Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Can I come out now?

If it wasn't for the fact that half the roads are flooded I assume the rest of the one and a half million of us can now go about our business in Dubai.

What was the chaos and disruption all about anyway?

All the reports I've seen today say that BushW's Dubai visit wasn't related to Israel-Palestine, Iran or peace in this volatile region, it was a sightseeing trip!

'A tour of Dubai's landmarks. Sheikh Saeed's house museum. Folk music & dance shows. Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural understanding. A visit to Burj Al Arab' are the reports.

Other headlines indicate the other side of the story: 'Motorists left in lurch by numerous diversions. Roadblocks and mass confusion cause hours of traffic misery. Presidential traffic throws traffic out of gear. Residents awake to find cars mysteriously moved'.

And something I was ranting on about yesterday, the cost of closing a commercial city.

Dubai International Financial Centre, where 500 companies operate, was closed. Dubai International Financial Exchange didn't operate. Jebel Ali Free Zone was closed, so the 5,000 companies there couldn't operate for the day.

Gulf News has attempted to put a figure on the losses. The say: "Dubai's economy may have suffered a loss of more than Dh432 million (over US$117 million) as a result of the shutdown caused by US President George W. Bush's visit, according to estimates based on the emirate's gross domestic product.

Dubai's GDP in 2006 reached Dh157 billion (nearly $43 billion). If trade comes to a standstill, then the emirate, the Gulf's largest trading hub and the major supply line, might have just lost Dh1 billion (US$272 million) in export, import and re-export business for the day."

Information vacuum

The really unforgivable part of the problem was the complete lack of information. About anything.

Road closures? No advance warning.

Diversions? No signs.

Public holiday? A few hours notice.

Even when information was given the reality contradicted it.

A report says: "Contrary to traffic plans, the complete closure of Shaikh Zayed Road, the lifeline of Dubai, from the Mall of the Emirates to Al Garhoud Bridge, left most of the city paralysed on Monday.

The road diversion plans announced by Dubai Roads and Transport Authority and the Police for the arrival of US President George W Bush yesterday were changed without any intimation leaving thousands of motorists wandering on the roads.

All exits and entries to and from Shaikh Zayed Road were blocked contrary to the earlier plan... this major unannounced change led to traffic chaos as people had to wait for several hours to get to the other side of Shaikh Zayed Road. "

Drivers were forced to U-turn and drive back on the wrong side of the road. The police were helpful but many didn't know what was going on any more than the rest of us. People abandoned their cars and walked. One driver reported taking seven hours to travel 27km from Sharjah to SZR. Another said he was turned back from everywhere he went.

And something else I talked about yesterday - the airport.

One would-be passenger said: "All the linking roads connecting Al Wasl and Jumeirah Road to other parts of the city were closed. I missed my flight to the UK."

And the report goes on: Thousands of passengers remained stranded due to lack of public transport and taxis. Passengers who landed at the airport could not reach their homes or hotels for several hours.

What an advertisement for Dubai for all the visiting business people and tourists!

We've had reports from Karama residents that they were virtually under house arrest, told to go back indoors if they ventured out onto the streets. And some awoke to find their cars missing. They'd been towed away 'for security reasons' without any warning.

All of it in a climate of absolutely no information whatsoever.

That is unforgivable.

If you can face reading the full horror stories, Gulf News has many. I won't put all the links here, but if you go here you can read the first one and then click on the others at 'Related Articles'.


i*maginate said...

No! You can't come out now! 3 hours curfew notice should suffice in this day and age!

Eric said...

I have visited many cities but never came across a city such as Dubai, mercilessly exploitive, superficial, soulless, trivial, chaotic, shamelessly materialistic, plastic, confused, monotonous malls looking the same and offering the same and ripping you off in the same manner, etc.
People should think a hundred times before heading to this spot that strips you off your soul...

Anonymous said...

If you dont it just leave. Dubai is the best city in the world and everyone knows that. Eric above is just jealous of Dubai's success

caz. said...

I'm sure there ae many advantages living in Dubai, but given the horrendous traffic conditions which exist every day, and litle improvement in sight, plus the weather, ordinary living on a day to day basis must a bloody nightmare for those who have to earn a living .

Seabee said...

Caz, the weather is perfect for about eight months a year and all major cities that I'm aware of have massive traffic problems.

Anonymous said...

Seabee I agree ... Last Summer I was in munich and it had traffic jams too so whats the deal .. why do ppl keep on mumbling about Dubai where if they dont like it they might as well leave ..

Seabee said...

Mitsuki, people everywhere complain when things don't run as they should but that doesn't mean they should leave the place. If the good outweighs the bad you stay.