Archive for July, 2008

Go the Wallabies – from Palm Jumeirah

July 28, 2008

On Saturday for the first time since I arrived in March, I ventured out on to the new Palm Jumeirah.  This is one of the three fan-shaped islands that they are building off the coast of Dubai and the first one to be populated.  While much of it is still being built – particularly the outer reaches, the area along the trunk closer to the mainland is full of shoreline apartments.  We headed there to an Aussie Bar called Bidi Bondi to watch the Tri-Nations.

Now a couple of things, Aussie bars are meant to serve at least one variety of Aussie beer on tap and also, it does not call one of its side-rooms Budweiser Boulevard.  But nevertheless, the decor was fine, the beer cold, and the view out the window to the swimming pool helped distract us at half-time (Luke even managed some birdwatching with a Cormorant flying past much to the amusement of the ladies who thought he was watching the other birds).

And of course, Australia gave the AB’s a proverbial shellacking.  Sitting nicely on top of the table now with a hard game this week against the All Blacks in Auckland. 

The general impression of the Palm was that people would like to live out there – if you have a sea-side facing unit, it is meant to be fantastic.  But ridiculously expensive – even for Dubai standards. 

I came back to watch the time trial of the Tour de France to cheer on Cadel only to find that Dubai Sports went over to the Ascot horse races in England and I missed the whole lot.  Ended up listening to it on a Eurosports radio channel on the laptop.  AARGGGHHH!  Shame that Cadel did not have the legs on the final day but a great performance again.

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Another busy week for Luke

July 26, 2008

Six days since the last post – well what have I been doing?  And is that a normal sort of week for Luke in Dubai?

Sunday was heading home to watch Cadel at the Tour de France after work – it’s perfect timing and really looking forward to seeing the time trial tonight.  Go Cadel!!  The telecast is fantastic – we receive the Australian one here on Dubai Sports with Phil Leggett which is so wonderful to be able to watch sport in English.

Monday was the regular whacking of golf balls with Doris.  Some of the balls that night had imaginary faces painted on them which made hitting them all the more fun!  By the end of the evening I had calmed down a bit and the balls were sailing off the club nicely.  But it was so hot and clammy that night, that both of us were saturated with sweat.  But a lot of fun nevertheless!

Tuesday was a quiet night in and Wednesday was a function at Wolfi’s Bike Shop to watch the climb up L’Alpe d’Huez which was great to watch the Tour de France with lots of others.  Good atmosphere there!  Shame that Cadel lost so much time to Sastre but we’ll see what happens tonight!  I am thinking of buying a road bike here and going out with the crew here some evenings for some riding in a group.  Dropped in to Mall of the Emirates on the way back to buy some gear for work.

Thursday evening I stayed back late at work finishing off the board presentation and had a quiet evening at home after finishing off the Thai takeaway from a couple of nights ago.

Friday morning , I headed off on a birdwatch to the east coast.  Visited the Hajar Mountains to look for some pools and a dam (which I did not find) and then off to the Dairy Farm at Dibba which was great – saw all three types of Bee Eaters, a lovely European Roller (first one for the trip) and a few Kestrels.  The weather was quite pleasant – although it would have been about 38 or 39 with a full sun, there was a relatively pleasant north-easterly breeze coming off the water not that far away.  Sweat levels were only 7.5 out of 10 rather than 9 out of 10. 

The green grass of the dairy farm with the Oman hills in the background

The green grass of the dairy farm with the Oman hills in the background

Then headed back to Dubai to meet up with an Iranian futurist that I had emailed and we chatted at Wafi’s for three or four hours.  Really nice to have a futures conversation with someone who “gets it”!  Then back home and out to a nearby pub to catch up with a couple of people coming out from a Friday brunch (I was noticeably sober!). 

And today, off to an Aussie pub on the Palm to watch the Tri-Nations this afternoon and then Cadel afterwards.

Is that a typical week?  Well a bit more sport than usual, maybe a little less birding, perhaps need to do a bit more exercise, but socialising is about usual!!

Australian Sporting Highlights

July 20, 2008

Been a big weekend for sporting highlights.

I am fortunate to be able to get the coverage of the Tour de France on the TV Channel Dubai Sports coming through into my living room.  The timing is much better than in Australia – getting home after 6 pm to watch the last hour and half or so of each day’s race.  It’s been great to watch Cadel wearing the yellow jersey and although it was sad to seehim just lose it today, to see his fellow Australian Simon Gerrans win the stage race on the mountain climb was fantastic – the elation that he felt crossing the line was tremendous, especially so when he was nearly left behind in the early stages of the climb.

And yesterday, went off to Nezesaussi to watch Australia have an upset win over the South Africans.  Even better since the Australians were outnumbered in the bar!  Always thought that the springboks were going to come back but they just could not score that try – especially in the first half when they had the better of the opportunities.  Had one too many sherbets to celebrate afterwards at the Barasti.  And going to do it again next week (perhaps without the one too many) as we play the All Blacks. 

I was going to head out tonight to see how Greg Norman went but I checked on the Web and noticed that he had blown up in the final round after an excellent effort for an old bloke in the previous 3 rounds.

Be Careful When Driving

July 20, 2008

This was my first weekend for a month without the family so I decided to get out and about with some birdwatching in the mornings before it became too hot.

It was very pleasant on the Friday morning as driving down on the Abu Dhabi road, there was a very thick fog. Temperature around 28 degrees but the fog meant that I could walk around in pleasant comfort without the sun making me sweat. The problem was that it meant that I could not see the beautiful Bee-eaters that I could hear flying overhead (but I saw them the next day anyway). Driving along the highway was hazardous – had to slow down to about 60 km/h because of the thickness of the fog. Last time I was on the road, it was the dust-storms that made me slow down.

Heavy fog on the road to Ghantoot

Heavy fog on the road to Ghantoot

And driving is also really difficult when you come across a sand drift that has been blown on to the road. This one was about 2 feet high and would have caused a big problem if you had have hit it doing 100 km/h. This is the worst one that I have seen (and means you have to be double careful if driving on any of these country roads at night).

Sand drift over the Bab Al Shams - Al Mahar road

Sand drift over the Bab Al Shams - Al Mahar road

Comparing Egypt and Dubai

July 18, 2008

I mentioned in a previous post how the geography of Egypt was so different to that of Dubai and United Arab Emirates. Green areas along the Nile, alluvial soil, agriculture, etc. But that was not all that was different.

Egypt has a real river, real alluvial soil, and naturally green areas while in Dubai, anything green is created and the appearance of lushness is manufactured.

Egypt has history while Dubai has modernity. With Egypt, you see the pyramids, temples and tombs and you know that there are thousands of years of history etched in the walls of the structures. With Dubai, what you see has been created over the past decade and there is very little older history.
In Egypt, 99.99% of the cars that we saw were old, especially the taxis. In Dubai, 99.99% of the cars are new.

In Egypt, driving is very hazardous, especially in Cairo. There are something like 6000 deaths per year. Driving in Dubai is relatively more sedate, although there are still way too many road deaths here too.

Egypt has lots of locals while Dubai is full of expatriates. Both have significant numbers of tourists of course but it is the locals that are way more numerous and obvious in Egypt whereas it is the expats that are more numerous in Dubai.

In Egypt, people come up to you and try and sell you stuff. If they do anything for you, then they ask for baksheesh (payment or tip). Even if you agree on a price beforehand, they still ask for baksheesh. And if you buy something, then they will offer just one more thing. In Dubai, what you see if what you get. People do not ask for extra, they leave you alone if you are walking down the street, and if you buy something, then that will be it!

These are just a few of the differences and there are many more!