First from the Gulf


First from the Gulf

Sorry, I’ve had a tad of internet trouble here in the gulf. I have been attending the First Middle East Parking Symposium (and speaking) held this week in Abu Dhabi. I took a walk around the city last Sunday and boy, if there was ever a symposium needed here, this one is it.

There are speakers here from the UK, the US (Mary Smith from Walker and yours truly), New Zealand, and some local firms and universities. About 100 people attended from all over the area. I was a bit concerned that some of the sponsors were speakers and spend half an hour telling us how good their products were. It was their first year and I think they will have their guys under control at future events.

They have no parking rules in this Emirate. People park anywhere (see picture nearby)

You will note that people not only park two and three deep, but park in the middle of the street. It’s chaos.

Abu Dhabi has begun a project to solve the problem. They have hired NCP (from the UK) to put a parking control program in place and plan to buy a bunch of P and D machines. However politics has reared its head here and there is some infighting going on between city departments as to who is going to run the parking operation.

I appears that the originator of the project may have lost the battle. He was supposed to speak at the Symposium but his superiors put the kibosh on his talk and the head of the opposing department attended in his stead. There may be some “not invented here” issues if the new department does in fact take over and it could be that NCP and the company originally tapped to supply the P and D equipment (Parkeon) may have to rebid…

But parking controls do work in the gulf. Seventy miles up the road in Dubai P and D and parking rules have been in effect for a few years. Parking is orderly, no parking on sidewalks or in the middle of the street.

One issue that Abu Dhabi may have is that there is only a fledgling public transportation system. If half the parking spaces are removed (off the sidewalk, for instance), how will people get about? They have purchased some busses and folks ride for free, but most still are wedded to their cars. Gas here is very cheap.

There’s a lot of parking work to be done all over the Middle East. I spoke to one fellow from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and he is in charge of providing parking from scratch in that city of half a million. He has concerns as in many areas there aren’t any curbs or sidewalks and its not only a parking issue, but an infrastructure issue as well.

The next Symposium is scheduled for a year and my guess is that it will even be better attended than this one. The parking issues are both on street and off street, include building garages as well as controlling curb parking. Think of the consulting, construction, technology, and just good old parking knowledge that is needed. If I sold any of that, I’d be on the next plane.



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John Van Horn

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