Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reviewing ‘On-Road in the UAE’

On-Road in the UAE is another welcome literary addition to the books written in or about the United Arab Emirates. This book will be appreciated by both tourists and permanent residents. It goes beyond the suggestions offered by tourist brochures and when many signposts are missing or unclear, this book gives travelers practical advice and confidence to venture beyond the familiar, urban tourist spots.

Author Gareth Leggett, is a self-confessed traveler with wanderlust in his blood. His intention is to encourage people to discover the nooks and crannies of the UAE, to experience its natural wonders and to interpret the numerous archaeological signs that tell the story of the ancient inhabitants of this peninsula.

Leggett has written for the ordinary person who does not have a 4-wheel drive or a car that is equipped with GPS. The book describes 17 day trips through the UAE and into Oman (the parts where passports are not needed) with a host of side routes. The directions are simple and clear with line maps indicating the exact distance between crossroads, roundabouts and petrol stations. There are ratings for each route according to the quality of the road, the extent of shade, the availability of amenities, accessibility and the time that each trip takes. To cap it off the author has enthusiastically given his own overall ‘Leggett’ rating.

The book contains a detailed check list with safety warnings related to the unique aspects of traveling on UAE roads. Leggett warns of fast driving Emirati drivers, who treasure their cars like they prized their camels, the lack of indicating, the places where warm clothing is needed and, speaking of camels, the roads where camels and goats tend to wander. A future edition might well include information on how one negotiates roundabouts in the UAE, the way ‘Stop’ signs are commonly regarded as ‘Give Way’ (Yield) and what one does or what might happen to you if you involved in a car or camel accident.

The style of this book is simple and clear and it is small enough to keep in the glove box of your car. It contains lots of helpful information including phone numbers of consulates and embassies, the Arabic words needed to greet people or to ask for the police and the birdlife to look out for in different areas. As well as being a skilful writer, Leggett is an adept photographer, for this book is illustrated with many sensational pictures.

Gareth Leggett, On-Road in the UAE (London: Zodiac Publishing), 2005 is available in the United Arab Emirates from Magrudy’s bookshops at a cost of Dh65.00.

Geoff Pound

Image: Front Cover of On-Road in the UAE.