Driving on the roads in Al Ain

Let me say that this is an adventure!

On a 3-lane road, if you are in the middle lane, you can expect to be overtaken on both sides at the same time which can be a little unsettling occasionally! If you are in the outside lane you can expect to be tailgated on a regular basis by a driver in a hurry who flashes his lights and will sit on your tail closer than you would ever think possible, until you move to the middle lane. As he races past you, often in a large white Toyota land cruiser, you may wish to take a sideways look to see what kind of a person would drive so dangerously – but in most cases you’ll find that the side window was blacked out!

Soon after we arrived in Al Ain, I heard about the quiz night for mainly British expats at the rugby club, so I went along with a new friend I had made here. We got chatting with a delightful couple from the UK who had been here for a couple of years. The husband, called Phil, informed me that it wasn’t a matter of if I had a car smash in the coming months, but when! Sure enough, a few weeks later, I pulled up gently at some traffic lights, and about 30 seconds later, I watched a saloon car raced down the road towards me, slam on his brakes, heard the screech of his tyres on the road and watching smashes the back of me, with my two sons in the back seat.

I got out of the car, as did the driver of the car behind me, and found out that he spoke very little English. In this country you’re not allowed to move any cars involved in an accident. (Even if you have been shopping, and you come back to your car, only to find that there is a dent in your car, you are not allowed to move it until you have rung the police, waited for an official car to turn up and give you an accident report which will enable you to get your car fixed. You will not be able to get your car repaired by any repair shop without this receipt.) So the other driver rang the police and an official car arrived about 30 minutes later, and they stayed with us logging in the details for the next 15 minutes. Over the course of these 45 minutes the driver of the car that crashed into me was constantly on the phone, which led me to guess that he was on the phone when he hit me. I have seen a number of drivers reverse out of tight car parking spaces into moving traffic while holding their mobile phone against an ear, so I’m not surprised that there are so many traffic accidents in this town.

I once saw the results of 3 car crashes in the space of 2 hours. My eldest son says he has seen 8 car smashes on one stretch of road over a two-month period.

My original plan was to buy a saloon car soon after we arrived here but my wife felt that we would be safer in a 4×4 because there are so many car smashes here. So I bought a Toyota Prado, and I’m very glad I did.

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