Travel notesIssue 01 | November 2008

Sheikh Zayed Road

by Helena Axelson Fisk

Sheikh Zayed Road (SZR) is Dubai’s botoxed forehead and only toll payers are allowed. I head north towards Dubai, sticking to one of the four middle lanes while the tollgate deducts four dirham from my card as I pass through. Heavy and/or commercial traffic has been relegated to Al Khail Road and Emirates Road further inland. Seven years ago, there was no tollgate, and only one middle lane.

The extreme right is at a standstill as cars head towards Mall of the Emirates with its ski slope gleaming in the sun, or aiming to cross the bridge for Medinat Jumeirah, a traditional souq built yesterday, with underground parking, manmade canals and super deluxe hotels. The express left lane is reserved for those who can’t wait to get to their destination, be it the office or the airport. I’m flowing with those who have time to spare.

Alongside the SZR, a Metro rail is being laid on tall, thick concrete pillars. Next year, Japanese railway carriages will carry three classes of passengers—rich, poor and women with families. The poor ride buses today, with twelve seats in the front allocated to women. Once those are taken, no more women can board.

I exit the SZR towards the newly developed Downtown, where Burj Dubai looms, shadows, occupies and steals all light, air and attention. Monstrous on the ground, spiraling obscenely towards the sky, its twinkling spire is a middle finger shot out to the world; sand piling thickly on hundreds of its glass panes and windows.

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About the author

Helena Axelson Fisk, editor-in-chief of the online literary magazine, Frostwriting, catapulted herself from Sweden twenty years ago and hasn’t found her way back yet. She now lives in Dubai, where she composes fiction inspired by the Middle East while listening to the music of cranes and building-waste chutes.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok