Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Night Photography

One night while we had the kids here, my eldest daughter wanted to take some night time photos. We both share an interest in photography. It was seeing some of her results with a digital SLR last year that prompted me to buy one. It was nice to spend a few hours with her doing something we both enjoy.

Here's a few of the results (I'll spare you the 98 pics I took!)


Abu Dhabi Night Shots

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

...to all my followers and readers! .....as my step-son reminded me, we must use the word "merry" for Christmas because it's the only time of year when it is an acceptable adjective to use!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More jobs for the boys.....


Federal employees get 70% rise in basic pay
Kareem Shaheen and Samihah Zaman
The National - News
21 Dec 2009

Emiratis working for the federal Government will receive a 70 per cent rise in their basic salary. Yesterday’s announcement means the basic monthly salary of ministerial undersecretaries, who are at the highest grade of federal government positions,...read more...

Monday, December 21, 2009

iMac

I've bought an iMac! Having been a PC guy for last nearly 20 years, I have finally succumbed to the beauty that is an iMac! It's taking a bit of getting used to, but mostly I love it! I went with the 27" monitor which is fantastic. As long as I can continue to learn and find may way around the thing ok, I'll be fine!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Classic UAE builders…..jobs for the boys

 

Here is a scene I saw today….

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One man digging. One man standing next to a pick axe, one man standing holding a wheel barrow and a fourth man (white hat) supervising. So the man with the pick axe was breaking up the ground, then the other would shovel it into the wheel barrow for it to be taken away and dumped. Then I noticed there were more “wheel barrow men”! ….

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….. 3 of them in fact, each on a run to the dumping area.

We all know that manual labour here is cheap, but it is used so wastefully. It’s not the labourers fault, they are just doing what they are told to do. It’s the management that is at fault. If the labour was used more efficiently then much less would be needed. In fact, if these guys had a mechanical digger this whole job could have been done in about half an hour, instead of the 14 hours they probably put it.  This same story is repeated over and over out here in many different fields – not just in construction but also the service industries. The availability of vast resources of cheap labour means that there seems to be no drive to make processes slick and efficient. They will just throw more labour at it instead.

I guess the upside is that more people from some of the poorest parts of the Asian Sub-Continent have jobs and are able to send money home to support their families.

World Club Cup Final

….will be between Barcelona and Estudiantes, the South American Champions from Argentina, on Saturday evening – and I have a ticket, woo hoo! I’ll have to support Barca, not only are they from Europe, but I can’t bring myself to shout for Argentina – yes we are still sore about the Falklands!

As well as the Barcelona stars there will be Juan Sebastian Veron, former Man Utd player playing for Estudiantes.

This tournament doesn’t really get much of a look coverage at home, it’s seen as a bit of a “Mickey Mouse” event, but here it’s been built up as a big thing. There was 40,000+ at tonight’s game between Barca and Antlante from Mexico. The final is at Zayed Sports City which has a capacity of 45000 and is sold out.

I am looking forward to seeing some live footy though.. should be good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yas Marina event

I attended a business event at the Yas Marina Hotel yesterday. The hotel was very swish as you would expect. As part of the day I won a VIP tour of the race circuit, which I loved. It was supposed to include a lap of the track, but because of some flooding in the tunnels this had to be scrapped.

Below are some photos from the day….

Yas Marina Hotel Event

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Indian wedding

       

Last night we had a fantastic night at my mate Sanjit’s wedding celebration in Dubai. It was the first Indian wedding we had been to and it was great! They had their formal ceremony and family celebration on Friday and last night they held another one for everyone, including his and her mates. It was held at the Sheraton Jumeirah in the gardens.

He turned up in the really swanky, gold outfit (apparently designed by a famous Indian fashion designer, oooh errr) and Sabah looked fantastic in her traditional outfit. Here’s the happy couple….

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The thing that we noticed most was that the dance floor was full of young and old together givin’ it some, Bollywood style! (yes, I joined in). It was a really good atmosphere and we felt privileged to be part of it.

Congratulations Sanjit and Sabah and all the very best for your future!

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The rain continues

I had the misfortune of having to drive to Dubai this morning through torrential rain. Normally at home I wouldn't think twice about this really, but here this involves seriously putting your life at risk. Actually it wasn't too bad - I only saw 9 major car crashes between Abu Dhabi and Dubai! The first 2 were on the Saadiyat highway (emptiest piece of motorway in Abu Dhabi) two cars on the fast lane hard shoulder and another on the slow lane hard shoulder for the first accident and another 2 cars in the second (2 more on this stretch on the way home btw). These drivers really are the most brain-dead individuals, I actually think the drivers of the UAE share 1 brain cell, but the one they share is used up working their mobile phone.

I would bet that all of the "accidents" caused this morning could have been avoided if they weren't driving like tossers (not sure if "tossers" is going to get the web police onto me, but hey, that's what they are!). Even in sideways rain they still drive at 160kmph (100 mph) on their phone, tailgating within inches. I had to slow to 70 because any faster and I couldn't see a thing.

One of the most annoying things they do here in rain (and fog) is put their hazard warning lights on the whole time. This helps no-one. Now you don't know if they are going left, right or whether there is actually a hazard coming up. They seem to think that rain per se is a hazard, whereas in fact, they are they hazard!

Below is a short clip taken on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai this afternoon. Once again Caz says I am a hazard by doing this, but trust me, I could be videoing, making a cup of tea, doing a Rubik's cube and putting my tie on all at the same time and still not be as dangerous as some of the guys I have seen today!


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Saturday, December 12, 2009

It’s raining- fantastic!

