My First Brush with the UAE Law

Day 2 of the New School Run

DS2 is now in a new school. DD and DS1 are still at the ‘old’ school, waiting for oversubscribed year 4 places at the ‘new’ school to open up.

Leaving DS2 on day 2 was less traumatic than his first day at his new school, and I set off on my post school drop off run home feeling a lot less guilty and emotional. Not being familiar with that end of town, I followed my basic, albeit traffic laden and probably longer route, home. Approaching a green traffic light in front of a very large yellow box, I slowed to assess whether the traffic on the other side of the box would clear quickly enough for me to get across the rather large yellow box. Thinking it would, I creeped up to the line after the lights but before the box. Needless to say the lights conspired against me and turned RED. Of course they did! As I sat there observing the traffic on the other side of ‘no man’s land’, I was disheartened that it didn’t appear to be moving at all. Frustrated and ticked off, I actually thought about taking a not so legal right turn…..but if I were careful….I might just stand a chance of driving instead of standing still cursing Dubai’s rush hour traffic.

Alas, the almost fleeting thought of illegal turns was vanquished at the mere sight of traffic moving on the other side of the yellow box. Cue green lights and me happily on my way…..

My ‘phew’ moment was shortlived. A nod and a gesture from a police officer on a CHIPs (showing my age!) motorbike indicated that my dubious transgression had been noticed. He was practically writing the ticket as he pulled me over.

First thought – You are flippin’ kidding me…I didn’t impede or cause danger to anyone!
Second thought – You know what??? Am so emotionally exhausted, just fine me!!
Third thought – DH ain’t gonna be happy
Fourth thought – If I pay the fine, will DH ever need to know????

It’s quite amazing how many thoughts one can have in 45 seconds!

Dubai drivers being Dubai drivers stood their ground and refused to allow me to cross lanes to where the Police Officer motioned I should pull in. However, when he kindly made it clear to other motorists that I was about to get a dressing down, it was like Noah parting the Red Sea, such was the relief that it wasn’t them in the firing line. As I gingerly inched my tank across the lanes, I couldn’t help but contemplate the irony of being pulled over (for what I believed was a non-hazardous offence) to a lane on the road where people were actually parked so they could drop off their kiddos at the nearby school. As the lane was full with hazard lights’ flashing parked cars I had no option but to pull up alongside the police officer’s motorbike which left my car jutting out into the middle lane and thereby causing an actual traffic hazard…..

I wound down my window and the officer greeted me in Arabic. Thank goodness I could respond!

With a cheeky smirk he asked if I knew what I had done wrong.

I explained it wasn’t as it seemed. Given my position on the road, he suggested I jumped a red light. I explained that was not the case. Indeed, if anything, I was being ultra safety conscious by not proceeding.

‘I need to see your driver’s licence and car registration. I will be back once I have fined this idiot’ he said as he gestured to the car parked on the road in front of me!

He was clearly on a roll.

I nervously opened my wallet. I hadn’t seen the car registration card for a while. Indeed DH often takes it when he puts the car in for a service. I found my licence no problem but I was at a loss as to where the car registration was….

When he returned, I was rummaging through my wallet for the third time looking for the car registration and praying it was not an offence to not have the car registration in the car but knowing full well it is in every country on the planet.

I handed over my licence and explained I was at a loss as to where the car registration card was. Don’t quote me but I think I saw his eyes change to $ signs behind his aviator shades.

Thinking out loud I said ‘I think DH has it, as he takes it when he puts the car in for a service’ (not having any real clue of when the last service was but at the same time reminding myself that the car is due for a service!).

‘What about your glove compartment?’ he helpfully suggested.

Checking the compartment as requested, I explained I doubted it would be in there. If only he had suggested the sunglasses compartment above the rear view mirror……

Shaking his head from side to side and smiling he asked ‘What to do with you?’

‘Passing the traffic lights with nowhere to go on the other side of the yellow box and now no car registration? That’s two offences. AED800 fine and your car impounded for 3 days’.

Not one to ever consider worming my way out of a fine, I burst into action……I could not afford to lose my car for a day, let alone 3, especially now that we have two different school runs at polar opposite ends of town to manage each day.

‘Oh officer. I am not familiar with this area. So much traffic. Too much traffic. I was trying to stay safe and not cause an obstruction. This would be my first traffic fine in 7 years (how I conveniently forgot the back to back speeding fines I racked up last year on the work – school run!).’

Attention grabbed.

Having ascertained where I live, he asked why I was at this end of town at this time of the morning.

‘Dropping off my son at his new school’ I replied (thanking God he hadn’t pulled me over the day before when I could hardly see through my puffy, cried out eyes).

‘Do you not have any schools near where you live?’

‘Not as good as this one’ I countered.

Not quite following the relevance of his questioning, I didn’t dare not answer.

‘Where do you work?’ came his next question.

‘At home’ I replied without elaborating.

‘Where does your husband work?’

‘DIFC’ I said wondering if he thought about busting my hubby for allowing me out without my car registration card!

‘This time, I will not fine you. You know you did wrong. Do not pass a green light again until it is clear on the other side of the box’ he advised in a friendly tone.

I wanted to kiss him as I imagined following his advice in reality. In a country where one his honked from behind within a millisecond of the traffic lights turning green, to stop at a green light for traffic to clear on the other side of a yellow box would cause the ultimate in road rage!

Immensely relieved I smiled and offered ‘My husband will be doing the school run from tomorrow, so I won’t get caught up in this horrendous traffic. Shukran officer.’

‘I think that is best. You should be at home. Let your husband do the driving’ he responded with a near salute.

In any other country, I would probably have been insulted at that comment but not here. I actually believe he thought a woman should not have to be subjected to crawling through jam packed traffic, amongst so many idiot drivers….women should be at home, taking it easy, whilst husbands sweat it out (literally!) in rush hour.

I couldn’t but say a prayer for that lovely officer that evening.

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2 Responses to My First Brush with the UAE Law

  1. Lovely 🙂 I did the same 2 years ago, when I parked in the yellow area in front of the airport, left 2 doors of the car open while pulling the luggage for my about-to-miss-her-flight-sister :/ The officer was saying: What fine should I start with? And believe me or not, same incident with the registration card !! But then, hearing my baby crying at the back seat, and seeing I was about to burst into tears, he offered that I can park the car on the left side next to the police car, under his supervision, so that I can hurry into the airport to catch my sister who forgot her phone in the car (because all of that is not enough already!) Respect to this country.

    • Dubai Mum says:

      Oh poor you – that sounds like an absolute nightmare! I think the police here are very understanding and willing to look at a situation as a ‘whole’ before deciding what to do. If that had been in London where there are cameras monitoring yellow boxes and traffic lights, I probably would have received an automatic fine with no option to plead my case!

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