Dubai is in the process of being the first city in the world to allow air taxis, which are expected to be opened to the public by late July this year. Aside from the air taxis, the city is also in the process of developing Elon Musk's Hyperloop, a super-fast train technology that would cut a normal hour and a half drive to an under 12 minute train ride. However, being the leader in transportation innovations does not mean the city has their regulations in place and last week they revised their regulations on car rental companies. The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced last week Tuesday that car rental firms are now no longer allowed to seek cash deposits from customers nor are they allowed to hold on to customers' passports or IDs for security. This comes as car rental companies were looking for a solution to secure some sort of reimbursement for traffic violations conducted by their customers. There was a plague of incidents where customers from abroad would hire a car rental, return it and fly back to their home country and the car rental company would be liable for any traffic violations and tickets the customer had accumulated during the use of their vehicles. Some companies saw 1 in 5 of their car rentals had received some sort of traffic violation.
The new changes are aimed at restructuring the car rental sector to protect the rights of both the companies and their customers. Although cash deposits are no longer allowed, the operators are allowed to secure an agreed upon amount on the client's credit card. Nasir Al Haj, Director of Commercial Transport Activies, RTA's Licensing Agency, said "Rental firms can block a certain amount on the credit card of the customer, but no cash deposit is allowed." He also goes on to explain that there is currently no minimum or maximum amount for the security deposit. "The amount has to be agreed upon mutually between the customer and the companies. The deposit is allowed as security for the businesses against any fines incurred by the customers. Some companies secure a deposit of Dh 750 ($200 USD), but there is no regulation on the amount." The deposit can be held for a maximum of 30 days after the return of the vehicle. "Most of the fines are credited within a month of a particular violation and hence the companies are required to release the amount immediately after 30 days," said Al Haj.
Al Haj also goes on to explain the new regulations will prevent car rental firms from charging customers extra in case of an accident since all damages incurred are covered by the insurance. But in the situation of an accident, and the customer is at fault for an accident, he will have to pay the fine issued by the Dubai Police. Some other changes in regulation include car rental companies provide private parking spaces for their own vehicles which will ensure public parking spaces and the neighborhood around the firm are free to be used by others. Another important condition for car rental companies is that no vehicle can be used for car rentals for more than four years and any car older than 2 years may not be registered to be used as a car rental. Al Haj also commented "The office is obliged to provide at least 10 vehicles during the initial year in the head office and three vehicles in each branch." In case an entity owns vehicles exceeding Dh 600,000 ($165,000 USD) in value, the head office shall have at least five vehicles.