Posted by: englishdubai | June 16, 2011

Dubai MetroSexual

When I lived in the UK I thought the height of male grooming was going to the barbers once every four weeks instead of six. That changed when I moved to Dubai and the local barber shop asked me if I would like a shave and a manicure I nervously said yes, and this changed my life.

Despite it being common place, I still cop some stick from some of the more “traditional” boys, but looking after oneself after a tough week flying around the Middle East is a truly great way to kick off the weekend. I can’t be the only one who thinks so, as there are a number of men’s spas in the vicinity of where I live. I thought I would take the lid of what it is like to go and visit one.

Just along the JBR walk is a very upmarket Men’s Spa called 1847  Pressing the secret button on the side and the door glides open like something out of Star Trek. Along, with a stylish reception and waiting area the feeling is one of a high tech sanctuary.

Before going, it is wise to make a booking and there is a rather extensive menu to choose from. From regular hair dressing, facials and manicures to some rather tempting sounding massage treatments such as the “hot stone massage” it can be a little bewildering. After five weeks on the road I opted for the exotic “Four Hands Massage” it sounded highly indulgent and I hoped it was going to be worth it.

After a short wait, the massage therapist ushered me upstairs to a very smart treatment room and instructed me replace my clothes with the large towel on the table and that she would be back shortly with the second therapist. I asked if they had the disposable underwear, the answer was met with a giggle and a point at the towel. Now, I hope as a seasoned expat I would have left the British prude part of me at home, but sat on the treatment table wearing only a large towel does put thoughts of doubt through one’s mind.

A gentle knock on the door and the two therapists appeared. They asked me to lie down on my front and without fuss I was positioned for treatment. Then there was an interesting sensation when the large towel I was wearing was replaced with something that felt about the size of a face cloth. This was then folded in three which “I think” just about covered my posterior. Any thought of embarrassment was instantly dismissed as the therapists set to work. Almost in perfect sync each therapist took one half of my body and administered an intense massage the full length of my body. With liberal amount of oil and increasing pressure it was hard to tell how many hands were actually on me – but it felt to be just the right amount. When it was time to turn over – again my modesty was expertly protected. Though I was not sure how I felt about the comment “Would sir, like a larger towel?” would it have been bragging to say yes?

The front side massage continued in the same vein, I was totally relaxed and continued to enjoy the treatment. The positioning of the small towel was good over the crown jewels – though I was slightly perturbed at the “tucking” that was certainly needed to protect everyone’s dignity, but it did catch me off guard with the first “tuck”.

All too soon the hour was over. I was asked if I would like to shower, based on the amount of oil on me it was a sensible choice. I was left feeling revitalized and having gone to the gym earlier that day it was a fab reward for the morning’s effort.

Overall – 1847 is a real special treat. The environment is modern and welcoming. The therapists are polite, attentive and professional. It is a little expensive – but hey it’s ok. After all – what did that ad once say? “Because you’re worth it!” 9/10

Posted by: englishdubai | March 18, 2011

O.M.G

I admit it, I am a secret Usher fan. So when a good friend of mine sent me a text and asked if I wanted a ticket. I thought why not? I wouldn’t need to travel far as it was just round the corner in Media City.

It is has been a rich time of year for gigs in the UAE and the choice in March has been bewildering – Usher, Stevie Wonder, 30 Seconds to Mars, Eric Clapton,Sharon Corr, Brand New Heavies, The Streets and Flo Rida. Really, we have never been so spoilt. I guess you can’t go to everything and I ended up choosing only Usher this month. So what was it like?

I thought it was brilliant. Long time readers of my blog will recall me raving about Justin Timberlake when he played in Abu Dhabi and how much I loved that. I often reminisce with my fellow Timberlake concert goers that it was the best gig ever and how could it be topped. Well Mr Usher came mighty close last weekend.

He started off with a dance routine to the track “Monster” that was Michael Jackson inspired. His vocals while busting out those moves weren’t the best but no one seemed to care. The light and dance show was spectacular:

After the massive opening Usher slid into his more normal smoochy R&B style and in this relaxed atmosphere he was able to show off his vocal talent better. This allowed me to pop to the bar and grab some refreshments.

The fun part of this segment was when he brought a very cute girl from the audience up on to stage and sang her a song. From what I have heard from the web and my friends in the UK who have also seen the show I can report that Usher was “Culturally sensitive” during this part of the performance. The girl he had up there was in a state of disbelief with gawking eyes and constantly mouthing “OMG” it was very entertaining and I am sure she will never forget those five minutes:

Usher performed for a full two hours treating us to a little Jackson 5 montage and a host of his biggest back catalogue hits like – Burn, You Make me Wanna and Yeah – this had the whole crowd rocking and dancing:

He closed on the tour title song OMG and it was special – going all out on the dance routine and pyrotechnics I could not have wanted more for one my favourite club songs of last year. The huge mixed crowd of all ages and some remarkable hairstyles all left the concert a buzz with excitement about what they had just witnessed. It felt to me as if the mood in Dubai has turned. Is Dubai back? Maybe it is judging by the huge traffic at the end of each working day and this concert was the first sell out in the last couple of years. Times it seems they are a changing.

As I ambled home to the Marina to avoid the mass of people looking for a taxi I thought to myself. “How would I rate that gig – simple OMG!”

