Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Feet

Just came back from watching Happy Feet. It's ADORABLE!

First of all, the animations are amazing, really....sometimes, you even forget it's animated. That's how good the animations are!

The music is great, and makes you want to get up in the middle of the theater and start dancing.

And the actors do a great job with the voices...Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Brittany Murphy all sing their own songs in the movie. Elijah Wood does a really good job with the voice for the main penguin role.

Here's a bit of music trivia from the movie for you:

Initially, Prince refused to allow the use of his song, "Kiss", for the film. However, after seeing footage of the film, he not only changed his mind and allowed the song to be used, but also wrote an additional original song for the film to use in the closing credits.

So, if you have nothing to do this New Year/Eid holiday, go watch Happy for the whole family!

Click here to check out the Happy Feet website.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

There's so much more to see...

Apparently, I've only visited 7% of the countries in the world...

Create your own visited country map, by clicking here.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas ornament

This year again, we decided to decorate our tree in red only, with white lights. I love it! It looks so nice and simple and classy....

Here's a picture of one of our Christmas ornaments. I love macro photography.

Merry Christmas once again... I hope Santa was generous this year (he was with me!) and that you enjoy the day with all your loved ones.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ho Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On vacation...

I am now officially on vacation...until next year! Nothing too exciting...I'll be spending most of it in Abu Dhabi with la familia.

I am already bored, so I really don't know how this next week will go, especially given that both my sis and my bro will be working (except for Christmas day). And I don't have that many friends here in I guess I'm going to have to keep myself entertained.

Here's the plan (we'll see how much of it I'll achieve):

- First, 2 days of Christmas shopping. I have not bought a single present yet, so tomorrow and the day after will be dedicated to shopping.

- I also have a lot of movies and series to catch up on: I started watching episodes 1-6 of season 3 of Lost, I am hoping to be able to download episodes 1-10 of season 3 of Grey's Anatomy, I have downloaded copies of Volver, Babel and the new Bond, I want to try to catch Holidays at the movies, and I have yet to finish season 4 of 24 (I just got sick of 24 after a while, so I just stopped....but maybe I'll get back to it soon).

- I want to go back to reading my book (The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini)

- I need to go to the beach...I haven't been this white in a while...I'm just waiting for my semi-flu to go away (I am in between sick and not sick, which is really throat hurts and I cough, but otherwise, no cold, no fever, not even feeling that tired...weird!)

- I want to get a massage (a couple of weeks ago I got one at Tips and Toes in Marina Mall, and it was AMAZING!)

- Go out once or twice...I need to see people (other than my immediate family)...although I don't even know why I bother, it's always the same people you see here in Abu Dhabi....

That's all I can think of for now. I better hit the sack. I have a full day of shopping ahead tomorrow...Ugh...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Harry Potter and....

The name of the 7th and final Harry Potter book has been revealed. I'm not a die-hard Harry fan, I've only read the 1st book, and I have seen 2 (or maybe 3? Don't remember) of the movies.

But I do like author J.K Rowling's website though. It's entertaining and interactive...and for those of you who have the patience, you can discover the name of the new book yourselves by clicking through her website...

Here's the first hint: click on the eraser....and then....well, I'll leave it up to you to discover the rest. You need to click around the the page to reveal items, one after the other.

If all else fails, the clues (and the name of new book) can be found here.

I knew it...

Eid is on the 30th...

Now the question is, what days are going to be declared off?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Not good...

Hmm...been feeling sick the past couple of days. I left work early yesterday, couldn't sleep all night, went to work this morning despite feeling like I had just gotten hit by a bus, and now, I am sitting on my couch, with a sweater, and a thick blanket, and yet I'm still freezing cold (oh, and the A/C is off, and the window is closed).

I thought I had a fever, but the thermometer says my temperature is normal. But I am definitely not feeling right.

I think I just need a good rest, but tomorrow is my last day at work before the holidays...So I am kind of forced to go to work to hand-over all my projects. We'll see how I feel in the morning.

The last thing I want is to spend my first few days off sick in bed! Plus, I have a ton of shopping to do. Ever the procrastinator, I have not bought a single Christmas present yet! I was counting on this weekend to get all my shopping done! Ugh...the thought of scouring the busy malls for endless hours trying to find the perfect gift makes me sick to my stomach, but I gotta do it! I admire people who are disciplined enough to get some of their Christmas shopping done a couple of months before, or even in the summer! Plus, I can't hold on to a gift for a couple of months. If I buy someone a gift, I have to give it to them immediately!

Change of topic: I noticed that beta blogger is now no longer beta. I don't know why, I am still reluctant to switch over to the new blogger. To all those who have already switched, what's your feedback so far? Are you happy with the change? Do you recommend it? Has it made blogging easier?

Friday, December 15, 2006

New year's Eid?

When will Eid al Adha fall this year?

While it's never clear when Eid falls, this year, the issue is of particular interest to those who feel like clubbing and celebrating on the night of the 31st.

If Eid falls on the 1st on January, then New Year's Eve is considered a "dry night", meaning no alcohol is to be served in clubs. If, however, Eid falls on the 31st of December, then the "dry night" is on December 30th.

According to this report, a decision will be made within the next seven days....and yet, in the same report, it's mentioned that when Eid will fall will "depend on the moon" how can a decision be made within 7 days then? My bet is that Eid will conveniently fall on December 31st, to ensure that the 31st is not a dry night, in order to avoid depriving hotels and clubs (and the economy) of cashing in on what's probably considered THE night of the year to them.

That being said, why is New Year's such a big deal anyway. Why does the 31st of December have to be the night for people to go all out? Why can't they do the same thing any other night of the year? I just don't understand why someone would pay 4-5 times the price of a regular night out, to go to a place where they'll end up doing the same thing they'd do on any other regular night out (listening to the same music, partying with the same people, having the same drinks, etc...).

New Year's is so overrated!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

This is so sad...

...and so scary...

9 deaths and more than 50 injuries... Those poor innocent souls...

Dubai Police said that the accident happened before 7am after a bus heading in the direction of Dubai lost control.

The bus then turned over, crashed through the central reservation barrier and into oncoming traffic on the Abu Dhabi bound carriageway.

The minivan, which was travelling towards Abu Dhabi then crashed into the overturned bus.

Lost control? What does that mean? Why don't they just tell the truth and say that the guy was probably speeding and did not drive safely in the rain....

It's so horrible...really sickening....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Raindrops keep falling on my head...

What's with the rain lately? It has rained more in the past couple of weeks than it has all of last year (and maybe even the last 2 years combined!).

I'm not complaining or anything, I like the rain, but this year, the weather has been abnormally wet compared to what we're used to...

I just hope the weather becomes more pleasant a couple of weeks from now. I am taking some time off (no travelling this time!), and plan to work very hard at regaining my tan....

Not very exciting, I know, but I'm looking forward to some relaxing, stay-at-home and watch movies-and-not-have-to-worry-about-work time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dr McDreamy

I'm in love!

Patrick Dempsey plays Dr Derek Shepherd (also known as Dr McDreamy) on Grey's Anatomy...and he is really hot! I have recently been hooked on the show (not just because of's a really good show), which revolves around the lives of a group of first-year surgery residents.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Speeders...they're killing us.

Have any of you seen the road safety campaign that's been airing on TV lately? I've only seen one spot on One Tv, not sure if there's more than one. It's the one where a teenager standing on the side of a road talks about a head-on collision involving his parents....then we see two cars coming from opposite ends of the road crashing violently. The final message is: "Speeders...they're killing us. Think!"

While I commend TV stations for finally airing something about road safety, I feel that this is simply not relevant to the UAE. For one, this is a UK-based campaign I believe (although the accents sound like they're from Australia or New Zealand). The actors look foreign, the road (a 2-way winding road with lush greenery on either side) is simply not the kind of road we see here in the UAE, and they are driving on the left-hand side of the road, rather than the right, like we do here.

And although I do not watch a lot of Arabic TV stations, I doubt that this campaign would be successful if it were dubbed.

I'd rather see something that's produced locally, using our roads, our people, our language. Now THAT, I believe, would be a much more successful and impactful campaign, don't you think?

Friday, December 01, 2006

National Day

This year again, the national day holiday is not unified across the public and private sectors.

National Day this year falls on a Saturday, which has officially become the weekend for all public sector employees just a couple of months ago.

