DUBAI // Police will patrol a desert area around the clock in a bid to catch dangerous drivers.
Al Warqa roundabout is a popular hangout for young men, mostly Emiratis, who indulge in reckless, off-road driving such as races and stunts, officers say.
The heightened patrols are part of an awareness campaign, Desert Without Blood, launched today to educate youths about the deadly consequences of aggressive driving, whether in the desert or onthe roads.
“Each day, after 4pm until the early hours of the next day, this place gets filled with young men ‘surfing the desert’ with their cars and quad bikes, many of which are driven in a reckless and aggressive manner without paying any attention for any possible consequences,” said one policeman.
“This behaviour does not end in the desert but continues on the roads.”
Dubai Police has confiscated 510 vehicles within two kilometres of the roundabout in the last six weeks, including dune buggies and quad bikes.
“There is no doubt the traffic problems of Al Warqa and its desert have started appearing on the surface and we need to address them,” said Lt Col Jamal Al Bannai, assistant director of Dubai Police traffic department.
A tent has been set up at the roundabout, where police display safety clothing, helmets and shoes for driving dune buggies and quad bikes and try to raise awareness of safe desert driving.
Several ambulances will also be on standby at the roundabout throughout the month-long campaign, as well as two dune buggies for a quick response if there is an accident.
Outside the tent is a badly damaged four-wheel-drive vehicle that was involved in an accident two weeks ago in which a 28-year-old man was injured. An overturned quad bike is also on display.
“This trend is very dangerous as it has resulted in some people being injured, while others lost their lives. This needs to end,” Lt Col Al Bannai said.
No figures on the number of people killed and injured in the area were available.
On Saturday, three Emiratis aged between 17 and 19 were injured in two accidents in Al Warqa involving quad bikes.
About 10 undercover task-force officers from Isnad (support), which was specially formed to target reckless driving in Dubai, will also monitor the roundabout area.
“We have our patrols spread all over the place in a bid to curb the problem, which is manifesting itself in the form of groups which compete with each other on who can carry out the most stunts and still escape from police,” said Lt Aqel Mohammed, head of Isnad.
Police said the gangs of youths, which can number in the hundreds, are usually divided along neighbourhood lines or pitting emirate against emirate.
“The problem is that many of those youngsters think they can get away with their actions, defy police patrols and get a thrill out of it,” said Lt Mohammed.
He recalled a recent case when police chased a youth into the desert and eventually surrounded him.
“The young man was surprised we caught him. When asked why he drives in such a manner, he said, ‘Because no one has been able to catch me’,” Lt Mohammed said.