Understanding the needs of MENA public transport customers: Culture of service and gender-responsive recommendations

  • Aline Delatte UITP MENA Centre for Transport Excellence
  • Tahar Baouni Ecole Polytechnique d’Architecture et d'Urbanisme (EPAU) d’Alger
  • Rakesh Belwal Sohar University
  • Lindos Daou Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, USEK Business School
  • Dounia Gourram International Association for Public Transport (UITP)
  • Rana Imam The University of Jordan
  • Madani Safar Zitoun University of Algiers 2
  • Ayman Smadi UITP MENA Centre for Transport Excellence
Keywords: public transport, women's mobility, gender mainstreaming, culture of public transport service


Fast population growth, urban sprawl and the raise in households’ motorization observed in all major cities of the Middle-East and North-Africa (MENA) region, are constantly challenging public transport providers who seek to handle efficiently the continuously rising travel demand. Most of the MENA cities suffer from traffic congestion that not only impacts the quality of life of MENA citizens, but also their access to job opportunities, health services, and social and political participation. Alongside the development of public transport network, it is crucial to encourage urban dwellers to reduce their dependence on personal cars, use public transport, and develop soft mobility skills. Therefore, operators and service providers need to define customer-centric strategy and build a culture of service excellence in line with their customers’ expectations. In cooperation with academic partners, the UITP MENA Centre for Transport Excellence launched the User-Oriented Public Transport research project with the aim to understand the perceptions of female and male users and non-users about public transport services in five MENA cities:  Algiers, Amman, Beirut, Casablanca and Muscat. The methodological framework was built around the five dimensions of the user’s needs pyramid: safety, security, ease-to-use, comfort and experience. Based on the quantitative analysis of data collected from 984 respondents and the qualitative analysis of 49 women’s testimonies collected during the focus groups, recommendations were made to encourage culture of service and gender mainstreaming in public transport development in the region.


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Author Biographies

Aline Delatte, UITP MENA Centre for Transport Excellence

Since 2015, Ms. Delatte is conducting social research on urban mobility at UITP MENA CTE, Dubai. Her  current research interests are customer-centric strategies and gender-responsive measures in public transport development. She established the research partnership, the methodology and conducted the data analysis of the User-Oriented Public Transport project, presented in this article. Ten years ago, Ms. Delatte started her career in the urban development field as a civil engineer (ESTP, Paris). In 2012 she sucessfully graduated from the Urban Management Programme of the Technical University of Berlin and started her career as an urban transport researcher in Germany (TU Berlin, DLR). Aline Delatte is active on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Tahar Baouni, Ecole Polytechnique d’Architecture et d'Urbanisme (EPAU) d’Alger
Tahar Baouni, PhD, is Professor and Research Director at the Ecole Polytechnique d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme (EPAU), Algiers. He has been the director of the research laboratory Ville, Urbanisme et Développement Durable of EPAU and a member of the Scientific Council of EPAU since 2006, and was a member of the EPAU administrative council from 2009 to 2012. He was also chair on the scientific council of Institut Supérieur de Formation Ferroviaire (ISFF), Algiers from 2005 to 2009. Baouni is also an associated professor in the department of Geography and Spatial Planning at Bab Ezouar in Algiers. He is a consultant to offices and agencies of urbanism and transport and has been responsible for numerous research projects in these fields
Rakesh Belwal, Sohar University

Dr. Rakesh Belwal is an Associate Professor in Business at Sohar University of Oman. He has a rich experience of tertiary-level teaching at different institutions. Further to teaching, he has imparted training programs to government, public, and private sector officials in India, Ethiopia, UAE, and Oman. Dr. Rakesh has strong record of accomplishment of publications in leading journals, and has participated in several conferences. He has served the academic panels of different universities and has won a number of prestigious research grants. He also serves the University of Queensland Business School, Australia as an Adjunct Associate Professor.

Lindos Daou, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, USEK Business School

Holder of a PhD in Marketing from USEK, Lindos Daou is an Assistant Professor lecturing in Marketing and Management at USEK Business School. Besides teaching, Dr. Daou is also a researcher and member of the CIRAME research center at the School and part of the scientific committee of Research and Business Link Review (RBL). He also occupies the position of Head of the Management Department. In the scope of conducting research and studies for BEPS, he has initiated several studies involving the Arab Business Schools. His areas of research in Marketing include university branding, student satisfaction, social media and advertising. He was also selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and US State Department to participate in the Fulbright Scholarship program for Junior Faculty Development program for Lebanon at the University of Illinois, USA.

Dounia Gourram, International Association for Public Transport (UITP)
Holder of a Master degree in urban development, transport and mobility, from the Institut d’Aménagement et d’Urbanisme de Lille (IAUL), Dounia Gourram is head of the UITP Maghreb Office.
Rana Imam, The University of Jordan
Dr. Imam is an Associate Professor of Transportation Engineering at the University of Jordan. Dr. Imam is a broad-minded transport expert with extensive working and research experience in the transport sector, in both Europe and Asia.  She holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the American University of Beirut (Lebanon), and a PhD in Transportation Engineering from University College London (UK). She is experienced in many public transport aspects, from system planning, operations, and infrastructure design to sustainable vehicle technologies, energy consumption, and emission calculations for different transport modes.
Madani Safar Zitoun, University of Algiers 2

Prof. SAFAR ZITOUN Madani is Professor of Urban Sociology in the Department of Sociology at Algiers 2 University. He is the head of LASADET Laboratory (Laboratory of Socio-Anthropological Analysis of Territories Development). His research and publications focus on the analysis of urbanization, urban and housing policies, the evaluation of protection and social action policies in Algeria and the Arab world and on urban mobility. He is the author of several books including the study "Urban mobility in the agglomeration of Algiers. Evolutions and Prospects, (with Tabti-Talamali A.) Blue Plan and World Bank, Sophia-Antipolis, 2009, p. 107.

Ayman Smadi, UITP MENA Centre for Transport Excellence

Dr. Smadi is the director of the UITP MENA Office and Centre for Transport Excellence, in Dubai. Before joining UITP, Dr. Smadi, was the Executive Director of Transport and Traffic Management at the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM). Dr. Smadi holds a Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering from Iowa State University (USA); an M.S. in Civil Engineering – Transportation Systems from the University of Oklahoma (USA); and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Jordan. He was selected in 2008 as a Fulbright Scholar. 


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How to Cite
DelatteA., BaouniT., BelwalR., DaouL., GourramD., ImamR., Safar ZitounM., & SmadiA. (2018). Understanding the needs of MENA public transport customers: Culture of service and gender-responsive recommendations. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 7-30. https://doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/5458
Special Issue 2018. Urban Travel Behavior in the Middle East and North Africa