Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another reality check

Of course we complain about things which aren't as they should be in Dubai, and why not.

But it's worth noting that I'm sure we'll all complain in exactly the same way, and probably about much the same things, when we go back to our home countries.

Problems aren't unique to Dubai by any means, which is why I do a 'reality check' posting every so often.

From today's Sydney Morning Herald, a story that's familiar to us here in Dubai, although the road rage reaction is, at least in my experience, less of a problem here than in many other countries.

"A survey of Sydney motorists shows one in five engages in "road rage payback". This is where a motorist tailgates another driver for being dangerous or aggressive.

The practice has quadrupled in the past decade, and...68 per cent of those who retaliate believe their actions are justified.

The survey showed motorists more likely to experience antisocial behaviour than ever before: 31 per cent said they had been followed, 12 per cent said they had been forced off the road and 10 per cent said their car had been deliberately damaged.

Just one example quoted:

"I was merging at about 100 kilometres [an hour] and this guy overtook me just as we were merging," said Sarah, who has received anger management counselling. "I started flashing my lights a him - having a good verbal go - and he just slammed the brakes right in front of me. If I hadn't been looking straight at him there would have been an accident. I had my kids in the car. He had his kids in the car."

Crash index surveys showed traffic congestion to be the primary cause.

The story is here.


The moon sighting committee has done its job, Ramadan is over and we're into the Eid holiday.

That means the roads are reasonable to drive on and we're also moving into the great weather months. "Excellent weather for holidays" says the report in Gulf News.

The Met Office says we can expect a daytime maximum of about 37ºC and low humidity, evenings will be around 24ºC - 27ºC with no humidity, no dust, no clouds or rain.

So we're moving into the seven or eight months of perfect Mediterranean-style weather which more than compensates for the hot & humid summer.

Hopefully more good news - Atlantis say that the report in a British tabloid that they had received an Al Qaeda bomb threat is no more than a rumour. The police have said that 'there is nothing unusual in the country' while Atlantis say they have not been contacted by the police, which would have been the case if there had been any suggestion of a threat.

Oh, and some good news for those of us living in Dubai Marina. The first section of the new Interchange 5.5 is open, giving alternative exits onto Sheikh Zayed Road and on to Jebel Ali/Abu Dhabi or into Dubai.

When offices open again in a couple of days it should mean that the gridlock we've endured for weeks is at least reduced, maybe even removed with any luck.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Government department efficiency.

Did i say that?!

I was talking a couple of weeks ago about what was involved in applying for my new Residence Visa.

To finish the story, I went back to the Iranian Hospital at just after 11.30am on Thursday as noted on the receipt they'd given me. Went to the counter called 'Reports' and in twenty seconds was walking out with my medical report.

I took it and my passport into my sponsor last Tuesday. Remember it's Ramadan with shorter working hours and the Eid holiday is upon us, so I assumed I'd get it back sometime after Eid.

Not so. I picked up the passport complete with new visa this morning.

Credit where credit's due, I thought the efficiency was worth noting.

Oh no, not the abras!

My favourite part of Dubai is the Creek. And my favourite part of the creek is the area where the traditional wooden abras and dhows are concentrated.

For those who don't know, an abra is a little twenty-seater ferry running across the Creek between various stations in Deira and Bur Dubai. The fare is Dh1 each way.

An abra station in Deira

Today our beloved RTA has announced that they will be "replaced from next year with a new generation of modern boats that are safer and more efficient."

Yes, yes, yes, that's all very well but I like them as they are. Maybe they are old and smelly, maybe they're not environmentally friendly, maybe they don't have safety systems.

But they're one of the very few links with the past, with Dubai's history. And I love them, I use them whenever I have the opportunity. If I have to go into Deira I almost always park in Bur Dubai and cross the Creek by abra. It always lifts my spirits.

They say the new boats "will look the same as the traditional wooden vessels" but the dogs breakfast they made of the design of the water buses doesn't give me much confidence.
The stories are in EmBiz247 and The National.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It frightens me...

A comment on the American presidential election if I may. Because, of course, all of us are affected by the actions of the president of the good ol' US of A.

John McCain talks frequently about how he puts America's interests above all else. He does what is right for America.

So it follows that his choice of running mate, the person he'd put one heartbeat from the presidency, he believes to be the right choice for America.

