Friday, March 31, 2006

I wish I'd written this!


7am - Oh boy! A Walk! My Favorite!
8am - Oh boy! Dog food! My Favorite!
9am - Oh boy! The Kids! My Favorite!
Noon - Oh boy! The Yard! My Favorite!
2pm - Oh boy! A car ride! My Favorite!
3pm - Oh boy! The kids! My Favorite!
4pm - Oh boy! Playing ball! My Favorite!
6pm - Oh boy! Welcome home Mom! My Favorite!
7pm - Oh boy! Welcome home Dad! My Favorite!
8pm - Oh boy! Dog Food! My Favorite!
9pm - Oh boy! Tummy rubs on the couch! My Favorite!
11pm - Oh boy! Sleeping in my people's bed! My Favorite!


Day 183 of my captivity...

My Captors continued to taunt me with bizzarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from clawing the furniture.

Tomorrow I may eat another house plant. Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeed * must try this on their bed.

Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear in their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Hmmmn, not working according to plan.

There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food. More important, I overheard that my confinement was due to my powers of inducing "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured. But I can wait; it is only a matter of time.

Anyone who's owned a dog or cat will appreciate how brilliantly their respective natures have been observed! I picked it up on a forum - there was no author quoted but a Gold Star from me for a clever piece of humorous writing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

End of an era

Radisson to acquire management of InterContinental Hotel Dubai
Staff Report
Dubai: Radisson SAS Hotels and Resorts will take over the management of the InterContinental Hotel Dubai, the first five-star hotel built in the emirate, on October 1.

Since the property opened more than three decades ago it has been operated by InterContinental Hotels and Resorts and is a landmark on the Deira Creekside.
The hotel has 287 rooms, including 39 suites, 16 food and beverage outlets and several meeting and exhibition facilities.
Gulf News

The InterCon is where I had my very first meal when I arrived in Dubai for the first time, in 1977. In the ground floor coffee shop, which in those days was designed like a dhow with masts and rigging everywhere. It had very uncomfortable seating too; because the whole place was shaped like a dhow's hull the seats were curved & tapered and very cramped.

It was the only international hotel here and wasn't nearly enough to meet the demand of visiting business people, so there was a ship moored on the Creek nearby which was used as a hotel. It had a good bar too. Sharjah had a moored ship also being used as a hotel.

Hard to believe? Here's a photo I took in 1977:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More bad news for Dubai...

Remember Dubai's planned underwater hotel?

I just had a look at and came across this comment

We are absolutely no longer considering the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East as a possible location for anything. Our business experiences there were truly terrible.

Oh dear...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Traffic NOT gridlocked.

Drove from Burj al Arab to Dubai Marina around 4pm, along the recently-opened Al Sufouh Road. Probably over 100 vehicles on that stretch of road. I sat on the speed limit, which is 80kph, as did three, and only three, other vehicles. There was the usual mix of Porsches, 4x4s, little hatchbacks, construction traffic...

I was in the right-hand lane of course, but even so had a cement mixer flashing at me and driving centimetres from my tail trying to push me along.

The three other vehicles that stayed on the speed limit were a beaten up old truck, way overloaded and obviously incapable of any more speed, a Big Bus tour and ... wait for it...a taxi. Yes folks, a Dubai taxi staying at the speed limit. He was in the correct lane too.

Let's hear it for driver of taxi registration 1130.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Thinning traffic

I can't quite believe it, but the roads around Dubai Marina and the free zones have suddenly, this week, become almost clear of traffic snarls.

The Al Sufouh (beach) Road is sort-of almost finished - a lot of the cones have gone anyway - flyovers have suddenly been opened and it really seems that it's all coping with the traffic. Fingers crossed - maybe it's a good sign of things to come for the new road system after all.

Two gripes though.

The emptier, wide, straight roads are encouraging the lunatics to even higher speeds. I sit on the speed limit, which is generally 80 but 60 in parts, and I swear I'm the only one anywhere near it. Estimate well over 100kph for some of them, oddly nearly always big 4x4s such as Landcruisers. More often than not with white faces behind the wheel, in spite of the letters to the papers about Asian and Arab drivers being the problem. Flat straight wide road these vehicles can cope with, but anything happens - from a tyre going to an obstacle appearing to the driver on his mobile not concentrating - and 2.5 tonnes of high-centre-of-gravity 4x4 becomes a WMD.

Hellooo! Dubai Police. Where are you? Come out, wherever you are.

The second gripe is the danger to workers chalking out the road markings. Even after dark last evening, a couple of them bending down with a piece of string and a piece of chalk, right in the middle of the three-lane road, their only protection a colleague frantically waving a red flag.

There has to be a better way.

Good news on bad news

The bad news is that there's bad news. Bad stuff happens in the UAE.

The good news is that at long last at least some of it is being published locally.

