Friday, May 28, 2010

Two wheels on my wagon

The much-publicised case of two-wheeled driving and burnouts on Sheikh Zayed Road has mushroomed. The story has gone beyond local blogs and forums, into the UAE’s national newspapers, and even finding its way into the pages of the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

Apart from a few comments along the lines of it being “ country and if you don’t like it you know where the airport is...”, most amateur and professional commentators seem to take the position that the perpetrators should have their cars/licences/goolies confiscated. Delete as applicable.

What is perhaps a little less well known is that this motorised overexuberance, captured on video and distributed on YouTube, was part of an organised convoy in celebration of a local football club’s victory. Al Wasl Football Club apparently won the Gulf Club Champions Cup. I don’t possess a football gene, so have no further information.

Anyway, the convoy was apparently approved by Dubai Police, who were handling traffic control. Unfortunately, it seems that Plod was at the back of the convoy and the hooning was taking place at the front...

Here’s the contentious bit. Local lads partaking in a celebratory cavalcade apparently believed that Sheikh Zayed Road was closed with a rolling roadblock. They were only having fun in a modern local style. As recently as last week, I think it was Gulf News’ weekend ‘Xpress’ paper that published a picture of a Nissan Patrol on its right-hand wheels and a kandoura-clad gentleman balancing himself on the driver’s door. “Fun, until someone gets hurt” was the gist of the caption, but there was no unequivocal condemnation. And who remembers Jeremy Clarkson's Motor World? UAE, 1996. It's on YouTube at the end of this clip.

The Sheikh Zayed Road video only actually became a problem when it went on general release, and a wider audience inferred that this sort of thing goes on all the time and everywhere, with the authorities powerless to prevent it. How embarrassing. If the camcorder hadn’t been there, no evidence would have been available, and any misbehavin’ would have gone undetected. All those cameras along Sheikh Zayed Road, and all powerless to detect any traffic violations that do not involve more than 100kph.

In reaction to the public outpouring of outrage, the villains of the piece have now been ‘arrested’ and their vehicles ‘impounded’. Presumably once the heat has died down there’ll be some minor wrist-slapping.

A brief aside. Earlier this year I was involved in an organised motorbike ‘Thunder Parade’ in aid of Dubai Autism Center. This was also a police-controlled cavalcade along Sheikh Zayed Road. Whilst it is true that there was little or no hooning in evidence on the bike procession, I’d have been less than impressed to receive unwelcome personal attention from the constabulary afterwards.

I cannot and do not condone two-wheeled driving – except on motorcycles, of course – on the public highway, any more than wheelies up Jumeirah Beach Road, and burnouts and handbrake turns at the traffic lights. These activities ought to be limited to closed roads, fenced areas and race tracks. Much practice is required, and plenty of broken machinery. YouTube carries multitudinous examples of stunt drivers who aren’t quite as good as they thought they were. Public roads are an entirely inappropriate place for stunt driving.

There are legal outlets for motorised exuberance: track days over at Dubai Autodrome, where petrolheads can go and drive as fast as they like, in the sole company of consenting adults. And how about the desert, where there’s loads of empty space?

If it’s possible to be arrested for misbehaving on what you thought was a temporarily closed road, then there’s the dangerous possibility of a sudden clampdown on any and all motoring offences. And I bet nobody, no-one at all, drives perfectly 100% of the time.

I’d remind those demanding punitive action to be meted out on the football fans that there’s a story about a man a few years back who said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Be careful what you wish for.



Sirrah said...

This is one of my all time favourites from Saudi with the lads wearing roller skate sandals.

Thats What I said...

There were released and fined DHMs1000 each
I wonder if this was them celebrating – on the beach (presumably forbidden otherwise why do it ) – lots of space and whoops a crash


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.