After nearly six months of hiring drivers, taking taxis, and hitching rides with my friends, I am officially a licensed driver in the UAE. Driving here in the UAE is a totally different ball game, in comparison to driving in the States. The rules of driving here (better yet the lack of rules of driving here) are like playing a dangerous game of Russian Roulette. For instance, stop signs are merely suggestions. If you want to anger drivers, come to a full stop at a stop sign. You’ll elicit the honks, flashing lights, and vicious stares of other drivers. Secondly, the overabundance of roundabouts (or traffic circles as we call them in many parts of the US) make for very interesting interactions at the intersection. Sure there are actual rules that correlate with the roundabouts, but the only people who seem to follow them are the Expats. If you’re turning right from the roundabout, you should be in the first lane, so that you can exit. If you’re planning on keeping straight, you should be in the second or middle lane, and if you’re planning to make a left turn or U-turn, you should be in the third lane. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Tell me why people who are making U-turns are in the first lane, people who are going straight are in the first lane, and people who are turning left are also in the first lane? See how this can pose a problem? Basically people get in whatever lane they want to get into, and you better be prepared for anything in those roundabouts. Some of them only have two lanes, some three, and some five. Needless to say, sometimes Jesus literally has to take the wheel. But, it does get easier with practice.
I was also fortunate enough to purchase a relatively new used car. I wanted a compact SUV or something similar to what I drove in the States. I had my heart set on a Toyota Rav-4 or a Lexus RX 350, but my pockets didn’t agree. I settled on a 2008 GMC Terrain, that I affectionally call Raine. Raine and I have hit the highway a few times heading to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but she is usually parked during the week, as I carpool with my neighbor to work, and we drive her car. It feels good to not have to ask anyone to take me to the store, or to pick me up from work, but I do miss being chauffeured around like a boss.