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UAE: Increase in Fuel Prices Affecting Driving Habits | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Dubai, Asharq Al-Awsat- Continuous increase in fuel prices is changing families driving habits in the UAE. In a recent online consumer poll conducted by ACNielsen among 23,500 regular Internet users in 42 countries, almost half of the respondents in the UAE said they try to use their vehicles less, to control their fuel expenses.

The ACNielsen study found that Internet users in the UAE have the highest number of vehicles in private possession worldwide, together with Italians and Americans. Almost all respondents (93%) in these countries said they have a vehicle for which they must buy fuel.

Concerns over rising fuel prices are high everywhere, and it’s not only about having a car. On the global average, 71% say they have a vehicle to buy fuel for. At the same time, 82% feel affected by fuel prices. Even in the least anxious Scandinavian countries, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and the UK, it is still over half of the respondents who sense the hit on their pockets. In the UAE, 85% feel affected, to a bigger or lesser extent.

“Contrary to a common opinion, UAE’s well-being depends on the business sector and travel much more than it does on oil reserves. Therefore, people here are concerned about the influence of fuel prices on the economy and the cost of living just like they are elsewhere in the world”, says Piyush Mathur, Managing Director, ACNielsen GCC.

“Having a car is a must in the UAE, especially in the summer time. Also, individual entrepreneurs who own boats and scooters for rent, or those engaged in road transportation, are directly affected.”

The most obvious way to cope with the price surge is using one’s vehicle less, which 45% of the UAE respondents say they have already been doing. Another solution is combining trips, trying to cover as many errands at one go as possible. One third (31%) do so in the UAE and 40% globally. One forth have chosen to cut down unessential living expenses, to be able to drive as usual.

Only 7% in the UAE say they share a car with relatives or friends or go on trips together, while in such countries as Thailand (23%), Malaysia (17%) or Finland (19%) it is quite a popular option. Switching to public transport is clearly not an option in the UAE. Only 4% say they have been pressed to use public transport more often because of the fuel prices, versus 24% globally.

”This is more a function of available options rather than consumer sentiment. With the current plans and investment behind development of metro rail this number should become more comparable to the global norms,” adds Piyush Mathur.

“An opportunity exists for car marketers in the UAE, as up to one tenth of local Internet users are eager to consider trading in their vehicle for a more fuel efficient one. In the future, this number will only grow”, says Piyush Mathur.

On the other hand, almost none would agree to change their car for a motorcycle, a scooter or a bicycle. Similarly, no one is ready to give up using their vehicle altogether, while, for example, in Brasil, 13% of Internet users claim that high fuel prices have urged them to do so.