29 January, 2010

A Secret Tunnel

This article could have been written by The Onion.

So secret is this Dubai traffic tunnel, that an RTA representative didn't know about it.

"We may have announced this already, but I'm not aware of it," said the official. "It sounds like it will save drivers a lot of time."

There's a hardly-used vehicular underground tunnel located between Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed Road which, when used, bypasses the shenanigans caused by the roadworks on the Defence Roundabout.

This diagram, courtesy of Gulf News' Xpress, shows the location.

Be quick now - go find it before everyone else does!

22 January, 2010

A rarely seen scene

Something rarely seen nowadays. An old cafe -Gahwa Sha'beya- with customers that are mainly old Emarati fishermen. Relaxing, chitchatting, and oblivious to the hustle and bustle of modern cities around them.
God bless them.

I only saw such pictures of old UAE in the early 70s.

18 January, 2010

Heads Up

A quick heads up - there's an exhibition of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photographs from Dubai-based photographer and photoblogger Catalin Marin (Momentary Awe is his blog, BTW) at JamJar in Al Quoz tonight. Here's the location info if you don't know JamJar. It's being put together by printer company Oki Printing Solutions (Oki is a client, just so's we're all clear) and is open to the public from 6pm-8pm.

Thanks to an idea from Rambling blogging and PR person Mita yesterday, we're going to be auctioning off a signed high definition print of one of Catalin's most popular images, After the Storm in aid of MSF in Haiti.

Err... that's it. Just thought I'd share.

16 January, 2010

Dubai 1975

The Gulf blog links to what appears to be a very interesting BBC video dated from 1975...

Here is a film made by the BBC in 1975 about Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. At that point he was the ruler's son, but he would become the man who helped create modern Dubai.

It is a glimpse of Dubai just before it started to become the strange fantasy world it is today. It has a great creepy British under-secretary for foreign affairs, plus very good tartan fashions.

It is also wonderfully shot. The cameraman was Erik Durschmied. He shot many BBC factual films in the 60s and 70s. I think he films in an incredibly modern way. His camera does exactly what you would do if you were in the room - gazing and flitting between details - yet it manages to always remain beautifully composed.

Unfortunately the video won't work unless you're in the UK.

15 January, 2010

UAE CB facebook group

I have just created the UAE CB facebook group; if you join it you can keep track of updates on the site through facebook.

Link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/UAE-Community-Blog/250208849940

14 January, 2010

Humanitarian aid for Haiti in the UAE/Dubai

Médecins Sans Frontières (أطباء بلا حدود) is accepting donations to help afflicted people of Haiti with medical care.

You can call their offices --(04)-345 8177-- or use the other ways mentioned on the website to donate.

Location map here. They're open today until 6 PM. They'll probably open on the weekend if enough number of people called to donate.

Read the entry on their operation in Haiti here.

Come on guys, show some support for your brothers and sisters in humanity.

Disclaimer: I'm not associated with the MSF in any way. Any donation you make to them is at your sole discretion. So far they're the only organization in the UAE that I know of that is accepting donations for this particular catastrophe. If you know others, post in the comments and will update accordingly.

$14.3 Million For Abu Dhabi Car Number Plate "1"

A man named Said Abdul Ghafour Khouri has agreed to pay AED 52.2 Million (US $14.3 Million) for Abu Dhabi license plate labeled "1" at an auction at the 7-star Emirates Palace Hotel here, making it the world's most expensive license plate .

The previous record was held by Abu Dhabi plate number 5 , bought at auction for $6.8 million by stock broker Talal Khouri last year.

"Recession really doesn't affect the Emiratis! - Not that I have anything against them, just a little envious of how the UAE has always protected it's citizens.
And wish that the Politicians forming the Government of India, could do something other than fleecing the Indian public in the name of taxes and making secret Swiss bank accounts that amount in millions of dollars. (i.e. millions accumulated from loyal Indian tax payers)"

NOTE by samuraisam: As pointed out in the comments by Neil Roberts this story is more than 2 years old and hasn't taken place during the Haiti earthquake

12 January, 2010


11 January, 2010

Lightning show

Something from last night....thought I'd share it here...You can view a few more shots on my blog... :)
96mm, 10secs, f10, ISO 100

10 January, 2010

UAE Justice - A Farce and A Joke

Oh, sorry - that should be "Fair and Just". It now appears, according to the Al Jazeera link below, that Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahayan (brother of UAE president and Abu Dhabi emir, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan), who was on trial accused of raping and torturing an Afghan man, was entirely innocent of all charges. Some surprise, eh?!

