Tag Archives: UAE driving

174. Car Crashes

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.

Look, I know you've been waiting for 3 days now, but you have to be patient. Before we can remove the wreckage we need to ensure that none of the officers are allergic to nuts

Look, I know you’ve been waiting for 3 days now, but you have to be patient. Before we can remove the wreckage we need to ensure that none of the officers are allergic to nuts

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.

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172. Motoring

One of the perils of being out of full-time work for a prolonged period of time is that ones mind can wander far more easily. For some, the daily routine of removing oneself from bed at 11am just in time to sit down to spend the remainder of the morning on Facebook and Twitter may sound like a dream. It is not. After a while the walls do start to close in and the conversations you once shared with yourself in the mirror are now shared with various pieces of fruit… with marker-pen faces. Life. Is. Futile.

As a result, all this down time has kept me out of the real world and has forced me into a lot of reading. At this point I wish I could say I was reading something interesting like Churchill as Warlord by Max Hastings or the latest Jeremy Clarkson, but I can’t. Instead I trawl various newspapers from across the globe, specifically only reading articles that annoy me. Anything positive along of the lines of “World Peace given the green light” doesn’t interest me. I prefer to get all in a huff with Daily Mail nonsense like “EU demands all white single males remove a leg in the name of equality” or “Police chief says women drivers are to blame for every wrong in the history of the world”. I like reading things that will wind me up and make me angry to the point at which I shout at the oranges in the bathroom.

Now then, team, in light of recent events, only the boy oranges may drive the banana train, but it will cost you your skin...

Now then, team, in light of recent events, only the boy oranges may drive the banana train, but it will cost you your skin…

You can’t have missed the recent chitter chatter originating from certain traffic authorities. Within the last month we have been told that women drivers cause more accidents than male drivers, that in order to ease Dubai’s congestion issues, everything relating to motoring must be made more expensive, and then in the next breath that the legal driving age is to be reduced from 18 to 17.

Then, last week, statistics were released naming and shaming the five most calamitous nationalities on the roads of the Emirates. Yup, the top five countries that cause the most amount of accidents, injuries, and deaths. At number five we have the Egyptians, right behind Team Bangladesh in fourth. Just making the podium in third place were the Emiratis, losing out to Team India in second. But seizing the top spot was Pakistan; they caused 373 accidents, in which 577 people were injured and 33 sadly lost their lives.

Great. Now we know who look out for.

While it is easy to understand how those from other countries might not be so hot on driving competence – for example, I charge you to read up on what is involved in the Egyptian driving test – it is unacceptable to bring a gender dispute to the table. For thousands and thousands and thousands of years men called the shots. But then the suffragette movement came to be in the early 20th Century, and that laid the path for a more balanced playing field between the sexes. In modern times, gender bigotry is as welcome as polio.

I personally don’t see the harm in a bit of banter between friends, and naughty calendars pinned up in British garages are just a bit of harmless fun. But in the real world, going on public record and saying that “women are dangerous drivers” is as barmy as you like. You only have to look at the figures and details released only two paragraphs ago, about our friends from Pakistan… how many lady truck drivers do you know over here? There are good drivers and there are bad drivers; gender doesn’t come into it.

But it is not as mad as the mooted proposals aimed at tackling the congestion issue. As Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to grow as cities, it must be expected that traffic will also increase. Anyone who thinks that the car itself is the problem is as deluded as those who believe women are more dangerous than men behind the wheel.

If you build an entire city around one road – Sheikh Zayed Road, for example – then what do you expect to happen when everyone along a 40km stretch of tarmac starts and finishes work at the same time?! A rush hour is just a sign of how well your country is doing! If you don’t have a rush hour, then you need to cock an eyebrow.

So what is the solution on the table? Well, to impose a salary cap on car ownership and make motoring more expensive. Hold the phone there, does that mean those poorer folk who fall below the – currently unpublished – salary cap will be forced to…to…to what? What if they live or work miles from the Metro? A return trip in a taxi 5-6 days a week is as expensive as driving. Will the employer then send out a company driver? But doesn’t that then defeat the purpose?

