31 January, 2008

The delusional world of the RTA

RTA studying phase 2 and 3 of Salik

"Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA , yesterday said the road toll system had been very successful in reducing traffic congestions and that the authority was studying the options regarding the implementation of Phase 2 and 3."

Is he having a laugh?

Mr. Al Tayer has obviously never travelled from Jebel Ali to Deira between the hours of 4pm to 10pm, and has probably never spent 2 whole hours trying to make an otherwise 20-minute commute.

Successful, my a**.

Read more here.

GCC urged to search elsewhere for foreign labour

Bahrain is suffering from a serious case of Asia-phobia. Taken from Arabian Business:

Bahrain’s government stressed the need for Gulf states to find alternative countries to source foreign workers from on Tuesday, warning that overdependence on existing labor export countries may lead to imposition of their own working conditions.

“I do not exaggerate when I say that we will soon see a Gulf minister or Member of Parliament from the Indian subcontinent." [said Bahraini Minister, Al Alawi]

Al Aswat warned that the presence of foreign workers in the Gulf was a greater threat to the region than the fallout of a nuclear bomb or an Israeli attack.

Gulf nations are in negotiations with Vietnam to source workers(...)

Bahrain’s position on foreign workers has come under heavy criticism from human rights organizations in recent weeks after the kingdom doubled the cost of work visas for expatriates and proposed a duel price system, under which foreigners would be charged more for basic goods than locals. Bahrain has also proposed a 6-year residency cap for foreign workers.

Google betas Arabic blogging service

"Google has released its popular blogging platform in Arabic, the company announced today.

The Blogger platform, Google's own tool set to enable web users to create their own web logs, is available now as a beta test in Arabic.

The company also announced that it will be the official sponsor of the Morocco Blog Awards and the Blogotour in Morocco. Blogotour is a five day, five city tour of Morocco which is intended to encourage local communities to start blogging. The finale of the tour will be the award ceremony for the Morocco Blog Awards."


UAE to introduce Anti-Doping Law

Khaleej Times
The UAE has drafted, and is ready to implement the Anti-Doping Law to regulate the illegal use of performance enhancing drugs in sports, Abdul Rahman Al Owais, UAE’s Minister for Culture, Youth and Social Development said yesterday.
“Our athletes are clean and there only are a few cases of drug use. Several countries in the world have adopted testing procedures, but in the UAE, we don’t have dedicated laboratories,” he explained.
Horses are also athletes, but in this case it appears that law encompasses only human atletes.

30 January, 2008

There's a cable cut again folks.

I guess you're all having the same problems as me with the connection.

There's a cable cut, according to Reuters it's near Alexandria, and it's affecting the region from India to Egypt to Saudi Arabia to the UAE...

It will take "several days" to fix.

Oh great.

The reuters report is here.

Update - Gizmodo has more details.


Perhaps my paranoia is getting the better of me. Perhaps the person who tried to wipe out my husband last night is the same one who pulls plugs at Itisatwat?

Blogger dashboard sign in process has been in Arabic only for days now. I've gone through all my settings, but no ways can I find any mistake. It should be in English, but it isn't. *sigh*

The Nav bar has taken on schitzophrenic tendencies - one day it's in Arabic, the next in English. It can't seem to make up its mind(s?)

And now, my battery has been p*ssed on, because when I clicked on the link for the Blogger Help Group, I got the 'Site Blocked' blue & red page!

Can anyone shed some light on this for me please?

28 January, 2008

Dubai Metro construction pictures

A website in Romania has some interesting pictures of the upcoming Dubai Metro...
Page 1
Page 2

EDIT: these (as pointed out in the commenting section) are photographs of the new airport terminal and not Dubai Metro

27 January, 2008

Al Ain Aerobatics Show

Why no pisc from Al Ain show? It was good.

As cool as it gets.

Girls on top. Nothing unusual.

A romanian duo on russian YAKs.

A Russian Nose-Spin. SU-31 - a perfect cork screw.

