Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Moral outrage

Seven grand for a parking space? Who in his right mind would pay seven thousand dirhams a year for the questionable privilege of parking on the street in Sharjah? According to this Gulf News story, over seventy suckers residents to date. The irony is that a year's worth of Pay and Display season ticket is available from Sharjah Municipality for Dh 2300 which would entitle the vehicle concerned to park anywhere in Sharjah without additional payment. Of course, parking in the Pay and Display may entail a short walk, but this is a small price to pay for being such a monumental cretin as to sign a lease on a flat without allocated parking. Think of the money saved.

And do I learn that Dubai's Road and Transport Authority is considering car-pooling permits? Car-pooling is, to anyone unfamiliar with middle-eastern values, for practical purposes illegal. There is the moral aspect of sharing the car with a non-relative, and the financial one of removing trade from the RTA's taxi fleet, even if the taxi you ordered fails to turn up. But now, in a putative attempt to alleviate the traffic chaos caused by a complex combination of cheap motoring, sporadic public transport, substandard highway designs, overdevelopment and selfish drivers, it may soon be possible to apply for a car-pooling permit, for which there'll doubtless be a fee to pay and reams of paperwork to submit. More jobs for the shabab.

Such a system will make illegal minicabs more rather than less of a problem: "It's OK, officer. I'm not operating an illegal taxi. We're all sharing my car on our trip to the office. And I have an official RTA permit, see?"

The RTA appears incapable of understanding the difference between an illegal taxi and someone giving a colleague, friend, relative, or spouse a lift. It's only a matter of time before a parent gets busted for dropping little Samantha off at school on his way to the office.

It's the very real potential of Moral Outrage that makes stories like this one possible. "The UAE is a Muslim country and it is unlawful to sit with a woman in a public place" Yeah, right. Of course it isn't illegal to sit in your car with your wife. Girlfriend, perhaps, but not wife. But the fact that anyone reckons that to say that it is (and be bribed to turn a blind eye) has the tiniest probability of being believed is a damning indictment of the sort of Morality Police incident that does nothing to enhance the international reputation of the middle east. Note that the reported incident involved sitting in a car and eating lunch, not steaming up the windows (unless the shwarmas were really hot, I suppose...).



Seabee said...

I bet you feel better after getting all that out :-)

Jayne said...

The husband/wife inna car incident was very muttawa-esq, as that's the kind of thing (plus much worse) that the fanatical religious police do in the Magic Kingdom.
I think this whole car-pool thingy is a bit of a nightmare for the powers that be, because they won't be able to control it like they do the taxis. A multimillionaire won't be getting any richer, because he won't be clogging up already clogged roads with more taxis.


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