Then, additionally, “certain types of people” will be only be allowed to own one car, much like communist China’s one-child-only rule. For those whom the hammer and sickle will allow to own a car, fuel, registration, and anything else involved in motoring can expect massive price increases. And then, after all this, the legal driving age is to be lowered.

But, as I say, I sit here in UAEUncutTowers, unemployed and cocooned within my neat little apartment, and away from all the hullabaloo and the madness. After reading what is going on out there in the real world, I sometimes wonder if maybe I’m better off staying unemployed and talking to the oranges…

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166. Road Names

What is the most annoying thing in the world? Vevuzelas? Bluebottle flies? Kardashians? The answer is none of these; it is in fact the bureaucratic mentality that prevents anything from happening within a reasonable timeframe.

It seems that wherever you go, local councils and governments want to spend as long on any given project as possible, seemingly to do nothing more than justify their existence. Take for example a very British conundrum; do you have any idea how much red tape you need to tear through to get a new park bench installed? No, neither do I. But only because when I stumbled across the procedure online I fell asleep after page 74. It is horrendous. Why does it need to take so long to put a bench in a park? You buy a bench, engrave the brass plaque with the name of a locally renowned goose, and place it in situ. A bench needs planning permission. Why? Put it there, and if enough Guardian readers complain about it then pick it up and move it somewhere else.

This type of mindless bureaucracy, it seems, is a global pandemic. Even those whom reside in the most remote outback wastelands of Mongolia need permission to paint pots. Why can’t those running the show just get things done? Why wait? Alex Salmond wants his vote on Scottish independence, why keep with him waiting until 2015 or whenever it is, just let him do it so we can all get back to work.

Cock-A-Dobby, Jumeriah Lake Towers, please.

Cock-A-Dobby, Jumeriah Lake Towers, please.

It therefore came as no surprise to me yesterday that it is to take five years to rename all the roads in Dubai. Allow me to explain the situation: The road naming system in the UAE is, by its own admission, a joke. There are snippets of sense, such as the main motorways being given numbers like E11, E22, E66 and so on, and of course we have the big landmark roads like Shiekh Zayed Road which are easy to identify. But everything else is a mish-mash of incomprehensible balderdash.

In order to understand the incumbent numbering system you need a mind of such ability that you would be able to crucify Stephen Hawking on Countdown, in the same way that a ferret could outsmart Kim Karsdashian in a game of Battleships. It is all so dreadfully hateful.

Along with the numbers there are also roads named after Sheikhs and prominent Emiratis, and that is normal. It’s no different from road names like Victoria Avenue, Kings Road, Albert Road, Elizabeth Street, and so on. But it can get confusing sometimes. If I’m navigating the Dubai traffic looking for Khaled Bin Khalifa Street, invariably I will get confused and end up on Khalifa Bin Khaled Street.

The new system means that every single road in Dubai is to be renamed, and in keeping with global tradition, the names are to reflect the local district and its history. Take the coastal area, Jumierah. Roads along the coast are to take their names from fish, famous boats, and an array of other nautical paraphernalia. Great, it will be like Portsmouth; Fish Street. Cod Cresent. HMS Ark Royal Avenue. Navy Mews.

The Trade Centre area is to be named after various currencies, which sounds fine, but there are only a finite amount of currencies in the world, so expansion of the Trade Centre would be halted should the limit be reached. Unless they build more roads off Dollar Drive, in which case they can raise the debt ceiling to whatever fictional level they like…

The thing is, this renaming programme is going to take five years, and for the life of me I can’t fathom why. How hard can it be? You break the city up into zones, as they have done, and just go nuts. Honestly, if they were to get in touch with me then I could rename the whole city in a day. Just give me a copy of the Viz Profanisaurus and immunity from prosecution and before you know it you’ll be driving through Uphill Gardens and Bell End, past Busty View and before you know it you’ll be back home on Penistone Road.

Problem solved.

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162. Trucks

Moaning, it would seem, is the last bastion of hope that we have when we don’t understand why things are the way they are. As you would expect, then, UAE Uncut is replete with folly and misunderstandings resulting from lackluster research. It is all too easy to pipe up and say that “none of it makes any sense” when really all it would take is some strategic Googling.  Still, we’re in too deep now so I shall persevere in the manner of which you are all accustomed.

