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04 March 2024

My 7km walk, 3-hour wait, meal in car

Photo Najeeb Mohmmed

By Waheed Abbas

It began just like a normal day with a nice cloudy morning – but it was not for many of the UAE motorists who travelled on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway on Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the fact that there was a forecast by the UAE weather bureau of heavy showers coupled with thunderstorm, most of us didn’t realise its impact until Wednesday afternoon.

In the wake of two to three hours of heavy showers and hailstorm when a journey of an hour stretched to more than five hours on the ever-busy Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway.

With visibility reduced to just 50 metres in the morning due to heavy winds and hailstorm, many motorists – as a safety measure – resorted to park their vehicles on the roadside to avoid any car pile-up.

Thanks to Dubai and Abu Dhabi Police’s consistent patrolling of the highway, the officers were guiding motorists who had parked their vehicles on the roadside.

But testing times for motorists began just before the afternoon when the rain had eased to drizzle but roads were water-logged and some cars were stuck in rain-water ponds just after the 7th interchange.

Faced with choice of braving the deep pond just after the 7th interchange in the aftermath of the rain, motorists going to Abu Dhabi and those returning from the UAE capital to Dubai lost five hours with tailback stretching for kilometres in both the directions.

It started well on my return journey from Abu Dhabi towards Dubai until we got stuck in the middle of a massive traffic jam near upcoming-site of Dubai Parks & Resorts near Jebel Ali.

After boringly waiting for three hours in the car and watching people walking their way to metro station, I also decided to venture in the lovely weather by walking all the way from Dubai Parks & Resorts to the nearest metro station.

On the way, we spotted that the Roads and Transport Authority officials had opened the road-barrier, asking motorists to return towards Abu Dhabi in order to take an alternative route – Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, Emirates Road, etc.

On a normal day, it would have been a taxi ride of 45 minutes from Jebel Ali to my office located opposite Dnata on Sheikh Zayed Road, but  thanks to the heavy showers, it was much longer.

Three hours of desperate wait in the backseat of the car, one-and-a-half hour of nearly 7-kilometre snaking through the vehicles and 45 minutes of metro ride.

Even though the three-hour wait in the car was quite boring, the 7km walk to metro station was as much interesting and a different experience.

It seemed as if the whole Dubai had flocked out on to the road enjoying the weather.

With no option but to wait on the highway, all the haves and have-nots resorted to making the most of their time. Some decided to have their home-made biryani in the car as they left the office early; few dozen labourers grouped together to have their meal and feel of the desert on the road-side sand; while others decided to take a nap.

Some rain-starved residents decided to experience the weather in a unique way by joining the group to test their legs to the nearest metro station.

Since there was not much traffic coming from Dubai, some of car-owners decided to take a walk on the other side of the empty highway – enjoying casual chats and leisurely talking on their handsets.

But for some, all was not well as bad went to worse when they decided to take off-road by driving into sandy area to avoid jam but got badly stuck in the sand – for even two-dozen well-built labourers were not even able to pull the vehicles out.

The journey was a mixed-bag of boredom, excitement, adventurous and hectic – but above-all memorable.