Monday, January 28, 2013

As you wish

A few weeks ago, the Sheikh of Dubai (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum; I follow him on Twitter) announced his decision that one of the major highways in the UAE was to have its name changed. The E311 used to be called Emirates Road. Now it's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. Really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? (Actually, it kind of does, if you're used to road names around here.) The name is in honor of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan.

The thing is, if there is another highway more major than the Highway Formerly Known as Emirates Road, it is the E11, which is called - wait for it - Sheikh Zayed Road. Not to be confused with the newly re-named Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. I think giving directions just got a little more complicated, or, at least, we'll have to be a little more exact in our wording.

What was most interesting to me about this decision was the speed with which it was carried out. A friend who commutes to AUS from Dubai told me that two days after the new name was announced, the road signs were already changed. All of them. I've seen it myself - everywhere you're used to seeing Emirates Road, it's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. It makes you feel lost even when you know exactly where you are.

In general, that's the way things are done around here. If a ruler decides something - DONE. No major public discussions, no committees or votes or arguments (at least public ones). A sheikh can make a decision, and with a snap of his fingers, several hundred new road signs are manufactured. Like, immediately.

I compare this to what my family has been going through in their neighborhood for literally years, regarding a major road that runs through the area. I wish they had a sheikh there to be on their side, someone with the authority to say, "um, no, you can't do that, sorry." But I know that's not the way things work in the US.

Now I'm just waiting to hear what they decide to call the E611, another major highway that cuts through multiple emirates. Right now, it's called (casually) "the desert road" or (more officially) "Dubai bypass road." I can't wait to find out!


Timothy Browning said...

Sometimes we just need a dictator, right? They get things done. That's why I'm voting you for dictator of the world.

Crys said...

Wait wouldn't it be the opposite, a sheikh would decide the road would be expanded and two weeks later they would start pulling down trees and fences :(. It would be sad! So at least there are ways to try and fight right :-). I am sad for your parents though. I've been listening to that story since you posted it two years ago. Such a bummer! It actually played into how I looked at houses when we bought. I dumped any house on the edge of a neighborhood. So sad the city can just annex your land!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Yeah sometimes it would be handy to have my own personal sheikh to declare what should be done. But the truth is, society or community is better when the public participates and has a vested interest in their surroundings. Even though it takes longer. I'm leased to say that through the Bethany process people mostly behaved themselves and made positive contributions

And Crys, no worries. Yes some folks lost some land but they came out of it w/a generous chunk of change. No one wanted the road left the way it was--it's going to be nice. We don't back up to the road ourselves and you are wise to not live on the edge of a neighborhood because it will always be noisier

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Oneore thing--my sister lives in Malibu. There is a wetland issue there that residents are fighting about. They are behaving like spoiled crabby toddlers, name calling, finger pointing even threatening lives. OK, spoiled crabby toddlers with glocks. One person committed suicide over it. Too many rich folks demanding their wat and no compromisIng at all.

Anonymous said...

he seems a good man!

Bridget said...

If true, that is an awesome story, anonymous. As for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, my favorite probably-true story is this one.


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