The industrial unrest (riot?) at Burj Dubai story was published overseas and there was, naturally, some discussion on blogs & forums whether it would a) appear at all in our mainstream media and b) would appear but in a heavily self-censored form.

Well, I heard it being discussed on the radio this morning and I read in Gulf News more-or-less what I'd read in overseas papers.

It's a small step for mankind, but it's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Another one.

“The UAE has some of the worst drivers in the world despite having an excellent road network and relatively new and well maintained vehicles,” Dr Prabhakar Rao of the International Association of Human Values, an arm of the UN.

Mina Seyahi. The scene - a huge amount of traffic because of the Boat Show, general chaos, cars & construction traffic coming from all directions. Dangerous conditions even if everyone does the right thing.

4x4, windows blacked out way beyond the legal limit, drives through a red light to do an illegal U-turn. Luckily got away with it, as did the innocents he might well have injured or worse.

And here we are in the middle of safe driving campaigns.

I must say that from what I've seen and heard of them they seem to be weak and ineffective to say the least. Still, it's better than nothing I suppose and at least we may educate the next generation of drivers to be less deadly than the present generation.

For the current generation, I'm sure it's a complete waste of time. We're flogging a dead horse. Why? The problem goes way beyond bad driving or ignoring the rules. It's mindless stupidity to a breathtaking degree, a blatant disregard for the lives of others or even their own. With that mindset, education is a waste of time. Taking them off the road to protect the rest of us is the only answer.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Iffy democracy

Legislation barring DP World from operating some US ports is going though tacked onto a totally unrelated bill to fund the Iraq adventure. That must be passed, of course, so the ports thing automatically goes through with it.

It's a very iffy version of democracy isn't it, when sleight of hand is perfectly legal and acceptable.

The honest thing to do would be to introduce the bill as a separate piece of legislation. Why have its supporters not done that?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Prat Of The Day...

Knowledge Village to Dubai Marina at lunchtime. The usual brain-dead morons on the road but the winner of today's Prat Of The Day prize is:

Landcruiser Registration No.(deleted on advice)
For over a kilometre, on the mobile phone the whole time, left indicator flashing while moving into the right lane, a burst of speed way beyond the 80 limit almost immediately to weave back over to the left again to take a left turn, slam the brakes on to avoid running into the back of the cars waiting for the lights to change.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Now they won't even let me go to the UAE Community Blog! Are we all banned? What did we do? Who did we upset?

You don't have permission to access / on this server.

That'll stop the carnage!

New law proposes cancelling licences of dangerous drivers

Nissar Hoath, Staff Reporter

Abu Dhabi: A draft law with amendments in federal traffic rules, which include cancellation of driving licence, the introduction of black points, and fines ranging from Dh600 to Dh2,000, has been submitted to the Ministry of Interior.

Gulf News report.

How can I put this? You could have mandatory death by stoning and it still wouldn't help if the rules are not policed!

The problem is that no-one is obeying the rules and no-one is enforcing them. Speed limits, forget it; lane discipline, forget it; red light,ignore it; signalling, no need; registration, not necessary; no licence, drive anyway. And so it goes on.

The answer is simple - police patrols out in numbers enforcing the rules. Will it happen? Don't hold your breath.

Monday, March 06, 2006



Sunday, March 05, 2006

Unfair criticism.

On Secret Dubai's piece on smoking, I came across this comment;

caz said...
I have just read the reasons for smoking and non smoking. Absolutely hysterical, very very funny, the grammar equally mind boggling.

I agree there were some hysterical comments, which I thouroughly enjoyed reading. But "the grammar equally mind boggling" was a comment that comes up all too frequently for my liking, laughing at people who are communicating in a second or third language.

I've always had real trouble with languages, which I've always blamed on my terrible memory - although that's probably just an excuse, not a reason. Maybe that's why I've always had enormous admiration for people who can master other languages. My admiration grows for those who not only speak but read and write second or more languages. And it knows no bounds for those whose mother-tongue uses a different script - Russian, Arabic, Indian, Chinese and so on.

I wonder how well the fun-poking critics could contribute comments to, for example, an Arabic-language forum?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"And the winner is..."

Thank you Gulf News, for bringing us The Accident Oscars. Will they announce a winner at the end of the year? A glittering awards night perhaps, at Burj al Arab. Dubai's A List to attend in their finery, entertainers flown in, the international media clamouring for photos......

Friday, March 03, 2006

Big Brother Is Watching You.

