Monday, April 30, 2007


Congratulations are in order to Dubai Police. They said they'd catch the gang responsible for the ram-raid at Wafi Mall and they've been as good as their word.

Three people are in jail, two caught in the UAE and one in Eastern Europe, and the stolen jewellery has been recovered. Police released photographs - these are the two caught in the UAE:
The operation must have been in co-operation with other police forces - I assume Interpol and probably other European police forces were involved. That's good to see and very necessary with modern international crime.
Other suspects are still being hunted from the gang which is said to have committed over 100 operations in Europe.
The full story is in Gulf News, here.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Here I go again...

There's a difference of opinion brewing up between the police and the RTA, according to Gulf News.

They headline the story:

Dubai Police and RTA on collision course

Brig Mohammad Saif Al Zafein (lef), Director of
Traffic Department and Maitha Obaid Bin Udai,
CEO of the Traffic and Roads Agency.

I'm sure I remember other occasions when they haven't seen eye to eye too.
The proposed minimum speed limit on highways is another example of wooly thinking. It's not thought through properly. It's not the answer to the problem.

But this is an almost insignificant part of the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that the RTA, and the three Master Developers of 'New Dubai', have destroyed the vision for Dubai.

And I don't say "possibly" or "potentially" or "unless they change tack". It's already too late. The damage can't be undone.

I'm talking about the appalling mis-management of the roads, the unbelievably incompetent 'planning'. 'New Dubai' is a fraction of what it will be but it's gridlocked already.

Worse, when you eventually get through the traffic there's nowhere to park.

The pat answer that 'when the infrastructure's complete it'll all be sorted out' simply isn't true. Try to visit a company at Media/Internet City. You simply can't park - there isn't even anywhere near enough space for the people who work there to park.

Underground car parks can't be built, the buildings are already existing. There's no space for multi-storey car parks unless entire existing new buildings are demolished.

Try to visit someone in Dubai Marina. A tiny number of the final total of buildings are finished and occupied, yet it's chaos. There's not even enough space for the residents to park, so cars are on all the footpaths, the roundabouts and blocking the roads. Visitors stand no chance.

Parking at Dubai Marina

Try to visit the restaurants at Phase 1, it's a great location and a great way to spend an evening - there's no parking space.

The stretch of Al Sufouh Road from Jumeirah Beach Residence, and remember that no-one has moved in there yet, to the traffic light junction outside Mina Seyahi is solid for hours morning and evening. It takes nearly an hour to go two or three kilometres.

Gridlock on Al Sufouh Road.

I know this is the result of new roadworks - I wrote about it a couple of days ago. it's yet another example of roads that had been completed, at great expense and great disruption, only to be torn up a few months later. This particular bottleneck will get easier as the roadwork is finished.


The road to & from the vast JBR plus the apartment blocks and hotels opposite it has to cross the Marina sea outlet - and it has a bridge with only two lanes, one in either direction.

A small part of Jumeirah Beach Residence.

A development of about 10,000 apartments and they think a single lane bridge will be adequate! Which genius came up with that?!

The road leading into this area from the other side of the Marina, past the Diamond Towers, is also solid. Added to this congestion, a newly opened flyover on the new Junction 5 is pouring traffic into the small, local, residential traffic light junction outside Marina Heights tower. That's another one that will soon be dug up and changed because their 'plans' didn't work. Although this one has very little space in which do do anything else.

Congestion the other side of the Marina.

It's all very well having 12 lane freeways to speed traffic along, but when it tries to get off it hits a bottleneck. There are towers all around the bottlenecks, and they're owned by individual, mostly international, investors. Unlike locally owned small properties, they can't simply be demolished and the owners compensated.

There's no space now to solve the traffic crisis.

The Metro is another example of the incompetent 'planning'.

People in the residential and commercial areas of 'New Dubai' will be kilometres from a station. But only three stations, at the end of the lines, have parking spaces!

People are not going to walk kilometres to a Metro station, even in the good weather. So do they expect people to drive kilometres out of their way to get to a station with parking facilities? If they did it would only add to the road congestion, not help it. But of course people won't do that - they'll just carry on using their car as before and ignore the Metro.

The whole traffic/parking situation is a disaster and it's the 'planners' who've caused it. And it has, as I said before, destroyed the vision for Dubai.

