When you live in a society as multicultural as Dubai, it’s inevitable that the English language is often used to hilarious effect.
It happens all the time, even at home. A friend recently told me about a phonecall she received from their housemaid.
Painters (who the week before were probably laying paving, and the week before that were fixing the electrics) had somehow spilt paint all over her husband’s car.
Their housemaid called my friend at work to spill the beans: “Sir is hot!” announced the maid, referring to my friend’s understandably irate husband.
“He’s very hot!”
But it’s not just in everyday conversation that words get mixed up. Signs with poor English can be found all over the UAE. Even buildings, government departments and important websites are riddled with grammatical errors and laugh-out-loud typos.
Take, for example, the Dubai Police website.
“Dear driver,” it says under Traffic Awareness. “Expect the sudden stop of the car in front of you, in any emergency.”
Elsewhere, it cautions drivers to follow “Traffic Sins” and, under Travel Tips, helpfully recommends: “Do not look like tourists at airports”.
● “Parking in backside” – directing drivers to parking spaces behind buildings
● “Fishing and Getting Closer are Prohibited – at Khalid Port in Sharjah
● “No need for stress, as all matters are beyond the control of anyone” – a reassuring tip on the Dubai Police website
● Al Dhaid – a large agricultural town and the name of a gardening company I’m not sure I’d trust to keep my grass alive
● “Taking drugs or alcoholics: These should not be brought to work” – on the Ministry of Labour website
● “Erection Going On, Stay Away” – sign on a construction site in International City (thankfully not used during the making of Burj Khalifa, tee-hee)
To be fair, if most expatriates tried to write anything in Arabic, the official language here, the results would be equally amusing – and funny sign-spotting is a great hobby to have.