Nezar Veleri, an assistant pharmacist at the al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi, waits for his bus on Wednesday, July 27, 2011, during his daily commute to work that starts at an airconditioned bus stop near the Al Ain University in Abu Dhabi. Veleri swore off driving after a motorcycle accident in his native India a couple of years ago left him with broken bones and solid fear of driving.  (Silvia Razgova/The National)
Nezar Veleri waits for his bus at a stop near Al Ain University in Abu Dhabi. Dangerous driving deters him from driving his own car.

Abu Dhabi travellers switch cars for buses



ABU DHABI // To the capital's frustrated motorists it may seem ridiculous to suggest that parking woes and unpredictable driving may lead to improvement in inner-city traffic.

But residents say those problems, among others, are pushing them to choose public transport over private vehicles.

Alaa Mahmoud, 35, a Palestinian contracting executive based in Abu Dhabi, says he has a valid UAE licence and his own car.

But for Mr Mahmoud, taxis make more sense than fighting traffic and scrabbling for a parking space.

"I'm sick and tired of driving in the traffic," he says. "But more than anything, it's the parking. This is the root of the problem."

Mr Mahmoud, who lives on Airport Road near Al Wahda Mall and works on Khalifa Street, says he takes taxis about six times a day, spending nearly Dh300 a week on transport. His daily commutes include trips to and from work, as well as meetings.

"The best thing is a taxi," he says. "It's easily accessible and drops you right at the doorstep of your destination, instead of driving around for hours searching for a spot, parking far away and then walking in the heat."

The father of two says he sometimes takes taxis at the weekend when going out with his family.

"I won't drive unless it's an extreme emergency and even then I'll think twice, because a taxi could make me reach my destination faster," he says.

Mr Mahmoud is not alone. As temperatures rise into the 40s, the Moroccan Noora Ahmad stands at a shaded but not air-conditioned bus shelter on Airport Road.

"Driving is a waste of time and money," Ms Ahmad says. "Think about the amount of petrol you waste on the constant search for parking. Buses are less stressful and more cost efficient."

Rigorous law enforcement and high fines also make public transport more affordable, Ms Ahmad says.

"Fines from speeding, parking … all of these add up and rarely anyone can avoid them," she says.

Others also opt for public transport but for different reasons.

For Nezar Veleri, an assistant pharmacist from India, dangerous driving on the emirate's roads prevents him from getting behind the wheel.

Mr Veleri has been hesitant to take to the roads after being involved in a serious car accident in his home country. The driving behaviour in Abu Dhabi reaffirms his convictions, he says.

Mr Veleri takes the No 32 bus from the station near Airport Road and 29th Street to work every day.

He says he is generally satisfied with the bus service, although sometimes the wait can be long and tiresome, and air-conditioned bus shelters are not always reliable.

"Last week the air conditioning was broken in the shelter and I had to wait almost 20 minutes in the sun," Mr Veleri says.

Ms Ahmad says she recently had the same experience at a bus shelter near her home on Muroor Road.

"It was so hot in the shelter that it felt better to wait outside," she says. "But it was fixed two days later. They usually fix them immediately."

A recent statement from the Department of Transport (DoT) said that during the first phase of introducing the air-conditioned bus shelters, the design and the efficiency of the cooling system had been improved.

There are 81 air-conditioned shelters on Airport Road, Muroor Road, 6th Street, Al Falah Street and 24th Street, while work on another 380 shelters started at the beginning of this year.

The DoT also plans to more than double its fleet of buses from 600 to 1,360 by 2013, with plans of running 123 routes in the emirate by this December, up from 75 at the end of last year.

Long-term plans include ensuring bus stops are no more than 300 metres apart.

The expansion of the public bus network is part of the DoT's efforts to accommodate a growing population, which is expected to triple in the emirate by 2030.

Mr Mahmoud says although he does not consider buses appealing, increasing costs for fuel and private vehicle ownership may push more commuters into buses.

"People here are spoiled. They're all used to having their private space," he says. "They should make it harder for people to get a car.

"Loans here are given out too easily. If the transport authorities make it difficult to buy a car, then more people would consider public transport as a viable alternative."

