Thursday, July 29, 2010

Off home for a week!


We fly in the morning. Out of the heat for a week. Can’t wait.

Will be great to see our kids, family and friends.

We have hired this place for a week in the English countryside with our kids and some of their other halves. Sunday we have invited friends and family over for BBQ/Pool party! Hope the weather is ok!





Qatari's cars clamped at Harrods

I don’t suppose they are too bothered about the £300 fine :-)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Android Red Flag Man

I have posted before about "red flag men". Basically, they are human warning lights - waving a red flag. That is his job. Now it seems that his job is going to see a slow death! On the highway across Yas Island towards the Dubai highway a number of mechanical "red flag men" have appeared. Powered by a 12v battery, they can operate 24/7, need no midday break, water, visa or accommodation.

I have attempted to slow down a clip I took so you can see (with a freeze frame part way through)..............

If they are a dying breed, personally I will miss them!

Red flag men RIP !

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ghastly golf!

Much against my better judgement I accepted an invitation to play golf yesterday, teeing off at 3pm. Mistake. School boy error of the highest order.

Yesterday at 3pm it was 46C here. Humidity; c. 85%. Bad, bad mistake.

The idea was that we would play 9 holes. Both of us had had enough after 7. It was the most horrible, disgusting, sweaty round of golf I have ever had.

Some of my mates at work play all through the summer, mainly teeing off early in the morning, but even then it is very hot and would still be an unpleasant experience.

I am very much a fair weather golfer, here and at home.

So. Golf in the summer here. For me, never again!

Having said that, the course we chose is quite nice. I played it once before with a work friend, but that time under floodlights. It was difficult to form much of an opinion of the course as you couldn’t really see very much - including my ball! Yesterday you could see that the Abu Dhabi City Golf Club course (formally the Golf and Equestrian Club) is actually quite a calm oasis in the middle of the city island. The course is surrounded by a horse racing track, the whole place looks pretty well looked after and there is a nice clubhouse, bar and restaurant.

From this location it was really good hearing the afternoon prayer call, as you can hear the call from many locations and it bounces around, echoing in the air. It reminded me of hearing the prayer call when we were in the mountains at Hatta.

The pictures below don’t really do the place justice. They were just taken on my phone....




Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Man Utd are evil!

From the Times today....

It’s official: Manchester United are evil

Richard Lloyd Parry Asia Editor
Last updated July 21 2010 2:10PM

Organised religion faces many threats in the modern world, from the atheism of intellectuals such as Richard Dawkins to the permissive morals of Hollywood. Now, Muslim scholars in Malaysia have identified the latest menace to their faith – football shirts.
Senior clerics in the South-East Asian country have declared that the official shirts of some of the world’s most celebrated teams, including Barcelona and the national teams of Brazil and Portugal, must not be worn by Muslims, and have the power to “erode” religious faith.
Most objectionable of all is the Manchester United strip – because of the trident-wielding red devil which appears in the club’s crest.
“This is very dangerous,” the mufti of the state of Johor, Nooh Gadot, said. “As a Muslim, we should not worship the symbols of other religions or the devils. It will erode our belief in Islam. There is no reason why we as Muslims should wear such jerseys, either for sports or fashion reasons.”
According to Mr Nooh, even a Red Devils jersey given as a gift must be refused. He said: “It is even more sinful when people realise this is wrong and still buy these jerseys to wear. These Muslims should repent, repent immediately.”
South-East Asia makes little impact in international football competitions, but Malaysians, Thais and Indonesians are passionate football fans, with a particular fondness for the English Premier League.
A few years ago, the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, caused a controversy with a proposal to use taxpayers’ money to buy Liverpool FC. From 2007 to 2008, after being forced into exile by a military coup, he briefly owned Manchester City.
But the most popular club of all is Manchester United, which has official supporters’ clubs in several countries, including Malaysia, and an official merchandise shop in Kuala Lumpur.
Last summer, thousands of fans mobbed the team on its arrival in Kuala Lumpur, after they were forced to cancel an exhibition match in Indonesia because of a suicide bomb in the Jakarta hotel where they were to have stayed.
Several other strips, including those of Brazil, Portugal, Serbia, Barcelona and Norway, have been declared un-Islamic because they bear the image of the cross.
“Of course in Islam we don’t allow people to wear this sort of thing,” the mufti of the state of Perak, Harussani Zakaria, said. “Devils are our enemies. Why would you put their picture on you and wear it? You are only promoting the devil.”
Since its independence from Britain in 1963, Malaysia has avoided the religious conflicts that have caused bloodshed in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand.
But over the past few years there have been growing religious tensions between secular and conservative Muslims, and between the small majority of Malays – who by law are all Muslim – and the Chinese and Indian minorities, who are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh.
Earlier this year, there were arson attacks on churches after a row over the right of Christians to use the Malay word “Allah” to refer to their God.
Last year, a 32-year old mother was sentenced to caning for drinking a can of beer, and Muslim demonstrators outraged Hindu opinion by marching with the head of a dead cow, an animal sacred to Hinduism, to oppose the construction of a proposed temple.