Last week I was at a training day at Motor City in Dubai. Once the day was done, at around 5pm on Thursday afternoon, I was tasked with driving home to Abu Dhabi. On the face of it that didn’t sound like too tall an order, but… sweet baby Jesus. I turned on the radio – a rare treat for an institutionalised Al Ain-ian like me – and sure enough the broadcaster confirmed that it was essentially a frothing maelstrom of hopelessness and despair out there; total bedlam.

I decided that I would avoid the trouble spots – that being literally all of Dubai – and stay on the E111, the road formerly known as Emirates Road but which is now called Sheikh Mohammed Road, and join the E11 at the Abu Dhabi border. It was a smart move and things were going well, right up until the point when I called my wife to boast of my traffic-dodging prowess, when everything just stopped.

For the best part of 30 minutes I covered approximately 500 yards, and looking around it was easy to understand why: Trucks, or Lorries, if you’re British. There are tens of billions of them, clogging up all the main roads and through-fares.

Of course I am familiar with the importance of the truck. Without trucks then there would be no food in the supermarkets, no concrete to deliver to the wrong building sites, and no winter jackets for the malls to sell in the height of summer. The truck is the very backbone of any functional society, and whether we like it or not, is as constant and as inevitable as death and taxes.

That being said, they are a menace to the common man when he is going about his daily rituals. While I was being propelled along Sheikh Mohammed Road by nothing other than continental drift, two leviathans decided to crash into one another at the slowest recorded speed in all of human history. The carriageway consisted of three lanes on the approach to a useless roundabout, and one truck turned in on the other. So the police turned up and after many a furrowed-brow and pointless traffic cone, and just on the eve of my 200th birthday, I was eventually allowed to pass.

Now I know that the UAE has several “truck roads” snaking around the country, and that really is something that few developed western nations can brag of having. I would hate to think how bad it would be without them, but I really can’t get my head around the fact that they are allowed out on the road network at all during rush hour.

Stuff this, I'll take go through Jumeriah Lake Towers, how bad can it be?

Stuff this, I’ll go through Jumeriah Lake Towers, how bad can it be?

The entire inside lane is just one long stream of trucks, which makes seeing your exit nearly impossible, and actually taking your exit physically impossible. Twin this with the fact that there are some rogue truckers who like to overtake the 1930’s water trucks at walking pace and you’re in a whole world of misery. Even Steve McQueen would struggle to negotiate it all. Yes the trucks need to be out there delivering their payloads, otherwise everything would just grind to a halt, but Holy Mary, do you think that we could get them all to pull over between 5pm and 7pm once a day?

As ever, I am prepared with a solution: There is no shortage of space out there as the motorways are generally surrounded by nothing other than mile upon mile of barren, featureless, inhospitable desert. Why not brick it over and make special truck parking bays so when the clock strikes five they all just pull over and let the rest of us go home?

The amount of accidents would reduce instantly, our stress levels would also take a dive, plus we’d all be driving faster and therefore using more precious fuel, which will only be of benefit to the economy. It’s a no-brainer. Ok, there might be the occasional missed delivery, but really, who gives a damn about whether or not River Island don’t have the latest winter jackets in stock? All it would take is some logical planning…

…Oh no wait. That will just cause even more chaos. Bah, none of it makes any sense.

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158. Red tape

Have you ever wondered where things went so wrong in Britain? I mean once upon a time we literally ruled the waves; we were unbeatable on the water as we saw off the French and the Spanish Armadas with ease before sailing off to tame the world. Britain used to have it all under control. At times it was inhuman and evil, and at others it was charitable and kind, but we were a nation of doers; we always got the job done.

During The Great War, we and the Allies saw off the Axis powers and 21 years later we did it again. Many of our Grandparents gave their lives so that we could be free; and so too could the multitude of colonies under British mandate. Fast forward to 2013 and take a look around. If an aggressor decided that he – or she in Argentina’s case – wanted a foothold on our territory, do you think we would be able to put up much of a fight?

I have been kidding myself about this for a long time, and I am saddened to report that I don’t think Britain would last very long. Our Navy fleet are now floating museums, and our submarines are crashing into Scotland. The RAF now only works with paper planes, and, of course, the solitary Vulcan that was saved this week by some men from a pub. Then we have our brave boys and girls in the Army, who have been stretched further than Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy pants.

