Michael Ang on Qatar: A Nation’s Love Affair with the 4X4 Land Cruiser

15 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
Toyota Street Affair

Michael Ang on Qatar: A Nation’s Love Affair with the 4X4 Land Cruiser

One would normally associate adjectives such as “graceful”, “gleaming”, “majestic”, “magnificent”, and “powerful” with the finest thoroughbred Arabian stallions or camels. In recent times however, such adjectives have become the attributes of the 4X4 land cruiser (known in some circles as The Eraser) that has assumed a ubiquitous status on Qatari roads.

Admittedly, the nature of driving in Qatar makes these behemoths a necessity. In a country that once boasted the highest road death rate per capita, the need to make the daily commute to work or school in a tank seems perfectly understandable. Recently, in one of the websites in Qatar dedicated to the clueless foreigner, an expatriate spotting the very droll forum name Beast666 ruminated on the various factors that were making him strongly inclined to purchase a gas guzzling land cruiser instead of a comparatively miniscule Toyota Prius that would be rendered to biblical dust in any of the Russian-roulette roundabouts in Doha. His list reads as follows: 1) Be rude to everybody else on the road. 2) Can drive as fast as I want in a 60 KM/H road. 3) Run over pedestrians. 4) Drive on the pavement. 5) Enter Roundabouts from any lane and exit anywhere I want. 6) Bully other drivers by tailing their cars. 7) No restrictions on one-way roads. 8). No restrictions to stop at the STOP sign. To this, one can only wryly reply that it has indeed hit the proverbial nail on the head. What Beast666 failed to highlight is that given how cheap gas in over here (Qatar after all holds the World’s third largest gas reserves behind Russia and Iran), it makes entire economic sense to ensconce oneself in a protective leather-metal cocoon of sorts. Doing so should militate against one obtaining a broken rib or a crushed spleen following the peak-hour road frenzy of Sunday mornings (the work week curiously begins on a Sunday over here). Furthermore, a reason that needs to be added is that a land cruiser, with its ample backseat and legroom, allows for the easy, fuss-free transportation of one’s pet cheetah or leopard during the regular weekend trips to the souks.

I have to admit that my taste in cars previous to my Qatari foray ran towards the more modest and inconspicuous side of the scale. On my desktop were erstwhile pictures of compact BM 6 convertibles and other low, road-hugging “bachelor” cars such as the Audi RX8. However, barely 2 months over here and I find myself uncontrollably drooling like a Pavlovian dog at my friend’s Porsche Cayenne. Given such radiant beauty- the smell of soft leather within layers of shiny metallic chromes- I can totally empathize with regards to the lengths some locals resort in order to display these ultimate status symbols. Such methods include leaving the plastic covers on the leather seats or leaving the price tag prominently displayed on one of the windows.

Toyota Street Affair

Interestingly, the sheer ubiquity of these land cruisers is fast creating a unique security dilemma of sorts for Qatar’s drivers- both local and expatriate. With the streets choke full of such vehicles, the only way to ensure one gets all the adequate protection against the madness that is the state of driving in Qatar is to own a land cruiser that is harder, better, faster, stronger. Perhaps featuring a swiveling machine gun turret or a bazooka launcher to fire warning shots to errant drivers who make the fatal mistake of sticking within the speed limit, one can only imagine the possibilities in the brave new world of Qatar’s traffic.

COMMENT BY PROF. AMIRA EL-ZEIN #150; October 4, 2010

Michael underscores in his letter the high degree of consumerism in Qatar. This wealthy small emirate imports a huge quantity of goods from abroad. The land cruiser is just one example among others.

Toyota Street Affair
Toyota Street Affair


Toyota Street Affair
Toyota Street Affair
Toyota Street Affair
Toyota Street Affair

Interesting Articles

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Michael Ang on Qatar: A Nation’s Love Affair with the 4X4 Land Cruiser".

Sign in, to write a review.

Twitter-news
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

dima911@gmail.com

Born in the USSR

423360519

Translation