Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chocolate Biscuit Wars!

I am in deeeeep trouble!

Did I come in very very late? - no

Did I forget her birthday? - no

Did I spill something on the rug? - no

So what was my crime??

..... I ate 4 of her chocolate biscuits!

OMG you would have thought I was Attila the hun! It was 4 biscuits!

....although it did come on top of me eating her chocolate last week! .... this was even worse!

So a quick tip for all you guys with ladies at home......

Unless you want a huge ear bashing, if they have anything with chocolate in/on/flavoured/next to/in the same room - do not under any circumstances eat it!!

This is a community service announcement offered by the Society for the Protection of Endangered Husbands

Monday, September 27, 2010

Housing Hamster Wheel!

OMG we are on the move again!! Aaagghhhh! This will be the 5th property we have lived in (4 here) in less than 2.5 years!

The full reasons for this will be revealed in the fullness of time, but basically we can get a 5 bed villa with a small pool for not much more than we are paying now. Whilst this does put us back out in a desert community, it is one that has a nice feel to it and will not be isolated like Khalifa City or Mohammed bin Zayed City, where we were when we first moved here. The development is largely expat owned and nearly 100% expat populated. We already know a few people that are either already there or are planning to move there. It will be really nice, finally, to have some useable outside space for relaxing or hosting BBQs etc. - just normal stuff like we would do at home that we have missed here to date. So if you know us here, expect an invite when we move in!

It does mean of course that we are once again going through the rigmarole of meeting with agents/developers, agreeing rental pricing, how many cheques they want (many still want the full years rental up front here - some accept 2 cheques. In Dubai now, it is common to give 12 cheques - such a different market there) etc etc. We just want to get the whole discussion done with and agreed, so we can then move on to stage B - raising cheques and signing contracts etc. Stage 3 will be organising removals and then transferring utilities/phone services - this can be a whole new set of issues and roadblocks!

We must be mad! ..........

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Antenatal Classes in Abu Dhabi

If you know anyone who is expecting a baby and looking for antenatal classes in Abu Dhabi, take a look at


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Al Manarat, Guggenheim

On Saadiyat Island there is a visitor’s centre called Al Manarat. It’s a project I was involved in at the construction phase so I have been following it’s progress for some time. There is a really good exhibition showing what is going to come on Saadiyat Island. It’s really quite interesting and worth a visit if you haven’t been. I wanted to see the large replica of the Guggenheim museum that is coming to the cultural district of the Island, along with The Louvre, Sheikh Zayed National Museum, Maritime Museum and Performing Arts Centre.

The Cultural District will be a really exciting, vibrant part of the city and I am watching it develop with interest.

These are my pictures of the model taken today. (I believe they are dismantling it today to take it to some other unannounced venue)






Friday, September 17, 2010

Trip to Damascus Video

Trip to Damascus

It’s been a manic week at work so not had chance to blog this until now. We had a good visit to Damascus for the Eid holiday.

We stayed right in the heart of the old walled city, which from the rest of the country has a higher population of Christians. It was an interesting contrast to the UAE as there was a strong mix of religion and cultures. We heard the Friday sermon and prayer calls from the mosque and the church bells on Sunday.

This is a picture across the city from the roof our our hotel. A nice juxtaposition of the Mosques and Churches.


The city used to have a city wall with 8 gates. The gates are still in place but most of the wall is destroyed. There is one part between Bab Touma and Bab al Salam. On this stretch you can see that houses have been built into and on top of the wall over the years. This guy has made an interesting entry point!


One of the other gates is Bab Kisan, which is renowned as being the location where St Paul was lowered in a basket to avoid a baying mob whom he had upset with his preaching.


There were some interesting souqs, the main one being Al Hamidiyeh - which I have to say most sold a load of tat, but did have a shop selling really nice ice creams! The place was absolutely heaving which made our passage through somewhat tiresome. There were hoards of kids about in groups, most of whom it would appear had never seen a white/blonde girl (caz) in real life - given their staring and adolescent drooling!



The more interesting souq we wanted to look at, Madhat Pasha, was close for Eid. The very few shops that were open gave us the impression they would have more art/antiques/crafts etc. The architecture of these souq is interesting, with the holes in the roof creating nice shafts of light pouring in. I am told by a Syrian friend that these holes are the result of firing from a previous French invasion!


Within the city there were some great tight little street to explore, like warrens running though the whole place. Every now and again you would stumble across what looked like a nice restaurant and hotel tucked right out of the way.


