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The future of mobility is changing fast – and with it the face of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region.
As we speak, MENA countries are undergoing a remarkable transformation, shaped by rapid urbanisation and technological advancement. At the very heart of all this is public transport, which will play a key role in determining urban efficiency and sustainable city development in MENA’s evolving cities.
The MENA region is actively shifting towards sustainable transport solutions. Many cities are bringing in electric buses and adopting green technologies, driven by commitments to reduce emissions and improve urban air quality.
For instance, RTA in Dubai, United Arab Emirates aims to achieve zero emissions by 2050, with a 10% jump in electric and hydrogen buses by 2030. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia’s TGA wants to reduce transport’s impact on the environment by 25% by 2030 through advances like infrastructure development and the integration of intercity bus networks.
In short, the transformation is not just about adopting new technologies; it’s about rethinking urban mobility in harmony with the environment and building a model sustainable city.
from public transport in Saudi Arabia
across Dubai made by public transport
taken by public transport in Egypt than in 2015
The integration of advanced technologies like AI and big data is revolutionising the way that public transportion operates in the MENA region. From dynamic routing to real-time passenger information systems, the digital world is making public transport more efficient, accessible, and user-friendly. These innovations are not just enhancing current systems; they are opening doors to new possibilities in urban mobility and creating a more integrated, user-friendly mobility network.
Take the example of Dubai. RTA’s S’hail MaaS app is a one-stop mobility solution for all transport in the city. In 2022, the app helped plan a whopping 30 million passenger journeys and put forward shared mobility as a credible alternative to private cars.
BRT systems are emerging as a key solution to the challenge of urban congestion in MENA cities. By offering dedicated lanes, efficient boarding, and integrated route planning, BRT systems provide a faster, more reliable alternative to traditional bus services. This approach is about more than just reducing travel time; it’s about reshaping the urban landscape to prioritise efficient and accessible public transport.
For instance, in Cairo, Egypt, the city is introducing a network of fully electric buses to operate on a new 42km BRT route. With a capacity of 70 passengers, every bus can take over 30 private cars off the road. As a result, the BRT line will reduce traffic, emissions, and ultimately lead to a healthier, more active population.
Public transport in the MENA region plays a crucial role in driving economic growth and fostering social inclusion. By connecting rural and peri-urban communities with urban centres, public transport systems open new opportunities for trade, employment, and cultural exchange.
This connectivity is not just about moving people; it’s about building bridges between communities and fuelling the MENA region’s economic engine. Statistics show that the economic benefits of public transport are five times greater than the money invested in it. What’s more, 75% of public transport investment stays in the region, mainly due to the strong relationship between public transport operators and local SMEs.
As the demographics of MENA cities evolve, so too must their public transport systems. Adapting to the needs of a growing and diverse urban population requires flexible, inclusive transport solutions.
From designing accessible vehicles to developing routes that serve all communities, public transport is at the forefront of creating sustainable cities that are livable for everyone. Dubai’s S’hail app, for example, offers 11 transport modes in nine languages, while new mobility services like car-sharing are present in at least seven cities, including Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait City, Kuwait.
The future of public transport in the MENA region is not just a story of infrastructure and technology; it’s a narrative of communities and cities moving forward together. As we look towards the future, the MENA region is poised to set a global example in sustainable, efficient, and inclusive urban mobility, charting new paths towards a more connected and sustainable urban future.
Want to discover more? The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition 2024 is the leading event for sustainable urban mobility solutions in the MENA region, taking place in Dubai from 28 February to 1 March 2024.