If people can't move around easily to carry out their business, businesses won't want to locate here. If people can't get to & from work easily they won't want to work here. If exhibitors and visitors can't easily get to exhibitions, and can't park when they do arrive, our conference/exhibition business is damaged. If people can't get to attractions, to restaurants, to shops then those businesses suffer. Tourists won't come if they're going to spend half their holiday in traffic jams.

Look at the traffic & parking chaos if you try to visit a business on Sheikh Zayed Road. We get the same negative reports from exhibitions and conferences at the Trade Centre. I've already mentioned Media/Internet City and Dubai Marina. None of the other vast developments are ready yet, but you can bet they'll have exactly the same problems.

And still we have yet more buildings going up with inadequate parking and inadequate access roads.

What's even more infuriating is that it needn't have been.

They started with a blank canvas, an area of empty desert. They had no historic buildings or streets to preserve, there was nothing there. They had the luxury of empty space to plan on, something that very few planners around the world have.

And they got it competely, disastrously wrong.

The Gulf News story that started me off ranting is here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I fell off my chair...

I just had to share this one, an AAP story in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

Thousands of Japanese have been swindled in a scam in which they were sold Australian and British sheep and told they were poodles.

Flocks of sheep were imported to Japan and then sold by a company called Poodles as Pets, marketed as fashionable accessories, available at $1,600 each. That is a snip compared to a real poodle which retails for twice that much in Japan.

The scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food.

She was crestfallen when told it was a sheep.

Then hundreds of other women got in touch with police to say they feared their new "poodle" was also a sheep.

One couple said they became suspicious when they took their "dog" to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.

Japanese police believe there could be 2,000 people affected by the scam, which operated in Sapporo and capitalised on the fact that sheep are rare in Japan, so many do not know what they look like. (Oh come on! Bloody elephants are rare in Australia but we all know what they look like!)

"We launched an investigation after we were made aware that a company were selling sheep as poodles," Japanese police said, the The Sun reported.

"Sadly we think there is more than one company operating in this way.

"The sheep are believed to have been imported from overseas - Britain, Australia."

Many of the sheep have now been donated to zoos and farms.

© 2007 AAP

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bad zoo news

I'm told Dubai zoo's move has been canned yet again.

This really is unacceptable - the zoo is an embarrassment, a blot on Dubai's name, an absolute disgrace in this day and age. It's particularly appalling given the billions of dollars being invested in the emirate.

Can you imagine horses or camels being imprisoned in the way the animals at the zoo are cramped into tiny, unsuitable space? Of course not.

I don't understand how the municipality can let this continue. It's not only damaging Dubai's reputation, it's a missed commercial opportunity - not something of which the authorities are often guilty. A good, modern zoological garden is a tourist attraction, a money-making enterprise.

It's another problem that's being mishandled and needs Sheikh Mohammed's urgent attention.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chaos at the Marina

If you have to go to or through Dubai Marina over the next few days, this is a heads up that you'll need to allow at least an extra 4o minutes for the journey. If you're visiting a business in the free zone you'll be late if you don't.

Twice this morning, early and late, I sat for over 40 minutes to travel less than two kilometres.

The cause of the problem is the area between the traffic signal junction outside Marina Heights tower and Mina Seyahi.

They've changed the main traffic signal intersection to a temporary roundabout, closed off half the road and traffic going towards the free zone is now on the 'wrong' side of the road, changed the traffic signal sequences and timings.

And a flyover which is part of the monster new Intersection 5 has suddenly opened. I don't know where it comes from but it's bringing extra traffic in to the small traffic signal interestion outside Marina Heights at Phase 1 (the Spinneys entrance).

Naturally, it was all changed overnight with no warning, there are no signs to help so there's a lot of confusion adding to the chaos.

Both sides of the Marina are affected so don't bother going over a bridge to the other side, it's also jammed. I tried this morning.

I guess there will be continuous changes and people will get used to it, so it may get a bit better over the next few days. For the time being it's almost gridlock.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Putting Virginia Tech. into context.

Thirty-two victims and their killer die in one day at Virginia Tech., a horrifying tragedy.

America and much of the world is swamped with days of news coverage, pundits are wheeled out on TV and radio to disect the whole thing.