The public sector is therefore getting Sunday off. Some (very few) private sector companies have decided to give their employees Sunday off as well. Most private sector companies are functioning normally on Sunday.

Why is there still this discrepancy. Why can't holidays be unified. Why can't the government agree that if a holiday falls on a weekend, we get an extra weekday off to compensate (i.e. if a holiday falls on a Saturday, we get the Sunday off too!).

Anyway, happy National Day to all...the United Arab Emirates are celebrating their 35th birthday by the way!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Still in my 20's....

Around 10 days ago, it was my one-year blog birthday...

Today, it's mine!

So I'm inviting you all to some virtual cake!

Not sure how much celebrating and partying will take place tonight, I have a crack-of-dawn flight to catch tomorrow! Right now, the plan is dinner with friends...But maybe I'll decide to pull an all-nighter and go straight to the airport...Hmm...Dunno....I think I've become too old to recover from something like that!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Accidents in Dubai

A video of accidents in Dubai...Moryarti is right when he calls them "morons on wheels", because these people really are morons!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Happy Blog Birthday!

I am so absent-minded these days! I completely forgot about the 1-year anniversary of my blog, despite the fact that NZM reminded me about it a few days before!

November 12th marked the 1-year anniversary of my very first post. I can't believe it's already been a year! How time flies!

I know I haven't been posting much lately. I've just been uninspired for some reason...It'll come back soon though, I'm sure.

I'll be away all of next week on a business trip, but hopefully I'll have some stories and pictures to share when I am back. Promise :)

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Tipping Point

I finally finished my book this weekend! Following my post a couple of weeks ago about books and reading, I decided to make an effort to at least finish one of the books I started a few months ago on my way to London....

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, a writer for the New Yorker Magazine, is a must-read. It explores why certain things suddenly take epidemic proportions, seemingly overnight.

Through a series of concepts, Gladwell takes us through several examples of why some changes happen so quickly, such as the sudden popularity of Hush Puppies, just as the company was practically facing bankruptcy; or why crime suddenly dropped in NYC in the mid-1990's.

When he writes about what it's like to think of the world in epidemic terms, here's what Gladwell has to say:

A world that follows the rules of epidemics is a very different place from the world we think we live in now. Think, for a moment, about the concept of contagiousness. If I say that word to you, you think of colds and the flu or perhaps something very dangerous like H.I.V. or Ebola. We have, in our minds, a very specific, biological, notion of what contagiousness means. But if there can be epidemics of crime or epidemics of fashion, there must be all kinds of things just as contagious as viruses.

Have you ever thought about yawning, for instance? Yawning is a surprisingly powerful act. Just by reading the two yawns in the previous two sentences--and the two additional yawns in this sentence--a good number of you will probably yawn within the next few minutes. Even as I'm writing this I've yawned twice. If you're reading this in a public place, and you've just yawned, chances are that a good proportion of everyone who saw you yawn is now yawning too, and a good proportion of the people watching the people who watched you yawn are now yawning as well, and on and on, in a ever-widening, yawning circle.

So how many times have you yawned?

Gladwell also has a blog, if you feel like checking it out. Now onto my next book!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I miss winter...

I miss winter clothes: the coats, the scarves, the turtlenecks, the boots, the gloves, the hats...
I miss snow, so quiet, so calming, so beautiful, so pure...
I miss Christmas lights adorning the city...
I miss sitting in a coffee shop with a nice, warm cup of coffee, watching the snow fall...
I miss the warmth of the heater, when the temperatures hit unimagineable lows...
I miss hearing rain hammering against my window...
I miss the shivers that run down my spine when lightining strikes and thunder roars...
I miss the crackling sounds of wood burning in a fireplace...
I miss waking up when it's still dark and quiet...
I miss the sound of fresh snow crunching under my boots...

I never thought I'd say it...but I really do miss winter!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My weekend

Although my weekend was jam-packed, it wasn't particularly out of the ordinary. Sure it was fun, but I don't think it's necessarily blogworthy....But since people seem interested to read about it, here goes:

I drove into Abu Dhabi on Thursday night. It took me 15 minutes to figure out a way to get out of Media City because the exit I usually take to get onto Sheikh Zayed road had been closed. Just like that! So I went round in circles a couple of times till I figured out a way out...

Dinner that night was at Ocean's, at the Royal Meridien hotel, with some friends. For those who don't know Abu Dhabi, Ocean's is a seafood restaurant /bar, and we usually go there for drinks. I had dinner there once before a year ago and I wasn't too impressed with their seafood. I decided to take the steak (yes, steak at a seafood restaurant...shame!), and it was really good!

We decided to linger on after dinner to hang out with the rest of Abu Dhabi (Ocean's is located next to Sax, and both places are the only decent nightspots in the, naturally, all the young Abu Dhabi crowd congregates there every weekend).

The following morning I was up at the ungodly hour of 8:30, so we could make it on time for our boat which was supposedly departing at 10:00AM. We were there at 10 sharp, but of course, we didn't leave until 11:30. I didn't expect the boat to leave on time, but an hour and a half late is just ridiculous! It was one of those huge party boats that can fit around 90 people. We headed towards an island around 30 minutes away from Abu Dhabi.

The weather was just perfect and the sea absolutely stunning (of course, I forgot my camera). Six hours later, after lots of drinking (some started drinking the second they set foot on the Drinking beer before 12PM is just wrong!), a good barbecue and average music, we headed back, with the most amazing breeze and gorgeous sunset for a backdrop (what more can you ask for?). Needless to say, I couldn't wait to get into bed that night!

The following morning, it was shopping time. I am in desperate need of some clothes, so I decided to spend some of my hard-earned cash...But there are very few decent stores in Abu Dhabi...I should shop in Dubai more often, although I find that in both cities, stores cater to teeny boppers much more than to 20-something professional women....Anyway, I did find a few things, so my shopping trip was not a complete waste (my sister, who did "not want to buy anything", ended spending more than I did!).

After that it was a big family lunch with some visiting relatives, coffee with them at The One (I really like their coffee's nice and comfy), then home to get ready for dinner that night.

Dinner was at Finz, another seafood restaurant, this time at the Beach Hotel. I love the Beach Hotel, it's one of the nicest hotels in Abu Dhabi in my opinion. It's classy without being over the top, it has a wide variety of restaurants, and they all range from good to very good (my favourite so far being Rodeo Grill which has the best steaks EVER!). Finz is also a good place, although they've changed their menu recently and I'm not so sure I like the change. Nevertheless, the food is good and when the weather is nice, the outside terasse overlooking the sea is amazing!

And that was busy, hectic went by too quickly of course, just like most weekends do... And this week has gone by too slow, just like most workweeks do....

Monday, November 06, 2006

Blogger's block

It's been a week since my last post...I am relatively frequent blogger and a whole week without posting is a long time in my opinion...

I have been trying to get inspired to write a new post, but nothing comes to mind. I usually think of stuff to write about based on things I see, read, or things I think of and decide "oh, I should blog about that!".

But now, nothing...nada....zilch....

I have been rather busy, which may explain the lack of posts. The weekend was quite hectic (dinner/boat trip (amazing weather)/shopping/family lunch/coffee/another dinner), and so has the beginning of my week (watched a movie last night...The Departed....liked it a lot...great acting by a great cast).

But I also can't seem to come up with stuff to blog about....

So....given my recent lack of inspiration, I turn to you guys, my few, faithful readers....ask me questions, give me ideas for posts, help me out :) Anything....

Monday, October 30, 2006


When I was still in high school, I used to live for books. I used to devour books. I used to read one book after the other. I'd read at night, in my bed, under the covers, with a flashlight. And whenever my father wanted to punish me, believe it or not, he'd forbid me from reading books.

No, I wasn't a nerd, but I just loved reading anything and everything.

Oh how things have changed! I now barely read, and although I try to make the effort to read a book once in a while, and while I do enjoy going to bookstores and buying books, I have gotten into the horrible habit of starting books and never finishing them...

It first started in university, where a busier social life, and the pressure of 5 courses a semester meant that I didn't read as often as I wanted to.

But then, when I started work in Montreal, having to commute around 40 minutes every day meant that I had the perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading in the metro and on the bus . This has obviously all changed here now that I drive myself to work.

I also blame the Internet for my lack of reading. I browse through so many websites and articles during the day, that I really don't have the energy and don't feel the need to read books at all...