But, oddly, it is not the laughable Navy, rusted Sopwith Camels or the 18 soldiers that we have left that makes me fear us losing in a spot of international pugilism, but the fact that everything you ever need takes so bloody long.

This week I took my friend to the Al Ain licensing section so that we could get him his UAE driving license. It sounds simple enough and sure enough it was. We went in with the required documents, were handed a ticket, sat next to a man who smelled of vegetables and within 23 minutes we were out. Task completed. It was amazingly efficient and I’ll be honest, I had to eat my hat.

I know I come before you frequently and moan about this and that, and certainly the UAE has a long way to go in certain areas; like sorting a working visa. But the process of getting a driving licence was so astonishingly quick and easy it has technically made UAE Uncut null, void, and as credible as an Alistair Campbell WMD dossier.

I'm telling you. Two minutes I was in and out. New licence: job done my son.

I’m telling you. Two minutes I was in and out. New licence: job done my son.

When did you last try to renew your driving licence back home? Does the DVLA website allow you to do it online? Not without a qualification in astrophysics. No, you have to post off this and that and wait 3-4 weeks for your metro-sexual, EU-embossed, recycled, pink card to arrive through the letter box. It is so dated and useless. Why can they simply not set up offices around the country and employ 5-6 ex-coal miners and bankers to simply print you a new card?

The same is true with your passport. Another friend of mine has recently tried to renew her passport, complete with Queen’s message, from over here. After completing the form, scribing down the card details, getting the photograph lined up and so on she is now 104 years old. Still, 4-6 weeks is how long she was told that she would have to wait. Passport templates are all the same, the only page that needs printing is the photo page, and how in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost can that take between 4-6 weeks?

What are they doing over there in Liverpool? A background check takes five minutes, and the useless courier that will be charged with its safe delivery will only take two or so days to get it back to you. How can 4-6 weeks be justified?

The UAE has Britain crucified on this one; thankfully we’re allies so maybe they can teach us a thing or two. But what if it only takes President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 30 minutes to renew his passport? Or, worse still, what if Mrs. De Kirchner is able to sort out a new driving license for one of her cabinet while on her lunch break? Do you think that they will then hang around? No. Whereas you can imagine what would happen in Blighty; as the four minute warning sounds, the fighter pilots tasked with defending us wouldn’t be allowed to take off because they won’t have the right piece of paper, and the new one will be stuck in the sorting office.

Once, the world hated Britain. Today, they just laugh.

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157. Jackson’s

Faithful readers of UAE Uncut will know all too well that I am not the biggest fan of the iPhone. I hate how people chose to live and die by it. I hate how it has become the peripheral human organ and that without it we would all foam at the mouth and die. I loath those who walk around wearing Apple T-Shirts as if they are the Barmy Army on their way to watch the Ashes. I cannot stand how every 6-8 minutes a new version is released that is differentiated from its predecessor only by the colour of the on/off button. But most of all I despise how it consumes everyday life. You forever see groups of people in coffee shops huddled around a table simply WhatsApping each other or Tweeting friends who aren’t there. Society is dead, killed by the poisoned Apple.

That said, can I let you in on a little secret? They are quite cool and one day I will probably end up with one. But for now I am happy with my Blackberry Curve, which is about three years old and has not let me down once. Why do I love it so much? Well, for a smart phone it is simple to use, functional, it is as tough as nails, – and considering how many times I have dropped it, that is important – and finally it is not garish.

I don’t like brash, gaudy things, I like simplicity. Take my choice of cars for example. I love cars, but there are many things within a car that I do not need, therefore I will not spend money on having them. I have never used a SatNav in my life since I don’t see the need; I don’t really need electric windows, either. I like my cars to look simple, that’s why my favourite cars are generally older, like a MKII VW Scirocco, a Ford Capri, Peugeot 205GTi and so on. Give me a Ferrari 458 or a Rolls Royce Phantom and I will scratch my head and ask why it is so?