Posted by: englishdubai | March 14, 2011

Changes

Sometimes when you least expect it, things can change. Having had a real learning experience at VMware over the last three and a bit years an opportunity came along that made me think twice. In fact it made me think really hard. I also suppose there must be something in the water with my good blogging mate and long time colleague, while I was Sun Microsystems, Chris Saul having recently made the move to HP.

So on the first of March I stepped into a brave new world as the Regional Director for Citrix Systems. Obviously, anyone following technology will know that VMware and Citrix compete in the same Virtualization market place an industry that I am passionate about.  The new role gives me the total view of end user sales, channel sales, techical support, people management and facilities management that I have yet to experience as a whole. Without question it will be real challenge for me, but one that I am super excited about and I think will ultimately help me meet my own personal ambitions.

Earlier today – there was a press release about this and you can read a couple of examples here and here. Already the response I have had from a combination of this press release, a status update on Facebook and a title change on linkedin has been truly amazing. I have to admit I have been overwhelmed. I can only presume I must have been doing something right and I can only hope to continue to keep it up.

The fun part of the job happened last week when I had to pose for my official press shots. Here is a favourite one:

I am at the start of a new journey and am keen to see what is around the next corner. Traditional desktops lookout – I am here to virtualize you!

Posted by: englishdubai | February 12, 2011

Would you like some Cheese with your Wine?

There is so much to love about winter weekends in Dubai. There are lots of out door festivals, al fresco dining and concerts. So when I was invited to a birthday brunch at the recently opened Chi’Zen restaurant at Dubai Festival City there could be no better aperitif than going to see Amy Winehouse later that evening at the same complex, or so I thought.

After a relaxing afternoon in sun, sampling a very delicious range of  Dim Sum we head over to the concert. It is events like this that remind me just how many Brits there in Dubai – the ten thousand plus crowd mostly appeared to come from the green and pleasant land. There was also a noticeable lack of “teeny boppers” with Amy attracting an older crowd. Perfect I will be able to relax without any screaming in my ear.

As usual with concerts in Dubai the queue for beverages was ridiculous and food overpriced – but I have come to expect to this so it provided a little distraction as we waited for the gig to start. Once suitably stocked up we looked for spot to stand only to be left a little disappointed that the viewing was restricted by us with the “cheap seats” (300aed/$81) by a huge sound/lightening/camera setup in the “front of house position” forcing the crowd into a relative narrow viewing angle either side of it. But as it turned out I am glad I did not spring the extra 200aed for the “Golden Circle” or even an extra 700aed for the Back to Black Lounge (two small platforms slightly elevated over the crowd set at an oblique angle).

Soon enough Amy Winehouse entered the stage to what I would call polite applause. On first impressions she looked surprisingly well :

Big Hair – check

Tattoos on display – check

Trademark eye make up – check

Then she started singing, or at least I think she did. We simply couldn’t hear the first song. Her voice faded in and out and it was all a bit strange. For the first couple of songs it felt as if there had been a mess up with the sound mixing or there was an issue with her microphone. She looked increasingly anxious fiddling with her in ear monitors and often scratching at her arm. You could see her talking to various members of the band and almost looked embarrassed at one point. The first three of four songs continued in this vein and each was greeted with resounding boos from the crowd. People were in a state of disbelief as they looked and commented to each other about what they were witnessing. The poor phone networks were getting a battering as by the end of the first song nearly everyone was lighting up the social networks telling the world that Amy was choking on stage.

My initial thoughts that there was an issue with sound mixing were wrong, as after the fifth song when Amy left the stage leaving the backup singers to entertain the miserable crowd and in their defence they belted out a couple of cracking tracks but all too little too late.

When Amy came back it was a little better – you could kind of hear here this time, and the crowd did their best to sing-a-long to “Valerie” and “Rehab’ but I admit – I preferred the versions that we do at my sing star parties.

Spotify have this to say about Amy Winehouse:

“Much can be said about Amy Winehouse, one of the UK’s flagship vocalists during the 2000s. The British press and tabloids seemed to focus on her rowdy behaviour and heavy consumption of alcohol, but fans and critics alike embraced her rugged charm, brash sense of humour, and distinctively soulful and jazzy vocals.”

I think the British press have it right and I rued the lack of the soulful and jazzy vocal last night. Such a shame for her and the crowd. There have been great gigs in the UAE for example Justin Timberlake, Prince and The Killers this was just such a let down. Still, next week it is the Jazz Festival with Macy Gray, Alison Moyet and Train all lined up to play, then in March there is Usher, 30 Seconds to Mars and Stevie Wonder – I will be at some of these for sure and Amy hasn’t dulled my interest for live music.

Overall – 1/10 – The one mark was for socializing, as it was nice to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen for sometime down at the gig but it was really just a dismal concert . It left me wishing I had gone to Abu Dhabi to see Mr Eric Clapton work his guitar like the magician he is.

Posted by: englishdubai | January 4, 2011

2010 in review

Chris beat me to the punch and published his 2010 Blog review kindly sent over by wordpress. It certainly makes for interesting reading. I wish I could be as prolific as others.