And let's not forget blogging....oh my...blogging has opened up a whole new can of worms! Now that I've become a blog addict, I spend a LOT of time I could have spent on a good book catching up on the many blogs I enjoy reading instead.

And I am somewhat of a TV fan too....I just like coming home from work, and doing something that doesn't require any more of my brain cells...And with my recent obsession of series DVD's, I'd much rather fall asleep to an episode of 24 than to a book.

It's really sad, when you think of it....I have learned so much from books and it's in part thanks to books that was able to become fluent in French and English. And there are so many amazing books out there, I really feel like I'm missing out.

So...with the resolution of making more of an effort to read more books, here's a question to my (few) readers out there: if you were to recommend one book, just one all-time favourite book of yours, the kind of book you'd want to have with you if were stranded on a desert island, which book would it be?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My blog page...

My main blog page is not loading completely for some reason. There should be about 6-8 posts showing on the first page, but right now, there are only 2 of them showing, and the 2nd one is not even loading completely....

Also, some of my links are sometimes missing....why is that?

Are you experiencing the same thing on my blog? Could it be my new template that's wreaking havoc with my posts? Or is it a blogger issue?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

You can make a difference - Tip 7

A quick update on the last You can make a difference tip before we tackle this month's issue:

Cleaning up the oil slick on the Lebanese coast could only start after Israel began lifting its sea and air blockade (September 8). To date, less than 3500 of the estimated 110,000 barrels of oil that flowed from the Jiyeh power station's storage tanks have been recovered. The delay has caused much of the oil to settle on the ocean bed.

And now for this month's tip, courtesty of my friend S. : if we don't buy, they won't die!

When on holiday, you may come across tempting wildlife souvenirs that you have just got to keep off your shopping list!! Some are illegal to bring back, but more importantly, buying them contributes to the specie’s extinction and brutal killing.

One such item is ivory, the substance that makes up elephant tusks. Although CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) has banned ivory trade, elephant poaching is still rampant in both Africa and Asia to supply the huge demand for ivory products. Ivory is often carved into jewelry, chopsticks, hair slides, and ornaments.

Because ivory is sold so openly in some countries, you may not realize it is illegal to buy it.


A tusk is a living tooth; its extraction from a live elephant without putting it down is a very difficult procedure that requires medical expertise.

Before the CITES ban in 1989, poachers, in Africa alone, were slaughtering some 100,000 elephants a year.

The tagua nut, a type of hard nut, is gaining popularity as a replacement for ivory.

By killing only tusked elephants, poachers are allowing more tuskless elephants to mate. “Tusklessness”, once a very rare genetic abnormality, has become a widespread hereditary trait.

There used to be elephants in…Syria!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Feeling violated

An interesting article in today's 6Days, where a female reporter writes about her experience on a Dubai public beach during Eid (oh how brave she is!).

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about being able to walk without feeling like we are being undressed by some stranger's eyes. Well, now it seems women can't swim in peace either, with hundreds of men standing there, staring blatantly at half naked women, trying to brush against them and even trying to talk to them....

When asked why they behave this way, some men admitted to going to the beaches purely to gawk at women: "I regularly stroll around the open beach. I like to see beautiful women [...] I only look at them from far and if I really find them attractive, I go near them. There is some sort of satisfaction when I look at them" said Khalid Khan, a 36 year old married man.

That's why I never go to public beaches. I go to a beach to be able to relax and enjoy the sun, sea and sand....I would definitely not be able to relax if there are dozens of men walking around searching for the next victim of visual harassment. So, instead, I am stuck having to pay for a pricey membership fee at a hotel (or a pricey daily entrance fee of Dhs 150 or above on average), when I could be enjoying a perfectly beautiful, free public beach instead!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pink - U & Ur Hand

One of my favourite songs currently....and a great video too!

Eid Mubarak

Eid mubarak and warmest wishes to everyone!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Goodbye old, dreary template...

...hello new, light, airy template...

I decided it was high time I updated my template. My blog is almost a year old now, which is a great excuse for a makeover.

The old template was classy, but a bit too dark and serious for my taste. This one is not amazing, but it's lighter, more cheerful, and definitely more me. Plus, I love apple green :)

I wish I could be more HTML savvy, so I could add all sorts of bells and whistles to my blog, but this will have to do for now.

So what do you guys think?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

On a break....

The day after I posted my previous post about when Eid is happening, my company management announced that we would be getting Sunday/Monday off, regardless of when Eid is, and we'll also get Tuesday off if Eid is on Monday. So here's to hoping Eid is on Monday :)

...which, apparently, it should be according to this article.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So when's it happening?

The question on everyone's lips today is: "when is Eid happening?".

People working in the public sector don't really care, they're getting most of next week off.

But for us private sector people, the question is an important one. Are we getting a 4 day weekend, or a butchered workweek?

The possibilities are as follows:

- Eid could be on Sunday, which means that we'll get Sunday and Monday off (hence the 4-day weekend, Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon)

- Eid could be on Monday, which means we'll get a butchered workweek (Fri-Sat off, work on Sunday, then Mon-Tue off)

- My company could decide to generously give us 3 days off (which is what my sister is getting...I'm so jealous!)

Surely, there must be a better way to decide when Eid is, other than waiting for the moon to make up its mind. I can't believe that with all the technology we have, the satellites and the telescopes, we can't find out when Eid really is?

It makes planning a long weekend so difficult....Sure, I could take Sunday off, regardless...but work commitments do not allow me to do that. This really sucks....

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's gone again

Remember when I said winter was here?

Well, I guess it was just here for a short visit, because, we're back to hot, humid and sticky weather. Whyyyyy???

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


What on earth is Ruwaad? For the past couple of months, I've been seeing billboards and taxis with nothing but a logo (red and black) and the name Ruwaad.

I've searched the net, and couldn't find anything. Is it a company? A product?

My thoughts are it's another real estate company... But enough with the teasing already! A teaser that's there for 2 months is no longer a teaser! It's old news by now and by the time they reveal what it is, no one will be interested anymore.

Update: As an anonymous blogger pointed out, they have now added a line below the logo: "Iconic property developments". Huh? What does that mean? And honestly, couldn't they have come up with something better than adding a line below the logo? Maybe I had my hopes up too high...what could I expect from a company that had their logo plastered everywhere for a 2-month teaser campaign?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Emirates Toady

When Emirates Today (ET) was first published a year ago, I used to enjoy (and even look forward to) reading it. I enjoyed the format: short and straight to the point, more features, and more news written by locally-based reporters, rather than just syndicated columns from American and British papers.

I also used to enjoy the blog bytes column that used to be published every Friday.

Then, something happened around 6 months ago, and now, ET gets on my nerves. The articles have become uninteresting (case in point: this article), the format changed, the business section appears out of nowhere smack in the middle of the newspaper, and they no longer publish blog bytes (kudos to Gulf News for having started to publish blog bytes every Tuesday!). Their website sucked a year ago and it still sucks now.

An article in this month's edition of Communicate (I really enjoy Communicate by the should all read it) sheds some light as to why ET is going down the drain (they don't present it under such a pessimistic light by the way....that's just my take on the future of ET):

"One former Emirates Today editorial staffer says as many as 20 of the initial 45 newsroom employees have quit the paper since its launch one year ago. [...] Launch editor Jason leavy left in April due to a well-publicised clash with management over issues of censorship. Staffers there currently say things are considerably different under his successor, Heyam Abdul Hamid.

A few months after Abdul Hamid took over, a senior journalist inquired as to why a particular story was being canned. "She replied: 'it makes Dubai look bad'" says one person present at the meeting. [...]

Staffers have become complacent, says one current senior employee. "Why work on writing, subbing and designing a page three when you know that it will probably end up spiked? [...]

Claims of self-sensorship relate to a number of stories that received widespread coverage in other publications over the past year, including a piece on a taxi driver strike, the arrest of American rap producer Dallas Austin (despite an Emirates Today reporter allegedly having secured a jailhouse interview with the prisoner) and a story on an Egyptian property developer who left investors in the lurch with a failed property in Dubai Marina."

It makes Dubai look bad??? Are they publishing a tourist guide or a daily newspaper that's supposed to be presenting a balanced view of what's happening in the UAE? How will Dubai ever improve if no one reports about its mediocre side? What credibiliy do they expect to have if they keep writing about "fluffy" subjects, and ignore the ones that could really make a difference in our lives?

