Friday, February 26, 2010

Cars and children

I despair. What hope is there for any improvement in this issue when the prevailing attitudes are as per the following quotes taken from today’s newspaper......

I use a car seat for my girl, but the boy keeps taking off his seat belt. Maybe if I tell the boy that the police will stop us if he takes it off then he might keep it on.
Reham Radi, 29, from Jordan, housewife. Son, four. Daughter, one.

My daughter insists on never sitting in the seat. I’m forced to sit at the back with her on my lap.
Hadeel Mohammed, 25, from Iraq, housewife. Daughter, 11 months.

We usually use a car seat for our child but sometimes he cries, so his mother must carry him on her lap. The seat also takes up too much space.
Obaid Ali, 29, UAE, programmer. Son, six months.

We don’t use a car seat for out child. He always insists on sitting in the front seat with me.
Faiza Sajad, 32 from Pakistan, housewife. Son, two.

I usually force my kids to sit at the back but my boy jumps to the front while I’m driving, so I leave him unless I find a place to park and put him back. I don’t use the seat belt when he’s in the back. He won’t let me.
Samer nemr, 37, Jordan, nurse. Two children, four and five.

My one-year-old girl usually sits on her mother’s lap in the front seat.
Mohammed Suhail, 31, Oman, education worker.

Now, did I get something wrong in my life? Shouldn’t it be: ME PARENT, YOU CHILD.

I think what is needed, isn’t just a campaign on child safety in cars, but a general campaign and education programme on parenting, period.

Would they let a child drink bleach because they scream if you take the bottle off them? Would they let a child walk along the edge of a cliff because they cry when you pull them away? Would they let a child climb into an oven because they want to?

I hope not. So why do they allow the same level of danger (i.e. likely death in an accident) by not strapping their kids into a car seat. IDIOTS!

This is child negligence and deserves to be treated with the full weight of the law, as it would in many other countries. I said before though, when the laws do come in - having them enforced will be whole other matter - just look at the lack of enforcement of driving laws..........

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

About time!

At last some proper attention to this major issue in the region. The sickening fact as it say:-

"A 2008 report by UAE University said that, nationwide, there were 460 deaths relating to traffic among children up to 14 between 2000 and 2006. Forty-one per cent of them were children under four."

How many of these lives could have been saved by taking such simple steps to protect these children. When will this country wake up to the danger it is putting it's children in everyday. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that it is dangerous. Why do parents continue to put their own children in such danger. It annoys the hell out of me and makes me want to scream at everyone I see driving by with their children sat on laps, climbing over the car, in-between the two front seats, heads hanging out of the window or even on the dashboard!

I hope this campaign grows and brings in some new laws. The problem with that, as with many other laws, is that I doubt they will be enforced effectively..........

Buckle up to save a child
Mitya Underwood
The National - News
24 Feb 2010

ABU DHABI Parents who fail to strap their children into car seats risk turning them into “human missiles” in the event of an accident, doctors said yesterday. As they demanded a law governing the safety of children in vehicles, medical experts more...
Tech Tags: The National - News newspaper Front Page

Monday, February 22, 2010

Surprising find!

As we passed the magazine shelves in LuLu’s the other evening, Caz made a surprising find - a copy of FHM! For those not familiar with this publication, it is one of the original “lad’s mags”, famous for it’s “Highstreet Honeys” section (ahem... or so I am told). I didn’t flick though it, but I am sure it will contain the usual marker pen censorship all magazines are subject to out here, if they are showing anything inappropriate - examples of which you can see here.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beach Club 2

We had a lazy weekend this week and went to the beach again today. Now we are pretty much regulars (the waiter even knows our “usual” orders and we know him by name) we are getting to see the same people there a lot of the time.....

  • There is the middle aged Scouser (Brit from Liverpool for the uninitiated) who looks like she has been here for a long time judging by her colour. She sits alone, quite contented smoking and drinking her pints of lager. Her daughter (I am guessing it was her daughter judging by her looks) and her other half (wearing a full Liverpool kit - why do fully grown adults feel the need, unless they are going to a football match?) came to see her. It’s the first time i have seen her with anybody else.
  • An older bloke, I think Irish, and his wife also sit near us on the beach (we are creatures of habit and sit pretty much in the same spot). He also has that leathery tanned look of a retired expat. Some of their family have also been visiting this week with their small children enjoying the beach and sun. He also drinks pints. I don’t know how people do that - drink pints and pints of beer in the sun. The heat makes me dehydrated enough without taking loads of alcohol on board too.
  • There is a young Arab lad, maybe 12/13, who obviously has special needs, that is there each day at the weekend really enjoying the sand and water. He is supported by a very patient maid and sometimes we see his mother. The staff obviously know him well and give him lots of time and attention, especially the Life Guards who play with him in the water and take him out in the kayak. It is great that he can come and enjoy the facilities, as I feel sure that many families that have children with special needs must keep them indoors, as you see so few of them.
  • Every week we see an older couple, that just have to be British. He looks very “old school” English, and wears a Panama hat - even when swimming! He is very tall and lanky and walks like he has steel rods through his back and legs. He goes for regular dips in the water and has the most ungainly and slowest backstroke technique I have ever seen. The buoyancy of the water helps in two ways, it keeps his hat dry and actually prevent him from sinking between strokes. After swimming, he does some stretching in his strange, elongated way. HIs wife just sits, fully clothed, with him in the shade all the time.
  • There is the family of obese ex-pat Arabs whose mother and daughter insist on wearing the most impossibly small swimming suits and bikinis, compared to the size of their bodies. Clearly a case of body dysmorphia when making purchases from the swimwear section - and enough to make everyone else vomit.
  • Finally, there is Pankaj, the waiter. There are several waiters taking orders around the pool and on the beach, but generally we get Pankaj. He hails from Sri Lanka and is a very kind, intelligent man. He is very well read and has an opinion on most subjects. He is saving money so he can start a restaurant with his brothers. I’m sure it will be an excellent restaurant and I would love to eat there. Last week he seemed less happy and engaging than usual. When he got a chance to chat, it turns out that the previous day two of his people left without paying their bills. When this happens, it comes out of his wages, a wholly unfair situation. We gave him some extra tip that day to try and help out a little.
The weather is getting hotter (maybe 32ish today) and will continue to rise now until the summer. We will see how much longer we can manage a full day on the beach (Caz will give in way before me!). In the mean time, we will enjoy our lazy days with the rest of the cast from The Sheraton.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Beach Club