25 January, 2008

The two best decisions I ever made

Two things that regular travellers should never do without especially if you are based in Dubai – the e-gate card and a priority pass membership card. I have both. I have been doing a fair bit of travelling but now that I have an e-card, I am convinced that even if I use it once a year, its well worth every penny. It saves you a lot of time hanging around in queues – of course there are no guarantees in the baggage claim but that's beyond our control. Maybe that is something the airlines might want to think of – priority baggage. Hmm?

The other is my priority pass membership. I know this is blatant publicity but I think that was also one of the best investments I made. If you are anything like me (a small business owner), then every time you travel you are looking for the best deal possible and quite often this means that you need to sometimes transit through a second airport. Thanks to my priority pass – while I save money travelling cattle class – I get the privilege of using the comfy lounges and relax in the plush sofas, eat and drink for free, access the Internet. When you have to kill more than 3 hours – this is heaven sent.

Trust me – its all worthwhile

"Picture perfect: How the story of Dubai’s other side can never be told"

An interesting read from Arab Media & Society...

"It’s inevitable, then, that I sometimes forget Emiratis may even read my articles. I resort to using British idioms and words I know they wouldn’t understand, but it isn’t something I’m conscious of; the sad reality is that I’m simply not conscious of them at all. Except, of course, when the government steps in to demand that we remove a chapter or an article from a guide or a magazine.

I am tempted to provide an example of this sort of censorship, but I have been asked not to. While the incident between the government and Time Out is common knowledge amongst journalists in both my company and in other publishing houses, Dubai isn’t ready to admit that it breaches the media’s right to freedom of speech. But I’ll allow myself this: the piece that offended the government was a guide to alcoholic beverages sold legally in Dubai; it is neither news nor a surprise that the emirate has licensed liquor outlets within its borders.


You can blame it on companies being unaccustomed and overly sensitive to criticism, or you can look at the reality of being an expatriate journalist in Dubai. One of the problems we face is that we rarely hear an Emirati voice. They haven’t had a chance to develop one that foreigners can understand or relate to just yet. They will in time, but until then, the expatriate community will have to continue guessing which subjects we can tackle without having to deal with censorship or corporate bullies.

Such incidents of sporadic censorship have made me, as well as other journalists hesitant to tackle the real stories. As mentioned, it isn’t that the stories aren’t there, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a journalist who’s willing to have their career shredded for a 300-word article.

The result is that Dubai’s stories are rarely told. The truth about the conditions within labor camps throughout the city, where the men who toil for hours in the region’s unforgiving sun live, isn’t exposed. And the women who suffer the injustices of a so-called traditional society, while their men indulge in the freedoms of a modern world, rarely have their say.

But like most journalists, I make mental notes of the laborers forced to defecate on street corners for lack of toilets, and the Emirati woman who calls me once every four or five months to remind me she’s willing to talk, but not today; I hoard these stories, knowing full well that if I pursue them I’ll get barred from the emirate. But I’m waiting for the day I leave and have the freedom to write with the sort of brutal honesty these stories deserve."

read more here (article is 2 seperate pages)

24 January, 2008

Letters from Readers: "Womanhood"

Get graphics at Nackvision.com"I know what Victoria's Secret is. The secret is that nobody older than 30 can fit into their stuff. The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then, your body and your fat are really good friends.

Just when I was getting used to yesterday, along came today!
Sometimes I think I understand everything, then I regain consciousness.

I gave up jogging for my health when my thighs kept rubbing together and setting my pantyhose on fire.

Amazing! You hang something in your closet for a while and it shrinks two sizes!
Skinny people irritate me! Especially when they say things like, "You know, sometimes I just forget to eat."..........
continue to the full declaration !

22 January, 2008

TDIM 2008

The official link to the TDIM 2008 exhibition is here.

More effective advertising might have resulted in better footfall @ this highly important show.

"One of the world's largest privately-held property developers, will showcase plans for its new era of waterfront development at this year's TDIM 2008 (Tourism Development project & Investment Market), a new exhibition taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre on 20th to 22nd January.

Nakheel will play a key role in the first ever TDIM exhibition with the largest stand in the company's history, which is approximately the same size as three Olympic swimming pools. A number of new developments will be revealed in exciting shows talking place in two large domes situated within the stand. Nakheel will also unveil a 13 metre-long scale model of Dubai with an updated show, detailing the role the waterfront has played in the growth of Dubai and the major role Nakheel has played in this."

