79. Maps

As I have said before I have utterly no interest in new fads.  Getting with the times – technologically speaking – doesn’t interest me in the slightest.  I possess a degree of disdain for Apple purely because I can’t afford an iPhone.  I can’t tell the difference between various models or what the upgraded functions are or do and so on.  So admittedly I had a cheeky chuckle about the latest fiasco whereby people have gone out to buy the latest iPhone 5 with something called IOS6 on it and it doesn’t work in the UAE.  As you would expect…

The Fullard-powered app upgrade for iPhone 5 users

All that money and all the device does is the same as what your last phone did too.  These days a phone isn’t a phone unless it is packed full of something called “Apps”.  These “Apps” do all sorts; you can throw birds at walls, keep up to date with the price of barley and even keep up with a Kardashian of your choice.  One of the biggest concerns about the latest money spinner has been that the app that allows you to view maps of the UAE are out of date and don’t show Dubai Mall amongst other landmarks and roads.  As you would expect people are up in arms about it, but why?  Surely if you live here in the Emirates then you know that most of Dubai is just road-works, cones and diversions and that there is no map on Earth that could get you out of a pickle.  So what were you expecting?

If you go onto Google maps or Multimap and type in Dubai you are confronted with what on the surface looks like a lovely map with lots of roads.  You zoom in and look at all the streets and mind boggling intersections and head out in the car with high hopes.  Of course you soon realise that what you looked at on the laptop must have been a map of a road network in Shanghai or somewhere, because it certainly wasn’t Dubai.

The reason that there have been so many road construction areas sitting dormant for the last few years harps back to a case of biting reality.  You can’t reliably build things on credit, because if you do and there is an economic collapse of biblical proportions (Ref. Lehman Brothers 2008) then everything stops.  That’s what happened here.

My Dubai geography leaves much to be desired, I know where I am going by following tall buildings, but give me a road name and I shall start to sweat profusely.  There have been times when I have been circling intersections for hours on end, or have come into road works that filter me off in the wrong direction and I have traversed flyovers only to find that half of it hasn’t been built so I end up dropping to my death.  Have you ever tried getting to Dubai Marina from Sheikh Zayed Road?  Every time I attempt such a thing I end up having to go through Marina Mall’s car park.  It’s impossible.

In a rare act of desperation I once stopped by the side of a road and looked at a map in Dubai.  It was absolutely useless.  Yes it showed slip roads off Sheikh Zayed Road, but in real life these slip roads had not been built and even today I am yet to see progress.

It’s not just Dubai either.  For as long as I have been here, which is coming up to 5 years now, the Tourist Club area in Abu Dhabi has been marked out with concrete blocks and cones.  I have never seen a workman so much as lift a manhole cover around there.  As such the map shows the roads in a certain way which does not match the situation in real life.

Furthermore, when Salam Street was being widened, buried, raised, sunk and re-laid the maps clearly showed the route the new road would take.  Awesome, I’ll be sure to revert back to that map in 2014 when it’s all finished.  But in 2009 it was little help at all, particularly when you followed the diversion signs and ended up falling into the sea.  How can society function in this way?

The iPhone classes need not fret.  Even if you do revert back to your treasured iPhone 3 you can guarantee that the maps on there will be just as inaccurate.

The solution then?  Put the money to better use and buy a Sat-Nav instead.

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