George Orwell was pretty much spot-on with his predictions. CCTV cameras everywhere, Echelon, (the US National Security Agency's global spy system which captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world) and now our friendly local ISP has announced a new policy of checking on Internet Cafe users.
In Dubai I bet they'll want the usual paperwork - passport plus two photocopies of the relevant pages, three passport photos, driving licence, e-card, health card, a deposit of Dh10,000 returnable if you can prove you're not guilty.
Gulf News, who don't claim to be our favourite English daily, have the story:

Internet cafes to keep records of customers

By Daniel Bardsley, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Etisalat has said a new policy of recording the names of all internet cafe users will not extend to keeping track of every web page surfers log on to.
In a few weeks' time, all internet cafes in the UAE will be keeping records of people who use the internet.
Internet surfers will have to show photographic identification before they can use the internet and details of when they logged in and logged out will be kept.
Abdullah Hashim, Senior Manager for Etisalat's internet arm eCompany, said the policy was being introduced in response to a request from the authorities.
Hashim added that most illegal internet activity was done at internet cafes rather than on home computers so it was important to know who was using these.
"The internet cafe is where people go if they want to do bad things like hacking or sending threatening e-mails. All over the world, most cyber crime is done from public places.
"If we discover that a certain mail was generated from this internet cafe, we'll be able to find which people came and used it at that time. Then the authorities will investigate it.
"It will help them and give them a lead but it won't necessarily solve it immediately. We cannot have a record of every web page people look at. It's just to know who was there.
"There is a degree of control in knowing that this person was at this internet cafe at this time," he said. He said some internet cafes have already begun asking for identification and the system is gradually being rolled out to the remaining venues. In total there are nearly 600 internet cafes in the UAE.
The new rule has echoes of the situation in the mid- 1990s when some of the first internet cafes in Dubai used to ask customers for their names. "It is a gradual implementation as we have to do some technical changes to identify each internet cafe. It should be completed in one or two months' time from now," he said.
Hashim said adults will have to show one form of photo identification, such as a labour card, passport or driving licence, before they are given a username and password that will let them use the internet. Customers aged under 16 will be asked for their name.
He added: "This policy is to protect the country but we want to strike a balance so we don't prevent people from enjoying the internet."

I do like the last bit. About Etisalat not wanting to prevent people from enjoying the internet.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Gulf News

Motorists to be taught rules of good driving

By Ashfaq Ahmed, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Aggressive driving, speeding and lack of respect for other motorists are some of the reasons for the increasing number of road accidents in Dubai, said a high official from the Road Transport Authority (RTA).
"Some motorists have even been spotted writing and reading while driving," said Hashim Al Hashemi, Director of Traffic Department at the RTA. He said many drivers do not wear seat belts and do not concentrate on the road while driving.
In a bid to educate careless drivers, the RTA yesterday announced the launch of a Road Safety Awareness Programme, which will continue for one year.
"Traffic safety has come up as a major community issue as the number of deaths in car accidents increased to 236 last year. We aim to reduce at least 20 per cent casualties through our awareness programme," he told a press conference.
Al Hashemi said the Higher Committee on Traffic is also reviewing traffic laws and fines to prepare a new draft law, including a new fine system, use of mobile phones, seat belts, and use of child seat in vehicles.
"The main aim of the campaign is to address the issue of lack of awareness in the community on the risks drivers pose for themselves and other road users due to their negligence.
"The programme is aimed at building a right attitude and approach to driving," he said.
Dr Aisha Al Busmait, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communication at the RTA, said different educational programmes will be launched during the one-year campaign. "It will start with a child safety programme with the 'Kids are Safer Behind' campaign," she said.
Some 100 taxis in Dubai will be fitted with child restraint safety seats to increase awareness amongst parents about safety of children in vehicles. Taxi drivers have been trained to tell passengers about safety of children.
The RTA will also launch a series of activities and programmes such as lectures in schools and hospitals, community events and media campaigns. There will be incentives and rewards for the best drivers chosen by the RTA during the campaign.
The child safety campaign is launched in cooperation with MotherCare and Dubai Transport Corporation.

Bad habits
Use of mobile phone without using headsets
Writing while driving
Not wearing seat belts
Not using child safety seats
Aggressive driving
Not keeping to lanes
Jumping red signals
Lack of concentration and patience

Well, it's a start. The police are not in evidence doing much to stop the mayhem, so trying to get motorists to do the right thing in the first place is a step in the right direction. Actually, when I think about it, maybe police resources are completely tied up attending accidents all day long so they don't have time to stop them happening in the first place!

Here's a doozie...

From Gulf News:

One held for being rude to policewoman
By Bassam Za'za', Staff Reporter
Dubai: A businesswoman who sat cross-legged inside the courtroom landed in trouble for calling the policewoman who asked her to sit properly 'stupid'.
The European woman who was attending her son's hearing at the Dubai Court of First Instance yesterday was taken to the nearest police station for defaming the policewoman.
The policewoman had noticed the European woman was sitting on a bench with her legs crossed while the hearing was in progress.
She asked the woman to sit properly but the latter retorted calling her stupid. The policewoman reported the incident to the police who sent a patrol to bring in the woman for questioning.