As you wish

A few weeks ago, the Sheikh of Dubai (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum; I follow him on Twitter) announced his decision that one of the major highways in the UAE was to have its name changed. The E311 used to be called Emirates Road. Now it's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. Really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? (Actually, it kind of does, if you're used to road names around here.) The name is in honor of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan.

The thing is, if there is another highway more major than the Highway Formerly Known as Emirates Road, it is the E11, which is called - wait for it - Sheikh Zayed Road. Not to be confused with the newly re-named Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. I think giving directions just got a little more complicated, or, at least, we'll have to be a little more exact in our wording.

What was most interesting to me about this decision was the speed with which it was carried out. A friend who commutes to AUS from Dubai told me that two days after the new name was announced, the road signs were already changed. All of them. I've seen it myself - everywhere you're used to seeing Emirates Road, it's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. It makes you feel lost even when you know exactly where you are.

In general, that's the way things are done around here. If a ruler decides something - DONE. No major public discussions, no committees or votes or arguments (at least public ones). A sheikh can make a decision, and with a snap of his fingers, several hundred new road signs are manufactured. Like, immediately.

I compare this to what my family has been going through in their neighborhood for literally years, regarding a major road that runs through the area. I wish they had a sheikh there to be on their side, someone with the authority to say, "um, no, you can't do that, sorry." But I know that's not the way things work in the US.

Now I'm just waiting to hear what they decide to call the E611, another major highway that cuts through multiple emirates. Right now, it's called (casually) "the desert road" or (more officially) "Dubai bypass road." I can't wait to find out!

Downton Abbey (27 January episode) - SPOILERS

January 25th, outsourced