Monday, November 1, 2010

Driving in the UAE: a daily adventure

I remember the first piece of advice I got when I moved here:

‘While on the road, be very alert. Anything can happen.’

Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that was no joke. People here drive like maniacs!

Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this video by a reporter from The National, a local paper:

Crazy, but true. And what you just saw are not random things you bump into sporadically. Quite the opposite: they happen every single day.

People around here drive recklessly. They don’t think ahead, they don’t consider other drivers or pedestrians and they don’t follow basic road safety rules. To make matters worse, they use a series of electronic devices while driving and speed like crazy, sometimes passing by you at 200km/h.

Result? Well, according to a recent article in Gulf News, another local paper, in 2009 Abu Dhabi had a total of 2,258,481 traffic violations, 116,487 traffic accidents and 1,697 deaths caused by traffic accidents.

It’s not pretty.

As someone once told me, the key to drive in the UAE is to always keep in mind that people will actually do whatever you believe can’t ever be done.

So, before attempting to drive here, learn this simple exercise. It goes something like this…

‘He won’t attempt to move from lane 5 to 1 to catch exit 139 just around the corner.’
Yes he will. Get out of the way!

‘He is already driving at 180km/h. He will see me here and slow down.’
No he won’t. Get out of the way!

‘The road is packed. These two cars can’t possibly be accelerating to start racing with each other.’
Yes they can. Get out of the way!

‘I’ve signaled. She will slow down so I can turn left.”
No she won’t. Get out of the way!

In the mood for a drive?


  1. Nossa, que aventura. Dirigir na Austrália, pelo menos em Sydney, era uma tranquilidade só. A minha única reclamação por lá era a buzina. Eles adoram buzinar por qualquer coisa por lá. Mas fora isso, todos respeitam as leis de trânsito e os pedestres.

    Quando voltei pro Rio, disse que nunca mais voltaria a dirigir por aqui. Mas, ainda bem que o ser humano é adaptável e a gente se acostuma com as coisas de novo.


  2. Hahah! You should see people driving in Mexico City. From what I've seen there, people don't drive as bad as in mexico.

  3. Hi Gustavo, thanks for your comment! Will be wide alert if I ever go to Mexico!