Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trip to Bab al Shams

It is our 6th wedding anniversary tomorrow, so to celebrate we took a trip to Bab al Shams, a desert resort run by Jumeirah (as are Burj al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel etc). The hotel is built in traditional Arab style, and has a very rustic, authentic feel. The facilities are excellent, we enjoyed the pool area particularly. The rooms are not huge, but nicely appointed with a massive bed!

The service wasn't quite as attentive as some other places we have been, but was nonetheless good (I am being a bit picky on this point). Also, the food we experienced was not up to the same standard as Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

We payed a visit to the Satori Spa, with us both sharing a room. The disappointing thing for me was being massaged by a bloke - it's just not the same and he got way too close to my crowned jewels for my liking! I had a Balinese massage and Caz had an Indian head massage.

When we returned to our room after dinner followed by coffee and shisha, my order of goodies had arrived in our room. Red roses for Caz and a chocolate cake. The bathroom had been showered with red rose petals - even in the toilet! So the nice, oval, double ended bath just had to be filled and used...... it would have been rude not to!


Trip to Bab al Shams

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Driving hate examples

For those who maybe don't get what I am going on about sometimes, I thought I would show you some examples of a couple of pet driving hates of mine from the UAE (taken yesterday).

.... oh and sorry if the music is not to your taste!

1. Driving in fog (or rain) with hazard warning lights on.

...so you don't know if there is actually a hazard coming up or not, or if they are going to move left or right (not that many people use their indicators anyway!)



video


2. Habitually driving in the fast lanes for no reason.

....there is no lane discipline. People just drive in the outer two lanes whether they are overtaking or not. Now at night, when this was taken, it is just annoying, but when the roads are busy it can be very dangerous when they are driving in the lane second from left at a slow speed. I just drive in the right lane unless I am overtaking - which I believe is the correct way to drive!


video


video

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Indian Food Festival

One of the major supermarkets out here , "LuLu's" (owned by EMKE Group - one of my customers!), is having an Indian food festival at the moment. Purely by virtue of the fact that they sell Kingsmill bread from home (local bread is yuk), we shop at LuLu's regularly. The parking is a pain though. The supermarket is part of a mall which has a multi storey car park. It kind of has 3 levels per storey with steps down between the levels. This means that if you have a shopping trolley you can't take it down the steps to the next level, you can only keep it on the first level. So parking spaces on this first level are the premium spots if you want to go to the supermarket. The most annoying thing though is that for some unknown reason (answers on a postcard to me), they keep rows and rows of spaces chained off so you can't use them. All the time. Very annoying when it is taking you half an hour just to find a space, when you drive past them.

LuLu's is very popular store with the Indian community in Abu Dhabi. It sells a lot of their food anyway and has a clothes section that has all the clothes that you can typically see them wearing. One thing that strikes us in there is that very often you see young girls who are dressed like they are going to a party, or wedding or something. I don't know if this is because a trip to LuLu's is seen as an exciting trip out, or whether it's just girls dressing up just for the fun of it. I have to say though, they are big puffy, lace finished dresses you may have seen in the 1970s!

The food festival meant that there was a stage with some Bollywood dancing and some tasting areas for Indian food and some extra counters to buy some take away Biryanis of various sorts.

One display caught my attention, which was of various strange and enormous vegetables (I guess) that are indigenous to India. If anyone who can help with naming them, I would be interested.......





Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Corniche Park

I had a meeting this afternoon at a cafe on the Corniche. My car was in a precious parking space, so I thought I would walk there rather than give it up. Rather than walk along the roadside I went into the middle of the park and walked through there (between Najda, 6th, and Muroor, 4th). The park is really very nice, very well landscaped with interesting sunken garden bits and lots of fountains. At one point there was a full scale impromptu cricket match taking place....(sorry about the picture quality, they were just snapped off my phone)



There is then a long stretch where they have newly (it seems) incorporated some exercise "stations" along the way called the LifeTrial - I guess to encourage more people to get some exercise. So of them were quite good with small bikes, steps, curls etc. It would be a darn site cheaper than the health club rates we are paying! The problem comes when the weather warms up though. Nice at the moment, but not so much in 35 degrees first thing in the morning as it will be before long.



