Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Salam Street "ready by early 2012"

I love this sentence...

“What is perceived as delay in the project is in fact sequencing the delivery of the project phases to best fit the operational needs of the downtown infrastructure."

So, not a delay then? .... some doublespeak here I feel ! 

There is an error in the report though, saying that the work started in October 2007. It was definitely October 2008, because everything was untouched when we arrived.

Still - it is quite an engineering feat, and it will be great once it is open.

From today's The National.....

Utilities networks underground hold up Dh5 billion project

ABU DHABI // The Dh5 billion Salam Street reconstruction project will be completed early next year, according to the latest update by municipality officials.
The work, which includes a 3.1 kilometre tunnel between Mina Road and Al Falah Street, has been hampered by “dense underground utilities networks, as well as a large volume of vehicular traffic on a daily basis”.
The project to expand the road to more than double its original capacity began in October 2007 and was expected to take three years. Officials said in March it would be finished last month. The expected completion date is now the first quarter of 2012, the municipality says.
“What is perceived as delay in the project is in fact sequencing the delivery of the project phases to best fit the operational needs of the downtown infrastructure.
“Further, there have been various upgrades to the project’s scope of works to deliver a vehicular tunnel with advanced operating systems.” When the road is completed there will be no traffic signals between Sheikh Zayed Bridge and Mina Zayed.
Part of the new road has been in use for some time, although two lanes near the junction with 31st Street were temporarily closed to traffic in June.
Motorists said they had seen little progress on that stretch since then. “ There has been no improvement,” said Khalifa Al Hassani, who travels on Salam Street every day.
Inbound traffic is about 7,000 vehicles during morning hours and outbound traffic is about 5,600 vehicles, more than double the usage before construction began. The municipality estimates about 126,000 vehicles will eventually use the road each weekday.
Salam Street, continued on 2 “ The corridor provides four lanes in each direction with an additional capacity of about 8,000 vehicles per hour, per direction,” the official said.
“ This encourages drivers to use the corridor and shifts the traffic away from Muroor Road and Airport Road, which improves traffic operation and reduces congestion.” The final phase, which has most affected residents and local businesses, is from Hazza bin Zayed Street (11th Street, or Defence Road) to Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank on Mina Road.
Despite delays, officials say the project has not run over budget.
The completed urban expressway will have five tunnels and pedestrian walkways over the road.
The municipality said other traffic calming measures would be undertaken as part of infrastructure improvements across the city.
Plans include adding traffic lanes and optimising signal timings.
Additionally, the municipality plans to introduce 12 new junctions with signals “ to improve accessibility, connectivity and traffic circulation”.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Visit home and to Berlin

Back from a trip home and a wedding in Germany. The weather was great (dull and bit chilly in the UK, don't mind that - and c.26C and sunny in Berlin, perfect for a wedding). The time in the UK was the usual mix of catching up with friends and family, which was nice. We had a picnic with my family at Dunstable Downs, which was the first time for ages that the whole family was together. My two girls came with their respective boyfriends, so gave me the chance to "assess" them - they passed :-)

I thought Berlin was a lovely city. Very interesting with a nice mix of old and new. I was surprised by the lack of a queuing system for the taxis at Tegel airport, pretty much a free-for-all - not very "German" at all. The taxi driver we had was obviously very old school "Western". He was pretty p'd off that the West was paying for the development of the East, clearly iterated in his statement of "Fuck the East". Hmmmm....

Beautiful venue for the wedding reception - Tierpark, Berlin

Even the Pelicans enjoyed it...

Everyone, it seemed, at all times of the day and night had a beer in their hand in Berlin. Very "un-Abu Dhabi"! We had our dinner one night on the outside pavement of a small restaurant and drank wine in full view of the passing public (how shocking) - while in the next doorway stood a hooker touting for business! This was not some seedy backwater, but just in a regular touristy part of town. It was great just for a few days to be free from the shackles of an Islamic society and just enjoy a bit of western normality.

Here's a couple of photo albums...

Dunstable Downs
Trip to Berlin

Monday, August 8, 2011

High Rise Ramadan !

Dubai Burj Khalifa: Ramadan fast 'lasts longer high up'

Dubai skyline with Burj Khalifa tower at centreA drawback of the high-life?
Muslims living in the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, should fast longer during the Ramadan holy month, Dubai's leading clerics have said.
During Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to not eat or drink between dawn and dusk.
"Burj Khalifa is almost one km (0.6 miles) high, which means people in higher floors can still see the sun after it has set on the ground," Ahmed Abdul Aziz al-Haddad told Reuters.
He said they should break their fast two minutes after those on the ground.
Another Dubai cleric, Mohammed al-Qubaisi, has been quoted as saying that people living above the 80th floor should fast for an extra two minutes, while those on the 150th floor and higher should wait for three more minutes before eating or drinking.
The 828m- (2,716ft-) high Burj Khalifa has 160 floors and was opened in 2010.
The clerics say there are ancient precedents in Islamic law.
Mr Qubaisi said that under such rulings, people living on mountains should also break their fast after those at ground level.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Well gluttons for punishment, our new maid arrives from Sri Lanka on Friday. The saga of our last maid continued this week when I was asked to attend an arbitration meeting with Dubai Immigration after our last maid's embassy appealed my decision to report her as absconded. Laws regarding maids and sponsorship of staff in general leave you in a somewhat precarious position if the letter of the law is not abided by.

I agreed that our previous maid could be taken by her embassy to try and find her a new job, rather than being flown home. I agreed to this on the basis that the embassy would provide me with a letter confirming that they had taken full responsibility for her, within 48 hours. Whilst that would have given me some reassurance, it would not release me from my responsibility towards her as her sponsor. Therefore if she ran away, did something bad, died - I was still responsible for her or her actions. So, as after a week went by and still I had no letter from the embassy, I reported her as "absconded". I had never seen any ID proving that the guy she went with was in fact from the embassy. He could have been just her friend, or maybe a pimp - who knows. That's why I had to do what I did, to protect myself.

Having been reported as absconded, she would be deported when found and banned from working in the UAE for 1 year. It also absolved me of all responsibility for her. "Khalas". Finished. Done. Or so I thought...

Now this was done, we set about preparing the paperwork for our new maid. She was recommended to us by a family she has worked for for 2 years. She is a really nice girl from Sri Lanka who seems very conscientious and also has a bit of savvy about her. She will arrive early on Friday morning, having just had one months leave to go home a visit her family. We are pretty confident that things will work out fine with her and we will not have the same hassles again. Caz will be able to go back to her regular working hours, knowing that Milo.....remember :

..... will now have someone to look after him while we are at work / on leave etc.

Last Friday night at 10.30pm our doorbell rang, and I was presented with a letter "inviting" me to attend a meeting with Dubai Immigration, which of course I duly attended. Now, fair play to our ex-maid's embassy, they were doing their job well and managed to secure this meeting rather than her being deported straight away. The immigration officers listened to the story from both sides (her side including a whole string of lies - I especially loved the bit where Caz tried to kill her (she felt like it, but didn't actually try!)) Anyway, the upshot was that they seemed to fall for the sob story and allowed her one month to find another job - which I believe the embassy has found for her, so she is a very lucky lady and the embassy has played a blinder. Honestly, I'm not sure why they bothered asking me to go. I had no influence over the decision really, I was no longer her sponsor, so I held no sway at all. But, it is now finally over and when she has her new sponsor, at last I can get back my 2000 Dhs deposit held by immigration that all sponsors must pay.

So now, onto the next...... [desperately looking for wood to touch]