Wednesday, November 23, 2005


The trouble with living in a city that is midway through a major growth spurt is how it affects the roads. Not to moan about traffic, but the fact that every primary road in Dubai is having major roadworks over the same area at the same time. So, when there's a major accident on one, as has happened a couple of times on Sheikh Zayed Road near Mall of the Emirates, the city is poleaxed.

In a 21st century version of the Wacky Races this morning, traffic updates are sent via text ('cos we can't talk on the phone while driving, silly') across each road. Something like this:

Me: Two hours later, still stuck, tried to be clever and track through Knowledge Village but road is closed. Am back where I started. Is it home time yet?

JJ: Highway's nuts. Beyatch Road is blocked too. Gaaaah.

Linda: Deserve a medal for getting here - am exhausted.

The Frenchman: Am in camel and bandit country, Ras Al Khaimah.

Mercy: Move over Phileas Fogg, I've been round Dubai in 80 days. Muscles have atrophied from being stuck behind the steering wheel for so long. Have lost the will to go on.

Mike: Still in bed. Staying here.

Tim, who lives near the Burj, deserts the beach road and goes back over the highway, through Emaarville, and then back over the highway to Dubai Media City and still gets there before any of us.

The simple answer seems to stagger the road planning to protect our exit routes when the highway gets blocked.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

No love lost for Lovejoy

The Yanks have finally lost it with the news that Ian "Lovejoy" McShane has been voted No.10 in their sexiest man alive poll. Apparently it's the 'tache and the Blackburn accent that does it .... wonder what Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and George Clooney (none in the top 10) think of that? Unless the top 10 has been designed to be ethnically, ageically and politically correct?

The great escape?

Stories of Michael Jackson's Gulf tour of duty - as well as his questionable bathroom habits - have reached his homeland of America. The New Yawk gossip pages recount tales of Wacko in shopping malls, as well as his plans to buy an island home in Bahrain (wasn't The World good enough?).

As always, the final word goes to E! Online's uber-gossipist Ted Casablanca. He reckons MJ's move to Bahrain reeks of Roman Polanski's justice evasion tactics in France. Sadly, Ted lets himself down by demonstrating how few Americans are able to distinguish between Saudi Arabia and any other country here in the Gulf.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Michael's in Muscat

Relief at last: on the seventh day, there was paper.

Meanwhile, and probably not linked, Michael Jackson is currently staying in the Grand Hyatt in Muscat - either he's trying to increase his air miles by adding another GCC state to his tour of duty, or else he's seeking pastures new.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Why are we waiting?

Day 5 in the Big Brother house, and the inmates are still suffering as Big Brother withholds the right to the basic human necessity of loo paper. We'd be staging a sit-in if we thought it would do any good.....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Loo watch

The proverbial has really hit the fan. It turns out that there is a Dubai Media City shortage on toilet paper - according to Facilities, they have had no stock of the white stuff since the end of last week. We've been on Loo Watch since Thursday evening, mistakenly blaming the cleaners for forgetting to replenish stocks, and apparently Facilities have been flooded with complaints this morning.

After another call this morning, when every bathroom - ladies and gents - in our building had run out of paper as well as the scratchy paper hand towels, we were informed that Facilities have not been provided with supplies from DMC management. Calls to colleagues in the other Phases confirm that this is indeed the case across the whole of Dubai Media City.

So, we're left to wait ... and wait ... to the extent that all trips out of the free zone are accompanied by a pit stop of the non-petrol variety (including me in a hotel VIP majlis wash room this afternoon). A phrase springs to mind about organising and brewery.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Blue movie?

Today at Virgin, rifling through the Recommended DVD section, I came across the Bollywood romantic thriller Jism. Or it might have been Jism Ka Richta - I was scurrying away in shame and didn't take time to read the DVD case. But three cheers for Virgin - who said viewer freedom didn't exist?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Power surge

Out to lunch with the girls, and we nearly brought Ibn Battuta to a standstill. While comparing purchases, and nosing around in each other's handbags, I got Amber's make-up bag out to raid it. Having discarded her eyeshadows as being too minimalist, I got out a lipstick, and was just about to comment that the red didn't look like it would go with her colouring ...

.... when Amber almost threw herself across the table to hide the offending item that I was, by now, brandishing around the restaurant. It was only when Amber stopped blushing, and Sonya stopped crying with laughter (and the waiter hid with embarrassment) that I realised all was not what it seemed. This 'lipstick' was in fact battery-operated.

By the time pudding came round, I couldn't bear it any more. "Just what kind of shopping trip did you think we were going on that you felt the need to bring a little extra sumthin sumthin?" Amber answered, matter-of-factly: "Well, I carry it around with me most of the time. Sometimes you get bored in the office, or on a long flight, and you need a little extra entertainment."


