When Dubai had two roads
Today, Dubai car sales have rocketed, with the city being seen as one of the bonafide automobile capitals of the world. From the expos and film shoots, to the array of desirable motors which one can spot every day on the streets of the metropolis – cars are a part of the Dubai lifestyle, but it hasn’t always been that way.
You don’t have to go back that far when cars were virtually unheard of in this beautiful desert landscape – just to the 1960s, in fact.
According to the Khaleej Times, in 1966 there were only about 30 cars on the roads of Dubai, and they included Mercedes, Land Rovers and Bedford Trucks. Air conditioning was yet to be invented, and exhaust pipes had a very short life because of the salt in the air.
But when paved roads did start to appear, they engendered more enhancements. Chairman of the Arabian Construction Company, Ghassan Merhebi, told the news platform: “The roads made a lot of change. At last you could open shops, people could come to you, whenever somebody was driving you didn’t have dust all over you. Life quality improved with the paved roads. I got the first car after they were paved. I couldn’t have a Toyota Crown until the roads were paved.”
Al Wahda Road was one of the first streets to be built in Dubai, and it connected the city to Sharjah. This transport route has had a major upgrade in the last decade, which has eased traffic problems. Part of it now has a double decker section, and there are also underpasses and bridges to address congestion.
The other original Dubai byway was Al Seef Road. This also bears little resemblance to the four-lane structure which we see today. Back in the 1960s, Al Seef Road was a narrow, single lane affair, with cars having to circumnavigate the donkeys which also used it. Running along a strategically important route, Al Seef Road goes by the oldest building in Dubai – Al Fahidi Fort.
So next time you are cursing in a Dubai traffic jam, think of the city as a ‘late bloomer’ which is making up for lost time as far as automobiles go. And be glad you have air conditioning!