May 27, 2011

Arabs: Rude, Violent, Suicidal, Murderous!

Calm down, it's not what you think.  OK, it's a bit what you think, just not the what you think that you're thinking.  Yeah.  So just bear with me, I'll get back to the title in a minute.  By the way, if you don't like this piece, blame Abu Hamed.  He made me.  Thanks.

I heard a quote many years ago from an Iraqi friend, by some prominent Israeli; it was along the lines that Israel need never fear the Arabs as long as they didn't read books or stand in queues.  I'm paraphrasing, but that's the way I heard it.  Anyway, he or she forgot one important addition:  "Or as long as they don't know how to drive a car".  There, I said it.

Right here in Oman, there's some crazy statistic of the highest per capita rate of fatal road accidents in the world.  And it's not just Oman:  The UAE, Saudi Arabia...even cosmopolitan Lebanon (mind you, they did learn from the French...).  I have spent half my life in this part of the world, living in or visiting at least a dozen Arab countries.  And they all have one thing in common:  Nobody can drive.

The thing about driving is everyone thinks they're good at it.  I, for example, am an outstandingly good driver.  Except for using my phone while trying to open my chewing gum and changing lane at the same time, maybe (and you can see my views on "multi-tasking" in a previous post; yes, I fanny about a bit while driving).  But amazingly, during ten years on and off in Oman, I've never had a car accident - right here in the most dangerous driving environment on earth.  But why is it that the people of this country can't move along a road without crashing into each other?  After all, Omanis in particular pride themselves on being polite, peaceful individuals.  So how is it that as soon as a steering wheel is put between their carefully manicured fingertips, they become all the things listed in the title above (there, I told you I'd get to it).

Something, somehow, makes people want to kill and maim themselves and others.  All sense or order, respect, tolerance and mercy is entirely lost.  Every dark hollow of the inner psyche is opened to the light and poured onto the accelerator pedal.  Not even just the young boys that you see in other countries.  No, on these roads, even grandad is a boy racer.  Tailgate, beep your horn and flash your lights in fury even though the car in front has nowhere else to go; overtake wildly on the wrong side, cause massive articulated trucks with 1970s tires to slam on the brakes as you dive across three lanes for an exit.  Weave around in the lane and across the lanes...brake, accelerate, brake again...why haven't you worked out that there is a third option of just taking your foot off the gas?

There are some psycho women out there as well, doing all of the above while SMS'ing Marwa to see if she's at the salon yet and trying to adjust the stereo with three inch long fingernails.  Most women, on the other hand - well, women and Indians - are reduced to a state of cowering indecision: To change lane, or not?  To enter the highway or just stop in terror on the slip road, hoping that you can somehow inch yourself into the mayhem without being destroyed...yeah, driving at 20kph into highway traffic doing 120kph is much safer....habla!

And it's not just the highway...driving along the wrong side of the road in any built up area seems fine: just play "chicken" with whoever's coming the other way; normal traffic rules (such as they are) only apply on roads with six lanes and cameras.  The rest of the time, just take that blind corner on the wrong side, plough through the playing children, splash water or dust on pedestrians with abandon, and generally act like you're Mad Max and the collapse of civilisation has long been and gone.  Oh, and don't forget the car park:  Walking more than ten metres to the mall is for assholes and Indians.  Just park right outside...for an hour if you want...until you can get a space on the first row.  As soon as anyone leaves, hit that pedal like your sandal's on fire boy!  Lurch across in front of that other guy and get that space!  Front first, at a bit of an angle...take up two spaces if you can.  Because you park like a blind old woman.  Yes you do.

Or why not take the cream?  Use the disabled space you jerk.  Because you're only going in for a couple of minutes right?  And the disabled guy who's just pulled up to find you parked there is psychic?  He knows you only went to get some Baskin Robbins for your fat face and will be back in a minute...so he should just wait, right?  (By the way, I really want to see a guerilla campaign start along these lines:  If you see a car parked in the disabled space with no disabled sticker, don't call the police - they might be too late.  Let the selfish bastard's tires down.  Go on, do it!)

