Sunday, October 25, 2009

The community P O Box

Ever noticed one of these colorful boxes placed outside the neighbourhood grocery store?
Apparently this works as a community post box where the local residents cna choose to recieve their mail. I am sure we have all experienced situations where our mail from our friends and relatives that was sent across to the office address has been delayed for a long time or has failed to arrive.
In a country where the practice of delivering mail to the residential address does not exist, this serves as a nice solution. This becomes even more important where some of the staff are based out of a remote location and where access to the office PO Box is either difficult or does not exist.
Many from among the Asian community (and specially among the 'blue collared' group) prefer receiving their mail at such boxes. So instead of providing the office P O Box no., many prefer to hand out details of the grocery store. The owner of the store religiously places all incoming mail into the box from where the recipient arranges to collect it.
A very simple and innovative concept that works as well as the regular postal channel. And its free too!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

An awesome ride

I took this picture while visiting a friend over the weekend. We were having a lazy afternoon in the balcony when we spotted these two gentlemen passing by. They took turns in treating each other to an absolutely super ride in the wheel barrow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Need for Speed

If you've got a tiny Jenson Button hiding inside you, you should probably make your way to
Dubai Autodrome. Located off Emirates Road and in the vicinity of Arabian Ranches, the 5.39 km track boasts of the best of modern day technology and is probably as modern as it an get.

A few of us boys made it down to Dubai Autodrome a few days back to check out the place. We had already tried
out the karting facilities at the complex and went back to check out the main autodrome complex. While we were there, the SR3's were testing for the big race day and we had the pleasure of meeting with Usmaan Mughal, who is currently racing for AUH Motor Sports. These are much smaller cars as compared to the huge Formula 1 one but nonetheless it is still a super experience watching the machines burn rubber.

The UAE National race day is coming up on 16th October and we will be back at the venue at the weekend. Besides the UAE Touring championship, It will involve the UAE GT championship, a new format introduced on the lines of the international GT series. So head down to Dubai Autodrome next week for a super adrenaline pumping race day

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Do you see a sign?

Cityscape Dubai is in town. The euphoria is certainly missing. The punters were nowhere to be seen. The media has reported that the total floor space at the exhibition has in fact dropped by a whopping 30% this year.

It is now almost a year since the property market nosedived and let loose fear and chaos right across every section of the city. Redundancies piled on while Dubai shot into the lime light for all the wrong reasons.

A year later, a lot of the dust seems to have settled down. Cityscape appeared to be a lot quieter this year and a sense of reality seems to have set in.

If you have been following the local press, you'd have observed that property prices appear to be bottoming out though some surveys forecast that rentals will continue to drop over the next quarter. Having said that most of the current buyers will have lost 30% to 50% of the value of their property. With the buyer confidence at such low levels and banks still unwilling to reduce the interest rates (despite the significant drop in EIBOR), it is unlikely we will see a recovery anytime soon. Add to this the supply that is expected to come into the market over the next 12 months thus tilting the balance towards oversupply.

It will probably be several years until we see a sign of recovery.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Filipina Staff - A new job title in schools?

Looking for a placement at Regent International School? You could apply for a position shown as 'Filipina Staff'. Other positions available include Music and Drama Teacher, Public Relations Officer, French and Arabic Teachers.

In the past various blogs have discussed the subject of organisations advertising for specific nationalities in placements ads. However, what caught my attention in this case is that 'Filipina Staff' is now a job category! Interesting.

Do I need to be a Filipina to qualify? Or what if I am a Filipino?

You can access the Regent International School website here

Monday, September 21, 2009

An array of lamps

Here is another picture of lamps in Dubai. I had done a post about the different types of traditional lamps seen in Dubai and had said that I would be putting together a collection of pictures of lamps in Dubai. That was 4 months ago and I hadn't got around to doing it since.

This post is in continuation of the last one on lamps. I spotted these lamps at a mall over the weekend.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Karting in Dubai

It's the Eid weekend. So here's wishing all Eid Mubarak.

It is a long weekend and so little to do. Most of the plans didn't work out except the one trip to the Dubai Autodrome yesterday. We planned to have a go at the outdoor Kartdrome and take a spin around the track.

Located behind the main stand of the autodrome, the karting facility was a bit of a disappointment initially. It looks bare and may be a bit too quiet for a racing facility but once you get down to the track it is awesome. The track itself is 1.2 km and has all the trills of a good standard circuit. The session started off with a briefing, the gear was supplied including suits and helmets and off we went. After 15 minutes on the track, a few crashes and lots of bruised egos, we headed out for iftar.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Only 3 coconuts please....

Remember my recent post about Lulu Hypermarket in Barsha? I am now a regular at this place and it works out very well for me. They stock almost everything I need and at great prices.

