Substations Collaborative project with Siniša Vlajković Privately-owned diesel stations are a rarity on UAE roads due to the fact that such enterprises are only legal in the emirates of Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah. Because their trade is restricted to diesel, they cater almost exclusively to the trucking community and can only be found on roads frequented by heavy goods vehicles. What makes these structures unique in this day and age is the fact that they resemble the world as it once was, during the humble beginnings of the petrol trade in the UAE and the Middle East at large. Architecturally, the stations are a prime example of the vernacular style – a term used to categorise methods of construction which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs and circumstances. It is clear how individual creativity and innate marketing abilities are influenced by local building materials on one hand and the current local aesthetic parameters on the other, resulting in a uniquely imaginative display of colourful neon, blinking lights and illuminated signs in combination with other materials. Located in remote corners of the country, the diesel stations play an important social role on a local level. The owners and operators know their customers by name - they offer them tea and biscuits over conversation. Another intrinsic aspect is their ephemeral nature - according to observations, the average lifespan is limited to several years only, the main reasons being economic hardship, legal issues, changes in local development, changes in ownership, individual tastes and cultural influences, among others.