Wednesday, May 31, 2006


What is it with this obsession in Dubai of digging holes?

Finish a project, lay the footpath, get the landscaping done, wait until it all settles down, the grass is green, the flowers are in bloom – then surround it with plastic cones, plastic netting and dig it all up. Add piles of sand to the red and white plastic eyesore already in place to make it look really, really ugly – then go away and leave it.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pigs fuelled & ready for take-off...

An 'oh that's alright then' story from 6Days:

Shooting ‘an accident’

Published on: Tuesday, 30th May, 2006

The teenager accused of shooting at a man who told him off did so by accident, according to a source close to the family. Gulzar Zain claims the 19-year-old Briton shot at his car with an air rifle after he told off the teen for driving recklessly near Safa Park. But a family friend told 7DAYS last night there had been no confrontation, and that the shooting was an accident.
“They were shooting at tin cans,” he said. “One went through the can… this guy was driving by and the pellet hit his rear passenger window.” The man claims the teenager offered to pay for the damage, but that Zain “went crazy” and insisted on calling the police. But Zain insisted last night that the shooting was deliberate.
He said he had spoken to the teenager several times over the previous few days about his behaviour, but admitted that he hadn’t spoken to him on Thursday, the day of the shooting incident. It’s understood the teenager was in Dubai on holiday, and had planned to leave in the next few days. He is currently out on bail. “He’s a really nice kid,” said the source.

A classic line that's worth repeating...“They were shooting at tin cans,” he said. “One went through the can… this guy was driving by and the pellet hit his rear passenger window.”
An air-gun pellet went right through a tin can, carried on its trajectory, didn't lose velocity, punched a hole in the window of a passing car. Yeah, right.

Monday, May 29, 2006

In Dubai, shooting at people is 'normal'?

According to Gulf News today:

Dubai police refuse to confirm whether British boy is in custody

Staff Report

Dubai: Dubai police sources refused to confirm or deny until late last night whether or not the British boy who was believed to be drunk when he used his airgun against the 35-year-old Pakistani gardener, Gulzar Hussain, was detained in police custody.

Meanwhile, sources did not confirm whether the case has been referred to the public prosecution as yet.
A senior police official confirmed to Gulf News that it is unlikely for the police to detain a suspect for such 'very normal incidents'. He criticised some of the newspapers for overplaying and publishing splashy news describing the incident as an 'ordinary misunderstanding'.

Hussain said it took the police about five hours to convince the Briton to hand over his airgun.

This one is a bit strange.
First, its by-line is 'Staff Report', which is what they use when they reprint press releases word-for-word.
Second, the other papers' updates on the incident have nothing about a shooting being called a 'normal incident' or 'ordinary misunderstanding'.
Third, the 'senior police official' is anonymous.

Hmmmm...if indeed a 'senior police official' commented on the incident, let's hope that he was misquoted.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Aussie, the grog & the snake.

I received this from an Aussie friend and had to pass it on.
Another couple of Aussies, a few cold ones, a deadly snake...not the best combination.

Friday, May 26, 2006

You couldn't make it up...

We laugh about the reports in The Dusty City dailies, but this one from today's Sydney Morning Herald takes some beating:

Convicted rapist said he was sleepwalking

A man who claimed he was sleepwalking when he had sex with a woman has been convicted of rape.
Darryl Kenneth Lotz, 35, a mechanical supervisor of Toowoomba, pleaded not guilty in the Queensland District Court to raping a woman, who cannot be named, as she slept in bed with her boyfriend on September 1, 2002.

Today, a jury of four women and eight men found him guilty after a day's deliberation.
Judge Nick Samios sentenced Lotz to five years jail with no recommendation for early release.
He said he believed Lotz's claim that he had no memory of the rape had more to do with drunkenness than sleepwalking.
"In my opinion, if you have no recall it is only because of self-induced intoxication," Justice Samios said. "You made a conscious choice to do those acts ..."

The defence had argued Lotz had no idea how he got into the bed.

His counsel called psychiatrists who testified it was possible for sexual activity to occur during sleep and that sleep apnea could trigger it.
Lotz suffered from the sleep disorder, and had once urinated while standing in his sleep, the court was told.

