Road rage on the rise during Ramadan - Day 5

Road rage on the rise during Ramadan - Day 5

Taking a taxi drive across Dubai in early evening proves to be a hazardous decision.

By Bernd Debusmann Jr./senior Reporter

Published: Wed 24 Jun 2015, 12:33 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:19 PM

Despite being repeatedly warned not to, yesterday I took a taxi drive across town in the early evening. After all, Ramadan or not, I have things to do and people to see. This proved to be an ill-advised and potentially hazardous decision.

Even during normal times, Shaikh Zayed road to me seems to be quite perilous, as overworked, hard-charging cab drivers jostle for space – at often extremely high speeds — with luxury SUVs, Emirati-driven sports cars, delivery vans and buses full of workers on their way to job sites. Generally, I’ve found that so far, during Ramadan, people seem quite relaxed and not in a particular hurry to get anywhere or do anything. This, it turns out, changes completely as sunset and the last prayer approach. That’s when the road rage and madness begins.

Headed away from Dubai Marina, I noticed my driver — a rather stern-looking Pakistani from Waziristan — looked extremely tired, a bit like a raccoon with dark bags around his eyes. This was my first indication that this trip would be different.

As soon as we pulled onto Shaikh Zayed road, the driver decided to push the gas pedal to the floor, and we took off like a Formula 1 car on the Yas Marina Circuit. We wove in and out of lanes without any indicators, as did everyone else. At one point, another taxi pulled in front of us suddenly. Despite the fact that Muslims are supposed to abstain from harsh language and insults during Ramadan, my driver gestured wildly and muttered what I can only imagine was a string of Pashto obscenities.

About halfway through the drive, I began thinking to myself that, having fasted all day, the driver was probably suffering from dehydration and lower-than-normal blood sugar levels – both of which can cause concentration levels to plummet, as well as cause dizziness. It also occurred to me that it was the longest day of Ramadan, with a total fasting time of just over 15 hours. The articles I had read about the abnormally high numbers of traffic accidents during Ramadan suddenly began to make much more sense, and I couldn’t help but close my eyes and imagine a photograph of a destroyed, flaming wreck of a taxi alongside an article about careless driving on the Khaleej Times website the next morning.

Thankfully, the taxi managed to screech to a halt at my destination without incident. I paid the driver and stepped out, and as I looked back I could see him speeding away again. I do hope he didn’t cause an accident later on.

From now until the end of Ramadan, I think I’ll remain nestled in the safety of my apartment or the KT offices for the hour or so leading up to evening prayers. This drive isn’t something I’m keen to repeat.

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