Since starting work as Chief Editor for the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing I have 'parked' this blog for now.
Rebbeca (The Mail)
Read the UK press and anyone would think we’re all having a right old drunken orgy over here.
Once again the consequences of the all-you-can-eat-and(more to the point)-drink brunches have got yet another British lass caught with her guard and (supposedly) her knickers down.
According to The Mail (so it’s gotta be right – right?) busty Rebecca Blake and Irish good-looker Conor McRedmond got so jiggy with it in the back of a cab on leaving The Irish Village, that, once the offended Pakistani cab driver alerted the police in a police patrol car, Rebecca was found by the authourities on the back seat absolutely starkers!
Now don’t get me wrong, I, like the rest of you, have got myself into some appauling states in the past thanks to the demon drink, but taking my kit off in the back of a cab anywhere – let alone in a Muslim country – seems beyond the pale.
Now I don’t know Rebecca but I do know Croydon where she hails from. It’s not the sort of place I would go after dark (for one I’ve never been brave enough to don the Croydon uniform of boob tube and hot-pants, nor have I got an ample enough muffin top to display).
But, saying that, I have to seriously raise a question of doubt. Rebecca is 29 years old for Pete’s sake. She’s a professional woman. Is she really going to be so flagrant? Never mind being a Muslim country and all that.
Rebecca wholeheartedly denies the accusation and claims she was actually in the cab on her own and was simply arrested for having a bottle of beer with her.
Whatever did happen got her thrown in the slammer and the pair face charges of sex outside marriage and being drunk in public.
Surely the police wouldn’t make up such a story? Perhaps we’ll never know what really went on.
You can’t believe the UK tabloids that’s a certainty. But one thing is for sure, as dizzy as Rebecca Blake is to have got herself in this position in the first place, she’s not a complete airhead. In fact, this drunken stint is probably going to earn her a small fortune as she feeds the media vultures with her tales and enters the hall of fame with Michelle Palmer for her ‘sex on the beach’ romp. Cheers! Anyone for a vodka?
The great thing about living somewhere like Dubai - a city that is still in its infancy - is that there is always something new cropping up. The latest talk of the town desert is The Farm.
This new restaurant is really something different for Dubai. For one the location. Although in the desert in the plush Al Barari estate just off the Emirates Road opposite Global Village, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in some tropical Asian country. This is very much thanks to the immense amount of thick green vegetation that has been planted flanking the road up to the restaurant and which surrounds the site. It reminded me of when I was in Ubud in Bali sitting in a restaurant overlooking a lake.
OK, the smell of frangipani is not there, but the setting is similar, with the tables on wooden decking beside a deep pool.
We got there about 1o'clock and, considering we hadn't booked, were lucky to get a table - even though it was outside. Despite the fact that, once again thanks to the vegetation, it's supposed to be six degrees cooler here, it was still a bit hot and sweaty for my liking. However, streams of mist floated down from the wooden rafters of the pagoda-like ceiling and enormous fans twirled and sprayed mist into the air. It was a great solution that made the 40-odd degree temperature bearable - but I fear they will be fighting a losing battle against the heat monster in just a couple more weeks.
Friends are in town keen to soak up some culture. Erm (do they know where they are?)
So off we go to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Bastakiya for the Heritage Tour around restored Old Dubai.
Considering it’s a cool 43 degrees out here I did warn them that their T-shirts would probably soak up more sweat during the 90-minute tour than they would culture.
But I was wrong. Dubai-ites weren’t stupid back in the 1890s when they designed this maze of narrow lanes and high, coral-walled houses with their distinctive wind towers. Walking around Bastakiya we were in the shade 90% of the time, which meant it was really quite pleasant.
Walid, resplendent in his startlingly white dish dash, was our tour guide. Despite only being in his late twenties, his command of the English language was atrocious.
When he heard I was from the UK his eyes lit up and he spat out a tirade of words – the only ones I managed to fathom were “Man City” and “United”. Is this what being British has really come down to? I just smiled and nodded – I suspect he was slightly disappointed at my lack of enthusiasm for football.
Don’t you just hate it when you know you’re being ripped off?
At Carrefour the other day I bought a pack of yogurts for the girls’ lunchboxes – you know the ones in tubes that they can suck.
A nice visible stamp across the pack shouted out £1, only for the price tag on the shelf to read AED13 – that’s over £2. More than double the price.
I still bought them but chucked them in the trolley feeling aggrieved.
I know they have to import most things over here – but they could be a bit more discreet don’t you think? Same goes for clothes out here – why can’t they take off the UK price tag before adding 25%. I can wait until my summer break in the UK to buy clothes, but starving the kids until then may be going a bit far?
Do you remember I said that a load of art galleries had recently opened in the Al Quoz area?
On first glance you’d think they’d be little reason to venture into this dusty, industrial estate crammed with factories, hidden ‘labour camps’ and chaotic warehouses.
