Friday, October 28, 2005

Aussie rules

Have come Down Under for a few days of work, as well as to catch up with Danny and James, who I haven't seen for years. James did the city end of my trip, complete with drinks at high-altitude bars, as well as a whistle-stop tour of the city. Danny took care of the weekend, including barbecue and road trip.

So, I can confirm the following: have driven past Palm Beach and seen the beach where they film Home & Away, as well as the Surf Club building. Have seen a wallaby, flying fox, possum, cockatoo and a bush fire. Ate in a posh restaurant opposite the Opera House and got bitten by mosquitos. Had all four seasons over one weekend. Tried six types of Aussie beer and none of them were Fosters or Castlemaine XXXX. Passed an island called Scotland. I still don't understand Aussie rules. They watch way too much Jerry Springer here. Australian Idol isn't as good as American Idol. Cathay Pacific should be renamed Crappy Pacific.

Off to Asia now, on the way back to Dubai.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Choc ice

There's a new contender for the title of "coldest place in Dubai" - and it's not the Ski Dome. The cinema at Ibn Battuta is positively arctic (much colder than the Metropolitan on Sheikh Zayed Road); I swear my whole system shut down about 45 minutes into a night showing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

And after watching Tim Burton's scenes of the first ever totally chocolate palace in the world, I reckon it's only a matter of time before they build it in Dubailand.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Overheard today ....

Life's a bitch and I'm her puppy.

Humanitarians are like vegetarians - they just eat people.

And finally, a beginner at a shisha tent asked: "Do I suck or blow?"

Death by fairy light

Today was a day of two cultures. First stop was iftar at Automatic restaurant on the beach road, where we had an authentic feast, washed down with the far-from-authentic music of The Carpenters. According to those fasting in our office, this year has been a lot easier than usual. Mo said: "There are so many good Arabic shows on television during Ramadan. Really, it's just like American television - we're waiting for Desperate Dishdashes."

After iftar, Amber and I went to the launch of the new Christmas collection at The One, where the interiors store invited the whole of Upper Umm Sequiem to wade through the baubles, velvet cushions and candles in return for an opening night 10 per cent discount. After two hours spent in the festive extravaganza, to the Christmas tunes of Chris Rea, The Pogues and Smith&Jones with Kim Wilde, we had to leave, eyes weary from a fairy light-related visual assault.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Full of Eastern promise

Stumbling across a Mills and Boon-style site for romantic slush novels with a touch of Turkish Delight, Sonya and I are considering writing one of our own. Taking handy hints from novel-writing software, we figure it can't be too hard. After all, the ingredients are simple: take one swarthy Arab, add one feisty Western female (no stereotype trolley dollies here), and throw in a few nights of passion - against her will at first - in a Bidouin tent.

Take for example, a story particularly close to our heart. In his determination to save his desert land of Ras al Hajar, Prince Hassan al Rashid decides to attract the world's attention by kidnapping the beautiful fiery-haired English journalist, Rose Fenton.

Or what about this tale, which could almost be transposed to modern-day Dubai: public relations executive Genevieve Jordan travels to Kashkiri to plan an international conference and falls in love with brooding Lord Ali Ben Hari.
And here's a dilemma for the modern working woman: to keep a lucrative account for her finance firm, Megan O'Connell travels to Suliyam with Sheikh Qasim, who tells her she must marry him in order to protect her from tribal leaders.

For inspiration, the site lists the themes available in the series, and readers can choose from meddling family members, marriages of convenience, and quickie weddings which all sound just too TomKat (Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes) for words.

But the stand-out offering comes from Laura Wright, in her book The Sultan's Bed. Here's the synopsis and an extract:

Every day in court, divorce attorney Mariah Kennedy pits herself against rich, ruthless men...and usually wins. Her new neighbor, the Sultan of Emand, Zayad Al Nayhal, with his arrogance and air of command, is exactly the type she had learned not to trust. But his mesmerizing good looks and irresistible charm soon chips away at her best defenses.

Excerpt from the book:

He said, "Perhaps I was looking for you." Her heart literally fluttered. Foolish, foolish girl. "And why would that be?"
"Perhaps I wish to know more about this--" he studied her with a lazy, hooded gaze "--fiery woman who lives beside me." Fiery! She nearly blushed. Nearly.
"Well, there's not much to tell," she said, running her fork back and forth through the fig compote. Lord, he had extraordinary eyes--so black, but flecked with gold. A woman could get lost in those eyes if she wasn't careful. Good thing Mariah was careful.

With fig compote around, who said romance was dead?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sex kitten

According to The Telegraph, boot-cut trousers and kitten heels are dead. Not so in Dubai, says Martha, who announces that "Dubai's like so a year behind in fashion terms." A sigh of relief from the females in Upper Beirut (Dubai Media City) who have become surgically attached to their low-riders and strappy sandals. Martha continues: "Kitten heels are just so practical for a working girl - flats are too boho, stilettos too impractical."

