It's nice to get a night out in the ME. Nice to get a chance to go out for dinner, spend some time with friends. Nights out with friends in the ME usually end up being a multicultural, multi-racial, multi-national, multidisciplinary, multi everything evening, filled with enjoying good food, good laughs, good drinks.
The good drinks are where most expats usually converge, usually find a huge sense of commonality. The good drinks are usually where all differences fall to the wayside. The good drinks are where we usually realize that we are all a sister from another mother, a fool from a different school. The good drinks are often the foundation to good solid multi-friendships in the ME.
But more importantly, the drinks part is where expats, no matter culture, race, nationality or profession really need to take stock. If you're going to have a 'good' drink, then here in the ME is as good a place as any to act responsibly and avoid driving whatsoever.
My involvement with the "Don't Drink and Drive" campaign dates way back to my high school days. Even then, I was a firm believer that there was always a safer smarter way to get home than getting behind the wheel after a few 'smart pops'. This advice coming from 'me', who's gotten so much smarter after smart pops; who loves to drink, and who loves to drive (well, not in the ME, but you've read all about that already).
I just don't ever do the two together.
Assigning a "DD" (designated driver), calling a parent or friend, chipping in with the gang for a cab ... these were the typical answers to avoiding a potentially fatal end to a great night in Canada. Even living in a rural area (read "isolated), for large scale events it was always possible, if not easy, to arrange for shuttles or buses to get people home as safely as possible. The downside was that cabs, shuttles and buses could run you a fair price. But my theory was that if I didn't have the moolah to pay for a cab, I didn't have the moolah to go out. My cab moolah was always placed in a special pocket in my bag, my 'life line', ready for collection at the end of the night.
Here in the ME, it is doubly easy. Most people here have a 'driver'. This driver is not a full-time employee, but more a regular 'taxi' service that makes itself readily available to you by recognizing your name and number and making sure that you always have someone to get you to where you need to go. Our driver comes with a network, so if he is not available he will make sure he sends along a trusted fellow. You call or text, give your location, pick-up time and destination. The driver in turn sends confirmation of said arrangements, and all is a go. At most, you will have to shell out 60 riyals (about 18$ Canadian if you add on tip).
You can call a cab, but this is usually as costly as a 'driver', and amazingly you have to book 4-5 hours ahead for a taxi during non-peak times! But cabs are readily available outside hotels, so if you can catch one, this is also a viable option.
The other option outside hotels is a 'limo service'. The 'limo' is never, in my experience, an actual 'limo', but more a high-end car (read Jag or Mercedes) provided by the hotel to shuttle home revelers. These will likely set you back double and sometimes even triple the amount of a driver. Still a fair price for your head.
Because if you're stuck, a limo is still the best way to go. Because even if you've only had a single gateway beverage, you are exceeding the zero tolerance legislated by the State. No matter that the fool who rammed into you at 120 km/hr in a 60 km/hr zone was driving with his head stuck out the sunroof with his foot gunned to the pedal.
YOU WILL BE IN THE WRONG.
YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING.
So why chance it?
When I say lose everything, I mean if found guilty and sentenced to the max you will lose the right to live in this country. You will lose your employment. You will lose your housing. You will lose your child's schooling. Chances are your spouse will lose his/her employment. You may well end up spending time in a ME jail. If you injure or goodness forbid, kill someone, you will have to pay reparations. But it gets worse.
You could lose your life.
You could take a life.
I fully support zero tolerance. I believe zero tolerance can save lives. But people have to believe it to buy into it. If you are living in Canada, the UK, the USA, or any other first world country that allows 0.5 BAC (Blood alcohol content), or if you are living ANYWHERE, ask yourself why you would risk it? The life of a child, if taken by your own hands, would be enough to end your life. But if you had been drinking, what possible redemption could you ever find?
Don't do it.
Simple as that.
Don't do it.
Don't Drink and Drive.
Take Me Home, James.