If Senator McCain wins the election in November Sarah Palin would be that person.

In one heartbeat she would become Commander in Chief of the world's biggest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Commander in Chief of the biggest killing machine the world has ever seen, which has over 700 bases in more than sixty countries and annual military budgets of more than $500 billion.

The person who would negotiate with Messrs Putin and Ahmadinajad, who would deal with the increasingly volatile relationship with Pakistan, deal with North Korea, handle the China -Taiwan stand off, solve the problems of Iraq and Afghanistan. And Palestine.

The person in charge of the world's largest economy, which is in meltdown mode for the new President to inherit.

Have a look at the interview clips in this article. Note that the interviewer is kind, soft, not in any way aggressive. The possibly next-but-one President of the United States is given every opportunity to express herself and her credentials.

The first clip is her considered views on the turmoil in the economy, and what to do about it, in the second she explains how Alaska's proximity to Russia endows her with foreign policy credentials.

The article is here, in The Nation newspaper.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dubai explosion - but don't panic

There was a big explosion this morning that had people calling radio stations to find out what it was.

I was close to it and I can tell you not to worry, it was a controlled demolition of the two towers that were half built and then demolished to make way for the new Dubai Pearl development. That's in the Tecom free zone area by the entrance to Palm Jumeirah.

In true Dubai style there was no advance notice. I was driving towards Dubai Marina to be confronted by police vehicles blocking the roads. No diversion signs, no warning, just Al Sufouh Road and the roads through Knowledge Village blocked.

Inevitably that led to confused motorists driving aimlessly around trying to find alternative routes, another par for the course in Dubai.

As I was manouvering through Knowledge Village I heard the bang, saw huge clouds of dust and realised what it was all about.

I eventually got onto a flyover and saw the two towers on their sides.

I posted about the ongoing demolition back in February.

What's going to replace them is shown on Dubai Pearl website.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My apartment locked me out

This has been an afternoon with a difference.

My apartment took on a life of its own and locked me out.

We have a ground floor apartment. I went out through the back door, pulled it shut to keep the humidity out but when I tried to open it I couldn't. Somehow the door had locked itself.

The front door key was in the lock, on the inside. The back door key was in the lock, on the inside. The sliding windows were locked. All my keys were inside while I was on the outside.

I found the maintenance man. A master key was no good because with the keys in the locks from the inside the master won't work.

He and two of his colleagues had lengthy discussions, prodded at the lock, fiddled with the windows.

Finally a decision was made - they'd have to drill out the door lock.

Off he went to get his drill, leaving his offsider and his toolbox.

Out came the hammer and a chisel.

I'm a great believer in basic tools like that, a hammer being my favourite. Mine is the 'if in doubt, give it a clout' school of engineering.

A bit of banging and crashing and somehow he managed to dislodge a piece of metal from inside, between the door and the frame, and yanked the door open.

Ten minutes of repair to the damaged piece of metal and the door is, almost, back as it was.

How the door locked itself is a mystery. I'll have to be very careful in future.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

'Clarification' of the evictions...

So now we have the official word on what the eviction of families is all about, with an advertisement from Dubai Municipality.

Inevitably it's in the strange language understood only by bureaucrats so the precise meaning is a bit vague.

It begins:

"To all concerned with the establishments and companies, nationals, residents, and owners of the residences and buildings utilized for accommodating labourers, bachelors and multi-families in the residential districts in different areas of the Emirate of Dubai."

'The residential districts in different areas' is a very unspecific; does it mean, as it implies, all residential areas?

And it doesn't specify only families in villas as yesterday's reports said in reference to the 'one villa one family' campaign. It now includes 'labourers, bachelors and multi-families' and says 'residences and buildings' so it's much more wide-ranging.

The announcement goes on:

"...it is obligatory to vacate the above mentioned categories from these accommodations..."

So it's saying that labourers, bachelors (meaning single people of either sex) and multi-families cannot live in Dubai's residential areas.

I find that astonishing.

It continues:

"...and remove the establishments that were added in violation to the original licensed activities..."

That presumably means partitioning, temporary structures on roofs etc. which break the building regulations and cause overcrowding, which the Municipality is quite right to crack down on. As I said yesterday, overcrowding is a major problem that needs to be stamped out.

But a blanket ban on sharing accommodation and even worse a ban on single people living in residential areas, or a ban on families sharing without overcrowding, which is what the announcement says, that's a whole different thing.