What a shame...It really started out as a promising publication...and now, it's promising to be just another boring, uninteresting, unreadable piece of poo poo.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

For when you have nothing to do at work....

....or if you're chilling at home on a Saturday afternoon, here are 2 cool, time-wasting and frustrating links:

I am still missing around 4 of them, despite my best efforts to search the net (can anyone guess what the green M&M with the purple dress is?)

And here's another one:

See how far you can go...I got to the halfway mark, then had to give up. But I have all the answers now :)


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blogger questions

I need your help please :)

How do I know to which post someone posted a comment, if it's a comment that doesn't refer to the subject of the post? When I get the comments on my e-mail, it doesn't tell me which post came on?

And what's the difference between regular blogger and beta blogger?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Will you just let me walk in peace?

An interesting article in today's Gulf News about sexual assault in the UAE.

I grew up in the UAE, and it's kind of sad when you realise that most girls end up growing accustomed to getting stared at, no matter what they are wearing. This behaviour, as despicable as it is, is a fact of life here in the Emirates. But what's even more despicable is when the staring turns into acts of lewdness. I have witnessed and heard so many's sickening really!

Consider these:

- We were walking out of a restaurant one evening, my sister, a couple of female friends, and myself. A car slows down, the man rolls down his window, his friend is sitting next to him. They start waving a stack of bills in front of us, asking "how much". I went nuts, and started screaming at them, in Arabic. You should have seen the shock on their faces when they found out we were Arabs. They drove away quickly.
Along the same lines, my sister, a friend and I were waiting for a taxi on Hamdan street in Abu Dhabi, and some guys pass by in front of us asking "fee shoghol" (meaning are you working?). Again, we scream at them...they walk away from us quickly.

- My sister was waiting for my dad to pick her up in front of her friend's house. She sees a man across the street, who starts touching himself, right then and there, in broad daylight. My sister freaks out of course, and goes running back inside the house.

- My friend, who had just arrived in Dubai, asks a taxi driver if she can smoke in the car. He says yes, but only if you sit in the front seat. She naively accepts. The driver starts telling her how beautiful she is, and starts touching himself. My poor traumatised friend could not do anything. The guy was driving on Sheikh Zayed road and she could not stop anywhere. She just called a friend, and stayed on the phone until she reached her destination. She threw the money at the cab driver and ran out. I wouldn't have even paid the guy, and I defintely would have taken his license place number and reported him....but she was too shocked to think of doing any of this.

- When we were in high school, the school bus would drop us off a couple of meters away from the house. On several occasions, a man would be lurking around, waiting for my sister to come home. He tried talking to her several times. My sister told my father, who then started waiting for my sister to walk her home. He saw the guy once, and threatened to call the police if he kept harassing her. He stopped coming.

- Just a couple of nights ago, as I was walking from my car to our building, a car slows down, the man rolls down his window, and he starts yelling his phone number repeatedly, telling me "you are most beautiful woman". I just ignored him and kept on walking.

And so on and so forth...the list is endless! It's really sickening.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ramadan tents

I used to enjoy checking out some Ramadan tents every once in a while. Last night, I went to one for the first time this year, and the whole experience was a mess. The tent itself had a thick cloud of smoke lingering in it, from all the shisha and cigarette smoking. It was too hot and humid to sit outside so we had to sit inside the tent, which wasn't very well ventilated either.

The service was crappy. The shishas sucked, and we had to wait 15 minutes for our bill to be settled. The staff was inexperienced and all over the place. It's kind of normal. These people are hired on a temporary basis during the month of Ramadan. I'm sure the experience would have been different had we gone to a shisha place that operates year-round.

But worst of all was when I saw a baby, no more than 6-7 months, in his father's arms. Next to him was the daughter, who couldn't have been more than 3 years old. It was 11PM. What on earth are these kids doing up so late to begin with? They should have been in bed hours ago. Secondly, I highly doubt that the smoky, unhealthy environment of a Ramadan tent is really the ideal place for these children to be. Even I felt bothered by the smoke, so it really makes you wonder what was happening to those children's lungs?

I am really apalled by parenting standards sometimes:

I hate seeing kids bouncing up and down in a car. The should be in car seats.

I hate seeing kids being spanked by their parents.

I hate seeing kids out at night past 9PM (heck, even 9PM is too late for a baby to be out!)

And I definitely hate seeing kids in smoky shisha tents.

Friday, September 29, 2006

You know "winter" is coming soon in the UAE when... walk out of the house in the evening and you're pleasantly surprised by how mild the weather is. walk out of the house and your eyeglasses/sunglasses don't fog up because of the humidity. decide that it's OK to keep your car at home and walk to the supermarket that's 3 blocks away. see people sitting outside having dinner at Madinat Jumeirah. decide to drive with your car windows open, instead of blasting the A/C.

Yay! Winter is here ('s on its way at least). Finally!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sad but true

This e-mail has been doing the rounds lately. I just got it now for the third time in as many weeks and figured I'd share it with you. It's funny...but sad at the same time...

Welcome to Dubai:

If your road map is more than a few weeks old, throw it out and get a new one.

If you are in Al Rashidiya and your map is one day old, then it is already obsolete.

Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Dubai has its own version of traffic rules, which can be summarized as "Hold on and pray!"

There is no such thing as a dangerous high-speed chase in Dubai. Everyone drives like that.

The morning rush hour is from 5AM to noon. The evening rush hour is from 1PM to 10PM. Wednesday's rush hour starts Tuesday morning.

If you slow down at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended and then given a ticket by the Dubai Police.

If you are the first one at the intersection, when the light turns green ignore the car honking behind you and count to five to avoid crashing into one of the cars running the red light in cross-traffic.

Construction on all main roads is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment.

All unfamiliar sights are explained by the phrase, "Oh, we must be in Sharjah!"

Car horns are actually toys for big boys.

Anyone in a Land Cruiser or Mercedes with tinted windows has the right of way. Period.

Most roads mysteriously change names as you cross intersections.

To ask directions, you must have knowledge of Urdu.

A trip across town will take a minimum of four hours, although Sheik Zayed Road has an unposted minimum speed of 150 kph.

The minimum acceptable speed on the Emirates Road is 160 kph. Anything less is considered downright sissy. Al Khail Road is Dubai's daily version of NASCAR.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ramadan Kareem

It's Ramadan again. It seems like Ramadan came too fast this year...Maybe because for the past few years, Ramadan fell in the months when the weather had already gotten milder...Right now, with 37 degree temperatures, it still feels too hot to be Ramadan...

I love how the whole rhythm of living changes during Ramadan. In a city where the word "hectic" is an understatement, this month really comes as a breath of fresh air for everyone, whether Muslim or not. Work slows down (I am still keeping my fingers crossed for that one), people spend quality time with family and friends, there's less traffic during the regular rush hour (except if you happen to be on the road anytime between 3 and 5PM, which I was today....AVOID AT ALL COST!), and everyone just seems to be more laid back.

I do have one bone to pick however. What's with every Tom, Dick and Harry using the Holy Month as an excuse to advertise about anything from food to detergent to cars to computers? And why is it that every single ad has to feature a moon crescent, whether relevant or not?

As I was flipping through the newspapers yesterday, I was shocked at the number of Ramadan ads I saw. When did Ramadan become so commercial? It wasn't like that a few years ago...

A post on Campaign's blog summarizes the situation really well: "...once again, we are stuck with the usual cheesy ‘Ramadan Kareem’ messages, alongside images of unfeasibly wholesome-looking families enjoying iftar."

C'mon people! A bit of creativity...PLEASE!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Phone confusion

I've decided it's time to buy myself a new cell phone...The one I currently have is 2 years old, it's big, and it's extremely slow. I want something smaller, faster, and more stylish.

I've owned Nokias, Motorolas and Sony Ericssons in the past, so I don't really have any preferences. I just want something that won't break down 5 months from now.

So, my dear readers, I am asking for your help. What phone would you recommend? I like the Motorola RAZR phones, but I am concerned about quality (I heard the battery life is really bad) and it just seems that EVERYONE has that phone. What about the LG Chocolate phone? Any good? Nokia's designs don't really inspire me, but maybe they have a cool phone that I've missed?

I don't care about having an amazing camera on the phone, I don't care about playing music on it, and I don't care about bluetooth, e-mail, or internet access on it either. I just want something I can use to call and send messages. And that looks really cool (yes, I am superficial like that).

