Wednesday, March 30, 2011

India v Pakistan

The UAE might as well stand for the United Asian Emirates as Asians make up the vast majority of the population. Today however businesses were quiet this afternoon, the roads were empty and the evening rush hour was subdued. This was due to a massive cricket match in the lives of Indian and Pakistani cricket fans. They were (and still are as I write) playing each other in the world cup semi-finals.

This is the first time Pakistan have played India on Indian soil since the bombing in Mumbai. It has caused a security nightmare, but the Indian President was gracious enough to invite the Pakistani President to watch the match.

The WSJ considers this rivalry the No.1 rivalry in global sports !

A lot of my customers are businesses managed and staffed mainly by Indians, so I thought I would invite some of them out for the afternoon to watch the game. We went to a hotel sports bar which was absolutely ram packed with 90% Indians and about 10% Pakistanis. I left at the end of the Indian innings, when most of the customers wanted to go home and watch the rest,  and at this point things were fairly amicable between them - I'm not sure if it will stay like that if India lose mind you! - so just as well I left!

The couple of videos attached will give you an idea of the atmosphere and the passion these people have for their game and country. Sorry about the quality, there was very low light and they are just off my phone.

As I write, Pakistan are behind the run rate, but have wickets in hand.... we will see!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

'aint no flies on us...

One of the downsides of living in a desert community, is the abundance of flies! We seem to go through phases when they are worse than at other times, but now they are bad! We have a flytrap which is pretty full right now - we need to get some more.

If you are squeamish look away now!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Visit to Kuala Lumpur & Singapore

We took a 5 day/4 night break last week with Singapore Airways. It was a long way to go for 4 nights, but I guess it was no different from when we did New York for New Year from the UK.

We flew into Singapore and then transferred to KL. We stayed at the Renaissance in KL which was a really nice hotel with a great location in downtown KL. Our room looked out onto KL Tower and the hotel  was also close by the Petronas Towers. The first night we just went for a wander and ended up in China Town and the market at Petaling Street.

The next day we had booked a guided tour. We were expecting to be picked up at the hotel by a coach and move around in a group, but in fact we were picked up by a guide in his car - so we had a nice personalised trip. Our guide took us first of all to the Batu Caves which were established as a temple by the first Indians brought to the country by the Brits as workers on the plantations and construction (has a familiar ring to it from the UAE!).

Our guide showed us some interesting things on our travels, like sampling the infamous, smelly Durian fruit, pulling rubber from a rubber tree and meeting a Malay family living in a traditional wooden dwelling.

We also visited an elephant sanctuary at Kuala Ghandah , were we got to feed and ride on the elephants.

That evening we had dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top of KL tower, which gave some fantastic views across the city, including the Petronas Towers.

Next morning we flew to Singapore. Here we stayed at the Pan Pacific Orchard Hotel - again another really nice hotel. It was Caroline's birthday on this day and we ate at a nice restaurant called PS Cafe nearby the hotel.

The next day we walked around parts of the city and took in many of the sights and we also took a "flight" on the Singapore Flyer (just like the London Eye). From here we got some great views across the city.

In the afternoon we went across to Sentosa Island which is home to many resorts, Universal Studios and other attractions. We took a cable car ride which Caz hated, but I quite enjoyed!

All in all we had a really nice time, but just wished we had longer to stay - especially in Singapore where there really is lots to do.

... good excuse to go back one day though!

Here's the pic albums...

Trip to Kuala Lumpur

Trip to Singapore

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A great blogsphere moment!

Last week I received a comment on one of my postings about Al Reef villas...

Hey Neil, love the blog. I am in the process of moving to Abu Dhabi and have been recommended Al Reef as a place to live. So, would be great to have a chat sometime to get your thoughts.

Best wishes,
Simon Warr (!!!)

Now to me, this was absolutely amazing! The reason was that this Mr Simon Warr was a good friend of mine all through secondary school (high school) and I haven't actually seen him in about 25 years! When Simon went off to university I started my working career and somehow we never managed to stay in touch. 

Simon (Left) and me (right) - during our school years

...and today...(who's been eating all the pies?!)

We did swap a few emails about 3-4 years ago before we moved out here. He was living in Greenwich, not too far from where we were, but didn't get chance to hook up before he again moved to Oxfordshire. So to receive this communication was brilliant. We have spent the last week in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (more on that to come), but having contacted Simon after his posting, I arranged to meet him today. It was so good to catch up with him and introduce him to Caz. He has taken up a post with one of the government companies and considering options for where to live - that is how he found my blog when he Googled "Al Reef". We were able to show him around and talk about life here in Abu Dhabi. Simon is pretty well travelled and has worked in a few other countries, so I am sure he will take it all in his stride. 

Wherever he and his family choose to live, it won't be far from us, so I am looking forward to re-establishing our friendship and not losing touch again. 

Masdar City visit

Last weekend we decided to take a look at Masdar City, which is now partially open to the public. The only finished part of Masdar currently is the first phase of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), which is a UAE collaboration with MIT. As part of the zero carbon target for Masdar they are allowing no cars into the campus, so you have to park up your car and take the Personal Rapid Transit system. The original idea was that this transport system would cover the whole development with over 1000 "stops" - but I believe they have realised this is going to be impossible and have scrapped the plans. Shame, I think getting around like The Jetsons would be cool! Below is a video clip I took of our journey.

The public area that is open at the moment is in the middle of MIST. There's not much there, but the architecture is interesting.  There is a coffee shop, a sushi bar and an "Organic Foods and Cafe" - without the cafe.

Here's a few pics...

The wind tower in the courtyard

Narrow pathways to bring shade. Solar panels on top.

No cafe!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Walking competition prize - a car!

Without a hint of irony, a competition in Dubai to encourage walking offer the 1st prize winner a car!

Walking competition rewards winners with cars

Last Updated: Mar 4, 2011
DUBAI // The winners of a Dubai contest to encourage people to walk more will be rewarded with… a car.
The Yallah Walk campaign, which starts tomorrow, will award those who walk the furthest distance over the next two weeks at walking tracks in five of the emirate's parks.
There are 12,000 prizes up for grabs, including LCD televisions, BlackBerries, PlayStations, iPads, iPods and four annual memberships to Fitness First gym.
Some 40,000 items will also be given away at the participating parks, such as toys, T-shirts and baseball caps.
But the grand prize, to be awarded to the man and woman who log the most kilometres, is a car. The make and model of the car have not yet been confirmed because organisers are still in talks with various sponsors.
The prizes were announced yesterday by Obaid Salem Al Shamsi, assistant director general of Dubai Municipality, at an event in Zabeel Park, the site of one of the walking tracks.
"This will be one of our most prominent projects," said Mr Al Shamsi, "because it is open to all nationalities and age groups."
Registration opened on March 1 and will continue until March 6 on or at participating parks.
After registering, participants are given a badge and a wristband with a barcode that must be scanned at the start and end of each track. This will calculate the distance walked by each participant electronically. A supervisor will be stationed at each scanning stations to ensure walkers do not cheat.
Registered walkers will be able to log on to the website to check how many kilometres they have logged.