Some Important Advice for Dubai Drivers – Learn how to Drive!

I am generally a patient, understanding person.  I can go with the flow.  But the idiot driver squad has been out in full force lately and I just lost my patience.

Last week I was driving on Sheikh Zayed (the main highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and noticed an old Toyota van driving suspiciously a few cars ahead.  It was going much too slowly in the fast lane and refused to move over.  When a Mercedes G Wagon tried to pass him, the van finally decided to move and almost hit him.  The van moved back without looking and almost hit a Range Rover.  The Range Rover slammed on its breaks and another G Wagon swerved to avoid the collision.  This went on for a few kilometres, the van weaving all over the road at various speeds wreaking havoc on all of the cars around him.  Eventually one of the G Wagons had enough.  He slowed in front of the van, put on his four way flashers on and began gesturing wildly out the window.  I’m not sure what happened after that but as I passed the danger zone without incident I said a silent thank you to the gentleman in the G Wagon.

Sheikh Zayed HWY

Today, a truck didn’t want to wait in line at a stop light to turn right.  He honked loudly at me and when I refused to drive my sports car over the SUV in front of me to let him by he drove up on the side walk between me and a road sign, paused long enough to angrily wave his hands in the air and glare at me, then made his turn. Baffled, I looked to the car on my left and we all laughed at the absurdity of what just happened.

There are some things you realize you will just have to accept on Dubai’s roads. People are going to tailgate you at high speeds and flash their lights if you don’t move over fast enough.  People are going to turn on their four way flashers every time there is a hint of traffic ahead.  The roads will always be in a permanent state of construction and sometimes you may not be sure how to get home from work.

That said, there are some things I am struggling to accept.

Camel Crossing

I can’t say I am a perfect driver all the time but I do have some common sense.  In an effort to educate the drivers who concern me the most, I have compiled a helpful list of simple road rules.

  • Your car has a blinker (or signal or whatever you want to call it).  Use it.
  • In the rare case that you do use it, don’t wait until you are already turning.  More importantly, if you signal that you are going to turn right, turn right.  Not left.
  • When you commit to entering a roundabout, don’t slam on your brakes for no reason.  I will drive into the back of you and neither of us will be happy about it.
  • If you miss your exit (or in the case of taxi drivers, you spot a potential customer a couple hundred metres metres behind you) don’t back up into oncoming traffic. Find another way to get where you are going.
  • If you do need to reverse for some reason, look behind you first.
  • If you are going to tailgate me at high speed and madly flash your lights when I don’t move out of the way fast enough (because it is not safe to do so), don’t start driving slower than me 30 seconds later.
  • Don’t excessively speed on the highway in Dubai then slam on your brakes every time you see a radar as if it is a surprise.   You know there is one every two kilometres.  You are not going to significantly improve your time.
  • Don’t pull up beside me while we’re driving 140km/hour on the highway, roll down your heavily tinted window and try to get my phone number.  I’m not going to give it to you.
  • Speed bumps mean you should slow down. Taxi drivers, you are not exempt from this rule.
  • Drive between the lines that are painted on the highway, not on them.
  • Don’t take your eyes off the road to gawk at the Rolls/ Ferrari/ SLR/ Bentley/ Porsche.  You’ll see another one in a minute or two.
  • Just because you don’t feel like waiting in the line up for the U-turn doesn’t mean you should randomly U-turn from the next lane over.
  • Don’t let your kids hang out the windows or sunroof of your vehicle.
  • If there is clearly nowhere for the car in front of you to go, don’t honk repeatedly.  It is seriously annoying.
  • If the windows of your car are so dirty or so tinted that you can’t see out of them, maybe you should fix the issue.
  • Don’t randomly park in the middle of the road because it is more convenient.
  • The red stop lights on Palm Jumeirah mean you should stop.  To avoid running over pedestrians.
  • If you are not satisfied with the speed of traffic in the fast lane, don’t make a new lane on the narrow shoulder between me and the barrier.  Its not smart.
  • Don’t pop a wheelie or other such stunts in your truck on the highway.  Also not smart.
  • There is this thing called “etiquette” when two lanes need to merge into one…

I may have missed a few but this should be a good start.  I hope it is helpful!

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