Monday, August 31, 2009

Number challenge

The parking where we live is horrendous. At times we end up with double and triple parking in the car park outside the apartment block. The etiquette is to leave your mobile phone number in the window of your car, so if you need to ask someone to move you can contact them. At times this can be really annoying when you get calls at midnight and you are fast asleep 'cos you went to bed knackered and you have to get up and move your car! However, you just have to live with it, otherwise you would just simply have nowhere within a 500M radius to park.

Now this morning when I needed to leave for work at around 7.30am I had to phone about 4 people to move. One in particular though posed a problem. He had his mobile number alright, but only in Arabic numbers! Actually if you read up on the history, what are known as Arabic numerals are in fact originally Indian numerals adopted by the Arabs and what we use (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0) are, in fact, originally Arabic.

As I haven't got these memorised yet, the tactic I deployed was to look at the older style number plates that show the number in both styles to work out the numbers. It took me about 10 minutes to find enough cars with these plates to complete all the numbers I was looking for! The mistake I made was not saving it in my phone so I don't have to do the same again next time he is blocking me in.........aaagghhh

وَاحٍدْ - ١ - Wahid - One
إِثْنَيْن - ٢ - Ithnain - Two
ثَلاَثَة - ٣ - Thalatha - Three
أَرْبَعة - ٤ - Arbaa - Four
خَمْسَة - ٥ - Khamsa - Five
سِتَّة - ٦ - Sitta - Six
سَبْعَة - ٧ - Sabaa - Seven
ثَمَانِيَه - ٨ - Thamaniah - Eight
تِسْعَة - ٩ - Tisaa - Nine
عَشْرَة - ١٠ - Ashra - Ten

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A few pics.....

There is quite a big market in Abu Dhabi for palaces! ......

I don't quite know why that means I have to slow down??.....

Now where I come from "Poppers" are not normally sold in pizza take aways..... more like dodgy Soho shops.....

Back to reality

We arrived back in Abu Dhabi early on Saturday morning feeling knackered and went straight to bed, so didn't see much of Saturday and then went back to work today. I hate coming back after being away and finding hundreds of emails waiting. It takes me another week to work through them all and catch up.

We had a good visit home though. Kids pretty much sorted - Jess got her Uni place she wanted and Darryl got good GCSE results. Managed to see most of our folks and had an evening with some of Caroline's work mates.

On balance I would say there are more things I miss about the UK than I like about Abu Dhabi. But one of the things that is quite noticeable in the UK is the general lack of service in public places like shops, restaurants etc. Right from our arrival at the car hire company at Heathrow Airport, we witnessed the appalling treatment of a guy who was told (in a very stroppy way) that his car wasn't ready yet because he was an hour early and he would just have to "sit over there and wait". The man duly walked "over there" with his shoulders haunched like he had been told off at school. The woman delivering the instructions was called "Mrs Ruff" (I kid you not!). We stayed at Caroline's daughter Rochelle's flat in Bromley on Friday night and OMG, it was like living in a war zone. The noise went on all night right through until about 3am - drunken louts, nightclub booming away, girls being sick on their shoes etc etc. The same would probably be the same for most of the UK's major towns and cities and is definitely not missed by us.

Couldn't get away from everything though. Here is a sign in Clinton's Cards........

...don't get much call for these cards in Abu Dhabi though........

One day when I was looking for some money in my pocket I noticed that I'd been given a foreign coin in my change. "Typical!" I thought and was about to throw it away when I took a closer look at it. I was pleased to see that it was a Jordanian Dinar. We have recently booked a trip to Jordan for October, so I'll be able to use it! I was interested to know why it is described as the "Hashemite" Kingdom of Jordan, so I looked here.

While I was in the UK I bought a new lens for my camera (a Tamron 70-300 with macro - for anyone who may be interested!) , so of course I had to try it out. Here's a few results .....

Trip home Aug '09

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Off to the UK

"out of office" enabled on my email, "on leave" voicemail message recorded, cases are packed and now just whiling away a few hours before we leave for the airport. Yippee!

Below is the London weather report from the BBC. Great! Can't wait to get away from the heat for a week. I will be standing in the rain for a good soaking, with the local population looking at me like I am an idiot!

Will be great to see all the kids again. Jess got her A level results today and although she didn't get the grades she was hoping for, she has now got 3 A levels, which is one more than me! So well done Jess! Just got to wait and see if she can get a place at Coventry Uni which is where she wants to go. Next week it will be Darryl's turn to get his exams results - GCSEs this time.

Hoping we don't get swine flu which is rife in the UK at the moment.

Borrowing my brother's season ticket to go and watch Watford v Blackpool on Saturday - oh how I miss watching the hornets getting beaten!