One of the nice things about living here is that during the months of good weather we can enjoy the weekends. We never have to think about what the weather will be like, we know what it will be like! As reported, we do get one or two days of bad weather, but mostly it’s bright and sunny.

If you want to enjoy some time on a beach in Abu Dhabi you have two options.

  1. Go to a public beach
  2. Join a beach / Health Club
There are really only two public beaches in Abu Dhabi. The first is called Ras al Akhdar and is to be found round the back of the Emirates Palace. It sounds very nice, but really there are no amenities here, but despite this it does get busy at the weekends. There is a bus route that takes you there and access to the beach is free. This beach will shortly disappear as the whole area is being redeveloped as the new Presidential Palace.

The second is the public beach on The Corniche (the City Sea Front). Actually, it’s a very nice beach which has recently been redeveloped. The sand is nice, the calm breakwater is great for swimming in and there are plenty of food outlets/toilets/changing areas etc. There is a free area in the central part, which also has volleyball and football pitches laid out for public use, and paid areas for females and families.

The Corniche Beach being redeveloped last year

Andrew Henderson / The National

You can pay to go into the family section (as long as you are not a male on your ow​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​n​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​) - I’m trying to recall but I think it is about 12Dhs (2 quid). You can also pay extra to have use of some rather nice sunbeds and umbrellas - c.30dhs (£5). You can even pay extra to have a sun bed on the “front row” by the waterside. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The beach sunbeds and umbrellas


So, now to the second option - a health/beach club. These are mainly within the hotels. Many of them are accessible to non-members on a day rate, others are either not available to non-members at all or only mid-week. Some of the prices are as follows:-

  • Beach Rotana - 150 Dhs (£25)
  • Intercontinental - 115 Dhs (£19)
  • Le Meridien - 195 Dhs (£32)
  • Hilton - 160 (£27)
  • Sheraton - c.180 Dhs (£30)
As you can see, these are pretty steep - also bearing in mind that The Hilton is really the only one that has a nice view with no cranes or construction noise. Unless you live close by one of these, you may as well drive to the public beach if you are going to be an occasional user.

We have a membership at The Sheraton, for a few reasons. First, as a member of staff at The Corniche Hospital, Caz gets a 30% discount. It’s still expensive, but with the discount it isn’t extortionate. Second, we can walk to the Sheraton in 10 minutes. Third, I can also carry out my new year resolution of going to the gym (which is included). Since the new year I have been going in the mornings midweek, when I am not going to Dubai, so 3-4 times a week. So at least we get reasonable usage from it. Although our visits to the beach will reduce when the really hot weather comes. They do however have an indoor spa with sauna, jacuzzi, steam room etc, so maybe we will chill there for a while instead.

The beach front at The Sheraton


The Pool Area


The Gym


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Photography lesson: shoot a sunset, go to jail (The National - News, 16 Feb 2010, Page 1)

There has been many a time I have thought about stopping on this bridge to take a photograph, the only thing stopping me being the thought of getting taken out by a Land Cruiser at 180 Kmph! Well this guy thought he would take his chances, but found himself in trouble of another kind........maybe I won't bother.

This is all part of the ridiculousness that is the UAE...

Photography lesson: shoot a sunset, go to jail
Marten Youssef Courts and Justice Reporter
The National - News
16 Feb 2010

ABU DHABI An amateur photographer who said he was aiming for the perfect snap for a photography competition was jailed, relieved of his passport and yesterday fined Dh1,000 (US$270) for taking prohibited pictures on Khalifa Bridge. M A, 30, more...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rolls Royce Ruined

We walked past the Rolls Royce dealer here last night, Abu Dhabi Motors. In the showroom there were two, two-tone Rolls Royces. One was blue and white and the other black and yellow. I said to Caz what a sacrilege I thought it was, to do that to a Rolls. RR drivers don't usually like to be so ostentatious, rather, display an heir of class and understatement. The quality of the car is found under the bonnet and inside the car, for the benefit of it's occupants, rather than for displaying to others. So for me, leave the garish paint jobs for other marques.

