Thursday, January 02, 2014

Shhh! It's Sharjah

Sharjah’s new year resolution is to prevent public disturbance after 10pm. Huzzah! Residents will be able to sleep at night and not be kept awake by traffic noise. And how, exactly, is Sharjah Police going to achieve this laudable aim? By banning all motorcycles and bicycles from main roads after 10pm. This is, apparently, part of a Sharjah Police initiative for a safe winter in the emirate. The news article in Khaleej Times headlines with the two-wheeler curfew and then rambles on about safe places to go camping, and to ensure that people “…wear decent dresses that will ensure their security,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

It seems that the new law is a sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut over-reaction to Da Boyz impressing young ladies over at Khalid Lagoon. There’s nothing quite as effective as a 130dB exhaust and some smoking tyres to make yourself Attractive To Ladies. Hence the Sharjah-wide ban on such immorality. Cars are evidently morally upstanding, or else less attractive to the fine ladies of Sharjah.

The ban on bicycles seems to be the resurrection of a previous edict from Sharjah government back in 2006. The novelty of enforcing this ban wore off after a couple of weeks, so there’s little reason for believing that things will be significantly different this time.

Why noise abatement should affect pedal cycles in any way, and how any of this business is related to camping and wearing decent dresses is a mystery. I guess the paper chose to throw all the “and while we’re on the subject of Sharjah…” stories into the same article.

While researching material for this post, I did discover that banning motorcycles is not without precedent. In August 2013, Brent Council in North London introduced a similar scheme to address problems of motorcycle hooliganism near the Ace Café.

From the comments: ‘Motorcycle Action Group Chairman John Mitchell added: “This traffic order is a blunt instrument that flies in the face of natural justice and represents the kind of social profiling that would not be tolerated in other contexts.” ’ Such as, for example, banning football fans from Wembley Stadium (also in the London Borough of Brent) in case hooliganism might otherwise break out.

Back to Sharjah, has anyone actually considered the practical effects of an emirate-wide ban on motorbikes? Evidently not Amira Agarib over at Khaleej Times who seem to have regurgitated press releases without so much as asking, “But, Brigadier, what if…?”

A biker who lives in Sharjah has got to be home before 10pm, presumably. When is he allowed out again? Midnight? 4am? 6am?

Does the curfew seriously apply only to main roads? Perhaps after a riotous night out on Buhairah Corniche smoking shisha and eating shawarmas, we can sneak back to other emirates on the back streets. Yes, those back streets that weave between residential tower blocks in Al Khan and Abu Shagara.

Actually, the emirate of Sharjah is a big place. According to Khaleej Times, his bike ban applies to all main roads throughout the emirate, so expect to be nicked as you head along the Emirates Road from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah. Don’t plan on returning from Fujairah after an evening of drinking coffee next to the Gulf of Oman. Will there be huge traffic signs on the Emirates Road, warning bikers not to enter Sharjah at night?

Meanwhile, what about four-wheeled hooligans revving their V8s in the middle of the night until the valves bounce? There have been tales of vehicles being confiscated for precisely this offence, but I wonder why only two wheelers have now been singled out for pre-emptive action. No, we do not all have stupidly loud exhausts, and most of us have enough common decency to keep the noise and speed down in urban areas.

Here’s a thought: How about the police pulling over and ticketing everyone who’s making an antisocial racket, and leave the law-abiding majority alone?

Finally, spare a thought for those residents who will now not receive timely delivery of their take-away food. If the delivery boys can’t operate after 10pm, which the new law says they can’t, late night snacks won’t be possible, the general health of Sharjah’s population will improve, and everyone except KFC and Pizza Hut will be happy.


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