On Driving in Dubai and Such

In continuance with my newfound, hard-earned freedom of earning a UAE driving license, I decided that I should temporarily rent a car and be among the newest to be welcomed onto the hazardous and infamous traffic of Dubai.

Someone should prepare an orientation program about driving in Dubai in clear bullet form for us novice drivers.

  • Indians are generally-speaking lousy drivers and have very bad judgment of the term “personal space”, think of them cramming by the thousands into a train and you won’t blame them anymore. Approach with care.
  • Indians talking on their phones can be very hazardous to your mental and physical health and stability. Try to avoid at all costs.
  • Arabs feel that such trivial things like looking to their left and right or using indicators are unneeded luxuries and a terrible waste of much-needed time and effort. So is stopping at red lights. (I’m only joking Dubai Police, don’t take this seriously. Oh and about that nice photo you took of me on Sheikh Zayed Road, please tell me where I can pick it up from because I plan on posting it on my Facebook account and tagging myself. Many thanks)
  • When a sudden, blue light flashes out of nowhere, please hit the panic mode and start worrying about your makeup looking good, and whether it was you who got fined till you forget all about the car stopping in front of you with emergency indicators.
  • Cars swaying to the right and left on Sheikh Zayed Road means that someone is listening to some loud music and dancing to it or making out. Ok yes I dance to music in the car, shoot me.
  • In the unfortunate case of an accident, please stand in the middle of the road, proudly displaying the wreck that your car has turned to, fuming angrily and flailing your arms, it helps the cases of us commuting around to arrive early and earn our bonuses and raises.
  • Paying 4 dirhams is no absolute guarantee that you won't get stuck in endless traffic.
  • When stuck in traffic, wave to people around you, or at least have the courtesy to make goofy faces to your neighbours in traffic, they really appreciate it and are likely to respond similarly.

Feel free to update this list at your leisure.

Now that I’m cruising along the streets, grimacing against the blinding sunlight, pushing down my sunglasses to the bridge of my nose in attempt to read the signs and uncountable exits, I have found myself in more than one unfortunate situation.

Me: I’ll take this exit
Friend: No man there’s too much traffic, it’ll take us forever. Let’s take the next one.

Half hour later, cruising in the middle of the fucking, uninhabited desert, as car zooming next to us on the other side of the road at unspoken speeds that the force of the wind propels us sideways.

Me: Shit! What the hell is this? (Indicating a beware sign depicting that camels cross this road) Where the fuck did civilization disappear?

Drive safely. And do not come close to me please.


On Misadventure No.4 the One Where I Go to a Football Match that Ends Poorly

It's that time of day again, ladies and gentleman, in which I share with you another story of my embarrassing yet eventful and enticing past.

There is a particular football match that is stamped in the memories of all Jordanians who lived in the nineties like an eternal birthmark. Everyone knows it; you, me and every Jordanian we know.

I am talking about the final match between Jordan and Iraq in Amman Stadium in the Pan Arab Championship in 1999 which Jordan won after 2 excruciating extra time, and penalty shootouts in which the woodwork were deservedly crowned men of the match.

After that, Jordan wasn't quite the Jordan we know.

Random flashbacks
Girls painted with the Jordan flag on their faces cheering shrilly on the sides of the streets whereas it was taboo not so long ago, boys hurdled in the bucket of an excavator as it rocked them like a baby's cradle, a water tank circling my street all the time pissing what we like to think was hygienic water at the onlooking, cheering bystanders. A kid was actually dancing and singing to the water tank "Rashrish 7ubbak ya gameel" (Spray me with your love, O beautiful one(A Syrian sonnet))

You can’t make these things up.

Being the patriot and lover of football I am, I decided to go with a friend to cheer for Jordan in Amman stadium. When we entered the stadium, it was jam-packed with cheering, whistling, screaming, sweating all-male Jordanians. I couldn't see the field if I stood on the tip of my toes.