Director, Sales, Marketing and Customer Services:

"Nakheel is thrilled to play such a major role in the first ever TDIM exhibition. As the creator of some of the world's most iconic developments, TDIM provides a perfect opportunity to showcase our most visionary projects, such as The Palm Jumeirah and The World, but also the exciting new waterfront projects that we are launching this month." (...)

rest of official article is here

Censors tackle nudes

That's the headline of a (U.S.) National Public Radio report on censorship in Dubai. Here's a link to the blurb and the audio.

As usual for American public radio, there are great sound effects. They went to the censorship office to get sounds of offensive pages being ripped out, sensitive stories being cut, and touchy images being retouched with a fat black marker.

21 January, 2008

Letters from Readers: "Mistaken Identity"

Dear All,
I received a mail from a reader describing her recent experience with the Dubai authorities.
It is not shocking, but informative, calm & well written letter - " good to know" story!
"I would like to tell you about my recent experience I had on a trip to Dubai.
I arrived at the early morning hours on Tuesday 15th January. I was travelling with my husband who is a captain for an international airline based in Asia. I had decided to go on a trip with him which allowed me to stop in Dubai for 24 hours on our way to London.
I had a lovely day in Dubai visiting the fantastic shopping malls and even had the opportunity to go snowboarding in the indoor ski slope situated in the Mall of the Emirates............."

20 January, 2008

Victory at the Dubai Rent Committee!

This post is just to thank all the members of the UAE Community blog for their advice and encouragement to file a case with the Dubai Rent Committee. Special thanks to i*maginate.

I had posted "Is there a Rent Cap?" on 11 October 2007, when my landlord had moved to increase my rent despite a decree by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed stating there would be no rent increase in 2007, if the rent was increased in 2006. My landlord refused to listen to reason and turned highly non-cooperative, forcing me to approach the Rent Committee.

After a few months and 6 hearings later, due to some delay tactics from the Landlord by his non-appearance, the Rent Committee finally ruled in my favour and ruled out a rent increase for the rent contract supposed to be signed in 2007. I must state that the Dubai Municipality is doing its best in patiently hearing cases and sorting out disputes. They also used DHL to ensure the landlord got the summon to be present at court. They were friendly and approachable from the very start and deserve to be lauded for their efforts to enforce the decree.

With the new rule capping the Rent to a 5% increase for 2008 in Dubai, I encourage others facing a similar situation from their landlords, to approach the Rent Committee located on the 2nd floor of the Dubai Municipality Building, Deira.

Have your say.

Hi all, I’m a 4th year art student and having spent many years in the UAE I find that I consistently draw on my experiences of the region in my art.

For my final year exhibition I am very interested in looking at connections, what draws people together and how we enjoy connecting and learning from people with whom we have shared experiences. This idea of community and belonging, together with my interest in the Middle East brought me to the UAE Community Blog.

I am very interested in hearing about your memories of your time in the UAE, any experiences or photos you could share. Just five minutes of your time and a paragraph or two would provide me with an invaluable sense of the community we have created here in the UAE. Thanks!

Now it's The Universe

The world wasn't big enough for Nakheel - they've just announced 'The Universe', a huge new offshore development.

There's not a lot of information yet but they say it will take 15 to 20 years to complete, will add 3,000 hecares of new land and it will stretch from Palm Jumeirah to Port Rashid, running between The World and the mainland.

18 January, 2008

"Dubai without the bling"

An interesting article..

"Dubai without the bling"
"It's difficult to get any less bling than walking out of your hotel, turning the corner and stumbling across 15 men slaughtering a cow.

The stricken beast lies on the floor, its throat cut, as the customers chugging away on their hookah pipes in the local cafe look on nonchalantly.

Deira, it's fair to say, is the part of Dubai that doesn't make the tourist brochures.

The wealthy Emirate has carefully crafted a reputation for ostentatious opulence. But, contrary to popular belief, there is more to it than seven star hotels, mega-skyscrapers and giant shopping malls."

read more HERE

Serious News

This appears as the leading feature story at the top of today's Gulf News website.