I assume the original announcement was in Arabic so I suppose there could be something lost in the translation. Or maybe I'm reading its meaning incorrectly.

Or maybe they do actually mean exactly what it says. Here it is in full (click on it to enlarge it):

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thirty days to move...to where?

There are reports that Dubai Municipality has started the clock ticking on its one-month deadline for landlords of shared villas to evict the tenants, or, presumably, evict all but one family. It's part of DM's ‘One Villa-One Family’ campaign.

It seems to me that it's another knee-jerk reaction. Another simplistic blanket ruling to a highly complex problem.

First of all, there's a obvious safety implication of overcrowding.

Rooms divided by flimsy partitions, tens, even hundreds, of people crammed into inadequate space, means of escape compromised. And the sanitary and health problems of so many people living in such close proximity sharing limited bathroom and cooking facilities.

Obviously action must be taken to remove this problem.

But not all shared villas are overcrowded. Some are comfortably shared by singles or families, each having sufficient space and facilities and living in harmony.

There is a big difference between sharing and overcrowding.

You also have to factor in the accommodation that people are prepared to live in - I talked about a couple of examples back in January, here.

Then there's the economic factor. People have to share accommodation because they simply can't afford anything on their own. That takes us into the whole business area of salaries. Not only whether companies are prepared to but whether they can afford to increase salaries in line with accommodation and general inflation increases.

Do we need regulations on the number of people moving into Dubai until adequate accommodation is available? Not to mention the rest of the infrastructure, including hospitals, police, fire brigade, ambulances, roads & transport, power, sewage treatment, water...

About 800 people a day are moving here. Even deducting those who leave it's still a huge, relentless population increase that seems to be unsustainable.

Then the much-discussed question of the whole real estate sector being focussed on high end, luxury, expensive developments with little or no affordable accommodation being built.

That needs government involvement because land and construction prices are going through the roof and developers naturally want to maximise their return on investment.

And the big human question - how on earth are all the evicted people going to find alternative accommodation in one month? Where are they going to live if they can't find anything?

Most of the comments seem to be that they're desperately looking in the northern emirates. But there's a shortage of accommodation there too, and the additional people trying to move in will inevitably push rents up.

And if many of them do find accommodation there, it will add to the chaos on the roads into Dubai in the mornings and out in the evenings.

It's a vicious circle isn't it.

And last but not least, what about the year-in-advance rent that tenants have paid? Is there a guarantee that they will be repaid, or have their post-dated cheques returned?

Major cities around the world are struggling to find an answer to the problem of accommodation being beyond the reach of essential but lower paid workers, who are moving to cheaper areas. That includes essential workers such as cleaners, bus drivers, even nurses, firefighters and so on.

As with so many other areas, Dubai could and should have learnt the lessons of other cities around the world and planned to avoid the problems. It could have been done, we had the ideal opportunity because Dubai is being built from scratch, from empty desert.

Khaleej Times is running the announcement today, here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cleaning up Dubai Marina

In the past I've complained several times about the lack of street cleaning in Dubai Marina. The main road and area around Marina Walk in Phase 1 were done but in spite of dozens of towers being finished and thousands of people moving in, the rest of the streets were simply left in a filthy state.

I complained not only on here but to Emaar, who sent their contractor out to assess the situation, after which nothing changed.

Well now it has changed, so I shouild comment on that.

At long, long last, the general paving of footpaths and roundabouts is being done - all subject to being constantly dug up again of course - and street cleaning is happening alongside it.

We have an enclosed sweeper truck doing the rounds...

...so much better than that open truck that throws up more dust than it collects.

And we have dozens of sweepers with simple domestic brooms, dustpan & brush and black plastic bags.

Not high tech but they do a great job.

Some things don't change

In spite of the huge changes, some things in the city stay the same, and it's good to see.

Al Wasl Road and in front of me was a pick-up full of goats.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More RTA planning

"The emirate's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is considering increasing hourly parking charges to encourage motorists to leave their cars at home and switch to public transport. And fines for parking offences are set to go up.

The RTA estimates that currently only seven per cent of the population use public transport while the rest use private means – a major cause of congestion.

People in Dubai believe that owning a vehicle is a status symbol. That is why some families have more than one car, which is an unnecessary burden to the roads. We have to find ways of eliminating this burden."

