Sunday, December 30, 2012

UAE Driving Morons

There was a day recently when it rained heavily. Now to most people reading this, that is not news. In the UAE, it is! When it rains here, the roads are like Whacky Races on acid. So on that fateful day a few weeks ago, 3 people died and there were 630 crashes on the UAE's roads. A few days later there was an article in the newspaper in which they interviewed seven young Emirati drivers about their driving habits. Without naming them, here are some of the stunning quotes:-

No.1 Male, 25, drives a 2009 Blue Nissan GTR (Dh360,000) with turbo and filters. The turbo - which costs a further Dh50,000 - boosts the engine to 800 horsepower

"he doesn't race on public roads as much as he used to. If he did want to race, he says he would not take a passenger because he wouldn't want to be responsible for them if anything were to happen."
..but sod everyone else on the road eh?

"he tends not to text while he is driving - especially if his parents are with him." considerate.

No.2 Male, 23, drives a brand new BMW M5 (Dh600,000) - an exclusive sports car noted for its high performance and twin turbo engine

"He also drives fast, mostly out of habit. "Sometimes you need to drive fast, especially in the morning when you don't want to be late for work," he says."

...I cant believe he would ever be late for work

"His first car was a Hummer, but he found it boring and too slow. He also has a supercharged Toyota FJ Cruiser for his desert trips."
...poor chap, fancy only having a boring Hummer as your first car. Heart. Bleeds.

"says people look at and speak to him differently because he has M5"

...Really? hahahaha

"Being a fast driver, xxxxx says he gets about three speeding tickets a week. "Even though I'm a fast driver I don't have any accidents," he says. "Radars, I get every day.""
...those cameras really are a great deterrent aren't they? Not.

"He doesn't usually race against other cars because few other vehicles are up to the challenge. If it's a Ferrari, he might be tempted."

...this guy really does have a very small penis doesn't he?

No.3 Male, 25, drives an FJ Cruiser (Dh140,000) tweaked for off-road travel.

""When a person drives it reflects his personality and manners, and I suppose I should show that when driving," he says. "Driving is not a game, I should be responsible for the lives on the road." last! a sensible person!

No.4 Male, 29, has his own property company and a collection of cars. He has a red Ferrari, a black Mercedes G55 (Dh575,000), both with special licence-plate numbers. He also has a BMW 750 series, a BMW X5, a Cadillac CTS and a Smart car. These he counts as his personal vehicles, with the G55 his favourite. For family trips he takes either a Land Cruiser or a Cadillac Escalade.

...has lots of wonga!

"says even though he is a car lover and collector, he no longer races on public roads after he had a terrible accident seven years ago."
...well i guess thats an improvement

"The fastest he has driven was 328kph in his cousin's Porsche GT3 a few years ago"

... err that's 203 Mph folks...on a public road!

"wears his seatbelt only on main roads - because those are the only places he would speed."
...apparently injuries only occur when you are speeding

No.5 Female, 21, an international affairs student, drives a white Range Rover Sport (Dh280,000). Her first car was a small Mercedes and she wasn't very comfortable in it as she prefers 4x4s.

...oh bless her, she wasn't comfortable in her first Mercedes - she needed a £50k Range Rover!

"admits she has been driving a little faster to get to her destination - but she always wears her seatbelt."
...well thats a good start.

No.6, Female, 22, has been driving a red Mercedes SLK 200 (our estimate: Dh180,000) for the past three years. The car was a gift from her father and not the model she would have chosen for herself. "It wasn't easy driving this car because of its small size," she says. "But it is fun once you get used to it."

...spoilt per chance?

'She says that even though she is always speeding, she doesn't bother other drivers.'
...well thats ok then!

"If I'm in a hurry I would overtake people or drive in the emergency lane," she says. "But I don't force people to change their lane." jolly considerate!!!

"She admits to texting while driving and speeding, but she said she doesn't usually get many tickets."
...I don't think the cameras reach the emergency lane.

"I have no idea why I speed," she says. "Sometimes I just like hearing the engine."
...I like the engine sound I do....she loves blinking too.

No.7 (saving the best til last!), Female, has been driving a white BMW 320 (Dh210,000) for about two years. She got the sports car because she thinks it reflects her personality; calm yet rapid.