Me: What are we going to do?
Friend (Eyeing the wall on which numerous cheering people stood above the already cheering people on the stairs)

Now let me explain a bit. The stands were made up of 3 large concrete steps on which hundreds of people sat with their feet dangling. Now the long wall separating the stadium from the outside park had an iron wall mounted on top of it. People stood on the ledge of the concrete wall, so that the tips of their shoes didn't touch anything at all. My friend climbed the wall first and gave me his hand till I stood hazardously on the ledge hanging from my hands behind the iron wall like the image of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The cool thing I realized about football matches is that you can spew whatever shit you want and no one would give a damn less.

Me: Yifda7 3ardkooooooo (Fuck you)
Just for trial purposes. No one flinched. Cool.

Jordan were 4 up, the crowd were frenzied, screaming, clapping, shouting, spitting. Then a sudden terrible change of fate happened in which Iraq started scoring goals one after the other

After the first goal , slight murmurs of disapproval in the stadium
After the second goal, low curses of discontent here and there
After third goal, fuck this shit, loud curses involving a lot of the players' female members of the families' private parts. The goalkeeper got the lion's share of those curses.
After the fourth goal people started banging the metal wall that I was hanging onto with their hands that I swear to you the force of the bangs propelled me downwards and was near to throw me down.

Lunatic Friend: Hang oooon. Hehehehe! (Obviously having the time of his life watching the panic precipitating in my face)

Iraq came near to winning but the referee blew his whistle and it was time for penalty shootouts in which Jordan won thanks to the woodwork.

That's when all hell broke loose.

The gate separating the crowds from the football field fell down in a blink of an eye in more than one part of the stadium. People started infiltrating into the football field carrying their Jordanian flags like leeches swarming onto meat, waving them around and running randomly. Ambulances rushed in to remove the injured people, and the flags that were waved awhile ago were now being used as covering blankets or for waving air into the gaping mouths of the unconscious.

Me(still hanging from the wall): This looks like fun. Do you think this is real grass?
Sami: Let's go and find out.

So I tiptoed slowly into the football field and went through the broken fence, and into the field where the players just moments ago were maniacally chasing a tossed ball. I started running in circles with the wind in my hair and the grass at my feet.

Me: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. This is the life

Suddenly, a policeman shows out of nowhere as they always like to do

Policeman: Wala!! Shu bitsawi hown? Hey!! What are you doing here?
Me: Errr
Before I opened my mouth to voice my answer I rushed all the way back to the stupid wall I crawled from, climbed it and hung myself from the metal wall again.

Later on my friend caught up with me

Lunatic Friend: Hehehehe, Man! I never saw you run so fast

DISCLAIMER: Lots of Jordanian and Iraqi football fans were hurt in the production of this blog post. Thankfully, I was neither of them

The End


On my Job, Jongar, Settling in and Such

I have been in Dubai for a total of 5 months now and am still enjoying every minute of it. I started settling in by renting my own beautiful apartment with a view. I would've called it home, if it weren't for minor distractions like vacationing back in Jordan, or being shipped immediately afterwards to Saudi, the land of the empty as I like to call it.

I wouldn't have gone back to Jordan if it weren't for a family emergency, which usually either means weddings or funerals. Thank God it was the first. When I came back I was reluctantly shipped to Saudi for the equivalent time of my vacation as if I was being punished for vacationing so early within my career.

Boss: You're going to Saudi
Me: Emmm. Oman is nice this time of year.
Boss: Hehe, no you have to go. Saudi is nice.
Me: Bahrain?
Boss: Hehehe
Me: Ok ok between me and you, Qatar, but that's my final offer.

I was negotiating a lost cause

When people ask me what I'm doing in Dubai, I tell everyone that I'm a belly-dancer or strip-dancer, depending on the audience and their threshold for juvenile crap. That makes people nag more, not catching the drift that I don't like to talk about my job for the sake of the healthiness of the relationship I am trying to maintain. It's not one of those common jobs that you can mouth in one word like doctor or architect and everyone would go "Aaaaaaaahh"

I should've studied Physical Education and became a gymist or something.