One thing that I can't understand, why in this heat would you have park benches made of metal!





Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bloody women drivers! (I'm quoting ok! - well kind of)

I love the way that there is so little political correctness over here. You can say pretty much whatever you like and no one is going to be too bothered if you are being discriminatory about one group or another (unless it is against the Emiratis of course). There are always great examples in the classified ads with flat share requests saying things like "Tamil, muslim, bachelor only" or "Kerala , male only" - not good enough to say Indian only, but which part of India!

Even in formal job advertisements you can say "Filipino female only" or "Arabic speaking Muslim only". It seems so far away from the state of affairs at home where it is now illegal in adverts to be racist (not arguing this one), sexist, ageist, sizeist or to suggest any religious preference. It really is a problem in the UK now - if you get the wording wrong on an advert, you are leaving yourself open to legal action for discrimination. So when the old, fat, Jewish guy doesn't get the job as the gym instructor at the local muslim girls school - he can sue! If you just want a young, fresh out of college type to take up a junior role, you can't just say that, because everyone has the same rights to apply. You can't use the words like "vibrant", because they may "suggest" that the job is for young people.

Enough I say, let's take up the UAE way. Which leads me on to the main subject of this blog.

Apparently, after a survey has been done to show that 92 per cent of driving accidents in the UAE are caused by men - the main point they want to highlight is...........wait for it.........women are driving too slowly!

Classic.

I have a come across a number of dozy women drivers yes, but in terms of those likely to cause an accident the main culprits are young, male, Emirati or other Arab guys driving too fast in cars that are way too powerful for them to control properly.

There is a problem with driving too slow (again, way more men than women as I see it) - but is more of an issue of lane discipline. It's just about being in the right lane for the speed you are going - not doing 90kmph in the lane second from the left.

IF YOU ARE NOT OVERTAKING THEN GET OVER TO THE RIGHT YOU MUPPETS!

That concludes the lesson for today.

Amen.


Ministry faults slow driving by women
Kareem Shaheen
The National - News
16 Jan 2010

ABU DHABI Women driving too slowly are causing accidents and traffic jams and can lead to as many problems on the roads as speeding drivers, the Ministry of Interior said yesterday. While the vast majority of road accidents are caused by men, the...read more...

Monday, January 11, 2010

And the most predictable court decision of the year goes to....

I know it's a bit early in the year for awards, but I'm not sure anything else will beat this one in 2010.




Court clears Sheikh Issa
Marten Youssef Courts and Justice Reporter AL AIN
The National - News
11 Jan 2010

Sheikh Issa bin Zayed was acquitted of abusing an Afghan grain merchant due to “diminished liability”, the Al Ain Criminal Court ruled yesterday. Sheikh Issa, 40, was one of seven defendants facing charges in the 2004 incident, which took place on...read more...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dinner at Yas Hotel

We have made good use over the last year of our "Entertainer" book, which gives 2-4-1 offers for loads of restaurants and activities across Abu Dhabi. This year's book has lots of new venues, including a number on Yas Island. We decided to pay a visit to Amici, the Italian restaurant at the Yas Hotel (the one in the middle of the F1 track that lights up at night).

The restaurant wasn't as formal as I was expecting, which was quite nice - I don't like it when it is too stuffy (i.e. Mezzeluna, Emirates Palace on NYE). The food was great though I have to say, very nice and well presented (Lasagne followed by Lemon Cake desert for me - yummy!)

After the meal we decided to check out the Skylight Bar at the top of the hotel. I have to say it looks fab up there, a great atmosphere and it just looks cool. While we were there there was some kind of Porche owners night, as various road spec Porches went whizzing by.

All in all, it was a very pleasant evening - we will return.

There are a few pics in the album below....


Yas Hotel

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Well I never thought I'd make Page 3!

