Andrew W asked me the other day about what it is like to live in Dubai as a futurist. I’ll answer that question in another post but it’s interesting to see the local petrol prices. In Australia, they are nearing AUD 1.50 per litre in comparison to the equivalent prices internationally of around AUD1.85 in France, AUD 1.95 in the UK and a measly 95 cents / litre in the US (I spent some time researching and doing currency conversions!). This is about on par with a few years back when we took a round the world trip and noticed that petrol prices in the states were about 2/3 of those in Australia and in Europe it was about a third more or twice that of the Yankees.
But all of this pales in comparison to the UAE. Over here, petrol prices are about 45 cents a litre. When I first started driving in 1981, petrol was 34 cents a litre! Last weekend, it cost me about $17 (51 dirhams) to fill up the Yaris with 8 gallons or about 36 litres of fuel.
Now this means that there is no real desire for people to think sustainably when they purchase a vehicle over here. I have not seen one Prius although I have seen lots of Hummers, SUVs and 4WDs. There is no local tax on fuel and very few shipping costs. For the locals, they could say that it is their resource and they want to maximise the economic benefits from their use of it. But given the relative wealth of the locals, it does breed a culture of not caring about the sustainability issues associated with personal resource use. And there is hardly any public transport here – a few buses and the commissioning of a new rail line tracking the main road.