Any suggestions?

Saturday, September 16, 2006


What is it with posts about food today?

I settled down to read my favourite blogs, and this is what happened:

First, I come across Dubai Daily Photo's post about the Dubai fish market, which he ends with a mouth-watering description of his dinner that night (oven roasted fish stuffed with coriander and chilli accompanied with fresh and crunchy bok choy in butter and soy sauce with quick fried julienned courgette)...Did you buy enough fish to invite us all to dinner DXBluey?

Then, I read Secret Dubai's post about the Seven Edible Wonders of Dubai...Thai chicken with cashews....Teryaki Steak Soba...Hammour in Holy Basil....mmmmm...yummy!

And then, I read Jayne with a Why's post about some cakes Grandma decided to buy, and how those cakes were "better than sex" according to Jayne! (Please, do tell us where this Eva Dolce place is in Abu Dhabi Jayne...I am there every weekend and have never even heard of it!)

As a result, I am now hungry, and I am craving fish, chicken, steak, and cake all at the same time!!!!

A celebrity in Abu Dhabi? How could that be?

I saw Jeremy Piven yesterday! I was walking into Emirates Palace, and I saw this guy talking to a couple of people at the entrance. The guy looked familiar, and as I walked past him, I figured out that it was him...
Apparently the show he's currently starring in, Entourage, is getting great reviews, and he's even won an Emmy for best supporting actor. I haven't seen it....I only know Jeremy Piven from the Ellen show.
It seems that Jeremy has been living it up in Abu Dhabi...he was spotted at Sax the night before (the jazz bar/lounge at the Royal Meridien hotel....and the only decent place left in Abu Dhabi).
I really wonder why any celebrity would come to Abu Dhabi? It's not your typical celebrity hotspot. Dubai is usually the city that attracts all the celebrities...Not that there's anything wrong with Abu Dhabi...on the contrary, anyone who reads this blog often enough knows that I prefer calmer, cosier, more charming Abu Dhabi to charmless Dubai.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Slow news day?

Today's front page of Emirates Today is all about "Dubai's most expensive villa", and how it can be yours for Dhs 57 million.

Seriously? Who is the editor of this newspaper? Is this really a front-page kind of story? Yeah fine, it's cool to see pictures of the villa, but this is more of a lifestyle/feature kind of article that I really wouldn't have placed on the front page of a newpaper.

Oh well....there was one piece of good news however: Cirque du Soleil will be heading to Dubai sometime next year! Amazing! I've already seen 2 of their shows and I really hope to be able to catch this one...these shows are really spectacular.

Why am I up so early on a Friday morning after a late night out? Whyyyyy?

Oh, wait....I's because my sister woke me up, invaded my bed, and fell asleep! Thanks Sky!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

20,000 hits!

Back in May, I posted about the 10,000 hit mark on my blog...And now, sometime in the past couple of days, that number doubled! Woohoo!

Thank you to all of you who read my posts on a regular basis...keep coming back...and keep commenting!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


This it too funny! In the latest issue of Communicate, there's an article about how 3 daily newspapers and an online business news site were duped by a fake press release sent by the Communicate team to "test the theory that local journalists will print just about anything":

Four leading UAE publications published a fake press release about a non-existing company that makes non-melting ice in an effort by Communicate to establish just how gullible local newspapers are when it comes to swallowing corporate propaganda.

Yes, you read that correctly. It said non-melting ice.

One online business newsite and three daily newspapers published the dubious press release verbatim - in the case of the English copy, with our typo included. The takers were AME Info, Al Bayan, Al Khaleej and Gulf Today. Only one newspaper successfully sniffed out the hoax and called us out on it.

I wish I could find a copy of the full article online, because really, it's hilarious. These guys sent the press release to 24 publications, and just waited for calls from journalists. AME Info sent an e-mail asking if a logo could be provided. The answer was no. They still published the release. Al Bayan called to ask how much the company cost. The answer was "sorry, we can't provide any info at this time". They published the Arabic version of the press release the next day.

Which newspaper was the only one to call back and check some facts? Gulf News. And that's when Communicate came clean about the hoax.

Well done Gulf News. And while this really did put a smile on my face, it also made me shake my head in disbelief at the sad, sad state of journalism in this country.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


The talk of the town (or the country) these days is the new weekend system that has just been implemented.

The new weekend is now officially Friday-Saturday for all government businesses. The private sector is still a grey area...I had written about this in one of my first posts on this blog. Why is it so hard for everyone to have the same weekend?

OK, fine, this Friday-Saturday thing is already a step in the right direction, but my father for example, who works in the private sector, still only has one day off (Friday). Why? People need 2 days off if only for their physical and mental wellbeing! Are people in the private sector less important than those in the public sector? Why can't the government regulate the private sector weekend as well, since the private sector won't make a decision to unify weekends?

And although in my previous post I was complaining about everyone not having the same weekend, I now wish it would remain that way...I used to enjoy my Saturdays off when the rest of the country was working...I'd be able to shop in peace, I'd get appointments to get my nails done easily, I'd be able to squeeze in my doctor's appointments or bank appointments....

Now, this has all changed...I went shopping yesterday, and the mall was packed! Kids, families, the whole world was there!

Oh, and Keefie, I know what you mean when you say that it doesn't matter to you because you work all the time....Cause where was I yesterday afternoon (a Saturday....until 9PM)? Yep, you guessed it...WORK!

Friday, September 01, 2006

London part 3

I did promise some more London pics, so here they are...I've been lazy about posting them, I admit...It's been 3 weeks since I'm back! But I don't feel so bad...Moryarti has yet to post his New York pics...C'mon Mory, we're still waiting :)

The day before I left, we walked around London for a final day of sightseeing. We checked out the London Eye. I had initially wanted to go up on it, but that day was cloudy and cold, and I didn't want to waste my last day of sightseeing waiting in line to get up on the wheel... so we just saw it from far.

Big Ben...We got to hear the Big Ben bells ring!


Westminster Abbey...very impressive

The Parliament Houses...So huge! The buildings are beautiful, and the architecture is so intricate.

That night, we went out for a lovely dinner at a Spanish restaurant in Clapham (south-east London). The food was good, the wine was good, and the company was great. A perfect ending to my week-long trip.

The next morning I had to wake up early to finish packing and get ready for my flight. I was at the airport 3 hours before my flight and we managed to take off 6 long hours later.

*Sigh*...I wish I could still be on holiday...that London trip already seems like ages ago!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

You can make a difference - Tip 6

This edition of "You can make a difference" is an important one...instead of a tip, my friend S. sent out what she calls an "environmental mini-report about the tragic events in Lebanon". And as she so eloquently put it: "in no way does this report belittle this terrible tragedy. A war has many dimensions. Lebanon is facing its worst environmental crisis in its history, and it will be the only subject of this report":

Oil and water just don’t mix.

Some 30,000-ton of oil poured into the Mediterranean a month ago, after Israeli warplanes hit the oil-fuelled power plant of Jiyyeh situated on the coast, south of Beirut. One of the tanks burnt for days, sending thick black smoke across the country.

The marine environment, including the endangered green turtle, will suffer tremendously for years. Laid eggs on beaches usually start to hatch in late summer (in a week from now). Baby turtles need to reach deep waters as fast as possible. With the oil slick in their way, they will have no chance of making it.

Other impacts include air pollution and chemical spills due to the targeting of industrial factories, fuel bunkers, and other flammable structures; the use of depleted uranium in Israeli bombs, and the huge waste and sanitary crisis resulting from the 750,000 refugees, which can lead to water pollution and the spread of diseases.

Facts: Cancer cases are expected to rise significantly. The oil spill has hit more than 120 kilometers of the Lebanese coast. Thousands of oil- smeared dead turtles, fish and prawns have already been washed up on the shore. The Al Shouf Cedar Natural Reserve that shelters some of the few remaining century old majestic cedars was bombed three times since the beginning of the conflict. An estimated $30 million to $50 million is needed to clean up the shorelines.

