With 48 hours notice, Dubaians were made aware of the fact that an international cycling race was planned over a 4 day period in Dubai. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to showcase this wonderful Emirate, needless to say, the routes were planned around Dubai’s glitzy high rises, golden rolling sand dunes and European styled cobbled streets of Jumeirah and Al Sufouh.
The fact that international giants like Rui Costa and Mark Cavendish were participating in the event went unnoticed by many of us. The real focal point became the road closures and how this would affect everyday life for the everyday driver doing the school run, the work commute and the maze of afterschool activities’ run……
At first blush, it appeared every major commuter vein would be closed. My mind boggled. Refusing to believe this could be the case I immediately went into denial. Why wouldn’t I be able to make it from one end of Dubai to the other and back again without too much hassle? It was just insane to suggest that all major routes would be closed, effectively paralysing daily life in Dubai.
Alas my ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach was instantly shattered when a colleague, whose job it is to visit every freezezone in Dubai at least twice a day, came barging in to my office brandishing print outs of the race’s routes.
‘Have you seen this?’ she yelled in as much a controlled manner as she could.
‘The entire city is shutting down’ she added.
‘How are we expected to function?’ was the question left hanging in the disbelieving air.
Now, reading maps is not my forte. However, my colleauge who is not as geographically challenged as me, gave me cause for concern.
‘Are you saying Sheikh Zayed road is closing at lunchtime today?’ I enquired hoping the response would be negative.
‘Errrr…..yeeesssss’ came the reply as if she were talking to the proverbial dumb blonde.
‘Along with Al Khail, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed and a number of back roads’ she spat.
Panic cast its frozen spell over me.
How am I going get to the school to collect the kids? All of my familiar routes have been shut down.
Not being able to read maps particularly well is not my only weakness. Thinking about alternative routes around the motorway network is also a weak link.
Sensing my sheer fear and panic, my lovely roomie pulled up a Dubai roadmap on his screen and slowly talked me through the viable alternative routes from Emirates Towers to Jebel Ali. Normally when one speaks to me about maps and routes, my brain automtically switches off. This time it didn’t. I had to collect the kids and I needed to know how to do it.
Being someone who rarely has cause to drive past the DIFC, I panic when the ‘trade centre roundabout’ is mentioned. Indeed I live in fear of such traffic easing measures’. The ‘trade centre roundabout’ is something to be feared. If memory serves me right an OAP spent 6 weeks trying to navigate his way out of some M25 traffic calming measures…..I feared this might be me circulating the Trade Centre Roundabout…..for weeks.
Thankfully it was not needed. Road closures had a minimal impact on my routes.
Well done Dubai….pulling off another major competition with minimal effect on your residents!