 

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 54,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 24 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 352 posts. There were 36 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 71mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 480 views. The most popular post that day was Ten Dubai Phrases.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were uaecommunity.blogspot.com, an-englishman-in-dubai.blogspot.com, flyertalk.com, dubaithoughts.blogspot.com, and lonelyplanet.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for englishman in dubai, brett siegel, an englishman in dubai, dubai tailors, and top 10 things to do in dubai.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Ten Dubai Phrases October 2009
20 comments

2

Tailor Made February 2008
37 comments

3

Hanging on the Telephone April 2009
111 comments

4

New Top 10 Things to Do in Dubai October 2009
19 comments

5

About November 2007
74 comments

Posted by: englishdubai | December 25, 2010

A very special Christmas Delivery

With all the snow in the UK playing havoc with flights and transport links I decided the best plan of action would be to go to Melbourne and spend the Christmas break with my sister and my tiny nephews. This morning I woke up early (despite having the good fortune of a business class upgrade on the flight yesterday) and even the tiny nephews had not gotten up. It felt great to watch them open their presents with delight and the resulting chaos when their cousins turned up was fun.

During the all important Christmas present opening at about 9am my sister looked a little concerned. Then in a matter of fact tone “I had better start timing these contractions”. Thirty minutes later they were at the hospital and 40 minutes later Faye gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Weighing 3.95kg and measuring 53cm my tiny niece came into the world at 10.38am 25th December 2010. The whole family could not have wished for a better present on this extra special day. I have to admit that when a pretty emotional brother in law (Keith) gave me a call it set me off too.

Amazingly a short six hours later Faye and the tiny niece left the hospital and came home. All of seven hours old, I was allowed to hold the newest member of the family and she melted my heart. Despite being the largest baby of the three she really is so so tiny:

We soon got Christmas dinner on and enjoyed the rest of the day. It was just unbelievable day and right now I could not think of anywhere else I would rather be. Merry Christmas to one and all. I really hope that you get to spend time with your loved ones of this festive season.

PS – no name yet but I will update this blog when they have decided what name on their short list “suits her best”

PPS – The name of my tiny niece is Summer Faith Pomeroy and very cute it is too!

Posted by: englishdubai | November 24, 2010

Her Name was Rio and She Dances in The Sand

It occurred to me last month as I gazed out of my living room window the the millionth time that I should actually do something about the yachts beneath me. Not necessarily purchase one, but at least chartering one for afternoon would be a special thing to do. So I set about some research and came across a company called xclusive yachts who were well respected locally and known the the manager of the yacht club. With my birthday just around the corner, it would be really memorable to take me and my friends out for an afternoon onto the Gulf on a Gin Palace of note. Also with my oldest friend Amber coming over to Dubai for the weekend it would be an extra special occasion all around.

Amber and I enjoying the beautiful weather on my balcony and it was such a special treat to have her as my guest in Dubai:

Prior to making my booking I had taken the time for a little inspection and was not disappointed. The interior lounge and bedrooms were beautifully finished, with a great top deck and plenty of seating all around for us to relax on, it was the perfect vessel. We arrived at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club about half an hour before our departure and everyone’e sense of anticipation was clear. It felt it had been ages in coming and we were all eager to get on board.

You might be able to tell that I am a tiny bit excited as we boarded:

As we ambled along at 5 knots through the Dubai Marina people ran around the boat exploring all the various nooks and crannies, while I busied myself getting the iPod hooked up to the stereo for some cheesy rock tunes. While we gently cruised up the Marina it was great to get some views of the exciting new “Infinity” Tower with a twist in that is progressing fast:

Once out of the Marina the captain opened up the motors and we were soon heading out past the Palm and deep into the Gulf. The skyline behind us of the Marina skyscrapers was just amazing:

Everyone was able to relax and enjoy the wind rushing around us as we cruised out. We were well looked after by the deckhand who was just everywhere. One minute serving soft drinks and nuts, the next ensuring everyone had a glass of champagne in their hand that was consistently full till we ran dry of the bubbly:

The captain was equally amiable and had a few fun stories about previous parties he had taken out:

Once we had gotten to a certain area of the Gulf we dropped anchor and the fishing rods were pulled out and a number of lads got stuck in. A little competition started – who would catch the first fish, who would catch the biggest fish and who would catch the most fish. Below Werner does well and gets one of the first bites:

All to soon fishing time was over and it was on to the next part of the trip. We set sail for the “lagoon” which is conveintly located just outside Barasti. We weren’t the only ones there – it seems this is where the luxury day tripping yachts head to allow for their passengers to swim into the sea. This being a bit of a party boat soon most were in the water splashing around:

There was also a bit of fun with people leaping and diving off the top deck. Matt with his mad skills was the clear winner:

After the swimming was over people were feeling exhilarated, so it was about time I got busy making some cocktails for the cruise back into the Marina:

And what better backdrop to enjoy a limey refreshing cocktail as the sun went down on a rather sensational day…

Once back in the harbour I gave the crew a generous tip and we hiked back across the bridge to my place for the “after party” however not before enjoying the view from the bridge:

Once back at my place we teamed up with more of my friends who had also been out on a yacht the same day. It was very kind of Chef Tom (from Ask One TV Fame) to sort out almost an endless supply of tasty prawn, beef and lamb kofta kebabs. Here he is having a bit of a bus man’s holiday working hard on the grill:

He also managed to fix up a cake for the Birthday Boy (me) and the Birthday Girl (Laura his wife) with a rather giant and very tasty cake. This arrived with loads of candles and a rapturous version of happy birthday:

We partied late into the night and I can only be thankful that the cleaner came in the following morning to sort out my place which was looking very sorry for itself the morning after.

