Driving in Dubai

Jade Bremner experiences the world of 'bumping' in Dubai

The Knowledge

This week I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a car in Dubai. I’m not really a car person, especially not a flashy car person – but when in Rome and all that. I’m from London, where driving is far more complicated than using the Tube. As a result, you become quite accustomed to taking a rattling metal can to work every day, and even begin to bizarrely enjoy the experience of standing with your face in someone’s armpit for an hour (or perhaps that’s just me).

Maybe this is just nostalgia talking, and I know that reminiscing about the Underground is a slice of home I should leave behind, so last week I bit the bullet and decided to test-drive my friend’s BMW Z4 in view of buying a sports car. While experiencing the speed and undeniable comfort, I also experienced a whole other driving fashion: ‘bumping’. And ironically, it has nothing to do with collisions.

Usually, if someone pulls up next to me, I presume they’re going to criticise my driving, ask for directions, or – in the worst-case scenario – they’re an axe murderer.

So I wasn’t altogether thrilled when a Mercedes with blacked-out windows slowed down next to my friend and I on Jumeirah Beach Road. But as I contemplated calling the police or pretending the banana
in my bag was a gun, my friend rolled down the window and started chatting, and they eventually sped off. Similar events continued for the rest of my ‘test drive’: we were heckled by a group of people in a souped-up Jeep, beeped at by a man in a Porsche, and pursued along Sheikh Zayed Road by someone I presume must have caused a fair number of car crashes in a quest to show off such a flash car. Or perhaps that person really was an axe murderer.

Not used to being heckled here in the UAE, I was gobsmacked by all the attention. ‘It’s the car,’ said my friend. ‘Welcome to the world of bumping.’ It seems that here in Dubai, a flash car – much like a designer dress or a pair of killer heels – attracts attention, whether you like it or not. Faced with a future of slightly intimidating ‘bumping’, I waved goodbye to my friend, her shiny car and the idea of buying one. Bring on the metro!

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