Complex Made Simple

68% of UAE drivers: Ease, speed of payment important when commuting

Visa, in collaboration with Stanford University, launched one of the largest global studies examining the growing demand for public and private transportation, and the important role digital commerce plays in driving sustainable growth.

According to the UN, by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will live in urban centres – and the number of “megacities” with populations greater than 10 million people will rise from 43 today to 51 within that same period.

Payments lie at the heart of every form of travel and continue to become more integral as more cities move to contactless public transportation, digital payments for parking and rental services such as bikes or scooters.

Herman Donner, PhD and Postdoctoral Researcher from Stanford University co-authored the report and summarised: “A major challenge lies in first identifying relevant technologies that provide suitable products for the market then managing implementation in conjunction with mobility providers, technology companies, infrastructure owners and public transport agencies. We think that many of these small, incremental changes, have the potential to make a significant difference in people’s daily travel,  whether it’s to help find parking, get the best price to refuel their car or plan their journey on public transportation.”

Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s General Manager for the UAE, said: “The study shows that half of the youth population (Gen Z) use personal mode of transport for commuting, however, we are optimistic that this number will become significantly less in the future. With the UAE moving forward on the implementation of several smart mobility-led initiatives, the use of public transport will become more frequent than now. Another important insight that emerged from the survey is the quality of service being a key priority for residents, with 68% stating ease and speed of payment is important when using public transport.”

KEY TRENDS – GLOBAL (19,000 respondents) AND UAE (1008 respondents)

The study identified significant challenges faced by growing urban centres, including:

Commute times: 

– 57% of respondents in the UAE have seen their commuting time increase (compared to 46% globally)

– 51% in the UAE expect to spend the same or less time commuting over the next five years

Car use:

-The personal car remains the top mode of transport  for both commuting (61% for UAE and 60% globally) and personal travel (59% for UAE and 61% globally)

-53% of Generation Z (aged 18-25) respondents based in the UAE use a car to get to work, school or university, compared to 42% globally, while 54% of Gen Z in the UAE use a car for personal travel

-The most disliked aspect of driving is attempting to find a parking space, as cited by 57% of respondents based in the UAE (vs 64% globally) followed by the risk of getting a fine if you park longer than anticipated (50% in UAE and 44% globally) and paying more for parking time than needed (42% in UAE and globally).

Public transport use:

-Over half of people (61%) surveyed in the UAE use a personal car as a way to get to work, school or university, compared to 44 % globally

-That number lowers to 59% – where people in the UAE get out of the car and use of public transportation for personal travel such as entertainment, whereas globally that number sees an increase of 54% compared to 44% globally.

-Commuters choose transportation type based on three factors: convenience, reliability and overcrowding.  Importance of each factor differs depending on age:

 .GenX in the UAE (46-55): Convenience (72%), Reliability (80%) and Overcrowding (72%)

.Millennial Age group 2 in the UAE: 36-45 – Convenience (72%), Reliability (75%) and Overcrowding (67%)

.Millennial Age group 1 in the UAE: 26-35 – Convenience (73%), Reliability (72%) and Overcrowding (67%)

.GenZ (18-25) in the UAE: Convenience (59%), Reliability (62%) and Overcrowding (61%)

 -69% of the total surveyed think quality of customer service is important


-Complexity in payment is often at the root of many common complaints

-68% of the total surveyed in the UAE think ease and speed of payment is important

-If it was easier to pay for public transport, average use in the UAE would increase by 33%, vs 27% globally

-42% in the UAE said the need for different tickets for different modes of travel is an issue, vs 47% globally

-40% in the UAE said not knowing how much to pay is a problem (vs 44% globally)

32% in the UAE cited services being “cash-only” as an annoyance (vs 41% globally)

-According to those surveyed in the UAE, these challenges make them less likely to use public transport and more likely to drive their own cars

-For car users in the UAE, 47% would like to see innovations that would advise on the cheapest fuel available, vs 47% globally

-44% of respondents in the UAE would like an app that recognizes the location where they are trying to refuel and pays through the app, vs 35% globally