Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bahrain again

I know this is supposed to be an Abu Dhabi blog and I keep banging on about Bahrain, but it is part of my activities while I am here, and we have a new guy started at work who is going to take over responsibility for Bahrain, so I won't be going there much longer.

On my way over this week I picked up the in-flight magazine from Gulf Air and actually it was a good read. There was an article on Petra in Jordan, which only earlier in the week me and Caz had been discussing as a possible stop off for a holiday trip for later in the year, so I found that very interesting. Then there was an article about who really was The Queen of Sheba, which was also quite interesting. Finally there was a piece about some really odd looking, medieval burial mounds in Bahrain. I figured if I had time, I would try and locate them to see then for myself. So, on my final day there I had some time before I needed to be at the airport, so I drove to the general area where the article said there were (A'ali Village and Hamad Town). When you are on the main road there, it soon becomes very obvious where they are. There are basically either side of the highway marking out territory before the houses begin. I found them quite an awesome sight and really interesting. I believe, for the most part, they are taken for granted by the locals and they are not really well looked after - it says in the article that there has even been reports of youths quad biking over them. There are moves afoot with the heritage people to have them protected better and to promote them as a tourist site. If friends were going to go to Bahrain I would definitely say to go and have a look.

My pictures are below (sorry for the quality, they are from my phone) and also a link to the online version of the article in the mag.

Here is the link to the Gulf Air Gulf Link Magazine

This made me smile

Click for a larger picture....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My 100th post! Trip to the Northern Emirates

When Caz said she had booked a weekend for us in Sharjah, I did think that she had lost it for a minute. Sharjah is known as a bit of a dump, a poor neighbour to Dubai. As it turned out we used it as a staging post for a trip around the Northern Emirates and it was a good weekend.

The United Arab Emirates is made up of 7 Emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain, Ras al Khaimah and Fujeirah. We live in Abu Dhabi and we have been to Dubai numerous times, but we have never been to any of the Emirates in the northern part of the country. So, we stayed overnight in Sharjah and took advantage of our starting position to cover them all in one day! Here is the route we took...

It was an interesting trip. Sharjah, Ajman and Umm al Quwain have nothing much to look at, although they are trying to develop as tourist destinations -good luck I say! RAK has some nice coastline, some good hotels and some mountains which make a nice change of scenery. The drive across the mountains from RAK to Fujeirah is quite pleasant. Fujeirah has a really nice coastline, overlooked by the hills and mountains. There are some lovely beaches and hotels. It's a part of the country where you can enjoy some of the best diving. I'd love to go back to Fujeirah in the winter when we could enjoy the beaches more.

If you want to take a look at my pictures they are all here.....

Trip to the Northern Emirates

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend miscellany

Firstly here's a pic of a great little manoeuvre this guy had tried and came a cropper! He could have taken on a slightly smaller vehicle........

I was determined this weekend that, as Caroline worked, I would not spend all weekend indoors. So, yesterday afternoon (Friday) I walked to the Corniche and sat with my paper on a bench looking out over the breakwater to LuLu Island. It was of course boiling hot, but not totally unbearable. I guess it took me 20 minutes or so to get to the Corniche and then I sat for about 45 mins reading. By this time I really needed to get up and cool off. As I walked to go back over the Corniche road to find a drink, I stopped off at one of the many fountains and soaked my head and face in the water, I was desperate by this point and it felt very refreshing! - I know, what a yob!
Having got over the road I went into the Hilton apartments and went to the top floor to use the toilets. The back of the toilet door had another classic sign... see below (best to right click it and open in another window to view it bigger). I found the statement about toilet training particularly strange!:-

By the time I got home again after my drink, I was absolutely soaked again and jumped straight into the shower when I got in.

Today (Saturday), I decided to try going out in the morning instead. It did seem a bit hotter and more humid today. There is a small mosque just 2 tower blocks down from ours. It has an "overspill" area outside with rugs on for worshippers to use. On a Friday even this area isn't big enough and people simply put their prayer mats wherever they can, as near as they can to the mosque. This includes the car parking areas and shop fronts. Here's a picture of the mosque.

There has been a campaign by the The National newspaper recently on road safety issues. One issue that keeps coming up is people not using the bridges that are provided and choose to risk their lives getting across many lanes of traffic instead. As I walked, for the first time, towards Le Meridien I thought I would give the bridges a go. I stopped on one to observe people dashing across the traffic.... idiots.

I never really knew where the Abu Dhabi Tourist Club used to be, but today I found it. Basically, if you went right to the very end of Hamden Street (towards Le Meridien), it would have been on the waterside there. I guess in it's day it was quite a nice facility. I tried to search on the web for pictures of the club, but I couldn't find any. If you have any , or know where I can find some, please let me know. I did however, find some information about it in a tourism brochure from 2005, when clearly it was still open. Shame no one spotted the typo in the brochure though, "Abu Drabi" ??

As for the offer below .... yes please!

I sat for a while at the Meridien and took (yet another!) photo of the construction of the Abu Dhabi Financial Centre on Sowwah Island. Below that is an impression of what it should look like on completion. the new Stock Exchange is on the podium.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My money is on Jemery Clarkson... !

