Archive for the ‘Dubai’ Category

Up the top


Finally made it up the Burj Khalifa. What’s really interesting is the amount of space around still left to build on.







Solar’s here


This is brilliant and long awaited.

Dubai is really coming along in leaps and bounds.

There’s been an incredible improvement in services recently – government and telcos’ online offerings and smartphone apps now abound. The road infrastructure is frankly superb now, du have 4G internet everywhere, the airport is absolutely world class and carries more passengers than Heathrow.

Compare Dubai and the UAE in general with the rest of the region…

Hari’s Back


Johann Hari is back on the radar, not just via irritating shares of his terrible ‘Dark Side of Dubai’ article.

It also seems he is still using quotes in a certain way.

There’s a market for everything


I’ve often wondered what happens to the inordinate amount of bread that gets thrown away every day in Dubai.

Every Lebanese or Indian restaurant or takeaway meal comes with enough bread to sustain a family for several weeks – I’d always assumed the leftovers get chucked in the bin.

Parking near Fishermen’s Beach on Saturday, I spotted this man collecting piles of Arabic bread and putting them into sacks. Next to him were about twenty bags filled with stale naan bread.

So now I know what happens to at least some of the bread – but what happens after it’s been put into sacks afterwards is still unclear!


Uber impressed


I finally got around to signing up for Uber last week, using them several times in Jo’burg and today in Dubai.

I’m totally blown away by the whole system – it’s such a perfect use of today’s mobile technology. Available in so many cities, solves the issue of having cash with you, of safety with driver and passenger ratings, navigation with the GPS telling the driver where you are and where to go, how long you have to wait, etc, etc. Just incredible.

The drivers I spoke to all worked for local companies that were contracting with Uber. They all seemed very happy, especially with the way Uber use the technology to pay bonuses – most customers picked up in one day, most trips, etc. Everything’s being used to incentivise everyone, customer, passenger, fleet owner, etc, to buy and sell as much as they can.

Just stunning.

The Dubai driver I spoke to today says he pays 8,000dhs a month to hire his Lexus, with an iPad and Uber. He pays for petrol and keeps everything else, plus commissions based on various factors. He typically makes between 17,000 to 20,000 a month, which is pretty amazing for a driver.

Previously he used to be a normal taxi driver for 36 months, during which time he collected 36,000dhs in fines. His comments echoed what a lot of other taxi drivers have told me, namely that when they are fined it can often be difficult to understand exactly why. This means that bad drivers don’t learn and good drivers become disheartened.

The cars I all took were at the top end of the saloon range. Prices are a bit higher than using a normal taxi (in Dubai at least and I’m sure in Jo’burg too) but it’s well worth it, especially when it can be expensed. The convenience of checking your phone fifteen minutes before you meeting ends and picking car makes a world of difference.

With local companies scrambling to make their own apps, Uber’s still a step ahead with their international coverage. The market’s still wide open though – a real revolution coming to the world of taxis!

The ultimate test – I’ll be in Lagos in November, where Uber are apparently operating on Victoria Island…

Savvy move


I’d love to visit Montenegro.

I wonder if this move will see an influx of UAE tourists or not?

Also, the first time I’ve seen the use of the word ‘ambassadress’. I always find it odd when people use ‘actor’ or ‘waiter’ to describe what I grew up calling an ‘acrtress’ or ‘waitress’, but in this case I find myself confronting my linguistic and sexist prejudices.

Latest crime news


‘The woman reportedly told police she did not know why she was naked and declined to explain her actions.’

Unusual crime report from the Gulf News.

Poor woman.




Most of these drivers seem to think the laws of physics don’t apply to them. The truck driver placed a fire extinguisher as a warning? Doubtless three feet away from his truck, just like most of the morons who stop and place the red triangle thing inches away from their car instead of fifty plus metres further down the road, or the construction workers who provide three metres of warning before closing a lane on a 100kmph stretch of motorway, albeit with some cannon fodder waving a red flag in the darkness.

What is it? Culture? Education? How stupid do you have to be not to understand these fundamentals?

Jumping off my neighbour’s roof


This is pretty cool.

Day at the beach