It happens so infrequently here that when it does, it is beautiful! It makes me want to go out and just stand in it. We get so much rain at home, we moan and moan about it (as is the English way). Here, we moan and moan about how bloody hot it is (have to be whinging about something). So rain is a very welcome site. I’ve even opened some windows so I can hear it. We were going to sit on the beach today, but actually, I don’t care one bit we can’t, I’ll just enjoy the rain instead……

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Abu Dhabi Big Band at The British Embassy

ADBB had a gig tonight in the gardens of The British Embassy, and a very posh affair it was too! It was organised as a charity event in aid of St Andrews Church here in Abu Dhabi. There was about 400 people in attendance and for our services we got free grub and booze – yippee! Actually it was a really lovely roast Christmas dinner, yummy – we even had an appearance from Santa!

A good time was had by all and they raised lots of money.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Had to take a photo of this……

I was passing a Chinese medicine shop in Hamden Street today and saw this. I was quite amazed it was on show in the front window! Made me laugh anyway…… :-)

…… no I didn’t buy one.

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Killers last night


No, there hasn’t been another murder at the apartment block! But there was a rock band from Vegas in town. They were playing at The Emirates Palace outdoors, which this time of year is lovely. we left it late to get tickets so we had to pay extra and get the “up front” tickets as that was all they had. It is much better and meant that we could just pitch up as things kicked off and still had a good view.



I think most of the audience must have travelled from Dubai, because I’ve no idea where all the young, white westerners came from! You never see that many around Abu Dhabi.

I was going to post some video clips (at the risk of getting a nasty email from some massive American media conglomerate) but Blogger upload system doesn't seem to be working.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Camel Farm

We have had Caroline’s mum and Jamie, our nephew, staying with us this week. They wanted to see the desert, so we drove towards Al Ain and stopped near one of the camel farms. Near the camel farms there were some huge stretches of field laid out with straw bales – no idea what they were for.

We stopped off at a park in Baniyas on the way back for Jamie to let off some more steam. It was quite quiet with just a few families having picnics. I think they were a bit surprised to see expats in this park, as Baniyas is really very much a “local” district.

Click to see pictures bigger…

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

38th National Day

The locals celebrated their 38th National Day (commemorating the unification of 7 Emirates into 1 independent nation of Emirates) in their usual inimitable fashion! Emiratis love their country and their leaders and they love to celebrate, so on National Day all these things come together. The Corniche in Abu Dhabi become an unofficial DIY parade, with people who have spent 1000s of Dirhams decorating their cars driving up and down the street. There is a real party atmosphere which everyone joins in with.
This year there was much made about a massive firework display that would be set off from 25 points around the city and from barges on the waterfront. They started an hour late (at 9.30pm) by which time many people, especially those with young children had already gone, or started going home. When eventually they came, they were the biggest let down ever! Most towns back home would have better displays on Nov 5th. I don’t know what happened – maybe it’s the credit crisis!
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Madness on the Saadiyat highway

I was travelling from Khalifa City home using the Saadiyat highway this afternoon. This motorway has 5 lanes each way and there was literally only the odd few cars around. Then I saw the flashing lights. A car (looked like a Lumina SS – same as a Vectra VXR or Holden Commodore SS) was smashed up facing the wrong way in the central reservation. Go figure.

The highway travels across Yas Island, Saadiyat Island and in-between goes across some mangrove swamps. It turns out that some people (you know who I mean!) have complained that you cannot enjoy the sight of the mangroves because the safety barrier is too high and blocks the view. As I was driving over today there were teams of workers cutting through the middle of the concrete barrier to make it about half the height is was. I suspect that the height of the barrier is designed to stop cars crashing over the top and ending up in the said mangrove swamp. So now they can drive at 200kmph (there are also no cameras on this highway) taking in all the beautiful views as they crash into the wall and plunge into the lovely aqua blue water below. I’m thinking of opening a book on how long it will take – but then that would be illegal…..

Monday, November 30, 2009

Trip to Muscat

We took a short break to Oman over Eid. We drove across through Al Ain, taking care as we went….

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The route we followed took us Farfarah way…..

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…and to places where size really matters!

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We had a great time though staying at the beautiful Shangri La resort which I would recommend to anyone (prepare to have deep pockets though!).

There was a lovely feel to Muscat, it is very traditional with no high rises and a quiet calm about the place, the scenery at the coast was stunning.  The locals don’t seem to have a problem working for a living doing all jobs from A-Z.

Full photo album here:-

Trip to Muscat

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bus Ride!

I just found this picture I took when Caroline’s aunts were over. For the first time we took a bus! Now, I never go on a bus even at home (yes I am a snob) – god I hate buses and the low life that you usually find on them (apologies to regular bus riders!). So I wasn’t best pleased when one of Caz’s aunts suggested we get the bus back from Marina Mall. It was around 10.30pm and the bus queue was massive. There was a general scrum to get on the bus and I felt like I was on the Tokyo metro or something, squeezing to get on. The journey along the whole length of Hamden Street seemed to go on forever. I think I was in the ladies section, but there was no way I could move to any other part of the bus if I wanted to.

Anyway, all in all, not an experience I will be clambering to suffer again.

Here’s a pic I took on my phone….

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Weekend in Dubai

We went to the golf in Dubai on Friday and spent a couple of hours watching Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy at the new “Earth” course designed by Greg Norman. The tickets were free so we didn’t feel like we had to be there all day which was nice. For Friday evening we had tickets to see UB40 in concert at the Irish Village, but Caz wasn’t feeling well, so I called up one of my work mates who gladly took the tickets.

We stayed overnight at the Crowne Plaza at Festival City. It was a really nice hotel, with a great room (free upgrade he he – that Priority Club Gold Card does come in handy sometimes! ). Below are a few pics showing the view from our room.

Saturday was a lovely lazy few hours by the pool and then a couple of hours at Ibn Battuta Mall – oh well, can’t have everything!

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