Archive for July, 2009

Decency strikes


This is an odd story. It’s a shame that the police didn’t inform people in advance that they were starting to implement the 8 year old law. Being picked up and taken down the station must be quite scary.

Still, you learn something every day – I wasn’t aware that jewellery wasn’t permitted for muslim men (at least according to the interpretation being enforced here).

I think everyone knows that Sharjah’s stricter than other emirates, but I didn’t realise that you couldn’t wear shorts there. I’ve wandered around the blue souk in shorts on a couple of occasions. Next time I will make sure my knobbly knees are hidden from view so as not to offend.

Sheikhly Fame


Pop over to Sheikh Mo’s Facebook page and you’ll see a couple of recently posted photos of him giving some coffee to a family in the desert.

The family he met are my colleague Craig Reynolds’. They were all having a barbeque in the dunes off a main road, when Sheikh Mo popped over to say hello. Pretty cool!

Thermostat abuse


Dubai is horribly hot and sweaty at the moment. Just walking around leaves you drenched and grumpy – yuck.

Thanks to the hot weather, it’s that time of year where a certain kind of abuse is perpetuated across Dubai – thermostat abuse.

There seems to be something in the human pysche that makes the majority of people refuse to trust the humble thermostat. It seems that most of my fellow Dubai residents simply cannot believe that setting the thermostat to the temperature you want will actually have the AC work, as quickly as possible, at getting the room down to 21C and keeping it there.

Despite the blatant evidence to the contrary, people insist on believing that this humble switch mechanism is actually a setting for the temperature of the air that will be blown out.

Hot inside? Whack the thermostat to 10C and then wonder why it becomes icey cold and stays that way.

Cold inside? Whack the thermostat to 30C so that it’ll warm up quickly, then whack it back down to 10C again when it gets too hot.

People! Here’s what you need to do – set the thermostat on the wall to the temperature you want the room to be at. 22C is good. Then simply leave things alone – the thermostat will ensure that the temperature stays at the setting you have chosen.

Phew! I’m glad I’ve got that one off my chest.

My Paris Hilton article’s online now…


You can find my comment piece on Paris’ trip to Dubai here.

Enjoy! Huge! That’s hot! Love you all!

Now I know how to describe my accent when speaking French…


I realise now that when speaking standard French, I am speaking with an authentic Jersey accent.

Instead of murdering Frog with my crushing English tones, I am simply echoing Britain’s Norman heritage, still to be heard in the channel islands.

Eels sonn donjerurrr si lay chevo lay monj.

Bizarrely, this Jerriais news spot is followed by sections in Polish and Portugese. Modern Britain eh soopare, ness parr?

Journey by a London bus


This film from the 1950s is simply wonderful.

Despite the dated language, the facts about everyone being considerate and getting on together ring as true now as they did all those years ago.

I would like to see ‘Journey on a flight out of Dubai’ (at least to certain destinations…)

We could have the following advice –

“Just because the plane’s wheels have touched the ground, there’s no need to jump up, grab your bags, drop your suitcase on someone’s head and barge your way to the front of the plane”.

“And now it’s time to relax. Watch how the passenger gently reclines his seat. If one were to recline it in one quick movement, it might cause discomfort to the passenger behind”.

“Remember, the cabin crew are there to assist you. They are not your slaves, so repeatedly pressing your ‘assistance button’ and demanding another whisky and Seven Up will be seen as rather rude.”

“This gentleman wants all his ten family members to sit next to each other. And quite right too. What a clever chap – he mentioned this when booking their tickets and made sure the seating arrangements were confirmed when checking in. That’s the way to do it, old fellow – this way, there’s no need to delay take off by twenty minutes whilst all the passengers around you are forced to swap seats and play musical chairs.”

“Remember, it is a scientific fact that the laws of physics also apply on aeroplane journeys, so trying to squeeze a 6ft by 5ft suitacase into a 3ft by 2ft hat rack, will simply never work, even if you ask the stewardess to do it for you”.

“Look at this naughty man – he’s berating the cabin crew over some problem that is absolutely nothing to do with them whatsoever and which they themselves are powerless to address. What a silly man”.

