Sunday, 15 August 2010


Glitter 1Image by Johnny Grim via Flickr
The tradition of scattering little pieces of glass all over the roads during Ramadan sadly seems set to continue this year. Driving past a smashed car on the Deira side of Business Bay bridge this morning, the driver apparently alive but nursing a nasty nosebleed, I was only surprised that it was the first major accident I have actually witnessed in the first days of this long, hot fast. I know it won't be the last - in fact, three people have already died on Dubai's roads in the first three days of Ramadan.

This Ramadan is a trial indeed - the Fajr prayer which commences the fast takes place at around 4.30am and Maghrib, the prayer that marks Iftar, the breaking of the fast, takes place at around 6.50pm - so people are fasting for something a little over fourteen hours a day. The fast means that nothing may pass your lips, so we're talking no eating, drinking (no, not even water) or smoking. When the ambient temperature's creeping into the mid forties (that's 110F to Americans), fourteen hours is long, long time. And it's debilitating - as the days pass, the cumulative effect on people's systems is plain to see.

A road full of tired, distracted and physically weakened drivers means that everyone has a huge additional duty of care - not only those fasting, but those who are not but who could give their fellow drivers a little more leeway than usual.

Dubai's Road and Transport Authority has launched an awareness campaign designed to highlight the extra care that drivers should take in Ramadan, which appears to consist of some leaflets (according to this story in Gulf News) and using the traffic information system displays. The need for these huge and no doubt expensive displays have long mystified me, although I'm sure I'm alone in thinking of them as Mostly Pointless. Everyone else no doubt likes the occasional aphorism, national day greeting and, very occasionally, advice that the traffic is slow - usually the only entertainment while waiting in the tailback stretching under the sign.

Today's message reads, in English, "Take care of other's fault" - and yes, I am so small-minded as to complain about the illiterate rendering of the message. Whether you should be exhorted to take care of others' faults or looking to take more care yourself is also worthy of debate.

But a few leaflets and a wonky message are simply not enough. Between the tolls and fees it raises, the RTA must surely have the resources to launch a serious public awareness campaign that could at least have a chance of alleviating this awful and totally avoidable carnage.

One component of it could be a concerted effort to create a strong moral climate condemning the fools putting others' lives at risk when they dash carelessly home for Iftar, seemingly convinced for some reason that they are rendered temporarily immune from the consequences of their selfishness.
Enhanced by Zemanta


KJ said...

No amount of warning signs will let the public change. When someone is short of food, water and nicotine, plus traffic, you can only control yourself as much as your personality would stretch.

The main issue is that everyone leaves at the same time, in contrast to normal days when people generally leave at different hours and depending on workload. The roads can't handle that volume of simultaneous traffic which is the bottleneck for temper.

Eman said...

Did you notice that all the accidents reported, happened during the non-fasting hours i.e. before Imsak or after Iftar??

Show me a research that shows that people who fast are more prone to cause accidents and i'll agree with you, otherwise, what you mentioned in your post opening does not stand.

Dave said...

Eman, you know that research on this subject would not exist. What company in their right mind would conduct research that may result in criticism of the ritual of fasting in an Islamic country..... but take a drive before Iftar and the problem is more than obvious!!!

Dubai Jazz said...

"Look after other's mistakes"

Anonymous said...

Eman, there are countless studies that show that dehydration causes reduced brain function. Likewise low blood sugar causes impaired reaction times and irritablity much the same as taking alcohol. There are many studies which shows that by the time you feel thirsty you are 30% below ideal hydration levels and the effect on your brain is the same as taking 3 units of alcohol.

Responsible people will not drive after taking alcohol. Perhaps people who have been fasting should take the same precautions.

If you refrain from drinking water for that length of time in these temperatures you are damaging your body and anyone who tells you otherwise is kidding themselves.

Eman said...

Dear Anonymous,
Aren't we pushing it a bit?? The effect of fasting is like consuming alcohol?!! Have you ever fasted? From someone who experienced both i'm telling you: no it's not!
Not eating for a little while is a good detoxification tool, when Iftar (breakfast) is eaten properly and with balance. Also, speaking of personal experience, I never get dehydrated in Ramadan because of the AC...unless I spend a good 50-60 mins in the sun, i'm fine.
And a link to one of the studies you spoke about would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Eman, I assume you know how to spell Google.

I didn't say it was like drinking - I said it had a similar effect.

