Saudis are ingenious. And they don’t like to be told what to do. When you combine the two the results are imaginative to say the least. I’m late to the game on this one but I was intrigued when a family member showed me the latest attempt to beat Saher, the country’s traffic cameras which have been fining speeding Saudi drivers ever since they were installed back in 2010.
The friend opened up his phone, went to his Twitter feed and clicked through on to one Twitter account, named @SaherKR. This feed can be used by followers to alert their fellow Formula One drivers of any mobile or fixed Saher cameras, checkpoints, or any other inconveniences on the road between Riyadh and Qasim. One example is below.
There’s dozens of these accounts today in Saudi. My favourite is @Saher_khj which is followed by 10,000 Twitterers and gives all the details needed to avoid speed traps including the exact area of the camera, the speed limit and the time of day the user has passed by the camera.
I am left asking myself however how these people have the time to write a 140 character message while most likely doing 150 kilometers an hour in their Toyota Camrys or Hyundai Accords. Maybe that’s why their driving is so erratic as they’re shuffling their fingers across their iPhones whilst attempting to steer the car?
This isn’t the first time that the Saudis have used technology to overcome pesky government interference. The first widely reported solution was a mobile phone application called Trapster which alerted drivers via their iPhones of speed cameras in the vicinity. The application proved so popular that mobile phone shops were charging customers over $100 dollars to install on the iPhone. The application itself was free (if you don’t believe me, it’s printed in the media so it must be true).
And the fun part of this detective work? The family member who showed me all of these Tweets works as a senior manager in the Saudi Interior Ministry and is responsible for road safety. Boys, they know who you are and where you are! Ticketing by Twitter? Sounds good to me!