happy days are here again…

Tuesday night I drove from Sharjah University City to Latifa Hospital in Dubai and back again. One way it takes about 20 minutes when the roads are clear. This time, including a 20-minute stop at the hospital, it was a two-and-a-half-hour round trip.

On the way over, on Emirates Road, traffic ground pretty much to a standstill: six lanes moving at a walking place for a distance somewhere between 500 metres and a kilometre. Up ahead, I could see a blue flashing light: accident on our carriageway, I thought. Not so: when I got there, the accident was on the other side, Sharjah-bound, and the whole jam on our side was down to pure rubbernecking. After all these years, I oughtn’t to be, but I was still flabbergasted…

On the way back, I took the outer Dubai bypass to avoid the toils of Emirates road Sharjah-bound. Probably a mistake: the turn from the Hatta arterial road out of Dubai onto the Sharjah-bound lanes of the outer bypass consisted of a single lane, so traffic trying to get onto this was backed up a couple of kilometers down the road. This didn’t use to be a problem during the bust, but now it is; conspiracy theories I have heard sprang to mind, about how Dubai limits ease of transport access to Sharjah so that rents, rather than equalizing at lower Sharjah levels, stay high in Dubai…

But that line of thought was dealt a blow by the next, truly epic jam: down the hill to the University City exit off the outer bypass, a crawling backup several kilometers deep, as six lanes narrow to three, and then to two for the turnoff. The last couple of kilometers took half an hour. And this junction is on Sharjah turf.

did anybody mention public transport? or even that an oil-producing economy based on growing private car use will ultimately cannibalize its own export revenue stream?

Finally, with that turn accomplished, on the Maleha road back into Sharjah, another five-minute snarl at walking pace: again, this turned out to be pure rubberneck. Even on the last leg, some people would rather stare at someone else’s misfortune than race to their own homes; but maybe their families are far away, and there is nothing at home to compete for excitement with a car crash on the road….

Plus ca change…

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