Optimistic assessments suggest it will take at least six months for the shore cleanup and up to 10 years for the reestablishment of the ecosystem of the eastern Mediterranean. The longer the oil spill is allowed to go unchecked, the greater the irreversible damage.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Everything looks better with a tan

One of the reasons I moved back here is because of the weather. I love UAE weather. I don't mind the heat and humidity. I'd rather that than -25 degrees temperatures. And I am one of those year-round beach-goers. I don't understand people who say "it's too damn hot" in the summer, and "it's too chilly" in the winter. Actually, December/January is really the best time to go to the beach. What more could you ask for: sun, sand, and a chilly but gorgeous sea (the secret is to simply jump in as fast as you can!).

When I lived in Canada, I'd look forward to coming back to the UAE just to get a tan...especially in December when I'd be as white as an aspirin pill. A few days of sun and beach later, I'd get a nice, dark tan.

I feel so much better when I am tanned: my clothes look better, my make-up looks better, I feel more's a great feeling. I just wish I could stay tanned, without having to work so hard at staying tanned! I've neglected my tan lately, what with travelling and working and sheer laziness. And I knew I was in trouble when my ex-blonde-usually-white-never-gets-tanned-sister came back from Greece looking 10 shades darker than me.

Now that's just wrong! Gotta get working on that tan!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Miami Vice

One word of NOT go watch Miami Vice. It's terrible. The directing is bad. The acting even worse. The plot is weak. The violence is gratuitous. And even Colin Farrell couldn't make this movie halfway decent (what's with the long ugly hair Colin?)

Guys would probably enjoy the cars, boats and hot chicks, but really, there was nothing in there for me. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe an OK rental movie...with a couple of drinks, it could even potentially become watchable :)

Out of touch

I know I promised more London pictures but I have been extremely busy at work lately (day off on Monday? what day off?), and not in the mood to blog for some reason.

I am going through a sort of existential crisis phase lately: why am I here in Dubai? what's my life all about? am I letting work take over my life? do I even have a life? how long will I keep doing this for? do I see myself living in Dubai for the rest of my life? if not Dubai, then where? what's the point of everything I do?

So many questions, not as many answers. Oh well, it'll pass. And I'll post those pics soon, I promise!

Until then, feel free to send me some virtual positive vibes. God knows I need them right now :)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

London part 2

After a long day of walking all around Portobello and Knitsbridge, we decided to take it easy the following day. But in the evening, we headed towards London's West End to catch a show. We booked tickets that same morning for Footloose...It sounded like a fun show, there were seats available, and it was one of the more affordable shows out there. I had never been to a musical before and had always wanted to see one, but I never got the chance to catch one in Montreal, or during my couple of visits to NYC.

Before the show, we walked around Covent Garden, which is filled with street performers. We then headed over to the Novello, which is where our show was playing. The show was fun, the dancers were great and the music was good (believe it or not, I have never seen the movie).

After the show, we walked across Waterloo bridge, and admired a magnificent view of London by night (my night-time pictures did not come out so good unfortunately).

The following day, we hit Camden Town, which I loved! There were some very funky shops and restaurants there, very different to anything else I had seen so far.

Our next stop was Buckingham palace. We walked through Green Park first, which was very nice, but not so green. After the recent heat wave London had experienced, the grass turned yellow in all of London's parks. At Buckingham, we didn't get to experience the changing of the guard...and to be quite honest, I was imagining the palace to be much bigger than it really is... But I have no doubt that the Queen's country cribs are much more spacious than her city digs.

More London pics tomorrow...time for bed now...I should really start writing my posts earlier than midnight!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I had only been to London once before, and it was only for 12 hours, between two flights, so it doesn't really count. This time, I tried to make the most out of it and walked around all over the place....and I must admit, London is one cool city. The architecture is great, the people are nice, the shops are amazing, and there's so much to see and so much to do! I did enough walking there to last me a lifetime...or at least until my next trip! I got the hang of the tube system a couple of days after I got there, and I was amazed that you could really get to practically anywhere in London without having to get into a car. The underground system is much more sophisticated than the Montreal one, which only had 4 lines that barely cover a quarter of the city. And so punctual too!

The weather was...typical London weather most of the time. The first day was sunny and warm, but after that, we mostly got partly cloudy days, some rain, and temperatures in the low 20's.

The first day I got there, we participated in a huge peace demonstration...It was incredible: tens of thousands of people were there, and it was really heart-warming to see all these people, from all walks of life, coming together to voice their opposition to the pointless and destructive war in Lebanon, and to Blair's foreign policy.

A couple of days later, we went walking around Portobello market and Notting Hill. Unfortunately, I didn't get to experience Portobello on a weekend, which means that a lot of the antiques shops were closed. We then took the bus to Knightsbridge, which is where Harrod's is. It was packed with tourists, but we still decided to walk around and check it out. It's big. And it has lots of cool stuff in it. And it's very expensive. All I bought there was a bottle of water, and that alone cost me 2.5 pounds (17 Dhs)!!! In one section, there was some Arabic music playing in the background....I think it was Amr Diab!

Those are Dubai Properties flags on Harrod's. Dubai Properties is apparently selling properties in Harrod's!

There's even a year-round Christmas decorations section! Playing Christmas carols!

We then continued on to check out the Museum of Natural History building...It's huge! And very impressive. We didn't go into the museum however...we were exhausted from all the walking, and I'm not a very museum-ey kind of person anyway...

More London pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hellooooo....I'm back!

Since I started blogging, I've never gone without posting for so long! But it was a much needed break from everything: Dubai, work, blogging, traffic, the heat and humidity and the sheer boredom of UAE summers.

I just got back from a weeklong trip to London, which was loads of fun. I'll write more about the trip in my next posts, I promise. Right now, I need to recover from a sort of hellish trip back, which saw me spend 6 hours in Heathrow airport before the plane even took off. It was absolute madness, I've never seen so many people waiting in such long lines in an airport. It took 2 hours for me to be able to make it through security alone! And all I was allowed to take on board was a plastic bag with my wallet, keys, passport and boarding card. But I was so happy to finally make it on the plane, nothing else mattered.

Reading glasses are allowed, but not their cases. Contact lens containers are allowed, but no contact lens solution. Tissue packs are allowed, but without the plastic wrapping around them. No phone, no book, no magazine, no newspaper, no iPod, no laptop, no make-up, no perfume, no cream, no toothpaste, no water....nothing!

Flights were delayed, that was a given. Mine was delayed for 3 hours. But I was impressed that no one seemed to be losing their temper, no one got upset. People just went with the flow and made the best out of the situation.

I don't know how long this situation will last, but if security measures are going to remain this tough, then airport authorities are going to have to find a way to streamline the process because they can't let this mess reign for too long.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

No more free-riding had to end at some point....I got a call from DIC today and they told me that there was a glitch in their system that showed them that I had not been billed for my internet service for the past 15 months and that they were not going to charge me for those 15 months (phew!) but that I had to start paying now...So I have to re-subscribe (because apparently the system is showing that I am not a subscriber), and in order to do so, I have to pay a DHS 200 setup fee...

Say what? Setup fee? I paid the setup fee when I first installed my internet connection. Why should I pay again now? I say those words exactly to the customer service rep, and she says "wait let me check", she puts me on hold, comes back and says I'm sorry you have to pay because we need to set up a new I say "no way, I will not pay again"...she puts me on hold again, comes back, and says "ok ma'am, we will call you again, ok?"...

Fine. Didn't hear back from them today...and I am going on holiday for a I am absolutely expecting to come back and not have an internet connection at home....

Oh well... At least I didn't get a call about the free TV I've been enjoying so least not yet!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

30 hours....

...till I leave...

Don't know if I'll be blogging much during the next week or so...if not, I promise plenty of pictures upon my return.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thought I'd share this

A friend sent me this video and this website. It lists a bunch of non-profit organizations that are involved in giving aid to Lebanon. Check it out. Put your name on the flag. And forward to anyone you know.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Nothing to do in Abu Dhabi?

I am in Abu Dhabi almost every weekend, and last night, I really felt like going out for a change. I usually come to Abu Dhabi on Thursday nights and go to bed by midnight because I am too exhausted to do anything else after a long week at work. But last night I was just in the mood for something different.

So my sister, brother, his friend and I were discussing our options, and discovered that Abu Dhabi is seriously lacking in nice places to go to. What's wrong with this place?

The only decent place people go to here is Saks (and Ocean's next to it), at the Royal Meridien. But the crowd there is the same week in, week out, and a bit on the young side (meaning 18-24). Plus, I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was quite simply packed, which makes getting to the other end of this tiny place a real nightmare.

