Tuesday, June 08, 2010


I wonder how many in the UAE are doing long commutes.

I used to do a two-hour run each day from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Now it's 1.5 hour from RAK. I was covering around 300 km daily before, while now it is about 200. The total 3-4 hours of lost time is the biggest drag.

I usually listen to the radio or play CDs, which gets stale fast. I had tried playing MP3s through a doodad that broadcasts through the radio speakers but the static and fading in and out was annoying. Another option was a cassette thingy that you plug your MP3 to and play through the car's cassette player, but that produced an annoying ticking sound and eventually broke.

When I bought my car 4 years ago I asked for an audio deck with an input jack, but that apparently was too hi-tech for the Peugeot dealer. So I had to make do with a CD player and have suffered ever since.

Why can't I just get the Internet in my car? I always listen to my favorite public radio broadcasts from the US when online. It is so frustrating that, still in 2010, we have yet to have Internet available everywhere, all the time.

I know you can spend a lot of money and get whatever you want, like a data card in a mobile device, and use that to connect to the Internet anytime anywhere. But if I had that kind of money I wouldn't be needing to commute.

Home Sweet Home

For me, the long commutes are pretty much a financial necessity, even with rental prices in Dubai having come way down recently. I used to have to rent while making payments on two off-plan purchases. Now I'm living in one of the off-plans (completed) in RAK, while still paying for it, with nothing left over to make a final payment on the other off-plan in Dubai (also, now complete).

The trouble in the UAE is that there isn't any financing from banks, for the most part, and developers won't let you take possession of a property until you've paid in full. (My RAK developer has turned out to be the rare exception.)

Buying a home and living in it, while you spend the next 25 years paying for it, is not considered a valid way to achieve home ownership in the UAE. Instead you spend years paying for something while it's getting built (if it gets built). You finally take possession once, and only once, you have made 110% or so of the purchase price to the builder. That extra 10% (over and above the purchase price) is for the myriad fees required to be paid before handover.

For me, that all means that I continue to spend 3-4 hours daily commuting to work. For now, and much of the past 3 years, my car has been my home.

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