We’ve already established that the Emiratis are not the most enthusiastic walkers; this can be attributed to the region’s crippling heat, as well as a simple cultural phenomenon. This has led to one of the world’s highest emissions rates given that both personal vehicles and power plants are funneling unsustainable plumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In fact, in 2008, the UAE won the dubious distinction of having the highest environmental footprint per capita. And that was not the first time they hung that dirty plaque on their mantel. Though seemingly bleak, the healthy rate at which the metro is used suggests that the environmental horizon could improve.
Breaking the mold
Reporting for The National, Vesela Todorova interviews various citizens throughout Dubai in order to determine the extent to which people are walking or using public transportation.
Kedar Iyer is an expatriate who breaks the mold. Instead of purchasing or hiring a vehicle when he moved from Paris to Dubai, where he is working in digital media, he chose to explore other transportation options.
“He checked out carpools, taxis and bus routes,” writes Todorova.
How many planets are necessary to support your lifestyle?
Mr. Iyer realized that it would take 13 planets if everyone in the world pursued his particular lifestyle. So he adjusted his lifestyle in pursuit of the international average, which is 5. By this, it is unclear if he means that 5 planets are required to support his lifestyle? In any case, we applaud his footprint reduction, even though his new standard will also be hard to sustain.
“Peyman Younes Parham, a spokesman for the Roads and Transport Authority, said a year after the metro opened, 130,000 trips were made every day. Hopefully this will lead to the formation of habits,” he told Todorova.
Another citizen, Mohamed Parham al Awadhi, is an Emirati restaurateur living in Dubai. He dropped off his car for a service and never really went back to collect it.
The cost of convenience
“I don’t think it is the right thing to go through life carelessly and selfishly,” said Mr al Awadhi. “Of course with the car I can be there [at work] a lot quicker but I asked myself, ‘At what cost does this come?’ There is going to be an impact for everything you do in life.”
The heat is still a main concern since bus stops are not always shaded and lack cooling, but Mr. al Awadhi has adjusted by wearing appropriate clothing, including a hat, and he carries water with him as well.
And for those who don’t have much of a “green” conscience, using public transportation in crowded cities also reduces stress and time.
“Driving is a waste of time,” according to Mr. Iyer. “When our company office was in Deira, everyone would spend 45 minutes… looking for parking. On the metro I can read a book or talk to friends.”
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