Suddenly, public transport is ‘cool’ for Arabs. Thank you Dubai.


Dubai Metro by Gulf News Dubai Metro by Gulf News

Arabs are car crazed. This is one generalization that is safe to make. And Arab elites, are big car crazed. That’s another generalization safe to make.

No wonder that public transport systems across the Arab world have not really evolved since the 1960s. Increasingly fueled by easy oil money, and increasingly alienated from the needs of the masses, the health of cities or the safety of the environment, ruling and economic elites have made Arab cities into car cities. From Beirut to Cairo, and from Amman to Riyadh, it’s cars, cars and more cars. Cars cool. Busses Bad.

But as the Sheikhs of Dubai rode the US$ 7.8 Billion Metro tonight at 9 pm 9.9.09, suddenly, modern public transport has become cool.

Dubai made high rise glass towers cool. That’s why we have two of them on the 6th circle and all over the Arab world. Even Sudan is building them.

Dubai (and other Gulf States) and American influence on the region have big cars cool. That’s why you see all these petite, well groomed Ammani housewives in big black Land Rovers. And their husbands too of course. Custom duty exemptions on cars for army officers, parliamentarians and other officials often become the center of national debate. The valet parking disease has invaded every restaurant of Amman.

But now the oil Sheikhs are talking green, talking urban mobility. Maybe the car tide can be turned.

Thank you Dubai!


  1. Nas says:

    i’m betting that’s the last time those sheiks take the metro!

    it’s dubai. how many arabs do you think will take it?

  2. Humeid says:

    forget about the sheikhs..

    i think many arabs will take it. practicality and cost will play a role. but marketing will play a big role too.

  3. amjad says:

    why are we talking about arabs when they only make 26% of the population.

    I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t ride such a neat metro especially in a busy city like dubai. although i’m a bit skeptical because of the hot weather down there.

  4. Heba says:

    actually Ahmad, in Amman taxis are uncool, but busses arn plain 7afartal ;)

  5. Heba says:

    sorry about the typos, was half asleep!

  6. Sasa says:

    They have a GOLD carriage at the front of every train. ANd they run directly from shopping mall to shopping mall. This is less like the public transport of the West, and more like chauffeur-driven luxury of the Arab World!!

  7. Maher says:

    I guess this new transportation system will regulate dubai as a city, and give a boost to their economy that is still suffering losses due to the economic crisis..a sales person will get to have 4 sales calls a day instead of 1 because of the current traffic Jam!!perhaps the next step that Dubai sheikh will consider is doubling the cars and fuel prices, adding a parking fee, and additional tolls on the streets..this will force people to use the public transportation which will benefit both economies and individuals as well.!

  8. Basem says:

    No official home page or clever route planner (though for a single operational line you don’t need to), but still a user generated wiki is not enough…. I want a spaghetti map like the TUBE.

  9. [...] Suddenly, public transport is ‘cool’ for Arabs. Thank you Dubai. (360east) [...]

  10. yeah says:

    i agree with both Nas, Maher and Heba. its not cool, and dont think it needs to be.

    Ahmad, if you’re trying to brand the Jordan transport system as being a cool thing, then that’s fine if you think more people will use for that.. BUT

    i do believe that people should be compelled to use it, not think its a cool thing and that it wont affect their social status if they do..

    our current situation in Amman and other big sities (in my opinion):

    - Trains: non existent
    - Busses: “7afartaliyeh” la 2alla. unsafe (very speedy driving. i heard a story that a driver jumped out of a bus full of passengers when the brakes failed!!!!). and dirty (i wouldn’t wanna got to work after i’ve been in a bus!)
    - Sarvees: not comfortable, too cramped. no coverage in suburban areas.
    - taxis: too expensive. not that 7afartali. the least or a few evils.
    - personal car: not one bad point, except maybe a bit expensive to buy at first and for fuel, but still cheaper than any of the above.

    so why in the world would people use busses, saravees or taxis?! do you really think that if you made taxi’s cool people would start using them more? dont think so.

    make them pay more for owning personal cars, like i mentioned in a previous post, more taxes, tolls, more of those if a household owns more than one car, and even more for insanely big flashy cars..

    its a tough thing to change for one simple reason, those who can effect a change are the same people who love and own those flashy big cars. talk about corruption!!

  11. [...] 360east’s Ahmad Humeid says “Thank you Dubai,” for making public transport cool again. [...]

  12. Ahmad you’re right, it has become cool, but arabs and expats alike are taking the metro JUST because it’s cool, not because it’s practical and healthier to the environment; Facebook pictures prove it.

  13. wend says:

    Skyscrapers, especially for housing are totally stupid shapes, they aren’t even a good solution for high density, not mentioning their high energy requirements.
    With peak oil being in the past or near future, dubai is heading to become a ghost city soon

  14. Faiz says:

    Guys i have lived in Dubai for almost 30 years and have seen the country grow. For all those who can do nothing but complain, i just have to say “go back to where you came from”. huh you cant dream of that can you?

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