It was a fantastic day. A trip on a yacht around Dubai with great friends is an experienced not to be missed and I can only rate it as 10/10. A bunch of my mates were in Sri Lanka during that weekend and I really wish they could have been with me, I hope that there will be a next time.

Posted by: englishdubai | November 24, 2010

Going Square

My mates have been busy and it is that time of year where we are having a dress up party. This time the theme is ‘Rubik’s Cube” the premise being you dress up in the six colours of the rubik’s cube and you attempt to “solve” the cube  by swapping clothes with other people so you are able to leave in one colour. Deciding whether I should try for the orange square group or the blue square group. I should imagine there will be plenty of hilarity ensuing.

As has become tradition, the party has to have a video trailer. You can enjoy it below:

Posted by: englishdubai | November 17, 2010

Little Red Corvette

The F1 came to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island for the last race of the season at the weekend. And what a weekend it was. Last year I waxed lyrical about how fantastic the facility was and how much of a good time I had with my friends. Could it have been better? I had my doubts, but yet again Yas Island and the F1 delivered a superlative few days of fun.

We cruised down late on Saturday afternoon and arrived at the circuit just in time to see an action packed qualifying. I realised that while I have some allegiances to Red Bull and Ferrari, I am in fact an unabashed McLaren fan. It was great to see both Button and Hamilton go well for good grid positions on race day. After this was done, we headed across the road to the very funky Y-Bar at the Yas Rotana. There we had some relaxing outdoor drinks before heading down to watch Linkin Park at the Yas Arena.

I have some vague knowledge of Linkin Park and I spent a comfortable 90 minutes watching them rock out.  Of course the odd recognizable tune made me leap about (especially New Divide from the Transformers movie). Any Linkin Park fans would have enjoyed it, they played with a lot of passion especially Rob Bourdon on drums:

The following day we got down to the circuit about 1pm. Plenty of time to have an explore and check out what was going on during the day. The first thing that I noticed was that there were plenty of lessons that had been learned from the previous year. A couple of examples -

1. Booze Tents – they now all have a “beer garden” a welcome relief from the turbo AC inside the tents and a great way  to enjoy the autumnal Abu Dhabi sun

2. The food – far better than the over priced rubbish that was being served last year (in fact they actually ran out at one point the previous year)

3. Entertainment – lots of it and now not just at the central fan zone

The parking and buses after the concerts continued to be beyond reproach and the people looking after the Silverstone circuit in the UK could do well to visti Abu Dhabi.

We had a stroll down the far zone making sure to take advantage of the photo cuts outs. Here is yours truly getting my dream as a Ferrari driver coming true:

Then we noticed a rather large queue forming. Like any good British citizen it was just to much temptation and I had to join the back of it. One of my friends checked out what was happening, it turned out that Rubens Barrichello was about to show up for a 15 minute autograph session. There was no chance that I would get one at the back of queue so opted to grab a photo instead:

After we had a play on the Porsche stand in the various models they had on show, a BMX demo was just about to start. So going with the flow we stuck around for 20 minutes and watched the guys pull off their tricks. The ending was a back flip jump which I managed to press the power off button on my camera instead of the “take photo” button. Instead you will have to settle for “serious air with tyre grab” picture:

It was soon time for the race so we hurried back to our seats for the anthem, Etihad fly by and the procession lap. It was the most wide open F1 championship in history and there was a palpable atmosphere of excitement in the grandstand. This was amplified after the nasty crash involving Schumacher and Liuzzi. Once the safety car left the track, the pit stop strategy kept the crowd guessing, but ultimately it was a very well driven race led by Vettel with everyone else following in a neat procession. I can now understand why the McLaren bosses are asking for a track change at Abu Dhabi to allow for more passing opportunities. This is the view Lewis had of Vettel for the first half of the race:

Still well done to Vettel – the youngest F1 world champion in history. I was glad to have been there to witness it and the tears he had afterwards were touching. My fellow F1 spectators all agreed it had been a good race and a fitting end to an exciting season:

Once we had taken the obligatory trackside photos we headed straight over to the concert venue. Once there we relaxed and listend to DJ Bliss play a fun commercial R&B set prior to the legend, Prince, came out to play.

When it was announced that Prince was going to play after the race I was surprised. He certainly does not tour often and I grew up listening to his extensive catalogue. Was I excited? Oh yes! He also did not disappoint. Small edit: Sadly Youtube have removed my 57 second clip of Prince singing Little Red Corvette.

It was all rather bewildering. He played a decent amount of his classic hits – but not content with that we got treated to some intense guitar solos and some amazing vocal performances by the backing singer. I do wonder if Prince was getting a bonus for each time he mentioned “Abu Dhabi” as he started doing it so much he turned it into a song! Which was fun.