You had AM/PM at the Intercontinental hotel, which has now shut down as the whole hotel is being refurbished (much needed...believe me!). Then you also had the LAB at the Beach Hotel, which, it seems, has also shut down recently.

There was this place called Colloseum, which was the "in" place in Abu Dhabi around 10 years ago...not sure if it's still open, but even if it still is, I wouldn't be caught dead in that place!

There was also a place we all called the American Bar at the Forte Grand (which has now become the Royal Meridien), and that closed down as well. The American Bar was really a cool, chilled out place, which was always packed on weekends...I really don't know why they closed it down.

There's Trader Vic's at the Beach Hotel, which is a restaurant with a small bar section next to it...I like the place a lot (and I always go to Trader Vic's in Dubai) but it's a restaurant...not really a bar/lounge kind of place. Plus it gets super packed on weekends given the lack of other options in Abu Dhabi.

Apparently there's a place called Zenith at the Sheraton....I'd never heard of it before last night...

And you have Hemingway's/Jazz Bar at the Hilton, which used to be the place to be seen at on a Tuesday night...Not sure if it's still the case now, but it's never been the kind of place that we went to on a weekend.

There are a couple of places at the Meridien (Gauloises and Captain's Arms), and Rock Bottom's at the Capital Hotel which no one seems too excited about for some reason (I think the clientele is a bit seedy in these places, so I don't think I would like to venture there any time soon).

So there you have it! That's it! The whole list of places to go to in Abu Dhabi. Sad isn't it? C'mon all you entrepreneurs out there...Open up some new places!

Oh and by the way, last night, we ended up going to Ocean's....Nothing too exciting really.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm hooked

I think I must have been the last person on earth to have never seen a single episode of 24... But that all changed a couple of months ago when I finally got my hands on season 1 (I didn't start watching until a couple of weeks ago...I was too busy with the World Cup before that). And now that I am halfway through the season, I am hooked! I stayed up till 3AM last night watching some episodes...needless to say, I felt like I had just gotten hit by a bus when I woke up this morning.

It's really a good show, well acted and well written. And I've decided that if I can't be a female version of Jack Bauer, I want to at least be working somewhere at CTU...

Imagine being able to dig up information about anyone and everyone, and finding out about their whole lives... just like that...I wouldn't feel the need to buy another celebrity gossip magazine ever again!

I think I'll take it easy tonight. No 24 for me. Just a good night's sleep hopefully.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

9 days to go....

....till I'm on vacation....

But until then, I have about 6 presentations to work on, 4 projects to finish, another half a dozen projects to follow-up on, hundreds of e-mails to write, 4 meetings to attend (so far...meetings have a tendency to pop up our of nowhere these days), one training session, a seriously long handover document to write...and lots of shopping to do!

I can't wait...I just hope I make it to the end of next one piece!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

This is sickening...

I don't know what's more sickening: the fact that the US is so blatantly and unilaterally supporting Israel in its war against Lebanon, or the fact that these "precision-guided bombs" that are supposed to "minimize harm to civilians" have already killed more than 300 people in Lebanon.

Here is the source:

The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Citing U.S. officials who spoke on Friday on condition of anonymity, the Times said the decision to ship the weapons quickly came after relatively little debate within the administration, and noted in its report that its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others who could perceive Washington as aiding Israel in the manner that Iran has armed Hezbollah.

The munitions are actually part of a multimillion-dollar arms-sale package approved last year which Israel is able to tap when it needs to, the officials told the Times. But some military officers said the request for expedited delivery was unusual and indicated that Israel has many targets it plans to hit in Lebanon. The arms shipment has not been announced publicly. The officials who described the administration's decision to rush the munitions included employees of two government agencies, one of whom described the shipment as just one example of a broad array of armaments that the United States has long provided Israel, the Times said.

Pentagon and military officials declined to describe in detail the size and contents of the shipment to Israel, the newspaper said, and they would not say whether the munitions were being shipped by cargo aircraft or some other means. But one U.S. official said the shipment should not be compared to the kind of an "emergency resupply" of dwindling Israeli stockpiles that was provided during the Yom Kippur War, according to the Times report.

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington told the Times: "We have been using precision-guided munitions in order to neutralize the military capabilities of Hezbollah and to minimize harm to civilians. As a rule, however, we do not comment on Israel's defense acquisitions."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The story behind...

... the picture of the Israeli girls writing on the missiles

I was reading Yael K's blog, to find out what those at the other side of the conflict are thinking, and came across another blogger who wrote about that infamous picture. Here's Lisa's post in its entirety. I definitely do not agree with everything that's being said, I just thought it was interesting to share:

The image above caused a huge storm of outrage in the Arab blogosphere. Huge. You wouldn't believe how huge. The widely-read Gulf-based Palestinian blogger who was the first to post it received so much traffic that he had to move the photo to another server. Many others, including several I know personally, posted it and expressed their disgust. Israeli children taught to hate! Lebanese children are dying and they're happy! They're no better than... (fill in the blank, I don't want to go there).

Below is the story behind the photo - from the source.I phoned Sebastian Scheiner, the Israeli photojournalist who took the photo for Associated Press (AP), explained that the image had given a really terrible impression and asked for the context. He sketched it out quickly and fluidly, but asked me not to quote him.

So I spoke with Shelly Paz, a Yedioth Ahronoth reporter who was also at the scene and agreed immediately to go on record. She was quite shocked to learn how badly the photo had been misinterpreted and misrepresented; and she told me the same story Sebastian did, but with more details and nuance.

The little girls shown drawing with felt markers on the tank missiles are residents of Kiryat Shmona, which is right on the border with Lebanon. And when I say "on the border," I'm not kidding; there's little more space between their town and Southern Lebanon than there is between the back gardens of neighbouring houses in a wealthy American suburb. No, how close is it really? Well, there's a famous story in Israel, from the time when the Israeli army occupied Southern Lebanon: a group of soldiers stationed inside southern Lebanon used their mobile phones to order pizza from Kiryat Shmona and have it delivered to the fence that separates the two countries.

Anyway. Kiryat Shmona has been under constant bombardment from South Lebanon since the first day of the conflict. It was a ghost town, explained Shelly. There was not a single person on the streets and all the businesses were closed. The residents who had friends, family or money for alternate housing out of missile range had left, leaving behind the few who had neither the funds nor connections that would allow them to escape the missiles crashing and booming on their town day and night. The noise was terrifying, people were dying outside, the kids were scared out of their minds and they had been told over and over that some man named Nasrallah was responsible for their having to cower underground for days on end.

On the day that photo was taken, the girls had emerged from the underground bomb shelters for the first time in five days. A new army unit had just arrived in the town and was preparing to shell the area across the border. The unit attracted the attention of twelve photojournalists - Israeli and foreign. The girls and their families gathered around to check out the big attraction in the small town - foreigners. They were relieved and probably a little giddy at being outside in the fresh air for the first time in days. They were probably happy to talk to people. And they enjoyed the attention of the photographers. Apparently one or some of the parents wrote messages in Hebrew and English on the tank shells to Nasrallah. "To Nasrallah with love," they wrote to the man whose name was for them a devilish image on television - the man who mockingly told Israelis, via speeches that were broadcast on Al Manar and Israeli television, that Hezbollah was preparing to launch even more missiles at them. That he was happy they were suffering.

The photograpers gathered around. Twelve of them. Do you know how many that is? It's a lot. And they were all simultaneously leaning in with their long camera lenses, clicking the shutter over and over. The parents handed the markers to the kids and they drew little Israeli flags on the shells. Photographers look for striking images, and what is more striking than pretty, innocent little girls contrasted with the ugliness of war? The camera shutters clicked away, and I guess those kids must have felt like stars, especially since the diversion came after they'd been alternately bored and terrified as they waited out the shelling in their bomb shelters. Shelly emphasized several times that none of the parents or children had expressed any hatred toward the Lebanese people. No-one expressed any satisfaction at knowing that Lebanese were dying - just as Israelis are dying. Their messages were directed at Nasrallah.

None of those people was detached or wise enough to think: "Hang on, tank shell equals death of human beings." They were thinking, tank shell equals stopping the missiles that land on my house. Tank shells will stop that man with the turban from threatening to kill us.