Just confirms what was always believed...!

Mercedes SLS AMG

I saw this beautiful SLS outside Layali al Zaman, one of Abu Dhabi’s most famous shisha cafes. I had a quick chat to the owner (local of course!) who was very gracious as I drooled !



I was lucky to be at Yas Marina Circuit for an event, when Mercedes were doing their Middle East launch of the SLS. There must have been about 20 of these whizzing round the track.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Like living on a construction site!

As well as living right on the Al Salam Street tunnel roadworks project, they are now laying new sewage pipes in our area. Work on the sewage pipes starts about 6am right outside our bedroom window! The tunnel roadworks are 24/7 .... we love it as you can imagine!

....yours for the annual rent of £30k. Great.

Here's the view from our bedroom window......

Monday, July 19, 2010

Visit to Sowwah Island

I had cause today to visit Sowwah Island. This is where the main financial district of Abu Dhabi is being built. There will also be 5 star hotels and the Cleveland Clinic hospital.

This video shows the drive across the new bridge near Abu Dhabi mall, looking over to the right at the Marina on Al Reem Island, then left towards the Abu Dhabi Financial Centre and Stock Exchange.

Here are some pictures showing the Cleveland Clinic construction site with the ADFC in the background.





Things are moving on in Abu Dhabi, if a little slowly!

Emirati weddings

Here's an interesting blog about Emirati Weddings.

Thanks ultra[blue] .....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Burj Khalifa Dubai

I found this really good SlideShare Presentation on the Burj Khalifa:

Google Search results

We recently made a trip to Dubai and before we went Caz wanted to check exactly where a particular store was. So of course she went to the font of all knowledge, Google. Because we tend to be looking for local things we have our default search set to (UAE). Caz typed in “where to find....” and before she had completed the phrase it threw up some interesting suggestions. So now we can see what the majority of people in the UAE are looking for!

I show screenshots here, comparing with (thanks to Google I now know that Red Dead Redeption is some kind of video game!)



‘nuff said ......

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Late night activities

Not what you are thinking!

One good thing about being here is that things stay open late into the night. Groceries, laundry/dry cleaners, coffee shops etc.

So tonight when we got in after having dinner out I decided I could really do with my hair cutting. So at 10pm I went out. Right outside our apartment block I have a choice of 3 barber shops (or “Saloons” as they call them) clustered together. So for 20 Dhs (about £3.60) I got my hair cut followed by a 15 minute Indian head massage.

Here’s the result!


Yeah I know , I look like a yob and it looks like 3 quids worth!

Caroline had to go for a doctors visit to the hospital (all docs are in hospitals) about her back. While we were waiting for her to have an X-Ray taken I saw this poster that made me smile.....


No one ever seems to have translations proof read, so consequently you get a lot of errors.

While we were out in the car I took this picture.....note the time!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Iranian woman not to be stoned

Here is a really good piece in The Times today, by Ed Husain......


