Sunday, September 14, 2008

DWF and Learing Arabic

Driving While Fasting... Dangerous. Driving in the Sandbox is scary under the best of conditions! To say that driving, here, is challenging is the understatement of the century if there ever was one - and you literally take your life in your hands the moment you step into a vehicle, whether as the driver or as a passenger. The chances of being in an accident are exponentially multiplied during Ramadan as "drivers, eager to reach their destination, throw all driving sense and caution to the wind." Yep. 'Tis true. Today's Saudi Gazette has an article that says, "The standards of driving are known to be erratic in the country and it only gets worse in the holy month of Ramadan." Go back through any of my archives and read what I call, "Locally..." Road carnage is rampant. Want to increase your chances for a long and healthy life? Stay OFF the roads as day turns to dusk! "At sunset, the time to break the fast, many people will be moving on the roads at once and it will be more dangerous than usual." Which is why, except for the weekly trip downtown to do my grocery shopping - FIRST THING IN THE MORNING - I'll be staying home until October 4th!

The article gives some statistics - and makes statements - all of which I've previously done blog posts on:

"Saudi Arabia has the highest auto accident rate among all Gulf countries. Nearly 3,500 people die and 28,000 are injured in over 153,000 traffic accidents each year. Official sources attribute the causes of these crashes to aggressive driving, speeding, failure to obey traffic rules and poor car maintenance." Poor car maintenance? Gimme a break! I know - you know - everyone knows - that the crashes, here, are caused by any and everything BUT poor car maintenance!!!

"The common denominator and the number one cause is, of course, speed. Traffic accidents involving high speed are the norm." My point, exactly, as I've been saying all along... Thank you, very much!

"The use of mandatory seat belts for the driver and the passenger in front is neglected by many and contributes to nearly 81 percent of deaths in car accidents." No, you don't say... You've really got to see it to believe it, but it is quite common to see a man driving his car - cigarette in one hand, mobile phone glued to his ear with his other hand - with a couple of children - toddlers, babies - crawling back and forth over him, the steering wheel, the dashboard, the seats... Child safety seats? Oh, sure, they have them here. You do not see them very often in the vehicles of "locals," however.

" accidents in the Kingdom cost the country SR13 billion each year. ...SR3.4 billion is spent annually on repairing vehicles, SR734 million on providing medical care to those injured in car accidents and SR326 million on administrative costs to deal with car crashes." In U.S. dollars, those amounts translate to $3,485,254,691.68, $911,528,150.13, $196,782,841.82, and $87,399,463.80, respectively. Astounding figures, pretty much unfathomable by the "average Joe."

"Saudi Arabia or the Gulf area is considered to be No. 1 in car accidents in the world. Accidents by car are among the top five causes of death in Saudi Arabia." Well there's a claim to fame, worth boasting about... Um-hmm. It sure is...

And, one final statement: "Meanwhile, the new traffic rules that have come into effect include a point-based system and codified punishments for joy-riding." Newsflash! If drivers that are breaking the "new traffic rules" or even any of the old traffic rules do not get pulled over and ticketed there is absolutely no point whatsoever in implementing them!!!

So, the daily road carnage will continue. Authorities could put a stop to it. Or, at the very least, make an effort to decrease the aforementioned statistics, by actually enforcing the laws and traffic rules. But don't expect for THAT to happen anytime soon. I know I'm not holding my breath...

On a totally different note... Today's Arab News has this article, "Learning Arabic in the Kingdom a challenge." Why make the statement that "Learning Arabic in the Kingdom a challenge," when learning Arabic anywhere would be a challenge! It is a difficult language. I, am, however, adamant about learning it, and bound and determined that in my lifetime I will be able to speak, read and write Arabic. I am going to be taking Arabic classes again beginning in October. I've taken three classes - two on speaking Arabic and one on reading and writing Arabic. Can I speak Arabic, yet? Only the most basic of basic words! Hello [marharba]; thank you [shukran], you're welcome [afwan], yes [nam], no [la], and big dog [kabeer kalb]. That's pretty much all one needs to have a conversation in Arabic, no?

It has been a couple of years since I took my last Arabic class, so I feel the need to start from scratch, and sign up for the two most basic courses that are offered to us here on our compound. Perhaps they will be just a tad easier for me this time around. I could wait, and sign up for the more difficult courses this January, but I really feel as though the refresher courses are a necessity in order to be able to even try to excel in the more advanced courses. Learning Arabic would be a lot less difficult if we were forced to use it, but in a country where everyone speaks English it is not a necessity. Somehow I am going to find a way to thrust myself into a situation where I will have to adapt to the language... Even if it means that I become a fixture in my DH's office where the men that work there can get a good laugh as I struggle to pronounce words that have throaty, unnatural sounds.

When I start writing posts in Arabic, you will know that I have finally achieved my goal!


  1. Hi there! Thanks for visiting me. Regarding Rosetta Stone, I have found it to be helpful. However, we are early into it, and I don't think it would help with your goals of reading or writing Arabic. Perhaps it might be worth it to get it and have it for review and extra studying when not in a class. I'm impressed that you have such a desire to learn Arabic.

    I enjoyed reading through some of your posts. Life in Saudi is so different, and yet so the same, as life in Doha. I'll be back again!

  2. And, thanks for stopping by here, Lori. Yeah. Different, but the same... I suspect life is much more restricted in many, many ways, here, than it is in Doha. The only time I've spent in Doha is at the airport... Keep me informed with your progress with The Rosetta Stone, in Arabic, please! Like I said, I am bound and determined that before we leave here I will at least be semi-fluent - even if I don't master it. I enjoyed the reading and writing more than the speaking... Writing Arabic is NOT easy - and I think as well as the "form" of it, I enjoyed the challenge!


Site Meter