So Dubai's Roads & Transport Authority is introducing the much-awaited and suspiciously regarded Salik toll system next month. The system is based on RFID technology and will charge 4Dhs (a tad over a dollar) each time you cross the popular Garhoud Bridge or pass Mall of the Emirates on the Sheikh Zayed Road. Your Salik tag is stuck to the windscreen and automatically deducted when you pass the charge point and can be recharged by credit card, at ATMs, over the Web and so on. The application form's finally available online, by the way!
All pretty advanced stuff. And by no means a bad thing if it reduces congestion and accidents - although according to media reports, Dubai Police have reservations about the system and its implementation.
It took a wife to pose, with the irrefutable power of female logic, the question I hadn't thought of at all: "How will you know what your balance is?"
How indeed. If you let your tag run out and pass a charge point, it'll cost you Dhs50 - so you really don't want to let that tag lag. The good news is that you get an SMS when your account's running low, according to the RTA, and you can also query your balance with an SMS. And if you recharge within 48 hours of the offence, you'll get let off.
All of which is reassuring. But there's a lot of technology going on in there, from the RFID scanners to the core IT system to the financial management software to the SMS gateway that will manage tens of thousands of messages a day. Add in a couple of million of those messy, organic carbon-based life forms that appear to exist purely to get around, muck about with or otherwise frustrate grand schemes like this and I think that we might all be in for some fun here.
Summer surprises indeed!!!