It's been a little over 3 months since we arrived in Abu Dhabi and while not as frequent, there are still things that give me pause. Now that I have my driver's license and have taken the car a few times, I've noticed a few things.
- Just like 55mph is the 'general' speed limit in the US, 120kph is the equivalent here. And to remind you of this, the cars start to beep when you go over 120kph to let you know you are now speeding. The beeping stops after a few more kph over 120, which is good because the highway limits can be as high as 140. We think there's actually a way to turn off the beeping, but for now, it's kind of a nice reminder.
- Traffic cams are everywhere and are used in lieu of patrolmen to issue tickets. Supposedly, when you're caught, the camera will flash and that's how you know you've gotten a ticket. The more reliable way, however, is to check the traffic dept website periodically to see if you have any tickets or fines. Brian has gotten 2 speeding tickets so far! You can then pay the lower rate immediately online or wait until you need to renew your car license (yearly) and pay a heftier fine at that time. We opted for the cheaper option and are both watching our speed carefully from here on out. :)
- With all the blowing dust and sand, it is almost impossible to keep your car clean for very long, so there are car washers all over the place. One option is to go through the automatic car wash at the gas station, but more convenient are all the laborers in the car parks that will wash your car while you shop or run errands. They often have a cart with water, rags and soap and wash your car by hand. I've even heard of workers who will wash your car once or twice per week at your place of business for a monthly fee. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to find one of those guys near Brian's office, but if we find one, we're hiring him!
- Parking is a complete nightmare. Not only is there not enough parking, but people park so crazy and just about anywhere, that it's often a challenge to even drive through a lot looking for a spot. The gov't is working on creating more paid parking, which will help as it establishes clear parking spots and keeps the rental car agencies from taking all the spots. The downside, of course, is that you then have to pay to park, but honestly, I think it will be worth it to have some organization.
- There is a toll system in Dubai called Salik. In many ways it's like the iPass system where you buy the device (here it's a simple small card with a chip in it) and it's all open road tolling - no stopping. In fact, unlike in the states, you can't pay as you go, you have to buy the salik card even if you're only in Dubai for one visit. Pretty convenient though, you buy the card, stick it on your windshield and then can top it off online. You have to remember to check your balance though as the fine for not having a card can be pretty steep.