10 ways to save money when shopping with a woman

I can see the girls lining up to be with this man!

17 January, 2008

Their Spirits don't "Dampen"

The Rains seems to have taken it's toll on the Sharjah Municipality and revealed it's poor drainage system. An interesting blog by SNAZ was the Raft, Robinson Crusoe & JetSki too.
Well the Sharjah residents proved they are high-sprited and instead of grumping over the rain they made the best use of it.

(All images used with permission from SNAZ)

New members

I just found a stack of emails I had overlooked processing from people who wanted to become UAE comm members. Really sorry to you all for the delay.

Don't forget to encourage any friends/family that blog or are interested in blogging to become members. Joining UAE community is an easy way to be involved with blogging without having to necessarily have your own blog.

15 January, 2008

Pitter splatter!

"Residents took extra caution when out shopping at one of Dubai's most recent malls, (...) which had cordoned off large parts of their entrance lobbies and blocked access to escalators due to puddles and leaks.

(...) Some parts of the ceiling made of plaster had gotten soggy and fallen down."

rest of article here.

All clear between the gates

pic taken morning of 14/01/08, courtesy of Gulf News

14 January, 2008

Uncle Bush is in Town

Congratulations to all of us on the auspicious occasion of our beloved uncle's visit to Dubai. We are so happy that we have declared a public holiday in his honour. He really deserves this, after all he is here to preach the message of peace & love. Peace & harmony in the region can be fully achieved by killing few thousand more people. Then all of us will live happily ever after.

Bush warned that Iran was the main "threat" to regional security, a theme he repeated during his current tour in the region, despite Arab opposition to any military solution to Iran's controversial nuclear project.

"Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terror. It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home," he said.

I can really feel his concern for our region. Despite so many economic problems at home, he has made efforts to send thousands of his troops to our region & spent billions of dollars so that we the oppressed people of the middle east can enjoy the fruits of "freedom". He really is a God fearing person, as can be seen from his speech yesterday where he said,
"A great new era is unfolding before us. This new era is founded on the equality of all people before God. This new era is being built with the understanding that power is a trust that must be exercised with the consent of the governed - and deliver equal justice under the law. And this new era offers hope for the millions across the Middle East who yearn for a future of peace and progress and opportunity."
I couldn't agree with you more, I really love you Uncle Bush. But I really hope that your words were reflected in your administrations foreign policy towards the region too. Hope you enjoy our hospitality :-)

13 January, 2008

$ x 3.68

What's your holiday cost?

good planning

This is what happens to the UAE community blog traffic when the announcement declaring a public holiday because of a presidential visit is made 6 hours the day before...

The most popular searches of the day...
"12 3.60% dubai road closures
11 3.30% road closure dubai
8 2.40% roads closed bush visit dubai
5 1.50% dubai road closure
4 1.20% road closing during bush visit to dubai
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4 1.20% roads closed in dubai
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4 1.20% dubai public holiday due to bush visit
4 1.20% roads blocked for bush dubai
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3 0.90% roads closed in dubai bush
3 0.90% bush visit uae roads blocked january 2008
3 0.90% uae blogger
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3 0.90% roads closure on monday, dubai
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3 0.90% meritocracy is the key to dubai's limitless ambitions
2 0.60% holiday declared dubai bush
2 0.60% dubai bush roads
2 0.60% road closures president visit dubai"


Tomorrow (monday) has been declared a public holiday because a heap of roads are going to be shut; read all about it at gulf news

Road closure?

Just got this in from a friend's HR department:

Please note there will be several closures tomorrow as a result of President Bush's visit to the UAE. You should make generous allowances for travel time to and from work. According to one report the following roads are expected to be closed between 6 am and 5 pm

Al Khail Road closed
SZR closed from Salik to Salik
Jumeirah Beach Road closed from Al Thanya to Jumeirah Corporate office (far side of Madinat)
Al Wasl closed from Al Thanya to Dubai Police

Can anyone confirm this??