You're nicked ...

The headlines were dominated back in Britain by news that Eastenders' Mitchell bruiser bruvvers, Grant and Phil, had been laid into by their other halves. Police were called when Ross Kemp (Grant) suffered 'a cut lip' during a fracas with wife Rebekah. The fiery female is none other than editor of The Sun, who recently ran a campaign against domestic violence. Meanwhile, Steve McFadden (Phil) got in a scrap with his ex-missus as well.

Well-connected media pals in London have been speculating about it - "it sounded like a bit like a wind-up at first," said Kenny, "but there have been some excellent stories doing the rounds. You just couldn't make this sort of stuff up." Popbitch, that source of all great industry gossip, hints: Why did Rebekah Wade attack Ross Kemp? Presumably for a bedroom indiscretion, but did she really stab him? And what was the gender of the third party?

Speaking to my sister Janie, we did have a laugh about how it hardly sat well with images of the boys as Cockney hardmen in EE. "I have to say they've looked a bit wussy since their return," said Janie. "They don't look like they are up to the hands-on kind of 'reasoning' they used to do - so make do with looking well 'ard."

Mind you, Janie missed the news breaking in UK. "I was too busy listening to the new Michael Ball and Westlife albums."

Janie's still trying to get over the news that her favourite upper-class balladeer had a one-night stand with a struggling actor she knows. "All this time, I thought he was tortured by breaking up with his girlfriend. He's not a sensitive soul in touch with his emotions - he's just bi."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

In-flight entertainment

Flying back to Dubai, one of the on-board films featured the actress I went to school with, who pops up in conversation occasionally. Although it clashed with a distinctly average romcom I wanted to watch - mainly because Chris 'Mr Big' Noth was in it - I tuned in for a bit. While I have to admit the girl's done good, it was a bit hard to tell from this Lara Croft lite wanna-be Angelina role. She was supposed to be a martial arts expert, but you only ever saw the hand chops, and the edge of a foot ... none of the Charlie's Angels manoueuvres here. She was starring alongside a TV heartthrob, and at one time utters the line: "I am so far out of your league." Er, so not true, dear.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Reality check

And in case I got too carried away in my Jules Verne-esque lightning trip around the southern hemisphere, there were a few messages to bring me back down to earth.

Danny: "The Melbourne Cup tip you gave me was crap. Am never listening to you again."

Harper: "Couldn't get you any orange Aeros in duty free, will mint do? PS am texting this from 35,000 feet, so might bring the BA flight crashing down."

James: "The tie you gave me has mysteriously changed colour. Not sure it goes with my shirt any more."

Family: "When are you coming home for Christmas?"

Amber: "The models are eating pizza again, but their butts are shrinking... Save me."

Model behaviour

Beverley regaled us with tales of a trip to Dubai last year, where she was following the normal itinerary of a business trip: boozy lunches, bit of work, straight out, drink copious amounts of wine, fall over, go to a dive of a club, get introduced to Bullfrogs by sniggering Dubai hosts, dance around, and stumble back at 3am, and wake up at 7am to do it all again.

Only this time, Beverley was hosting an fashion event, complete with the requisite number of media lackeys, guzzling free drink and trying to get off with the glamorous - yet uber-dim - 18-year-old models. Midway through the night, at a club Bev can't even remember the name of, one of the models turned her attentions in another direction.

Beverley said: "It's not the lipstick lesbian thing that bothered me the most - and yes, she did use her tongue - but the fact I was totally unprepared, and got an attack of the panics in case I was crap. And, as she completely blanked me at the airport the next day, perhaps I was ...."

Going underground

Trekking out to the sticks - I was "keeping it real" and was determined to see how the village-dwellers lived - I battled my way on the underground, where the entire 7 million population seemed to be on the tube at the same time (yes, that's 14 million elbows). Arriving at the end of my journey, the escalators up were all closed down for "energy saving". Whose energy were they saving? Not mine, as I puffed my way up umpteen flights of steps.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Asian games

During a recent trip to Asia, I met up with Bart and Beverley, who were appointed tour guides and entertainment gurus for my brief jaunt. Coming out of dinner, we were accosted by a woman offering us a special deal at The Eden. Quite what she thought we were up to, I'm not sure, as it seems The Eden rents its rooms out for "flexible sessions".

The Eden - A tryst in the garden of earthly delights. Sumptuous down-filled beddings, flexible sessions, private boutique hotel for couples.

Fair enough till Bart pointed out that the shortest time you could rent a room was a two hour regular session. "That's all well and good, but they'd better have decent satellite and a mini bar to fill up the other 1 hour and 50 minutes," he said. "And as for the three hour extended session - not bloody likely."
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