Emirati authorities say they plan to scrap long-standing price controls on fuel starting next month, meaning pump prices could rise as the OPEC member nation weathers a sustained slump in oil prices.

The Ministry of Energy announced the surprise move on Wednesday, saying fuel prices will be linked to global prices beginning August 1.

Gasoline prices are currently set by the government at below-market rates. A liter of regular gasoline sells for 1.72 dirhams (47 cents), or about $1.78 a gallon.

Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazroui says the decision aims to strengthen the country's economy and could help lower fuel consumption by encouraging the use of public transportation.