Over the past five years I may have taken the wrong turning and got lost there once or twice (apart from visiting Farqi Antiques – but I’ll leave that for another blog). But nowadays, more and more frequently I am purposely taking the Al Manara turning off the SZR and turning East. Here you’ll find – apart from a branch of the Lime Tree Café – a horde of art galleries.
Admittedly I know diddly squat about art, but a friend of mine wanted me to join her on a visit to the new Hamail Art Gallery. So I did.
Apart from being a bugger to find, this gallery is well worth a visit. It features work from Pakistani and Indian artists – a politically explosive combination but artistically a beautiful mix. What’s more, much of the work from this part of the world is still very much up and coming – particularly in this region. Hence, the pieces are really affordable. I fell in love with this piece by an artist called Dr Jain from India – AED 10,000.
A lady called Pamela runs the gallery and she is super friendly and very unpretentious and ‘unarty’. Go on, do something different today.
Occasionally I get the opportunity to step back in time and savour the sweet sensation of those pre-baby days when I had a fairly blossoming (and enjoyable) journalistic career. Today was one of those days because I had a meeting with an editor about an article I am writing for her.
Dressed to impress, I flung off the flip flops and I slid my soles into stilettos before heading to Media City – the area where all the publishing houses of Dubai are based (bizarrely we have a city for all sectors here including Academic City, Healthcare City, Internet City, International City, Endurance City [don’t ask, I haven’t got a clue]).
Parking down here is a bit of a free for all, but eventually I found an inch of free space on a vast sandy patch of wasteland that had become a makeshift car park. Checking first that my hair was in place and lipstick fresh, I started out on the short 100metre-walk to the publishing house.
Tell me, have you ever tried to walk on soft sand whilst wearing stilettos in temperatures pushing 43 degrees? Believe me, it’s not easy. With heels sinking into the dusty ground, I minced my way across the desert, twisting each ankle on every step. Laptop in one hand, executive handbag in the other this stumbling action was whipping up a sandstorm caking me head to toe in dust. My black suede shoes transformed into a dull grey, my powdered face was rapidly turning neon red and mascara started streaking down my damp cheeks. Beads of sweat began trickling south from my arse whilst my well-groomed hair collapsed in an instant and adopted that style normally reserved for floor mops.
With my eye focused on the office block – glistening like a desert oasis - I persevered with this comical strut until finally I arrived gasping and dripping and step into the icy igloo that was the air-conditioned office reception. Nipples instantly standing to attention along with a body full of goose bumps completed the overall dishevelled look.
Who says Dubai is glamorous?
Obviously with my confidence now at a peak, at that very moment being a mum seemed like the best career in the world.
Even if traipsing around museums is not your idea of fun, I highly recommend Dubai Museum. Housed in the 17th century Al Fahidi Fort, this small museum tells the story of how Dubai evolved from being little more than a dusty fishing village into the futuristic (yet still dusty) metropolis that we see today.
Galleries recreate scenes from the Creek, traditional Arab houses, mosques, souks and desert life. One of the more spectacular exhibits portrays pearl diving, including sets of pearl merchants’ weights, scales and sieves. It only takes a couple of hours at most to wander around – if truth be told there’s not a huge amount to convey about life prior to the discovery of oil in the 1960s. However, if you happen to be with 46 five and six year olds, as I was today, it can take as little as half an hour to sprint through.
Today was my daughter’s school trip. They are studying all about knights and castles and this fort – the oldest building in Dubai - is the closest we’ve got to a castle. It’s got a keep and turrets and there is one section that exhibits a suit of armour, complete with chainmail, helmet and all sorts of swords and daggers.
The boys were in their element, but the lack of 'princessey' stuff left the girls rather miffed - after all, where there are knights there are usually damsels in distress.
It’s lucky for me that I’ve been to the museum before because frankly I gleaned sweet “Fanny Adams” from this outing – however, I can tell you where the toilets are.
Just a little tip: if you are planning a visit to the museum, go after 11am, once the school kids have taken the fort by storm.
Visiting Hours :
Saturday to Thursday : 08:30 am -20:30 pm
Friday: 14:30 -20:30 pmEntry Fees:
Dhs3 per Adult
Dhs. 1 Per Child
Having only recently splashed out a small fortune for our summer flights to the UK, a good friend imparted to me her money-saving scheme that has seen her save a stash of cash on flights over the past few years.
Flying from the UK to here is so much cheaper. So she bought a single flight from Dubai to the UK and since then has always bought a flexible return ticket from the UK to Dubai. The emphasis here is on the word flexible because you want to be able to easily alter the date of your return flight – even up to a year later to coincide with your next visit ‘home’.
OK the initial single flight felt a bit steep, being almost the same as the cost of a return fare, but since then she’s been spending a hell of a lot less on flights than we have. Maybe next year?
About this blog...
I set up this blog to reveal what real life is like here in the UAE - the good and the bad. I'll chat about what I've been up to, Dubai news and developments, my thoughts about expat life here (and in general) and reports about my holidays and adventures in the region (travel is my bag after all).