UAE Portrait of a Nation: The delivery man braving heat and traffic for his family

Few in Abu Dhabi may realise what it takes for delivery men like Mohammed Aminuddin to get orders to customers on time while braving heat and traffic.

Mohammed Aminuddin, an Indian motorcycle delivery driver for the Hyderabad Star restaurant in the Al Danah area of Abu Dhabi. He and his counterparts navigate difficult and sometimes hostile traffic to keep the capital’s workers fed. Christopher Pike / The National
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ABU DHABI // Home delivery is part of daily life for UAE residents for everything from a shawarma or cigarettes to bottled water and groceries.

But few realise what it takes for people like Mohammed Aminuddin to deliver orders on time while braving 48°C heat and the risk of facing road rage from other drivers.

“It’s one of the most dangerous duties. Driving a motorcycle in such a harsh and scorching summer is challenging and dangerous. You have to face unruly taxi and car drivers who don’t respect bike riders on the road,” the 30-year-old Indian said.

Mr Aminuddin has worked at Hyderabad Star Restaurant, a popular place for Hyderbadi cuisine located off Zayed the First Street (Electra Street), for the past nine years.

With free delivery and dishes such as mutton biryani at Dh17, as well as rumali roti and bagara rice, it is popular among single men.

He is one of two delivery men working for the restaurant who deliver their orders on Honda Unicorns.

They have to be cautious on the roads because they routinely face heavy traffic and angry or unpredictable drivers, Mr Aminuddin said.

“If they notice it’s a delivery boy, they simply ignore us,” he said. “Moving along with fast-paced cars is dangerous where motorists speed up in the absence of cameras, and we on small bikes feel the terrifying sway.”

He is mostly scared of motorists who suddenly change lanes without using indicators or those who brake unexpectedly. He also sees many delivery men who ignore road rules, and zigzag to pass between cars, which is not allowed.

A few years ago, he had a slight accident with a taxi driver that damaged his bike, although he was unhurt.

“Suddenly the taxi driver in the front slammed on the brakes and I couldn’t control my bike and hit him,” Mr Aminuddin said.

Peak delivery hour is noon to 2pm, but it is also a time when temperatures can soar to 50°C. Office workers typically have 30 to 60 minutes to eat, all at about the same time, and do not accept the orders if they are delivered late.

“Lunchtime remains quite busy, and is the most difficult hour to perform our duties,” he said. “Most of the orders we get are from offices and residences.”

In Abu Dhabi it usually takes at most 20 minutes to deliver an order, and he can deliver five orders to different locations in an hour.

Despite the odds, Mr Aminuddin said, he loves his job and has been able to help to finance his family’s education and health expenses back home in India. He hopes to one day start his own business in India.

Since passing the test for his two-wheeler motorcycle licence in 2007, he has earned Dh2,000 a month, transferring 15,000 rupees (Dh820) to his wife and two sons each month.

The delivery men try to keep hydrated to maintain their health, so they can keep sending money to their families.

“It’s our duty and we have to do this for our survival to support the family back home,” he said.