Then there were the encores. Notice I say encores as there were at least three. The second one I thought was just great, he invited people to come up on stage to dance. I thought it might be just a couple but there was easily fifty or sixty people partying with the man himself, it was quite a sight. Then there was a really nice bit of improv. Nicole Scherzinger (girlfriend of Lewis Hamilton and Pussycat Dolls member) ended up getting on a podium alongside Prince and singing with him. The big screens cut to Lewis Hamilton who had his phone out videoing his girlfriend sing with the Pop legend, this was greeted with a cheer and a warm round of applause from audience. I guess even superstars can get a little awestruck.

Here Prince sings with Nicole:

We all left tired but on a huge high. Everything had been above the hugh expectation level that last year had set. I noticed that there were a lot of “real” F1 fans in attendance compared to last year. Without fail I could hear them saying that this was the best F1 race for the fans on the circuit. High praise indeed and who am I to argue? I have only ever been to Silverstone and Abu Dhabi blows it out of the water.

Posted by: englishdubai | November 6, 2010

Did Twitter Kill Blogging?

I have had an infatuation with Twitter over the course of this year. I like it and it really is a fantastic platform for all sorts of uses. Now with the immediacy of Twitter I can post a quick thought and a picture where before I might have written a 300 or 400 word blog posting about the subject. It occurred to me the other day that wasn’t enough. Fine for many things but not enough to really get into the detail and so over the last few months I have been back on my blogging on a more regular manner.

I feel that the success of Twitter has had an adverse effect on the blogging community in the UAE with the central hub of the UAE Community Blog being almost deserted nowadays. Still, the same people are around just expressing themselves in other ways through anyone of the myriad of other social networking types. However a number of active Dubai bloggers remain and I thought I would list down my current five favourites active UAE blogs:

Representin’ That D-town – Written by my friend Michelle she snapshots little bits of her life, cooking, fashion, food and thoughts. Acutely observational and often hilarious be sure to check it out. Sadly, she lives back to her native Australia in a few weeks. She will be sorely missed.

Gubbi of Arabia: Expat Life in Dubai – I have recently discovered this fun loving American’s blog. She won me over with the comment on what it is to be Lebanese had me crying with laughter.

A Canadian In Abu Dhabi – with nearly daily updates that are sharp and to the point. Ann Marie Mcqueen’s comments are often my first read of the day

Melissa’s Flight Attendant Blog – fast approaching 5 years of blogging Melissa’s often very personal blog is a brilliant insight into the vast amount of travelling a member of cabin crew has to do.

Christopher Saul’s Blog – My oldest mate in Dubai and perhaps one of the smartest. When Chris is not moaning and groaning about his apartment, vehicle fleet or doing his expenses his blog is one of the longest running in Dubai and was partially to blame for my own blogging obsession. His satirical genius often emerges in his posts and none better than this example.

I would also like to give an honorable mention to There’s Sand in My Latte a diary account of an American family settling into Dubai and just recently going back to the states. Natalie beautifully photographed all their activities and it is a lovely momento of their time in Arabia.

I could go on at some length about many other great UAE blogs that I read regularly but my message is the same – keep blogging and use Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare/Linkedin/AN Other social network as a platform to get a broader readership. The community needs us all.

Posted by: englishdubai | November 6, 2010

I’ll Sail This Ship Alone

I love living in Dubai Marina. Sure it can have its traffic problems, but it is now a mature community with plenty of shops, restaurants, hotels, cafes, gyms, spas and a wonderful beach and Marina it is great spot. A little bit of something for everyone. I have previously written about that Dubai Marina Yacht Club – it offers the perfect location for end of the working week drinks, but it wasn’t so long ago when it was not even there.

I flicked back through my photo collection and thought it would be nice to share a few photos of the development of the yacht club over the last couple of years.

The first photo was taken February 2008 the day I had my snagging for the apartment I now live in. JBR had yet to open and there were only a few boats on moorings in the middle of the Marina:

 

When I finally got the keys to my place in May 2008 I took the following photo. The pontoons were well under way though not open to yachts at this point:

 

And if we quickly fast forward to August 2010 the Yacht Club has all berths full and they are currently opening other mooring options in other parts of the Marina as there seems to be an ongoing demand. I really wish I had set up some time-lapse photography between this period.

I am lucky. Each day I get to look out on a simply amazing ever changing view. It is something I look forward to if I have been on a hectic business trip or simply welcoming guests over for a drink or a meal. I will be breaking my duck of taking a yacht out from the Marina later this month as part of some joint birthday celebrations. I can hardly wait.

Posted by: englishdubai | November 4, 2010

Movember

Early November and Movember is well and truly underway with some of my mates sporting some upper lip growth that would make grown elephants think twice about messing with them. Me, I am not really one for facial hair but recognize the importance of raising awareness around the dangers of Prostate Cancer.

A fun thing that happens every year in the UAE is the voting for the Hottest Bachelor (or guys who love themselves so much they want to be photographed in a magazine wearing too much hair product). The nice thing is that whole thing also revolves around the Movember awareness. The good news is that one of my mates features in it and I suppose I had better show some support for a great chap who will remain nameless (until you click on the link below) – so please show your support for Movember and vote:

http://www.ahlanlive.com/viva-hot-bachelors?id=26313&imgid=144389&page=8

Happy Voting!