The same is true of my home, and where I choose to stay when I am away. My hotel choice is always based on how simple and how cleverly decorated it is; I cannot stand tacky hotels. Once, many years ago in Brighton, I was looking for a place to stay the night and stumbled across one hotel that offered themed rooms. All that was left was the Elvis room, but I didn’t fancy that. It was horrendous in the extreme. Plus, the Maitre D wouldn’t have looked out of place presenting Top of the Pops in the 1970’s…

I only know one of them! And they're getting their own hotel!?

I only know one of them! And they’re getting their own hotel!?

Neatly, this brings me onto the point of today’s missive; how many millions of Dirhams would I have to be paid to stay in the Jackson Family Hotel and Resort that has been proposed for Yas Island? The answer, thus far, is infinite Dirhams.

Forgive me, and I’m only being honest here, but the UAE does have a tendency to be a bit tacky. You only have to walk around Home Centre or Homes R Us during one of their seemingly never-ending 70% off sales to see the kind of monstrosities that people buy. Purple velour cushions, gold painted wingback armchairs, chesterfield sofas; it’s all so hateful.

But put the shopping basket down for a moment and step outside. Do you see Ferrari World? Is there anything more self-indulgent than or as horrific as that? What about the homage to the Elizabeth Tower of The Palace of Westminster (incorrectly referred to as Big Ben) on Sheikh Zayed Road? My, there’s even a fake Alp in Mall of the Emirates.

It’s on a smaller level too, what possible use is vending machine that pays out gold? If you are city trader who understands how the value of gold fluctuates then you will invest your money correctly and accordingly. You wouldn’t see Gordon Gekko stroll up to the gold ATM in Dubai Mall and take out a wedge of bullion, would you?

When things are done properly over here they are incredible. For all its pointlessness, the Burj Khalifa is impressive. The Anatara Resort on SirBaniyasIsland in the Western region is also nicely done; but a Jackson 5 and Janet and Michael and Michael’s kids themed resort? How can this go well?

I’m trying to think of the themes; and I can’t pen them all down without offending everyone. I mean, in their original guise they were a revolutionary and very popular band, but there was so much better out there at the time; The Beatles? The Rolling Stones? That’s like living in a world where Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Lamborghini make the best super-cars, and then Rover come along and open a theme park. Why? They weren’t the best, and in all honesty, were a little bit of a joke.

Besides, Michael’s personal foibles were a global scandal, how can that then be used as the face of a welcoming family resort? What next, Jimmy Saville Land? The Jackson’s were popular, I’m not denying that, but Michael was always the one who epitomised them. I just had to check Wikipedia for the names of the others; and if I don’t know who Tito Jackson is then how will the expected clientele know? Are there enough Jackson family fans in the UAE to justify its construction?

I doubt it. But I’m sure that just like when people un-necessarily upgrade their iPhones, whether it is needed or not, it will happen anyway. I knew society was dead, but sense too?

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156. Speed limits

The other day, before I went off on a mad tangent about personal quandaries, I began by complaining about the latest means by which to stop road traffic accidents. In case you missed it, speed limits in Dubai are to be reduced by a whopping 10 kph on expressways – such as Sheikh Zayed Road – and a further something or another on roads for which I wasn’t paying attention. This, they say, will reduce the amount of accidents because everyone will be driving 10 kph slower.

This is a classic case of missing the point. It would seem that no matter where you go in this world the silent, law abiding masses are forced to suffer for the follies of those who lack a moral compass. The reduction of speed limits is futile, 100%.

Yes, son, I know you're a good driver. But you did a traffic boo boo and now you're in trouble...

Yes, son, I know you’re a good driver. But you did a traffic boo boo and now you’re in trouble…

At present, Shiekh Zayed Road has a limit of 120 kph. It is known throughout Dubai circles as the most deadly road in the UAE. According to a set of misinterpreted Facebook statuses and brazen Tweets, 7 million people are involved in crashes along Dubai’s flagship expressway every minute. But before the high and the mighty bombard me with “speed kills” messages and subject the rest of you to their opinions as opposed to facts; can I point out how few crashes there have been when a car has been travelling at a steady 120 kph minding its own business? Well I cant, and nor can you back up your nonsensical claptrap to the contrary, either. But that won’t stop me giving it a go.