Why are male clerics so obsessed with controlling female sexuality? In an Iranian prison today, a Muslim mother in her forties, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, awaits her fate for the alleged crime of adultery. She has been in jail for five years, received 99 lashes and awaits the manner of her execution for the crime, now that the authorities say she will not be stoned to death.
I write as a human, Muslim, son, brother to sisters and proud father of two baby daughters. And nothing, nothing warrants a mob of men stoning women to death or lashing them. The vast majority of the world’s Muslims feel the same way. We know that as a fact because, from Indonesia in the Far East to Bosnia in Europe, Muslim-majority nations do not stone people to death for adultery. The Muslim consensus, or ijma in religious Arabic, therefore, is against such outmoded penal codes.
Sadly, in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Sudan this popular
ijma is rejected. They seek a reading of Sharia that is harsh, literalist and disregards human rights. And in that, they are supported by hardline male clerics who draw rulings from medieval textbooks that are defunct in the modern world. This clerical opposition to modernity stems from a crisis of scholarship within contemporary Islam, an institutional failure to understand religious text within a 21st-century context. That paralysis leads to clerical silence on Iran’s desire to stone or lash a woman accused of adultery.
When I meet leading Muslim scholars in private in Syria or Egypt, they readily admit that stoning and flogging belong firmly in the Muslim past, but dare not say as much in public lest they lose scholarly credentials among their more conservative peers. Muslim scholars see themselves as transmitters of a tradition rather than as agents of change. But for how much longer will Muslim clerics remain silent? Where is their compassion and humanity? Do our women not deserve better than living in fear of capricious male punishment?
One senior cleric who has broken ranks in Iran is none other than the grandson of the man who founded the “Islamic republic” in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini. His grandson, Ayatollah Hussein Khomeini, has in clear terms, within an Islamic framework, called on his grandfather’s followers to end floggings and stoning of adulterers. As humans, we are not sinless and perfect — as worldly, flawed beings it is not our duty be judge, jury and executioner on private aspects of people’s lives.
Once upon a time, Jews and Christians implemented Old Testament teachings from the Book of Leviticus, which also advocated stoning adulterers and flogging fornicators. But Jews and Christians understand those instructions within their historical milieu. And Islam adopted these teachings within our tradition. Fortunately most Muslims relegate these practices to history — illustrated by most Muslim-majority states not equating these teachings with state law today. The countries that do, however, shame us all.
Iran is home to an ancient civilisation, the proud owners of a rich Persian language and deep culture. Tabriz, where Ms Ashtiani is imprisoned for allegations of adultery, produced poets and dervishes who taught Europe about mysticism and joy of religion. Rumi — a 13th century poet whose work is a bestseller in the US today — was inspired and taught by the mystic Shams of Tabriz 700 years ago.
In the 11th century, Persia gave us the great Omar Khayyam who in his famed Rubaiyyat called for freedom, joy, love, wine-drinking, and, some say, hedonism. Victorian Englishmen found liberation in Khayyam’s poetry. What happened to that Iran?
In Iran today, the practice of mut’a, or temporary marriage, is legal and widespread. A man and woman can contract a marriage that can last for one day, or one year. Critics have lambasted these arrangements as glorified prostitution and demeaning to women. Iran’s clerics are renowned for not only authorising such fluidity in relationships, but luxuriating in such arrangements themselves; and often with more than one woman at any one time.
Ms Ashtiani has pleaded her innocence repeatedly and still been lashed and imprisoned. But she is not alone — seven other women are in a similar predicament in Iran today. According to the Iranian Embassy in London, Tehran says that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani will not be stoned. That is welcome news, but not enough. Ms Ashtiani and others deserve more — freedom, compensation, and a repeal of Iran’s penal laws.


As a fellow Muslim with huge respect for Iran’s past and admiration for its cultural and religious icons of Rumi, Hafez, and Sadi, I call on its leaders to live up to the teaching and spirit of the Prophet Muhammad. Be compassionate, merciful and loving: show the world that Iran was, and is, a civilised nation. Release Ms Ashtiani and change the laws. Let Muslim women be proud of their religion and heritage, and not live in fear of it.

Fatwa on vuvuzelas

Ah hah! A "fatwa" (religious legal ruling) that I can agree with!

The UAE's General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments has made a ruling (no.11625) that vuvuzelas are "Haram" (illegal under Sharia law) if they generate noise greater that 100 decibels and therefore can endanger the hearing of others.

One Arab entrepreneur has had to cancel his order of 10,000 vuvuzelas from a UK company for fear of being in breach of the fatwa. It seems that all the various vuvuzelas for sale in the UAE tested above 100 decibels.

So the UAE can be spared the onslaught of vuvuzelas - yippee!

Maybe Sharia Law in the UK wouldn't be such a bad thing...........

Last post for the horn of Africa

The National - News
09 Jul 2010

ABU DHABI // Three weeks ago, most people had never heard of the vuvuzela. Now, many wish they never had. For players and fans alike, the plastic trumpet, whose drone has been likened to a swarm of bees, has become the unmistakable background sound more...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Classic Abu Dhabi Parking Technique

Sorry about the picture quality, it was taken on my phone and was still adjusting to the humidity after leaving the apartment.....