In the weeks since I got back from DC, I’ve been spending more time working out of The National’s Dubai office. An unexpected, and unwelcome, change in J’s schedule blew up the carpool arrangement, and I decided that I was going to start splitting my time between the two cities.

The days I don’t have to drive into Abu Dhabi are much less stressful. I can actually consider meeting friends after work or running an errand. It makes the workday much easier. And I’ve been taking the Dubai Metro. The JLT station in front of the building next door opened a few weeks ago. I get off at the World Trade Centre stop, which is also right next to the office building where the bureau is. To seal my commuting credentials, I picked up a “nol” card — an old Persian word that means fare — and filled it with 20 dirhams.

a ticket to ride

Right now, the metro has only one line, the Red Line which starts on the end of Dubai close to Abu Dhabi in Jebel Ali. (Jebel Ali was supposed to be a new “city” with a downtown, its own Palm development and a business district. It seems largely halted though I don’t think any official word has come down. Right now, it’s got a free zone, which houses an industrial complex of warehouses and office buildings. Anyway …)

The train largely follows Sheikh Zayed Road until just past Emirates Towers. I haven’t ridden it past there but it eventually winds over to the airport. There is supposed to be a Green Line but it hasn’t opened yet. I’m actually pretty impressed with it. I just happened to be lucky that there are stops close to both home and work, and it’s been fun to take the train instead of driving in and parking in the sand lot behind the office building.

Inside the car

The track is elevated and it gives you a unique vantage. I can now see around those giant billboards they place in front of construction sites here. (These make it impossible to see the construction going on behind it. It’s as if they want to unveil it all in one fell swoop like it just landed there fully built!) I was able to see behind one where people say lie all the cars that were abandoned as people left the UAE to escape their debt as the economy tanked. I don’t know if that’s true but there were a lot of cars behind there.

All that being said, though, I still have to come into Abu Dhabi at least once a week, usually two. So I can’t completely avoid driving the world’s most dangerous road. Usually, it’s fine, traffic flows and I’m home in a little more than an hour. And sometimes it’s like this.

There are few things as aggravating in life as being stuck bumper-to-bumper on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai road, traffic snarled and no way out.

Times like that get my brain conjuring fantasy escape routes – such as my car sprouting wings and floating above the mayhem.

Recently, I was trapped in a just such a line of cars, tens of kilometres long, with a string of red tail lights as far as we could see. What should have been a 75-minute drive from Abu Dhabi instead gobbled up almost two and a half hours. Even though I had left the capital at 6pm, I barely made my 9pm dinner reservations at Nobu.

3 thoughts on “All aboard

  1. What have you seen in regards to ridership? Is it high? Does it look like a diverse demographic? I’m curious….

  2. it’s more diverse than i thought, but still largely workers. there’s a gold class car up front, which costs more, has actual leather seats, etc., and i’ve seen emiratis in there.

    i’m not sure that you can get an accurate sense of ridership as you usually have to take official statistics here with a grain of sale. reporting of such is still fairly new around here.

    still, my experience riding it was very pleasant and though the line is limited is perfect for me to go to work from my apartment.

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