The idea of a man driving his Nissan Sunny at 120 kph along Shiekh Zayed Road is simple to picture. There he is, two hands on the wheel, right foot on the throttle, bit of Kenny and Accalia and a due sense of respect and understanding for the limit imposed. Then, from the port side, a fellow road user swings out of nowhere cutting in front of Nissan Sunny man, clipping the wing and rolling it. Was speed to blame for this? Like hell it was. It was the pure idiocy of the other driver who failed to signal or check his mirrors before proceeding to swerve.

Now, the self-righteous and the pious I’m sure will slam down their tea cups and tell me that “if the lane-swerver was going slower he would never have rolled!” And you’re absolutely right. I agree that if both Nissan Sunny man and the swervista had both been driving at 40 kph then it would have been nothing but a simple scratch. But if you think that there is any notable difference between 110 and 120 kph when it comes to collisions of that nature then I’m afraid the planet Earth has no further need of you.

I charge you to put down your copy of Marxism for Dummies and check into a hotel along Sheikh Zayed Road. Book a room with a view over the road and sit there observing what is going on. By applying a simple mathematic equation you will come to the conclusion that only 0.83% of Shiekh Zayed Road users are uncouth and dangerous. No, really, most people are law abiding citizens who sit comfortably at the speed limit.

The problems lie elsewhere. Idiots who have no sense of lane law are the biggest killers out there, and then there are those who think that the indicator stalk is simply a hook for which to hang their sunglasses. There’s more, Dubai itself can be blamed to a degree by not furnishing the road with adequate signage. If the exits were signposted properly then people wouldn’t need to suddenly cut across several lanes leaving a trail of fire and destruction in their wakes.

Finally, and most obviously, we have those who are over-compensating for the size of their modest vegetables. Johnny Big-Potatoes with is modified Hummer loves nothing more than to hoon along Sheikh Zayed Road at 200 kph listening to Spice Girls remixes. He has no concerns about speeding fines because they don’t even dent his wallet. If the police want to take his Hummer then no matter, he’ll go home and get the FJ Cruiser out, which by the way is the ugliest and most repulsive car in the history of the human race. He doesn’t care for speed limits, why should he? He has nowhere to be and life is just a bit of fun. If he is racing along at 200 kph then it is only the other road users that will have to slow down, he is still able to continue to do as he pleases.

The solution, then? Don’t bother changing the speed limits by the most pointless of margins. Anyone caught driving recklessly, in any capacity, should have their vegetables boiled instead.

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155. Problems

I was going to come before you all today and complain, vehemently, about the latest proposal to drop speed limits by 10kp/h in Dubai. This, they say, will double the population by next year as even the raciest of drivers finally heed the instructions of the speed limits and stay planted at a gentleman’s 110.

But the situation has changed. Sometimes a genuine situation arises that requires immediate attention. More often than not, if something can be classified as a situation, then it invariably means it is bad. How do we deal with uncomfortable personal situations from over here on the Arabian Peninsula?

If in need of a smile, always click on the puppy

If in need of a smile, always click on the puppy

We all have stuff going on, but it is always that much harder to do ones duty when we are 2000, 4000, or 12,000 miles away from home. How do you assist with a feud over the phone? How do you try to get people talking again over Twitter when you are not there to witness the true actions? How do you break bad news to someone who – despite assuring you of the contrary – will likely fall apart the minute you put down the phone?

Well, and please cover your eyes if you don’t want to know the truth: you can’t. You are helpless. You can’t protect people from themselves. You’ve got to man up, do your duty and let them make their own choices. Sometimes people just need to be told the truth.

I really can’t be bothered to go on any more. What I will say is that when you are feeling a little bit down because you have had to deal with an unsavoury situation with someone of personal importance, just make sure you have a couple of friends over here to talk to. Luckily, I have one such person, and in eight weeks she will be my wife. And thanks to the nasty last 30 minutes of my day, our wedding day will be completely perfect.

Oh, and one more thought on the speed limits thing; law abiding citizens who drive at 120kph don’t hurt anyone. It’s the morons who peg it at 200kph while talking on their phones whom you should be after.

