Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Anyone else smell fish??

Gulf news today........

UAE to host Irena HQ

By Abbas Al Lawati, Staff ReporterLast updated: June 29, 2009, 23:35

Sharm Al Shaikh, Egypt: The UAE has become the first developing country to host a major international organisation with Abu Dhabi becoming home to the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

The Irena headquarters will be located in Masdar City, which is currently under construction. Masdar City will be the world's first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city completely powered by renewable energy.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, congratulated President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the country.

Germany and Austria withdrew their bids after realising an overwhelming majority of nations was going to vote for the UAE.

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, thanked the countries that extended their support for the UAE. He particularly appreciated the stance of Germany and Austria, which supported the UAE's quest to host the headquarters.

Call me a cynic, but I would really not be surprised if in the weeks to come there were announcements about some major investments in Germany and Austria..........

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thank god that's over

Had a bitch of a day today. Left the house at 6.45, got back home about 21.30 - not bad for a day at the office! Had to finish a tender proposal and hand deliver it to Etisalat - I hope it was worth it!

I think if I go home to the UK and continue to work these hours I will definitely win the employee of the year award, 'cos no other bugger will be working as long!

Leave 6.45 tomorrow for Bahrain, back Tuesday evening about 10pm.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Missing the car cleaner!

Cars over here get dirty pretty quickly as you can imagine. At our last place we had a guy come round three times a week to clean the cars for Dhs50 a month each. Since moving we have missed this service. You can get the car cleaned at a garage nearby, but it's not en route really, so we tend to go a long time between washes. Besides which my 4x4 goes back to the rental company next week and Caz's two weeks later, so we can't really be bothered! I'll post pics of my nice shiny new VW Passat when I get it next week. I'll try and keep this one clean!

As I was driving to one of my customers - an aluminium smelting plant in the desert - I was thinking that maybe I'm going to regret not having a 4x4. I quite often have to drive on unmade roads, even my office in Jebel Ali has to be navigated on some unmade roads. The trouble is that nice/good 4x4s are expensive and I don't want to spend that much, but my 4x4 is horrible and it has to go! So I'll just have to drive slowly and carefully over the unmade roads and I'm sure it will be fine.

British Lions vs South Africa Rugby

Gently persuaded Caroline that watching the rugby tomorrow at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club will be a great idea! Big screen, drinks, buffet and all for Dhs95 - bargain! Can't wait! ......Caz is less enthusiastic

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lewd T-shirt?

Basically this guy has upset someone here by wearing a cancer awareness campaign t shirt showing Posh nearly naked. I am choosing not to publish to picture here, but you can see it at the following link (it's not blocked in the UAE)....


If i was at home, I wouldn't bat an eyelid at seeing someone wearing this shirt and I think most people would get the point. When I read the article I thought, "for god's sake get a grip, it's only a t shirt", but when I saw the t shirt I kind of understand the problem. I still don't find it offensive, but I can see how some Muslims would. We are in a Muslim country and knowing that this would be offensive to some, the guy, I think, was stupid to wear it. Looks like he's going to get a month in jail and then be deported.

Man in lewd T-shirt loses court appeal
Marten Youssef and Loveday Morris
The National - News
19 Jun 2009

DuBAI A Lebanese man is facing one month in jail and deportation for wearing a cancer awareness T-shirt depicting a near-naked woman, after losing an appeal yesterday. In a brief hearing at Dubai Court of Appeals the judge upheld R N’s sentence of...read more...
Tech Tags:

I did find an interesting juxtaposition (ooh that's a long word) between this story and another in the paper about a Muslim lady in Washington, USA, who was trying to prosecute a car rental company and had her case thrown out because she refused to remove her full niqab at the request of the judge. Now, if the Washington law says the judge can order her to remove the niqab, then she should remove the niqab. I think the UAE are right to preserve their culture and religious law, it is their right and "guests" in the country should respect them. But I'm afraid Muslims cannot have it both ways. Why should Muslims living in non-Muslim countries expect to impose their values on the local country, they too are "guests" and should respect local values/culture/law.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Etisalat saga

For those who don't know, Etisalat are the incumbent phone operator in the UAE. They are government owned and until fairly recently had a monopoly (there is now competition from Du, but with only mobile coverage in Abu Dhabi). Like most places out here, their customer service experience is pretty low.

