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Friday, 10 September 2010

Mich Café: Happy Birthday Dubai Metro

The Dubai Metro (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
A year ago today -- at exactly 9 p.m., 9 minutes and 9 seconds on 09/09/09 -- SheikhMohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, used the first ticket to board and launch the Dubai Metro.

When completed, Dubai's Metro will be the world's longest automated and driverless network, snatching the title from Metro Vancouver's SkyTrain by one kilometer.

According to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the Dubai Metro, which was launched under the slogan "My City. My Metro," carried 10 million passengers between September 10, 2009 and February 9, 2010.

The elevated viaducts are now part of the city's landscape as are the zooming blue carriages.

Last year, like thousands of Dubai residents, I walked out to the street next to my house and waited for the first Metro, carrying Sheikh Mo and his entourage, to pass.

I have yet to use the Dubai Metro and was a bit in a pickle when thinking about how to mark the Dubai Metro’s first anniversary. But then I thought who better than Rupert to do that? It’s because on September 9 last year, Rupert (@rupertbu) parked his car and decided to commute solely by Dubai Metro. He has kindly agreed to write this guest post to mark the Dubai Metro’s first anniversary. Rupert writes:

Happy Anniversary my Dubai Metro (DM)

My very dearest DM,
What a track we have traveled in the past 365 days, with all the nay-sayers continuing to ignore the delights of our relationship.

Between us we have shared Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” set at a time when steam engines were only for England.

The impoverished Dorset peasantry of Hardy’s so depressing tales have been uplifted by the slanting sun coming through your panoramic windows.

James Joyce and “Dubliners” concludes with a Christmas Tale, when horses were still the means of propulsion.

My all time favorites, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” set during the First World War, andKurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five” from 1944, were very brief interludes in our relationship.

To Kill a Mockingbird” is 49 years older than you, but thankfully apartheid has moved on, though not eradicated.

In five short years I watched you being conceived by the yellow midwives, not knowing how close we would become in your very first year of operation.

Thankfully all those RTA spokespeople, one of whom was “Communicator of 2009," and the media commentators, who when questioned a year ago, then again in August, have still yet to travel on our tracks, now keep a relatively low profile.

Those fools who set themselves up as the Twitter and FaceBook oracles have disappeared, possibly the complexity of RTA websites has put them in long-term care homes!

The ignorance of car-borne individuals who did not realize that the Nol Silver Card was the key to the paid-parking and also access to your carriages. I say let them wallow in theirtraffic jams, after all there is no accounting for taste.

Occasionally we have been disturbed by adventurous Scandinavian tourists joining us, but we knew they would swiftly jet-off to their countries.

So we have grown older by a year, yet we have transformed each others life, and “yes” we have some faults, but the magnificent work of engineering, that you are, works.

Do you remember how we drove one of your most voluble critics from Sharjah to Rashidiya Parking (why only two levels are open remains a mystery, a bit like all those fly-overs) then walked along to the automatic gates and he had to buy a ticket. We love those armchair critics!

All those people who traveled in the early days of your life are no more, thankfully, our fellow travelers are now the heart and soul of Dubai, going about their everyday lives.

I hope you enjoy our anniversary, alas I fear your later hours have not proved too attractive, so it may well be early nights for you post-Eid!

Thank you for the past year, I look forward to sharing more books with you, and I will allow you to share your charms beyond my very narrow focus, despite the best efforts of RTA not to communicate!

You deserve a better friend than me, but I will remain an ardent admirer, until that time that I move on to another country. Thank you for demonstrating the worth of public transport, you are the best gift I have ever received from Dubai.

As always your devoted servant,

(This is a very parochial correspondence and may mean nothing to those beyond Dubai, but when visiting Dubai do try the DM, she works very well.)