Thursday, March 18, 2010

Broke My Cherry

The above is evidence of my first brush with the law here in the UAE - a speeding fine.

I have written a number of times on this blog and have spoken to people back home about the excessive speeds that drivers drive at here in the UAE. Well last night, I was pinged... for the excessive speed of... *drum roll*

86km/hr in a 60 zone!!!

To set the scene, Niki and I attended a work function at the famous Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Lovely evening with my colleagues at work to celebrate a good year. Al Qasr was the restaurant which was an Arabic BBQ restaurant and we were down on the private beach. All very nice but also I was driving so it was bubbly water and coke with lemon and ice for me.

It was 11:30pm, my car was driven up by the valet and we cruised out onto the Corniche which is the beach front of Abu Dhabi to go home... traffic was heavy and we were getting every red light.

I am cruising in the left (fast) lane and I see a flash behind me... a typical sign of an upcoming speeding Emirati in a flashier car than my Toyota Corolla.

I go to shift into the next lane and suddenly it's red & blue lights of the police. I try to pull across the FIVE lanes to the right side of the road but we're at a red light (again) and I sit with a big police 4WD up my backside with the red / blues flashing. Light goes green, the traffic moves and I get across and into a car park off the 5 lane road.

I get out because that's what you do here, in Australia you sit and wait for the policeman to come to you. Here, its a meeting in the middle of the road (carpark).

"Mahabaa. Masaa Al Khair" (Hello, good evening) I say.

"Massaa al Noor, Keefahlak, aw salaam ali kum" says a pleasant police man.

The Arabic dance of greeting is done... and I say was there a problem?

Very pleasantly he informs me I was doing 86 in a 60 zone and even though I get "20 kilometres free", 86 is too much. I said I didnt know this 5 lane monster roadway was a 60 zone but alas it was.

License, car rego papers are shown and at this point a very young second police officer gets out.

In Arabic, they converse and the young constable (who's uniform looks a day old) is seemingly instructed on getting the booking sheet out and he's shown by the older officer how to fill it in.

"Ismak" (which is a derivative of the word "name") is said a few times and I gather that he's writing my name in the wrong spot. The young constable looks intently at my rego slip, he compares it to the number plate, he looks at my license and comments "Oh, you're Australian... very nice" and the older man keeps him on the straight and narrow on how to book a speeding ticket.

It is clear... I have been picked at random to be a "training lesson" for the young constable and unfortunately its going to cost me.

"How much?" I ask and he tells me "600 dirham" which is about A$170, "but if you go to Abu Dhabi traffic police and pay in person, you can get a discount... 50% if the judge is generous".

I said I didn't want to go to court about it but I was mistaken submit the ticket and "a judge" - probably in a back room - makes an arbitrary call on a discount. Talk about sweet justice!

All in all, I guess I am talking to these guys for about 15mins and we shake hands and he says for me to drive home safely. Very pleasant and I am glad that I helped a young cadet learn the ropes...

Now... about that discount......

1 comment:

The Dwarven One said...

Highway Patrol UAE style eh? At least they were nice about it!