SHARJAH A policeman is recovering in hospital after being shot as he installed a speed camera. Nasser Nour Abdullah, 32, was one of four officers working along Al Ittihad Road, near Sahara Mall, in Sharjah on Monday when he was hit in the left leg. Police believe the bullet was fired from a nearby building. Yesterday they were still hunting for the gunman. The shooting happened at about 4am, as residents were heading out for their early prayers...........

Sowwah & Saadiyat Islands

I had an interesting week this week with trips yesterday and today to Sowwah and Saadiyat Islands respectively. For those in the know, you will understand that this wasn't some kind of idyllic trip to the beach or anything, but it was work visits related to the construction.

Sowwah Island will be the home of the Abu Dhabi Financial Centre and within it the new AD Stock Exchange. It will also house some new 5 star hotels and also the Cleveland Clinic hospital campus. There will be 13 bridges on and off the Island, the first of which you can cross from just before AD Mall.

Saadiyat Island is targetted to be the Cultural Centre, not only of the UAE, but of the Gulf Region as a whole. There will be:

Sheikh Zayed National Museum
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum

Maritime Museum
Performing Arts Centre

In the slide show below you can see where some of this will take shape. The Zayed Museum is all a bit "hush hush" as far as the design and content is concerned, and at the moment is only marked on the Island by a pole in the desert with a UAE flag on it. About the only thing that is known is that it will be designed by Lord Norman Foster. Here is a press release about it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I want danger money for driving here!

The National newspaper is having a road safety campaign here at the moment, and not before time. This article talks about driving on a stretch of road I drive 2 to 3 times a week and I can 100% verify they are not exaggerating... this stuff happens all day every day!

The National - News
14 Jul 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Caracal Shooting Club

Today we decided to check out the recently opened Caracal Shooting Club at The Officer's Club in Abu Dhabi. Caracal are a UAE manufacturer of small firearms. The experience was a very pleasant one. There is a nice coffee shop if you have to wait your turn (which at c.4pm on Fri we didn't) and the overall customer service was good. They issue you with ear defenders and safety glasses, both of which are necessary because of the noise and the spent bullets flying everywhere. There is a viewing area outside where you can watch the action without the need of the safety gear.

We went on the 25M range to shoot .22 and 9mm pistols. Caz went first and she did rather well with the .22. The instructor (who was very good and had a good sense of humour) marked her target in the centre with chalk and told her that if she hit it she could keep the gun! He started to get a bit worried when she came pretty close, so he had to clarify that he was actually joking.

He told me the .22s were for girls and gave me a 9mm! I've only ever used a shot gun before, shooting clay pigeons, so a pistol was new for me. I didn't do too bad I don't think, hitting the bull about 5 times.

There is also a simulation machine with a laser gun where you can use lots of pre-set situations to test your shooting skills, which we said we might try on another occasion.

I think Caz shot 25 rounds and I did 50 and it cost us Dhs500 (c£80), so it wasn't cheap for the half an hour or so we were in there, but it was good fun and worth it for the experience.

Here's some pics...

Caracal Shooting Range

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Early start for a Saturday

Caz was at work yesterday and today. This morning when the alarm went at 6.30am I got up too and decided to go to the beach. I dropped Caz at work and was on the beach by 7.30! At the moment it is the best time to go, before it gets too hot. The gulf waters are really warm during the summer, so it feels a bit weird not to cool off when you get into the water. Had a good swim and did some exercising in the water (half way to losing my first stone by the way!) , then got out and read the paper in a chair on the beach. By the time it got to 9 I had had enough and it was by now 38C. I'm guessing it probably reached 45-48C today (so stop whinging about a heat wave in England!) . Went to McD's for brekkie, where they now do the proper McD breakfast menu - yippee!

Took my new car for it's first car wash later on. Promised some piccies so here we go.....

It's nice to be back in a car rather than a 4x4, at least the bus I had! It actually has some pick up (for those interested it's the 1.8T engine) and so I can now drive like the locals! It has an AUX socket from the stereo, so today I sourced a kit to connect my iPod, with a wireless remote that fits onto the steering wheel, so the car now has good sounds too! No more crappy local radio!

Finished the day off by cooking a lovely (even though I do say so myself) lamb roast dinner for when Caz came home - with roast pots, fresh veg and Yorkshire puddings (7 pounds back on!). Nice to have some taste of home though.....

Do people like this really exist??

I find it really hard to believe that there are people this gullible around! Is it spam?? Deeeerrrr!!!

E-mail scams, VAT refunds and working wives

Personal Finance
04 Jul 2009

Some days back I received an e-mail from someone in Yahoo! headquarters in Amsterdam notifying me that I’ve won more than US$200,000 (Dh734,184) after being picked randomly among other Yahoo customers. The e-mail contained the winning serial number, more...

A few random photos

I don't know if was 8 or 9, I couldn't quite count!... let's hope they don't have an accident, they will all die!

Sorry this is a bit fuzzy, it was off my phone. This was at the fish restaurant I ate at in Bahrain. Choose what you want and they will cook it however you want...yummy. We had red Thai curried prawns, a butter grilled hammour and mixed seafood special fried rice.

I wish I had my proper camera to take this shot. There was a cool effect as the sun shone off the top off this building in Bahrain (Tim - extra point if you can tell me what building it is!? - not that difficult for an ex-Bahrain resident!)