Residents of Abu Dhabi are outraged after officials started issuing large fines and confiscating cars under laws introduced to protect the city’s appearance.
Many in the UAE capital leave their cars parked in residential zones – with valid permits – while they travel abroad over summer.
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But while they’re away, their cars get covered in dirt and dust – leading to officials confiscating them for “disfiguring the public appearance”. That’s despite them having valid documents meaning they’re entirely road legal.
Many residents are now going to the expense of getting their cars cleaned while they’re away to dodge the harsh penalties.
Tarun Tankha, an Indian who lives in Abu Dhabi, told local newspaper The National: “Most expatriates who live in the city don’t have underground parking for the building, so we have to park in the residents-only parking areas and we pay for that.
“Since I have seen fines issued, I asked my building security guard to clean it and I give him some money.”
Abu Dhabi Municipality said the fine for having an dirty car towed is Dh3,000 (around £640) under laws protecting the city’s appearance and public health.
“Up to 50 vehicles each month are fined and towed away to the impound yard for being abandoned in public places, which disfigures the city’s image,” a municipality spokesman told The National.
“If the vehicle is found to be disfiguring the public appearance, a warning is pasted to remove the vehicle within three working days. If they fail to remove or clean it, a fine is issued and the vehicle is towed away.”
The spokesman added that the number of confiscations is higher during holiday periods – and there are a number of private car washing companies that can keep cars clean while their owners are away.