But. I always have a but.

Put it into context.

That many Americans are shot to death every ten hours. Of every day. Year in and year out.

An average of eight-five Americans die by gunshot every day.

The same number as were killed on 9/11 are killed every five weeks.

Thirty thousand are killed every year.

Go back over the last four paragraphs , read them slowly and think about them.

This is not just armed criminal street gangs, as is often suggested. It's estimated that there are about 250 million guns, from handguns to fully automatic army weapons, throughout American society. That's almost one for every man, woman and child in the country.

Americans For Gun Safety website gives figures for 1998, the latest quoted. In Virginia that year there were 295 homicides, 531 suicides, 33 fatal gun accidents and 13 'other gun deaths', a total of 872. At 12.29 per 100,000 population that's almost as bad as Dubai's road deaths that we complain so much about. That year, 30,708 died by gunshot nationally, a rate of 11.32 per 100,000.

The battle lines are drawn of course - gun control and no gun control spokespeople are out in force.

I was particularly taken with this quote from the Gun Owners of America, who call the school "a victim disarmament zone":

"The latest school shooting demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation's schools at the mercy of madmen. It is irresponsibly dangerous to tell citizens that they may not have guns at schools."

Pretty well sums up the thinking in what appears to be the majority of America, or at least by the only people who matter, the ones with power and influence.

And I can't see that the situation will get anything but worse. It's very difficult to change something that's been a part of a culture from its very beginning. It's not impossible, it's happened in other cultures through the millenia, but the people have to want the change.

America is a violent country, created by violence & the gun and it's all ingrained in the phsyche. So in the next decade over 300,000 Americans are going to die at the barrel of a gun.

Astonishingly, they're going to accept it.

Some reading:
Gun deaths per year.

Gun Deaths By State.

Gun Owners of America.

Another first for RAK.

The little northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has come up with another doozy, according to Gulf News..

"RAK considers imposition of penalties on victims of fraud."

There's been a spate of fraud cases in the emirate involving black magic and promises of untold wealth. We're told that: "The authorities have been repeatedly urging the public to be careful and never to fall under the fraudulent influence of cheats whose main target is the money of their unsuspecting victims." The warnings having been ignored and: "Some victims blindly follow the claims and instructions of the frauds and they enable the cheats end up successful in their fraudulent strategies."

That's obviously seen as 'aiding & abetting' the criminals.

Now I've always believed that victims of fraud, of conmen, people who pay money up-front and complain when they're cheated, deserve what they get. Stupidity and greed get their just rewards, but I've never thought they constituted a criminal offence.

Read all about it here.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Stand by for mega-congestion.

I posted a piece on Dubai Metblog about the approval of the Creek extension plan.

(We don't post Metblog items on our other blogs, so I didn't put it here. You can read it by clicking on the link over there on the right).

The new stretch will run into the Gulf at Jumeirah. It will be at least 100 metres wide and will cross Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah Beach Road.

To cross the water, SZR will have a new 12 lane bridge built, Al Wasl and Beach roads will both have six lane bridges built.

Just stop and think what that means and about the congestion the construction of those bridges is going to give us.

Friday, April 20, 2007

That's what I call confidence.

Let's hope he's right, what a feather in Dubai's cap it would be.

What am I on about?

Dubai's Chief of Police, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim says the gang has carried out 132 successful operations in Europe, which must mean they've identified the robbers.

Here's the bit I'm referring to - he says: "The gang carried out 132 successful operations in Europe, but its end will be in Dubai."

The police forces of Europe couldn't catch them, but Dubai's finest are going to.

Go get'em boys, and girls.

Here's the story: Gang's end 'will be in Dubai'

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Finger on the pulse

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid not only has his finger on the pulse of what goes on, he tells it like it is, he pulls no punches.

And he talks an awful lot of sense - what a shame others in positions of power and authority don't have his talents. And, as I've said on several occasions before, what a pity that things don't happen as they should until Sheikh Mohammed becomes personally involved.

In his capacity as Prime Minister of the UAE he announced a new three year development strategy at a major meeting of more than 1,000 high-level government and business leaders. And he really laid into the performance of some of the ministries.

