Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trip to Hatta

We have just had a lovely weekend in Hatta. We stayed at The Hatta Fort Hotel, which we can thoroughly recommend. The staff were really helpful and friendly, the room was lovely and the sightseeing we did was great.

It was interesting to see the scenery change as we left the outskirts of Dubai towards Oman. The sand became redder to start with and then there was more vegetation and trees more like you would expect in a savanna climate. Then we hit the hills and mountains.

We took a look at the Heritage Village on the early evening when we arrived. To be honest, once you have seen one, you have seen them all, but this was nice with the mountains surrounding Hatta. We were up at one of the battlements when the early evening prayer call started and was once of the most amazing things we had experienced here yet. To hear the mosque prayer callers (or Mu'adh-dhin) begin one after the other, while the calls echoed around the mountains was awesome!

We did some offroading into the mountains today, which I absolutely loved but which Caz may have loved more had she been driving and not me! The mountain road is actually over the Oman boarder, but at this point there is no boarder control. We paddled in one of the Wadis that had water flowing, which was nice and cooling.

All in all, a great trip and if we get chance we will go back and maybe drive further into Oman.

Here's a link to my photos and more comments....

Trip to Hatta

Poor man....

Saw this on the way home. This incident was on the entry slip road to Jebel Ali FZ gate 5. The guy has somehow managed to get his car completely jammed underneath the coach in front. I don't know if maybe he wasn't watching and didn't see it stop? Whether it was his fault or not, he is lucky to be alive. I can only assume that as at this point he is still in the car, that he is trapped somehow. I only hope that there was no one in the passenger seat.......

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

..and the big news of the day is.....

...we are moving home!!!! Or as they say over here we are "shifting" to another apartment. We really have had enough of life in Mohammed bin Zayed City, so we are moving to the City. Lots of people think we are mad because of the higher rents, therefore smaller places that are affordable and the total lack of parking in most areas. However, we need to feel like we are "connected" to this place and not isolated as we are now. If you look out of our window you see nothing except maybe someone arriving that lives upstairs. In the City there is life. There are people. There are shops and restaurants etc etc. We have none of this at the moment.

So, we have found an apartment which is right near Caroline's work, so she can walk there - perfect! It means we can dispense with one car, Caz can walk to work and when I am doing business in the City, which is 75% of the time, I am right there amongst it too. Here's the location of the tower....unfortunately no sea view for us!

Also when we have visitors they can easily walk to places or get cabs to go anywhere. No cabs ever come past our place in MBZC. The apartment is secured with a deposit, the contract will start 1st May, although we may not actually move in until a while after. Our current lease doesn't expire until July 5th, but our current landlord has agreed to release us 1 month early. We will be back in the UK from May 28th-June 6th, so basically we will definitely have to have moved before then.

So watch this space.........

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Red Bull Air Race

I have to say I don't quite get the fascination with this event, it's really a bit of a boring spectator sport. Once you've seen a few races (which are basically time trials), the interest soon wains. I think a good old fashioned dog fight where one gets shot down a bursts into flames would be much more interesting! Anyway, here's a few pics from today.

Friday, April 17, 2009

More Indian van victims...

Must have been some major injures from this one I would say.....

Boats, Planes and Hair Straighteners

The Red Bull Air Race is on in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Unfortunately, today the weather was a bit dull, so I am going to watch them tomorrow in the hope of getting some good pictures.

Last night Caroline's hair straighteners went bang. Now, apparently, to a female who cannot put her hair up because it is too short, this is a critical situation. Therefore, I had to go into the City today in search of GHDs (which I learnt some time ago stands for Good Hair Day - did you know that?! did you want to? ) while Caz was at work.

As the shops don't open until late in the afternoon on a Friday I thought I would fill some time by taking a look down at the fish harbour, which I've been meaning to do for a while. The fish market actually looked quite organised and clean -I think I am still traumatised from one I saw in Gambia (picture below).

and market in Banjul, Gambia.......aaagghh

Dows at the harbour (Abu Dhabi)....

The Dows in the harbour looked great, especially in contrast to the modern construction going on behind the harbour. I got talking to the guy that manages a couple of dinner cruise boats. He charges AED225 (c.£40) for a 2 hour evening cruise, so not too bad. Maybe have to do that one day. These were more traditional looking boats, rather than a more modern yacht that Le Meridian Hotel have for a similar price. I also chatted to a local guy who was fixing his motor boat. It was 42' with 2 berths, not ultra modern but quite nice. He told me that he uses it mainly for the ladies! Takes them out, goes to bed with them, then comes back! That's the second time this week that I have been told that is the main purpose for the locals having yachts! He hires it out for fishing trips and island hopping etc. Got his card, so again, maybe one day.

If you want to look at all of today's photos, here is the link....

Abu Dhabi Fish Market & Harbour

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Windy again

The winds got up dramatically this afternoon from nowhere. Because it is so open where we live the winds howl around the place and the air just fills with sand from the desert -very unpleasant. We also had a few drops of rain again.