And besides, none of those children had seen images of dead people - either Israeli or Lebanese. Israeli television doesn't broadcast them, nor do the newspapers print them. Even when there were suicide bombings in Israel several times a week for months, none of the Israeli media published gory photos of dead or wounded people. It's a red line in Israel. Do not show dead, bleeding, torn up bodies because the families of the dead will suffer and children will have nightmares. And because it is just in bad taste to use suffering for propaganda purposes.

Those kids had seen news footage of destroyed buildings and infrastructure, but not of the human toll. They had heard over and over that the air force was destroying the buildings that belonged to Hezbollah, the organization responsible for shelling their town and threatening their lives. How many small children would be able to make the connection between tank shells and dead people on their own? How many human beings are able to detach from their own suffering and emotional stress and think about that of the other side? Not many, I suspect.

So, perhaps the parents were not wise when they encouraged their children to doodle on the tank shells. They were letting off a little steam after being cooped up - afraid, angry and isolated - for days. Sometimes people do silly things when they are under emotional stress. Especially when they fail to understand how their childish, empty gesture might be interpreted. I've been thinking for the last two days about this photo and the storm of reaction it set off.

I worry about the climate of hate that would lead people to look at it and automatically assume the absolute worst - and then use the photo to dehumanize and victimize. I wonder why so many people seem to take satisfaction in believing that little Israeli girls with felt markers in their hands - not weapons, but felt markers - are evil, or spawned by an evil society. I wonder how those people would feel if Israelis were to look at a photo of a Palestinian child wearing a mock suicide belt in a Hamas demonstration and conclude that all Palestinians - nay, all Arabs - are evil. And I wonder why it is so difficult to think a little, to get it into our heads that television news and photojournalism manipulate our thoughts and emotions.

Links to anti-Israel websites with that photo placed prominently next to the image of a dead Lebanese child have been sent to me several times. Someone has been rushing around the Israeli blogosphere, leaving the link to one particularly abhorrent site in the comments boxes. And it makes me really sad that the emotional climate has deteriorated to this point.The moderates of the Middle East are locked in a battle with the extremists. And look what they did to the moderates. Without blinking, without thinking, we fell victim to the classic "divide and conquer" technique. We work hard for months and years to build connections, develop our societies, educate ourselves, promote democracy and free speech... And they destroy it all, in less than a week. And we let them.

War is so ugly, whether it be from the Lebanese side, or the Israeli side. War kills innocent people. These missiles weren't being sent to kill Nasrallah, the man with the turban...they were being sent to kill children and families and brothers and sisters and parents. Innocent human beings who happen to live in the place where these missiles fell. Enough is enough. Really.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


More that 300 deaths in Lebanon....

13 Israeli civilians killed....

The numbers may be disproportionate, but all of these deaths are sickening....They did not have to happen...What's the point? Why? What did these people do to deserve this?

Stop the carnage...please...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Canadian ships

The Canadian government is sending some ships to Beirut to help evacuate stranded Canadians.

Officials told the Canadian Press that the federal government ordered a military reconnaissance squad to go to Lebanon to ensure the Canadians' safety and offer logistical advice.

As many as 50,000 Canadians are believed to be in Lebanon. The bulk of them are thought to have dual citizenship, and are permanent residents of Lebanon and unlikely to leave. About 5,000 are visiting relatives for the summer holidays, something they do every year.

I am glad the Canadian government is doing something to help...unlike the US government, which, if I am not mistaken, has done nothing for Americans stuck in Lebanon.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My thoughts tonight....

My thoughts tonight are with my colleagues, who were supposed to be back in Dubai today, but are instead stuck in Lebanon, with no way out.

My thoughts tonight are with the many friends and colleagues whose families are in Lebanon and who are worried sick about them.

My thoughts tonight are with those who are stocking up on food and supplies, because there seems to be no end to this horrible situation.

My thoughts tonight are with the many families who have lost a loved one in the past few days.

My thoughts tonight are with my friend A., who is worried sick about her parents who are stuck in the Tripoli, and who are going to drive back to Beirut tomorrow to attempt to flee the country.

My thoughts tonight are with my friend A., who had to cancel her wedding which was to take place 3 weeks from now in Beirut. There were 120 people (myself included) flying into Beirut to attend the wedding.

My thoughts tonight are with my aunts and cousins in Haifa, Nazareth and Acre...They are stuck in shelters and they are scared.

My thoughts tonight are with those poor, innocent souls, whose lives ended in vain. Civilians, children, families, grandparents, husbands, wives, sons and daughters....haram......ya haram....

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I am usually quick to point out any horrendous customer service experiences I go through...But this time, for a change, I am full of praise.

I went to renew my car registration the other day, and I don't think I've ever gone through a government organization so quickly! I dropped my car for the mechanical check, then went into the waiting area where I waited for my number to come up (they had given me a tag with the number when I entered the Tasjeel area). I waited for about 10 minutes, at which point the man behind the counter gave me back my keys and the results of the mechanical check. He also gave me another number to get my new registration card.

I go to the registration card area and wait for a minute before my number comes up. Another man behind the counter checked if I had any fines, etc, then told me to go to the insurance counter, where my name was called and I got the new card.

The whole process took less than 20 minutes! A far cry from the time I went last year to register my car. It so happened that the Tasjeel computer system had not been working for a couple of days, so the day I was there, it was packed....And it was a mess! I had to wait so long, and one of the guys behind the counter practically screamed at me when he found out I did not have cash to pay the registration fees (how was I supposed to know they did not accept cards!). So, understandbly, this time around, I was a little adamant about how tedious the whole process would be....but it wasn't!

So...way to go if only banks could take a pointer or two from them about efficiency!

Friday, July 14, 2006

What's happening to our world?

How can a war begin just like that, overnight?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Paris Hilton has now apparently added singing to her list of "talents". It seems that being a socialite/model/party animal/actress/wannabe porn star was not enough for Ms. Hilton, so she decided to bless us with her vocal chords.

I heard her new song "Stars are blind" on the radio yesterday, and I kept wondering the whole time what she would sound if she ever sang live. How off-tune would she be?

Anyway, here's her video in case you want to check it out. It's pretty much what I expected from Paris Hilton. At least the guy's hot...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blog look

My blog has been looking messed up for a couple of weeks now. The About Me, Other Blogs I Enjoy, Clock, Previous Posts and Visitors Online sections are pushed all the way down to the bottom of the page. Why is that? Is it my computer? Or a Blogger issue? Anyone else experiencing that?

Saturday, July 08, 2006


One of the things I miss the most about living in Montreal is walking. The UAE is simply not a walking country. Granted, in the summer, we suffer through 4 months of hellish temperatures, but even in the winter, when the weather is perfectly mild, walking is a rarity.

In Montreal, I did not own a car, and I lived downtown, meaning almost everything was walking distance from my house. My first job was a 35 minute walk away, and in the summer, I'd enjoy walking through the downtown streets of Montreal, leading up to the old part of town. The fresh morning breeze, the amazing sunshine, the still-quiet streets... it was just the perfect way to start the day. In winter, I'd be too lazy and I'd take the metro instead. It took the same exact amount of time as walking there, but I'm sure you'll understand that there's nothing appealing about a 35-minute walk in -25 degree (or less!) temperatures.

My last job in Montreal was 20 minutes away from home, so again, walking to work became a routine I quite enjoyed in the morning and at the end of a long day. In the morning, I'd put my iPod on, and walk happily to the rhythm of my music, stopping halfway to pick up my daily dose of cappucino from Second Cup. At the end of the day, the walk was the ideal way to leave work behind (and indulge in a bit of window shopping too!).

In Montreal, I'd walk every day...I'd walk to the grocery store, to the shopping malls, to the bank, to the amazing little bakery that sold amazing bread (and the best chocolate raspberry cake on the face of this earth!), to the pharmacy, to the cinema...

In Dubai, even if I wanted to walk, there wouldn't be many places to do so, except in the mall really. I take my car to go to the grocery store that's less than a kilometer away! Dubai's infrastructure is simply not made for walking. The streets are too wide, the pedestrian areas are scarce, and crossing a street can prove to be a dangerous ordeal given the track record of some of the drivers here. When I was in Barcelona over a month ago, I enjoyed walking all over the city so much. I realised how much I'd missed the freedom of walking!

Dubai really needs a pedestrian area, where people can just enjoy a nice walk, do some shopping, or sit in a restaurant/cafe and enjoy a nice, relaxing moment. Enough with the skyscrapers and 6-lane highways! Why not come up with something quaint and different for a change?