Archive for June, 2007

Bahrain Trip

30/06/2007

Had a pleasant trip to Bahrain earlier this week to install a small proof of concept. It was odd to be finishing my first year in sales scrabbling on the floor plugging in network cables, but being a bit under pressure, resource-wise, I still have to muck in when needed.
Bahrain’s expanding, although not quite at Dubai’s scale. A new financial district is being built:

The pub in my hotel had also expanded from the small cozy place I remember from my last visit in December 2003 to a huge mega pub of the sort of size you’d see in London. The Sherlock Holmes and general English feel was still available in abundance though, with copies of The Times from 1913 lining the walls, next to adverts for Woodbines and Horlicks. The theme was further strenghtened by the presence of 5 squawking British girls enjoying post-work drinks.
More English culture was visible next to another place I went to.

I like Bahrain a lot. Like Oman, you’re much more likely to interact with local people than you are in the UAE. Bahrainis do ‘normal’ jobs too – all the taxi drivers are Bahraini and it’s normal for our partners and customers to have junior staff who are locals as well.

Mind where you park

29/06/2007

I’ve posted before about how ‘backside’ here generally has a different meaning.

Indian Gadgets

29/06/2007

I was intrigued when I saw this sign in Carrefour the other day. What could ‘Indian Gadget’ be?

The trail lead to this sign…

…next to shelves containing normal looking pots and pans.
The Arabic text is rather longer than the English. Maybe ‘Indian Gadget’ is a bad translation?

SCUM available here

29/06/2007

Spotted in Casablanca.

The most cheerful man in Dubai

29/06/2007

I had my car re-registered a few weeks ago by the most cheerful man in Dubai.
Rather than sit in queues and waste my morning, I decided to use the service offered by my insurance company so I rang them up and booked things.
Agnelo turned up 5 minutes early, was cheery and friendly and brought my car back in minimal time. While I took him up to where my car was parked, he told me that the villa he was staying in hadn’t had any running water for 9 days. Despite this, he seemed on top form, smiling away, joking and chatting politely to me.
The service was so good, I asked him to renew Mrs Saul’s car registration when it was due. On this occasion I got to see Agnelo’s car – without doubt the most decorated Nissan Sunny in Dubai.

The dashboard resembles a kind of cosmic nativity scence – very cool!

Gentlemen like Agnelo make me feel a little ashamed. Should I be moaning about some of the things I moan about, when my life is so comfortable relative to others’?
When it comes to some things, probably not.

No more travelling – for a bit

29/06/2007

I’ll be in Dubai for two weeks solid from today. There’s a slim chance that I might do a day trip, but indications are that I can stay put for once and enjoy life here – sit at my own desk, eat food from my own fridge, drive my own car and watch films on a normal sized screen.
I enjoy my travels a great deal, but enough’s enough for the next 14 days or so, after having been away pretty much every week for quite a while now.
Mrs Saul will fly to the UK on Thursday 5 August, so we have a week together with her not working. This usually means a deluge of dinner parties and great food. Can’t wait.

Mrs Saul on holiday

29/06/2007

Mrs Saul’s first year at her new school has come to an end, heralding another mammoth holiday. She’ll be back at work on August 26.
As usual, numerous kids bought her presents – chocolates, more chocolates and even a nice framed painting of various buildings in Dubai.
The contrast to the schools in the UK, even private schools, is marked. Fantastic facilities, kids that behave (comparatively) well – all in all an excellent working environment.
Life has also improved greatly this year, thanks to schools and the government sector changing to a Friday/Saturday weekend to match the private sector. In previous years we had very little weekend time together because of my travelling, but this year we were pretty much guaranteed at least Friday and Saturday together.
Next year she’ll be busier, as she’s taken on a few extra tasks. Assurances have been given that there’ll be enough time to keep looking after me properly.

Obligatory ‘it’s hot!’ post

26/06/2007

Any self-respecting Dubai blogger has to have a ‘phwoaar what a scorcher’ type post around this time of year. Dubai’s weather is humid, hot and thoroughly unpleasant. Sweating from car to office is back, as are sunglasses that mist up when you walk outside and condensation on the car windscreen when sitting in traffic.
The first time the condensation thing happened to me when I arrived I tried wiping the inside of the glass, which is where you’d get condensation in the UK. The mist was building up on the other side of course, as the cool glass caused the humid air to condense on it.
Reading about the terrible weather that hit Oman and which is currently pounding Karachi, my discomfort rather pales in comparison.

The history of Psion

26/06/2007

The Register has a fascinating article on Psion – well worth a read.
Tragic that a British company didn’t make it to stardom under its own name, even if its legacy continues in manufacturing and through the products it spawned. Is this a symptom of some British condition, bad luck, or a simple lack of proximity to the US?
My father still uses his 3a to this day. Its reminder alarm always tends to go off during dinner – hearing it when I’m back home always makes me feel that I’m back where I belong, safe and comfortable at my parents’ house.

Muscat

24/06/2007

I’m off to Muscat for the day tomorrow to visit two customers. Oman was hit very hard by cyclone Gonu recently – this blog entry details the damage well.
Muscat is my favourite city in the region. I hope people will be back on their feet again soon.
The East Coast of the UAE was also hit hard, with many diving sites having their coral irreperably damaged, something that will affect the local economy a lot.