If you’re looking for a streak of green amidst the golden dunes and steely grey skyscrapers, these 5 eco-friendly initiatives by Dubai are it. Okay, it’s figurative but isn’t that just such a Dubai thing to turn a concept on its head and do it brilliantly? In fact, Dubai has been ranked as one of the smartest cities in the Middle East and North Africa region in the 2021’s Smart City Index. Earlier this week, the UAE’s Circular Economy Council approved 22 new sustainable policies focusing on sectors of food, infrastructure, manufacturing, and transport.
Not that we need an incentive to love Dubai but here are five eco-friendly reasons to fall in love with this sustainable smart city all over again. Your friends abroad are going to turn green with envy.
1. Tariffs on single-use bags
Dubai has imposed a fee on single-use bags starting July 1. A mandatory charge of 25 fils will now be levied on every bag you’ll check grocery or shopping out in. And that includes bags made of plastic, paper, biodegradable plastic and plant-based biodegradable materials that are less than 57 micrometers thick. While plastic bags ends in landfills and take around 400 years to decompose, paper bags lead to deforestation.
So, every time you’re out for a big weekly shop, carry your own reusable cloth bag or invest in one of the recyclable variants supermarkets and stores are handing out to shoppers. The new green tax is the first step towards a two-year plan of completely banning single-use carry bags in the emirate.
We’re sad to see our makeshift trash bags go but hey, it’s for a fabulous cause.
2. Dubai Can initiative to reduce plastic water bottles
Life in plastic is simply not fantastic, for the climate crisis we’re facing and neither is life-giving aqua from plastic great four bodies. The visionary leaders of Dubai get this and thus was born the Dubai Can initiative. Launched in February 2022 by H. H Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, the initiative saw over 40 public water stations set up at various locations in the city.
Citizens and visitors can refill their water bottles and quench their thirst for free from these stations instead of throwing out a used bottle from a fresh one.
In just 5 months, the eco-friendly campaign has cut down the use of over 1 million plastic water bottles. That’s tons of plastic that would have ended up un in landfills and pollute our oceans.
The Dubai Can campaign is part of Dubai’s commitment to helping the UAE achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and UAE NetZero 2050 initiative.
Find locations of Dubai Can refilling stations here
3. Dubai is e-scooter friendly
We’re going to rise above the urge to make a joke at petrol prices and focus on the sustainable aspect of using e-scooters. They’re not the easiest to cover long distances in the summer but they’re easy on our environment. And the fact that the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) designated 10 areas in the city for e-scooter riders to whizz around on.
E-scooter users are now officially permitted to use cycling tracks in these parts of the city. The RTA has also installed e-scooter rental stations in these places way back in 2020 and has rolled out an additional 2000 rental e-scooters this year. All the proof we need that the quirky two-wheelers are here to stay.
They’re perfect for quick commutes instead of forking out a bomb for a cab and cost only AED 3 to rent and then 50 fils per minute after. You can rent them through a mobile application; riders must be aged 14 and over.
4. RTA to trial new electric bus in Dubai
You can hop aboard one of RTA’s brand new electric buses on trial and sight-see around Dubai ensuring your touristy trails don’t leave a carbon footprint. As part of a recent agreement signed with Australian bus manufacturer BusTech Group, the city’s transport authority is set to develop and test zero-emission electric buses in Dubai and see if they can withstand the UAE’s notorious summer.
The best part? Your attempt at green sightseeing won’t cost you a penny! The RTA website mentions that public can hop on for free and the buses’ route will run from La Mer to Al Sufouh Tram station, with pitstops at popular spots as Burj Al Arab, Wild Wadi, Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, and Mercato Mall during the ride.
5. You can ride around Dubai in a Tesla Taxi
The next time you find yourself booking a Dubai taxi or hailing a cab on the street, you could find yourself hiring a Tesla Model 3 saloon car. The addition of electric vehicles (EV) to the RTA’s fleet of cars is a move toward converting Dubai into a green economy.
Tesla taxis have been in trial phase since 2017 – 172 Tesla vehicles were part of Dubai Taxi’s limousine fleet. Their resounding success spurred the RTA to increase the usage of EVs in their fleet of cars. By 2026, 90% of Dubai’s limo fleet will be converted to eco-friendly vehicles (hybrid/electric). Mattar Al Tayer, the director-general and chairman of RTA’s board of executive directors said that the “initiative is the first of its kind worldwide in adopting a semi-total transformation of limousines into environmentally-friendly vehicles.”
Eco-warriors of the city can be happy in the knowledge that you have the option to be stuck in a bottleneck on Al Khail road without adding to the air pollution, thanks to these zero-emission taxis.