Link: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/01/2010110133141501815.html

Apparently the 'court' believed his story that he was under the influence of medication, and therefore not responsible for his actions. The judge accepted this, even though his lawyers failed to state exactly which medication he was taking. Oh, and by the way, the trial was held in secret and without a jury. Of course. Well, that IS the mark of a really civilised country!

The really guilty party was, in the curious jurisdiction of the court, the guy who recorded the Sheikh's cruelty on tape. He got five years!!

Actually, I'm quite glad that the unfortunate sheikh managed to wriggle out of his chains. When the police come knocking on my door accusing me of defaming the Crown and lampooning the UAE, I can always claim I was under the influence of medication. And hopefully my trial will be in secret with just the judge and a few legal bods present - I wouldn't want to embarass the family, would I?

Nice one, Sheikh!

08 January, 2010

Dubai - an urban planning assessment

Chicago Tribune:
Dubai just opened the ultimate trophy building -- the world's tallest skyscraper, which soars a neck-craning 2,717 feet into the air -- but just try getting there from the airport. Your polite, epaulette-wearing cabdriver screeches down a 12-lane highway and -- with the tower in plain sight -- he goes miles past it, leading you to wonder whether he's lost his way or is ripping you off. Only when he finally reaches an interchange and then doubles back to the tower do you realize what's going on: Dubai wins no medals for urban planning.
Take the palm-shaped, artificial island that adds to Dubai's short supply of lucrative coastal real estate and forms one of the emirate's iconic images. The island is a miraculous engineering achievement, formed by dredged sand and constructed with the aid of a global positioning system. Yet the only way to get a pleasing overview of its thin, frond-like strips of sand is to look at a map or charter a helicopter. At ground level, the fronds are packed with high-priced villas while the stemlike road leading to them is lined with monolithic rows of hulking apartment buildings. These look as though they were designed by architectural refugees from East Germany who added a few Islamic touches.
Indeed, Monday's abrupt renaming of the tower from Burj Dubai to Burj Khalifa -- in honor of the Abu Dhabi sheik who bailed Dubai out of its debt crisis last fall -- only underscores the impression of helter-skelter growth here.
The exception?
The shining exception is the still-unfinished Dubai Metro system, which opened last September and was designed by a team that included the Middle Eastern offices of two global firms, Aedas and Atkins. The mostly elevated line here is driverless and automated, with air-conditioned cars and stations (the better to ward off summer heat that rises to 120 degrees). The stations, with their boldly sculpted golden roofs, wisely make this civil engineering project visible rather than anonymous. They can thus be counted upon to draw riders and nearby development that will cut down on car use and save energy.
Another exception: "Its old downtown, located along the creek that bespeaks the emirate's fishing village and trading post origins, is a charmer, with arcaded old marketplaces, or souks, and picturesque wooden water taxis ferrying Dubaians back and forth across the creek. Here are age-old lessons of walkable streets, mixed uses and the use of aged buildings that form still-relevant models for planning cities."

05 January, 2010

Burj Khalifa - Pictures

Hi guys.. mabrook to the whole of the UAE on the opening of Burj Khalifa yesterday.

I took some pictures from the outside and inside of the tower if anyone is interested:



PS: Pics are no where near as good as Stained's pics!

We were awestruck...

We were dumbfounded.

We were spellbound.

That was my reaction and my interpretation of the reaction of the crowd around me.

For 20 minutes it was jaw-dropping oohs, ahhs and euphoric cheers. The dedication of the Tower was a once in a lifetime spectacle.

You had to have been there--at the rear of Dubai mall, with the cascading fountain blowing cool mist over you, the light and fireworks spectacle all around the tower and then the explosion of the tower itself several times over.

For me the most apt way to describe it is as a controlled volcanic eruption. Simply incredible.

Burj Khalifa

I don't care why the name changed....I don't even care what people think happened. All that matters is I'm proud of Sheikh Mohammed and I'm proud to live in this wonderful country....and a name change is not going to change that.... :)

Anyway thought I'd share a shot I took today at the inauguration....
17mm, 1/3sec, f4.5, ISO 200

04 January, 2010


the tallest building in the world is USD 10 billion high.


this has *got* to hurt. OUCH.

Dubai Fortune Index

Isn’t it remarkable how the architects SOM effortlessly managed to capture Dubai’s fortunes in the shape of the Burj itself? The building resembles a graph starting sometime in the early Noughties shortly before common sense took leave of absence from the world and this region especially, reaching levels of hubris many didn’t know were possible (or cared to know), before plunging to unknown depths of debts and egg in the face.

Nobody says it better than this Times columnist. “The edifice complex” - recommended reading for aspiring visionaries at Keystage 1 Level.

01 January, 2010

Rainbow....Jan 1st 2010

Just wanted to share this shot that I took today.... :)(note: the spots in the image are rain drops on the lens... :| )