Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meeting at Qasr al Sarab

Today I had a meeting with the developer of many resorts and tourist attractions in Abu Dhabi. The guy I was seeing was on site at one of the resorts, Qasar al Sarab (which roughly means Mirage Palace), so I met him there. Considering it is due to be opened on Oct 25th, it still looks like they have a bit of work to do if they going to make it look like the marketing images! However, I understand that they will be sending in 1000 people next week to clean up the whole place to make it look spick and span.

The location for this resort is about 2 hours into the desert in what they call "The Empty Quarter" - for good reason, there is nothing there! Just sand! So the resort is an engineering feat in itself. The road leading to the resort is still unmade and I was a bit worried at times whether my VW Passat was going to make it - it's in situations like this that I miss my 4x4.

The dunes are pretty spectacular and the silence when the labourers stopped work for lunch was deafening. I reckon at night under a full moon, it would look great.

They are going to offer traditional Arab hunting on camel back with Saluki dogs and Falcons - hunting gazelle etc placed in a reserve for this purpose. This will of course cost an arm and a leg, but there will be plenty of Arabs (and others probably) who will be queuing up for this I'm sure.

I had a classic conversation trying to buy a drink at a small grocery store in Al Hameem, the nearest town to the resort. It went like this...

{Looking in the fridge being watched by the Indian shopkeeper, and seeing only a vitimin C drink and Red Bull}

Me: Do you have any other cold drinks?

Shopkeeper: You want chocolate?

Me: {grabbing 2 Red Bulls} Never mind I'll just take these.

Shopkeeper: You want diet?

Me: {happy becuase I usually drink diet Red Bull} Ah - do you have diet?

Shopkeeper: No.

Me: I guess I'll just take these then.

Photos from Qasr al Sarab below.....

Meeting at Qasr al Sarab

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ridiculous news story

Story from The paper today....

SHARJAH Police have ruled out foul play in the deaths of two Bahraini nationals who were found dead in their car behind Sharjah City Centre last week.

According to a police forensic laboratory report, they died accidentally, apparently suffocating after closing the windows and turning off the air conditioning.

Police told reporters that A S A, aged 24, and A M A, 26, were found in a white Nissan Altima that was parked in the Industrial Area 1 behind the mall, with its engine still running. The bodies were in the front seats.

“We have already contacted their families in Bahrain,” a police spokesman said yesterday. “We would now release the bodies for burial as there is no crime to investigate.”

Police found two passports inside the vehicle, which was owned by one of the occupants and registered in Bahrain. The documents showed that the two men had entered the UAE through Saudi Arabia from Bahrain a day earlier.

I would find it very unlikely that anyone could "accidentally" suffocate inside their car because their windows were closed with no air conditioning on. Would you not have thought that if they were in their car without the air conditioning on in the middle of summer, they might have thought "hmm... it's getting a bit hot in here, I think we better put the air conditioning back on" ? Indeed, who here in the middle of summer would actually sit in their car without the air on in the first place? So, I would guess at either suicide - but I can think of much quicker ways to do it - or some kind of third party involvement. I'm afraid it just smacks of a slap dash investigation to get it off the books, or an unwillingness to admit it was a suicide.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Abu Dhabi Panorama

I took this picture today .....

How ridiculous....

Mannequins warned not to flout Iran’s dress code

The National - News
24 Sep 2009

TEHrAN Iranian police have warned shopkeepers not to use mannequins without headscarves or which exposed body curves, the official news agency IRNA reported. Displaying neckties and bow ties behind shop windows and the selling of women’s underwear by...read more...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good to know we are safe in the hands of ADNOC

ADNOC is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and rather like other oil companies has various company interests from exploration to drilling, to a retail business. All the pertol stations in Abu Dhabi are run by ADNOC. I was sat in my car at one of these stations a few days ago, having a surreptitious little drink during Ramadam, when I saw these clowns delivering bottles of Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Health and Safety would have a field day with this at home!

Has sound.....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trip to The Atlantis Hotel, Dubai

We thought we would take advantage of the summer rates and pay a visit to The Atlantis. With entry to Aquaventure and The Lost Chambers thrown in, it wasn't a bad deal. We had a lovely time and really enjoyed it. Ramadam should be over tonight, with the Eid holiday following straight after. So we both have an extra couple of days off work now (3 for Caz).

Pictures and comments linked below.....

Weekend at The Atlantis, Dubai

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You heard it here first!

From today's Gulf News

Man's body found in garbage chute

By Rayeesa Absal, Staff ReporterPublished: September 15, 2009, 22:53

Abu Dhabi: A man's body was found at the bottom of a rubbish chute in a building in the Mina area on Sunday morning.

The man, yet to be identified, is thought to be an Asian aged between 30 and 40, according to an official involved in the investigation.

The building is located next to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi building.

The watchman of the building found the body around 9am on Sunday as he went to clear trash from the garbage room. He immediately informed the authorities.

Police are investigating the case. "It is unclear as to how and when the man died, but we believe it has not been very long& Probably less than a day," the official said, asking not to be named.
The body was fully clothed and was not concealed in any way, he said.

"The body of the man had injuries, which could also be due to the impact of the fall. As the investigation is only in the preliminary stage, no more details are available," the official said.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Who is this weirdo that keeps writing to the paper?!

