DUBAI, 25th April, 2016 (WAM) – H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, today inaugurated the Middle East and North Africa Transport Congress and Exhibition, which was organised by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) under the slogan “Urban Mobility: Think Big”.

The opening of the event, which will be held from 25th to 27th April, at the Dubai Convention Centre, was in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Emirates Group, and 600 participants from 29 countries.

In his opening speech, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, emphasised that the transport sector is one of the UAE’s most essential economic and social development drivers and continues to play an important role in linking production and consumption areas, residential areas to business centres, and in stimulating tourism.

He added that the rapid increase in the number of vehicles, which has nearly tripled over the last decade, has created a negative impact and prominent challenges on several fronts.

The minister pointed out that the UAE has taken a series of measures and actions to address this steady and fast growth, and maintain the role of the road transport sector in sustainable development in three main ways. Firstly, by developing a modern and smart transport infrastructure which is able to keep up with future developments and expansions in the sector and withstand the repercussions of climate change. Secondly, to mitigate the negative effects of the transport sector on air quality and the climate through developing national standards and regulations for vehicle emissions and improving their efficiency and the quality of fuel used, and thirdly, and most importantly, is by focussing on upgrading the mass transit sector and making it more attractive and acceptable for the wider community by improving public transport buses, developing new mass transport means such as the metro, trams, and disseminating the mass transit culture among the population.

Al-Zeyoudi went on to say that the UAE has achieved important successes at this level. “In Dubai, for example, which has the largest number of private vehicles registered in the country, the contribution of public transport in the movement of the population rose from 6 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2015, and the plan is to raise this ratio to 30 percent by 2030,” he said.