Saturday, 30 August 2008

Down by the (Business) Bay

We went for a look around the development at Business Bay today. Like most people, I've been over the Business Bay Bridge but I've never been exactly sure where Business Bay itself really is. Now I know and the photos are here.

Friday, 29 August 2008

NZ elections: Overseas Kiwis can vote

Overseas Kiwis can vote in the upcoming NZ elections. There's a couple of sites, Every Vote Counts and Elections New Zealand that give all the info plus the links so you can enrol to vote from wherever you are overseas.

Don't roll your eyes and tell me its boring and/or you're not interested in politics.

1. Its our country and even though we're overseas for however long, we have the right to have a say in how our homeland is governed.
2. Ladies, NZ was the first country to give women the vote (19 September 1893). As women voters its our duty to show that the sacrifices made by the pioneering women who fought for our right to vote, weren't in vain.
3. The pollies will run amok if the electorate doesn't slap them around occasionally. Remember the electorate voting for the bizarre and confusing MMP? For better or worse, that was the NZ public in action, drop kicking the entire NZ political sector and saying "We've had it with *all* of you". Its a chance to keep them in line, so let's make the most of it by enrolling and voting.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

A Public Service Announcement

Barracuda at Umm Al Quwain closes for Ramadan at 7pm on Friday 29th August and will reopen on the first day of Eid.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Khasab, Oman

We're back in Dubai after a weekend in Khasab in Oman. The photos are here.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Dubai traffic: It's finally happened, I've snapped!

One man in a white Merc, that’s all it took to finally make me SNAP! Its a regular part of driving in Dubai that people are constantly cutting you off, or changing lanes without indicating (and doing it just inches from your front or rear bumper) but today there was one incident too many.
It started as a regular, for Dubai relatively event-free, drive to work: First I was monstered by a large workers’ bus on Al Khail Road that thought it would just move over into my lane despite the fact that Madame and several other cars were already in the lane exactly where he wanted to go, then a Pajero tried to muscle his way into the queue in front of me on Za’abeel Road. These guys cruise down the queue of waiting cars looking for a driver they think will be intimidated and will let them in. The guy in the Pajero came up beside me, looked in, saw I was female, thought “Easy meat” and moved the nose of his car close to Madame’s front bumper to show he was cutting in. Wrong choice mate! This female in the V8 was annoyed already, so I moved fractionally forward to show that he wasn’t going to force his stupid Pajero in front of me. He gave up on me and moved up the queue, eventually frightening a lady in a little Nissan and cutting into the queue in front of her.
Then, coming along the road outside the Novotel a moron in a white Merc cut me off, missing me by a millimeters, it was so damn dangerous and I was furious, and it happened. My brain fused, SSNNAAPP! Suddenly there was a break in the traffic, Merc Moron put his foot down and accelerated away which was big mistake for him because I'd just had a complete brain-fade and I chased him. Yes I confess I did everything I complain about other people doing. We went through the tunnel under SZR with me right on his tail (and I mean right on his tail with Madame really growling) and as we raced up the ramp at 120 I had a moment of clarity: “For &%*^ ‘s sake, its Dubai, its 7:45am and you’re chasing a bloke in a Merc at 120kph in the peak hour traffic. What are you doing?” Yes, that’s what I thought in my flash of sanity, but did I take my foot off the accelerator? No way!
As a friend at work said later, “You're a free person, it is your right to be foolish.” This is the same lady who, when I arrived at work, was pacing up and down saying that she was going home to the US to get a gun and in the Sharjah traffic she ain’t afraid to use it!
So, that's it, I'm officially a Dubai Driver. God help us all!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Fire near Burj Dubai Square

These are taken from our office building showing the smoke from a fire in one of the construction sites adjacent to the Burj Dubai. Smoke is billowing across into Burj Dubai Square, sorry new name, Emaar Square.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A rant about Dubai traffic

The general standard of driving here is unspeakably bad and so, so dangerous. On every trip to or from work, like most regular drivers I'll see someone in the traffic do something so stupid or dangerous that it beggars belief. I've had to throw some basic rules of driving out the window (not literally of course though there's plenty of stuff that gets thrown out car windows here too but that's another story).

1. Don't even think about allowing what we would consider to be a safe travelling distance between you and the car in front, because that gap will immediately be filled by a couple of Nissan Sunnys and a minibus.

