x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Celebrations minus frustrations

Celebrating National Day is lot of fun, but let's not abuse the fesitivities and break the law.

'Celebrations should not bring a relaxation in traffic rules."

So said Col Eid al Madhloom of the Dubai Police, and he couldn't be more true.

He was speaking, of course, of the National Day celebrations last week that clogged roads on the Emirates and resulted in 661 fines and 147 cars confiscated in al Madhloom's jurisdiction.

Anyone living in the UAE knows the congestion that occurs on the roads on National Day. The streets are packed, bumper to bumper, with cars decked out in red, white, black and green, with honking horns and backfiring exhausts. If you live in the city centre, it would have been a sleepless night.

But never mind the problems of someone who knows to stay off the streets; pity the poor soul lost in the city who wanders down to the Corniche unawares, only to be snared for hours, fraught with frustration and perspiration.

And it's only been pure luck that there hasn't been a major fire or crisis that needed emergency vehicles to get past the partiers. How would you feel if your home in the Tourist Club area was on fire?

Let's be honest, it's hard not to get caught up in the rule-breaking. When a steady stream of cars creeps through the intersection in front of you, ignoring the changing signals, decorum and politeness are unfortunate victims.

OK, it's a car culture; I get it. But it's no excuse to toss road rules out the window.

Al Madhloom had suggested that Dubai ban any future parades, out of concern for safety and etiquette. While I can definitely relate to the colonel, I think there may be a better way than just cancelling the celebrations altogether, especially in such a car-crazy country.

How about a single parade route for revellers, with a ramped-up police presence roaming the streets and funnelling everyone together? Stiff fines would be handed out for those who don't follow the rules, of course.

To top it all off, the route could end at a park or large area where people could collect and celebrate together, getting them off the streets and away from city centres. Hey, how about having a big contest there to find the best-decorated car? Don't tell me those people who spend thousands of dirhams on their cars wouldn't be interested in that.

Having a parade and a single party spot would cut down on the rage, the danger, and the frustration for all. And that's worth a party all on its own.