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?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ranting and rambling

I finally got 8 hours of sleep last night, after a late night out celebrating my baby bro's birthday (not really a baby anymore but still my baby bro)....I've been getting an average of 6-7 hours a night for a couple of weeks now, which is not enough for me. I've noticed that I only feel well-rested when I get 8 hours of sleep...That's when I actually manage to get up on my own, without the help of an alarm clock. This World Cup is wreaking havoc on my sleep patterns! Plus last weekend was a write-off what with a full-day meeting on I was in desperate need of a weekend of rest.

Despite a good night's sleep I am still felling tired. I went to the beach this morning, with the hope of relaxing and getting a tan. There was no sun. And I got pissed off after the guy at the beach made me pay Dhs 150 to get in. I was only staying for 2 hours and I usually only pay Dhs 75 (or use an entry voucher which I forgot to bring with me...I remembered as I was on my way to the beach, which ticked me off, but was too lazy to go back home to get it). I've been going to this same beach for around 15 years now, so I can't stand it when I get treated like I haven't been a loyal customer.

And to add insult to injury, I noticed yet another scratch on my car. And again it looks like an intentional scratch (i.e. someone dragging their key on the car). This one is bigger than the last one (about 10 cm long) but a bit less visible because it's on the side of the car.

I came back home after the beach, had lunch, then slept again...I was feeling so tired! I woke up feeling a bit more rested, but restless. I got a call from my client, and didn't pick up. What is it with clients calling on a weekend? And on a Friday! What on earth could be so urgent that it can't wait a day? And even if she did speak to me, what would I be able to accomplish on a Friday? I mean, it's not like I'm saving lives here! If she remembered something that she needed to tell me, then why not just send me an e-mail?

Anyway....all this means that I am not in the best of moods today...I am hoping that the Nadal/Baghdatis tennis match which is starting in a couple of minutes will help lift my mood up. Should be an interesting one. I hope it's more interesting than the Federer/Bjorkman one that just ended...what a boring game!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

You can make a difference - Tip 5

Here's this month's You can make a difference tip.

Loving coral reef to death

Corals are not rocks or plants but tiny minuscule animals responsible for building the most spectacular biological structures on earth: the coral reefs. Zillions of colorful and diverse marine creatures depend on these underwater gardens for food, shelter and protection.

Corals are so delicate; the slightest touch of a hand, fin or bump of a tank can kill them. They take millenniums to grow (5mm to 2 cm per year) and only seconds to destroy!


Coral is so similar to human bone that it is used in bone grafting operations.

The Great Barrier Reef is 2,000 kilometers long and 80 kilometers high!!

A compound extracted from coral is being used to treat cancer.

Corals protect the shores from storms and hurricanes: when the tsunami hit the coast of Sri Lanka, it devastated areas where corals have been (illegally) mined to a much greater extent than nearby areas where corals were intact.

So this summer, if you are diving or snorkeling, keep your hands on your butt - or someone else’s - just keep them off the corals!!

There you go! Don't touch coral reef! No matter how nice it looks!

Oh...and on a side note....GOOOO ITAAALIAAAA!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Now what?

Here's an update to my TV service situation: I ended up calling DIC to ask about switching from Orbit to Showtime around the middle of May. The customer service rep said: submit a change of service form at the end of the month, so that we begin with the Showtime service at the beginning of June. She told me I could find the form on the Internet and all I needed to do was fax it. OK...fine...great...thank you.

So, being the organised person that I sometimes am, I put a reminder in my Outlook to send this form at the end of the month. I faxed the form by the 28th of May. I made sure the fax was sent properly. I even got this confirmation sheet that shows an "OK" meaning the fax went through. And I forgot about it....

Really, I's just been so damn hectic this past month, I really forgot about it. Plus I haven't been watching much TV at home, what with the World Cup and everything.

But did I get any call from DIC confirming the receipt of my fax? No...Did my TV package get switched from Orbit to Showtime? No....Did I get an Internet or a TV bill?


I think I'm going to call DIC and tell them about the change of service form I sent. If they deny receiving it, I'll fax them the form I had filled out with the confirmation. And if they tell me I have to wait another year before I'm able to switch again, I think DIC will regret ever having accepted to have me as a customer!

Sunday, July 02, 2006


My sister sent me this...thought I'd share it with you. I'm not usually too fond of comic strips, but this one made me crack up!


Brasil lost.....



I am not happy about that result....Especially because they lost to France! How could THAT have happened?

I'm cheering for Portugal in the next game...although I have this nagging feeling that France will get through to the final. Shock and horror! How could they get to the final after playing so badly in their first few matches?

I'm hoping Italy goes through all the way and wins this....Because quite honestly, I am not too fond of Germany, I really do not want France to win (never...never!), and I think the Portuguese are just lucky to have gotten this far.

Only time will tell....I can't believe this World Cup is almost over! :(