Driving in Kuwait - andymc {P}
My brother has been working in Kuwait as a teacher for some months now. He started a blog on The Onion to share his thoughts and experiences, which I think contains some excellent writing (but then I would say that, wouldn't I?). Anyway, although it's mainly written as a socio-political satire, this particular edition is motoring-related so I thought I would reproduce it on here.

"Jim Crow is alive and well and driving an SUV".
As to whether it is true or not I cannot say, but a friend of mine gave me the interesting, if rather unnerving, information that you are more likely to die through being a regular driver in Kuwait than being a coalition military person in Iraq. I suppose that would very much depend on where you end up being stationed - a guy I know whose son is in the north says it's pretty safe, but then his son is kept on base, not doing combat stuff. It's hard enough normally assessing whether people tell the truth or not even with regard to sharing a restaurant bill, so any well-disciplined military chap worth his salt who is asked by his parents if everything is OK, is hardly going to answer by screaming "OH MY GOD, IT'S SO HORRIBLE, GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
Well, in any case, to move on to the theme of the post, I would have to say, this country is missing out on a massive tourist potential. For all the adrenaline-junkies who find parachuting & rock-climbing have palled as attractions, verily, I say unto you, come to the Gulf, not simply for the risky politics and high salaries, driving here has to be seen to be believed. It's the ultimate action sport. It's Mad Max in nighties. It's Too Fast, Too Furious, Too Late to see the lamp-post.
This is a great part of the world to buy a sports car (I myself have my eye on a Porsche Carrera going for about 18000 USD - I do not know if this is a good price for ye Transatlantics, but it is most certainly a good price in Europe). BUT I beseech you, do not drive it here. Export it for when you get out. When you are here, buy a Land-Rover, or preferably a Humvee. Actually , no, buy a T-62.
Y'see, the average chappie here thinks that if God wishes him to ascend unto Paradise and collect the Virgins, then such will happen & there's nothing to be done about it. The frame of mind is one of submission to the will of Allah (Islam does not exactly mean 'peace', as some seem to think; a more accurate translation would seem to be 'submission'). Anyway, such philosophical Weltanschaung leads to chaps barrelling down the highway at speeds approaching those of light aircraft, despite the highway in question being packed with fellow road-users. Hence the burned-out carcasses of vehicles which daily build up on the Expressway. Often, one can come across such scenes when the corpse has not yet been disinterred from the wreck, the emergency services being more distracted by the need to smoke and take notes in a desultory and laborious manner.
"So what?" you mutter. "If they drive like that, let Allah sort 'em out."
And now the aspect that makes it so disgraceful. Now, the way it seems to work is, that natives drive big, powerful vehicles, that give you a pretty good chance of surviving even a bad pile-up. One sees more Hummers, GMCs, Pajeros than trees. The trouble is, these drivers seem to be emboldened by the knowledge that the odds are in their favour. Nor are they by any means all young guns suffering from an excess of testosterone. Burka-clad women are often to be seen throwing their automotive weight about in vehicles more powerful than those available to some armies.
Immigrants, however, who compose between half and two-thirds of the population in all Gulf states, are not merely unable to afford big SUVs - they ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BUY PICK-UP TRUCKS. The logic for this, apparently, is that were Egyptians and Bengalis to have pick-ups, this would enable them to set up their own businesses in construction & the trades. And this would never do. Such opportunities must be reserved for Natives.
So what do the immigrants drive? They drive the smaller, lighter, older vehicles that make up such weird wrecked sculptures. Taxi-drivers, overwhelmingly immigrants, are not generally permitted any vehicle larger than a modest saloon. My taxi-driver, Amir, is a Bangladeshi who overworks because he's smart enough to realise that if he ever wants to see his kids' faces before they hit their teens then he's got to put money aside. He is the source of some riveting information, (which usually proves accurate in subsequent check-ups with natives or expat Old Hands). Amir is a dangerous driver, as his customers' underwear can testify, but he doesn't speed. Speeding, you see, can bring on fines; but fines are generally only imposed on immigrants, natives being exempt unless they go well out of their way to pee off the police. Nice, huh?
I take taxis twice a day, so I have something of an interest in proceedings. But I would remind readers - these folk from Bangladesh, Egypt, India and so on, who drive the taxis and draw the water and clean the toilets and serve the burgers and man the callcentres and guard the compunds, are overwhelmingly the fellow-Muslims -brothers in the Umma, kindred - of the Arabs, yet they are treated worse than black Americans under segregation, worse, dare I say, than Arab citizens of Israel. And it's all perfectly legitimate. Nobody cares. If you bring it up in conversation, people look at you as if you are a mentally ill communist agitator suffering from sunstroke.
Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.
I will return to this theme on a regular basis. I don't know what, if anything, I can do to stop it, but I can at least blow the whistle so you can hear.

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Mods, I haven't included a link to the blog for the time being - it's open to comments from anyone, and there are occasional sweary bits or mildly adult humour. However I'd like for anyone to be able to read it if they want. Alright to post the link?

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andymc
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Driving in Kuwait - mss1tw
Damn good read
Driving in Kuwait - helicopter
As one who frequently works and drives in the Middle East, I can testify to the truth of the article.

I think my record in Qatar was seeing four serious accidents in one day.
Driving in Kuwait - Armitage Shanks {p}
When I was in Abu Dhabi 20 years ago 7 people were killed in an accident at a cross roads controlled by traffic signals! Driving on the right, when reading this - someone took a left turn from the slow/right hand lane of an 8 lane highway and T boned another car - all ocupants of both vehicles killed.Didn't even make the papers!
Driving in Kuwait - Dynamic Dave
Andy, you have mail.
 

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