This evening I sit here in a rather bad mood. I have stepped through the door to see my lovely fiancé, with whom I never have a day to spend with, and dinner is on the table. I have lost a few pounds, my future is looking all the more optimistic and Wimbledon are about to kick off against Chesterfield in the English Football League 2. The new Formula 1 season is right around the corner and my wedding is only five months away. My family is healthy and my writing, so I am told, is getting better. I am going back to London next month to be Best Man for my friend of 18 years and recently a lot of my other friends have become engaged, too. Life is good and there is so much positive energy about the place that I can barely believe it; so why the grumpy mood tonight?
Is it due to the annoying whistling that I frequently hear? Is it because AFC Wimbledon are sitting rock-bottom of the league? Or is it, perhaps, the fact that I have been trying to get one of my company cars tested? Of course, it is the latter.
When UAE Uncut first graced your screens, one of my first inscriptions was the pros and cons of buying a car and weighing it up against renting one. Renting, I said, was the way to go. There are some who disagree, and if you have the money to buy a new car then go ahead. With dealers warranty and so on you are as safe as houses. Buying a used car is a lottery. There is no such thing as “one careful lady owner” in the UAE so tread carefully. Renting is a hassle free, albeit slightly more expensive way of doing things. Everything is covered, from breakdown recovery to insurance. If there is a problem with the car then it is simply replaced. Most conveniently, and the big selling point for me, is that the hire company also takes care of the whole registration process. That, as far as I am concerned, obliterates any argument against hire.
I would rather sit down and watch an episode of The Hills while talking to a moron about ballet and scooping out my eyes than take a car to a pre-registration test. For three weeks now I have gotten up early and ventured over to the ADNOC test centre but every time, and mean every time, the queue has been of such length that I estimate I would be celebrating my 100th birthday before I would be collecting the certificate. It is beyond a joke and no metaphor on Earth could possibly describe the sheer horror.
In Al Ain we are blessed with two test centres. The main one is in the traffic complex in Muroor, near Zakher. It is a lovely place and the queue that you must join spirals around until you come out in the middle. There are three lanes through the test bay so three vehicles can be tested at any one time. If, however, you do not fancy joining a queue that spirals in on itself, then you must drive out of town and onto the Al Ain-Dubai road. Strangely, there is one at the first service station that has a total of two test bays inside. If you get there and find that that is also snarled up then the best thing to do is drive to the top of Jebel Hafeet and hurl yourself, and your vehicle, over the edge.
No really, I do not know what to do. I have asked the engineers there when the best time to go actually is and I cannot get an accurate answer. Besides, I have been there at every conceivable hour at some point and still the queue time is measured by continental drift and the vehicles age can only be determined by carbon dating. The clock is ticking and soon the registration card will have expired and my boss will be very cross with me.
There are, according to a highly questionable report, 755,000 cars in Abu Dhabi, 300,000 of which are based in Al Ain. Car registration cards will obviously expire every day and when you minus 52 Fridays and a further 10 public holidays that means 990 cars must pass through a total of five bays each of the 303 remaining 10-hour working days; without fail. That means 99 cars per hour, split over five bays, 20 cars for each bay, each hour. In order to achieve this then the mechanics can only spend three minutes on every vehicle. Considering that each vehicle test takes approximately 15 minutes you will begin to see the obvious flaw with the system. This equation does not account for cars that fail and subsequently have to be tested again. That only causes further congestion and as such turns all the Martin Fullards of the world into that angry man from The Fast Show.
Al Ain is a small place with a population of around 800,000, why is it then that we have 12 giant supermarkets, 6 large malls, over 20 parks that most of us aren’t allowed to use, 212(!) franchised coffee outlets, an airport that receives one flight a year and at least five of the same fast-food franchises? No one needs any of this, but we do need to register our cars. For a country famed for its excess and money haemorrhaging, things in this department are sub-standard. The fact that I will have to queue for at least two hours this week, whether I like it or not, fills me with such hate that I am seriously considering my Jebel Hafeet-gravity idea.
The other week, my fiancé arranged for our hire car to be re-registered. They came, they collected and they returned within 90 minutes, all done and dusted. Where the Hell did they go? Anyone know?