But the prosecution said Lotz had, in an opportunistic way, drunkenly "tried to get lucky".
On the night of the rape, Lotz had been out drinking with a friend and the friend's girlfriend. They were all staying at the friend's house on Brisbane's northside. Lotz entered the couple's bedroom, climbed in between them in their double bed, and began having sex with the woman from behind, the court was told. When she heard someone snoring she turned around and realised it was not her boyfriend who was having sex with her.


Unilever Streets ice cream/Flora margerine. Etisalat

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sobering stuff

A first for me, to reprint another blogger's writing, but I thought this warranted it. Lucy Widaad is worth a visit at Palestinian Princess

Friday, April 28, 2006
Patriotism - A Double Edged Sword

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of warreached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has 'closed', the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto the leader and gladly so.

How do I know? For this is what I have done. AND I AM CAESAR."

- Julius Caesar -

As I read this quote I couldn't help but think about Israel and American tactics to convince their people that their actions are justified. Patriotism, is a double edged sword. I am proud to be Palestinian but not at the expense of lives lost, and I feel that if the rest of the world just thought this way, then we wouldn't have a problem.

Again, I want to bring up a conversation I had, but this time with a Palestinian guy living in Jerusalem who got upset at me because I was upset over the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv just awhile ago... I thought to myself, ok... I feel sorry for everyone killed, even the Palestinin boy who thought that that was the solution. I can't believe this guy was saying that I should support the bombing, I don't and I will never. Its not the solution. If we are going to go to full fledge war with Israel, this random once in a while Kamikazi style bombing isn't the solution, duh... I am not for violence, but logically, if we are going to go to war, which we can't becuase uhhh, with what?? Home made bombs and our archaic rifles, pulease people... My fellow palestinians have to wake up.

Either, we go to REAL WAR (impossible in my opinion) or we do it peacefully... And when I suggested we do it peacefully, and gave suggestions, he couldn't talk to many any longer and said to me, well, we will talk another time. BYE.

-ok... confused... I know a lot of people are against violence but there are still a few minority, basically the stupid ones who dont SEE the BIG picture... I am trying to show them its different.

Can you guys help me make a list of things we can do here in palestine to help progress the peace process... How can we demonstrate that we do not want occupation any longer without resorting to violence?

Bizarre headline story

Gulf News has done it again!

Today's headline story is...a non-story. It doesn't tell us anything. Nothing. But they make it the headline feature.

Even more bizarre is that, having told us nothing, they ask us to write to them telling them whether we think it's a good idea.

The non-story is based on a Monty Pythonesque idea from the newly customer-centric Etisalat, which says it is thinking about basing its charges on users' professions.

Eisa Al Hadad, Etisalat's Executive Vice-President for Marketing, told Gulf News "We have a plan to divide our subscribers into segments or group of professionals and create a number of new services and incentives for users who use our facilities most."

Note the words "we have a plan". As usual in reports from our 'journalists' there's no information, no detail, no dates, no prices...

And yet, the non-story ends with:

Have your say
Do you think Etisalat's plans to separate subscription rates based on professions is a good idea?
Will it encourage you to make more phone calls?

They live in some parallel universe, I swear.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Etisalat: all problems solved.

No more complaints about Etisalat please, they’ve fixed the problems.
It took them three decades, but they’ve discovered what the problem was – they had the wrong logo!

And we’re not just being honoured with the new logo – according to the press release printed word-for-word in Gulf News (you can always tell, the by-line for press release is ‘Staff Report’) they have launched “a new customer-centric identity.” Don’t you just love that – “customer-centric.”

The press release goes on to assure us that “…our new identity strengthens our commitment towards achieving new levels of excellence in services offered to our valued customers.”

And I especially liked “The new identity reflects Etisalat's values of transparency, optimism, openness, simplicity and reliability.”

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Now for the bad news...

Couple of articles on Dubai in the (London) Sunday Times today.

The first one starts off very positively, but then gets into the things we don't see too much of in the Sandland newspapers, like censorship, workers non-rights, prostitution, fear of deportation...

The second is about The Lighthouse apartment tower, a disaster for everyone involved. The owner/developer, Emad Ayoub, did a runner leaving stranded unpaid workers and investors who'd bought off the plan and paid up-front. And a lot of other projects around town that he was a contractor on. They seem to have been taken over by other contractors, but The Lighthouse was/is his own development.

The investors have been negotiating with the government, they say, and they've kept it out of the press until now. I guess they've gone public in frustration.

