Archive for March, 2009

Lightning strike!

31/03/2009

I’m not sure who took this photo, but it looks like it was taken very near us.

Lightning strikes the Burj Dubai!

Link to photo.

Softening

29/03/2009

The value of our apartment appears to have gone down a fair bit. I should probably say that its price has ‘softened’, to use newspaper economics-speak.

In September or October, the list price was probably around 4.3 million Dhs. Based on the spam email I’m getting, it looks to have gone down to around 2.5 million Dhs.

We have no intention of selling at the moment, so these prices are interesting, but all fairly academic for now. I think that current pricing is actually quite fair – it’s above what we paid for the place (thank goodness) and represents good value in the current climate. Sort out the soundproofing issues I have burbled on about in this blog and you have a some lovely apartments.

The area is definitely shaping up, as well. Now that the Dubai Mall has opened, we have a state of the art shopping mall within walking distance. Being able to walk anywhere is pretty rare in Dubai, so having so many restaurants, cafes and shops so close is proving to be a real boon. The originally named Dubai Fountain is in its early testing phase and looks fantastic. There’s definitely a bit of a buzz around the place.

Most of these restaurants are proving to be way out of our price range, sadly. None of them is a place that we’d consider going to for anything but an extremely special occasion – even then, there are other options a short drive away that represent far better value. Still, it’s nice to know they are there – a bit of glamour never goes amiss. This weekend everywhere was packed, so there are still people in Dubai willing to pay $32/21GBP for a main course for lunch or $12/8GBP for a mojito. I am not. Nor, I expect, will many tourists, particularly British visitors, whose Pounds are now worth so much less. It’ll be interesting to see if these places drop their prices over the coming months. I think that they will have to.

Hopefully the area will also introduce some kind of loyalty card that’ll bring prices down, or we’ll have to stick with popping in to look at menus every now and then, followed by staring at each other in astonishment at the eye-watering amounts being charged and walking straight out. I am also crossing my fingers that a good, cheap, Indian place will open up nearby – we need the Old Town outlet of Chicken Tikka Inn (Dubai’s Finest Grill Since 1972)!

Earth Hour

29/03/2009

Dubai participated in Earth Hour yesterday.

Lights around our development were duly turned off for an hour. All very admirable.

The lights around our building’s external corridors were on all day again today, as per usual. There appear to be no plans to install motion sensitive lighting or install timers in the utility areas, where bulbs burn brightly and pointlessly in empty rooms 365 days a year. Unless, that is, I have needed to access the rubbish chute and turned the lights off when leaving, as is my wont.

I think it’s a shame that a bit more thought wasn’t put into saving energy in our particular buildings. Considering they are brand new, it seems something of an oversight to have so many lights left on all the time, but there you go.

Rain in Dubai

29/03/2009

It’s been raining in Dubai today.

On the negative side, I am expecting some wet patches to appear on my ceiling.

On the positive side, when I call the contractor over to investigate the leaks, at least he won’t be able to pretend that the patches are ‘dust’, which is what happened when the lady above us washed her balcony (which is our roof) with several gallons of water.

Sana’a

28/03/2009

I had a good trip to Yemen last week, both in terms of the work that got done as well as personal enjoyment.

Due to various home computer related issues, I haven’t been able to sort my photos out yet.

That said, I know that I won’t have a better picture of someone chewing qat than this one, courtesy of Wikipedia.

I also don’t have a picture of the man selling plastic doormats at a road junction. He was in full local dress, including dagger and AK47, plastic bag of Qat and cigarette in hand. Sometimes you just don’t have your camera to hand when you need it!

Admiring the view

27/03/2009

Mrs Saul and I are off to Kerala for a week, leaving on April 3.

Whilst reading up on what to do there, I particularly enjoyed this gem from Wiki Travel -

“Hawa Beach, is among one of the beaches in India where top-less sunbathing is tolerated and well appreciated by the locals, who come on the weekends to admire this view free of charge.”

Clarkson rates the Rangie

24/03/2009

Jeremy Clarkson has a great review of a 2006 Range Rover here.

He loves the car – as well he should. The secondhand price seems to appeal to him as well, even if that resale value irritates those who bought new.

I’ll be interested to see if he refers to his experiences with his new love over time – let’s see what he comes up against in terms of reliability and service costs!

Range Rovers and new Discoveries were in strong evidence when I was in Lagos last week, much to my surprise. Whilst I can’t think of a better car to drive around that city in, I cringe at the money their owners must have spent on buying them, let alone on keeping them going.

