Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Mr Ghulam, a lugubrious sort at the best of times, drove me to work today. He was tired: his first fare of the day had been at 4am to Jebel Ali from Sharjah, followed by another to Jumeirah. And so he had splashed out on a Red Bull – Dhs5 is a lot of money for a cabbie, but he considers the expenditure to be an occasional professional necessity.

We passed at least four ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) petrol stations, with trucks queued up off the forecourt and out into the street. This is because ADNOC is charging Dhs 4 (A little over $1) per gallon less than anyone else for diesel and 50 fils less for petrol. It’s saving Mr G’s company Dhs 150,000 a month, he says. The consequent surge in demand has been such that ADNOC is apparently bringing in private tankers to ship the stuff out to their service stations in sufficient volumes.

The forecourts at the EPPCO and Emarat stations we passed remained empty: you can almost hear the wind and see the tumbleweed. It must be killing them.

Meanwhile, Mr. G has necked his Red Bull and has become positively garrulous, “See? See?,” he spreads his arms out and laughs in a slightly worrying cackle. “Good feeling, not tiredness!”

Mr G is cleaner than Eddie Murphy. Brought up by a strict Pakistani military father (who served in the British Army, I am told with some pride), he’s never smoked or drunk and he doesn’t even do fizzy drinks like Pepsi and 7Up. I can only imagine what Red Bull’s doing to him. It must be a like a damn hard toot of the finest Columbian Marching Powder.

We pass another ADNOC: the queues remind me of the ‘70s, when my dad and I used to drive around together looking for petrol because OPEC was spanking the Western World.

Mr G. cackles maniacally, his knuckles white on the wheel and his foot alarmingly hard to the floor as we pass the petrol station, reduced to a blue and white blur as we near warp-speed: “Two gallons saving eight dirhams,” he cries triumphantly. “This breakfast cost!”


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