China’s WeRide has been given the green light to start testing its autonomous vehicles in the UAE, the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai has announced.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the news on Twitter this week.

He said: “We approved the first national license for self-driving vehicles on the country’s roads, which was granted to the specialised WeRide company.”

Earlier this year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced new laws to cover the issue of self-driving cars, outlining that UAE’s Roads and Transport Authority will regulate the use of self-driving cars.

Under the law, autonomous car owners are responsible for covering all damages caused by accidents.

WeRide is a level 4 autonomous driving company, and is backed by Nissan. In 2022, Cruise, which is owned by General Motors, started mapping roads in Dubai in preparation for its plans to launch in 2023.

Prior to receiving the self-driving licence, WeRide’s Robotaxi had completed public testing and operations on roads in the UAE over a year.

In June, the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) in Abu Dhabi announced that as part of the Eid al-Adha holiday services, visitors to Saadiyat Island and Yas Island in Abu Dhabi could experience free autonomous driving car services, including a model called “TXAI,” launched in collaboration between WeRide and locally listed company Bayanat.

It is reported that Dubai aims to have 25% of its transportation fully autonomous by 2030.

WeRide says it has been expanding its autonomous driving products and services internationally, with the Middle East being one of its key focus areas.

In March of this year, WeRide officially established its presence in the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone.