Dubai's green future

Dubai's green future

Elisa Maria Giannetto
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From incentives for electric cars to driverless flying taxis, the oil capital is working to position itself as a global hub of innovative sustainability

Driving the streets of Dubai will never be the same again: in a few years, visitors to the capital of the United Arab Emirates may actually be able to hitch a ride on a driverless flying taxi, or hire an electric car. The city that oil built is converting to green energy and working to refashion itself into a haven of innovation in sustainable mobility. The plan, the brainchild of the chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, provides for incentives to encourage the use of electric cars in Dubai by 2020. In particular, the plan sets a target that 2% of all vehicles on Dubai’s roads must be electric or hybrid by 2020, and that target will be raised to 10% for 2030. The plan should reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 19% by 2021. Owners of hybrid or electric vehicles can also rest easy, because Dubai already boasts an impressive network of EV charging stations. Indeed, already in 2015 His Majesty Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the UAE’s vice president and prime minister, as well as emir of Dubai, launched a plan to develop smart grids and create charging stations throughout the city. The emir’s new green policy also includes a “smart taxi” project that will transform Dubai’s cityscape into something out of science fiction. The new taxis will initially be piloted by a human driver, and only two passengers will be able to take the same taxi at a time. But eventually these vertical lift-off vehicles will be completely automated, with no driver and more passenger seating. The revolutionary system is the result of a deal between the city’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) and Uber, with the goal of offering a smart mobility service in time for Expo 2020, while at the same time carrying forward the Dubai Smart City project.