Dubai Launches Free Smart Umbrella Rental to Improve Walkability

By helping residents walk comfortably in the rain or blazing sun, Dubai hopes to advance its 2040 master plan goals of sustainability and becoming a “20-minute city.”

2 minute read

April 1, 2024, 9:00 AM PDT

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon


Overhead view of doxens of commuters walking on sidewalk and crossing street in full sun.

Commuters cross the road under full sun in Dubai's city center. | Ioan Panaite / Adobe Stock

When cities try to increase active transportation, they usually turn to bike and scooter sharing services. But what about a smart rental service aimed at increasing walking? Dubai has done just that, launching a smart umbrella rental pilot to allow residents to navigate the city protected from both the sun and the rain, according to Vadim Kouznetzov, reporting for his blog Dubai Career Daily.

Dubai’s Roads and Transit Authority partnered with UmbraCity, a smart umbrella sharing service from Canada, to launch the service for three months at the Al Ghubaiba Bus and Metro station, a major transit station in the historic center of Dubai. The program aligns with Dubai’s 2040 Urban Master Plan, which lays down the goal of becoming a “20-minute city” in which residents can reach all of their needs within a 20-minute walk or bike ride. If the pilot is successful, the city plans to expand it to stations across the city.

As for how it works, residents use their transit card to rent an umbrella for free. They access and return the umbrellas via a kiosk and are charged late fees until the umbrella is found or it reaches a maximum chargeable account indicated at the time of sign-up, according to UmbraCity’s website.

As many U.S. cities try to balance walkability and sustainability goals with rising urban heat and lack of shade over sidewalks, particularly in lower income and investment neighborhoods, such a program might be worth keeping an eye on.

Friday, March 22, 2024 in Dubai Career Daily

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