And for certain routes…

“Here’s the aeroplane toilet. Remember, you sit on it. Standing on it will leave dirty foot marks. And the basin’s for washing hands, not for…”

My father is no longer a terrorist


Great news about the Police being reminded there’s nothing wrong with taking photos in public, via this article in The Register.

This means my father should no longer be under suspicion of being a terrorist and Mullah Omar’s favourite photo blog can continue to flourish in peace.

It’s hot outside in Dubtown,so just open the doors!


Today is a momentous occasion – this is my fifth annual ‘it’s hot’ blog post.

It is pretty hot here now, but it’s the humidity that make it intolerable.

This heatwave coincides with my having to pay the latest installment of our ‘chiller fee’, the money we pay for cold air to cool the flat. The electricity that powers the AC fans is metered, but the cold air comes from a nearby ‘cold air place’* that supplies the development.

As mentioned here before, for some unknown reason noone thought it would be a good idea to install meters so that residents pay for the cold air they use – instead it’s just a flat fee based on yearly average consumption across private and public areas of the development.

This is utterly idiotic – completely wasteful in environmental terms, totally discouraging of any attempt to conserve energy and behave responsibly. Why should I subsidise people who leave their AC on full blast all year round? I might as well just do the same…

Combine the lack of metering with the complete lack of insulation and it’s not just the heat that gets me hot under the collar – if everyone else’s front door is like mine, during the summer they will have a warm breeze flowing through the gaps between door and doorframe, where damp lumps of sand congregate during the day, waiting to collapse into a small pyramid in the hallway when you close the door.

Is there any incentive to insulate the doorway to save on cold air? Nope, not in our brand new, state-of-the-art development that has no recycling facilities, lights that stay switched on all day, unmetered AC and private and public areas that make a 1950s British council house look like a paragon of insulation-filled environmentally conscientious thinking.**

To top all of this, the nearby hotel has found a new way of cooling down its central courtyard during these hot evenings. They simply wedge open the doors that lead to the adjacent shopping area. This means that all the energy used to cool the ‘souk’ is effectively being used to waft a cool breeze through the doors and across the hotel’s outdoor cafe.

I am going to give up switching my TV off standby when we’re out. I don’t think it makes much difference, really.

* Not sure what the technical term for somewhere that generates cold air is…

**I do like living here though.



The main product I sell is a device called a Sun Ray.

Fairly simple to spell and to write.

Despite that, it’s amazing how many permutations of ‘Sun Ray’ that I see, with native English Speakers often being the worse offenders.

SUN Ray, Sun RAY, SunRay, SUNray, SUNRAY, sun Ray, Sunray, sunray, etc, etc.

The ones with superfluous capital letters always annoy me the most, for some reason.

What is your location, hmm hmm hello?


It’s been a while since I had a call from a courier company here. I’m pleased to say that the usual routine is still in place – if a process is completely broken, why fix it?

Working for these companies can’t be much fun. You either have to brave Dubai’s roads delivering documents to places you can’t find, or you have to ring up annoying people like me to ask for our ‘location’.

Me – Chris Saul speaking.

Courier Company – Hello?

Me – Can we skip the hellos please.

CC – You are Mr Christopher?

Me – Yes, I am.

CC – Hello?

Me – Please don’t start saying hello again.

CC – What is your location?

Me – Who are you and why are you calling?

CC – I am calling from courier company. What is your location?

Me – I am driving in my car through Dubai.

CC – Hmm hmm hmm.

Me – Can you tell me what it is you need to deliver, then I can tell you when and where to find me.

CC – I have some document.

Me – I’m sure you do, but who from?

CC – From Company X.

Me – Great. My location is Y, but…

CC – We will deliver. Goodbye.

Me – Wait! When will you deliver it?

CC – Between 5 and 7.

Me – I won’t be home then. Why not tell me first when you can deliver it and then I will tell you where I will be at that time? That would be a bit easier.

CC – What is your location? Hello?

…and on it went.

I expect to get ‘some document’ sometime in the next few days, probably after the poor chap turns up at the flat three times whilst I am out.