Archive for November, 2008

Kafka would feel at home

30/11/2008

I spent some time on the phone today with our property developer.

When it rained this weekend, wet patches appeared on our ceiling and on the dining room wall. It’s crystal clear that there are structural problems causing the leaks.

To get the developer to look into this, I am not able simply to contact them telling them there are leaks. I have to get a service provider to come and look at the leaks and then submit a report to the developer telling them that there are leaks. The developer may then fix the problem. Or may not.

I will be visiting the customer service centre in person tomorrow.

Nurses can’t drive

30/11/2008

I was a bit surprised by this article in the Gulf News.

Are there any other countries out there that restrict driving licences to certain professions?

Doubtless the authorities have done a full study into the implications of this move. I would be particularly interested to hear why nurses and bakers can no longer drive cars.

Service

30/11/2008

I don’t want anyone to lose their jobs, but if the current economic slowdown forces some Dubai based companies to improve the level of service they offer, there’ll be a silver lining to the cloud of financial disaster.

Take one of the dealers for one of our cars. This place sells luxury cars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (although ours is worth rather less than that). Currently they are unable to answer a phone or book a car in for service in a simple and easy way. Turn the taps off a little and maybe they’ll actually have to start treating their customers a bit better.

I expect similar carnage in car showrooms as the ‘sales’ staff realise that selling cars suddenly requires more effort than looking up in irritation as potential customers walk in, followed by handing them an order form.

Chris misses out on history

29/11/2008

Mrs Saul and I missed the largest fireworks display the world has ever seen, last week. We went home just before it started, losing our place in history.

The Atlantis hotel on the Palm Jumeirah spent several million dollars for its launch party, a few months after its ‘soft’ opening. A friend of mine from school happened to be working on the launch, handling the sound for the event. His latest claim to fame is narrowly avoiding being thrown out of the event after Sol Kerzner, the Atlantis’ billionaire owner, objected to seeing my friend’s laundry hanging out to dry on a balcony.

Various stars were in attendance, apparently. Kylie performed during dinner.

Personally I’m not a big fan of the Atlantis. Its aquarium is fun, but very expensive to get into. The hotel’s pink walls and interior decor aren’t to my particular taste. It had lots of problems with its plumbing when it opened, but I’m sure that these problems have been solved and that the building has been constructed to the highest standards.

Here’s a video from YouTube of the fireworks.

Dubai property grumps

26/11/2008

I am feeling grumpy. This may have something to do with flying home over night from Zurich with no sleep, but the core reasons for the grumps remain the same.

The quiet area I used to live in seems to have been ruined by the developer deciding it would be a good idea to have a four lane motorway, with no traffic calming, filled with idiots driving too fast, run through the middle of the area. It’s noisy too.

I come home to hear my next door neighbours’ every word in the room next door. They’re not being anti-social – it’s just that the developer appears not to have built walls with the proper sound proofing or thickness, despite the fact that this is supposed to be one of their more up market projects.

It rained last night and there are wet patches on the ceiling in exactly the same places they occurred last time it rained, despite the fact that we were told that the area above had been checked for waterproofing and fixed where necessary.

I feel an intense need for a quiet week at home with no noise, no traffic, no fixing fixing.

More Spam

24/11/2008

Number of times I have removed myself from a local media publishing company’s spam email list? Five.

Number of spam emails they send me a week, despite the fact I have removed myself from their list? Five.

Come on guys, start being a bit more professional. I buy your weekly listings mag every week – you get plenty of cash from me. Keep filling my inbox with nonsense and lying to me about whether I can remove myself from your email list or not and you’ll simply lose a customer. You probably wouldn’t care about that 6 months ago, you should do now.

Businesses you should tell your children to be in

22/11/2008

As the revenue taps are turned off in IT, it seems chocolate is the long term stable business to be in.

A friend of Mrs Saul’s visited us recently. She works as a brand manager for a popular, chocolate bar in the UK. In good times, people buy lots of chocolate bars. In bad times, they buy more of them. Apparently, the lipstick business sees similar statistics.

My personal belief is that the same should go for thin client computing. It saves you money during good times and makes IT managers look like heroes during bad times. Sadly, I don’t have Mars’ marketing budget to spread the word.

Driving through Dubai

21/11/2008

Dubaijazz has done what I’ve been meaning to do for ages – video the sights, or rather (building) sites when driving down the Sheikh Zayed Road.
A nice little vid. Three years ago, most of this stuff wasn’t here and most if it is still under construction. The drive is heading towards Dubai from Abu Dhabi, at around 120Kph.
The Sun office is behind the buildings you see at 2.34. Before, we were in a nice little area, separate from the hustle and bustle and you could see our logo from the motorway. Now we’re behind these three blocks of skyscrapers, each of which looks ok in itself, but which clash somewhat when placed side by side. Parking is getting increasingly difficult. I used to love our little corner, but I’m not so keen on it now!

Driving through Dubai

21/11/2008

Dubaijazz has done what I’ve been meaning to do for ages – video the sights, or rather (building) sites when driving down the Sheikh Zayed Road.
A nice little vid. Three years ago, most of this stuff wasn’t here and most if it is still under construction. The drive is heading towards Dubai from Abu Dhabi, at around 120Kph.
The Sun office is behind the buildings you see at 2.34. Before, we were in a nice little area, separate from the hustle and bustle and you could see our logo from the motorway. Now we’re behind these three blocks of skyscrapers, each of which looks ok in itself, but which clash somewhat when placed side by side. Parking is getting increasingly difficult. I used to love our little corner, but I’m not so keen on it now!

Watching the Dubai property market via spam

20/11/2008

I’ve complained many times in the past about the number of spam sms and emails I get from estate agents in the UAE. Currently, though, I’m taking a morbid interest in what they have to say.

One month ago I was still being offered the chance to live an iconic life of iconic luxury in an iconic apartment on the iconic 800th floor with no parking space and a service fee that would feed and house a family of 8 for a year in central London. Well almost. The price was always amazing value, with the property guaranteed to triple in value every time I circled around it trying to find somewhere to park.

These days phrases like ‘amazing investment opportunity’ or ‘almost sold out’ are being replaced with ‘distress sale’, ‘forty percent below market price’ and ‘owner has to sell to make payments on other properties’.

All of this obviously means that my own property will decrease in value. Since I’m not planning to sell up or leave any time soon, that’s fine by me. If the long awaited correction means that buying becomes vaguely affordable again, I don’t mind. If the current crazy levels of rental prices drop, allowing people to be able to afford to live here again and for companies to be able to afford to bring in the staff they need and plan their budgets properly, I’m just as happy.