Archive for December, 2012

Safety First


I was interested to read that Saudi held a ‘Desert Challenge’ recently.

‘I wonder what the safety standards were’, I thought to myself. Would it be a rally type event, or something with people standing around on top of a dune with everyone driving up and down it in their 4x4s, trying to get as close to the spectators as possible?

Photos here from Gulf News.

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Welcome gesture


It would be easy to be cynical about this, but I think it’s a great move.

For the record, most of our circle of friends are all decent to the people articles usually describe as ‘invisible to pampered expats’ in articles in the UK press.

Very Silvery Shadow


Classic Roller, UAE style.

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This is such a let down. Honestly!

I will often tip the two or three dirhams change involved, especially if the guy has cleaned the windows. The pump attendants don’t even actively seek tips – they certainly don’t pester you and they always try to fill up to an even number so there won’t actually be any coins to tip with. They also tend to be uniformly cheerful and helpful, despite the tough work they are doing.

Videos from our Big Red drive


Alan got some great footage from our drive the other day. Set it to 720 – incredible quality!

Alan demonstrates two things very well here.

1. Why you should always try to descend a steep section square on and not at 45 degrees.

2. Why you shouldn’t brake if you are descending at 45 degrees.

3. How to wedge yourself in a bowl.

Here’s Alan following me.

…and a general round up.



Every time I find myself musing about the general improvement of driving standards in Dubai, my expectations are quickly reset.

Driving down the Boulevard yesterday, the driver of a Mitsubishi truck decided to take an illegal left turn down a service road that is there to allow traffic to cross the Boulevard. It is not a left turn for drivers on the Boulevard itself. There’s a clear sign saying ‘no u-turn’.

He was in the middle lane, I was in the outside lane. There was no way I could have predicted he would suddenly turn left. He indicated but turned at the same time, without checking his mirrors, pulling straight in front of me.

I hit him sideways on, pushing his truck along onto the central reservation (a flower bed, the earth in which provided something of a cushioning effect and probably avoided triggering my airbags).

No one was hurt, but I went to A and E later as my right foot was swelling up. It’s just a sprain from pressing so hard on the brake.

The police turned up fairly quickly after I call them and seemed to rather enjoy the whole event, being quite jolly and efficient. They didn’t take long to decide who was to blame. Apparently this is the second accident this driver had been in four months. Miraculously he was able to drive his truck away.

He never apologised.

My lovely Patrol is almost certainly a write off. Given the state it’s in, I don’t really want it repaired! Fortunately the same model is still available in Dubai, so hopefully I can replace it.

This is why we drive big cars here. To protect ourselves from utter idiots who should be driving donkeys in Peshawar, not ten ton trucks in a modern city. The driver is the guy in the middle of the last photo.




Abou Joseph


This blog is not really a place for restaurant reviews, but if you’re in Beirut and near Abou Joseph, go there. Down to earth and utterly delicious, with waiters in shiny suits and bow ties – top tip, though, try not to have a meeting afterwards. Certainly not one where you need to be lively. Make sure you have a colleague who needs to present while you observe contentedly, digesting several tonnes of grilled meat, hommous, tabbouleh, fresh bread, cheese rolls, etc. Habibi! Too much tasty.

Jail choice


This is interesting.

Mystery Defender


While we were filling up for today’s drive, a group of Land Rover Defender owners pulled up.

Three of the Defenders looked stunning – all very new models, fully kitted out with extra petrol cans, tents, etc. (If the Defender weren’t so uncomfortable, expensive, equipped with useless air con and diesel engined, I might have been envious).

One Defender was a bit different though. See below. I love the USB charger plugged into the cigarette lighter – quite a contrast between old and new.

Apart from the fact that this long wheel base, soft top Defender looked as if it had spent the last five years sitting outside and was generally falling to pieces, I noticed that it was a V8 petrol model and had a rusty axe and mallet bolted on to the bonnet.

There is a legend that, in the 90s, the UAE army bought a large number of these (long since discontinued) V8 models, which were then kept in a warehouse and not used. I have no idea if this is true or not, but you do occasionally see one driving around by people with waste who managed to get hold of one. I’ve heard the story a couple of times.

This one looked like it was on its last legs. I’d love to have seen it driving – how does the V8 compare to the diesel in the dunes?


Some photos


The Burj Khalifa is looking stunning in the clear winter air.


Biscuit has been slowly demolishing the Christmas tree since Mrs Saul put it up.


Lagos Polo ground.


Lagos from the 10th floor.


This was on a door at a restaurant we visited. The Turkish owner explained –

‘This was bought from the Chinese market and I didn’t notice the mistake until it was put up. Perhaps this is how the Chinese view their staff though? Just as ‘stuff’?’