When we moved (or as they say here, shifted) to our our apartment, Etisacrap installed a new FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) unit on the wall of our front room, as we had requested internet access (4Mb, same as we had in our villa). As the apartment was serviced by FTTH, I was told that we could upgrade to 16Mb. "Great", I thought! I work a lot from home and my company pays for the Broadband bill, so as soon as the internet was up and running I called to ask for an upgrade. Broadband out here is an exorbitant price, 4 Mb is Dhs449 (£77) a month and 16Mb is Dhs549 (£95) - probably about 3 times the price in the UK. So, on the 15th of May I called for the upgrade. I didn't think much about it for a while, but then I realised after a while that, actually, it didn't seem to be any faster! I did a speed check and sure enough, it was the same.

On 23/5 I made a complaint to Etisacrap. They said I have already upgraded to 16Mb. I said yes, I know that, but I'm not getting it! They gave me a complaint number.

8/6 speed still the same. Complain again. I have been getting charged at the new rate since 15/5. They give me a new complaint number.

15/6 speed still the same. Complain again. They give me a new complaint number.

18/6 speed still the same. At the end of the month I will get my first bill at the new rate, and am unlikely ever to get a refund I guess.

I wish I had never bothered.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Read this... it's not just the UAE that's barking mad!

UAE Community Blog: Who's been drinking in my bar?


See, it's not just me whinging! Look at the newspaper report below. I am definitely going back to my company to ask for danger money! If you are interested in seeing the full report, here is a link...


Basically there are only a few countries in the world (Such as Libya, Eritrea, Niger) that have a higher death rates per 1000 population on the roads.

You've just gotta see it to believe it!!!

UAE roads are among the most deadly: UN
James Reinl United Nations Correspondent
The National - News
16 Jun 2009

NEW YORK // UN health chiefs have urged the Government to tighten motoring laws after a report that ranks the UAE’s roads as among the deadliest in the world. The Global Status Report on Road Safety, released on Monday by the World Health Organisation...read more...
Tech Tags:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Trucking nightmare

In the UK there is a system called "Operation Stack" which kicks in whenever there is a problem at Dover port crossing and trucks cannot go to sea (usually because the lazy French gits - sorry for any non-lazy French gits reading - are on strike). When this happens the trucks basically stack up on the M20 motorway in a long line until things are sorted out. Well we have a similar problem over here at the moment at the UAE-Saudi border crossing caused by a new fingerprinting system introduced by the Saudis. The truck queue is now 32KM long and some have been stranded for about a week now. At it's worst I guess Operation Stack has been as bad, BUT! - these guys are stuck in like 50+ degrees C ! Nightmare!

The National - News
14 Jun 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009


The gig went pretty well last night. It was held at the Jebel Ali Hotel & Resort for the dinner dance of an oil/gas association function. This will be the first time ever in my life I have be paid to play! Can I call myself a professional musician now?!

Here's a pic of the Abu Dhabi Big Band in action....I'm the short one in the middle of the back row!

12 Month Anniversay!

12 Months ago to the day we took off from London Heathrow and landed in Dubai for the start of our UAE adventure! It's been quite a difficult year, but we survived! Here's to the next 12 months, which should be a whole lot easier now we know what we are doing and have moved our accomodation!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Abu Dhabi Big Band

For those of you that don't know, I play the trumpet. Not as well as I used to in days gone by, when I used to practice regularly, but I get by. I've played since the age of 7 and have played in various groups; Salvation Army band, orchestras, jazz/funk bands and latterly in the UK with the Eynsford Concert Band . Here in Abu Dhabi I have recently hooked up with Abu Dhabi Big Band, my first time playing with a big band. We play Glen Miller type music and "dinner dance" music you might hear on Strictly Come Dancing. There are about 18 of us. I really enjoy the music and doesn't take up too much of my time so it fits in well.

I am playing my first "gig" with them tomorrow night at a dinner dance in Dubai, so hopefully all will go well. We have some other gigs lined up in AD later in the year, including some dates at The Emirates Palace, so I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Back in Abu Dhabi

Landed at 8.10pm and it was 32C. Apparently it's been like 50/51C this week. The first half of the week at home was a lovely 25/26C and sunny but the last few days have been cooler and a bit rainy. Oh well... here's to a scorching few months!

We have both agreed we really need to lose some weight! So we have bought a Wii Active workout disc to try and help! I set up the Wii, which hasn't been used since new year when the kids were over. I did the Wii body test and it told me I had a Wii Fit age of 50! Bloody 50! (for those who don't know, I am 42). Caz was a bit smug as it said she was 39, a year less than she actually is.

Anyway, I'll keep you up to date with how the programme is going - target: lose 14 pounds in 12 weeks........