...although from the state of my moobs these days maybe I shouldn't be surprised. But, no, I'm not talking about some sleazy UK tabloid, I'm talking about none other than Time Out Abu Dhabi!

Due to a good spot by fellow blogger, Vedabread , I was made aware that there was some reference to me in this months issue - tantalized because she didn't tell me any more (!), tonight I went out and bought a copy - and this very blog appears in the "Pick of the blogs". Now I'm known for blowing my own trumpet, so why not now!

But not to be left out, another fellow blogger, Ace, was also listed - nice one! Vedabread - I'm sure your day will come!

So here, without copyright permission, is what you will find there......




Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Burj Khalifa? - What's in a name (about $10Bn)

So Burj Dubai, as it has been known since construction started (and presumably before in the planning stages), has been re-named on it's opening day to Burj Khalifa (after the UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi). Call me a sceptic, but it is only 2 weeks since Abu Dhabi bailed out Dubai (again) to the tune of $10Bn - so was this a generous offer by Sheikh Mohammed (Dubai), or was it part of the deal?

I think if I was Mr Al Makhtoum I would be a little peeved that my pet project, which was my idea in the first place, was named after my richer uncle (not literally)...... oh and by the way he wasn't even at the opening!

Oh well ... whatever, I still think it looks cool.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Capitala Tennis Championship

Yesterday evening we went to the final day of the tennis championship in Abu Dhabi. It's the second year they have run this, with Andy Murray winning last years tournament. It's a knockout, winner-takes-all competition between 6 top players. On the final day we saw Federer vs Ferrer and Soderling vs Nadal. Federer walked his match to take 3rd place with the final being a much more competitive match which Nadal won in the end.

The tennis stadium is very good. It's quite a "tight" stadium with everyone pretty close to the action and getting a good view. The weather hasn't been great lately and last night I actually felt pretty cold sat outdoors watching the tennis. Here's a picture of some of the crowd, most of whom had sensibly brought jumpers and jackets!


The spectacle wasn't too much of a draw for the VVIPs. The front row didn't bother to turn up at all and most of the others quickly got bored and left!


One thing that always irritates me about Nadal is the way he is constantly picking his pants out of his bum! Surely he could have shorts/pants made that would fit properly and not end up being chewed between his arse crack! It doesn't make for pleasant viewing.....and just so you can share the unpleasantness, here's a little montage of him doing it!


For the rest of my pictures take a look at the album below.





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Friday, January 1, 2010

Anniversary Blog!

Well a whole year has passed since I started this blog! How the time has flown by! Last night we celebrated bringing in the new year with dinner at Mezzeluna restaurant at Emirates Palace. The meal was a bit fussy with one course even I couldn't eat (Risotto with black Perigord truffle and asparagus - yuk!), but the main course steak was lovely. We got to see the fireworks at midnight by the beach .. see below....

video

We were issued with NYE hats and tiaras, which of course I duly wore all the way home (hat, not tiara!).


I thought the tiara looked good on Budda at home!



When we got it I was able to Skype with my family who were altogether at my brother's house, although of course they had not reached new year at that point.

This year has been full of many ups and downs with I guess a couple of major turning points which have made it bearable staying put. Firstly was out move from Mohammed bin Zayed City into Abu Dhabi city centre. This was definitely the right thing to do and has made life so much easier, especially for Caz who can walk to work in 10 minutes from where we live.

The second thing was Caz's change of role at work. For the last number of years at home Caz had been working specialist roles working 9-5. When we got here that all changed and she was back to days/nights and weekends. With me working all the hours under the sun it was grim. Then she was asked to take on a clinic role working Sunday to Thursday 7.30-17.00, with no weekends. This has meant we have had all our weekends free, which has been so much better.

With the job market at home no better, it is looking very much like we will be staying put for another year. If it wasn't for a friends and family, we wouldn't mind at all really - but we do miss them all. We will again just have to make the most of the time we do get with them.

Here's to a good 2010!