Thursday, February 26, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Just to keep up the contrast though we did stop for a g&t at a rooftop bar on the way to the airport that would not look out of place in Manhattan. All bean bags, moody lighting, and a view to die for.
I liked Qatar. It has an interesting feel to it – apparently reminiscent of Dubai 10 years ago – ie not as crazy and a slightly slower pace. That said, the traffic was diabolical, worse than Dubai, and I never thought I’d say that of anywhere in the world! I’m enjoying these travels, reminiscent of trips around the UK when working on clients like the Co-Op (happy days!) only with much more sand, heat and planes. If I could have imagined then that life would take me here – well. That’s the beauty of it all, I guess.
Dubai is an odd place in some ways. You have to pre-plan a lot of what you want to do, partly because you cannot really walk anywhere. Not as in Manchester, where you can wake up, step out of the house/apartment, and in my case, straight into the hustle and bustle of the city – and just see where the day takes you. Here, you inevitably have to drive or take a taxi, so some planning is required.
Everyone wants to see the Burj, of course, thanks to it being such a global landmark and there’s no denying, it is a visual spectacle, and has to be experienced to be believed. What else to do with guests? Well, there’s the Open Top Bus Tour – those who know me know that I make it a priority to go on these wherever I am in the world – I’ve even been on the Manchester one at least twice. Apart from all the fascinating facts that you learn (yes, I am a geek) you are high up enough to be able to have a good neb into people’s houses (or enormous villas here) and also construction sites, to see what on earth they are attempting to build.
And what else to do? Well I don’t want to ruin the surprise for those who are Dubai-bound in the next few months. You’ll have to have faith in the tried and trusted Harvarde “caring and leadership” qualities!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Thankfully the main bulk of my travelling has been in business class. Now without wishing to be a travel snob, there is business class, and there is Emirates Business class. It beats the rest hands down! Amazing new planes, food to die for, and the comfiest hugest seats. KLM and Air France are trying but they just don't cut the mustard. And the Emirates Business Class lounge at Dubai's new terminal 3 has to be seen to be believed. It is enormous! And the food and drink (all complimentary of course) is reminiscent of a huge medieval banquet (in terms of size, not minging pig's heads etc.)
The highlight of what felt like a never ending journey back to Dubai from Barcelona (please can someone create a direct flight) was stopping off at Charles de Gaulle. Not for the French a boring wait for your flight. They have not only the usual yawn clothes shops, but fabulous food shops. I spent a very pleasant half an hour sniffing round a fine food establishment, and had rinsed over 100 quid before you could say 'gourmet'. Still, there are just no shops like that in Dubai so I really felt I had to take advantage of it. And of course, the champagne. Even Moet is over 100 quid here in Dubai!
One more day of travelling and then I'm home for a week. I've started fantasising about curling up in my own bed (scottie dog pyjamas on, of course.) Hopefully by then my eyes won't feel like they have permanent pieces of grit in them. Jet set? It doesn't feel like it!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
It’s worrying times here in Dubai. Forget Piers Morgan’s overblown and inflated picture of Dubai, the reality is: the recession is biting.
It’s hard to get a true picture of what is going on as the media is so relentlessly censored, and there are conflicting reports of thousands of visas getting cancelled each month, then new visas being started, then thousands of cars getting dumped at the airport as ex-pats abandon their 4 wheels of debt and flee the country.
From my own personal experience yes, there are swathes of people being made redundant. They tend to work in the property or construction sectors, unsurprisingly. Whilst I think it’s fair to say that in many parts of the world, no-one really saw this coming, it’s hard to see how Dubai didn’t. When you see the scale of construction, and the ridiculous prices (buying and renting) that I saw when I first arrived, it’s clear this could never be sustainable. I may have mentioned that we pay over 2000 english pounds a month for our one bedroom apartment – and you have to pay the full year’s rent up front! I shudder when I think what that would get me in Manchester. A penthouse in Number One Deansgate…?!
Anyway, I digress. My point is, it’s worrying here. The rent is paid up until the end of June so there isn’t that to worry about (one advantage of the ludicrous rental system). At that point I’d have to seriously question stumping up two checks for 12.5k each. I shall keep you posted….
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Dubai is a culturally barren place on many levels, and there is only one theatre that I’m aware of, at the Madinat Jumierah, an odd combination of hotels, restaurants and shops, all designed to look old, despite being about 3 years old. A friend had suggested going to see a thriller: The Woman in Black. I won’t ruin the plot for you: suffice to say, it was absolutely terrifying. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, which is testimony to the quality of the performance. I completely forgot that I was watching a play not a film!
Anyway it reminded me how much I love the theatre, and it would be so nice to go again. Sadly, their next performance is Annie. Not my cup of tea at all. Although I did see an advert for open auditions and think of my dear board treading friend Jayne Leggatt. Jayne, if you fancy some sunshine, there’s bound to be a part for you out here!
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
UAE labour law states that in your first year working in any job, you can't take ANY time off. Yes, you read correctly. Ironic as I can't imagine a time in your life when you are more in need of a break, Dubai's endless work work work culture means that you literally crawl home from work each night on your hands and knees.
I don't mean to sound churlish, I know that I am blessed to even be able to have the option to get away somewhere. But eight months solid work with no time off (and I don't count the UK trip in December as a holiday, it nearly killed me!) will really take it out of you.
Anyway, due to lots of weekend work (I knew it would eventually pay off) I have time to take. Bliss. I literally cannot wait!
For the record: the rumours are not true: yes, Dubai is only 4-5 hours away from the Maldives, but it is definitely NOT cheap to holiday there. One week will cost you approxmately 1.5-2k english pounds PER PERSON - which was more expensive than going from the UK. Ah, those Dubai rumours. Such a shame hardly any of them them are true.