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26 August, 2003

I live in Jumeira and drive a Pajeira

Nothing beats the wilds of suburban Jumeira for some true desert driving. The dark and leafy mazes of overpriced villas have been left untouched by recent, marginally less insane attempts at road and traffic planning. As a result, they are a rat run of dead ends, U-shaped roads, bizarre loops and circuits, and streets going nowhere. Returning from a friend's villa to Al Wasl or Beach Road usually involves hurtling up half a dozen narrow sandy alleyways, off-road driving across various patches of desert, over pavements, and across car parks and/or garage forecourts.

If all else fails, charging through a corroded piece of wire-mesh fence straight onto Sheikh Zayed is probably the best bet. Less intrepid motorists are doomed to forever wind around the backstreets, hopelessly trying to navigate the unlit obstacle course of palace villas, wheelie bins, stray cats and people's maids and houseboys sneaking out for illicit nighttime encounters.

But the horror drive is worth it, to catch up on the latest urban intelligence from the eminent Mr Saeed. His unique blend of Old Jumeira expat village gossip, and the latest dispatches from the dish-dash frontier, is unparallelled. Can it indeed be believed that the head of Dubai's most prolific property developers has just been thrown in the slammer? Or that a certain long post-menopausal Umm Seqeim matron is claiming an immaculately conceived multiple pregnancy?

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