Peering through the window of a new Discovery, I noticed that Land Rover have, astonishingly, used a coating on the steering wheel and electric window control area that doesn’t look like it’ll peel off after three days. The new Range Rovers also don’t have split headlight covers that allow sand to clog up around the lamps, either. Even more astonishing, it looks like the door handles won’t – gasp – start discolouring after being opened twice!

I would love to know who came up with these astonishingly good ideas. I would also like to know who lost their job for making such idiotic decisions in the first place, because, quite frankly, whoever signed off on those design details was a complete buffoon. The decrepit Toyota Cressidas on the streets of Sana’a appear to have dashboards and doorhandles that age better than most 2003+ model Range Rovers, something which is a crime against car design.

This is good news, if I am ever in the unlikely position of being able to afford a secondhand version of the current model myself. Word has it that they are much more reliable as well…

Sharia law in SWAT

24/03/2009

There’s an interesting article here from the BBC talking about the new implementation of Sharia law in the SWAT region of Pakistan.

Not too long ago there was something of a brouhaha about Sharia law and its use in the UK.

When reading these sorts of articles, the main reasons for certain people wanting Sharia law seem to have less to do with religion and more to do with wanting speedy, fair and cost-effective justice. They effectively want judicial reform more than anything else.

I don’t expect to see Sharia law implemented in the UK any time soon, but I can understand the wish for common disputes to be dealt with quickly and fairly. My suspicion is that the system in SWAT will soon stagnate with time, just as its predecessor did. The same would properly happen elsewhere for cases that are even slightly complex – justice can’t always be quickly doled out, unless the case is reasonably clear cut, regardless of the legal reasoning being applied.

Still, it’s great to see the Taleban getting a taste of their own medicine.

Phrases I must delearn

24/03/2009

I’m finding myself always slipping into speaking ‘Dubai’ speak, or put better, simplified English that’s more readily understood by non-native speakers, particularly in the service industry.

Some friends pulled me up on this during a recent visit to London. When ordering food at a Thai restaurant, I spoke c l e a r l y and s l o w l y to the Thai waitress, as I would do in Dubai. I wasn’t speaking like that to be condescending or superior, I was just making sure what I said was easy to understand. Of course, in this situation, the waitress had probably been living in Earlsfield for years, if not her whole life, which meant her English was flawless. This made me look like a bit of a twit.

When I’m home in the summer, I will have to stop saying things like -

- Since long time I am here.

- What time you will bring it?

- When this thing it will be ready?

- Signal straight, signal straight, then circle left. (Go through the next two sets of lights, then turn left at the roundabout.)

- What you are doing?

- Too much traffic, this!

- Two big bottle water, one copy The Times newspaper, 6 can soda water.

- When you will come? English five minutes or Dubai five minutes?

- You come now visitors’ parking.

- What my special discount? You give me best price, my friend.

- Lo, my postillion has been struck by lightning. (Ok, this last one was made up).

In a similar vein, I have discovered a customer service person at my property company who writes excellent English. This allows me to write devastatingly witty emails back, pointing out the various flaws I am complaining about in a hilariously subtle and amusing manner. Ultimately pointless, but it makes me feel a lot better.

Phrases I must delearn

24/03/2009

I’m finding myself always slipping into speaking ‘Dubai’ speak, or put better, simplified English that’s more readily understood by non-native speakers, particularly in the service industry.

Some friends pulled me up on this during a recent visit to London. When ordering food at a Thai restaurant, I spoke c l e a r l y and s l o w l y to the Thai waitress, as I would do in Dubai. I wasn’t speaking like that to be condescending or superior, I was just making sure what I said was easy to understand. Of course, in this situation, the waitress had probably been living in Earlsfield for years, if not her whole life, which meant her English was flawless. This made me look like a bit of a twit.

When I’m home in the summer, I will have to stop saying things like -

- Since long time I am here.

- What time you will bring it?

- When this thing it will be ready?

- Signal straight, signal straight, then circle left. (Go through the next two sets of lights, then turn left at the roundabout.)

- What you are doing?

- Too much traffic, this!

- Two big bottle water, one copy The Times newspaper, 6 can soda water.

- When you will come? English five minutes or Dubai five minutes?

- You come now visitors’ parking.

- What my special discount? You give me best price, my friend.

- Lo, my postillion has been struck by lightning. (Ok, this last one was made up).

In a similar vein, I have discovered a customer service person at my property company who writes excellent English. This allows me to write devastatingly witty emails back, pointing out the various flaws I am complaining about in a hilariously subtle and amusing manner. Ultimately pointless, but it makes me feel a lot better.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.