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

UK Work visit

I took a train today to do a work visit to one of our UK based suppliers, much to Caz's annoyance at me taking a day out of our weeks holiday to do it! The appointment will however hopefully sort some things out that will make my life easier in one of my accounts when I get back, so for me it is worth it. And anyway, I'll get the day back on my return.

Being on a train again was a good experience. What a difference it could make if the UAE (and GCC beyond) had a good train service. I was on South West Trains which went on time, was clean and comfortable. The only thing that was a pain was my phone cutting in and out as I was trying to catch up with the office in Dubai.

It was lovely to see the green countryside of England as I travelled through to the New Forest, where the company was based. I do miss the greenness when I am in the UAE.

Costa here isn't the same though without the "Hello sirrrrrr", or "Make it hot for you sirrrrrr?" (a favourite service offer of mine). You do notice the lower service levels here, although often it's not that you don't get it, it's just the attitude with which it is given. A smile wouldn't go amiss.

The British love to be moaning about something, so as it has been about 26C and sunny here loads of people are complaining about the heat. Some people just can't be pleased, the ones now moaning about the heat are probably the same ones moaning about the cold earlier in the year! I can honestly say that after Abu Dhabi I will never again say I am hot in England! There has been a lovely cool breeze with the sun which you just don't get in the UAE in the summer. Any wind in the summer in Abu Dhabi is like turning a hairdryer on straight into your face.

Off to meet an old work mate for a drink in the City (of London) this afternoon, so will be good to catch up and have a natter. Caz says we gossip more than girls do, but I don't actually think that is possible. We do moan a lot about people and work etc., but men could never bitch like women, well not straight ones anyway.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I've made it!

Thanks to Wildstar I now have 12 followers! Now I'm off to feed the 5000..........

Nearly caught up with Jesus.....

I've been saying to Caz for a long time that I'd like to have at least 12 followers, 'coz then I will have as many as Jesus' disciples! Well, I now have 11 .... come on bloggers, one more!

I thought I'd do a blog from the UK while we are here and then I can justify to Caz why I bought a netbook for our travels! Actually it has come in handy for looking up lots of things while we've been here, so I feel suitably vindicated.

The weather here has been fantastic. Lovely English summer days, it's lovely to have the sunshine with a cool breeze, and about 22C - perfect. We had a great day in the West End of London on Saturday with Jessica, Alice and Darryl. J&A are my daughters and D is Caz's youngest son. We did some of the touristy things, because Jessica (my eldest daughter) said she had never been to Buckingham Palace (although I'm pretty sure she has when she was younger). So we started at Trafalgar Square and walked up Pall Mall to the Palace. We walked past Horse Guards Parade, which is a sandy covered square where they do the Trouping of the Colours etc, and will host the 2012 Olympic Beach Volley Ball tournament, which, assuming we are back in the UK by then, has to be a "must see"! (errr... ladies of course).

The kids wanted to go to Oxford Street, so reluctantly we went. I hate Oxford Street. You can't move it's so packed and you are lucky to come away without being robbed! I definitely couldn't face Primark. For those not from the UK, Primark is now a revered shopping institution, particularly among the young shopping masses. They sell cheap (child labour/exploited labour produced - allegedly(!) ) fashion clothes. The clothes are so cheap that they are pretty much considered disposable. Buy-an-outfit-for-your-night-out-then-chuck-it-away-and-buy-another kind of thing. Anyway, for females, this is a very, very exciting shop. In Oxford Street, it is almost orgasmic! To me, it just looks like a glorified jumble sale and I hate it. So I sat outside with Darryl.

Saturday evening we went to see "We Will Rock You", the Ben Elton musical featuring the music of Queen. Rochelle (Caz's daughter) joined us for the show after she finished work. They all loved the show. I thought it was just "ok". The story was a bit contrived to fit the song titles and some of the characters wore a bit thin, but on the whole it was an enjoyable night.

Sunday we went to see the rest of my family in Hemel Hempstead which was nice. Then Jessica & Alice went home for school/college. It was lovely to spend some time with them. Although we speak to our kids on the phone every week, it's not the same as being with them.

Caroline's sister, who emigrated with her family to Brisbane last year, has been also in the UK for the last week and goes back to Oz on Wednesday. So it's been really nice for Caz to see her. We met up with her and her son Adam tonight for dinner with Darryl and Lee (Caz's eldest son).

The rest of the week is going to be pretty dossy, although I am taking a day out on Wednesday to see one of my suppliers based in Hampshire, but otherwise we don't have much else planned.

We fly back to Abu Dhabi on Saturday and at least I have Sunday off before it's back to the grind on Monday!

Here's a link to some pics from London.....

Day trip to London