Sorry to interrupt the explanations about the problem, but I'd like to add an observation.

The reason so many of us use our private cars is because we don't have a public transport system. Nor do we have enough taxis.

We have no alternative to using our cars.

Even when the Metro opens next year it will serve only a tiny part of the huge area that is now Dubai.

The current bus service is far from adequate and all the news reports I've seen have pointed out flaws in the system.

Oh, and the RTA has added unnecessary bureaucracy to car pooling, making it less attractive to people who would otherwise car pool.

Getting us out of our cars and onto public transport depends on providing a public transport system that is efficient, convenient, clean, safe, reliable and gets us where we want to go when we want to go there.

That we don't have.

The story about how the RTA plans to deter us from using our cars is in EmBiz247, here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fires and crashes

Two stories in todays papers I thought worth commenting on.

In EmBiz247 we're told that Atlantis will open on schedule on September 24 in spite of the recent fire, pictures of which I posted a couple of weeks ago.

Well, sort of.

We have more detail than we've been given previously about the opening of the $1.5 billion resort on Palm Jumeirah.

The area affected by the fire won't open on schedule, and that's the Lobby. Instead they've set up two temporary lobbies, one in each tower. The real Lobby won't open until mid-October and in the meantime guests will have golf cart shuttles.

Less than half the hotel's 1,539 rooms will open on September 24, only between 600 and 800 will be open on opening day.

Then in The Times there's a report on the dangers of texting while driving, quoting research from Britain's Transport Research Laboratory.

It's worse than drink driving folks.

According to TRL's research, reaction times of texters slows by 35% (drink is 12%), their stopping distance increases by 10 metres at 50kph, their steering control is 91% poorer than drivers actually paying attention to their driving, in other words, they're more prone to drifting out of their lane. As we know from driving on Sheikh Zayed Road. Or on Al Wasl Road as I was this morning, taking evasive action from a Toyota Landcruiser drifting about while the driver concentrated on his mobile phone call.

I hope the police and law makers here have a copy of the research and will act accordingly.

The stories are here:


Moronic drivers.

Bomb 'joker' gets jail

A follow-up to last Thursday's post about the Brit who thought it was a good joke to pretend to set off a bomb on an Emirates flight into Dubai. He'll have four months in the slammer to rethink his idea of humour.


The mysterious part of the sentence to me is that he was also fined Dh1,000 for consuming alcohol.

I've never understood the law on alcohol. It's freely available yet it's an offence to drink it.

Under this inexplicable thinking surely Emirates should be charged with aiding and abetting. They served him, as they serve their other passengers, with free alcohol, they pour it for them, they offer them more. Presumably with full knowledge that it's an offence for the passengers to drink it.

You can read Gulf News' report here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Marina fire?

Lunchtime today in Dubai Marina and I drove past this:

It looked like another construction site fire to me.

Beach development

Time to update a post I did six months ago on the new development adjoining Umm Suqeim Fishing Port, off the beach next to Burj Al Arab.

It's a replacement for the massive development that was planned, for which the beach was fenced off - until The Big Boss stepped in and stopped it.

The substitute development is called a tiered island, although it's really a new spit of land being created adjoining the beach. It will have 45 villas on it apparently.

Today it looks like this:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Doing things in Dubai

It'll be very familiar to everyone living here, but possibly an eye-opener to the people outside who read our blogs to find out the reality of living in Dubai. My last few days have been typical of trying to do something in Dubai.

My Residence Visa is due for renewal, which of course means a medical report - a blood test is required.

My sponsor has a small list of clinics from which they will accept reports, the nearest to me being in Jebel Ali Village. I used that last time, it was small, friendly and efficient so I decided to use it again.

The first problem is that working hours are shortened because it's Ramadan, so an early start is the obvious thing. But the RTA-created gridlock in Dubai Marina makes that not an option. I've been talking about that for a while now and it's getting no better, so rather than spending unproductive time sitting in the traffic jam we've been working at home until after 9am to let the worst of it thin out.

(To give you an example of the problem, yesterday Mrs Seabee needed to be at the Dubai Metropolitan on Sheikh Zayed Road at 8am. The taxi she'd ordered for 7am was on time - and it took one and a half hours to travel the first one kilometre in the Marina. She eventually arrived at the Met at eight forty-five - nearly two hours to do a thirty minute trip).

