Could Dubai be the next Amsterdam? Though it might be known now for its busy multi-lane motorways and fast sports cars, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates hopes to become a friendlier place for cyclists through a new initiative announced by Sheikh Hamdan, the Crown Prince of Dubai.

The project is part of Dubai Vision 2021, which aims to make the city one of the best places in the world to live, work and visit by the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. Earlier this year, Dubai’s public transport authority unveiled a fleet of nearly 800 pay-as-you-go bicycles and run in partnership with Careem, a Dubai-founded ride-sharing app that was bought by Uber in 2019. Ultimately, 3500 bicycles will be on the streets that can be docked at 350 solar-powered stations across the city as construction is completed over the next five years. Dubai has had a bicycle sharing scheme since 2013 and was the first city in the Middle East to launch one.

Cyclists on Marina Walk, Dubai Marina, Dubai
The project is part of Dubai Vision 2021 ©Getty Images/Collection Mix: Sub

"This service contributes to Dubai sustainability efforts and encourages residents and tourists to enjoy an active and healthy life, providing them with a new transportation option that will improve mobility across the city", Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, director of Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, said in a statement in February for the launch of the bike scheme.

Dubai now has 425km of cycling tracks across the city, with plans to expand to almost 650km of cycle paths by 2023. Expo 2020 was set to draw a huge number of visitors to Dubai this year, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been rescheduled to start in October 2021.

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