Actually AC is incredibly dehydrating and unhealthy. And the problem is that you will feel cool so be unaware that you;re creating internal problems.

Yes, I have fasted, from food, but I would never put my body under such stress as to deprive it of water. And after a fast I would never drive because I know low blood sugar causes impairment and I am responsible enough not to put my own and others lives at risk by driving.

here's some links for you:

and about another 5 million others. Now show me research that says dehydration is good for you.

You know, if someone willingly submits themselves to this for the sake of their religion that is entirely up to them. But don't try to tell us its healthy because it isn't. And don't put others lives at risk by operating dangerous machinery!

alexander... said...

DJ - the message changed through the day - 'Look After Others Mistakes' wasn't this morning's message, I remember 'cos the grocer's apostrophe in the one I quoted drove me to posting in the first place.

The only thing worse than grocers' apostrophes is people calling a nice chocolate or some such minor thing 'awesome'.

Eman said...

Hey Anonymous (what a name btw, have some guts for God's sake!)
'Eman, I assume you know how to spell Google.'

You are the one asserting a pile of BS so unless you present evidence you can STFU.

You are exaggerating! Portraying fasting as this evil anti human thing..As rational as you're trying to sound but the underlying voice of bigotry in your lines is very loud.

Anonymous said...

@Anon - you've fasted and experieced alcohol?


Doug said...

@Eman - it's not a case of 'bigotry'.

The point is that fasting is not a normal state for a human being to be in. This is why for most of the year, people eat and drink during the day.

Ramadan is supposed to be a challenge which reminds those of us who have access to food and drink on a daily basis that not everyone is as fortunate as us.

Fasting is hard - why? Because it does take a toll on the body.

At the most basic level: your body is fuelled according to the concentration of glucose within your blood. If you do not eat during the day, this concentration of glucose in your blood lowers as you use it up.

This creates a condition called hypoglycaemia. It's a condition that is experienced by millions of people with diabetes. Fasting can cause this condition to occur in people without diabetes.

Hypoglycaemia is well documented for its symptoms - short temper, lack of concentration and co-ordination and so on.

Therefore anyone fasting is at risk from hypoglycaemia - and therefore at risk of short temper and lack of concentration and co-ordination.

Anyone on the roads 14 hours after they have eaten will have their blood sugar at its lowest level. This means when people are driving to their iftar meal, they are likely to be at the highest level of temper, and lowest level of concentration and co-ordination. Don't these seem like the perfect conditions to cause a traffic accident?

No-one is saying you shouldn't fast or that fasting is wrong. No-one is trying to oppress your beliefs. What people are trying to tell you is that holding those beliefs does not absolve you of your basic human reponsibilities. If you want to confuse science with biogtry, that's your own problem.

Anonymous said...

Eman, running a little low on blood sugar are we?
Extreme irritiability, paranoia, irrationality.....

You kinda make your own case

rosh said...

Nice read Alex. It's crazytown this time of the year, isn't it. Especially in the afternoons, and the "after party" evenings.

I flew in yesterday, rented a car, drove up to SHJ via Emirates Road around 2:30. DeJavu (times 3)! I forgot it's primetime. Not much has changed.

Besides reduced working hours, companies could bring in the 'working from home' option, this time of the year.

I think, the best time to get on the highway is perhaps after 4 or 5PM, well atleast back in the day.

rosh said...

*2:30 in the afternoon

Luke said...

All accidents are caused by speed because there is always a speed value at which the accident would not have happened. e.g. At 90kmh he ploughed straight into the other car, at 85 he would have clipped the wing, at 80 he would have been able to swerve out the way. We may even have to go all the way down to zero kmh to stop the accident from happening ... but there has never been accident when all parties involved were stationary

Luke said...

One thing I never understood is why muslims need reminding EVERY year that there are people who are hungry, thirsty, short of cigarettes etc. Have you forgotten how it felt last year?

But surely fasting is completely pointless anyway, especially when it is followed by a big pig-out at sunset. Try going the whole month without anything. That would be fun to watch.

Oh, and by the way, there is no god (or whatever you may call him/her), so don't expect preferential treatment for your fasting efforts when you finally pop your clogs.

rosh said...

Luke, there are many who truly fast, per the guidelines / objectives of Ramadan. Not all 'pig-out' or share your sentiments on a divine being.

From The Dungeons

Book Marketing And McNabb's Theory Of Multitouch

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I clearly want to tell the world about A Decent Bomber . This is perfectly natural, it's my latest...