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23 June, 2003

From big smoke to shining sea

So we're high consuming, big atmosphere polluters - give us a big slap on the back. There are many things to be proud of here in the Emirates, but owning twelve mobile phones and eight SUVs per family of four is hardly one of them.

Vehicles grew by 10 per cent last year compared with population of 7.6 per cent. Which means what? More traffic? More congestion? More lead-filled, sooty air and salty smog? No wonder Maktoum Bridge is back at gridlock, despite the recently opened fifth lane.

How nice then yesterday to discover a vast, empty beach, polluted only by the faint tang of camel dung, free of SUVs (if not their tyre tracks), free of perverts (if not cigarette butts and barbecue litter), but happily with fresh water showers and sun shelters. Ironically, one needs a SUV to get there, or at least near to the beach. But once on the thick, soft sand - surprisingly cool to walk on compared to the burning sands on other beaches - it is miles of quiet, peaceful shoreline. At least on a weekday.

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