Martha's got a bit of a shoe thing, but bemoans the fact that the Dubai climate restricts her footwear options. "Boots are my favourite but it's just too damn hot. I have a zillion pairs, just wasting away." Martha's love of boots was inspired by her ex-boyfriend's love of the same thing. "He used to ask me to keep on my Lycra knee-highs at all times - and I mean all times.... At first it was great as I tapped into my inner vixen - until I got cramp in my foot. Goodbye vixen, hello cripple."

False fag alarm

There's been an incident in the building; everyone stay where you are.

A typically cryptic message over the loudspeakers of one of the buildings in The City, which caused Amber to call me in a breathless panic. "Tell my husband I love him and in case you need to identify me, I'm wearing a denim skirt, red top, and clean underwear in case I have to go to hospital. Phew."

Needless to say, the panic wasn't entirely justified. Apparently, it was because somebody had been smoking in the bathrooms - not a good idea since The City is now non-smoking, plus it's Ramadan.

Amber called me back, panic replaced by grumpiness. "I bet it's one of the skinny-assed models from next door. It's bad enough that they stuff their face with pizza in front of me, which ruins my no-carb karma. Then they parade around in front of the bathroom mirrors complaining about their non-existent butts. To ruin my day by illegal smoking is just rude."

Monday, October 10, 2005

News flash (apparently)

Today's headline of the day from is MasterCard Consumer Lifestyle Survey reveals travelers use credit cards to make variety of purchases. Truly insightful.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


To the bank, who sent me the same Ramadan Kareem SMS a total of 21 times within 12 minutes today .... no, I am no longer enjoying the Holy Month.

Dubai's Trump card?

So, Trump Tower is finally coming to town. According to reports, it's a tulip-shaped building on a palm-shaped island - sounds so green and environmentally-aware - and brings together "two of the world's flashiest developers". A dipstick survey of colleagues in The City reveals mixed opinions: it looks like one of the evil kingpin's lairs in a James Bond film, where rockets are launched through the top; bug's eyes; or an Easter egg.

But the most interesting image is one provided by Dido, who suggests: "It's almost like The Donald's own head except sideways ... at least that way his hair will stay in place." Which got us to thinking, what other celebrity monuments could we come up with for Dubai?

We could have the Clinton tower - tall, permanently upright building with the Lewinsky Plaza located lower down. Or will Oprah be next? And if so, architects will need to create a flexible shape that can contract and expand with the seasons. What about if Jacko decides to develop in Dubai? It would have to be buildings around the age of 12 to 14 years for possession and redevelopment. And it finally solves the question of what the Beckhams' property on the Palm would look like... Two buildings side by side for the cameras one side, but far apart from the other angle. One would have a permanent orange glow and would have a massive roof on top of a stick-thin main tower, while the other would be have a roof that changed its style every month, had new murals on its walls (usually in unintelligible ancient scripts) and was fully IT-compliant with free text messaging thrown in.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ramadan reflections

Ramadan is traditionally a time for reflection and introspection, and in The Cities, it's causing most smokers to reflect on how much a nicotine fix is worth. For Harper and his pals, it's worth the shame - and pain - of hiding in a bougainvillea bush where the pursuit of a closet puff is rewarded by thorns in the bottom. The City is now smoke-free, with the afflicted given nowhere to indulge... apart from building 3 foodcourt, where Mrs Cooper tells us that "anything goes".

There are many different approaches to the Holy Month. Sonya, a Brit and a non-Muslim, fasts every year and is doing "really well, and loving the dates" this year. Meanwhile, Ahmed (a Muslim) has admitted he's doing Ramadan Lite - "no eating or drinking, but quite a few impure thoughts".

It's easy for those who work in offices all day to forget the rules, not least me, who managed to fall foul of several simultaneously (drinking, chewing gum and live music while speeding down the Sheikh Zayed road) before remembering. But the most blatant offender has to be Clover, who admitted to eating pork scratchings in daylight hours.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Black comedy

There are some things a girl is just better off not knowing - and it's a shame Sonya didn't abide by this unwritten rule when calling me up to tell me she was mega excited to be on a boat with "comedian" Jim Davidson. Apparently, she had a teen crush on him, alongside Philip Schofield, which she has never shrugged off completely.

Not even the crude comments and double entendres could sway Sonya until she had an epiphany midway round the press cruise up the Creek. She texted me an urgent plea for help: "Bobby Davro's here in November. I fancied him when I was 11. Kill me now."

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Mouth to mouth abhorration

There's some strange Dubai affliction that results in a swollen lip. I've had it a couple of times, where my top lip swells up overnight: while I was hoping it made me look like Angelina, it actually looks like I've had a major dose of bad collagen. It's happened a couple of times to my best pal Newman, only it makes him look like he got in a scrap.

Anyway, I've woken up with the early signs - and not sure whether to retreat into hermitsville now, or live with the fact I look like a mutant. Needless to say, it's comedy value for all my friends, and not helping my nerves over a huge work event tomorrow! Maybe it's a reaction to all the butt-kissing I've had to do this week?

POSTSCRIPT: Lipwatch episode two - Newman's lip swelled up just 12 hours after mine, amid much muttering (his) of me practising voodoo after he sniggered at my mouth misfortune.
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