It's unfair to paint all Arab nations as being the same though when they all have a special individual culture: Saudi Arabia has a real thing with red lights, for example: you know those moments when you are kind of speeding a little, racing to get through the lights before they change?  You reach that point of no return just as the light is hanging on amber, and it hits red as you drive through?  You just made it?  Yeah right.  In the Magic Kingdom there are five cars after you.  And one of them has a goat in the passenger seat.  Lebanon?  Lights are for decoration.  Morocco?  They don't turn on their headlights until they see another car because it wears out the battery (oh yeah).  Iraq - well you've got to die of something, Egypt - three lanes, seven cars, easy...beep beep!, Jordan...how are you doing?, UAE - get the **** OUT OF MY WAY!!!

It did occur to me that perhaps this "cultural phenomenon" could be better exploited by car manufacturers.  After all, some cars are already called different things in different markets.  So how about some Arabian specials?  The Nissan Scud - long-range ballistic missile with unreliable guidance.  The GMC Widowmaker - full size SUV can murder a family of nine in one go.  The Toyota Shaheed - a mini-saloon like the Echo: "Yeah, I'm gonna die but I'm taking the shwarma queue with me!").  That kind of thing.  (Please email if you are a major auto manufacturer seeking a region-specific branding strategy.  I'm totally gifted).

I'm told not to make this post so long (oops), so maybe I'll write a "better driving manifesto" later.  But in the mean time, think on this: first, if you're going to get something really good out of demonstrations and reform across the Arab nation in the next few months, put a highway code on the list of demands.  Near the top.  That's just after a free election, but several places above Krispy Kreme for all and a free Nancy Ajram concert, OK?  And for now, when you really feel the need to access your inner dark side, release your frustrations or just express your vivacious personality, then do it at home.  Work out.  Kick the cat.  Anything.  Just stay away from the damn  car.  Please?

P.S.  The car at the top of this piece was crashed by me, in Saudi Arabia, a few years ago.  It was totally my fault.  I was driving like a dick.





16 comments:

Mimi said...

This post should be published on a newspaper!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! Really enjoyed it!
"The Toyota Shaheed - a mini-saloon like the Echo: "Yeah, I'm gonna die but I'm taking the shwarma queue with me!"). :P

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Viscount Bothends has pointed out that some daft girl did drive into my Jeep around three years ago. But not in Oman.

(Bothends, get a grip man!)

viscount bothends said...

Finally, if i may, can i ask the surfer a couple of questions.
Do you believe that speed ramps exist to slow people down in residential areas or are they there to drive faster and try to do big jumps over?
And do you thnk the hand brake is for parking and emergencies or to assist in turning?

The Linoleum Surfer said...

That was in Spain. Naturally lawless people and there were no accidents resulting! Now kindly desist!

Anonymous said...

Sublime!

Now get it published... :)

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Mimi, Anon1, Anon2 (please don't be anonymous, it's confusing!): Thank you for your kind words; feedback is always appreciated, (with the exception of Bothends' medication-addled rambling that we can all do without). I hope this blog can live up to your praise.

Published, eh? Well, newspaper syndication of TLS is perfectly possible. But it's really, really expensive. Feel free to hook us up, 10% off the top is yours...

Love and high fives,

TLS

Kapil said...

hahahahahaha!! Quality article!! xD What a start to a drab Tuesday!! xD

Fantastic blog here....

'GMC widowmaker'?!?!?! bwaahahahahahahahahhahaha!! xD

The Great Bear said...

LOLZ..!! Great article. Simply can't stop laughing..

Adam Balochi said...

awesome article.. gotta admit.. but dont u think that title seems a little bit harsh??!
Araba=Merderous just cuz of a fucking car accident

Anonymous said...

Any particular reasons as to why you target Indians in particular?

Anonymous said...

Given the fact that Indians constitute a major work force and thus naturally you would see more of them behind the wheel (as compared to any other nationality) and the ratio of accidents caused by Indians would be much less those by localites

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Adam, read again carefully...

Anonymous Indians: I didn't say Indians cause more accidents. Local nationals are the subject of this piece. What I said about Indians (also applies to a lot of local ladies) is that their reaction tends to be extreme caution and hesitation, which causes its own problems. Of course these are all generalisations and no offence is intended.

Anonymous said...

None taken...

Anonymous said...

This is some really good shit! :) u got it spot on. def sharing this with my frendz...

Monica Leiva-Montiel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.