Well it looks like tomorrow could be the start of Ramadan, so at least we will miss one week of that. I hear the moonsighting committee will be heading for Jebel Hafeet tonight to go and look at the moon and declare it a full moon. So, that means no eating, drinking, smoking, playing music or having sex in daylight hours. But apparently you can stuff yourself silly and fornicate as much as you like once it's dark! - so I'll look forward to that!

Apparently on average, despite it being a fasting month, most Muslims put on weight during Ramadan because of the gorging on calorific food in the evenings at the "Iftar" breaking of fast.

Most of the International hotels do cater for non-Muslims and have at least one restaurant open during the day. But you can be fined or worst case, imprisoned, if you are seen eating or drinking in public. In practical terms I didn't find it too difficult last year. I think as long as you are sensible and respectful of people who are fasting, then you are fine. At lunch I would either find a hotel coffee shop that was open, or go to a grocery store, buy something and eat it discreetly in my car. I was quite surprised last year to be offered tea or coffee when having a meeting with an Emirati in a government department - but I think the rules are balanced with the Arab wish to be welcoming to visitors and be good hosts.

On the whole though, honestly, I would rather be elsewhere in Ramadan, especially while it is falling in the peak of summer.

So, we'll be back in a week's time - swine flu allowing!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange

I know I have blogged before about the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange (here), but this picture from the front of the Business section of The National reminded me of what it is like! I'm sure everyone has seen coverage from the NYSE or LSE, where everything is manic and fast paced. Well not here! It is a pretty good representation of how life and business is conducted in general Abu Dhabi stylee; reserved, slow, considered and with cigarettes and coffee in a big comfy chair......

Arabic tourettes

Me and Caroline are now suffering from what I have decided to call Arabic tourettes! It is the uncontrolled, unwanted use of Arabic words and phrases. Whereas we might finish a sentence with " so that's that. End of.", we are saying "khallas"; or instead of "no problem", "mafi mushkillah". Whilst I consciously say other phrases before I say them, like "as-salam alaykum" (peace be with you/formal greeting) or "min fadhlik" (please), "shukran" (thank you) , "kef Halak?" (how are you?) etc. the other two keep blurting out even to non Arabic speakers and to each other at home - it's weird!

I'll try not to do it when we are home in the UK from Friday for a week!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A fine new hotel with a fine new structured cabling system!

...supplied by guess who???? ;-)

Aloft hotel to touch down in Abu Dubai
Rebecca Bundhun
16 Aug 2009

A new American hotel brand, which offers guests self-service check-in, is set to make its Middle East debut in Abu Dhabi in October. The Aloft hotel, located at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), will have designer styling and more...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tunnel roadworks

Roadworks outside our apartment block on Mina Road are giving us some noise issues at night at the moment. It's all part of the Salam St tunnel works.

The video shows what the noise is all about... our block is second on the left.

And here is an interactive plan of the full project.....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trip to Sir Bani Yas Island

We took advantage of the lower summer prices to go to this resort which opened earlier this year. The island was Sheikh Zayed's own private island retreat and has continued to be a destination for the royal family to visit. Earlier this year it was opened to the public, or at least those that stay at the hotel and spa resort. The island was first populated by members of the Bani Yas tribe several thousand years ago and there are many ancient sites on the island. Sheikh Zayed had a wish to "greenify" the island, so workers started to plant some 4 million trees and bushes, of which around 2.5 million remain. More about the island can be read here.

We had read some "iffy" reports on but I have to say we really found nothing to complain about. The staff were very helpful and friendly and rooms were great. The buffet, whilst not very adventurous, was fine and the food was good quality. I guess the one and only thing I would say, was that the beach wasn't great. My advice would be if you have a few days to spend, then do a night or two on Sir Bani Yas to do the trips and use the pool, but then go and stay at Danat Hotel Jebel Dhanna if you want to go and sit on the beach for a couple of days.

The game drive is a must. We decided to get up and go on the early trip starting at 6am. We were glad we did as it was starting to get really hot by the time we got back 2 hours later. The best moment for us was seeing one of the free roaming cheetahs still with her gazelle prey having just caught it. This was awesome.

At peek times the price of this place doubles, so take advantage now if you can!

My pictures of the trip below....

(click the pictures to see them larger)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hindu convert?

I woke up this morning and it looks like I've gone all Hindu! I am now sporting a rather fetching 'Tilak', or "mark" in Hindu. I have no idea why, I can only think I must have slept with my hand under my head and a knuckle has marked it. Great! I will await the piss-taking at work tomorrow with great anticipation!

It prompted me to find out what the red dot is all about, so if you are also interested to know, fill yer boots!