Driving in the Kingdom is pretty much like that day in driver's ed when the teacher returned from his fifth smoke break in a half hour and said "class there are people out there that will try to kill you on a daily basis". Here in-lies the reason I should have paid attention that day when he breezed over DEFENSIVE DRIVING. You think I'm kidding? Read on...
Today I witnessed a man in a black Mercedes (it's ALWAYS "that" guy) make a right hand turn at an intersection from the left side of the center median. Yup, that's right I can see you right now, pointing with your left hand toward the right side of the computer screen... trying to imagine what that looks like. Here, let me help you it looks... SUICIDAL! I was in the left turn lane, 3 rows of traffic on my right. The "Mercedes Man" came up from behind me, went around the median (on my left side) and proceeded to cut across four lanes of traffic that was just starting to roll because our light just turned yellow (the lights I'll explain next - don't worry).
Yeah, and somehow nobody shot at him or even offered a choice finger. In fact nobody even looked surprised. I JUST DON'T GET IT! That's "just how they drive around here" everybody tells me. So I ask the question, WHO GAVE THESE GUYS A LICENSE TO DRIVE?!?!?! People back home ask "do they drive on the right side of the road?" The answer is... maybe, or... sometimes, or ummmm, can I get back to you on that?
OK, since I brought it up lets discuss the traffic lights. Traffic lights, traffic lights. In the States green means GO, yellow means SLOW DOWN (or speed up depending who you ask - laugh) because the light is about to turn red which means STOP. Seriously, you can ask any preschooler what the lights mean, they know! OK, so in Bahrain Green still means GO but so does Yellow UNLESS you are stopping. Confused yet? Let me make this clearer (or worse depending on your point of view
Let's try this:
You are at a red light STOPPED then the light turns yellow to tell you to START MOVING because the light is ABOUT to turn green (which still means GO). Cars will honk at you if you don't "gun it" on yellow in this part of the cycle. OK, so that leads me to the second half of this equation the light also goes from Green to Yellow to Red as well (like in the states). It took us a few weeks to adjust to the yellow light Russian Ru-let, I pity the guy in front of me the first time I drive when I return to the states! ;)
Oh! And then there's "Round-Abouts"... Never mind, I'll have to save THAT for another day.
The overall key to survival:
PAY ATTENTION and drive as if they are trying to kill you (because THEY ARE)!
Kingdom of Bahrain License Plate
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia License Plate