Thursday, 11 September 2008

All shook up: Dubai earthquake

So there I was at work sitting at my desk when my chair started moving from side to side on its base. "Hmm", I thought, "Gotta stop drinking at lunchtime" then logic took over and I knew that wasn't the cause of the movement. People came out of their offices where blinds had been banging against the windows by the movement of the building, and looked at each other. Earthquake! Earthquake? In Dubai? Still not a time for discussion, the building was shaking and it was time to leave, instant decision, evacuate and ponder the cause of the shaking later.

On our way down the emergency stairs which at least were well marked I found that as the building is still being prepared for tenants, the stairwell had no emergency lighting,fortunately there was lots of natural light from the workers lights and the open doors to each floor. The emergency stairs at one point were covered in plastic that could be slippery and there were no floor numbers so it was only the fact that the ground floor has lovely, but slippery-when-wet, marble flooring that we knew that it was the exit. The labourers working on the fitout floors just looked at us as we passed by on the emergency stairs they were told nothing, they just kept working.

Outside on the lawn it took only a few phone calls to learn that there had been a 6.1 quake in Iran which had caused the earth tremor in Dubai. One of my workmates who's lived in Dubai all her life remembers that there have been earthquakes in Dubai previously including a 'big one' just 3 or 4 years ago. At that point, I looked up at the Burj Dubai (tallest building in the world) and thought "If it seems to be getting closer, its time to run."

Our office is in a brand new building, supposedly "state of the art, all mod-cons" and yet despite there being an earthquake, no emergency alarms went off, there was no evacuation announcement, there was absolutely NOTHING to ensure that all occupants of the building to leave. At least building management have their priorities right, there's been a huge fuss this week and a stern email to all tenants that if anyone is caught smoking in the basement...heavens forfend....there's a 3,000 dirham fine. Pity they don't direct their energy into more important things like tenant safety. Pfft, there's probably a 10,000 dirham fine for causing an earthquake.