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154. Roundabouts II

Everything in life has a purpose, apart from flies, obviously. It is true that when you buy a phone these days it is not solely intended to make and receive calls. It will also provide you with internet access, maps, and applications that simulate your friends being killed by meteor-showers. Furthermore, it will allow you to remind the rest of us what you look like with a pouty face in the mirror and give us an insight into the texture and form of your stool through social mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pictaface, and Tumblr.

Phones these days are multi-purpose. If you have an iPhone, what is the point of having an iPad? Isn’t it essentially the same thing but only bigger and more expensive but doesn’t allow you to phone someone on a drunken night out? Further still, what is the point of having a lap top, or even a desk top computer? Black leather address book? No, gone. All replaced by the insatiable beast that is common technology.

One day, when iPhones rule the world, I swear they will look at us primates in zoos and think to themselves “surely this lot weren’t the creators? How did they, these humans, ever invent us, the omnipotent iPhone 40 million and 12? They couldn’t even remain within two white painted lines nor could they apply logic and select the only appropriate lane relative to their destination.”

As the common human laughed at the inability of the dodo to survive the evolutionary washing machine, the iPhones of the future will laugh at us for not being able to use roundabouts properly.

I have written about this before, but how, really, can you not use a roundabout correctly? How hard is it? The UAE is peppered with roundabouts since, if used correctly, they are the ultimate form of junction. Would I prefer to have a crossroad with traffic lights? Absolutely not, spare me from such iniquity. The crossroad is the lazy mans solution; leaving the control of the junction to some malevolent, supercilious, self-obsessed set of traffic lights? No, that’s what the iPhones want. Human chaos controlled by technology. No. No, no, no.

The roundabout is nature’s way of giving us a fighting chance against the inevitable iPhone invasion. When i-Day comes we can stand tall together and say that we, the human race that has collectively won and lost every single war it has ever started on itself, was able to allow traffic to flow freely without the need for electronic technology. We will be great again.

However, there is bad news. It would appear that there are very few around that have worked out what to do with roundabouts. Allow me to illustrate: on the typical Al Ain roundabout there are three lanes. On the approach you must select which is most suitable for you and your desired exit. Now, on your traditional four-exit roundabout you should be in the left lane should you wish to take the third or fourth exits (i.e. a lefterly direction or a U-turn). Should you wish to go straight on – the second exit – then you will ideally stay in the middle lane or remain in the right. Should you wish to take the first exit off the roundabout then you remain in the right lane only.

Whatever your choice of direction is once on the roundabout, you do not break formation. There are white lines on the ground. This is paint. Babies know what paint is. Hell, dogs know what paint is. In fact, scarily, an iPhone can tell you what type of paint it is. You stay within your markers. Should you drift beyond your markers then you are a traitor, a pawn to our future i-Leaders. If you are in the wrong lane, or you have strayed over the white lines because you made an error on trajectory, then you should a) have your license revoked, b) have to re-sit your driving test and c) accept that a phone, yes, a phone, is smarter than you.

This should slow down the first wave of iPhone invaders...

This should slow down the first wave of iPhone invaders…

But there’s more. How many times have you been sat there waiting to enter the roundabout when Johnny Over-Compensating-For-Something is screeching round like Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder? In such a case I would be tempted to play hard ball and risk all – for a laugh. But I am uncouth and brazen and would not recommend you follow suit. I like to put up a fight.

Then there are those who continue to park on roundabouts. I’m sorry, but if anyone is caught doing this then they should have their tyres removed and then be made to wear them. Who could possibly think that that is a good idea? Whatsapp message: “Hi m8. fancy meetin up l8rz? Wht bout RA wit da rock on it?” No! Go to a restaurant and have a meal like normal people for goodness sake!

How will we ever trounce the iPhone invasion if we cannot keep our simple cars – which are powered by a series of successive explosions – between two thin veneers of paint, stay left to go left or right to go right, or continue to treat them as car parks? When the first wave of Angry Birds come, I’m staying away from roundabouts and taking the high road into the desert.

I know that in this multi-purpose world it can seem that everything must have more than just one function. But that is not the case. There are still many things that have been designed to serve one purpose and one purpose only. Roundabouts are to managing traffic as mirrors are to reflecting things. Don’t let these glorious circular beacons of hope go the way of the conventional phone.

