Monday, 29 September 2008

Eid mubarak!

Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful Eid.
Kul 'am wa enta bi-khair
عيد مبارك

Friday, 26 September 2008

And back in Dubai....

A concrete pump with a bit of a problem. Surely there's an easier way to check the diff?

Taken today in Garhoud, Dubai.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Meanwhile, back in the Wild West

This from today's NZ Herald :

Western line running as usual after collision
2:58PM Thursday Sep 18, 2008

Trains are running as usual on Auckland's western line after a collision between a car and a train earlier put a halt to services.

Sharon Hunter of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority said reports the line would be disrupted for the duration of the day were incorrect.

She issued a plea to motorists not to park on train tracks.


Good Lord, people need to be instructed not to park on train tracks?

Monday, 15 September 2008

The key to it all

Only in Dubai: Did you know that its illegal to have house keys copied without a Letter of No Objection from the Dubai Police? Neither did I. Apparently the law has been on the books for ten years but from today it is being enforced.

A quote from The National: “If [a customer] wants to copy a car key, he has to present the car registration,” said Col Hammad al Hammadi, based at Khalidiya police station. “In the case of a house key, he has to show proof of ownership or rent. In the case of a key to a company’s safe, the person should present a letter from the company.”

Here's a typical situation, maybe you have visitors coming from overseas and you want to give them a house key but you haven't got a spare so you think "I'll get a copy key cut". Then this is what you must do:

1. Present yourself at your nearest police station, show them a copy of either your rental agreement or the mortgage papers for the property you want the key for. No doubt a copy of your passport will be required to prove you are who you say you are.

2. The Police will issue you with a Letter of No Objection (being Dubai that'll probably take 10 days).

3. You take the Police letter to the key cutting shop and have your key cut.

Each time you need an additional key cut, maybe one for the maid, or for overseas visitors staying at your home or of course repeat copies for those dingbats who loose their keys every time they go to Longs Bar, then that's the rigmarole you'll have to go through.

Surprisingly, this announcement provides the answer to the question so many Dubai drivers asked during that complete traffic fiasco yesterday : "Where are the Police?". The answer is that they are at their offices writing Letters of No Objection so you and I, and everyone else in Dubai, can have our own front door keys cut. A possible solution is that you give the key you need to have copied to someone going overseas and get them to have copies cut for you. But then, will there be a limit placed on the number of keys one can bring into the country with the excess being confiscated by Customs.

Friday, 12 September 2008

NZ Election date announced

The New Zealand Government has just announced that the General Election will be held on Saturday, 8th November 2008. As the published electoral roll closes on 8th October, make sure you're enrolled to vote:

(photo courtesy

Thursday, 11 September 2008

All shook up: Dubai earthquake

So there I was at work sitting at my desk when my chair started moving from side to side on its base. "Hmm", I thought, "Gotta stop drinking at lunchtime" then logic took over and I knew that wasn't the cause of the movement. People came out of their offices where blinds had been banging against the windows by the movement of the building, and looked at each other. Earthquake! Earthquake? In Dubai? Still not a time for discussion, the building was shaking and it was time to leave, instant decision, evacuate and ponder the cause of the shaking later.

On our way down the emergency stairs which at least were well marked I found that as the building is still being prepared for tenants, the stairwell had no emergency lighting,fortunately there was lots of natural light from the workers lights and the open doors to each floor. The emergency stairs at one point were covered in plastic that could be slippery and there were no floor numbers so it was only the fact that the ground floor has lovely, but slippery-when-wet, marble flooring that we knew that it was the exit. The labourers working on the fitout floors just looked at us as we passed by on the emergency stairs they were told nothing, they just kept working.

Outside on the lawn it took only a few phone calls to learn that there had been a 6.1 quake in Iran which had caused the earth tremor in Dubai. One of my workmates who's lived in Dubai all her life remembers that there have been earthquakes in Dubai previously including a 'big one' just 3 or 4 years ago. At that point, I looked up at the Burj Dubai (tallest building in the world) and thought "If it seems to be getting closer, its time to run."

Our office is in a brand new building, supposedly "state of the art, all mod-cons" and yet despite there being an earthquake, no emergency alarms went off, there was no evacuation announcement, there was absolutely NOTHING to ensure that all occupants of the building to leave. At least building management have their priorities right, there's been a huge fuss this week and a stern email to all tenants that if anyone is caught smoking in the basement...heavens forfend....there's a 3,000 dirham fine. Pity they don't direct their energy into more important things like tenant safety. Pfft, there's probably a 10,000 dirham fine for causing an earthquake.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Satwa: Update

Went for a quick drive round the Satwa area last evening. Destruction continues apace but the main interest was that the villas at the Masafi Compound where we used to live are to become the site offices for the development. The fences have been pulled down, gardens tidied and all new air-con units installed.

Monday, 1 September 2008

The First Iftar of 2008

The first day of Ramadan ends and we have been to iftar at the Khan Murjan at Wafi. The restaurant is large and in a courtyard open to the sky which was clear with only a couple of stars. The restaurant was a bit quiet as I guess many people will spend the first iftars at home with family and will go out later in the month. The food at the Khan Murjan buffet was delicious, starting with 3 types of soup then starters, a wide range of mains and fresh fruit to finish. There were a few interesting Lebanese specialities including stuffed baby marrows in a cheese sauce with toasted pita bread at the bottom, can't remember what its called. Anyone know? Nadia? And of course shisha ruled by the end of the evening.

I'd recommend the Khan Murjan both for the food and for the interesting setting and atmosphere though unfortunately its so incredibly hard to find. Go to the new part of Wafi, find Pauls and take the 'down' escalator directly in front of Pauls. This takes you into the souk and you just have to wander round and you'll find the restaurant. The souk's been really well done, lots of alley ways and little shops but its not cheap unfortunately. The souk is over two levels and there are a number of shops selling gorgeous Bahraini dress and abayas and lots of other places selling art work and there's lots of other interesting stuff to look at.