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13 March, 2004

Doing the Locomotion

To anyone stuck daily in Dubai's hellish traffic, the prospect of a railway taking half a million cretins off the road is very appealing.

But in practice - how will people get onto those trains? Unlike places such as London or Singapore, where people might walk for fifteen minutes to get to a tube station, taking Shank's Pony even sixty seconds in the Arabian heat is barely possible. At the height of summer, when the burning humidity does not relent day or night, no one except the very poorest (who already use buses) will be prepared to walk to a station.

One answer might be better urban planning, with shaded walkways throughout all cities. But take a look at the concrete hell of Sharjah - no one cares enough about these low paid subcon expats to improve that area. Or consider Mankhool - an expensive, affluent zone built in the style of a high rise slum without so much as a dusty date palm in sight. A dream such as has been realised in Hong Kong is very far off.

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