Monday, January 14, 2008

Closing cities isn't acceptable.

I get really furious when politicians close down entire cities for other politicians.

It's even more unacceptable when the city in question is a major commercial centre. The losses to companies must run into many millions of dollars.

We had it in Sydney for the APEC Conference back in September and we have it in Dubai today for the Bush visit.

It shows utter contempt for the people and for business which is the life-blood of the city.

Of course security is an issue, but the disruption can easily be avoided and security easier to enforce if the meetings are held in places other than city centres.

In Australia it could, for example, have been on one of the resort islands. In Dubai it could have been at a desert resort, or at Zabeel Palace, or even at Burj Al Arab. The at-risk VIPs could travel by helicopter.

In Dubai the lack of information was even more unacceptable.

Yesterday roads were being closed off with no prior warning, no diversions, no signage. We all just went the way we normally do and spent hours in traffic jams without even knowing why.

Then just a few hours before the event a public holiday was announced. Because of the late decision I bet huge numbers of people weren't even aware of it and ran into massive problems this morning.

Again there was no prior warning of road closures. I drove on an empty Al Sufouh Road from Dubai Marina until just past Knowledge Village and found the road closed. No prior warning and not even a sign anywhere to tell us that the road ahead was closed.

Later I read in Gulf News a list of the roads and bridges that are closed today, but even they didn't know whether Shindagah Tunnel was going to be closed.

It's not only businesses of course, what about all the people trying to get to or from the airport. Roads to and around it are closed.

Do you remember the figures so proudly released recently? The airport has an average of 725 take-offs or landings every day and handles an average of over 90,000 passengers a day.

The visit was arranged a long time ago, the security needs were worked out long ago, road closures must have been worked out long ago. And nobody bothered to tell us.


nzm said...

In both cases, the extreme level of security was just for one person - "the leader of the free world".

But in Sydney, the Chaser guys still managed to get a limo past the security cordon with a passenger dressed as Bin Laden. Tee hee!

Seabee said...

Yes, I fell about when that happened - all that disruption and Bin Laden got through!!

LDU said...

I don't want to generalise, but middle eastern people are very relaxed and have little sense of meeting deadlines.

Down here we get some two months notice leading to any sort of road closure.

i*maginate said...

I reckon it was to partly to prevent any protest.

Maybe they thought the labourers would demonstrate again. Whoops...they couldn't get to work, I suppose!

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy why why why why was this done at the last minute??!!! And this place is promoting itself as a modern economical hub!

nzm said...

i*maginate: nah, it wasn't because of protest scares, this is what happens when the US Prez visits anywhere. Whole cities are shut down on the day before and during his visit so that the whole area can be searched, scanned and secured for when he passes through.

Can you imagine a protest in Dubai by "educated" foreigners dissenting against Bush?

LOL - I can see it now!

For a start, it's illegal according to UAE law to denigrate any leader of state.

A whole bunch of "upmarket" foreigners in Al Wathba would be a great way to smear the good image of the UAE where the website is blocked.

Plus, the immigration department would be pretty busy cancelling those residency visas and deporting a lot of people home!

And then the press reports would start rolling out across the world.

You can shut up a few Indian labourers by sending them home, but it would be harder to keep quiet a group of protesters with knowledge of how to use the media!

Reagan said...

As usual, incessant infantile whining and whimpering...