As I was driving into the City on Airport Road I passed a building site hoarding that had completely blown over in the wind and was causing a traffic hold up. Sorry about the shaky video clip - and yes, as Caz has pointed out, I am a road hazard when taking video while driving! But I can still drive 100 times better than most out here, even while holding a mobile phone taking video!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Dubai bashing" debate continues

Yet more coverage in the paper today about the recent UK press and TV coverage. Dubai British expats were quoted as saying that they didn't recognise the Dubai that was described. That's because you are probably one of the ones reported as going out partying every night getting drunk and admitting that you have never even spoken to an Emirati! These people lag me off! Also the ones who, when I return home from the UK say "I suppose you saw all the reasons why you live here now eh? " Well, actually, no. Of course there are the usual things that do get you down in the UK (and I'm sure I don't need to repeat them all) , but I also realised there were a lot of things I missed; some good lungs full of fresh air, popping over the road to the chip shop; a "greasy spoon" cafe fry up, normal driving practices; not having to repeat myself 5 times to be understood; not having a cacophony of languages blaring around me (at least not where I live in the UK) and on and on.....

Living in Mohammed bin Zayed City, where we are right next to Mussafah Commercial area and the labour camps, I can absolutely relate to the articles that have been written. I have walked through the labour camps (and I bet not many of my Dubai expat compatriots quoted today have!) and seen for myself the conditions. Many of the labourers of course really try hard to make the most of it and I'm also sure that some are treated much better than others. But even for the best of them it's not much of a life and I am sure that at it's worst in parts of Dubai, I can quite believe it is as bad as reported. For those that may have missed it in my previous posting, here's a link to some pictures I took on a Friday around the labour camps:-

Workers Day Off

I am also glad that through my work I do get to meet many Emirati people, almost on a daily basis. I enjoy this interaction, learning a little about them and their family and lifestyle (idle chit chat about family and life in general is important in business out here). Abu Dhabi has a much higher percentage population of locals than Dubai (c.20% rather than c.5% in Dubai) so you are much more aware of the local people and traditions and Abu Dhabi rightly wants to keep it that way. I, for one, hope they do and don't fall into the Duabi trap.

___________________ ~~ _______________________

Another article in the paper today (The National) was encouraging Emirati mothers to take a more active part in the upbringing of their children and not to just "dump" them on maids or nannies. This unfortunately seems to be common practice. An Emirati woman who is working on the campaign said that some local women will get their maid to pick the child up when it cries so they don't spoil their Abaya! I can well believe it! You see the maids struggling to manage the children round the malls while their parents (male and female) swan around several yards in front -the maids also have to carry the bags of purchases made by the parents too by the way! I do believe this is just downright laziness and ignorance. Even if they are treating their maids well, I agree with the article that it does jeopardise their culture if the children are not brought up by their own Emirati parents.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Uk Panorama causes a stir....

My blogging has been somewhat sporadic since I got back from the UK, work just seems to be taking up most of my waking hours - not good!

Check out the story bottom right on the front page today. I haven't watched the report yet, although I hope to tonight. It has certainly got the locals checking out the facts. Panorama is a pretty reliable UK journalistic source and from what I know and have seen for myself, their findings really wouldn't surprise me one bit.

The National - News
09 Apr 2009

On another note... I do now have my F1 confirmation, so I can relax - we will be at the race!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

F1 GP Tickets

The Formula 1 season ends this year on November 1st in Abu Dhabi. A brand new circuit is being build on Yas Island. Yas Island will also be home to a Ferrari theme park, a Warner Brothers theme park, 2 golf courses, lots of hotels, parks and residential areas. As an F1 fan, the prospect of being here for what could be a mouth watering conclusion to the season is very exciting (not particularly shared by Caz!). Caz had bought me tickets for the British GP last year, but we ended up coming out here before the event, so I sold the tickets on eBay!

I went online dead on 10am when the tickets went on sale. I got half way through the process to buy tickets and the site crashed. Typical! I tried again, same happened. So I phoned the ticket line. This was very painful. I must have repeated my name, address and email address details, by letter, about 10 times! AAgghh! For a major international event they could have had people manning the phone who could understand English better. At the end of the process he was going to bid me farewell when I thought I'd better ask for my booking reference number. He told me that would be issued on email to me. Right, I thought, I'd better just check that email address just one more time. By later that day I still had no email. I phoned and was told they would look into it. This was repeated a couple of hours later. When I phoned back again I asked to speak to a supervisor. He was in a meeting. They took my details again and said he would call back. Never did.

Now, by this time I was beginning to panic a little, as you may have read previously 2 of my brother had by now booked flights to come! I was hearing reports that grandstand tickets were selling out and I was praying that this wasn't all going to go t*ts up! I phoned my credit card company. Yes a transaction for the tickets value had been presented and accepted. Phew! At least that gave me a little more confidence! Anyway, to try and cut this long story short, I have since spoken to a supervisor 2 more times. Apparently a batch of orders failed to have an automatic confirmation sent out by email. These were being sent manually but would take some time. Their brand new system to sell c.100,000 tickets to the world, can only be searched by booking reference number - which I don't have! By Monday (it's now Sat) it will have been a week since I ordered my tickets and I will call them on the anniversary I think. I am working on the principle that they have taken my money for tickets, so they will have to provide me with tickets!.... or am I making the mistake of applying logic! Hmmm, we will see.............

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Food to avoid

We recently stopped at an ADNOC (petrol) station to grab something to eat as we had been travelling a while and it was the only thing around. Caz bought a chicken and salad sandwich. See below said sandwich.... please note the "salad" ......

.... 'nuff said!!!