Photo: WAM

He made the point that huge sums have been invested in various areas with very little result, something that many of us have talked about for some time. The vision is there, the money is there, the talent and the will to make it happen to the required standard are all too often lacking.
The problem, said Sheikh Mohammed, was not a lack of funding, but rather a lack of implementation.

Picking out the Education Ministry in particular he said: "...despite the huge spending, the outcome has remained far below our aspirations...It is a culture that is content with identifying problems, finding solutions and announcing them in the media without any sort of implementation"

That would be true of other ministries and departments too. A lot of money, a lot of talk, very little actually done or done properly.

He picked out for criticism education, health and justice. And he also criticised the Ministry of Labour on Emiratisation.

As you would expect, it's got all of them jumping, just as his blitz on the roads and police had them suddenly getting on with the job a few weeks ago. This morning, Emirates Today has the story "Ministers pledge to achieve the Government Strategy objectives."

Some more notable quotes from Sheikh Mohammed's speech:

"The budget for education has increased annually for the past 20 years and has been accompanied with several plans, projects, suggestions, policies and promises. Yet, the outcome has constantly been weakening. Even when education officials decided to restrict public schools to UAE national students, the education budget remained on the rise, expenditure per student increased yet the outcome did not improve."

On Emiratisation:

"It is very easy to impose Emiratisation. We can do this any time, but what would we gain if we did not provide our youth with the best knowledge, skill and expertise to commensurate with these jobs?"

He criticised the Minister of Labour, who has issued a number of decrees to Emiratise certain jobs - such as secretarial positions and public relation officers - within two years. "I appreciate his dedication and enthusiasm, but his decisions were not successful because they ignored reality as well as the nation's priorities."

And he also covered something that many of us talked about at the time it was announced:

Shaikh Mohammad said the same applies to the decree on Emiratising the positions of human resource managers within 18 months. "However, if we decide to place UAE nationals in such positions, we have to make sure we provide them with the required knowledge and expertise. Our success in achieving this goal is tied to the extent we develop UAE skills and talents."

Then he focused on the Ministry of Justice:

"I have read the reports of the justice and safety ministerial team and did field trips to the courts and the ministry of justice. I was surprised and expressed my utmost dissatisfaction with what I read and saw. It was living 20 years behind [other ministries]." Shaikh Mohammad warned: "We will not allow this to continue. We will not accept that people's cases and rights get stuck in courts, in a long sequence of useless procedures."

Gulf News yesterday covered the announcement over three full pages and it makes fascinating reading. You can go to the full articles at these sites:

Investing more money not always the answer.

Development plan unveiled.

A balanced diet for sustainable growth.

Ministry of Justice is 20 years behind .

Call for cautious Emiratisation.

Legislative framework weak.

Ministries will be run like corporations.

The Emirates Today story is here: Ministers pledge to achieve the Government Strategy objectives.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The good & the bad on Dubai's roads.

Sitting at the traffic lights on Al Sufouh Road this morning. Three lanes of solid traffic, I'm in a queue of maybe 20 cars in the outside lane.

As the lights change to green a police car screams up to the back of our queue with lights and siren going. We all try to move over to the right...and guess what. We all did. All the traffic on our right let us all in and in no time at all the police car was through and away.

That's about 40 motorists all doing the right thing at the right time. Not a common occurrence so it's worth recording.

But there's always a but.

Access to my building in Dubai Marina was blocked by a mobile crane that was parked, with telescopic stabilisers fully extended, across the public road.

A lady was sitting in a car waving her arms at them, a resigned-looking taxi driver was stuck in the building's forecourt with a passenger fuming inside and I was stuck the other side of the crane.

I did what you, sadly, have to do in Dubai to get anyone to listen. I screamed at the top of my voice to the crowd of labourers gathered around the crane, waving my arms about and pointing. They looked scared and one ran off to get a supervisor. He spoke a little English, so I repeated the performance, adding threats of "police" and getting my mobile ready.

They pulled the telescopic legs back in so that we could all go about our business. The crane was gone a couple of hours later.

Then into Deira to collect my car from servicing.

Sitting at the traffic lights waiting to U-turn, the sound of squealing tyres made me look in the rear view mirror - just in time to see a small white sedan weaving about, at high speed, behind me. He completely lost it, crashed across the central reservation into the front of a 4X4 waiting at the lights the other side.

