67. Road Surprises

“Sorry I was late to the Jazz club… I missed exit 44 and had to do a U-Turn at Mall of the Emirates”

Can we be honest for a minute?  Is there any such thing as a genuine road surprise in the UAE?  I mean it’s total bedlam most of the time with people weaving and swerving across 10 lanes, racing, excessively speeding and crashing into each other, there really is little that can surprise the experienced UAE motorist.  Of course the common denominator with all the foibles is that the offences, or surprises if you will, are committed by human beings.  This is the same species that invented the light bulb, the automobile, the Saturn V5 rocket, the iPhone and Kim Kardashian.  The usual road offenders are from an exclusive club, the club of mankind.  The only known race in the entire universe that can harness electricity and that can communicate with each other instantly from opposite sides of the world and that can travel into space.  We should all be very proud of ourselves.

You therefore assume that since one man was able to invent the steam locomotive that another man would know how to indicate in order to change lanes on Emirates Road.  Not so I’m afraid.  The human race is like no other, our intelligence spectrum ranges from mathematical genius’s like Albert Einstein to, well there’s no point being rude, but someone very thick.  Dog’s generally all have the same level of intelligence, they all sit, heel and bark on command.  Zebra’s are the same; they all have the same mindset as each other.  You will never meet a Giraffe that can build a space rocket, just like you will never meet a Giraffe who stares at the TV all day dribbling watching Kim Kardashian, they are all the same.

But what happens if you are to mix the staid animal race with the hustle and bustle of the busy human rush hour?  You may have stumbled across an article in the news this week about a rogue camel running amok near Dubai Marina.  The video highlights a couple of key points that I think will put us in our place.  But first, the nitty gritty facts…  Did you know that camels are protected by law in the UAE?  Ok, you probably did, but did you know that they are third overall in the class structure?  It’s true.  Did you also know that if, when driving, you hit/kill a camel with your car you have to pay AED 10,000 (£1,750)?  That’s if you whack the thing at night, if you clout into one in the day time the fee for replacement is AED 20,000 (£3,500).

Camels are like cows, they are phenomenally heavy.  A full grown camel can weigh up to 1550lb, that’s over 700kg.  If you are travelling in your Datsun Sunny at 120 Kommunists Per Hour (75 MPH) and you hit a 1550lb camel I fear that you may not survive to pay the dowry.  If by the grace of God you do not succumb to un-survivable injuries when what is effectively crashing into a concrete wall, then you are going to bankrupt yourself.  And this may mean no turkey for Christmas.

So, back to the viral sensation.  The camel was sighted galloping in the middle lane of an overpass.  He was giving it the beans for sure.  But what struck me about the majestic beast was that he was following the driving code more thoroughly than about 75% of the human population.  He was sticking to his lane for starters, between the white lines.  He, or possibly she, it was hard to tell, also knew that there was a car undertaking him/her.  This of course was the camera car, which drew alongside on the rogue camels port side, the camel didn’t swerve over, it looked over its shoulder, saw that there was a car there and maintained its trajectory.

The whole thing was marvellous.  Even the most navigational savvy men and women in the entire world have been known to get lost in Dubai and fall to their knees in tears of despair.  I’ve been there too, driving around in circles looking for a quick way out, swerving across 2-3 lanes just to get off the flyover.  The cameraman even stated that he believed the camel was lost, and rightly so.  But it was the way the camel maintained dignity by not swerving into the path of others, by not leaping in front of the other road users.  It showed a level of consideration seldom seen between humans.

The fate of the camel remains unknown, as does the location of the start of his voyage.  I do suspect however that the minder of the camel made a mistake by not doing his job properly.  An escaped camel could easily have caused so much carnage.  It just goes to prove that a human being made a cock-up, a big one.  He let a camel out on to the streets of Dubai.  The camel found him/herself on a busy Dubai road yet – I think – dealt with the situation superbly, better than a lot of people who have been lost when driving in Dubai.

So there we have it, the answer is found, yes there are genuine road surprises in the UAE, and it’s not as bad as you think.  The camels know how much they cost to replace and this escapee did his best under difficult circumstances to ensure he didn’t inconvenience other road users.  Camels are higher up the class structure for a reason.  Like all animals, they may all have the same level of intelligence as one another, but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid.

They put a lot of humans to shame…

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