How safe is cycling in the UAE

Dubai: Desert Bike Tour

Seven-star hotels, mega-projects, cloud towers: Always higher, more and more pompous, more and more crazy - Dubai knows no borders. Gigantism that has its price. The traffic jam starts already in the residential towers: while waiting for the elevator.

In addition to the metro, a new cycle path network is to relieve the traffic and attract new groups of tourists to the desert state. With bike tours! Dubai's future: bikes and dromedaries?

Mission Impossible? Bike paths against traffic jams

"Bicycle? Bicycle shop? You mean motorbike? ”The taxi driver looks in the rearview mirror, completely confused. Bicycles and Dubai - the Indian cannot imagine that with the best will in the world. Not here, where the “locals” would even like to go to the toilet in their Jeep Cherokees.

Drive-through has become so established that it also works well where you can't actually drive through: An Emirati doesn't get out of the car when he wants to get milk and bread from the small grocery store around the corner. You drive in front of the shop in a big SUV, honk your horn a few times until a little Indian jumps out and brings the food you want straight to the car. It goes without saying that this friendly Indian taxi driver absolutely cannot imagine two foreigners wanting to go to a bike shop here in Dubai. Has he misheard? Are these people upset? Poor migrant workers cycle, but not rich holidaymakers. He makes one last attempt to dissuade his passengers from this unbelievable idea: "I know a fantastic Harley-Shop."

"No, no! Bicycle-Shop, at Sheik Zayed Road. “Here in Dubai's best shopping street, where mega discounts at the shopping festival attract millions to the desert state in January, a German has dominated the biker scene for a few years. Wolfgang Hohmann organizes bicycle tours through the emirate three times a week. “Business is going very well,” says the visibly satisfied Black Forest man, who opened his desert branch in 2002 and today even sells the sheikhs his custom-made bicycle saddles for the popo.

Dubai on bike. Bike tours start at dawn. The starting signal is at six o'clock. At this time the temperatures are still bearable and the volume of traffic is quite tolerable. An hour or two later it would be life-threatening. At least for the moment.

The first destination is the “Nad Al Sheba” camel racetrack on Oud Metha Road. The dromedaries, which can reach speeds of up to 45 kilometers per hour, take place here three times a week. Shortly after sunrise, the camel drivers come back from the desert and feed the animals with wheat, oats and dates and take them to a special camel swimming pool, which is supposed to provide relaxation for the animals. It continues on well-developed roads. Past the racecourse, past numerous mosques, past countless giant cranes in the direction of the sea.

Dubai is one huge construction site. There is not one part of the city that is really finished. Everything is in upheaval, completely new, futuristic districts are emerging everywhere on the sand of the desert and on the waters of the Persian Gulf. "If you can dream it, you can do it!", Is written on the advertising posters. Everything looks even more gigantic from the bike.

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There is even a real bike path on Jumeirah Beach Road. Time for a stop: The seven-star Hotel Burj Al Arab is fascinating, even if it looks much smaller than it appears on the postcards. The fine white sand beach, the beautiful Jumeirah Beach Hotel - unfortunately there is not enough time for breakfast.

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A whole district for 100,000 people

We continue along the coast out of town towards Dubai Marina. Millions of dollars in yachts from all over the world lie here. A whole district for around 100,000 people.

A further 89 high-rise buildings, the Jumeirah Lake Towers, are being built opposite the marina. Dubai is growing all over the place and pushing further and further into the water and into the desert. Entire districts are being built up out of the ground: for example Sports City, the “The Lagoon” district, Dubai Silicon Oasis (based on Californian Silicon Valley) or the Falcon City of Wonders, a district with scale replicas of the Seven Wonders of the World and the Eiffel Tower or the Indian Taj Mahal.

After two hours the journey ends again at its starting point. Two hours after which you will see the city with different eyes. Also because of the downsides - for example the huge garbage dumps, nicely hidden and with oversized barbed wire fence. In Dubai there is no incineration, no recycling, no waste fees and certainly no waste separation. So everything is thrown into the big garbage cans on the side of the road, then carted into the desert and dumped there.

Big bike tour with the "Dubai Roadsters"

If you want to experience more cycling in Dubai, you can book extended tours outside the city with Wolfgang Hohmann. The big tour around the city with the “Dubai Roadsters” starts four times a week. An escort vehicle then provides additional security for the biker caravan. A company for the brave. Because biking in Dubai remains an adventure in spite of everything. Too many Emirati simply go crazy at the wheel of their cars and put their fellow human beings in mortal danger through unusual driving maneuvers. Probably one of the reasons why the Black Forest does not offer city tours.

Especially the young Emirati men between 18 and 25 are notorious for inconsiderate and highly dangerous driving maneuvers at high speed. All night long they curve through the city with their Porsche Cayennes out of boredom, start wild acceleration races or spin Mad Max circles around their own axis with squeaky low-profile tires until the tire bursts.

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Cyclists are quick to fall victim

To go biking? Unimaginable for these young rioters. Unemployed workers from Pakistan or India, "wage slaves", cycle, but no Emirati. As a result, cyclists quickly become victims. The latest auto horror for bikers: an ignition interrupter that puts gasoline in the cylinder for a few seconds and then lets the mixture explode with full force. And when do the Emirati prefer to switch on the breaker? Sure, when they can drive past a group of cyclists and grin after the horrified faces of the frightened cyclists.

Despite the young, wild SUV hooligans - the Emir relies on the bike. From the 43rd floor of the Emirates Towers office tower, Muhammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum follows the rapid growth of his city and knows that he cannot fight the madness of traffic jams with the billion-dollar metro project alone.

The traffic authority of his emirate (RTA) wants to build bike paths with a total length of 900 kilometers by 2020. Navigation through Dubai's dense traffic should also be made easier by the new paths. For example, the bike paths will be equipped with signs to the underground stations and special bike racks will be set up at more than 100 locations, including, of course, at every new underground station.

Mission Impossible? We bet that the first race between dromedary and bike will soon take place. Anything is possible in Dubai ...