Wedded to the wheel
Cars still rule the Middle East’s roads. But change can – and must – come, writes Robin Mills
The scheme has some problems. Ahmadinejad's political
opponents in parliament suspect it was intended to create a
subservient lower-income bloc; and it stoked already serious
inflation. The sharp devaluation of the rial under the pressure
of US-led sanctions has now virtually reversed the subsidy
reform. Nevertheless, the concept, under more favourable
circumstances, seems the best yet advanced for the region.
Egypt and Jordan have mooted similar plans. Low fuel prices
encourage big cars and suburban sprawl. Compressed natural gas
(CNG) has gained ground in Israel, Iran and Egypt as a way of
using domestic resources and improving air quality. The UAE has
some CNG trials, and even gas-powered abras (the water taxis
that ply Dubai's Creek). But CNG does not have the clear
economic benefit to Gulf motorists that it does in the US or
India. Similarly, electric and hybrid vehicles have made
virtually no progress....
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