Archive for the ‘partaying’ Category

Out with the Aussies

April 10, 2008

The past two nights I have spent out conversing with Australians.  Tuesday night was an ANZA function at the Novotel – Australian and New Zealand and not sure what the final A stands for but a group for people from the antipodes.  About 20 expats there sharing a few drinks and finger food.  Good to hear a group of people with a straight Aussie accent without poms and yanks (the bulk of English speaking radio is from the mother country).  Last night out to the sister of a family who are clients of Lyn’s at Kiva.  They have a lovely villa down in Jumeirah 1 which was about 50 minutes drive away because of the traffic but only 20 minutes to drive home again.

Off tomorrow down to Al Ain to have a good look around at the oasis about 90 minutes drive south-east on the Omani border.  Won’t be driving over as it will cost about $200 to get extra insurance to drive into Oman – OK if I am going for a week maybe but not worth it for the day.  And with the way the locals drive, I would not want to risk it!


Northward Migration of Waders

April 5, 2008

Way back in the 1980’s, I did a lot of wader study including banding and counts.  Waders are generally rather drab shorebirds with many species migrating vast distances from the tundra and steppes of the northern hemisphere to the tidal mudflats of the southern.  They fly for days at a time on migration covering thousands of kilometres.

It’s coming in to breeding season which means they are changing from boring brown bobs to their breeding plumage of various hues of red, russet, black and orange.  We only rarely see summer plumage in Australia with the adults on migration.  So yesterday I headed off to  Umm Al Quwain lagoon and the other lagoon up near Ras Al Khaimah to have a gander.

A few ticks – Crab Plover being the standout.  But it was finding a high tide roost in Umm Al Quwain of about 2000 smaller waders mainly Lesser Sand Plover, Dunlin and a few Curlew Sandpipers in various stages of breeding plumage that was the highlight.  More flamingos, quite a few camel wandering along the mudflats and few Finch Larks to keep me amused.

Had a guy wander up in his car offering me a beer (at 10.30 in the morning) to his best new buddy which I politely declined.  I think he was still going from last night and I have no idea how he got out there in one piece but thought it best to leave him alone. 

Came back early as I went out last night to the at the Grosvenor Hotel before leaving the sumptuous spread to head off to Wendy’s (Finance person) for a party.  A big day and a quiet one then today to catch up on some washing, emails, posts and a bit of work.

Project launch at the Barasti

April 3, 2008

Last night we finally had a quiet drink amongst the project team to celebrate the launch of the project that I am managing over here.  We settled in to the Barasti Bar at Le Meridian Mina Seyahi just down the road from work at about 7 for a couple of ales. 

Unfortunately, the pizza restaurant we wanted to go to for dinner was full so we had another ale or two before we ened up going to the other restaurant.  A rather late night in the end (we were the last to leave the bar) but I can now honestly say that the good ship has been well and truly launched.

Also unfortunately, I can’t tell you about the project – maybe another time!

Dinner at the Madinat with David Gurteen

April 3, 2008

On Tuesday night, David Rymer and I caught up with David Gurteen, a KM luminary from the UK. We decided to meet up at the Madinat Jumeirah (link) which I had heard looked really nice – a couple of very high class hotels with a large shopping district set in pretty gardens with Venice-like canals. 

I arrived at Al Qasr hotel to meet up with David G and his first words were “This is like Disneyland”.  And I just have to agree.  Al Qasr is where we met and the taxi going up the entrance went past huge sculptures of Arabian stallions while inside, it was ornate, grandiose and exquisite.  David and I walked around, took in the sights and took some pickies.


Had a great conversation over dinner with David Gurteen after David Rymer joined us from his conference in Abu Dhabi.  I was amazed to find it difficult to get a table even on a Tuesday night.  Our conversation turned to where in the world you would find the most beautiful women and I think we agreed to disagree!!  A very pleasant conversation over a lovely bottle of Argentinian Malbec.

Dubai World Cup: Querying the Queues

March 30, 2008

Yesterday was the Dubai World Cup.  Along with 50,000 other people I went along to the racecourse to socialise and take in some of the atmosphere.

We knew the traffic would be bad and it lived up to expectations. We’d booked a taxi and pre-booked and already collected our tickets (thanks Jaymster) to the International Village where they served alcohol.  The taxi dropped us off about 500 metres walk to the entrance which was not too bad considering the afternoon sun and me wearing a suit.  We arrived at about 4.20 which we thought was reasonable as the bar opened at 4 and the first race was not till 5.  The gates opened at 2 but hardly anyone was there at that time because you could not get a drink. 

The queue to get in was incredible.  Some people were waiting in the queue for 90 minutes – no toilets, no water and very warm weather.  I’ve read that others were in the queue for more than 2 hours and then some needed to add another hour if they had not already picked up their tickets. 


As with any queue, there is a choke point and any processing system improvement consultant will tell you to work on these points to streamline the flow.  The choke point was the security system with two airport security devices for people to walk through for the 10,000 people trying to get in.  When it was my turn, I placed my mobile phone in my jacket – put it on table on the side of the machine, walked through and then picked up my jacket.  No-one checked the jacket.  I must have looked honest.  Girls with handbags were checked in a different queue.  It makes the current problems with Heathrow look relatively tame. 

The reasoning was to protect the dignatories.  My initial thought of the security was to protect us from terrorists and that this was crazy as someone could just walk up to the queue and cause carnage before the security system.  But the real issue was to protect the rich and famous inside.  It makes me relish the excellent systems in place for AFL football in Melbourne with 100,000 people filling in to the MCG.  Lots of gates for entering, minimal security checks (checking bags mainly for alcohol), and easy ticket collection.

We spent most of the time at the Bubble Lounge.  Champagne was only French- it cost a bomb – 500 dirhams or 160 Australian dollars for the cheapest bottle – and you could not buy a beer inside that particular enclosure.  The insiders were only interested in socialising – the hats were fantastic, the dresses very nice, the fillies were quite noice as well Kimmie (Australian cultural TV joke) and we spent some time deciphering tattoos.  Oaks Day in Melbourne revisited!

We did see the horses occasionally but as no gambling was allowed, the horse racing was more of a distraction rather than the main event.  Apparently Curlin won the main race but I was in the queue at the toilets at the time. 


Of course, there was another queue to catch a taxi coming home.  None of these guys had ever seen how to arrange a taxi queue at a major airport and so you had only two or four cabs being filled with people whereas you could have easily had 16 to 20 cabs being filled at a time.  Only 35 minutes in the taxi queue as we left straight after the main race.

I’ve been here two weeks now and it seems that this epitomises Dubai in some respects.  Fantastic facilities, very modern but that some things are still not properly bedded down with inappropriate regulations or operations.