World Traveller September 2019




John Thatcher and family speed to the

Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah for a grand weekend

It’s rare that my wife and I fight

over the car key. Admittedly, this

has less to do with the car we drive

(the Dubai standard SUV) and more

to do with the actual driving we do —

the daily school run, which we both

undertake to the detriment of our

respective blood pressures. This time,

however, the allure was altogether

different. We wouldn’t be driving (or

actually inching our way, bumper to

bumper) to school, or clambering

inside a permanently dust-covered SUV,

littered inside with bits of food, sweet

wrappers and whatever ‘art’ the kids

have made at school. No, this time we

would be driving to the palatial Waldorf

Astoria Ras Al Khaimah on a glorious

Friday morning, on almost traffic-free

roads. And better still, we would be

doing so in an Aston Martin Rapide

AMR, a four-door sportscar that would

likely get us there quicker than it takes

for us to complete the 3km school run.

The downside? In every picture I had

seen of the Aston it has a lurid lime

green, 80s style ‘go faster’ stripe running

the length of its body, which to my mind

makes me at least 20 years too old to

drive it. Behind its wheel I would feel as

conscious of my age (44) as I would if

dressed as a grime artist. So it was with a

sense of palpable relief that on collecting

the car I saw that the boy-racer green

was restricted to a strip of lime that

outlines the car’s body. Better still, it

was just enough disagreeable detail to

dissuade my wife from laying claim to

the key.

The other downside to driving a

car built and styled for speed is that

everyone else on the road takes it as

a green light to try and race you. It’s

inevitable on Dubai’s roads that drivers

of white Nissan Patrols or any coloured

Dodge will do this, but you don’t expect

it from the driver of a noticeably aged

Kia Picanto. But much to the amusement

of our kids — loving life in the back seats,

which are surprisingly roomy, for anyone

aged 10 or below — the manic-eyed male

at the wheel of his midnight blue Picanto

was pushing it to its extremities as he

tried to overtake us, the Picanto visibly


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