Not good in any way for Dubai, which has to be seen as a trustworthy place to do business. This sort of comment from an investor isn't going to help:

“We chose Dubai because Sheikh Mohammed (the emirate’s ruler) assured western investors their money would be safe. It’s time for Dubai to show that foreign buyers have rights and are protected when things go wrong.”

The articles make interesting reading - you can find them here:

Dubai's Building Frenzy


Start at the beginning.

To begin to solve a problem you must start at the beginning. And, fingers crossed, it seems the government may be doing just that.

The starting point of the construction workers' (and others) problem is very often the agency which brings them here under false pretences, making promises about salaries and conditions that simply aren't met. That's a recipe for the unrest that we're seeing increasingly.

Add to that the crippling debt the labourers get into to buy their visa, often borrowing money from the extended family, and they're stuck. It's a stupid call from so many people that if they're not happy they should go back where they came from. They can't.

Gulf News reported:

Labour recruiting agencies may be shut down

By Diaa Hadid, Staff Reporter

Dubai: The Labour Ministry may shut down the labour agencies that recruit construction workers. Many of these agencies pressure workers to take crippling, illegal loans to pay for their own visas.

Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi, Labour Minister, told reporters that workers' cities will be built to take the place of about 170 labour agencies currently licensed by the ministry.
Construction companies will hire workers from the cities, which will be managed by private companies with government supervision, he said.

"We will close them down," Al Ka'abi said. "Some of the bigger companies may find a role in the new worker cities."

He did not provide further details on when the worker cities will be built, although he suggested that one will soon be announced in Dubai.

A Gulf News investigation in April found dozens of other companies openly engaged in this trade, often exploiting labourers for wages ranging from Dh3 to Dh6 an hour.
Another investigation found most labour agents recruiting workers from South Asia openly charge the men and women they bring to the UAE the cost of their visas.
The practice is illegal under the UAE Labour Law and had forced many workers to take loans of more than Dh7,000, often at high interest rates.
Although the UAE cannot punish companies which pass on visa costs to workers, the problem has been at the root of many labour protests here, and even suicides. Last week, labour officials met Indian government representatives to discuss ways to stop the practice in India, where the bulk of the country's expatriate labour comes from.

Of course the other aspects of the problem have to be solved too - unpaid wages, lack of inspectors to enforce the laws and so on. But unless they first stop the flow through unscrupulous agencies the rest won't mean a thing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

At last! The truth!

We've been saying it for as long as I can remember - it's hotter than the official weather report is telling us. Here's a revelation from today's GN:

A senior official at the Abu Dhabi-based UAE Meteorological Authority said the hot weather would not be "unusual" as the mercury dips and rises between 42 to 49C, particularly in Al Ain and other desert cities. Conditions in coastal cities are characterised by high humidity that rises to 90 per cent at times.
"The temperature is actually three to four degrees higher than reported in our bulletins," said the official, adding this difference was caused by the specific temperature measuring apparatus.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Dubai, the good ol' days. Part 1

I've had some requests to post photos of Dubai when we lived here back in the late seventies. So here are the first ones, from 1977 and 1978. These are Jumeirah Beach, about where the Open Beach is now... that's how it is now in the last photo.

Villas right on the beach, high tides went right up to the walls and often swirled into the lanes between the villas. The beach was only a few metres wide, as you can see.

More of my photos from the seventies and early eighties are in later posts, plus some taken recently of the old parts of the city. Just click on the label 'Old Dubai' and you'll find them all.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

What's Rummy up to now?

We'd be forgiven for believing that some skulduggery is afoot. If not, why has it not been done officially, transparently, using the armed services to deal with it all, transport and deliver the arms. Why is it a covert operation with dozens of cut-out points?

Obvious conclusions are that not only are there people making a heap of money but that some group/s somewhere are being armed to the teeth. Where, who and why I wonder?

US in secret gun deal

Small arms shipped from Bosnia to Iraq 'go missing' as Pentagon uses dealers

The Guardian

The Pentagon has secretly shipped tens of thousands of small arms from Bosnia to Iraq in the past two years, using a web of private companies, at least one of which is a noted arms smuggler blacklisted by Washington and the UN.

