Monday, 25 June 2007

Salik Goes Ahead. Of Course.

The near-hysterical tone of the chatter surrounding Dubai's controversial Salik (Arabic for 'clear') congestion charge has been cranked up by a report from Zawya Dow Jones that the introduction of the toll may be delayed. The original Zawya story, that the RTA was meeting Sunday to discuss possibly delaying the scheme in the face of public reaction, was denied by the RTA and the denial story is front page 7Days, Gulf News and Gulf Today. Khaleej Times and the Arabics didn't go as big with it.

Zawya's sticking with the story it had, updated here, but is saying that the meeting was duly held and RTA decided to go ahead with the scheme. None of the stories add much information, of course.

We are terribly prone to this type of hysteria here in Lalaland. A few years ago a Shopping Festival stunt to bake the world's biggest cake (it stretched up Maktoum Street and down Muraqqabat or something like that, if my ageing memory serves me right) came to a messy end after a rumour went around that there were keys to a Toyota Lexus hidden in the cake: 'members of the public' lost no time in attacking the enormous sugary confection in search of a bonanza that was, sadly, not there.

Now we're getting hysterical at any opportunity to believe that we won't have to pay Dhs 100 for the damn tag and another Dhs4 every time we pass a toll gate. The level of speculation and gossip that's out there, of course, being the direct result of a flawed and unclear communications strategy. The great lesson here: news expands to fill a vacuum.

But what larks, Pip!

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