Posted by: englishdubai | November 4, 2010

Free Fallin’

Inspired by seeing some skydivers last weekend at the Pink Polo I took my mate Paul down to the recently opened Mirdiff City Center Mall to have a go on iFly. It is great that Malls in Dubai seek to have something that is a unique pull and the prospect of having some fun in a vertical wind tunnel was appealing. Sadly, I was unable to participate due to my history of shoulder dislocations which left Paul as the solo flyer.

As it was his first time flight he had to watch a short instructional video which outlines the basics of entry into the wind tunnel and how to position your body. Also the all important hand signals (relax, bend legs, straighten legs, head up). During the video there were lots of shots of tiny kids enjoying themselves on the wind tunnel and I would love to bring my tiny nephews to Dubai again to do this with them. Once the video was over the instructor came back in and gave Paul a final run through and what to expect from her during “the flight”. After this he was quickly suited up, ear defenders in, goggles and helmet tightly strapped on and he was ready. I liked the suit it had grab handles over it which the instructor can use to position you around, I used them to push and pull Paul around, jokingly.

With little ado they turned on the might wind tunnel fan and in no time Paul was in and flying!

 

It was a little hard to get photos through two sheets of perspex so I ended up getting a video of Paul’s second flight. He managed to get “stable” pretty quickly and then the instructor took him literally for a spin. Looked a real rush:

The introductory session costs 195aed ($53) – for this you get the initial tuition, suit and gear hire and two “flights” after this an additional two minute flight is 70aed ($19). Seemed reasonable value for a really exhilarating experience. During the rest between flights the instructor had the wind tunnel fan turned up to maximum and then proceeded to wow us both with some amazing stunts. I particularly liked the “spinning on the head” and “stop right at the bottom like mission impossible” tricks. I did my best to capture them on video:

Afterwards, we spoke to the instructor and she told us they could instruct Paul on how to gain more control and then on to tricks and stunts. It was all down to how long and how many sessions you wanted to invest. As we left iFly Paul commented to me:

“If I lived here, I would take this up and try and get some elite skills. It is a cool extreme sport.” – you couldn’t get much of a better recommendation than that.

Posted by: englishdubai | November 4, 2010

Pretty in Pink

It has been a long and hot summer but now the weather has finally broken and those of us living in the UAE are now looking forward of six to seven months of ideal weather. Each day being as good as the best Summer’s day in the UK – it can be a hard life sometimes. So when I was asked if I would care to attend Pink Polo in aid of Breast Cancer who was I to refuse?

Me and my mates popped on our pink shirts and headed out of Dubai up to the Polo Club at Ghantoot. My dear friend Catherine had organised VIP tickets and entry into the special guest enclosure which was great. We took a prime spot under one of the gazebos and lounged around enjoying the canapes and soft drinks that were freely available. Here are Annie and Paul enjoying the late afternoon sun:

As this is Dubai nothing is ever just plain and simple. The big surprise was a skydiving display landing on the field which was excellent. Seeing them landing with pinpoint accuracy was amazing and the last chap down delivered the match ball. It made for a pretty spectacular advert for Sky Dive Dubai:

After this it was on to watch a fun five chukkas of Polo between the Estee Lauder Team and ADCB team which turned into quite a spirited match. Paul caught a nice shot of the players:

It was a really relaxing afternoon and if you were not lucky enough to have VIP tickets entry was still free to the general public and with various fund raising activities going on it was a great day out of the city. The game started at around 5pm and when the sun went down and flood lights came on it made for a moody and spectacular early autumn evening in the UAE:

It had been sometime since I had seen Polo and this was my first time to make a visit in the UAE, I think I should probably make more of an effort and get down to the Arabian Ranches Polo club one weekend and partake in a little picnic and a tipple. After all while it is raining and cold in the UK what better way to make you mates back home envious?

Posted by: englishdubai | October 15, 2010

Double Decker

While I could write 500 words on one of the local (mainly Brit) pubs in Dubai I think it would be far more entertaining to share my experience with of flying Business Class on the monstrous Airbus A380.

The A380 and Emirates have been intricately linked and with a recent order for another 30 A380’s it looks like the future is bright for both of them. Now, this giant plane attracts a lot of attention on the EK schedule and quickly gets booked up so I usually avoid it if I am going to one of the current routes it serves. Having said that, I have had the pleasure to fly on the A380 four times and with a combination of Skywards miles upgrades and “bump ups” I have only ever flown Business Class on this aircraft. A record I doubt I will keep for long.

The usual seat capacity on the EK A380 is 388 passengers. That is a huge number of people to board! The good news is that if you are flying in First or Business not only do you have a seperate entrance to the flight, but the whole upper deck is for the premium cabins! No flimsy curtain between you and the screaming kids who are sat in the bulkhead seats. This allows you to relax in total isolation from where I usually end up i.e. cattle class.

The first thing you notice when you enter Business Class on the A380 is the sheer number of seats (76 in total) – for some reason it made me feel a little less special.

That soon fades as soon as you make it to your assigned seat. The first thing you notice is that you get what I can only described as a “pod”. In front of you is a nice large panel for the famous “ICE” system Emirates have. Then you have the large wireless controller to adjust your seat, activate the massage function, TV/Radio Channels and lighting. Next to that there is your own mini bar offering a choice of soft drinks. Above this there is a handy storage area where you can pop the socks and eyeshades they give you.

