Archive for July, 2008

Dubai no 1 for expats…

30/07/2008

Seabee has some interesting comments on a recent survey about expat hotspots.
I love living in Dubai and so does Mrs Saul. Being here has given us both excellent job opportunities. We had good friends at home, but we actually get to see the good friends we’ve made here as we all live close to eachother and going camping, offroad driving, etc, is easy to.
When I arrived I expected to work hard, learn a lot, move upwards more quickly in my career and be able to save some money. I was amazed to discover, on arriving, that I could afford to have my clothes laundered, supermarket shopping delivered to my door, have my car cleaned, etc, etc. I remember my astonishment when I first encountered the tea boy at my last company. I didn’t have to make my own tea!? Incredible. (Sun don’t have a tea boy, I hasten to add). None of this was expected.
As things get more expensive, the core reasons for being here will (hopefully) remain. We’ll simply stop doing the things we couldn’t afford to do back home anyway – partly because we won’t be able to afford them, partly because whilst we may have the money, they’re simply not value for money any more. We’ll miss that side of life, obviously, but whilst life returns to what I would consider to be ‘normal’ by UK standards, I’m banking on the fact that the other good points will remain and we will too.

Dubai no 1 for expats…

30/07/2008

Seabee has some interesting comments on a recent survey about expat hotspots.
I love living in Dubai and so does Mrs Saul. Being here has given us both excellent job opportunities. We had good friends at home, but we actually get to see the good friends we’ve made here as we all live close to eachother and going camping, offroad driving, etc, is easy to.
When I arrived I expected to work hard, learn a lot, move upwards more quickly in my career and be able to save some money. I was amazed to discover, on arriving, that I could afford to have my clothes laundered, supermarket shopping delivered to my door, have my car cleaned, etc, etc. I remember my astonishment when I first encountered the tea boy at my last company. I didn’t have to make my own tea!? Incredible. (Sun don’t have a tea boy, I hasten to add). None of this was expected.
As things get more expensive, the core reasons for being here will (hopefully) remain. We’ll simply stop doing the things we couldn’t afford to do back home anyway – partly because we won’t be able to afford them, partly because whilst we may have the money, they’re simply not value for money any more. We’ll miss that side of life, obviously, but whilst life returns to what I would consider to be ‘normal’ by UK standards, I’m banking on the fact that the other good points will remain and we will too.

Anti-social hifi engineers

30/07/2008

Hi-fi engineers have beavered away for years, lowering costs and improving sound quality.
The result? The apartment two floors down can listen to music with crystal clear tones and a thumping bass. Sadly I can hear their bass too, at the other end of the building.
I love my Bose speakers, but I’m paranoid about playing them too loudly so as not to annoy the neighbours.
I will have to persuade Mrs Saul to move to a large villa in the country so Motorhead can play at top volume and next door’s Mariah Carey will never darken our sound cladding.

Reverse Stranded

30/07/2008

I can’t find my GPS anywhere. It seems to be lost.
How ironic.

Off to India

30/07/2008

Providing the courier company gets me my passport on Saturday with my visa inside, I will be off to Mumbai on Sunday for three days.
This will be my first ever trip to India, so I’m pretty excited. I’ll be meeting members of the local Sun team and going to see a customer. Can’t wait – it’ll probably be my usual airport-hotel-meeting-Sun office-hotel-airport schedule, but I’m sure I’ll get to see some interesting stuff along the way. I don’t mind not seeing any sights on these trips – it’s meeting my local Sun colleages, visiting customers that I enjoy most.
I spent a long time at the Indian Consulate in Dubai going through the process of applying for a business visa. I can’t recommend the experience – it’s not very clear what you’re meant to do and signs are posted on A4 paper in very small letters, which means you tend to miss them. The website said I needed two photos and the visa application form said three. Or maybe I misread the website. You also need not only an invitation letter, but a letter from your local employer too, which confused me as well. I must learn to pay more attention.
Various doors were left open all the time, defeating the air conditioning. Waiting to hand my passport over to a cashier took nearly two hours in a crowded, sweaty room. Not much fun. Hopefully next time I visit someone will have fitted something to the doors to make them swing shut automatically, after seeing an irate sweaty Englishman jump up for the tenth time to push it shut.
Unfortunately you don’t have the option of picking your passport up yourself. That would have been my preferred choice, as I don’t have a very good track record with courier companies here. I really didn’t want to go through the usual ritual of someone burbling ‘what is your location’ at me down the phone before driving off to Abu Dhabi all day leaving me hanging around waiting for a delivery that never arrives when it’s supposed to.
Sadly you’re not given the option to collect yourself and things have already gone wrong – I got a call today asking ‘what is your location’ and telling me to expect someone at my residence at around midday. I called at five thirty to be told that actually my passport would be delivered on Saturday. Apparently the person calling me today was simply calling to tell me that the passport had arrived with them. I was obviously imagining things when he was giving me the delivery time and telling me it’d be here today, but never mind.
If it can’t be delivered today, why not tomorrow, you may ask? Thursday is a working day, is it not? Well, tomorrow is a government holiday, announced just a week ago. I don’t know why a courier company that doesn’t work on official holidays is being employed to deliver visas. These kinds of things tend to be time sensitive. I should have had it today, now I’m getting it on Saturday? What if I were travelling on Friday or Saturday morning? I applied in plenty of time. If Starbucks is open tomorrow, I don’t see why visa couriers can’t work as well. Give ’em a day off in lieu, same as me.
Using the usual approach here of pretending to get angry if you don’t like the first option you’re given, I was told that the couriers would try to rush my passport to me by eight this evening. Let’s see what happens next…