"has been driving since 2006 and says she knows the rules and is safe on the road. "I've got to a level where I know how to control my car and myself," she says. "I can text, while eating, and still be able to drive well.""

...need I say more???

"She enjoys driving fast because it is a stress reliever for her."Sometimes I feel bottled up, and I don't know who talk to. That is how I let go of stress," she says."

...I'm sure she has such a stressful life...

'Most months, she gets about five speeding tickets but in some she doesn't get any.'

...those are the months she is on holiday in Monaco, Miami, Rome, The Maldives or St Kitts

...there is no hope...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Abu Dhabi Health and Safety

A classic example snapped by Caz today...apparently about 30 feet up ! By all accounts he got bored with holding the ladder too, while he had a fag!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Salam Street tunnel finally open!

Well, it's been a long time coming, but it's finally open. Work on the tunnel started in 2008 and I never actually thought we would still be here when it opened, but here we are - still here! The full story from the paper on the opening is below.....

Also below are some links to previous posts of mine relating to Salam Street, some about the tunnel project, including a couple of video clips.

We lived amongst the noise of this project for about 18 months and was one of the reasons for moving out of the city 2 years ago. The picture below shows the two flats we had, when we moved from one to the other, from Mina Road, to Salam Street - both right on the tunnel project construction.

You can clearly see the construction going on - it was a source of noise, congestion and frustration for a long time! The traffic in the city got very congested as people had to find other routes in and out and roads were diverted.

The picture below shows the location of our second flat with one section of the now completed tunnel.

Silvia Razgova/The National

The traffic is much better and it does provide a really good link into and out of the centre of the city. It is quite a feat of engineering and is a great addition to the transport network.

Monday, December 3, 2012

41st National Day

Well National Day came and went again, the 5th time for us! It included all the usual craziness....

Good stuff , like this:

...and really stupid stuff like this (a small child) :

Friday, November 30, 2012

Work emails that make you smile

Here is a classic. I just had to share this one. This is a short email trail from my work yesterday. Names have been omitted to protect the retarded.

    From:J    Sent: 11/29/2012 01:10 PM ZE4    To: 
    Subject: Warning from Health and safety authority. No cat food inside the facility.

Hi all,
Please stop immediately to provide foods for cats as we are being warned by the health and safety officials. 
The official has pointed out that this is attracting large number of cats inside our warehouse which creates a great risk for forklift drivers, cats are bouncing out of pallets in the morning as soon as reachtruck starts its operation. 
Thanks for your cooperation. 

Thanks and regards 

Bouncing? Bouncing??! Do cats bounce??

First reply....
 Subject: Re: Warning from Health and safety authority. No cat food inside the facility.

Hi J,
Thanks for that update.
Next time the "Health & Safety" officials are here, could you ask them to check the fire escape from the upstairs office.
I am sure that  would be a much more pressing matter for them. 

Best regards 

Second reply ....

Subject: Re: Warning from Health and safety authority. No cat food inside the facility.

Agree but maybe if we give the cats hard hats and high viz jackets then it may be acceptable as they will be easier to be seen??


Oh how it brightened my day ..... :-)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yas 10K Run

Well like a mad fool I entered myself for the 10K run round the Yas Marina Circuit, which took place on Saturday. The event was raising money for Operation Smile so I figured it was worthwhile even if I didn't finish! A couple of weeks ago though, I did manage to complete 10K around the circuit at one of the Train Yas nights , although I did walk for about 4-5 minutes after 8k. So, I kind of thought that at least I could complete the race.

Some of our friends had also said they were going to register, but bottled it (!), leaving myself and our friend Amanda to run together.

I started off well and was banging in 6, or sub 6 minute kilometres ....and then we started lap two. Lap two sent us down the pit lane and up the pit re-entry tunnel. The "down" bit was fine, but then there was an "up" bit which nearly bloody killed me. Still, I resisted the urge to walk and carried on running, but from there my times were never as good. 

So, my final time was 1:02:40, which I was pretty chuffed with for my first 10K race. Stats below....

Because Caz is pretty crap with a camera (no she really is lol) this is the only shot we have of me approaching the finish line...

