Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dubai where?

I was sent the link to maps.google.com and typed in Dubai. Up popped the response: "Sorry, the place you have requested does not exist." And here's me thinking it was the centre of this part of the universe ....

Friday, July 22, 2005

Truly cosmopolitan

Bearing in mind I seem to have spent much of the last six weeks travelling, I can confirm that Bahrain is my new favourite airport in this part of the world. The DVD selection is much better than Dubai, and includes a lot of films that are banned in Dubai (Monty Python's Life of Brian has been spotted, as well as some nearly-adult movies). And also, no real queues at passport control (hurray!).

Bahrain really is very civilised - they take any currency in Costa Coffee and you can buy alcohol without a licence. So far, the island has the lead on Dubai in the cosmopolitan stakes ...

Worst album covers

Thanks to the Dodger, for providing today's light relief. http://www.cenedella.com/stone/archives/2005/07/worstest_album_3.html

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Adieu, Secret Dubai

Sitting on a balcony in Europe with wireless connection, I have just read that Secret Dubai's blog has been blocked by the mighty Etisalat. On quite what basis, I'm not sure, as the author has always been measured and constructive in her comments on UAE society.

Meanwhile, it turns out that The Hen was reprimanded by CID in a club in Dubai for wearing her party outfit, which consisted of a black spangly G string over her jeans. Apparently it was indecent - so not sure what they would have made of Superman.

All in all, looks like Dubai's taken a step back towards the Dark Ages.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Yorkie bar

Vegas, eat your heart out. Clover and I managed to confound our doubters by organising a hen night in Dubai without a) getting arrested; b) any of the girls having a cat fight; c) anyone passing out. 28 women, 1 bus, 5 venues, 8 hours, starting with Trader Vics in Crowne Plaza. Keeping it old skool, we took in the delights of Carters (private dining room to keep us away from the regular punters), Rock Bottom and Jimmy Dix.

Several men got mistaken for strippers by the girls, but they ran away before they could be abused by screeching women.

Midway round, we also passed an eye-opening 30 minutes in a club in Bur Dubai (the less said the better). Piling out of the bus, there were a few bemused faces as we piled into the hotel, looking for "the hooker bar". Having been pointed upstairs by the doorman, the Red Sea parted as we entered. Ladies of negotiable affection tried to intimidate us - 'twas their turf after all - while the men looked out for fresh meat. Half an hour later, duly fuelled by Flaming Lamborghinis, we left.

Friday, July 15, 2005

One word of advice

Hen night organisation? Don't.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


After a number of years on-off in Dubai, the mighty Yoda is leaving, (so named because he's old, wisened and wise, and has odd sticky-out ears). In his honour, there was a reunion of the Meeja Whores, the "legendary" quiz team from years ago, determined to see one of its founder members off in style.

The Meeja Whores were always a motley crew, yet somehow managed to hold the Aussie Legends record for about two years.

- Yoda was the resident expert on geography, as well as central American capitals and north American rivers;
- Dodja sipped Corona, wrinkled his brow and answered the occasional question about Mormons (he kissed one once) and planets;
- Frosty, now back in the UK, knew about entertainment;
- Lairy Clairey, also back in the UK, just drank Smirnoff Ice and got the odd 60s tune right;
- DJ Dan only ever answered one question in his life and we ignored him - it was something about Joe Montana;
- and finally moi, who only knows about James Bond films, with a speciality on Bond themes.

So, for one night only, we were back and came home the victors with five points to spare.

However, there was a hairy moment when the quizmaster, Aussie's own Disco Dave, dared to argue over which character had been in the most Bond films. While he claims it was Moneypenny, we all know it was in fact Q. With that, I can put the record straight now and claim a moral victory, as well as real one.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Telephony by name, phoney by nature

That not-very-charitable corporation Etisalat has announced we will no longer be able to access wireless internet hotspots for free in Dubai. Expect sales at Starbucks - where almost all the outlets offer free wifi - to drop as soon as this policy is introduced.

None of this impresses me: I already swell the coffers of the UAE's telephony monopoly every month in order to have ADSL high-speed cable at home. Unfortunately, it's about the same speed as dial-up most of the time.

War of the Turkeys

War of the Worlds, the blockbuster of the summer .. or so I thought. Despite having Spielberg at the helm, I was strangely unmoved, and irritated by huge gaps in the plot that you could have driven one of thr tripods through. And as for the ending: made the whole film laughable (not HG's ending, by the way, the happy-clappy family conclusion).

For me, it was up there with Alexander and Troy as contenders for the award for "biggest promotion, biggest turkey".

Testing, testing

For all those who have the joy of residency visa blood tests to come, I have good news. Get your company to pay the extra Dhs100 or so, and go private at the Iranian Hospital. Despite the rather off-putting portakabins marked Blood Tests, the service is swift, and relatively painless (though I was left with a bruise that prompted some wag to ask if the boss had driven me to something stronger than lychee martinis).

Mo' money, moet problems

Having spent a whirlwind 36 hours in Europe on a business trip, I'm delighted to confirm that the airport still stinks. This trip was made marginally more amusing by the red-neck Yanks in the queue in front of me. They looked suspiciously like Marines arriving for some R&R in Dubai (is that possible during Dubai Summer Surprises) - think it was the camouflage rucksacks stamped as property of the military that gave it away. Glad to see they weren't trying to infiltrate the city on the sly, then.

Meanwhile, I have somehow managed to become Clover's one-woman importer of duty free champagne. Apparently, the Veuve from the hole in the wall in Ajman just isn't up to scratch these days.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Singing for someone's supper

Credit (partially) to mbc for extending coverage of Live 8 to the widely-available mbc2, so it meant that most of the UAE could watch coverage cut out just as Bob Geldof started up with the Boomtown Rats. It might have been one of the few examples of the media censor working to the viewers' advantage.

Overall, there weren't as many stand-out moments as expected (though I did fall asleep after more than five hours). Madonna boogied away with some seriously flexible dancers and really showed the young contenders what it takes to be a serious star. Baby Apple Martin - complete with ear muffs - and mum Gwyneth Paltrow sang along to Coldplay; country singer Faith Hill's hair took more of the stage than she did; and mad Pete Doherty didn't do a thing to alter the media perception of him as a snorting, smoking, sideshow.

There was a trip down memory lane with 80s legends A-Ha (and my, hasn't Morten Harket improved with age!) and Duran Duran. Sadly, Simon le Bon Bon had been out in the sun and was burnt - apart from a few white lines where his neck wrinkles - and Nick Rhodes looked like he was wearing the same suit he did in the Girls on Film video more than 20 years ago.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Terminal travel

The Frenchman flew out of Dubai last night, but only just. After checking in more than two hours ahead of time, he only just made the flight after ridiculous queues at the check-in desk of our favourite airline.

It seems the heat got to many of the passengers: one pregnant woman fainted in the queue, while a UAE national woman slapped an airline employee when he tried to explain to her that she couldn't barge her way to the front of the line.

While we make visitors uber-welcome to this city, it might be wise to try and make the farewell as pleasurable as the 'marhaba'.

Fine French cuisine

On today's brunch menu at a cafe in BurJuman: a number of flavours of croissant, including plain, cheese, chocolate and - wait for it - escargot.
adopt your own virtual pet!