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Dubai Diaries: 24 hours without leaving your car?

Can our drive-through nation provide all we need through our vehicle's windows?


David Light

Published: Sun 18 Jul 2021, 5:56 PM

Last updated: Sun 18 Jul 2021, 6:00 PM

Watching one of the US Late Night hosts over the weekend - one of the seemingly 1000 Jimmys...actually it was probably Stephen Colbert - a particular sentence struck a chord. “There’s nothing more American than a drive-through.” Really? I can conjure up a few more “apple pie” images when it comes to our cousins across The Pond, however what really stung was I believe the UAE can give our Yankee friends a run, or should that be motor, for their money. If there’s something worth doing, it’s worth not getting out of your car for and we take that to the nth degree. Whether it’s dining, entertainment or even medical check-ups, we refuse to walk-in, which had me thinking, could we spend an entire day sat behind a steering wheel? For the experiment to play out, it would probably have to be conducted over a weekend. Unless you’re a wildlife reserve ranger or are employed in a seriously big Carrefour, it’s impractical to imagine completing tasks with the engine running. New opportunities for remote office access could be taken into account, but to level the playing field we’re charting an average Saturday. So where do we begin? How about kicking-off responsibly and heading out for a PCR test? Admittedly, it’s not the most fun way to commence, but in tribute to the UAE being one of the first nations in the world to establish these facilities, we couldn’t overlook this activity.

Nose tickled, it’s time for a treat: morning coffee and pastries. A number of brands provide window service but, to honour the innovators once again, it’d have to be Starbucks on Jumeirah Road who way back in 2013 opened the first dedicated drive-through café (not to be confused with drive-up cafeterias that have been around for decades. More on these later.) Enormous cups and croissants dealt with, being extremely careful with the crumbs, it’s on to enjoy ourselves. Though, before circling in on plans, a trip to the bank has been on the list all week. Surveying the local area, there are two drive-through teller machines in the vicinity. How convenient! Just lean out to put in your card and PIN code and the company’s suite of services are available. Cash in hand we’re ready to spend, not money, but a few moments relaxing. Pop up the road and the multi-named Secret Beach/ Black Palace Beach/ Al Sufouh Beach allows you to drive near enough to the shoreline you can feel it. In this heat, it’s probably nicer to simply push back your seat, listen to the radio and watch the world go by rather than brave the toasty sand.

It’s not really worth going into lunch, given this option is synonymous with the subject. The purpose of this meal is only so we don’t go shopping on an empty stomach anyway. For in the UAE you can pickup essentials without leaving your car. I’m not saying I condone the practice, though for years have witnessed cars pull up to cafeterias and grocery stores, beep their horn, and pass on orders to a runner. I wouldn’t normally go for it yet, given the task in hand, the tradition does serve a purpose if only to prove a point. To round off the day: a movie. Aljada in Sharjah continues to show films on a big screen every night and will deliver dinner to you from 20 food trucks. Sit in awe before venturing home for a well-earned leg stretch!

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