Dubai motorists stuck in traffic for nine working days in 2018

Global survey finds that emirate is the most congested city in the Middle East

DUBAI, UAE. April 7, 2014 - Photograph of a view over Sheikh Zayed Road and the skyline in Dubai, April 7, 2014. (Photos by: Sarah Dea/The National, Story by: STANDALONE, ANNIVERSARY ISSUE, FOCUS)
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Dubai commuters spent nine working days stuck in traffic last year, a new global study has found.

The emirate is the most congested city in the Middle East, with motorists brought to a halt for 80 hours on average in 2018.

Dubai was the 79th most congested city out of 220 surveyed in the Global Traffic Scorecard by international transport consultancy Inrix.

Drivers in Abu Dhabi faired better, spending 50 hours of 2018 in queues, putting the city 180th in the list.

Drivers in the Colombian capital of Bogota lost the most hours to traffic jams in the world in 2018, spending 272 hours at a standstill.

Motorists in Rome were held up for 252 hours, with drivers in Dublin going bumper-to-bumper for 246 hours, and residents in Paris and Rostov-on-Don in Russia tormented by traffic for 237 hours respectively.

Traffic in Dubai is worse than in cities such as Dallas, Las Vegas and Orlando in the United States and Durban in South Africa.

Saim Qadar, an Indian resident living in Sharjah, commutes to Dubai for work, but plans his schedule to avoid peak hours.

Mr Qadar used to study in Canada and said he spends more time stuck in traffic in the UAE than he did in the North American country.

“My timings are flexible so normally I leave by 9.30am. I don’t travel during peak office hours,” he said.

“Comparing it to other places in Canada, the traffic here is bad.

He said Canada benefits from better public transport links between cities, reducing the need to commute by car.

“If I want to go from Dubai to Sharjah, there is no metro to train facility."

Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE, believes the high number of cars on Dubai’s roads is leading to accidents.

“The more vehicles there are on the road, the more accidents,” the safety campaigner said.

“It’s getting most problematic when we talk about traffic jams. No one wants to be delayed. People get very nervous when stuck in traffic and we see a lot of misbehaviour.”

The expert said he has seen many people driving on the hard shoulder and driving aggressively when stuck in traffic.

“People are trying to get through the traffic jam as fast as they can and as a consequence, there are lots of injuries and fatalities.

“The fewer cars we have on the road, the better it is.

“If we have many cars on the roads, the infrastructure should be designed in such a way that it is free-flowing.”

He believes it’s important to identify the hotspots where congestion occurs regularly.

His suggestions for easing traffic throughout the country includes adding lanes and building new infrastructure to tackle the issue.

Commuters in Dubai spent an average of 80 hours stuck in traffic in 2018. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Traffic jams around schools in the mornings or afternoons are common as parents drop and pick up their children.

“We have to understand how to take the vehicles off the road at this critical time of dense traffic,” he said.

“One solution is that not all schools should start at the same time. We could think more openly about the school-starting times.

“If public transportation is better and more convenient then people would use it more.”

Mr Edelmann proposes an increase in carpooling as a way to cut congestion on the UAE's roads.

He said the use of designated carpool lanes - which are commonly found in the US - during rush-hour could greatly reduce the number of vehicles on the road.