The Umayyad Mosque was very nice (can’t believe we came from Abu dhabi and visited a mosque!) - it is described as the first monumental work of architecture in Islamic history. After Mecca, it was a central gathering point for Muslims. Inside it didn’t seem to have the same reverence as you find at the Zayed Mosque in Abu dhabi. Kids were running around inside causing mayhem (they seemed to play a game of “who can get past the security man with a stick” at the entrances!) and it seemed to be used mainly for people to escape the heat and sleep!



There were various remnants of Roman rule, including this Roman arch.


There seemed to be lots of old cars around; American, French, Italian. This old Citroen (I think) caught my eye, as well as the Fiat Mirafiori which is the same as the one I learnt to drive in 26 years ago - even the colour. (for anyone that knows him, it was Stuart Wards’ car - but actually was a Super Mirafiori, woo hoo).



This sign got my attention too - not something you see in Abu Dhabi very often


While out and about one morning we stopped at a local coffee shop. This was the english side of the menu. Highlighted are a few interesting selection!


So, I thought “in for a penny, in for a pound” - I’ll order them! So here is my fried sheep’s testicles (chopped with about 6 chips) and the sheep’s brain fatteh, which is basically a yoghurt over the meat. The testicles had the texture of tofu about them, but didn’t taste unpleasant and the brains were just a slimy mush really, that didn’t actually taste of anything, only yoghurt. I think this will be a once in a lifetime selection, if out of choice!


On our final night there were took a trip up the Qasiyoun mountain, where there are coffee shops and foodstall and you can see down over the city. Again it was packed, it is a very popular destination. It is cooler up there and has some nice views. I didn’t have my proper tripod or remote, so I wasn’t especially happy wiht the picture result, but you get the idea. Pretty much all the green bits you can see are mosques.


All in all, we enjoyed the trip, but we did come home exhausted from all the walking. If we had more time I would have liked to explore more of Syria, maybe another time. Although I think I would like to do Lebanon next - I have plenty of would-be tour guides amongst my customers who hail from there and of course believe it is the nicest place on earth!

My full album of pictures can be found here :-

Trip to Damascus, Syria

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Travel to Syria

Tomorrow we travel to Damascus. I will wear my sunglasses in case of bright lights, voices from the sky and blindness.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

End of Ramadan

Ramadan is coming to an end. At the approach of Ramadan, it can be viewed by non-Muslims as a bit of a nuisance - all the restrictions, lack of places to get lunch etc. But actually, I haven’t found it quite so difficult this year, maybe I’m just getting used to it. Mostly you are busy with work, so the time passes quickly and before you know it, it’s Iftar time and you are allowed to eat and drink again.

The government departments and companies started their Eid holiday today. Officially, it has been announced that Eid will begin on Friday - so therefore tomorrow is the last day of Ramadan (for those that don’t know, Ramadan is the name of the month we are in, in the Islamic calendar).

Since the start of Ramadan I have been meaning to take some pictures of the lights along the Corniche. Lights go up for various celebrations through the year and they do look very nice. Finally, tonight I managed to get some!

Friday we fly to Damascus, Syria, for two nights which we are really looking forward to. Should be lots more photo ops.!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Building Fire Hazards

I went past this building today that was on fire last week (I think it was last week).....


Thankfully, no one was killed.... this time. There are many of these old buildings around the city. They have no sprinkler systems, do not meet any kind fire safety regulations and are a total liability. The people who live in these buildings really do not have any choice, because they will be the only type of building that they could afford to live in. There must be 1000s and 1000s of people who are risking their lives whenever they go home. People have died in similar fires over the years and more will die in the future. This should be a priority for the government. Instead of building more and more office space which they will never attract enough businesses to fill (not just my opinion - comes from numerous sources well connected in the commercial real estate business), they should build some quality housing for the masses of workers in the (mainly) services industries who live like this in the city (construction workers generally live outside the city in workers camps, which thankfully are improving - so I will give the government credit for that).

Saturday, September 4, 2010



We took a trip yesterday to Dragonmart in Dubai. This is a mall that is full of Chinese trading companies selling everything from mobiles, to sofas, to industrial compressors! The mall has been built so that from above it looks like a Chinese dragon....


There were some really good bargains there, especially in the furniture section. Curtains can be made really cheaply too. The only things I bought were a couple of audio cables (£1 each) and a wireless mouse (£5).

I did have to smile at these two stores next to each other.......



Well it was a good warm up for our trip to China in October... more about that later......