Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Running the Sheik Zayed Road gauntlet

One of the most interesting things about living in Dubai is the driving. After two years here I am finally used to the dodgem'-style shenanigans required once you get behind the wheel, but it still has the power to make me mutter muted curses under my breath.

Tail-gating, super-speeding, undertaking, overtaking on the hard shoulder, texting at high speed, stopping on the side of a 5-lane highway (usually to answer a call, once saw a family having a jolly picnic), unrestrained children bouncing about, aggressive 'out-of-my-way' flashing of lights, pointless lane changes, cars cutting each other up, general macho posturing, bullying... I've seen it all.  I once witnessed a man driving with his phone tucked under his ear whilst holding a baby on his knee- which can only be described as multi-tasking CRAZINESS. Yesterday a car was driving through our neighbourhood with a kid hanging out of the sunroof. The day before a Porsche was menacing a taxi, tailgating him at high speed across multiple lanes as the taxi desperately tried to get away.

Those are the highlights - every time I get in my car I see the sort of road behaviour that defies all accepted forms of driving etiquette. Sometimes I wonder when my luck is going to run out - will today be the day that I get in the way of an especially incompetent or aggressive driver? Is today the day that I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time? It's enough to make a girl start to feel a touch superstitious.

People have been asking me if it's safe in Dubai right now, what with all the troubles running across our neighbouring states. My response, as always, is: "Don't worry. The only thing revolting in Dubai right now is the driving."  

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