UPDATE: Public Holiday tomorrow due to road closure

"Our Ambitions for the Middle East"

"Our Ambitions for the Middle East
January 12, 2008; Page A9
During President Bush's visit to Dubai on Monday, he will find a big city like no other that has risen from the Arabian desert. The joke making the rounds here is that the crane should be designated as Dubai's national bird, so extensive is the engineering activity. We also plan to keep on investing in markets and businesses abroad, including in our own neighborhood, where economic development has long been uneven.

Our plans do not flow from mere ambition; they are a necessity. Consider that only 3% of our revenue is from exports of diminishing crude-oil reserves; 30% is from tourism, and there's increasing revenue from manufacturing and other sectors such as hospitality, technology and transportation.

But to term our emirate "Dubai Inc.," as some do, suggests that commerce, more than anything else, is our leitmotif. It is true, of course, that Dubai has been a trading port and a commercial hub for several centuries. But the ethos of Dubai was, and is, all about building bridges to the outside world; it was, and is, about creating connections with different cultures.
There are more initiatives underway, many of which are aimed at ensuring prompt payment of salaries, and improvements in working conditions for unskilled foreign workers. While capitalism doesn't always create egalitarian societies, I like to think that in Dubai we are making the effort to cast the net wide when it comes to sharing prosperity.

I also like to think that we in Dubai also learn from our mistakes. We have had some object lessons. The Dubai Ports episode in the U.S. last year was one.

We analyzed our experiences, and we now approach our international investments in a much more holistic manner. We take the time to analyze the social, political and economic landscape, identify the stakeholders, and then carefully prepare the way by ensuring that the concerns of all parties are properly addressed. When disputes occur, we generally find a way to work through them."

More here

11 January, 2008

Arabian Ranches accident

There was an accident about two days back near Arabian Ranches, or the road leading to AR, I think. The traffic was delayed for more than 3 hours. Strangely, I did not see anything in the newspapers yet. Does anybody know anything about it? The police had blocked off the roads because of the horrible accident and it was announced on radios' traffic updates too. I'm wondering why the print press hasn't picked this up?

How not to be ripped-off while taking a loan

Usually, for every new entrant in Dubai - i.e. one who has got an employment, got an accomodation and a bank account - applying for a personal / car loan is the 2nd most important step towards settling down.

All the banks - esp. the MNC banks - know about this quite as well , and are sitting there just to grab you to make a kill! Most often the rate is the currently applicable rate in the country - but offers / add-ons / ripp-offs are all dependent upon who proves the smartest - the bank or you.

Is there any way you can help yourself?
YES! Here's how! You can also participate in a loan satisfaction poll.

10 January, 2008

Support all-Emirati Team at 24hr Race

The 24hr Race at Dubai Autodrome kicks off tomorrow Friday 11th at 2pm. This year for the first time there's a team consisting of all Emirati drivers: http://uae24hrs.com. These guys do work hard at this and they deserve whatever support and encouragement you can give them. They're passionate about their racing and their country and hope to share some of that passion by taking part in this race.

Watching the race from the grandstand is free, as far as I know. If you want to visit them in Pit Lane call 050-9211006 and they'll see what they can do to help you out. You can also try to email info@uae24hrs.com.

09 January, 2008

Dubai Counters Rising Terror Threat

"DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, (AP) -This oil-rich Persian Gulf state has outfitted high-rises with the latest security, installed an iris-recognition ID system and nearly completed a 500-mile-long barrier along its borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia.

With such efforts, the United Arab Emirates has created one of the world's most comprehensive homeland security and anti-terrorism systems. That has kept Dubai — the jewel in the nation's crown and a stop on President Bush's Mideast trip — free from the Islamic extremist attacks that have plagued other countries in the region.
"They can build the finest security into their new infrastructure as it is constructed, unlike the U.S. and in Europe where it has to be retrofitted into the older installations, like ports, airports and critical infrastructure," said David Stone, former head of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Experts acknowledge that threats remain, including the possibility of radicalization among the UAE's large foreign worker population."

--more here

Supermarket chewathons

If you're visiting your local supermarket and they've run out of small change (it happens sometimes!), don't worry: you'll walk out with free chewing gum. N.B. This offer will probably not last long.

07 January, 2008

Sheikh Zayed Mosque Pictures?

