DUBAI (Reuters) – Dubai is the Middle East’s most congested city with a growing number of cars overwhelming the transport system, a study said on Saturday.
Commuters in Dubai, a Gulf Arab trading and tourism hub, spend nearly two hours in their cars per day, often in bumper-to-bumper traffic, recruitment company GulfTalent.com said.
Spiraling rents in the emirate, where population growth is outpacing the supply of housing, are pushing people to cheaper areas farther away from the centre of town, raising commuting time, GulfTalent said.
Spending on transport infrastructure in Dubai and other Gulf countries has lagged investments in more glamorous mega projects, such as a tower in Dubai that developers say will be the world’s largest when complete next year, the study said.
The 15-kilometer commute from the neighboring UAE emirate of Sharjah, where many expatriates live, takes an average of two hours and 44 minutes roundtrip despite two express highways, GulfTalent said.
Dubai’s average total daily commuting time was one hour and 45 minutes, resulting in reports of stress and fatigue among drivers.
Dubai is planning to spend at least 75 billion dirhams ($20.42 billion) over the next five years building roads, bridges and a metro system.
The population of Dubai, which is building islands in the shape of date palms and a world map off its coast, has almost doubled over the past decade and may double again to more than 2 million by 2015, according to figures from the emirate’s transportation authority.
Dubai is planning a four-line metro system which should begin operations in 2009, a floating bridge over Dubai creek, the city’s main waterway, and water taxis that will run along the creek and to the man-made islands off the coast to ease congestion.
Dubai also had the Middle East’s largest shortage of parking space, forcing many residents to leave home earlier to find parking close to work, GulfTalent said.
The survey, based on responses from 5,000 professionals in 14 Middle East cities, named Cairo as the second-most congested city, with average daily commuting times of one hour and 33 minutes. Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, was the least congested city, with an average commuting time of 46 minutes.