So then, this morning on my way to Abu Dhabi Mall, in the Tourist Club Area, I saw that someone had obviously bought one, I guess not the night before , but previously!

Seeing it up close only served to confirm my thoughts........

(all easy for me to say since I will likely never be rich enough to buy one - unless we live in it!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My parents' visit

My parents flew back this morning. They have thoroughly enjoyed themselves while they have been here. We took a couple of days off work at the end of last week so we had 4 days with them and then they spent the last 3 days fending for themselves and generally harassing all they came into contact with!

They are very old school and asked us lots of questions about Muslims and Emiratees as if they are from another species altogether! Still, I think they have learnt a lot this week and hopefully realised that Muslims and Muslim culture is not quite as portrayed in the UK's Daily Mail!

Some pics from their visit......

Parents' visit to Abu Dhabi

More information than we got.....

Friday, February 5, 2010


Not so much of a blog today as a tweet.. maybe on Blogger that is a Bleat?

I have my parents over this week. Yesterday we did the Dubai trip to see the sights. However, we couldn'y see much of the sights because of a sand storm. Now today I wake up and it's raining.....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Filipino MILF

Well some of the search engine traffic is going to be very disappointed with this page!

I saw this article in the paper and it made me smile.......

Philippines hopes proposal will persuade MILF to sign accord

Manila The Philippines has offered southern Muslim separatists “enhanced autonomy” in the hope of sealing a peace accord to end 40 years of rebellion, the government’s chief negotiator said yesterday.

Annabelle Abaya said the government hoped the fresh offer would convince the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to sign a peace accord before a new Philippine president is sworn in on June 30. “ In enhanced autonomy, the president is offering to share powers,” Ms Abaya told reporters.

Power-sharing with the large Muslim minority would cover such areas as tax collection and the control of natural resources in areas of the south that Filipino Muslims claim as their ancestral domain.

The offer was made in Malaysia last week when MILF and government panels met in Kuala Lumpur in the first formal peace talks since fighting broke out in 2008 over a failed draft peace accord.

The earlier draft was struck down by the Supreme Court, which ruled it unconstitutional.

Ms Abaya stressed that the fresh government offer did not seek to “ fractionalise” the country and would not require amendments to the constitution.

The MILF, in a statement issued last weekend, said the government “had nothing new to offer”, and as a result, they had decided last week to discontinue the latest round of negotiations.

However, Ms Abaya said after the exchange of draft agreements that both sides had agreed to consult with their constituencies before continuing talks. The MILF confirmed that peace talks were to resume in Kuala Lumpur on February 18.

The president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo opened peace talks with the 12,000-strong MILF in 2001 in an effort to end the war on the restive but mineral-rich island of Mindanao.

But talks collapsed after the Supreme Court ruling in August 2008. The outlawed proposed deal would have given the MILF control over large areas of the south that it claimed.

More than 700,000 people were displaced at the height of the fighting and nearly 400 were killed.

A new ceasefire was signed in September, paving the way for the resumption of peace talks.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Camel Beauty Contest

There is an annual festival in the western region of Abu Dhabi (Al Gharbia), which hosts excitements such as a date packaging contest (?!), Arab traditional arts and crafts, camel auctions and beauty contests! Going back to their Bedouin routes, camels are a most revered creature in these parts. So such beauty contest are taken very seriously. Unfortunately I struggle to take them quiet so seriously, especially when camels are described in terms such as having....

"A long, slender neck, full lips, a well-shaped nose and long legs....long, curly lashes, a full hump and even spacing between her toes" one is in the newspaper article below!

I think some of those camels better keep a close eye out behind themselves! Some of these people need to get out more.

During the auctions, however, the best camels can sell for over a million Dirhams (GBP160k+). So for that kind of money I think I could pamper a camel.......

Beauty queen dazzles the judges

Essam al Ghalib

  • Last Updated: January 31. 2010 2:09AM UAE / January 30. 2010 10:09PM GMT

Hassan bin Edghan al Nuaimi proudly holds Ruwayda, the winner of a beauty pageant at the Al Dhafra Camel Festival yesterday. Jaime Puebla / The National

AL GHARBIA // A long, slender neck, full lips, a well-shaped nose and long legs – Ruwayda had all that, and then some.

Sporting long, curly lashes, a full hump and even spacing between her toes, the one-year-old purebred Omani Asayel finished first in the beauty pageant at the Al Dhafra Camel Festival which began yesterday.

“She was born on my farm,” said Hassan bin Edghan al Nuaimi, 55. “From the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew she was the one. I love her like a father loves his daughter.”

He entered two camels in the pageants. The other, Abraj, won fourth place in the pageant for Majahim camels. The winner was Thamina, a one-year-old owned by Masoud Saeed al Hajri.

Each day of the festival, two pageants are held for camels of different ages and colours.