Sunday, September 30, 2007

Did I miss much?

Just got back to Dubai - it's nice to be back too.

Apart from the heat, humidity, the first half of Ramadan - did I miss anything important?

I'm trying to catch up, with sleep as much as the news. I've read enough so far to see our beloved RTA has said the first year of its three year plan to solve the traffic problems is to be ignored, the three years now starts from now. Apparently Dubai's growth caught them by surprise, they hadn't planned for it.

I did agree with one of their pronouncements though - the traffic police need to enforce the laws. Just about all of us seem to agree with that, judging by the letters in the papers and blog comments.

Talking of papers, congratulations to Gulf News on reaching the ripe old age of thirty today. I remember the very first edition, in fact I have a tattered yellowing copy of it somewhere. In those early days I really didn't think it was going to last, so well done to all concerned.

We had three weeks in UK/Europe, I have five-hundred photos to upload and sort out, millions of spam messages to get rid of - I've just spent an hour sorting through and deleting the spam comments on here and on Dubai Metblog. When I catch up with it all I'll probably post some of the better holiday photos and chat about the more interesting bits.

One thing I can confirm, that I've talked about before - western-European expats, and especially Brits, who complain about Dubai being expensive are living in lalaland. We spent a few days each in Holland, Germany, France, Switzerland, the UK and the cost of just about everything is terrifying. Only rents in Dubai are higher, everything else to do with daily living is way lower than western Europe. I'll give you examples when I sort my paperwork out...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

That's all folks.

We're off on three weeks holiday in the UK and Europe, back late-September. There won't be much time for blogging I'm sure, so this may well be the last posting for a while.

Just a nice little cameo to take with Knowledge Village this morning I saw a sad, unhappy looking bird standing on the hot paving in the full sun. It didn't move away as a cleaner, sweeping and picking up rubbish, walked close to it. All was very obviously not well with the bird.

The cleaner stopped and watched the bird for a few seconds, then gently picked it up and put it in the shade of a palm tree.

A nice thought to take away with me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Should I grass?

When we check on the search engine questions that lead people to our blogs we get some interesting results.

Bloggers have posted some classics, here's my contribution from someone in Dubai who asked this question of Google at 1.48pm today: destroy tollgate&as_q=Dubai

The full question was: "Toll Gate How to destroy tollgate Dubai"

If only...

"...our police patrols are constantly around Dubai. They are everywhere and anyone guilty of committing this crime can, and will, be arrested in seconds."

That's what Brig. Issa Aman deputy head of Dubai Traffic Police told 7Days.

The story was about the growing menace of drink driving, but that's only one of the moronic practices of so many of our drivers. Relatively uncommon too. Jumping red lights is, in my opinion, at least as dangerous as drink driving and happens far more frequently. So do many other dangerous offences such as hard shoulder driving, double-parking blocking major roads, tailgating at high speed, general dangerous driving and all the rest of it.

'The police are everywhere'?

We wish.

the 7Days story is here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Seeing double

My piece last month about the new air-conditioned bus stops appearing along Al Sufouh Road attracted the comment "...there's only enough space for about 10 people inside..."

Very true. Here's the RTA's answer:

End of the shift

Just part of the gang on just one of the sites, ready to be taken back to their labour camp.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The smoking ban

There was a discussion on the radio this morning about the smoking ban that is partly in place and is due to start in malls in a couple of weeks.

The general agreement was that it would be a good thing when the mall smoking ban started.


Back in June I wrote Smoking ban ain't gonna work.

The reason?

Well for a start, in countries such as Australia, the US, Britain, smoking bans are respected. It's highly unlikely they'll be respected here.

More importantly, they won't be enforced.

As I reported in June, Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, said that under the terms of the understanding with the malls, the onus of enforcement would be on the mall management.

"There will be no fines. Malls will be self-regulating," he said, adding that mall employees would have to tell smoking patrons to stub out and direct them to designated smoking areas.

Let me give you two examples of how this works, which I've encountered recently.

A smoking ban is already in place in 'government buildings and educational establishments'. In a coffee shop in Knowledge Village a customer seated inside asked for an ash tray. The coffee shop supervisor told him it was a no-smoking zone by government order. "Khali wali, I am from government" he said, producing a wallet from his trouser pocket and flashing, presumably, a government employee card.

The ash tray was meekly handed over.

Dubai Festival City has proudly announced since its opening that it is a smoke-free zone. Smoking will not be allowed. I was walking behind a man who lit up a cigarette less than two metres in front of a security man...who walked away without a word.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

More on killer rubble

Our roads are dangerous enough without the problem of construction rubble causing extra and unnecessary dangers.

I talked about it a couple of weeks ago, and there's been a typical example over the last two days in Knowledge Village and Media City.

Trucks carrying stones/gravel have obviously been overloaded, the loads not covered and, the evidence suggests, they were speeding around corners causing the load to pour over the sides of the trucks.

Here's part of the result:

Most of it had been cleared when I took the photo, poor guys risking their lives to work in the middle of the road sweeping and shovelling great piles of stones and sand to the side.

It was all around the main roundabout at the entrance to KV, on each bend and corner through to Media City and here in the first photo outside Media City at Interchange 5 to Dubai Marina.

It meant that vehicles on it lost their roadholding, slipping sideways on the sand and stones as they negotiated the bends. Windscreens were obviously at risk as stones flew up from the wheels of the vehicle in front.

All of the actions which lead to this are illegal of course - but where is the enforcement of the laws?