Blind leading the blind

I’ve now moved out to the company villa in Mirdif. It’s a newish, upper-class suburb in the eastern outskirts of Dubai (but putting anything in Dubai into geographic or socio-economic boxes will always mislead). I’ve updated my googlemap, with it, so at least you can see where things are in relation to each other. Mirdif is the yellow thumbtack below, you might have to scroll up a bit, the way it’s displaying.

Geography is an enormous problem here. Last night I watched Australia at Mall of the Emirates with friends and then did a it of shopping. I went to the cab rank at about 12:15am, as the mall was closing. I waited patiently for a taxi. The dual-queue system is pretty darn efficient so it wasn’t tough. Anyway, I ended up in a taxi with a driver who didn’t know what Mirdif was. An entire residential district. He got on the phone to a friend and got some directions, but do you think they were helpful when we arrived at the turnoff to find the entire stretch of road was undergoing works. The only turnoff was about 500 metres earlier. The only place to turn around, about 500 metres later. Getting around is an almighty palaver.

And while I’m ranting, they have the habit of lying about knowing where you want to go. When you get in and announce your destination (with little explanation of routes to get there, in my case) they confidently say they know where that is. As they get closer they start asking questions that give you the impression they actually have no idea.

For example, I was going to Beach Road in Jumeirah yesterday to get a haircut. I was told to tell the driver to go to the Spinneys on Beach Road, next to Magrudys (and then the phrase that seems to have jinxed me) “he’ll know where it is”. Yes, yes, he knows the Spinneys, he knows the Magrudys, he knows Beach Road. Great. I relaxed. Only when we’d been travelling 20 minutes did he ask “Jumeirah 1, 2 or 3”. HTF should I know? His mate on the phone was directing him to Jumeirah 3, but in the end it was in Jumeirah 1. Not only did he not know the Spinneys, he didn’t even know the suburb. Saying you know a destination when you don’t is plain and simple dishonesty to me (not to mention counterproductive when you leave asking for directions until after you are lost, when it was plain we were always going to become lost) but everyone is telling me it’s not lying, ‘it’s cultural not to say no’…

Katie said a great thing the other day: “Dubai knows how to push your buttons.” It certainly does.

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