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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Abu Dhabi residents consider moving home to avoid new Mawaqif parking charges

Residents say new law has pushed them to leaving with one saying: 'The only solution is to move to Khalifa City'

Sand parking lot beside the Khalifa City Post Office. Victor Besa / The National
Sand parking lot beside the Khalifa City Post Office. Victor Besa / The National

A new law which ends free parking in Abu Dhabi from Saturday has left many motorists searching for a new place to live, it has emerged.

Residents said the change in regulation left them with little choice but to move to an area where free parking is still permitted.

From Saturday, anyone living in the city will be required to pay between Dh800 and Dh1,200 for a year’s residential permit to park outside their house.

But difficulties in obtaining the right permit from Mawaqif - the parking body responsible for the change - has led to some abandoning the idea of staying.

Motorists said in order to obtain the correct permit they needed to present their landlord rental agreements, but that in many cases this was impossible.

Nasr Raed, a geological engineer, said he moved into his studio in Al Mushrif just two months ago before anyone knew of the coming parking change.

The 27-year-old, from Palestinian, said he was now having to look elsewhere to avoid being fined once the law came into force.

“Right after I moved they announced they will be bringing Mawaqif to the area,” he said. “The only solution is to move to Khalifa City, where there is no paid parking.

“I’m still looking for a place but it’s hard for a bachelor to find somewhere clean and respectful. Most owners don’t rent such places to single men.

“I will pick a place that has a fence around the villa so I can park inside. I don’t want the same inconvenient scenario next year.”

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The Mawaqif parking management system was first introduced to Abu Dhabi in 2009 and already covers significant areas of the city.

Authorities allowed some free-parking bays to remain however, and it is these areas that will now be scrapped. 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.

On Thursday, officials from the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport said the changes would reduce the time motorists spent searching for parking spaces and “support the use of public transport”.

They also said they hoped the new scheme would “protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gases emissions and maintain the overall look of the emirate”.

A three-week amnesty to allow motorists to adapt to the new rules will start from August 18, officials added.

Belal Abu Kbash, 27, said he planned to move from Abu Dhabi island to Khalifa City as a result of the new law.

He said given there were 15 people sharing the villa he rented, he doubted the landlord would be able to issue rental agreement copies to every tenant.

“I haven’t tried to get a parking permit because I don’t have a registered contract with my landlord,” he said.

“I asked if it was possible to get one and was told the process was complicated.

“So escaping is the best solution. Come September 1, I’ll be out of here. My contract expires on August 31 so it is perfect timing.”

Sand parking lot beside the Khalifa City Post Office. Victor Besa / The National
Sand parking lot beside the Khalifa City Post Office. Victor Besa / The National

Alaa Qadasi, a 43-year-old banker from Jordan, said it took him three hours of queuing to obtain the correct permit from authorities last week.

He said once he found out about the new regulations he sold two of his family’s four cars.

“There were around 300 people all applying when I went to get my permits,” he said. “I’m not prepared to pay Dh1,200 dirhams for each car so I’ve sold two of them.

“I managed to get permits for the other two cars but I have a boat parked outside my house as well.

“If Mawaqif end up towing that away one day I’ll have to go back and see them."