Tuesday, 4 November 2008


It's become a battle of wills, the War of the Snicket.

The sandy short cut between Eastern Dubai and Sharjah has been dug up on the Sharjah side, trenches laid across all the accessible areas and earthworks pushed up either side of them. Another tranche of trenches were added to the open desert areas yesterday and sand piled up against any breaks in the fence With the berms and trenches snaking through the landscape, it looks more like the Somme than a short cut out there.

But there were a couple of routes through last night, a group of young nationals camped out by the more difficult pass, whooping with delight when people got through and waving encouragement when they got into difficulties. I must say watching a Hummer get into a stuck is quite impressive: it's the weight of the thing, a massive, slo-mo belly-flop.

There's a certain spirit to it all, a sort of "We've got a short-cut and you're not gonna block us!" indefatigable defiance. They can keep on piling up sand and digging trenches, but you'd be surprised at what a good 4WD can do in careful hands. Quite who is behind this is a mystery, though. If this is the hand of officialdom, surely a couple of bad-tempered coppers and a book of tickets would achieve in a day what this comedy has failed to achieve all week. Although I'm not sure that a 'driving on the sand' charge would stick, would it?

Having said that, the car workshops will be having a field day this weekend. There are an awful lot of car parts sticking out of the soft sand these days as tens of cars get bogged down or screw up in their quest to stay out of the long lines of traffic that glitter across Dubai and Sharjah every morning and evening.

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