A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, April 22, 2010

High Speed Bumper Cars: Saudi Road Warriors

We all know about traffic and driving in the Middle East. The first time I visited Lebanon, now nearly 40 years ago, we all told ourselves that the taxi drivers on the Beirut to Damascus highway must be really expert drivers to be able to drive so fast on such a winding mountain road. Then we noticed the burned out hulks on the mountain below us. I know that it's easy to be stereotypical about Middle Eastern driving. (And to avoid ethnic stereotyping, let me say that if there are any taxi drivers on earth more reckless than Arabs, it's Israelis. I once was driven from Haifa to Jerusalem in about a third the time that was physically possible.)

But here's an article in a Saudi paper on driving in Saudi Arabia: 16 people die in traffic accidents
every day; 275,000 are injured annually. The article says reckless driving accounts for 60% of the accidents and speeding through stoplights (that's not reckless driving?) accounts for 34%. Road accidents cost 26 billion riyals a year, or four percent of Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product.(Remember: we're talking about Saudi Arabia.)

A modest proposal:

  1. Even King ‘Abdullah is said to believe that it's time to give women the right to drive.
  2. Then take it away from the men.
  3. Or just move everyone to downtown Cairo or Tehran, where the gridlock will keep speeds down.


Unknown said...
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Michael Collins Dunn said...

The removed post was spam with a link and no connection to the post. I do not delete genuine comments, only automated spam.