State the obvious

30/07/2008

It’s that time of year in Dubai when everyone feels compelled to state the obvious.
You get out of your car, walk three minutes to the office and stand in reception. Dripping with sweat, you just have to say ‘it’s hot!’ to anyone who happens to be standing around.
The heat’s unpleasant, but it does unite everyone. People who’d never talk to each other in the lift might raise an eyebrow at each other, joined in common sweaty suffering.
In case I hadn’t mentioned, it’s hot!

Gruesome, but does it work?

28/07/2008

Driving round the UK in July I noticed lots of roads had new signs up asking drivers to be careful, along with a tally of the deaths and injuries that had occurred on that particular road or roundabout over the past years.
Pretty gruesome I thought. I wonder if they make a difference to the way people drive? As I wasn’t driving I found it hard to judge. I can see this being useful at junctions – an extra warning to pay attention. Or just an obvious reason why the junction should be redesigned?
I remember that parents at my school campaigned for ages to have a proper pedestrian crossing put in opposite the school gates. If I remember correctly, local regulations meant that nothing could change until an accident had occurred.

What not to do after brunch

28/07/2008

Dubai, or rather British expats in Dubai, was in the news for all the wrong reasons while I was away.
One thing that’s annoyed me about lots of the coverage in the British press is the implication in many articles that this sort of thing wasn’t tolerated in Dubai for various religious and cultural reasons.
Dubai certainly has stricter rules than Britain, what these two did would be just as unacceptable in the UK. I suspect it would be illegal too.
I believe the pair are going to be sentenced soon. I hope, for their sake, that they are treated leniently and are sent home quickly.
With all the publicity the case has generated, I expect that even the most drunken couples will manage to resist the lure of Dubai’s beaches for many years to come.

Buy us, we’re the most expensive

28/07/2008

After having back in England for three weeks, I’m finding some of the ads and slogans in Dubai particularly jarring.
I usually use a laundry near where we used to live – it’s pretty inexpensive, even if it’s almost impossible to park near it these days. Their slogan is ‘only X have the hygienic laundry concept’. Pretty innocent – possibly a classic of laundry related self-promotion.
I was in a hurry the other day, so was forced to use the laundry that’s five minutes’ walk away from where I live. Their advert and slogan is all about being as good as hotel room service. That instantly struck me as meaning that it was incredibly expensive and that you had to use them as there was no other choice. I crossed my fingers and hoped they wouldn’t be too pricey.
Sadly this was true. My laundry was more than twice the price of my usual place and I’m locked into using them as traffic near my hygienic friends means it’s becoming increasingly impractical to go there. Sadly this coincides with a whole year without them burning my shirt collars.
Why would you choose to advertise yourself in a way that suggested you cost a fortune for what’s a fairly simple service? And how can they get away with being so pricey?

Buy us, we’re the most expensive

28/07/2008

After having back in England for three weeks, I’m finding some of the ads and slogans in Dubai particularly jarring.
I usually use a laundry near where we used to live – it’s pretty inexpensive, even if it’s almost impossible to park near it these days. Their slogan is ‘only X have the hygienic laundry concept’. Pretty innocent – possibly a classic of laundry related self-promotion.
I was in a hurry the other day, so was forced to use the laundry that’s five minutes’ walk away from where I live. Their advert and slogan is all about being as good as hotel room service. That instantly struck me as meaning that it was incredibly expensive and that you had to use them as there was no other choice. I crossed my fingers and hoped they wouldn’t be too pricey.
Sadly this was true. My laundry was more than twice the price of my usual place and I’m locked into using them as traffic near my hygienic friends means it’s becoming increasingly impractical to go there. Sadly this coincides with a whole year without them burning my shirt collars.
Why would you choose to advertise yourself in a way that suggested you cost a fortune for what’s a fairly simple service? And how can they get away with being so pricey?