Me and Amanda after....looking suitably knackered!

And then finally back home....

Well, I think i have started something now! I am actually starting to look at other 10K events next year and in September last year there was an indoor 20K, which if they repeat, might be a goal for next year! my darling eldest daughter said ... "who is this person, and what have they done with my Buddha father! "

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jessica's Graduation

I went home for a long weekend last week to attend Jessica's graduation. It also gave me a chance to see Alice and Alfie again. It was a short but sweet weekend, also fitting in a visit to my parents on the way up to Coventry.

Alfie is such a cute baby (and yeah I know I would say that!) and I'm so proud of what a great mum Alice is, and Josh her boyfriend is also a great dad.

He is quite a giggler now as you can see below.... :-)

Jessica's graduation was held at Coventry Cathedral which is a great venue for it. She looked lovely and was my second cause for feeling proud! 

Jess and her boyfriend Greg.

Here's a quick clip of the ceremony.....

All of us after the ceremony....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Me and my monkey !

There was one of the best news stories ever in one of the local papers this week. Aside from the sad fact that someone actually died, it is one of the funniest stories I have seen! You just have to read the comments left online too...made me crease up!

Here's the story...

Love rival killed by man walking monkey

A drugged-up man who was enjoying a walk in Dubai with his pet primate attacked his neighbour, poured sand in his mouth and left him for dead after a row over a woman.
The 31-year-old Emirati appeared before Dubai Court of First Instance on Tuesday where he admitted a charge of assault leading to death.
He told the court he was walking his monkey past his neighbour’s house in Al Rashidiya when the man came out and the duo started rowing about a barmaid. 
“He told me to stay away from his girlfriend, who works at a bar,” the defendant stated in official records. 
The defendant said the neighbour then challenged him to a fight so they headed to a deserted area. He tethered his pet monkey and the men started brawling. 
“He attacked me with a razor, then he threw sand into my face and poked me in the eye,” the Emirati defendant said. “I punched him in the face and kicked him until he fell down. Then I bit his nose and put some sand into his mouth.” 
The attacker said he stopped the assault when he realised the man was having difficulty breathing. The defendant added: “He asked me for some water so I went to a nearby house and got some. I returned and noticed his condition was getting worse so I took my monkey and returned home.” 
He claims he told his brother what happened and he then called the victim’s brother. Emergency services were called to the scene but the man was already dead. 
The victim died from head injuries and internal bleeding. The defendant confessed to attacking him while under the influence of illegal painkillers.
Here's the story online - you have to read the comments ! :-) 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Abu Dhabi F1 Weekend

We have just had a great weekend with my brother, Steve and his wife, Dora, who came over for the F1 weekend. Steve has been before, to the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but it was a first visit for Dora. So, inevitably, we did some of the tourist visits again. I actually like showing people around and don't really get tired of seeing some of the best sights, like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque below....

On Friday we spent a day in Dubai. We hit a couple of malls, they went to "At the Top" at Burj Khalifa, we went to the old Spice Souq and Gold Souq and in the afternoon we spent some time at "The Walk" by Jumeirah Beach. We saw this nice "Cobra" car....

We stopped at Bob's Easy Diner for lunch......

....I was a bit worried about what Walter was doing with his wife on the beach though - you can get arrested for that out here!

I was also a bit worried when they brought these out......

...but (phew) they were for the sticky Buffalo Wings!

Dora and Caz went to a spa on Saturday while me and Steve went to the track. And then Sunday was F1 race day. For once the Abu dhabi GP was a really interesting and exciting race, with lots of incident.  Before it has been a fairly boring "parade", so it was a nice change.

....gotta love the Safety Car!

Jenson Button......

Lewis Hamilton...

Hamilton getting pole in Qualifying....

...and a quick video clip showing the first lap and last lap from our position in the North Grandstand. The leading four on the final lap were all World Championship winners: Raikkonen , Alonso, Vettel and Button.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sand storm in Abu Dhabi

A sand storm whipped up out of nowhere today, these are usually caused by "Shamal" winds coming over from Iraq, KSA or Kuwait. It brought the visibility down pretty low in some parts. I took a couple of pics and a short video to show you.

