Everything you need to know about Abu Dhabi parking charges

A handy how-to guide for people who are new to paying to park through Mawaqif

Free parking has come to an end on Abu Dhabi island, but do you know the rules? 
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On Abu Dhabi's main island, you either have to hold a residence permit or pay to park anywhere in the city.

If you are new to paying for your parking, here is all you need to know about how to use the Mawaqif system.

How do people pay to park on the street?

There are several options – the first is by using the machines on the street. That can either be done with coins or through a prepaid card, which can be bought at a Mawaqif Customer Service Centre or the Department of Transport’s Customer Service Centres.

You can buy either a Dh50 or Dh100 card that can be recharged online. Business owners can purchase more than five cards at a time by presenting a letter of request directed to the Department of Transport.

Alternatively, drivers can register to pay to park using their mobile phone by sending a text message to 3009. You need to register first either online through the website, by the call centre or over the phone, according to the Department of Transport.

For the above options, standard parking costs Dh2 per hour, while premium parking costs Dh3 per hour.

Finally, motorists can obtain a resident's parking permit.

How easy is it to obtain a residential parking permit?

Very easy, according to people who have done so.

Mohit Goel, 35, from India, successfully applied for a Mawaqif resident's parking permit for Muroor Road. His parking was previously free.

“If you have a residential contract for your house, a Tawtheeq, then it is very easy. There is no problem,” he said.

Along with the Tawtheeq, residents must provide a copy of their passport and visa, Emirates ID, registration card for the vehicle and an electricity and water bill for the past three months.

Mr Goel took a permit for six months, costing Dh400.

“They give you a permit after maybe 10 or 15 minutes right then and there,” he said.

However, the permit only covers him for his area. In other areas, he has to pay per hour like everyone else.

How much does it cost?

Emiratis receive four free permits if they live in an apartment and an unlimited number of permits if they live in a villa. Expatriates pay Dh800 for a year for the first vehicle and Dh1,200 for a second vehicle. Permits can also be issued for six month intervals, for Dh400 for the first permit and Dh600 for the second.

How have people been affected by this?

Some not at all, because Mawaqif was either already up and running in the area they live or work in. Others a lot, because they have had to pay for parking for the first time. A number of people have even moved to avoid paying the charges.

Mohammed Hassan, whose family is from Pakistan, has lived in the city all his life, but recently moved to Abu Dhabi Gate City to escape paying for his parking.

“I was living in Al Mushrif near the Royal Stables, and I had been living there for five years,” said the 26 year-old, who has lived in Abu Dhabi all his life.

He could not apply for a Mawaqif permit because he does not have a Tawtheeq certificate for his apartment – meaning he would have had to pay about Dh360 a month for each of the household's two cars at the maximum charge of Dh15 per day.

He was a bit hesitant to move, but is enjoying his new two-bedroom apartment so far.

“It has shaded parking. It’s very nice. And Mawaqif won’t come here any time soon, I hope.”

Mr Hassan, who commented on a post on the Abu Dhabi Q&A Facebook page on the topic, now leaves 15 minutes earlier for work each morning, but considers it worth it to save money on his parking.

Is everywhere covered by the new law?

The new law will also apply to large plots of derelict government land – or sand lots – where many people also still park their cars for free. So yes, pretty much everywhere will be covered.