HOW ABOUT TRADING YOUR CHEVY FOR A BUS PASS?
What was once a small village of pearl divers is now a prime model of the global city. growing up in modern dubai meant having friends of every nationality. in 2016, i spent eight months in dubai and committed to only using public transport. i found that the buses were never full, there were never any children on board and most people were in uniforms. the transit system has evolved to accommodate the needs of its largest user group: blue collar workers. this means that the system is incredibly complex and interconnected, with stops from almost every residence community to every commercial area in the city. i travelled 50km every day to work and while the heat was uncomfortable, challenge breeds creativity, and i adapted by carrying an umbrella. that was the first time i really saw the city; catching the first bus meant seeing who tied the nets around the bunches of dates on palm trees, the men who cleared the street litter before everyone woke up and the contracting companies transporting hundreds of labourers to work sites before people started driving out to work. i noticed the trees because i chose my walking routes according to the path with the most shade. i learned, for the first time, that they were damas, neem and ghaf. i learned that the sun stings if i leave at 2pm but only smolders closer to 3pm. what once was just the space between my home and the next destination became a series of places and networks, each with a unique value that had always existed but only recently become apparent to me.
there is no doubt about the convenience of cars, mobile maps and all the other technology designed to make our lives easier but we must ask ourselves why we always choose convenience over a chance to learn. our sensitivity to the world around us is what empowers us to think about it more creatively and with a greater sense of responsibility for its preservation. for a small city like dubai, the first step is simple: take the bus, use the metro. do something differently to recognise the space around you, who you share it with and what it needs to live on and grow well.