsjr
      • 10 Months Ago
      It's the freaking desert. Just make bigger freeways and more roads.... Double deckers even. It's not like they are land locked and it not like everyone and their father isn't in the construction business and it's not like they don't have the money.
      • 10 Months Ago
      [blocked]
      Feurig
      • 10 Months Ago
      The better alternative would be to build a high quality public transit system. Hell, if any city can do it it's Dubai. "Best Public Transit System in the World!"
      Alex
      • 10 Months Ago
      IQ, not wealth. Just add mandatory IQ test to DL requirements. Along with checking very basic reflexes and motor coordination. All three required to operate a moving vehicle. Half of the population would not pass and should not be behind the wheel.
        jay4e
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Alex
        yeah like any politician would ever risk that test...
      RLC
      • 10 Months Ago
      Maybe if there had been an ounce of city planning at the beginning, this wouldn't be a problem now.
      Miguro Takahashi
      • 10 Months Ago
      Yea, when your cops drive Brabus tuned G wagons that cost north of $150K, your city screams douchelords. Instead of having Aventador and Ferrari FF cop cars, maybe invest in a better public transportation system so those who are still on the struggle can get to the places they need to go with some dignity. If it weren't for oil, the barren wastelands of the middle east would be worse to live in than Africa.
        FuelToTheFire
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Miguro Takahashi
        And WHY should he have anything to do with public transportation? Why can't they either BUY THEIR OWN DAMN CAR, or walk?
          Technoir
          • 10 Months Ago
          @FuelToTheFire
          Didn't you read the article? Roads are suffering from traffic congestion. Walk? Temps reach 50c in Dubai and distances are significant.
        Alex Ellsworth
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Miguro Takahashi
        Well, they already have the only metro system in the Gulf - pretty much the blingiest in the world, of course. And it has a Gold Class so that the rich can again be separate from the proletariat! But they're also building the trams and an express rail link to Dubai, so they're kind of doing what you suggest.
      Indubitably
      • 10 Months Ago
      I would think the poor would need a car more than the rich. The rich should just switch to their helicopters. Problem solved.
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