I U-turned, waited at the next set of lights. Six lanes, three going in one direction, three in another. A Rav4, Umm Al Quwain registered, windows blacked out at I'd say about 90% is in the far outside lane. He decides he needs to be in the lanes way over on the right, so he forces his way across our three lanes at right angles, bounces across the central reservation taking down two red & white plastic bollard things, and forces his way into where he wants to be.

Onto Sheikh Zayed Road, traffic heavy but moving, in the outside lane overtaking a solid line of cars and sitting on the speed limit of 120kph. I had a Camry a foot off my rear flashing his lights at me - not something that I'm partial to. A stamp on the brakes, a finger waved at him and a shout from a contorted face had the desired effect and he pulled back. When I'd passed the line of cars and pulled into the right-hand lane, still sitting on the 120kph limit, he screamed past and disappeared towards Abu Dhabi at, I'd say, 140 and counting.

All in all, apart from the first bit, a fairly average sort of a day on Dubai's roads.

Some good-news stories

I never thought I'd be saying it about any of our papers, but today's Gulf News is full of interesting reading. I'll do a separate posting on the government's new three year development plan.

A couple of good-news items particularly caught my eye. The first is:

No group worker visas for firms defaulting on salaries.

The story goes on to tell us that the Ministry of Labour is cracking down on rogue companies. If they don't pay salaries for more than two months they will not be allowed to apply for new visas for one year. They are also threatened with liquidation of their bank warranties.

"It's part of the strict measures being taken by the ministry against companies that do not pay salaries in time or have inadequate accommodation for the workers or medical facilities" said Humaid Bin Deemas, Assistant Under-Secretary.

The second is headed:

Security firms say they will not arm personnel

In the wake of the ram-raid at Wafi City there's a risk of over-reaction, and although I can't imagine that the government would allow non-police people to be armed, it's good to see that the security companies interviewed by Gulf News already seem to be taking a sensible approach. And they're honest about their industry.

One security comapny spokesman said: "The market is not willing to pay properly for security and as a result we do not hire trained professionals". We're all well aware of that of course, but it's nice to hear the industry say it.

Other quotes of note:

"...companies should emphasise recruiting of security guards who are heavily built, otherwise aggressive youngsters will be tempted to try to grab the gun of a lean security guard."

"...there is a strong chance of disgruntled employees misusing their weapons if they are not properly trained by the government on how to handle arms. It is workable if the guards are qualified. If they are not, then the weapons they are equipped with can be misused."

I'm sure I'm not alone in being horrified at the thought of armed guards all over the place, trained or not.

I'll post some photos another day of the situation in Cairo, where the security presence around hotels and tourist sites is heavy, oppressive, disconcerting rather than reassuring.

If Dubai ever goes down that path I won't be the only one leaving, I'm sure.

Links to the full articles:

Security firms say they will not arm personnel

No group worker visas for firms defaulting on salaries

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Seen, vaguely, with my own eyes.

The car is in for a couple of days for servicing so I have a hire car. As a result, for the first time, I'm driving a car with tinted windows.

I'm sure this one is below the 30% tinting legal limit, it's a very light tint.


All the comments I've read and heard about it restricting vision are absolutely true. It's downright bloody dangerous.

The first thing I noticed was how dark the inside of the car is. Next I realised it's difficult to read the instruments. It's also very hard to see clearly in the mirror through the rear window. Both those things mean that trying to see them means dangerous extra time with your eyes off the road.

This is with a very light tint. I dread to think how little can be seen from some of the really blacked-out cars we all see around.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Security? What security

A Wafi Mall jewellery store was hit yesterday evening by four masked gunmen who drove two cars into the mall, emptied the store and drove out again. The cars were found later, burnt out.

Apart from the fact that this is such a rarity in Dubai, to me there's an interesting little side issue.

We have 'security' everywhere - gated communities popping up all over, with the ubiquitous red & white barrier pole and a couple of 'security' guards in a little hut, many hotels have the same thing, every second shop in the malls seems to have a guard or guards, the hypermarkets have more 'security' guards standing at the check-outs than there are check-out staff, 'security' men wander around every mall, the banks have them standing around. There must be literally thousands of 'security' guards in Dubai.

It's window dressing.

They don't actually provide any security.

