Posted by: englishdubai | January 25, 2008

Das Boot

The rains came slightly later this year which at least allowed for a dry rugby sevens. It is odd to think that the last three times I have driven to Abu Dhabi the first two I encountered fog so thick that visibility was less than 100 meters and last weeks trip was in torrential rain. I might have expected this in the UK – but not in the UAE.

In all honesty I can say the drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai resembled some kind of war scene. Cars were strewn along side either side of the road, all the victims of wet weather accidents. The journey there and back was never wracking to say the least.

I had wondered if the meeting was going to happen as I edged my car out of Jumeriah to be met with a number of people pushing their high specced Mercedes and Porsches out of the flood waters. The people pushing their sports cars looked at me in a 4×4 and with the look of “Maybe I should have got one of those after all”

My colleague and I had decided to carpool for the trip and we decided to meet at Ibn Battuta. The scene that greeted was no surprise. The lack of good drainage has caused this type of flooding across Dubai:

It was not so bad on arrival – but when I got back to Ibn Battuta later that afternoon, things had gone from bad to worse. Traffic was queued all over the place and it had been raining all day driving up the water level.

I chose to try and wait it out. I got an early evening meal and even decided to catch a movie in some vein effort that what going on outside “would sort itself out”

I could not have been more wrong. I fired the Hummer up to strains of Rhianna’s Umbrella song playing on the car park tannoy (irony perhaps?) and immediately knew something was wrong as a bus decided to drive up the wrong side of the road directly at me. After avoiding this I got stuck in a queue with the police behind me trying to get to the scene of the incident.

It became apparent when a gentlemen with a plastic bag on his head walked up to the Toyota Camry ahead of me and started gesturing to the driver to turn around and tapping his hip. Indicating the depth of the water ahead. I was worried. Very worried.

The Police eventually got to the front and were busy getting cars up on to the banks over the kerb. The water pooled at the intersection was simply to deep for them to pass. They waved me to drive on.

Despite having driven a car at 160mph on a track, sliding a car around a hair pin bend and spinning a single seater sports car – never in all my driving days have I been worried. I inched the Hummer into what seemed like an ocean and I felt very much like a U-Boat Commander. I could see it would not be far – but there were cars abandoned everywhere as their attempt to ford the water had failed:

I felt sorry for the owner of that S2000 – but more worried about the depth of water against the traffic signs. I was making slow and careful progress with the odd worrying burble from the engine when I glanced in my wing mirror. Sure enough two chaps in their white van undertook me at speed and creating a huge water break and sped off into the distance.

My trip home that night from Abu Dhabi back to the villa was about six hours half of which I was enjoying a movie and some dinner. Others spent more time than that on various Dubai roads and I really feel for them.

The following day the waters were mostly gone – leaving sand piles as their footprint. For me the cold and wet weather has left me with only one thing – for the first time a Dubai cold.


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