Real men don t wear helmets

The National - News
14 Sep 2009

In response to Chuck Kowalski’s letter In defence of gridiron football (September 10), I agree that in soccer “the slightest nudge causes a player to crumple to the ground”. But, when I went to school in the UK, I played rugby (which seems to be...read more...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Murder in our apartment block!!

We came home last night to find the lobby full of police. We didn't think too much of it, but today we have heard that some poor Indian fellow was found dead at the bottom of the rubbish shchute when they came to empty the bins. They reckon he was dumped into the chute from the 18th (top) floor. Considering the place is a murder scene, the block has not been cordoned off or anything. Apparently the rubbish chutes on every floor have been locked, that's about it. I guess I would have expected to have had a knock at the door and at least be asked a few questions by the police, but unless they have been while we were at work there has been nothing until now.

Not a nice thought to know that this has happened right where we live. At home we probably wouldn't have been so surprised - unfortunately murders/stabbings etc are all to commonplace in and around London, but for it to happen here in Abu Dhabi where you believe crime to be less prevalent, it kind of jolts you.

I am guessing this is not some kind of random attack on a stranger, but probably something more to it, so we aren't exactly fearing for our lives, but nonetheless it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable.

Let's see how this one unfolds........

Friday, September 11, 2009

Iftar deliveries

The Iranian restaurant (Shiraz Nights aka Shiraz Nigits when the lights don't work) opposite our apartment seems very busy in Ramadam with preparing and delivering Iftar meals in the evenings. The picture shows them unpacking the daily delivery of disposable thermal bowls used to deliver various dishes to their customers after sunset. They fill up the back of whole trucks with food and whisk them off to various lavish Iftar meals.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A hot day with a nice ending....

It got a little warm today ......

... that's 127F in old money! Really felt the heat today, I think it must have been the hottest day of the year so far. August was not as hot as last year, but I think 53 for Sept is out of the ordinary.

This evening we went to our cultural night and Iftar with Ali Al Saloom, sponsored by The National. It was a really good night and we learnt a lot from Ali. A lot of the main editorial staff from The National came, so it was good to meet them.

We had a short opening presentation from Ali followed by a guided tour of the Heritage Village. It was good to get a personal insight into some of the traditional ways from someone who remembers it from their childhood.

We then had the Iftar meal. The meal was very traditional with local Arabic dishes, starting with dates and drinking yogurt. Then the Muslims went to pray (Isha prayers) and left us eating for 10 mins. Then when they came back we were brought more dishes, including lamb from a whole lamb on a platter with rice and vegetables. All of this took place in a traditional Majlis (which is kind of like a living room, for welcoming guests, seated around the walls on cushions).

All in all a great night. Great to meet Ali as we have read his column with interest in the M magazine and The National. And good to get some real Arabic perspective on some local traditions and culture.

If you ever you get chance to attend one sometime, I would highly recommend it......

Here's some pictures.....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Iftar with Ali al Saloom !

Well it doesn't happen very often, but I have actually won something! I entered the following competition in The National ........

"The National's cultural advisor, Ali al Saloom is hosting a Ramadan Majilis at Emirates Heritage Village in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday Sept 8, exclusively for The National staff and guests. This is a unique opportunity to experience local cuisine and learn more about the cultural codes of the Emirates. The National would like to invite 8 readers to join us for this event. Each reader will be given a pair of invitations.

For your chance to be there, simply text your answer to the following question to 3538 (Etisalat) or 9104 (du) or email your entries to contest@thenational.ae before 4pm on Sunday Sept 6.

At what time in the day does Suhour traditionally take place?"

We always read Ali's columns and it will be great to meet him. I'm also looking forward to a great traditional Arabic Iftar! For those not familiar, Iftar is the meal taken by Muslim at sunset to break their fast for the day during the holy month of Ramadam. It traditionally commences with dates and milk. Following prayers a feast will ensue! Can't wait!

Ali has a couple of websites. The ask-ali one is very interesting if you want to know about the UAE and Muslim culture....



..oh and the answer is ... before sunrise

Ridiculous but true - and soooo Abu Dhabi

Fashionable seat-belt concept may be as inspired as it is absurd
Nick Halloway
05 Sep 2009

Ionce saw a packet of peanuts that had a warning on the side that read: “Warning – contains nuts”. At first I thought it was a marketing joke, but a lawyer friend assured me that because we live in increasingly litigious times (coupled with a...read more...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Visiting friends in Dubai

We met up with some friends in Dubai this weekend (great to see you Jon & Sam!). It was Sam's birthday and they seemed to be having a great weekend. They were staying at The Address Downtown Burj which we hadn't been to before, so we were interested to see it. We thought the hotel looked great and their room was very nice too. We had drinks in the Sky Bar which had a fantastic view of the fountain display outside the Dubai Mall.

In the afternoon before we met up, we went to Ibn Battuta Mall. On the way in I saw this and had to give it a go!

So basically, you drive into an available space....

The door raises and you drive in....

You log your details and the machine issues you with a smart card....

Your car then gets whisked off into the machine and moves around on a conveyor (rather like the doors in Monsters Inc. I reckon!) and gets automatically slotted into a spot.

When you come back you put your card in the machine and the system tells you which bay your car will be delivered to....

You can watch the inner workings on the cameras shown on the screen...

Then, hey presto! It's there and you can drive away!

Cool !

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mosque overflow..

When the mosques are full on a Friday, worshippers will find any place they can near to the mosque to pray and listen to the Friday sermon. They will try and get into the shade of the shops and tower blocks.