Anyway, back to my medical report. Leaving it to later I fought the marginally better traffic to take Mrs Seabee to her office in Knowledge Village, then headed off to Jebel Ali Village.

The clinic is closed. Shut down. No longer operating. A piece of paper stuck to the door says we have to go to the clinic 'next to Satwa Post Office'.

It's too late now to try that, so I schedule it for tomorrow.

Tomorrow dawns, the usual gridlock-avoiding late start, drop Mrs Seabee at her office and head off for Satwa. The usual traffic snarl, an hour to get along Satwa Road.

There are more than two hundred people, mainly labourers, jammed around the clinic. I can't even get to the door so I give up.

I call my sponsor to check which other clinics I can go to. Iranian Hospital is the nearest choice so I decide to schedule that for the next day.

Today was the next day so I headed back up Al Wasl Road this morning, heavy traffic but moving. I found a parking space at the side of the hospital, was dripping because of today's awful humidity by the time I got to Reception.

A pleasant, smiling, helpful lady directed me to the Blood Test Clinic. The less smiley but equally helpful lady at reception there told me she needed a copy of my passport and Residence Visa plus a passport photo. I always carry plenty of those with me when I try to do anything in Dubai so I handed them over, with my Health Card.

She stapled it all to some forms which included a ticket with a queue number on it. It also had a note that I should expect to be called at a very precise 11.23 (it was now 11.05).

This is one of the huge improvements in Dubai. Until very recently all such places were a huge indisciplined rugby scrum of people pushing and shoving, waving papers about, climbing over others to get to the counter.

We all sat in an orderly manner and I was called to the counter at 11.20.

A small bit of computer work, a form with numbers and stuff on it, pay Dh250 and I was directed to the Blood Test room. Straight into the chair, blood taken, that's it, off you go.

My form tells me to collect my report at 11.30am on Thursday. I had noticed a section of the counter with a sign 'Reports' above it, so that seems to be well organised.

At just after 11.30 I was headed back to the car.

In the end, after all the aggravation of the previous days, a few minutes was all it took.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dubai real estate - the good & the bad

You want the good news or the bad news?

There's both in the story about what was going to be the $3.3 billion Plantation Equestrian & Polo Club.

The bad news is a dispute, payment default, repossession, corruption investigation, executives in custody, worried buyers...

Land for the project has been repossessed by Dubai Islamic Bank over payment default by the developer because it was the collateral for the loan.

But there is good news in the story. RERA, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority, has said that investors' rights are 100% guaranteed and they will be compensated.

That's a sign that the laws and regulations are catching up. Better late than never I suppose, although, like so much else in the way of infrastructure and laws, all of this should have been in place before development was allowed to begin.

Hundreds of billion of dollars in developments were allowed to go ahead in a free-for-all, just about everything was sold off the plan, there were no laws or regulations. It amazes me that there's actually relatively little fraud because the opportunity to take the money and run was wide open.

More luck than judgement, methinks.

Gulf News has the Plantation story here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It isn't funny.

All of us here use aircraft, so I don't suppose any one of us will see the joke when a fellow passenger tells us he has a bomb which he's about to detonate and holds a mobile phone in each hand.

Brit MW is in court accused of doing just that on an Emirates flight into Dubai and he's admitted saying it and admitted being intoxicated.

A drunken passenger saying he's about to detonate a bomb. Great, that makes flying so much more fun.

You know what he told the court?

He told Presiding Judge Fahmi Mounir that he develops anxiety and when he consumes liquor he suffers from constant worry.

I hardly know where to begin.

If that's the effect alcohol has on him why does he drink? And why does he think it's a funny to to impose anxiety and worry on others?

I hope the court throws the book at him.

Gulf News has the report here.

UAE feels the Iran earthquake

Three pm yesterday and there were tremours from an earthquake in Iran felt across Dubai and the northern emirates.

Reports are saying that in Iran seven people were killed and forty injured, bad but it could have been so much worse looking back at previous 'quakes in the country.

Here the authorities say there was no damage, although many buildings were evacuated. People are saying their buildings shook noticeably, desks moving, lights swinging back and forth.

I was in Dubai Marina at the time and felt nothing. Mrs Seabee said her office building in Knowledge Village trembled slightly, but that's only three storeys high.

