But drivers say there are not enough legitimate parking spaces for all residents
Abu Dhabi motorists given three-week parking amnesty ahead of Mawaqif expansion across the capital
Motorists in Abu Dhabi will be given a three-week amnesty before being fined under a new parking scheme to be introduced across the capital.
Transport officials said traffic wardens would start issuing tickets about 21 days after the scheme begins on August 18.
The new rules will bring to an end free-parking bays available to drivers on Abu Dhabi island. Instead, paid-for parking will be rolled out across 42 areas.
Khamees Al Dahmani, head of the city's traffic management team, known as Mawaqif, said the goal was to crack down on the number of inconsiderate motorists parking on pavements or blocking traffic.
"The scheme is part of the Department of Transport's plan to better organise and manage car parking spaces in Abu Dhabi," he said.
"It will curb random parking, ease traffic flow and help avoid congestion."
Under existing Mawaqif rules, introduced in 2009, motorists must pay for parking in some areas of the capital, or hold a valid residency permit in others.
The new scheme will incorporate areas in and around Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Maqta Bridge, Mussaffah Bridge and the Corniche. Areas beyond Abu Dhabi island will not be affected, officials said.
From August 18, owners or tenants of villas in the city will need a permit to park their cars outside their homes. A permit for one vehicle is Dh800 and a second is Dh1,200. A third permit can also be issued under certain conditions, officials said. Emirati households will not be charged.
“We are trying to be considerate," Mr Al Dahmani said. "We started with one or two permits for expats, for example, and then we added a third. We will provide more under special circumstances, such as if there's a family with many family members.”
Mr Dahmani said residents would now be allowed to buy permits without having to present water or electricity bills. Instead, the municipality’s Tawtheeq contract would be accepted, he said.
He also revealed that motorists staying overnight at a friend's home, for example, would not be charged between midnight and 8am if an SMS message is sent to Mawaqif with the visitor's car registration details.
“If someone is having a wedding or a funeral with many guests then we can make an exception and tell observers not to issue any fines in the area,” Mr Al Dahmani said.
Transport officials also announced the new penalties for failing to pay for parking.
The fine for not paying for a Mawaqif ticket after 10 minutes will be Dh200, and the fine for an expired ticket will be Dh100. The penalty for parking on the pavement or sand is Dh300 and people double parking will be fined Dh500.
Charges for parking after 9pm in a residential area without the correct residential permit will vary between Dh200 and Dh500. Authorities will also be able to impound cars depending on the nature of the offence. Diplomatic areas will remain free of charge.
Resident Ahmad Fathy, 33, said he was unhappy with new scheme, saying Mawaqif should have announced the coming overhaul at least six months earlier.
“They should also allow us to purchase one permit which is valid for both home and work rather than paying for two separate permits,” he said. Annual work permits currently cost Dh1,200.
Sharbel Harb, 32, a media executive from Lebanon, said: “From an organisational point of view it will help stop people double parking at night and so free up traffic. But the flip side is this will only really work if more parking spaces can be created. Without doing this people will still be forced to park badly, potentially blocking others.
“I guarantee you that after August 18, if I drive back home at midnight I will not find space to park my car. There just aren't enough legitimate parking spaces."