Friday, 29 February 2008

Satwa: The end is nigh

We've been evicted as the entire area of Dubai bordered by the unnamed road that runs behind the Fairmont, Al Diyafa Street, Al Satwa Road and right through to the Dubai jail on Al Safa Road is being cleared. This is a stretch of land 10kms long by 2kms wide. The Dubai Department of Lands has given residents in the area 3 months notice to leave. Apparently the eviction letter was given to the Arabic residents of the compound we live in a few days ago but we weren't given a copy of the letter because it was issued in Arabic only and they thought that as expats we couldn't read it. D'uh! Did they think we wouldn't notice if we came home from work one day to find the house bulldozed? We had to ask the compound security guard for our copy which Colin scanned and I emailed to Rasha who confirmed the bad news (amusing that the Lands Dept describes it as an "evacuation"). An article from the Khaleej Times is here.

This mass eviction effects thousands of people, many of whom probably still have no idea that they are going to loose their homes in the near future. We have friends in a compound two streets over from us who've heard nothing about it and they're right in the firing line. Any Emiratis in the area who are effected by the eviction will be compensated by the Government with either cash or land on which to build a new house.

Here's an article from 7 Days that was published last Wednesday that I hadn't seen until a neighbour told me about it this morning:

"Where do we go?
Thousands of people in Satwa are struggling to find somewhere to live after being told to vacate their homes by the Land Department. The villas they live in are to be demolished to make way for the construction of a new project, but residents say they cannot find anywhere else affordable to stay. “I have no idea where to go. Rents are skyrocketing everywhere in Dubai,” said Mohammed Jaleel, an Indian who lives and works in the area. "Satwa was the ideal place for people to stay as it was centrally located and had a number of houses which were available at reasonable rent.”
Many of the residents, who are mostly bachelors, have been living in the area since the villas were constructed more than 20 years ago. With the department slapping the eviction notices on them, many residents are now running out of time to look for new accommodation. “I have a very short period to stay in the villa. After my tenancy contract ends, I have to vacate and look for a new house. Getting a house at nominal rent is difficult in Dubai,” said Farooq Ahmed, a Pakistani.
The Land Department has already begun to demolish some villas which were vacated by tenants earlier this month, although officials yesterday refused to say what would be replacing them when contacted by 7DAYS. A number of UAE nationals also reside in the area, but the Land Department has promised them they will be suitably compensated with either money or with land on which to construct a new house.
And the soon to be homeless non-Emirati residents said they could do with some help as well. “I would like the government to help us find alternative accommodation so that we can move on,” Ahmed said."

To my horror I've realised that the clearance area includes:
Ravis, the best Pakistani restaurant in the world
Jabal Ohod, the finest shawarma joint in Dubai. Not only do they produce delicious chicken and mutton shawarmas but they make wonderful mango juice too, and its all home delivered by a guy on a pushbike.

And ladies, you'd better get to Karama asap to buy your "genuine fake" handbags, because the tenants at the Karama Centre have been given 3 months notice too.

For a more corporate take on the whole situation, here's an article from MEED which parrots the development company's media release and asks no questions.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

The world's best blues guitarist? Compare and contrast.

I was in the car with Maureen and Ian and there was some brain loosening blues guitar playing on their car stereo. (Not the car stereo that went underwater in the great Wadi Sinking of 2008). I asked who it was and that's how I was introduced to the incredible Joe Bonamassa. Thanks for the intro Ian. If you like blues in the style of Led Zep's "Since I've been loving you" or if you like Robin Trower or Gary Moore with a touch of Kenny Wayne Shepherd then Joe Bonamassa is the man for you . He's a blues guitarist and singer from the US who's amazing and I can't understand why he's not better known. (He was a child prodigy and was only 12 years old when he first played with BB King.) His producer works with Joe Satriani, and Bonamassa has also worked with Leslie West so if those two gents are involved then that's it for me anyway, all the boxes are ticked and I'm hooked.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

More happy news from the Dubai RTA

"As you may be aware, the RTA have announced today that from tomorrow (Fri, 8th Feb 2008), motorists in the Al Garhoud area of Deira are expected to face massive traffic jams due to the closure of a key road leading towards Al Garhoud Bridge and Bur Dubai.

Part of the road and bridge leading towards Al Garhoud Bridge from Casablanca Road and Al Rebat Road will be closed from Friday (See attached). There is no date given to say when the road would re-open to traffic.

Due to the closure of this major approach road, motorists can expect massive traffic congestion on the Deira side and roads near Dubai International Airport. Traffic going to dozens of schools in the Al Garhoud areas will also be affected while passengers travelling to and from the airport will also face long delays.

While motorists will be able to drive through Al Garhoud Bridge towards Casablanca Road (which leads to Dubai International Airport) and Al Rebat Road, which leads towards Festival City, Rashidiya and Al Ramool areas, they will not be able to use the same roads to come back to Al Garhoud Bridge.

Motorists coming from the airport either will have to take the Al Maktoum Bridge, the Floating Bridge or the Business Bay Bridge to reach Shaikh Zayed Road and Bur Dubai.

Given the above, we would be grateful if you could proactively update our customers and advise them to use alternative routes and to leave extra early if travelling to/from the airport.

Thank you."

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Blowing in the wind

We had floods in Dubai last month and now, only two days into the new month, we've had a sandstorm. It was carried in on strong winds which picked up serious speed on Thursday afternoon and by Friday morning visibility was very poor, the dust and grit in the air made it contact lens wearers' hell and anything that remained stationery for too long was quickly covered with a layer of fine dust. Some of the huge billboards around town had the advertising covers ripped off them and left flapping in the wind.

There are some photos here.