Many people are relating their experience of it to the media, but not the ones I'd like to hear from - the guys in the cranes above the world's tallest building Burj Dubai.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The beach romp...

...what's going on?

Two Britons charged with sexual activity on a Dubai beach had their hearing adjourned for a month on Tuesday because the policeman who caught them failed to appear in the witness stand.


If the defendant fails to appear, isn't an arrest warrent issued?

Here we have the prosecution's star, only, witness failing to appear and the case is adjourned. For one month?

That can't be right.

Gulf News are reporting it here.


Gulf News this morning is also telling us that MP didn't turn up either - she's 'fatigued' apparently. Only Vince bothered to attend.

The update story is here.

Cutting edge Dubai

Dubai, the ultra modern city of opulence, high tech, cutting edge, state-of-the-art.

Sitting in the RTA-created gridlock again this morning I saw another example of it...

And this morning, as all mornings, there are the sad inadequates who have a need to feed their egos by feeling more important than the rest of us, speeding up the wrong side of the road to push their way into the queue...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bigotry update

There's a follow up to a post I did back in May about the bigotry from the far right in Australia, because a twist to the story has just been reported.

Back then a proposal for a 1,200-student Islamic school in Camden on Sydney's rural outskirts was rejected by the local council 'on planning grounds alone' - traffic, noise, amenity. That's fair enough and it's what councils should do.

My objection was to the residents who used the opportunity to froth at the mouth with their bigotry. Before the vote, protesters placed pigs' heads on stakes and draped an Australian flag between them on the proposed school site.

Their pin-up girl was Kate McCulloch, shown here at the meeting disgracing the Australian flag:

She summed up the feelings:

Mrs McCulloch, who owns a hospitality business in Camden, accuses Australia's Muslim leadership of saying nothing while mothers and children are used as suicide bombers.

"The ones that come here oppress our society, they take our welfare and they don't want to accept our way of life," she said after the council vote.

The post I did about that is here.

Now a Catholic school has applied to build a 1,000-student school, which has the bigots applauding.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The Camden residents' group that fought a Muslim society's proposal for a school in rural Camden has welcomed a Catholic organisation's plans to build a school nearby because "Catholics are part of our community".

The president of the Camden/Macarthur Residents' Group, Emil Sremchevich, said the Catholic school plan "ticked all the right boxes", even though he is yet to see its development application.

Pin-up Kate wasn't in the news this time, it was President Emil doing the talking.

A spokesman for the Quranic Society, Issam Obeid, said: "Everyone can see there is a double standard … No one knows anything about the Catholic school and they say, 'Yeah, give it a tick already.' I think racism is affecting this."

President Emil rejected that:

"Why is that racist? Why is it discriminatory? It's very simple: people like some things but don't like other things. Some of us like blondes, some of us like brunettes. Some of us like Fords, some of us like Holdens. Why is it xenophobic just because I want to make a choice? If I want to like some people and not like other people, that's the nature of the beast."

Cartoonist Wilcox had it about right:

The Mayor has stated the council position:

Camden's Mayor, Chris Patterson, said religion had nothing to do with the the council's decision in May. "And this DA will be treated exactly the same. The council will take into account traffic, amenity, noise."

The Sydney Morning Herald story is here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Deaths waiting to happen

All the publicity about minibus drivers being a danger on the roads seems to have passed this driver by.

The morning jam in Dubai Marina created by the RTA which I've posted about several times. We're sitting in the queue as patiently as we can when the minibus full of passengers uses the wrong side of the road and negotiates the roundabout the wrong way.

The passengers should lynch him.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

It was nothing.

The other day I mentioned the little fire at Atlantis and included a pic of the aftermath.

As I said then, the management is saying it was nothing really, it certainly won't delay the opening on September 24.

A friend sent me a Powerpoint show and I thought you might be interested to see one of the photos of the small fire that caused no problems.

A relaxing change...

I've managed to upload the hundreds of Singapore photos, I've started to go through them and I'll post a few in the coming days.

To start, here are a few from my nightmare.

I was really looking forward to getting away from the relentless construction in Dubai, the endless red & white barriers and flapping red plastic.

The taxi from Changi Airport pulled up at our hotel...

Red & white barriers!

Red plastic!

Iconic developments, complete with artist's render of the finished thing!

The length of Orchard Road is being developed, the footpaths, the landscaping, buildings being replaced or renovated.

