how to treat the vulnerable (Dubai driving style)

Allison was recently on her way to drop Ian off at the babysitter, running late, fiercely hungry and eating a piece of cold pizza as she drove. She pulled into the main road that runs through our suburb of Dubai, and moved into the left lane (the UAE drives on the right), signalling to make the u-turn she needed. A large Mercedes, doing something in the region of 120kph (in a 60kph school zone),  came barrelling up behind her, flashing its lights. Since her u-turn was imminent, she declined to move out of the way, figuring that if he was so desperate to get where he was going at such speed, he could go around her on the inside.

Which is exactly what he did – except that he then sped, shaking his fists and otherwise gesticulating, into the u-turn lane in front of her, and came slamming to a halt in order to block her path. He turned out to be an Emirati man (not that all dangerous drivers are Emirati, by any means), with his wife in full abeya and shayla (the black covering the local women wear). He buzzed down his window and continued to shout and make threatening gestures, while his wife joined in. Allison visibly shrugged her shoulders, and put another piece of pizza in her mouth. This seemed to particularly inflame the driver’s wife, who began scoffing  in angry imitation.

Having no time to spare, and scared that the man and/or his wife were about to get out of their expensive machine and attack her, Allison moved to turn back into the road, thinking that she would go along to the next traffic light and make her turn there. Once again, the man moved to cut her off, and continued to shout  what was presumably (in Arabic) abuse.

When he had finally had his fill, he pulled the wheel around and sped off into the distance; it turned out that he hadn’t wanted to make the u-turn at all, merely to punish Allison for her temerity in not getting out of his way directly upon demand, at whatever inconvenience to herself. That she was a woman no doubt doubled the offence, as well as the licence.

When Allison told me this, I had a number of feelings, but among them  was one of pity for the couple’s family. If they can behave like that in public, what do they do to their kids?

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