View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Friday, September 5, 2008

Old Cars in UAE Get the Chop

When the new regulation becomes law in January 2009 a car that is twenty years or older will be banned from UAE roads.

But there is more! From 1 January 2011 cars older than 15 years are going to get the axe!

This is happening in the country that holds the world record in having the highest number of cars per head of population. (There are 1.8 million registered cars in the Emirates as of August 2008)

In a statement introducing the transport policy (Gulf News 30 August 2008) it was argued that the law was needed “to reduce pollution and accidents because mostly old cars break down.”

Where is the evidence to suggest that old cars are involved in more accidents than new cars? The UAE unfortunately holds the world record in having the highest car accident rates on the planet. However, the surveys that have been conducted in the UAE concluded by saying that it is caused by the old habits of drivers, not the old cars that they drive.

The reduction of pollution issue does have some validity and UAE leaders who are seeking to address the environmental crisis of the country have stated as one of their aims to “reduce the life span of cars across the UAE.” But to cull old cars is such a drastic step when other less draconian laws have not been introduced or applied such as insisting on effective exhaust systems and filters and conducting regular emission tests whenever they are re-registered. Introducing high taxes on the purchase of gas guzzling vehicles would be much more effective environmentally than taking twenty year old cars off the road.

The move to do away with twenty-year old cars next year, fifteen year old cars a little later and the law that will make it impossible next January to import cars into the country older than five years makes this legislation look like a deal that is done with the only people who will be happy about it—the new car dealers.

The spokesperson tried to underplay the impact of the new ruling saying that as the UAE already has newish cars (the average age of cars in the UAE is 5-6 years making this another world record), the rule will not have much of an effect.

Not much of an effect? Only 10,277 vehicles will receive the death sentence in January 2008!

The biggest effect of this ruling will be the dropping of the price of cars in the UAE. It will be much harder to get rid of cars the nearer they get to the new UAE automobile life expectancy age of twenty and soon to be, fifteen.

The only types of car not to receive a life ban will be the classic (1931-1948) and vintage (1919-1930) cars but how will cars have a chance to reach the antique status when they are prized for their automotive history and years on the road?

What do you think? How is this new law going to impact on you?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Spare a thought for this man who can’t bear to give up his old VW.