The UAE is witnessing a rise in fuel prices after it got used to cheap gas
Gas prices in the UAE have skyrocketed since the beginning of this year, prompting long queues outside gas stations on the eve of price hikes each month.
This comes after people in the region have come to expect cheap gas prices, as has been the case in recent years.
Fuel prices in the largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have risen more than 70% since February, prompting complaints from Emiratis receiving lifelong care. This rise also prompted the government to increase social spending for low-wage residents.
The UAE eased fuel subsidies in 2015, a move that would have cost the government billions of dollars, had oil prices fallen in the region.
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With fuel costing consumers around $4.66 a gallon after a price hike this month, the cost of fuel in the UAE continues to stay below the high rates experienced by people in the US and Britain. However, citizens of the country see cheap fuel as the norm.
“Everyone is complaining,” said Emirati engineer Suhail Al Bastaki. “It’s very expensive.”
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Amid mounting pressure last week, the UAE and Saudi Arabia allocated $13 billion for social spending for low-income earners. This move is not available to the poorer countries in the region, such as Egypt and Lebanon.
Ride-sharing and food delivery drivers who pay for their own fuel in Dubai say they are struggling to make ends meet. Drivers of two delivery companies went on strike in May over their meager salaries, in defiance of the UAE ban on labor protests.
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Uber said prices will rise by up to 11% for some trips to ease the burden on drivers due to new gas fees in Dubai. Some drivers still don’t think the change is enough.
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An Uber driver moved from Nigeria to Dubai 12 years ago due to the potential for good money. Now, he says he has very little to take home to his wife and daughter.
“I can’t stay here anymore,” said the driver. “I’ve been working in Dubai for 12 years and I have nothing.”