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Friday, March 14, 2008

Driving in the Middle East

In light of the recent disaster on the Dubai- Abu Dhabi road in the United Arab Emirates (pictured above) here are some comments on driving in the ME from BBC news readers (by that I mean "readers of the news", not "newsreaders"). I like the one about drivers in Israel not knowing how to handle rain! We say that all the time here. It's like all hell breaks lose and there are accidents everywhere.

In my own experience, it's rather like bumper cars or go-carts, only with more expensive and more destructive vehicles, usually driven by less than qualified drivers, minors, or rich kids who don't give a shit who they hurt and will only ever slow down if they see a female walking alongside the road so he can desperately try to either get her number or haul her off to rape her in the desert. Okay, okay, not EVERY driver there does that, but I'm describing the worst ones.
I recall a time when I was so sick and tired of all these cars slowing down to try to talk to me that I kicked the last one I saw that day. It wasn't as dramatic as I'd hope as I was wearing sandals that day. It was actually kind of pathetic and the guy laughed.

Should you ever find yourself driving in the Middle East, please take these factors into consideration:

1) Red lights are optional.
2) Rules don't apply to the rich.
3) No, that isn't a car driving itself, it's a 10 year old kid.
4) Indicators? We don't need no stinkin' indicators. You'll KNOW when I'm changing lanes when you see my license plate inches from your face.
5) Windows may be tinted to the point that the driver may as well be wearing a tea cosy over his head.
6) Single digit vanity plates are worth more than your child's college education.
7) Should you take a taxi alone and you're female, assume it as a given that 40% of your taxi drivers will try to molest you, even if you're in your damn school uniform and you tell the man you don't care if he "loves" you, just turn right at the next stop sign so you can get out the damn car and get started on your homework.
8) NEVER under ANY circumstances slow down as you approach a zebra crossing (crosswalk) because no one else freaking does. Those pedestrians know damn well what they're getting themselves in to when they take one step out onto that road. It's Frogger from here on in, baby!

The funny thing is, I thought it was bad there, but nothing prepared me for Cairo! In Cairo, LANES are optional, but that's an entirely different story for another day.


Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

Excellent list! I was gonna say, lanes are mearly suggestions or at the most, annoying bumps under your tires as one weaves and bobs through traffic over the reflectors.

Cairogal said...

Having endured Cairo and Dubai driving, I have to say that while the Cairo streets are seemingly lawless, the streets in the UAE are so much more dangerous. The reason? In Egypt cars are generally older, slower, and smaller, and traffic is so congested in the cities (ok..Dubai is a nightmare these days). Don't get me wrong: I've been in Cairo taxis that turned left onto a roundabout simply because the street they wanted to access was closer from the left than the right. Still...less 4 x 4s, less "young man" testosterone on the streets and able to afford the fancy big/fast cars.

TeacherLady said...

Cairogal, that's a pretty accurate assessment... Good point. The Dubai cars are more powerful and scary than the ones I saw in Cairo. And it seems to me that the Cairo drivers were so used to how things were that they could handle the lawlessness a lot better.

Moey said...

I'm doing a homework about traffic awareness as a poster, and your post inspired me.


TeacherLady said...

Moey, great! Also, feel free to include the fact that school kids are not safe in and on school buses in the ME either... They don't have those stop signs that prevent other drivings from speeding past as kids are getting off the bus and sometimes having to cross the road to get to their house. I just read about a girl in the UAE who got run over by the bus itself and was killed. They just don't wait to ensure the child has reached safety before moving off.

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Gila said...

Drivers in Israel are crazy. Drivers in Egypt were much worse. As in, I got back to Israel and marveled at the safe and sensible driving patterns. :)

Have not checked out Dubai. I suspect I would just spent the entire time, huddled on the sidewalk, afraid to cross the road.