When I talk to Jordanians about my job, I tell them I am Jongar, in reference to the fact that I am a one-man army and hence a powerful being in Jordanian slang (Jongar is the Arabic version of a Japanese anime called "Astro Ganga"of a giant robot fighting off invading aliens, that we as kids of the eighties grew up watching and loving)

As a kid I scribbled myself in harsh crayon markings next to Jongar, and when asked to write a composition about summer vacations, I would talk about my "friend" Jongar, and was known to kick my nursery mates' asses all the time screaming "Jongaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar" as if that justifies it.

Me: Jongaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar (all the while beating the shit out of a bawling kid)
Kid: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Nursery Teacher(pulling me from the ear): Sami how many times have I told you that you are not Jongar? And Kid is not evil alien from outer space ..
Me(flailing arms wildly around and singing the opening theme of the cartoon): Ow! Ow! Jongar, Jongar al-batal il-jabbar (Jongar, Jongar the mighty hero).

I wish Nursery Teacher would see me know, for she will undoubtedly realize that she was wrong all along and that I am none other than:

Jongar, Jongar, al-batal il-jabbar.


On Misadventure No.3: The One Where I Blaze the Alarms in JFK Airport

While we're at the subject of airports, I wanted to gain this oppurtunity to reminsce on my earliest misadventure in airports.

I was still a kid and I was still innocent enough to think that airports or policemen held no hard feelings and grudges against me. Boy, I was wrong.

I was coming back from a camp in the US with a bunch of other Jordanian campers. Everyone was distressed and sad because they left their new friends behind. We were waiting in JFK international airport to catch a flight back to Frankfurt, then a flight from there to Amman.

Me? I faked sadness, I was too damn hungry to think of some stupid friend I made in 3 weeks and will probably never see again. Someone suggested food, and I was all the too happy to oblige. As we sat to eat our hot-dogs I felt a flowy feeling in my nose. Being the inexperienced kid I am, I wiped my nose with the back of my hand only to see a dry trail of blood. I set my mind to ignoring the blood flowing from my nose and wait for it till it settle down, if it weren't for another asshole kid screaming "DAMM!! DAMM!!" (BLOOD!!, BLOOD!!) as if the shit-head never saw a drop of blood before.

Now the whole camping kids stared at me and I had a respnisiblity to do something about it. I just can't shrug my shoulders and say "So??". I tilted my head backward and clogged my nose with my hand, got up and started what felt like an eternity of seaching for a bathroom.

I searched and searched to no avail, by that time the bleeding got worse and my clogging hand was getting soaked with blood. I returned to the hot dog restaurant where someone told me the bathroom was in the back. So I went to the back only to find a door with "Emergency Exit" Not the kind of door you want to open, trust me. But I was desperate and hoped the emergency exit would lead to an emergency bathroom. I pushed the door open and I swear to you, all the lights in the damn airport flickered on and off and a deafening alarm sounded all around the airport.

I took a startled step backwards.

Me(the beginning of many times to come): I'm screwed.

I ran away, head tilted back with a clogging hand on my nose in the eternal search for the bathroom, till I washed up in one, all the time the alarms blaring on and on. When I came back to my fellow campers with a stupid "It wasn't me" smile on my face, they said police came asking them if they saw anyone go into the exit and they told them they didn't.

10 years later there was a reunion of campers. One huge guy was looking at me funnily and annoyingly.

Guy: Hey!! Aren't you...? (tilts his head back and put hit hand on his nose)
Guy: HAHAHHAHA!! Hey Firas, come check this out. It's the (tilts his head back and put hit hand on his nose) (roaring with laughter with Firas)

Apparently, it became a reknown story told over and over between fellow campers and their friends.

Damn, I hate airports.