According to a report by Amnesty International, which investigated the sales, the US government arranged for the delivery of at least 200,000 Kalashnikov machine guns from Bosnia to Iraq in 2004-05. But though the weaponry was said to be for arming the fledgling Iraqi military, there is no evidence of the guns reaching their recipient.

Senior western officials in the Balkans fear that some of the guns may have fallen into the wrong hands.

A Nato official described the trade as the largest arms shipments from Bosnia since the second world war. The official told Amnesty: "Nato has no way of monitoring the shipments once they leave Bosnia. There is no tracking mechanism to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands. There are concerns that some of the weapons may have been siphoned off."

European administrators in Bosnia, as well as NGOs working to oversee the stockpiling and destruction of weapons from the Bosnian war of the 1990s, are furious that the Pentagon's covert arms-to-Iraq programme has undermined the disarmament project.

Nato and European officials confirm there is nothing illegal about the Bosnian government or the Pentagon taking arms to Iraq; the problem is one of transparency and the way the arms deals have been conducted.

"There are Swiss, US and UK companies involved. The deal was organised through the embassies [in Bosnia] and the military attaché offices were involved. The idea was to get the weapons out of Bosnia where they pose a threat and to Iraq where they are needed," the Nato official said.
Mr Wilkinson said: "The problem is we haven't seen the end user."

A complex web of private firms, arms brokers and freight firms, was behind the transfer of the guns, as well as millions of rounds of ammunition, to Iraq at "bargain basement prices", according to Hugh Griffiths, Amnesty's investigator.
The Moldovan air firm which flew the cargo out of a US air base at Tuzla, north-east Bosnia, was flying without a licence. The firm, Aerocom, named in a 2003 UN investigation of the diamonds-for-guns trade in Liberia and Sierra Leone, is now defunct, but its assets and aircraft are registered with another Moldovan firm, Jet Line International.

Some of the firms used in the Pentagon sponsored deals were also engaged in illegal arms shipments from Serbia and Bosnia to Liberia and to Saddam Hussein four years ago.
"The sale, purchase, transportation and storage of the [Bosnian] weapons has been handled entirely by a complex network of private arms brokers, freight forwarders and air cargo companies operating at times illegally and subject to little or no governmental regulation," says the report.

The US shipments were made over a year, from July 2004, via the American Eagle base at Tuzla, and the Croatian port of Ploce by the Bosnian border.

Aerocom is said to have carried 99 tonnes of Bosnian weaponry, almost entirely Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, in four flights from the Eagle base in August 2004, even though, under pressure from the EU, the firm had just been stripped of its operating licence by the Moldovan government because of "safety and security concerns". Amnesty said there was no available record of the guns reaching their destination.

Mr Griffiths contacted the coalition authorities in Baghdad, who denied all knowledge of any weapons purchases from Bosnia. The contracts are said to have been arranged by the military attache of the time, at the US embassy in Sarajevo. Bosnian documentation named "coalition forces in Iraq" as the end users for five arms shipments.

The Amnesty report says the command force in Iraq, the coalition group training Iraqi security forces, and the overseeing US general, had claimed "not to have ... received any weapons from Bosnia," the report says. Mr Wilkinson said: "What are the control mechanisms? How is it all verified?"

The fate of the arms cargo appears to have been buried in the miasma of contracting and subcontracting that have characterised the deals.

The Pentagon commissioned the US security firms Taos and CACI - which is known for its involvement in the Abu Ghraib prison controversy in Iraq - to orchestrate the arms purchases and shipments. They, in turn, subcontracted to a welter of firms, brokers, and shippers, involving businesses based in Britain, Switzerland, Croatia, Moldova, and Bosnia.

"The [Pentagon] and its principal US contractor, Taos, appear to have no effective systems to ensure that their contractors and subcontractors do not use firms that violate UN embargos and also do not use air cargo firms for arms deliveries that have no valid air operating certificates," Amnesty said.

Where's the subtlety gone?

I think I detect a loss of subtlety in the spoof letters to 7Days. A little too obvious I thought, although the outraged responses will be on their way to the Editor already, I’m sure.

