I have been nestling within these Emirati dunes now for over six years, and in that time I have often thought about what I might be missing back home in Her Majesty’s Great Britain. Of course my favourite framing device for these pensive thoughts are my rose-tinted spectacles.
There is plenty about the UAE that winds me up, and most of my gripes can be read here, on this page, in the preceding 170-something blog entries. Whenever something goes wrong over here, or a mad announcement is reported in the press, I like to harrumph and stomp about wagging my finger and shouting “it wouldn’t be like this Britain I tells ya…” It’s all rather wearisome.
But truth be told, I know that I am wrong most of the time, and in fact there is plenty of things the UAE does better than the UK, and even in some circumstances, the UAE wipes the floor with Britannia.
A couple of weeks ago you may have noticed a few drippings of rain fell from the clouds and marinated most of the Emirates. This is one of the few events in which the UK can take a win; we know how to drive in poor weather. Here, no. Those whom aren’t used to rain continue to drive in a highly questionable manner and invariably end up upside down on a palm tree.
This meant that the emergency services had to all put in a bit of overtime, clearing the wreckages that so peppered the road network. I’m sure you all saw the police statement that claimed that in Dubai alone, there were over 700 accidents in just 14 hours. Over 700! That’s 50 an hour!
I was returning a press-car to a warehouse in Rashidiya that day, which meant driving from my home in the heart of Abu Dhabi, along the E11 and Sheikh Zayed Road, then through Festival City and past Dubai International Airport; a gauntlet even in dry conditions. The rain was absolutely tipping down and littering my entire route was wreckage after wreckage. It was carnage.
But do you know what? For what is normally a 1 hour 35 minute drive from door to door, took me only 1 hour 50. I only lost 15 minutes, which when you think about it isn’t that bad at all.
This is where I have to commend the excellent highway management of the police, yep, you heard that correctly: commend. On the E11 between Al Raha Beach and Jebel Ali I passed 14 accidents, and I was stuck in traffic for a total of only three minutes. In the UK you just know that I would have been stuck on the M1 for at least an hour before I even needed to think about second gear.
And that’s the thing; here in the UAE the police are far more concerned about getting the road open and the traffic moving than they are about taking care of someone’s already ruined Corvette. Health and Safety isn’t a factor, why? Because the accident has already happened and there’s no point crying over spilled milk. For whatever reason, two cars collided and now some people may have been hurt. So what? What will taking a million years to clear the wrecks achieve? No, it’s for the greater good that everyone else who isn’t going to crash is able to continue their journy hassle-free. Those involved will be dealt with accordingly away from the scene.
There’s more; last week two cars collided at a T-junction outside my apartment, one of them rolled over and the driver appeared most injured. Did they close the road? No, of course not, why should other motorists be inconvenienced? A brace of police cars and an ambulance were on the scene in minutes; they put out some cones, took a couple of photos with their iPhones, then a couple of recovery trucks arrived and cleared the two cars. Within 35 minutes the whole kafuffle was clear and you would have never known there was an accident.
In the UK there is so much red-tape and so many procedures that must be followed that it sometimes barely seems worth getting out of bed in the first place. I saw in the British press today that some goon crashed his Ferrari 458 into the central reservation on the M1 just outside of York, and as a result the motorway was closed for four hours! The damage was only cosmetic, it could have easily been driven to the inside hard shoulder, and within 20 minutes the motorway would have been flowing free again.
But no, this is mad Britain. The owner of the Ferrari didn’t want his precious 458 ruined anymore than it already was, so the police and recovery truck had to be careful. What?! You idiot! And what’s worse, the police carried out his wishes! But before they could gently move his scarlet scrap they had to take photographs, set up a mobile office, and measure the tyre marks with a trundle wheel, before a man with a clipboard and a luminous coat came along and said that it was too cold for the police to be working and that they should leave the M1 closed until the summer… I imagine.
Some might argue that all this is necessary so that a correct line of inquiry can be followed with regards to prosecution and insurance claims. But they are deluded and foolish. A man crashed his Ferrari, take a quick selfie next to the wreckage as evidence and get the damn thing out of the way so that the 600,000 non-crashing motorists that you have stacked-up like shipping containers can carry on with their lives.
For years now the UAE police have been trained by the British, I think the time has come for those roles to reverse.
RIP Peaches; you weren’t like the others and will be missed.