Pedestrian safety is priority for Abu Dhabi road safety campaign



ABU DHABI // Pedestrian safety will be a leading priority for police across the country in 2013, the Ministry of Interior announced yesterday.

A third of road deaths in the first 10 months of 2012 were pedestrians.

There were 151 people killed in 954 pedestrian-vehicle incidents across the UAE from January until November, leaving 934 others injured.

According to these numbers, pedestrian crashes make up nearly a fifth, or 18.6 per cent, of traffic accidents in the UAE.

They account for almost a third, or 29.2 per cent, of the overall number of road deaths, according to Brig Gen Ghaith Hassan Al Zaabi, head of the general directorate of traffic coordination at the Ministry of Interior.

"Jaywalking and motorists not giving priority to pedestrians are two very serious traffic offences," he said, noting that more efforts to raise road safety awareness are needed.

The first Ministry of Interior road safety campaign of 2013 will focus on pedestrian safety.

The campaign "Pedestrian Safety is Our Responsibility" has now been launched by the traffic coordination department, in conjunction with traffic and licencing directorates across the UAE and along with more than 20 stakeholders in the private and public sectors.

Running until March 1, the campaign will be carried on various media platforms, including radio, print, television and social networking sites. It will concentrate on all road users, with a particular focus on pedestrians.

The ultimate objective, the ministry said, is to improve road safety, curb pedestrian injuries and boost long-term efforts towards crash-free roads.

Campaigners will work to promote "a culture of respect for the rights of pedestrians", the ministry added, by making both pedestrians and drivers aware of their shared responsibilities on the road.

Failure to stop for pedestrians at a crossing is a lethal violation, said Brig Al Zaabi, and not giving way carries a Dh500 fine and a penalty of six black points. Illegal pedestrian crossings carry a Dh200 penalty.

In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, there were 19 pedestrian deaths in the first quarter of 2012 according to the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi. Of these, 12 were on the island and in the central region, five were in Al Ain and the Eastern Region and two were in the Western Region. These accounted for 23.5 per cent of road deaths.

There were 33 pedestrian deaths in Abu Dhabi city during the first half of 2012, a drop of 20 per cent from the previous year, according to police.

Pedestrian deaths have not dropped as quickly as motorist deaths. Traffic-related deaths in the same period fell by 45 per cent.

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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