Someone passed this on to me in a forwarded email. Pretty amazing as I've monitored the mosque progress over the last 5 of so years on sporadic trips to Abu Dhabi.

Does anyone know if the pictures are genuine as well as the information on the second slide? Also, do you know if the mosque is open for anyone to visit? If not do you know what the restrictions are? Who's been?

If they someone else's property (I checked the salsabeel website and found nothing) we can take this down as well.

Click here to view slideshow

04 January, 2008

"Meritocracy is the key to Dubai's limitless ambitions"

There is an interesting article on Dubai's leadership here;

"Sheikh Mohammad's "spies," known as "mystery shoppers," fan out across government offices to observe and grade the efficiency, competence and attentiveness of local officials. Those who receive poor marks are quietly rebuked, while those who impress move into an informal Dubai fast-track, receiving increasingly more challenging tasks, greater responsibility and more scrutiny. If they survive those tests they gradually enter the rarefied air of the Dubai high-flyer executives, the dozen or so movers and shakers who are transforming the Gulf city-state into a major regional and global trade, tourism, transport, technology and financial services hub.

This survival of the fittest produces a top-notch government elite, not one stocked with cronies and family members of the ruler - and might just be the key to Dubai's remarkable rise. While Western capitals search for an Arab "democratic model," Dubai is providing an Arab "meritocratic model" that underpins its successful growth and development."

--more here

Global Village Dubai

I was lucky enough to be able to drag a few energetic friends along to the Global Village Dubai that takes place every winter.

From experience, I know to take warm clothing along, to prepare me for a few hours in this desert wonderland that can get quite chilly in the evening.

Prepare to go on an empty stomach, as long as you intend to go on the numerous rides that make up Global Village: otherwise, you can stroll around the area, taking in the amazing atmosphere which comprises national pavillions; family entertainment; and live cooking stations from all over the world.

One of the pavillions that displayed a dance routine at the time of my visit was that of Afghanistan: I was completely awestruck by the Afghan dance: the rhythm of the drums; the circle of Afghan dancers (who appeared to be members of the public), and the unique expression of dance of what is a large community in Dubai.

Global Village is a fantastic display of international culture, presenting a great insight into many countries' traditions - a fun wonderland right in the heart of Dubai.

What are your most memorable experiences of Global Village?

03 January, 2008

Al Ain Taxi has moved!

Al Ain Taxi is now Bahrain Taxi. Get on the next Gulf Air flight to Manama or go here.

02 January, 2008

Another blogger arrested.

EmBiz24/7 has a story today that will be of interest to all of us who blog:

"Saudi authorities have detained a popular blogger for violating the kingdom's laws, a senior Interior Ministry official said Tuesday. It was the first known arrest of a Saudi online critic.

The blogger, Fouad al-Farhan, was being questioned by security authorities, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Monsour al-Turki said. He added the blogger "might be released" on Wednesday but did not elaborate.

The Saudi English daily, Arab News, said al-Farhan had "violated non-security regulations." The paper said the 32-year-old Jeddah resident was arrested at his office December 10 and taken to his home where police conducted a search. There were no other details on the arrest.
Meanwhile, his family has contacted the governmental Human Rights Commission, asking for help in the case, the paper said.

Al-Farhan's blog headline reads: "Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, shoura and all the rest of lost Islamic values." Shoura means public consultation, in Arabic."

The story is here.

01 January, 2008

The Bit** is Back

Timeout.com is the place to go to book tickets for the Elton John concert in Abu Dhabi on 22 January. From the homepage navigate to the Dubai link--not the Abu Dhabi link--then to Tickets.

So, who cares, I hear some of you whine. Well, I'm sure I'm not the only one in this fair land who can't wait to see Elton John again. He played in Dubai in 2002. Great way to start the new year! But the tickets aren't cheap. Nine-hundred fifty dirham to get a standing spot on the ground before the grand stand. I guess that's why Sir EJ is often near the top of those annual richest entertainer lists. Now if you saw EJ in 2002 it was just him and his piano--an incredible 3 hour performance. This time it will be him with his band. With Abu Dhabi kicking off a new world tour, his voice should be in top form.

Addendum: Better yet, follow this link for a glimpse of the show!