Because when the iPhones take over and we’re all caged up in zoos, we will become evolutions greatest joke of all.

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150. Petrol Station

This week there have been many shocking revelations in News-o-sphere. Helen Flanagan was voted “Britain’s Sexiest Woman”, another Conservative MP has found himself in hot water and of course the BBC continues to spiral into the scandalous abyss. But that’s Britain; what of the UAE? Well, Justin Bieber got asked for ID in a nightclub, failed to get served a pint, so left on the roof of a car. Property prices in Dubai soared. Then property prices in Dubai dipped. But of all the stories to have caught my eye this week, the revelation pertaining to petrol stations had my arms up the high-most.

From next week there will be ten petrol stations in Dubai that will switch over to self-service between midnight and 6am. In case you require any further elaboration, that means that between midnight and 6am there will be no forecourt attendant; you will have to get out and fill her up yourself.

Stop the presses.

I have just come round after collapsing with shock at this announcement, and I find myself in the uncomfortable situation of having to drag this subject out over 1000 words; but where to begin? Stupidity seems as good a place as any. This has been tried before back in 2008. Dubai and the Northern Emirates trialled 10 or so petrol stations as self-service but the scheme was cut short since – and I quote – “two thirds of the people didn’t like it and couldn’t work out what to do.” Are these the same people who are allowed to drive cars on the road and raise children I wonder?

In the UK, and indeed most of the world, the standard practice when wishing to refuel ones car is to pull up at the pump, turn the engine off, get out, open the filler cap, pick up the nozzle of choice, put it in and squeeze until the dial annoyingly says £10.01. You then go into the kiosk, pick up some Smarties and a Daily Mail, pay the man who speaks Urdu, return to the car and you’re done. This is something that we all do. It is, in essence, an easy process.

Now I want to make it plain that Britain is not the brains of the world, we are the nation that people like Helen Flanagan, Amy Childs, and Alex Reid call home. They too share the Queens’ message in their passports just like I do. These people are just able to fathom which end of a dart to throw and, I presume, are able to successfully use a toilet. But even they are capable of driving themselves to the local BP garage and putting £20.01 of Unleaded into their Citroen C1. Well, without setting themselves alight anyway.

Reading some of the quotes from actual people – people who have been assessed and then given legal permission to control a car that can exceed speeds of 150kph – I find myself alarmed. “What do I do?” said one; “what if there is a fire?” said another. “How do I pay?” was my personal favourite. I am genuinely worried for my own safety, what if I encounter one of these people on the road? If they can’t work out how to use a fuel pump then what will happen if they need to do an emergency stop on Sheikh Zayed Road?

How do you put out a fire? Well, picking up an extinguisher and aiming it and the base would be a good start. Not knowing how to put out a fire is…well…unbelievable. What if your kitchen caught alight and your kids were in there? Panicking won’t help; you could try poking the flames with a broom I guess.

Furthermore, how in the name of the almighty can you not know which fuel your car runs on? What have you been telling the man at the pump? One woman said that she didn’t know which fuel her car ran on so left it up to the man to decide. Wonderful; how the hell can you not know?! Is she allowed to have children? Will she also not know that cutlery shouldn’t be jammed into live plug sockets?

Get. Out. The. Car......Mate.

Get. Out. The. Car……Mate.

The UAE is predominantly a service industry nation, and since labour is so cheap people have been afforded convenience on an unprecedented scale. You have a man for this, a man for that, the only thing you need to worry about is getting out of bed and picking your nose, everything else is done for you.

I’ve always thought that having a man wearing blue trousers and a moustache to fill my car is phenomenally lazy. Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderfully convenient, especially when it’s 50 Celsius outside and you can remain in an air-conditioned paradise. But what will we all do when Mad Max happens?

Sometimes I find myself embarrassed to be a human being. Any motorist who does not know how to put petrol into a car should have their driving license revoked and then be chemically castrated. No, really. If you can’t fill your tank then how will you be able to stop your child from electrocuting themselves?

The only positive aspect about being an ignorant, thick, air-heard is that you stand a better chance of making lots of money and being voted “Britain’s Sexiest Unspecified Gender.”

The world really has gone mad. Depressing.

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