The great thing about the layout in A380 business class is the 1-2-1 configuration meaning that there is no middle seat (a real weakness on the 777 business class cabin) Also the way these ‘pods’ are designed gives you the feeling of real isolation and privacy which can really help you relax or sleep. The not so good thing about the seats are that they are only 0.5″ wider than an economy seat and the side of the seat where the mini bar lives makes it a little awkward to rest your arm. Still, you can fully extend the seat to flat and the nice cabin crew will give you a mattress so you can get a decent sleep. Do take the mattress, I didn’t first time around and found the chair to be really hard to sleep on.

For me the perfect way to relax on a flight if I am not sleeping is to catch up on the TV/Movies I have stored on my laptop, I will usually only watch ICE if I am desperate to see something they have or my laptop is dead. The business class seats offer a power point which keeps my laptop going on long flights and there is an added bonus of USB sockets which are perfect for charging my iPhone and Blackberry:

The very best thing about A380 premium cabins is the bar lounge area set at the back of Business Class. I had read a lot about it but on seeing it I was truly amazed. A fully stocked bar with loads of canapes to nibble on and comfortable seating along the windows. Enjoying a G&T at thirty eight thousand feet at a bar, really is a surreal experience and is not to be missed. A good friend of mine works on the A380 in Business Class and has some great stories but always mentions that the Dubai to Manchester route has the bar packed out. Seems the Mancunians enjoy a tipple! (It might be best to get a seat away from the bar if you want to get some sleep or bring ear plugs)

Emirates should be proud of the product they have delivered on this new super jumbo. It is relaxing and the bar area kind of feels like a private members club. The food and service is up to the usual standard of Emirates but the modern cabin, seat features and finish really does make it feel like travel fit for the 21st century.

Posted by: englishdubai | October 8, 2010

Start Me Up

I have been enjoying my blogging over the last couple of weeks. So when I was asked to write a guest blog post for the Expat Explorer Blog I was happy to do so. It took a little bit of thinking about what subject to write about. But with the aid of the hindsight the best thing I could contribute was “How do I get started in Dubai?” so with that I set about writing a small guide on what you might want to do.

It is a fun piece and you may find it here:

http://expatexplorer.blogspot.com/2010/10/guest-blogger-series-introducing-aaron.html

Posted by: englishdubai | October 6, 2010

Flying First Class

In my last four and bit years in Dubai I have flown more than four hundred thousand miles on Emirates. Quite a staggering amount and probably accounts for some sort of gigantic carbon footprint, that I should be ashamed of.

It is always a pleasure when you get bumped to business class if the flight is full but I had never had the pleasure of travelling at the very front of the plane. However recently on my trip to Melbourne I took advantage of a “Cash+Miles” deal to fly First Class for the 13 hour trip from Dubai to Melbourne direct.

So if you ever wondered what it is like to fly First Class on Emirates here are a few of my thoughts:

First Class Lounge in Dubai Terminal 3

If you have ever walked into the regular business lounge in Dubai Terminal 3 in the morning it is a veritable zoo with hundreds of people milling around. Turning right from the escalator brings you the tranquil calm of the first class lounge. On my visit there it was almost serene. It was a nice touch that there is real linen, silver cutlery and a full bread basket provided when I had breakfast. But it was a shame that the cooked brekkie was identical to the other lounge – scrambled eggs, hash browns, beans and chicken sausage. I had hoped for something better.

Still it was relaxing and quiet, and if I wished I could have gone for a massage but I was a little pressed for time.

Boarding the Flight

As I walked down the gangway to the plane a large pull up stand directed me to special entrance for first class passengers, that was novel. Total isolation.

I was quickly ushered to my “suite” number 1A:

Emirates first class suites are available on the A380 and the newer 777’s – so be sure to check if you get one on your booking as it does really make a difference. The ability to shut your doors and hide from the rest of the world while cocooned in luxury, is a fantastic experience.

As soon as I settled down into my seat I was quickly attended to a host of needs:

1. Would I like a drink?

2. Would I like a hot towel?

3. Would I like a date (food variety)?

4. Would I like an Arabic coffee?

5. Would I like a newspaper?

6. Would I like a magazine?

7. Would I like the menu?

8. Would I like the wine list?

9. Would I like socks and eyeshades?

10. Would I like slippers?

and then what makes First Class really special:

11. Would sir like pajamas in L or XL size? – oh so polite. The XL of course.

While all of this was going on I was busy indulging in the Dom Perignon 2000. My own words don’t do it justice bu the Emirates wine list has a good go at it:

I thought I did quite well nearly polishing off a whole bottle on the flight. This is nothing to what this one chap managed.

The Cabin

The first thing you notice when in the First Class cabin is the distinct lack of over head hat racks to store your bags. They end up going on the floor to one side of your feet. Brilliant for easy access.

When when sitting down (aside from the large flat screen TV) it was hard to miss the snack tray and vanity set. Perfect if I get the munchies and need a quick touch up:

While you get the usual large remote operating the lights, massage seats, privacy door and the inflight entertainment. There were a couple of special buttons. The first was the electric blinds:

And the other was the mini bar

As someone mentioned on twitter it would be a great once your drinks had popped up if a little voice said “Your drink is ready sire” The funny thing is that with four cabin crew for 12 passengers a press on the call button is even faster.

