The United Arab Emirates will ban the use of cars more than 20 years old from January 1st next year, but officials in Dubai insist vintage and classic cars will be exempt.

Almost 70,000 vehicles are affected by the ruling, which will be rigorously enforced with a scrap or export policy.

A new department at the Road and Transport Authority's Licensing Agency will decide whether a car qualifies as a classic or not, but a definition has yet to be drawn up. While this is unsettling for UAE classic cars owners, it could also make for a rich source of supply of desirable prestige vehicles.

In 2010 the ruling will change to apply to cars 15 years old or older and owners of vehicles that are 10 years old or older will only be allowed to relicense them, not sell them on.