Google Street View launches in Dubai

Dubai will be the first city in the region to offer the panoramic map service, which will be unavailable in private residential areas or free zones.
Google Street View will feature the major areas and tourist attractions in Dubai. Courtesy Google
Google Street View will feature the major areas and tourist attractions in Dubai. Courtesy Google

DUBAI // Google Street View is launching in Dubai, which becomes the first city in the region to offer the panoramic map service.

Street View will be available for the city’s public areas and is “good news” for businesspeople, tourists and residents, said Abdul Hakim Malik, director of geographic information systems at Dubai Municipality, which collaborated with the company on permissions for the project.

The service blurs out people’s faces and vehicle licence plates, and is not available in private residential areas or free zones, but covers the most important business and tourist locations, Mr Malik said.

Street View will indirectly promote tourism to Dubai, he said. “Tourists are very much interested before they visit Dubai to see what Dubai looks like in real life.

“When they go to Google Maps and see 360 degrees all around important and popular streets, I think this will be interesting for them.”

The feature will also benefit Government services and the real estate industry, said Mr Malik. For instance, it could help prevent inspectors from making unnecessary on-site trips.

“I think this is just the beginning,” said Mr Malik, expecting further collaboration with Google.

Google previously launched special collections for the Burj Khalifa, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and most recently the desert of Liwa, which was captured using a Trekker device atop a camel.

The municipality had been in talks with Google for about a year on launching Street View in Dubai.

Google hopes to roll out Street View in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the emirates very soon, said Najeeb Jarrar, product marketing manager at Google in the Middle East and North Africa.

The company also hopes to bring the feature to more cities in the region.

“We’ve seen a lot of users actually asking about Street View, when it comes to the region,” said Mr Jarrar.

“We’ve even seen much more excitement when the car started driving through Dubai.”

Businesses have also expressed interest in Street View, and the service can make it easier for people searching for real estate, said Mr Jarrar.

“I really want to emphasise the excitement that this brings to a specific area when we bring Street View to it,” he said.

Users can go to maps.google.com or maps.google.ae to access the Street View service through Google Maps starting on Tuesday.

The company took into consideration various factors when deciding where to first implement Street View in the Middle East, including the quality of the map, whether all services that Street View requires are available, and whether internal planning is ready.

“We want to make sure that users are going to be excited about Street View and they would benefit greatly from using the service,” said Mr Jarrar.

Dubai also hosts Google’s Middle East headquarters.

Street View in Dubai will use the company’s latest technology.

“That improvement comes from our strong commitment to Google Maps in the Middle East,” said Mr Jarrar

lcarroll@thenational.ae

Published: December 9, 2014 04:00 AM

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