And a great video caught here by Matthew Smith of The National...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sesame Street Day

My day today was brought to me by the number 5 and the letters OMG!

I got confirmation today that I have won a $5M deal that  have been working on. Had a Gareth Cheeseman moment...

Then tonight I beat my personal best by running the entire lap at the Yas Marina Circuit (5.5KM) . Now, I have not run that kind of distance in over 20 years, so I feel suitably chuffed with one's self, one might say! So in my "couch to 5K" programme I have reached the 5K nearly two weeks early. Thinking about 5k-10k next. Hmmm. Dunno yet.....

Here's the stats of tonights run...

Made me smile....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2 days in Riyadh

I had a short business trip this week to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Riyadh to be more precise. I had heard lots of horror stories about Riyadh and everyone commiserating with me over my trip etc., but honestly I didn't think it was too bad. Obviously, as with anywhere, it is different visiting rather than living somewhere, but as a trip it was ok.

I had been told that for my first visit, it could take ages to get through Immigration in Riyadh. It is infamous for long queues and they have to take finger prints, thumb prints, inside leg measurement and anal swabs (actually, with the number of Saudi homosexuals I wouldn't have been surprised by the last one, but prints were good enough). I think i just got lucky, 'cos I was through in about 20 minutes.

They did make you feel really at ease with the landing card mind you ...

... good job I left my Anadin at home.

Riyadh is a very large city with somewhere around 5 million. It is the capital of KSA and houses all the major government ministries. I had meetings in the two most prominent towers in Riyadh...

...The Kingdom Tower

... and the Al Faisaliyah Tower

I know there are folks that read my blog that will appreciate this, but if you are not in the cabling/networking industry, go and make a cup of tea at this point....

Just across from my hotel there was a "souq" - market - of electrical shops. Within about 100 feet I found shops selling SYSTIMAX, Belden, 3M, R&M as well as the usual Chinese crap I expected to find (including some Excel by the way guys!)

Here's some of the shop signage....

This one was particularly well stocked!

So the trip wasn't so bad, but not an attractive place at all. Maybe I will need to go back at some point, but until then, Abu Dhabi will do me just fine!

... these did make me smile on the way back to the airport...

The worst Immigration problem I faced was back in Dubai (T2) where I had to join the queues from hell and it took me an hour just to get through Immigration - jeesh! And then I got Mr Sleepy taxi driver from hell to take me home. He was literally, constantly, on the point of falling asleep! He was veering all over the road. Without asking, he stopped at a garage to get coffee (I wasn't going to stop him!) and then continued. I usually keep my seatbelt well and truly fastened in UAE taxis, but for this guy I felt I needed to be at the ready to dive forward and grab the steering wheel if necessary! Fortunately, as this blog would suggest, I got home safe!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Abu Dhabi Big Band at Abu Dhabi Film Festival Opening Night

On Thursday night we played a gig at the Emirates Palace for the opening night of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. The EP had a pretty tight security lock down for the evening, as there were various Sheikhs in attendance along with a Mr Richard Geer! As a result we were not allowed to drive ourselves in to the place, but had to meet a bus at Marina Mall to bus us into the tradesman's entrance - how undignified!

When we got there we were taken through the bowels of the hotel to our 'green room" , which was beside the auditorium and appeared to be a ballet rehearsal room. On the way I saw a couple of interesting signs....

...well I guess the least they can do is give him his own lift!

...if in doubt, read the instructions!

...I thought about practicing my Plié and Retiré Devant, but didn't want to scare anyone with my bare legs....

While the opening night film was showing (Arbitrage starring Richard Geer) , we went out for our sound check. The back of the EP had been transformed into a very posh garden party venue, which looked amazing.


After sound check and before our set, they took us back inside for some food, where we experienced the usual EP hospitality with a lovely buffet spread, which I have to say is probably the best gig food I have ever had!....

The gig went really well, with some great comments afterwards. There was a small press piece on The National's blog of the event which you can read here. Basically - a good time was has by all. 

However, we knew he was there, but there was no sighting of the Lesser Spotted Dick !

 The National

 (I'm top right, but obscured by a Bass Trombone!) :-)