Along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai Road there was a billboard, an ad for some local bank, that bragged about the more than 120 nationalities that call the U.A.E. home, citing it as an example of the country’s tolerance. And it’s true, I don’t think I have been surrounded by so many versions of the English language, much less the number of other tongues spoken by people on this earth.

Still, that doesn’t equate to harmony, of course. Last week, a British doctor, here in Dubai to provide training, was arrested for making an “indecent” gesture. (Story here.) Now, I’ve written before about the dangerous conditions of driving on roads here, how certain drivers ride up on your tail – which is illegal in the west, as far as I know – and flash their lights at you to get out of the way, all at 160 k.p.h. It’s all you can do to not flip off the idiot driver blazing past you. But you must because the consequences are severe.

Let’s just say expat word vs. other word? The expat does not win. Look, I understand this is not the west and, here, sensibilities are different. It takes much restraint for me not to yell or “gesture” at a driver whose actions are actually endangering both my life and that of others.

But the incident does make you wonder about due process, about developing a transparent legal system where all rules are applied equally so at least everyone knows what the rules are and what the consequences are if you don’t follow them. The police have said repeatedly that tailgating and other dangerous driving will not be tolerated but …

Dr. Nunoo-Mensah had his passport confiscated by the police immediately upon complaint and given a June 20 trial date. This moved to trial without, as far as I can tell, any supporting evidence such as witnesses, speed cameras, etc. Because he didn’t have his passport, he couldn’t rent a hotel room and instead had to crash at the offices of fellow Ghanians. (He comes from a fairly prominent family in Ghana.)

He only got his passport back to fly to the U.K. yesterday because a friend here in Dubai offered up his passport as colateral instead.

4 thoughts on “Disharmony in Dubai

  1. last week while driving home, our taxi was creeping up on a poor delivery guy. motorbike, not even motorcycle. we couldn’t have been more than six inches away. i couldn’t watch — and i wanted to yell at the driver “dude! back off!!” but what would the repercussions be?

    1. it’s awful. i had a local driver cut me off at high speeds yesterday driving back to dubai from AD. (i thought the lower speed limits were going to help with this.) i wanted to honk my horn, etc., etc., but …. no.

  2. glad I live in Texas… we do have concealed weapon permits so there are different outcomes sometimes

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