Archive for August, 2013

Eleven years in Dubai being


August 8 was the eleventh anniversary of my moving to Dubai. No plans to leave.

Here are some random pics from that first year (I got my first digital camera in May 2003).

You used to be able to park for free outside the UP Tower. There’s a metro station there now.

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For not much more than I was paying in England for a room in a shared house with one bathroom, tiny kitchen and living space, after three months in a hotel apartment I moved into a one bedroom flat with utility bills included, free internet, a pool, gym and parking space. Ikea furnished it for not much at all.

CDs, wired internet only, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, date this picture quite well. Note the Sun Ultra 5 on the right – Solaris 8 with the Windows PCI card running Windows 2000.

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The room was on the 34th floor, with a great view of the port.


They built something in the gap whilst we were still there, which went up in flames rather spectacularly on one occasion.


The financial district was beginning to be built, with the Sheikh Zayed Rd impressive but not cluttered.

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The low rise building on the right is The Bunker – fantastic expat down-to-earth hangout with live music on Thursday. Sadly disappeared a few months after I arrived, cleared for the financial district.


Zighy Bay. Terrifying drive up and down. Now a five star hotel with no public access.

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This early 90s Nissan is probably still on the road. You can buy them these days for about 20,000Dhs. I’m tempted just to have one for fun. Lots of the local boys still drive them, with the interiors completely refurbished, making them look as if they’re brand new.

I loved arriving and seeing all the amazing cars. I loved my rental VW Polo less – it would stall when started unless you revved it, the engine conking out when the AC kicked in.


Not sure what this is – Al Murooj Rotana?

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The Madinat takes shape.

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Knowledge Village.

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When it was still not much more than a twinkle in Sheikh Mo’s eye.

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The Marina had just started going up. Some people made a fortune on these early ones.

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You used to be able to jet ski next to Garhoud Bridge.

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Fortunately you can still go quad bikini near Big Red.

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More Madinat.

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Mrs Saul’s first visa run over the Hatta border, where we pulled over to take some photos.

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Sheikh Zayed was still alive. The papers would have photos of him resplendent in his Aviator Ray Bans, visiting projects and boosting ties.

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These sideburns weren’t fashionable then and they still aren’t today.


‘Are you working hard in Dubai compared to back in the UK? I suppose there’s not a lot to do, either?’

‘Work’s fine less than expected and there’s tonnes to do. We just spent a night at a five star hotel for 40 quid, including a five course dinner and pool and beach access all afternoon and all morning’.

I wasn’t used to this sort of thing at all and used to feel a bit odd enjoying some of the nice stuff, to be honest. Practice helped, however.

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Barasti when it was fun. Now generally known as Bar-Nasty and a bit too full of the kinds of aggressive Brits most of us thought we’d left behind in the UK. In the good old days it was a great place to go, with good service and without today’s exorbitant prices.

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We were in Istanbul for a wedding last week.

Pretty exhausting few days in taxis, bumping buggies over cobblestones and sitting on planes and boats, but fun.

It was nice to be back – I always enjoyed going there for work.


Our apartment should have been great, but was a bit of a disaster as the AC wasn’t working for the whole of our stay. The main issue wasn’t so much the AC, or lack of it, but the useless way the staff handled the issue. They just didn’t seem interested, with the exception of on of the desk guys who tried, but failed, to get us any answers or compensation. Avoid the Tunel Residence.


Could this be any more Dubai


This looks very Dubai.

Back home


Home tomorrow – 0400 get up, 0840 plane, arrive at 1840 Dubai time. Fortunately it’s a big A380 and we have business class seats, somehow having been able to get them months ago for the same price as premium economy for a previously planned trip that had to be rescheduled.

Apologies in advance for anyone expecting a quiet journey – it might get noisy.


This has been the longest holiday I have ever had, I think, since I started working in 1998. It took me a week to calm down, finally switching my BlackBerry email off eight days after officially being on holiday. I managed to keep it off for most of the remainder of a lovely three and a half weeks away.

We spent all of it in Milton Keynes with my mother-in-law, with trips down to London and one night for me staying over in the big smoke after an evening out with friends. My father caught up with Zara for one afternoon and we all saw various friends. A good balance of not doing too much.

Naturally, just as we are leaving we seem to be getting into a workable routine with Zara, with who does what being evened out, although I have been informed I am still not quite pulling my weight. I have done my best, honest. I’m sure I could do more though. I’m best with specific tasks that have a beginning and an end – bath time, looking after her for an hour and a half from her waking up at around six in the morning. The open ended ‘take her for a bit’ sessions I still struggle with.

It’s been fantastic and very relaxing. Great weather. Aside from the cost of the flights, not too expensive either. So as not to overdo it, after four working days we’re off again from Tuesday to Sunday to a wedding in Istanbul. No Emirates for this trip – FlyDubai all the way. This will be an experience…