It took some getting used to, Dubai driving. I've only been driving here for about four months though my Dubai license is almost a year old. I really didn't need it – at least, not until I moved to this job – the office of which is so far away, I'll draw you a map sometime...
Dubai Driving is different. Everybody's an asshole on the road. Yes, including me. I have my moments too; no matter if I meant to or if I accidentally let Stupidity take over the wheel for a while.
It's sometimes scary, traveling along Al Khail Road and Emirates Road (the highways or express ways at the outskirts of Dubai with a 120 km/hr speed limit) which I take to avoid Dubai city traffic. It's like a cemetery of sorts – you see debris on the sides that remind you of accidents that happened before.
Once, traffic slowed down because the cars in my lane were avoiding a pile of broken glass from what looked like a recent accident. For a week now, there's this piece of tire that's been left on Al Khail road. And of course, the cars themselves – you see them, broken, smashed, totally thrashed by the sides until they're towed away.
Accidents here are a given. People get hurt. People die. I've just increased my chances of dying in a car accident by making the decision to drive (and when I die, please review my entry 'Will you visit me when I die'). It's not morbidity, mind you, it's reality (Ma, if you're reading this, I drive SAFELY).
Anyway, here's some pet peeves on the road:
Classic stupidity on big roundabouts, you're supposed to turn right if you're on the outer lane. Of course they don't. And then they glare at you for almost hitting them. Still on roundabouts, one peeve that really makes my blood boil is when others encroach on your lane. The key to roundabouts is simply to stick to your lane, but no, there are plenty of drivers who, when turning, encroach on the nearest lane – it's an accident waiting to happen!
Next, people changing lanes without signaling – really, how hard is it to flick that signal before swerving to another lane?
Boxed in traffic or a red light, with no other way to pass, the guy behind honks – what's up with that? There's no way to go unless he gets out of the car and starts walking.
People on mobile phones! Man, you'd think they can afford hands free cables or bluetooth devices with their flashy cars, but no, they have to hold their phones to their ears, drive slowly on the fastest lane or next to it, and more often than not, drive in the middle of two lanes. Get off the road for everybody's sake!
Well, this one happened only once, but, on a four lane road, the lanes on both my sides were free, as in nobody else was there except the two of us. This guy pulls up behind me and starts flashing (flashing means, get out of the way because he wants to go ahead). Why did he need to flash and make me get out of my lane when he can overtake on both sides or on the left, which is the proper way to do it?
Dubai streets are almost always changing, which is quite understandable with all the construction going on. Unfortunately, there's no warning. Like the exit I take on Al Khail road (which I take everyday) was suddenly moved a few meters forward. Luckily, I was on the rightmost lane and didn't miss it the first day it changed.
Another weird effect of these changes show in the road signs. On diversions, it's becoming increasingly hard not to get lost. There are road signs true, but some signs are about 2-3 meters inside a turn! So, instead of seeing which road you need, you end up taking a turn where the sign is, reading the sign and then determining where you need to go back to find my way. I tell you, making u-turns here are not easy, especially in some areas. One time, we found ourselves laughing our asses off, for a change the sign was before the turn. So we turned where we were supposed to. On turning, the road immediately opened up to another diversion with NO signs where each lane is going!
The other day, I saw a cat on the side of the road. It was dead; the body twisted to the right, the head facing oncoming traffic. Once I saw it, the thought that it was thrown out a moving vehicle's window immediately came to mind. Its fur was so white and it looked healthy. Yesterday, it was a gray blob by the side of the road, the head no longer visible. This morning it was gross group of gray-maroon blobs with bones scattered for emphasis.
words: Ria, Dubai (dubai yuki)
photo: Sheila Lynne, Georgia (Scarlets Walk)