Archive for April, 2007

New Wranglers Spotted

16/04/2007

I spotted the new Wrangler Sahara and Wrangler Unlimited near our apartment yesterday.
First impressions:
The Wrangler looks cool, but I’m concerned about overhang on the front bumper – it looks like a big sand scoop. Apparently though, approach and departure angles are better than my model. The insides look more comfy and the rescue hooks look fairly decent. Anything, in that department, would be better than the paper clips masquerading as recovery points that Jeep have mysteriously used for so long.
The Wrangler Unlimited also looks cool – I’ve seen it on the web and simply not ‘got it’ until now. Seeing it in real life I now understand why people might want to buy it. I think it’s a niche vehicle – certainly not a family alternative to the standard Wrangler – but it looks capable all the same. I’ll be very interested to see how well it sells and who buys it.




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Buy as much Indian couture as you want

13/04/2007

After seeing Mrs Saul wear this amazing Indian outfit at a wedding this week, I gave full approval for her to head off to the Meena bazaar and buy as many clothes as she wants.

She doesn’t need (and doesn’t ask for) my permission for anything like that of course, but I like to pretend she does, from time to time.

Three whole weeks with Mrs Saul

13/04/2007

I’m off travelling again on Sunday, but have managed to spend the last three weeks entirely in Mrs Saul’s company, something I’ve not been able to do for a long time. It’s been great fun!
The week before Easter I had to be in Barcelona for an education team meeting, so we both flew over together as the school holidays had started in Dubai. We then took a couple of days off and whizzed up the coast in our hire car to Cadaques, a small seaside town on the Costa Brava, near to where Dali used to live. The other resorts on the coast are a bit touristy, but Cadaques has kept its charm.
As you might expect, Mrs Saul got some excellent shots in.




The full Flickr set is here.

Area 53

13/04/2007

We spent a fun day driving around ‘Area 53’ today, a spot with some challenging dunes near Big Red.
As we were with some beginners I only had one try at getting up this particular slipface.

Next time we’ll take three cars with experienced drivers and push things a little harder, but today was still great fun. My highlight was whizzing along a very steep, high ridge, wind-blown sand streaming over the lip and the Jeep cutting through at high speed. Exhilarating stuff.
After lunch we met up with our TV producer friend Rupert, who needed to film 6 cars in the dunes for a project he’s working on. This meant driving around for two hours being filmed from various angles.
Driving practically bumper to bumper looks good on film, but isn’t the safest way to cross the desert, but we managed it without any incidents. For the last section the crew mounted their camera on the back of their Chevy Tahoe and asked me to lead the convoy so they could get some shots of the 6 cars following us. I enjoyed driving the Tahoe – powerful and very heavy, so it kept going in a straight line on sections where the Wrangler usually needs more careful handling. I wouldn’t want to have to tow it out when it gets stuck though.
Apparently the crew got some good footage. Mrs Saul was the next car behind us, so hopefully I’ll have something to post here soon.
The highlight of the day was seeing these three mother camels with their babies beside them, their mothers protecting them from the wind.


Mrs Saul got a nice shot of the new Dubai skyline on the way back. We’ll be living here by early September, God willing.

Fatal business process error

10/04/2007

I’m surprised at the attitude some businesses here take when it comes to two of their key processes – taking money from customers in return for the service or product the business is offering.
The most common example of this is putting the least capable member of the team in charge of manning the phone that rings with takeaway orders. For takeaway pizza joints, this is actually a rather important task. For some reason it always seems to be given to the most incompetent employee in this part of the world.
Two of Dubai’s most popular open air bars seem to suffer from the same problem. The reason most people go there is to order drinks and food which they then consume on the premises. Unfortunately the businesses concerned seem to make it as painful as possible for their customers to do this. Ordering at each place takes ages – and actually paying for what you’ve ordered seems to take even longer. Part of the bottleneck seems to lie in the fact that whilst there may often be plenty of bar staff, there’s only ever one person actually running the till.
The result is lots of angry customers waiting ages just to get a drink. 20 minutes to get two soda waters is way out – surely it’d be worth doubling your turnover by either trusting the barmen to handle money themselves or by getting one extra person to look after another till?
Very odd.

Where do you work again?

03/04/2007

A colleague of mine summarised the region we work in very well recently.
We cover SEE – ‘SEE’ stands for Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
How Hein described our situation –
SEE…
* Covers +1/3 of the world’s surface
* Is where some of the countries cannot be contacted by phone from the others
* Is where local languages from A – Z ( Arabic -> Zulu ) are spoken in daily conversation
* Is where traveling for 17+ hours might still not get you to the customer you need to see (Johannesburg -> Moscow)
* Is where you can be in all the time zones in the world , only excluding those covered by North America, South America and Greenland.
* Is where the large majority of countries have no Sun presence
* Is where the large majority of countries have distinct visa regulations for entry
* Is where you need to keep cash in multiple currencies in your wallet
* Is where the visa application process could take you longer than it takes to circumnavigate the earth, two or three times
I enjoy covering this region. It has its challenges, but challenges keep you on your toes and make life interesting!

Two years today…

02/04/2007

Today is our second wedding anniversary.

Old Town, Burj Dubai

02/04/2007

Mrs Saul and I took a stroll around the recently completed ‘Yansoon’ section of the ‘Old Town’ development, near the Burj Dubai recently. Our apartment is in the neighbouring phase and will be ready by the end of August, God Willing, but the design is the same as this section. Two beautiful hotels are already there, people are moving in and the quality is impressive.
I’d found it hard envisioning the final result from looking at the plans and model in the sales centre. Seeing the real thing was amazing. All pedestrianised, apparently with plenty of parking underground, excellent facilities and within easy walk of malls, cinemas, hotels, etc. The pedestrianisation is the main thing I like – it’s a shame that elsewhere in Dubai you’re forced to drive even if all you want to do is cross the road. This development’s going to change the way things work in that respest, hopefully.
I can imagine this spot being a popular one over the coming years.

More photos here.
Our place should be ready on August 30 – we still need the property company to sell us the second car parking space we were promised two years ago when we bought it.

Old Town, Burj Dubai

02/04/2007

Mrs Saul and I took a stroll around the recently completed ‘Yansoon’ section of the ‘Old Town’ development, near the Burj Dubai recently. Our apartment is in the neighbouring phase and will be ready by the end of August, God Willing, but the design is the same as this section. Two beautiful hotels are already there, people are moving in and the quality is impressive.
I’d found it hard envisioning the final result from looking at the plans and model in the sales centre. Seeing the real thing was amazing. All pedestrianised, apparently with plenty of parking underground, excellent facilities and within easy walk of malls, cinemas, hotels, etc. The pedestrianisation is the main thing I like – it’s a shame that elsewhere in Dubai you’re forced to drive even if all you want to do is cross the road. This development’s going to change the way things work in that respest, hopefully.
I can imagine this spot being a popular one over the coming years.

More photos here.
Our place should be ready on August 30 – we still need the property company to sell us the second car parking space we were promised two years ago when we bought it.

Camel head barbecue

02/04/2007

As you can tell, I’ve been going through the pics on my mobile.
Here’s a lovely shot of a camel’s head, wedged in a tree in the desert.

It took us a while to work out what it was. Some weeds over there, growing in the bough? A discarded hat? No, a rotting, fly blown camel’s head. How nice.