Driving in Dubai

Nyree Barrett wakes up one morning to realise she’s become a monster on four wheels

The Knowledge

The man who taught me to drive was the owner of the finest mullet I’ve ever seen. His mother named him Rodney, but my brothers and I dubbed him ‘Business up front, party out the back’. Yes, we joked about his hairstyle (ruthlessly), but the Rodster’s command of the wheel was serious business.

‘It’s 10 and two!’ he used to bark whenever my hands brazenly slipped away from the traditional ‘clock face’ position. ‘You must hold the wheel at 10 and two!’ ‘Indicate!’ he would shout when I forgot to give other drivers three seconds’ warning, adjusting his walking socks with agitation.

Rodney was a master sensei, he taught me well, and my first few years of driving life were an ode to the man’s motor morals. But if Rodney saw me now, I fear he would hang his mulleted head in shame at my lack of discipline.Don’t get me wrong, I don’t break the RTA’s rules, but I certainly break Rodney’s. I no longer pause to let other drivers pull out, I have a rage bubbling inside me that erupts with the slightest provocation and my hands are too busy gesticulating to sit in the 10-and-two position.

In day-to-day life I’m actually quite calm, but put me behind the wheel on Emirates Road during rush hour and a scary hybrid of Joan Rivers (sarcastic, peroxide blonde) and Russell Crowe (angry Antipodean) emerges: it’s not pleasant for my passengers, nor for the Lancer that dared to drive at 70km in the second-to-fastest lane.

Back home in New Zealand, the gravel artery that runs up the North Island is mostly two-laned and often perilously bendy (imagine the road to Musandam). I remember being taken aback by the quality of the mammoth motorways when I arrived in Dubai six years ago. Especially when I saw the beautiful road that winds up Jebel Hafeet, leading to just two hotels and a seemingly private home.

Rodney’s seemingly expressionless face would light up at the majestic splendour of roads like this. Yet he’d soon be rocking quietly in the foetal position if he saw the way Dubai’s drivers swerve, speed and sway all over them. The problems go way beyond 10-and-two discipline here, Rodders.

Yes, you may have six lanes to choose from, Peter Porsche, but that doesn’t mean you have to wind between them like an angry wasp.

And you, Mr Prado – yes, I’m talking to you: the lanes on Al Khail Road are lovely and wide, so why do you need to drive smack-bang in the middle of two of them? We have beautiful, straight highways here: it’s almost an effort to have a collision on them. So please, let’s all hire our own Rodneys and learn how to drive within the lines.

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