ABU DHABI // The paid parking system that brought order to Abu Dhabi’s streets is coming to Al Ain.
Work on painting Mawaqif bays has already begun and parking inspectors will assess where more are needed. Heavily congested areas will be targeted first and the scheme will be extended to key commercial, social and cultural areas.
Parking will initially be free, and charges will be introduced later. In Abu Dhabi they are Dh2 or Dh3 an hour, depending on the area, and Dh15 a day.
The new system will help drivers to reach their destination more easily and “encourage them to use other modes of transport, especially public transport”, said Mohammed Hamad bin Fahad Al Muhairi, Mawaqif’s general manager.
Residents were divided yesterday. Mawaqif “would be a welcome change I think, I wouldn’t mind having to pay for it,” said Suresh Nair, 46, from India, who has lived in the city for nine years.
“It would bring more discipline to the parking, definitely. The parking situation, especially at weekends, is horrible. Some areas are always clogged with traffic so it is very difficult to move around, because there are mostly only two-lane roads.
“It is not too much of a problem during the week, but at weekends this is a very popular place for the local community as there are a lot of sightseeing spots here. Parking becomes very limited.”
Danish Joseph, 33, also from India, an engineer who has been living in Al Ain for six years, is against paying to park.
“This is very bad decision, right now I am allowed to park for free so why should I now have to pay?” he said.
“This is a good thing about living in Al Ain – you don’t have to pay for parking like in Abu Dhabi. I really don’t see why they should do this.
“Al Ain is an area which is not very crowded and we have ample parking spaces available – why this has to come to Al Ain?”
Unlike Mr Nair, he has never had a problem parking at weekends.
“If people go to Al Ain Mall, there is always parking, they have a large indoor space, with multiple floors for parking, Lulu Hypermarket, there is always parking there too. I do not know anywhere where there would be a shortage of spaces.”
Ahmed Hennawi, a coordinator at the Higher Colleges of Technology, said parking was rarely an issue.
“Maybe in the downtown areas, during peak hours there may be an issue with parking but I’ve been here 10 years and never had an issue with parking at all.
“Other than perhaps those downtown areas when it is particularly busy, everywhere else seems to be fine. I don’t find there to be an issue during the course of my daily life – I don’t see any area where parking is a real problem in Al Ain.”
Some businesses said the scheme would make little difference to them.
“As a hotel we will not be affected with the implementation because we have our own private parking,” said a spokeswoman from Al Ain Rotana.
“We have a large parking bay in front of the hotel and separate underground parking, so we will not really be influenced by parking meters.”
The first underground multistorey car park opened in May on the heavily used Zayed bin Sultan Street in Al Ain City. It can accommodate 424 vehicles.