Brave reader calls for female driving ban

The solution to traffic congestion is very simple and has been working and proven in Saudi Arabia for years.
Ban all females from the roads completely.
They can stay at home where they belong.
And of course that has the added benefit of keeping them out of our offices and enticing good hard-working men who need to put in eight or ten hours of hard work before going straight home for their properly cooked dinners.
And there is another benefit - No more junk food: No more fast take-aways.
From a [UK] man of our times
Abu Dhabi

Clubs are not for forty-somethings

I am becoming concerned at the amount of oldies (men and women) that think that they belong In the Hotspots of Dubai.
These forty something’s dress far too young for their age and end up looking like mutton dressed as lamb.
These sad people have had their time.
They are trying to recapture their youth but end up looking ridiculous.
The bars and clubs should have an age limit, so as to deter these people.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Ajman, yes Ajman, leads the way.

Ajman puts halt to construction work after nine at night
By Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporter
Ajman: His Highness Shaikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Ajman, has ordered construction work to be stopped after 9pm, sources said.
Shaikh Humaid was responding to residents' complaints about construction work that is going on at night in different areas in Ajman
Many residents had complained to Ajman Municipality and Ajman Police that construction work in many buildings starts at 8pm and ends the next day at around 7am, making their life miserable and giving them sleepless nights.
Shaikh Humaid ordered on Wednesday that no construction work will be undertaken at night after 9pm because that affects public health negatively.
Ali Al Hamrani, Director General of Ajman Municipality, told Gulf News that the municipality has instructed all contractors to finish work at 8 or 9pm.
Hassan, a resident in Al Nuamia Area, told Gulf News that he had complained many times to the municipality but was told that the contractors obtain permission from the municipality to do work at night.
Umm Mohi Al Deen, who lives in Al Karama area, said that she had called police on many occasions at 2am and 3am complaining about the noise of the construction work near her building.

Some might say it wouldn't be a bad idea if Dubai followed Ajman's lead!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

120 IN 60 = THIS...

A final comment to add to my last two items.

“The accident took place as the 21 year old woman was speeding ... she hit the truck as she attempted to get on to the main road. The police said she was driving at a speed of at least 120kph, while the speed limit on that road is 60kph.”

And still 7Days, and residents they interviewed, are saying the crash was caused by the traffic lights not working.

Oh come on! Put the blame where it belongs or we’re never going to get close to solving the problem!

And a final thought. What if a mother pushing a pram had been crossing the road?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ah, the lights dunnit.

I can't believe it, but the report in 7Days this morning says that no-one was killed, thankfully, in the Dubai Marina crash I commented on yesterday.

But the thrust of the front page story is that the cause of the crash, and the two before it, was the traffic lights not working. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Of course the lights should have been fixed more quickly, and in fact they're working this morning - although the street lights and the next set of traffic lights are still not working and they've been out of action for longer.

But if the lights are blamed for causing the crashes the real cause of the problem is ignored. Problems can only be solved if their cause is recognised, accurately and honestly.

Look at the facts. There is a secondary road joining a main road. It's simply a road junction. Traffic on the secondary road has to give way to traffic on the main road, which has right of way. Only when the main road is clear should the traffic venture onto it. It isn't rocket science, it's common sense and a basic road rule.

The lights didn't cause the crashes, drivers not obeying basic, simple road rules and not using common sense caused them.

And look again at my photos - no way in the world was sensible speed being driven. The car is cut in half with the engine and front of the vehicle a heap of unrecognisable metal. The cement mixer truck has overturned and has the solid front axle twisted. And this in a 60kph zone.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Carnage at Dubai Marina

Why do I keep on about the murderous driving in Dubai? Here’s why. I took these photographs an hour ago in Dubai Marina.

Dubai Marina is a combination of residential and construction. Thousands of people live and work here, hundreds of construction vehicles are manoeuvring around, roads are frequently coned off with diversions in place. Caution when driving would seem to be a prerequisite.

Oh, and the speed limit is 60kph. That means nothing in Dubai of course, the wide, flat, straight roads are used as race tracks by the moronic majority.

Look at what’s left of these vehicles and consider whether the speed limit or common sense had anything to do with it.

More death, more injury, more bereaved families…and it is all so bloody unnecessary, so mindlessly stupid.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A three-way street

A committee has prepared a memorandum for submission to the Cabinet to deal with labour protests, the lead story in today's Gulf News tells us.

It reports that Labour Minister Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi said the memorandum recommended that workers who protest 'on flimsy grounds' will be taken to court. That apparently means protest without a genuine legal grievance, "with no right", or if they damaged property. He also called on companies to pay all workers delayed wages within 30 days, but did not specify what action will be taken against companies that do not, the report says.