2. The concept of staying in your lane is apparently foreign to many drivers in Dubai and it seems that indicators are an optional extra.

3. Speed isn't always the issue, there's at lot of scary stuff happens at 15kph outside Choithrams at Garhoud most evenings.

4. The whole situation is not helped by the constant road changes, the poor signage (probably at any given time at least 50% of drivers on Dubai roads are lost) and of course lane markings that lie! Follow the lane markings and more often than not they'll put you into a wall, a red and crash white barrier or even opposing traffic.

However, on the positive side, cars are relatively cheap, if I was at home, I couldn't afford to run The Lovely Madame. In Dubai I pay in dirhams what it would cost me in dollars to fill the tank in NZ or Aus.

He's alive. No, he's dead. Wait, he's alive again!

You may have read about the Lebanese singer who was murdered here in Dubai a few weeks ago. It was apparently a contract killing and the authorities tracked the hitman (supposedly hired by a "local businessman" for a fee of a million dirham) to Egypt and arrested him. A couple of days later the papers here were telling us that the hitman was dead as either (a) he'd been found hanging in his police cell or (b) he'd died in hospital after suffering a heart attack (it would be so easy to mix those two up and the confusion is easy to understand - this is Dubai after all). But now, hallelujah, today the papers say that in fact he's alive again.

Now I can undersand confusion about the name of the suspect or his nationality but when it comes to being alive or dead I wouldn't have thought there was much room for doubt. I've always understood that a person is either one or the other, there's no middle ground, you can't be "a little bit dead" like you can't be "a little bit pregnant". Who knows? maybe tomorrow he'll be dead again.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

This afternoon's sandstorm

Above is the view from the office window taken last week.

There's a sandstorm blown in within the last 30 minutes and this is the same view. Even the Burj is disappearing:

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Olympic opening commentary in Dubai

Like half the world, I watched the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics last night. I don't know if the Olympics are being shown on free-to-air tv here in Dubai but we are getting it loud and clear through the South African satellite network MNET. Incredible ceremony with fantastic fireworks. I have to ask though: What was with Sarah Brightman's hair? It looked liked a cheap rental wig from a mermaid costume.

It was a total surprise when I heard the opening ceremony commentators: Keith Quinn and John McBeth. I last heard KQ commentating sailing or something like that on TVNZ and John McBeth has commentated rugby in NZ since the Dark Ages (and done it well too.) The commentators for the weightlifting this morning were Kiwis too. Yaaaah -flat vowels rule!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Satwa demolition: Update 8 Aug 08

The pile of rubble in the second photo is all that remains of the mansion I wrote about previously and shown in the first photo. I've updated the gallery with photos taken earlier this morning of the ongoing demolition of Satwa. There is now only one family remaining in the Masafi villas, the demolition crews have removed the satellite dishes from the roofs and simply throwing them over the side of the houses onto the ground, all the doors of the villas are open and the floors are inches thick with dust, a real ghost town. The strangest thing is that there are no cats anywhere.

Shortsighted destruction for financial gain, supposedly in the name of progress.

NZ elections

The NZ elections must be getting close as the polly jokes are circulating already:

Prime Ministerial candidates Helen Clark, John Key, and Winston Peters were flying to a debate. Helen looked at John, and said, "You know I could throw a $1,000 bill out of the window right now and make somebody very happy." John shrugged his shoulders and replied, "I could throw ten $100 bills out of the window and make ten people very happy." Winston added, " I could throw one hundred $10 bills out of the window and make a hundred people very happy."

Hearing their exchange, the pilot rolled his eyes and said to his co-pilot, "Such big-shots back there. I could throw all three of them out of the window and make 4.3 million people very happy."

Thursday, 7 August 2008

We can see the sea!

A clear day is a rare thing in Dubai but today we could see right out to sea. This was taken from our new office looking past Defence roundabout. Out to sea is The World.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

It's getting hot in here

This is what happens when there's no air-con in a Dubai office.
The temperature showing on the gauge is 30.3 degree Celsius = 86.54 degree Fahrenheit!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

It's alive!

I've finally seen the train that will run on the Dubai Metro line. This afternoon as we were on Sheikh Zayed Road out near Jebel Ali the train came zipping along on the track that runs parallel to SZR.

From what I've seen of the track construction so far, the track is such an up and down corkscrew ride, that I reckon they'll have to hand out a sick bag with every ticket.