The Food

Sadly, I didn’t take any photos of the food. But the great thing is that you can eat whatever they have on the menu anytime you want it. I somehow ended up ordering the soup, the lobster, the caviar and the porterhouse steak just because I could. It was all delicious and went well with the vintage champagne.

The Sleep

For me the biggest boon of First Class is the ability to really get some good sleep. I made sure to go and brush my teeth and put on my supplied pajamas so that I had “ready for bed feeling” while I was doing this a cabin crew member transformed me seat into a little haven. A full on bed complete with mattress, duvet and a couple of fluffy pillows. I had no chance and slept for an even eight hours

Overall

I really did have a wonderful experience flying First on Emirates. It is hideously expensive and yes it is better than business class. However I didn’t feel that the difference really justified the cost as Emirates business class is a decent product that I use regularly. But if you have the means and it is a special reason, then go ahead. You won’t be disappointed.

Posted by: englishdubai | September 27, 2010

Impossibly Bling

I was stopped at some traffic lights the other day down at Ibn Battuta Mall when a smart Range Sport pulled up along side me. Now this type of car is ten a penny in Dubai and I would not have given it a second thought till it edged ahead of me.

The dazzle coming of the “Sport” and “Range Rover” decals nearly blinded me. It was an almost involuntary reflex to grab my iPhone and take a snap:

Now the only people I know in Dubai who have a Range Rover is Mr and Mrs Saul. Surely this must be their next upgrade? But I am left wondering if this is a dealer fit option in the UAE. This would not surprise me at all:

“Would sir like diamond encrusted decals?”

Posted by: englishdubai | September 27, 2010

Made 2 Measure

Over the last few years the most popular post I have written is my experience in visiting and having a suit made at a Tailors in Dubai. I thought it was about time I revisited this topic.

One the tricky things about finding a Tailor in Dubai is that a lot of them are located in the older parts Dubai such as Bur Dubai, Karama and Deira. There are a couple of issues with this for me. Firstly they are quite a distance from where I live and secondly when I get there (if my navigation is good) it is often hard to find parking. So when I heard that there one respected tailor had moved to Jumeriah 3 it was hard to pass up the opportunity to try somewhere new.

M2M have been in Dubai for more than 20 years and moving up to Jumeriah 3 at the start of this year in my opinion is a stroke of genius. Easy to find, easy to park and just a fifteen minute drive for me to get there. They are not hard to miss, their villa style boutique is situated next to the Eppco station on Beach Road:

Upon entering it was clear that they had gone out of their way to make this a relaxed and comfortable shopping experience. The rich wood interior and hints of the English gentry made me feel at home. I went to get a shirt and some trousers made. It is rare I am in a suit nowadays but if these items turned out well I am sure I will be back for one.

Choosing and designing a shirt is something of a joyful experience for me. From the choice of the fabrics, collar design, pocket or no pocket, monogram and its location, cuff design and the cut of the shirt each selection making that particular shirt special to me. The chaps at M2M were polite helpful and always willing to provide a little bit of advice as we went through the process. There was a good selection of fabrics available and a wealth more could be ordered in from the numerous swatches they had to hand:

Once the shirt design was done I moved onto the fabric choice for the trousers. I wanted something lightweight to be cool in the hot summer yet still smart for the office. Again a great selection of fabrics and the design process was another delight. The cut, pocket style, buttons or not, pleated of flat front, turn ups or not – I loved choosing from the options.

Below is a few of the collar choices on display:

With the design of the shirt and trousers done it was time for the measurements. M2M had a special area for this where one stands on a plinth in front of a three paneled mirror, it was all rather lavish. The master Tailors are then called for. First the “Shirt Master” who efficiently took my shirt measurements and asked if I wore a watch in case he needed to make the left cuff slightly larger. Then the “Suit Master” gave me another measuring for my trousers but still took my torso measurements, so I got the full treatment.

Once done, I was told that the garments would be ready for fitting in just a matter of 48hours but if I was in a hurry I could come back tomorrow afternoon. I was impressed and thought this would be perfect for my mates who would be coming on holiday as they like to indulge in tailor made clothes as much as I do.

While I was at M2M I was asked if I would like to see the “Ethnic Wedding” section they have for men and women upstairs. Nosey as ever, I was pleased to have a look and was greeted by some impossibly bling outfits:

A few days later I went back for my fitting which was short and sweet and after the weekend the finished article was ready for me to collect:

I was really pleased with the outcome. Trying them on, they fit well and are comfortable. The quality of work is great and I have a feeling I will be back for some future purchases. This leads me onto to price. A monogrammed shirt starts at 250aed ($68) and a suit starts from 1490aed ($405) this I think is really reasonable and comparable to off the peg prices in the UK, however for this price you are getting something fitted to you. I for one couldn’t ask for more.

Overall – Great value well made custom clothes, located in a smart part of Jumeriah which is easy to get to. 9/10.

Posted by: englishdubai | August 18, 2010

10 Things Revisited

I was really pleased recently to be contacted by one of the editors from Forbes.com. The chap had liked by earlier posting about 10 things to do in Dubai and asked me to expand the article.

I was delighted to participate and wrote late into the night to get it done. I was pleased to see it up and on the website this morning. You can see it at the following link below:

http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/14/dubai-tourism-sightseeing-activities-lifestyle-travel-gulf.html

I hope you enjoy the article!

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