But labour protests are only part of the problem, which has moral and commercial faces. There is the morality of how workers are treated and there is the purely commercial consideration of Dubai's reputation as a place to invest, to do business, to set up a business.

This whole industrial relations area is a three way street, it's not only about workers protesting. Why they are protesting needs equal scrutiny.

A large part of the problem is agents who con the labourers, who bring them here under false pretences, who lie about the job, the wage, the working & living conditions, who make promises that simply aren't going to be met. They need to be taken out of the picture. If what's delivered isn't what was expected there's bound to be unrest and we're seeing that now. There are discussions on this subject going on between the UAE and Indian governments apparently, which is very good news.

An equally serious contributing factor is companies not paying wages on time. That is completely unacceptable and there should be zero tolerancy. If wages are one week late, immediate action needs to be taken, not 'negotiations' and 'discussions' that go on for months while the workforce is left to survive on handouts. If the company doesn't have the money it should go into bankrupcy, and there needs to be a central insurance fund to cover workers' entitlements in such cases. (Another aspect of this is cover for investors whose money has disappeared, as with Ayoubco and The Lighthouse development in Dubai Marina. Dubai is getting very bad press over that - but that's a topic for another day).
If the company has the money but is simply delaying payment of wages it should be compelled to pay immediately in full and fined an appropriate amount.

If those problems can be overcome, protests are much more unlikely and the necessity to get the legal system involved diminishes.

It's not only fair that equal emphasis is put on all the factors contributing to the problem, it also makes good commercial sense.

Incidentally, if there are protests and workers damage property, they should be charged as anyone else would be, but that's a different thing.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What faith!

It's like a mojo warding off evil spirits.

There they were again, a gang of labourers in the middle of three lanes of traffic, this time on Al Sufouh Road, heads down concentrating on whatever it was they were doing. Cars & construction traffic hurtling towards and around them, each at least one tonne of metal travelling at least 25 metres a second.

Speed limit? This is Dubai!

And there protecting them from harm was Redflagman, about a metre in front of them, putting himself between them and danger, waving the red flag talisman...and I assume, hoping that it hadn't lost its magic powers.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ingliss no spoke here

Why is it that in a country with so many different nationalities living in it, so many tourists and business visitors, where English is the language we use to communicate with each other, that so many front-line staff don’t speak the language?

It isn’t their fault, and I’m not criticising them in any way. What I don’t follow is the thought process of the person who hired them. They have customers willing, wanting even, to give them money, who’ve taken the trouble to visit their establishment. But they can’t spend the money because they can’t communicate with the ‘sales’ staff.

What a strange way to run a business.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Good Road News

Here's a twist - some good news about Dubai's roads.

The timing was out of course, with developments opening before the roads were ready and chaos being the result for a while. But now all around Media & Internet Cities/Knowledge Village we have a fantastic new road system.

It isn't fully open, but suddenly there are wide dual-carriageways, flyovers & underpasses everywhere, an internal road system joining Media/Internet/Knowledge, several ways in and out, a choice of ways onto Sheikh Zayed Road. And suddenly, of course, the gridlock has disappeared.

I must drive around one day and find out where all the roads go...

These photos were around noon today - just look at the traffic!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Lost in hotels.

Sort-of following on from what I said yesterday, have you tried to find your way around a hotel by looking at signs? Forget it. If you can locate the sign it's stainless steel with the words engraved and light shining on it, or something similarly impossible to read.

I know the cause of the problem, I was in the business for years. The designers insist on coming up with signs that blend in with the décor, that are unobtrusive. They think they’re stylish, chic, trendy, understated.

No they’re not, they’re bloody invisible! What is the point of a sign no-one can see? As the old advertising saying goes, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark.

In Dubai many hotels take it one step further. There are no signs at all.

Instead, when you park in the wrong place, like the taxi rank, or wander around the lobby searching in vain, people descend on you from every point of the compass. It happened to me the other evening, when I was trying to check out the restaurants at Grosvenor House and Ritz Carlton.

They smile, they say something or other, they’re very pleasant…but they’re all over you like a rash, in your face, invading your personal space, a foot away from you, which is not only very, very annoying it’s also unnecessary and inefficient.

Just put up signs, clear and visible, so that your guests can find their way around in peace.