Driving in Dubai

February 20, 2009

We’ve been attempting to video the driving experience for you. However, we’ve determined that we must have a magic camera, because traffic is uncharacteristically easy when I have the camera on. It is when I don’t have the camera on that the most amazing things happen. So, these are three fairly mild (and maybe downright boring) versions of our drive to work.

Pulling out of the garage and the first three-four blocks are the most challenging. Not only does Daddybird have very limited visibility of oncoming traffic (due to SUVs parked along the street, but if we don’t time it just right, there are wandering crowds of construction workers due to the shift change that happens right about 7:30 am. One morning Daddybird nearly ran over a woman who was on our left and she thought it would be a good idea to walk in front of a car that whose driver was looking to the right for oncoming traffic. So, now my job is to be on pedestrian watch. It is amazing how little responsibility for their own safety pedestrians take.

Things to watch for in these videos: Pedestrians walking in the street when there is a perfectly good sidewalk on the other side of those parked cars. Cars double parked or stopping to let someone out, blocking traffic. The waltz that is the intersection where three streams of traffic come together. In one video the oncoming car flashes his lights to let us know we can go. Uncharacteristically polite! There are also bicyclists to avoid.

This third video is fairly boring until about half way through when a truck pulls in front of us without much warning and directly after that a car blocks traffic trying to change lanes. The kicker is that he doesn’t just want to move over one lane, but he wants all the way over in order to make a left turn.

The rules of the road here include:
1. Don’t move over just one lane. Move from the far right to the far left or visa versa. Cross as many lanes as possible in as little distance as possible.
2. Don’t get into the back of the line when you can move up to the front and force others to let you in.
3. If you want to change lanes, do not slow down and pull in behind the car in that lane. Speed up and pull in front of them.
4. Brakes are a strange and unnecessary feature on your vehicle.
5. After clearing a speed bump you should accelerate at top speed until you hit the next one, especially in parking lots.

There is a great blog post by someone else that documents Dubai traffic complete with pictures to prove the points. http://dubaithoughts.blogspot.com/2009/01/dubai-driving-tips.html



  1. On the plus side, it appears that turn signals are used on a semi-regular basis at least some of the time. :-0

  2. At least Paul is from CA…I wouldn’t drive there! It made me nervous just watching!

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