Example: In Mall of the Emirates one afternoon a scuffle broke out between two men. 'Security' guards nearby looked at the commotion...and walked quickly in the opposite direction. People have been told they're in a no-smoking area and should put out their cigarettes - they simply ignore the 'security' guard. I've been into gated communities without any reason to be there, simply to have a look around. I say officiously "I'm going over there" and point vaguely, so they let me through.

They're certainly not going to tackle armed bandits, nor would you expect them to.

Stand by for more construction work around all the malls, as they put in concrete bollards to stop ramraiders driving cars into the malls.

It's very sad, but inevitable I suppose, that Dubai is getting this kind of crime. One of the things I've always pointed out to visitors is there's been no need for security around the gold souk. Millions of dollars-worth of gold and jewellery just sitting there with, at most, one cop dozing on a seat.

If it does happen it's all new to the police, they have no experience of it so the bandits have a good chance of getting away. I guess we're going to get increasing preventative measures; let's hope that we do and that they keep Dubai as crime free and safe as it's been.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bloody computers!

Not that anyone else will be interested, but it helps to get it off my chest.

We were having big, big computer problems, too many and too complicated to go into. Spend a lot of time checking for viruses and other nasties. All the protective & diagnostic systems say there's no problem.

Oh yes there is.

The usual waiting on hold for an hour while Etisalat's technical help people were "dealing with other customers". Nevertheless "your call is important to us"... obviously not important enough for them to employ enough people to deal with the calls though.

Eventually get a person on the line, who eventually gives the diagnosis that "it must be a problem with your computer".


Debate whether to call 'experts' in to find and fix the problem. Well, debate for a couple of seconds and dismiss the idea as very stupid. From experience I have less than no faith in the ability of computer/IT 'experts' to even begin to understand what they're doing. At great expense to the customer.

The alternative seems quicker, better, more cost-effective. Bin the bloody thing and buy a new one.

Decision made.

Buy a new one, the brain that is, and are surprised to find it comes with new keyboard, new webcam, new headset, new speakers. Nothing wrong with the existing ones but it's always nice to have new toys.

Mrs Seabee is much more technically-minded than me, and has much more patience - I think machines should simply work as they're supposed to, do what I bought them to do, at all times. I don't have any desire or interest in how they work or in the technical stuff. I lose interest in less than a minute to be honest.

Mrs Seabee starts to install the various bits & pieces. Sits for hours while little arrows fly into little bins, or little green lines gradually fill an empty panel. At the end of it messages along the lines of "The installation was unsuccessful" appeared with monotonous regularity.

Although we were assured every 30 seconds or so that our call "is important to us", waited for a long, long time while the tech. people were "dealing with other customers".

That happened half a dozen times through the evening, but each time the tech. people - when they eventually took the call - talked a patient Mrs Seabee through it, with far too much trial and error to change my opinion of 'experts', and she eventually got the basic stuff loaded.

We now have internet connection, e-mail, Messenger. Norton and other protection is in place. Still a lot to do, a lot to install, a lot of fine-tuning to go through but at least I have the basics to play with.

Mind you, there seem to be a lot of nasties about. Since 3.10 this afternoon, and it's now 6.25, Norton has told me it's blocked high-risk attacks 39 times.

I have MSRPC SrvSvc NetApi Buffer overflow (2), NetBios MspnPQueryResConflist BO, MS RPC Malicious LSASS DS Request BO (1) and MS ASNI something-or-other all trying to get into my computer every few minutes.

I'm going to shut down now and hope they've gone away by the time I come back to it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Beach update.

Back from Cairo - and am I pleased to be back in clean, unpolluted, garbage-free Dubai!

More of that later.

I went for my usual walk along Umm Suqeim beach earlier this morning, the one that caused so much comment when the development on it was announced - only for Sheikh Mohammed to step in and stop the project.

If you scroll down to 'Life's a beach' you'll see the photos I took on March 18. Here, from the same locations, are the photos I took this morning.

Not quite gone but almost, and the workmen are now going in the right direction, taking stuff from the beach rather than putting it onto the beach.

And finally, a shot from way up towards the other end of the beach. People complain that we don't have much beach, but they're the ones who repeat hearsay and rumours rather than checking things out for themselves. This stretch is several kilometres long, it's free and open to all.