There's less dust than here but jackhammers clatter non-stop, which we don't have to put up with here.

So much for getting away from the construction.

Something else similar to Dubai - you come across some interesting signs about the place.

A Chinese shop selling very Chinese clothing...

And this one had me doing a double take...

Ye Olde Englysche Bar.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Vehicle safety standards

I've often posted about the number of fires when vehicles crash here, and I've asked the rhetorical question of whether our safety standards are lower than other countries.

In today's Gulf News a report on the booming market we have for carmakers says how easy it is to ship cars here. It includes the throw-away line: Emissions and safety standards are also low.

I really think that's the problem behind the number of fatal vehicle fires.

The full story is here.

New No Entry sign

It may be old news to you but I've been away and came across it for the first time this morning...

(All perfectly innocent surfing by the way, I just wanted to check whether Secret Dubai was still blocked.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The other beach romp...

Just a quick PS update on the beach romp court case I mentioned yesterday. The two stars of that show asked for a slap-on-the-wrist-naughty-naughty-don't do-it-again-sentence to be passed promptly so that they can go home.

They might reflect on a not dissimilar case, in which the Court of Appeal has just upheld the sentences of a month in jail for two ladies "for kissing and fondling each other and engaging in "indecent acts" on a public beach in Dubai."

Then they can go home - actually they have no choice, deportation after the jail term was the sentence.

The report is here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Back to blogging.

Two weeks in Singapore, arrived back in Dubai yesterday evening and this is a rambling bits-and-pieces post of things that come to mind.

Dontcha love Dubai International Airport? It seems to take as long to get from the aircraft to the exit as it does to fly from Singapore. They say that the skeletons of lost travellers have been found in the labyrinth of corridors, although that could just be a rumour.

DNATA seemed to have run out of trucks to fetch the baggage from the aircraft to the carousel, it took forty-five minutes and the bags appeared one or two at a time as though the handlers were carrying them individually from the plane.

Over an hour after we disembarked we finally got out of the airport.

And so to Dubai.

Not sure that I missed much, but then to be honest I haven't been keeping in touch.

But it's deja vu all over again now that we're back.

It took fifty minutes to cover one kilometre in Dubai Marina this morning, with our beloved RTA obviously deciding the best way to deal with the gridlock they caused is to ignore it. Well, they don't live in Dubai Marina I'm sure, so taking two or three hours to get to the office isn't their problem.

The closed bridge I talked about before is still closed - why open it when that would simply result in the traffic being less gridlocked?

People are still using it though, a whole fleet of small sedans to big 4x4s were jumping up the kerb, through the roadworks and off across the bridge.

Of course a lot of them are too important to wait until they get there to jump the kerb, so they drive down the wrong side of the road into the oncoming traffic - like this one, wrong side of the road, wrong way round the roundabout and across the truck, causing a jam in the opposite direction...

Then we have a fire on a construction site. Situation normal there then.

This one made the news though - it was in the US$1.5 billion Atlantis Resort, the flagship development of Palm Jumeirah. The lobby area had what looked like a big, big fire with a lot of damage.

The resort people are saying the hotel will open as scheduled on September 24, but there are conflicting opinions. Looking at the Reuters photo published in Gulf News I'd say they don't have a chance...

Then the beach romp case gets a mention, the case being adjourned until September 9.

I loved the optimism of Michelle and Vince, the stars of the show, who asked for a speedy verdict so that they could return home soon.

They're not expecting a jail term, obviously.

The good news is that my regular coffee shop has the Ramadan curtains up, so I can at least start the day as usual with a couple of double espressos and the newspapers.

It'll take a day or two to settle back into the swing of things I'm sure, and catching up with the news on all your blogs is high on the list.

How was Singapore?

Construction everywhere, rain every day, humidity which I always find much worse than Dubai's - it's relentless too, never below about 75% I'm sure. So this was not our best visit.

A rare view from the hotel room...

The usual view from the hotel room...

It was a working trip for Mrs Seabee, I just tagged along for the ride and had planned to do all the touristy things while she was working. I gave up on that, but we still had a reasonable time. We went back to favourite restaurants, found some new ones, spent time with family there

I'll post some photos when I've sorted them out, if I can find any that I think are interesting to anyone but us.

The stories I mentioned are worth reading by the way. They're here:

Atlantis fire.

Beach romp.