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Scorebox

Sharjah Wanderers 20-25 Dubai Tigers (After extra-time)

Wanderers

Tries Gormley, Penalty

Cons Flaherty

Pens Flaherty 2

Tigers

Tries O’Donnell, Gibbons, Kelly

Cons Caldwell 2

Pens Caldwell, Cross

BIGGEST CYBER SECURITY INCIDENTS IN RECENT TIMES

SolarWinds supply chain attack: Came to light in December 2020 but had taken root for several months, compromising major tech companies, governments and its entities

Microsoft Exchange server exploitation: March 2021; attackers used a vulnerability to steal emails

Kaseya attack: July 2021; ransomware hit perpetrated REvil, resulting in severe downtime for more than 1,000 companies

Log4j breach: December 2021; attackers exploited the Java-written code to inflitrate businesses and governments

THE DETAILS

Kaala

Dir: Pa. Ranjith

Starring: Rajinikanth, Huma Qureshi, Easwari Rao, Nana Patekar  

Rating: 1.5/5 

ALRAWABI SCHOOL FOR GIRLS

Creator: Tima Shomali

Starring: Tara Abboud, Kira Yaghnam, Tara Atalla

Rating: 4/5

HEY MERCEDES, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME?

Mercedes-Benz's MBUX digital voice assistant, Hey Mercedes, allows users to set up commands for:

• Navigation

• Calls

• In-car climate

• Ambient lighting

• Media controls

• Driver assistance

• General inquiries such as motor data, fuel consumption and next service schedule, and even funny questions

There's also a hidden feature: pressing and holding the voice command button on the steering wheel activates the voice assistant on a connected smartphone – Siri on Apple's iOS or Google Assistant on Android – enabling a user to command the car even without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

SQUADS

Bangladesh (from): Shadman Islam, Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mahmudullah Riyad, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Liton Das, Taijul Islam, Mosaddek Hossain, Nayeem Hasan, Mehedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Ebadat Hossain, Abu Jayed

Afghanistan (from): Rashid Khan (capt), Ihsanullah Janat, Javid Ahmadi, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Ikram Alikhil, Mohammad Nabi, Qais Ahmad, Sayed Ahmad Shirzad, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zahir Khan Pakteen, Afsar Zazai, Shapoor Zadran

MANDOOB

Director: Ali Kalthami

Starring: Mohammed Dokhei, Sarah Taibah, Hajar Alshammari

Rating: 4/5

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Naga

Director: Meshal Al Jaser

Starring: Adwa Bader, Yazeed Almajyul, Khalid Bin Shaddad

Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Scoreline

Al Wasl 1 (Caio Canedo 90+1')

Al Ain 2 (Ismail Ahmed 3', Marcus Berg 50')

Red cards: Ismail Ahmed (Al Ain) 77'

How will Gen Alpha invest?

Mark Chahwan, co-founder and chief executive of robo-advisory firm Sarwa, forecasts that Generation Alpha (born between 2010 and 2024) will start investing in their teenage years and therefore benefit from compound interest.

“Technology and education should be the main drivers to make this happen, whether it’s investing in a few clicks or their schools/parents stepping up their personal finance education skills,” he adds.

Mr Chahwan says younger generations have a higher capacity to take on risk, but for some their appetite can be more cautious because they are investing for the first time. “Schools still do not teach personal finance and stock market investing, so a lot of the learning journey can feel daunting and intimidating,” he says.

He advises millennials to not always start with an aggressive portfolio even if they can afford to take risks. “We always advise to work your way up to your risk capacity, that way you experience volatility and get used to it. Given the higher risk capacity for the younger generations, stocks are a favourite,” says Mr Chahwan.

Highlighting the role technology has played in encouraging millennials and Gen Z to invest, he says: “They were often excluded, but with lower account minimums ... a customer with $1,000 [Dh3,672] in their account has their money working for them just as hard as the portfolio of a high get-worth individual.”

The Beekeeper

Director: David Ayer 

Starring: Jason Statham, Josh Hutcherson, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Minnie Driver, Jeremy Irons

Rating: 3/5

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Batti Gul Meter Chalu

Producers: KRTI Productions, T-Series
Director: Sree Narayan Singh
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Divyenndu Sharma, Yami Gautam
Rating: 2/5


The UAE Today

The latest news and analysis from the Emirates

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The UAE Today