However, one particular message got my attention while I was there today. Apparently, each person can buy up to 3 coconuts only. That is if you need them scrapped. They don't really care if the lady of the house has instructed you to get 4.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Take the Snake

Take the 'Snake'? Thats a term made famous by Dubai Eye's Malcolm Taylor in yesterday's episode of Business Breakfast. He was refering to the excitement around the imminent roll out of the new Dubai Metro and the many probably ways Dubai residents may refer to the new mode of transport.

There was certainly a lot of excitement in the air when I made my way to the metro station outside Mall of the Emirates. Contrary to reports on the radio this morning, the station was crowded and there were lots of people waiting to get aboard the metro. I had purchased my NOL card well in advance so I didn't waste a minute and headed straight out to the platforms. Hats off to the RTA for such a commendable job. There were no first day glitches that one may have expected. Everything worked like clock work. There were several attendant waiting to help out passengers needing help.

I took the metro down to Nakheel Harbour and took the next one back to Mall of Emirates. It was a fantastic experience. Now if only the parking is taken care of at all the stations, I don't see any reason why many residents will not adopt the new mode of transportation for their everyday travel.

Read about Dubai's mini Manila here

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lulu goes green? May be not!!

Lulu hypermarket located at Al Barsha has now won my loyalty. After having been a regular customer at one of the other chains for many years, I have finally made the shift. Lulu hypermarket is where I shop for my groceries now.

That itself is not the main story. Even though I have been to the outlet several times in the past 2 months, I had not noticed a small message on all the plastic bags that they hand out at the exit. Apparently, the plastic bags are 'biodegradable' and will disintegrate over time!!!. Many of the other supermarket chains have either stopped handing out plastic bags or are strongly promoting jute bags at the counter. And here is a supermarket that is subtly 'promoting' the use of plastics bags. Now when I pick up that plastic bag, I will probably not feel as guilty given that the fact that the bag is biodegradable. The word 'biodegradable' may be interpreted by many as 'eco friendly' but is it?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The two faces of Dubai Police?

More often than not we are used to coming across positive news about Dubai Police. Hence today's headline in Gulf News was a bit disturbing given the nature of the news. Two corporals from Dubai Police have been charged with abusing their authority as law enforcement officers. For more details on the case itself, click here.

However, that is not the important part for me. What is more important that the force itself has taken steps to correct the problem. The fact that the operation was uncovered and that the officers have been charged is the more important news. I am sure we will all agree that despite all steps to filter in the best talent, we will always have the exceptions.

Later in the day, I got to see another face of Dubai Police. It was a very nice sight to see a Dubai Police car coming in to help a stranded motorist. As I was waiting at the signal, I saw a Dubai Police car coming in with petrol for a car that had stalled. The officer not only drove in with the petrol but filled the empty tank himself. I am not sure if this is something we would have expected from the force in our own countries.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dawar Shami

Dawar Shami is a traditional pully system that was used for pulling boats out of the sea. While one end of the boat would be tied to the boat, the other end would be fixed to the Dawar Shami. Strong men would then rotate the lever to pull the boats out. This can be viewed at the Al Fahidi Fort in Bur Dubai.
For information on Al Fahidi fort, click here

Saturday, August 22, 2009


This is an old picture I discoved on my hard disk.

This was shot at Dubai Media City (DMC). Surrounded by several tall buildings, is this serene spot and very popular spot at DMC. There is a narrow ramp that leads up to structure placed right in the middle of the water and is probably one of the most tranquil spots in Dubai. I have seen so many people spend peaceful moments at this spot. The general feeling of quite and peace at this spot can be great way to recover after that terrible day at the office.

Read my other post and pictures of Dubai Media City here

Ramadan Kareem


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ready for the Metro

The sale of NOL cards started today. Only 21 days to go for the first metro train to roll out on 9th Sept. It will be interesting to see if people Q up to buy the NOL cards early. I think there will be early rush to get the cards as most residents will want to have the experience of using the metro. Even if they do not intend using the metro for their commute travel around the city. It may even become an 'evening out' event for some families for the next 1 - 2 months.
But more importantly, I was one of the early customers of the NOL cards. I got mine this morning from the RTA registration office in Barsha. The picture above is my own NOL card!!!! Everything went on well. There were no surprises at the counter and everyone seemed to be well informed. The lady at the counter was well trained and it looked like she had got a structured training. She used a well structured explanation of the NOL card and the entire transaction was glitch free.
The launch of the metro is probably one of the most important events in Dubai in recent years. Not for the glitz or the size (tallest/biggest) or for the attention it is getting across the world. The metro I believe will have the strongest impact on Dubai. It will change the city and the way the city travels. It will change the way the development of Dubai evolves.
I am excited about the long awaited introduction of Dubai Metro. Are you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fishy in Sharjah

Strongly recommended... the next time you need that grilled fillet of Kingfish, head down to Sharjah fish market.
Located close to Rolla, the Sharjah fish market is an interesting experience!!. It is more traditional, without air conditioning, a little bit more messy and always very crowded (unless you make an early morning visit like I did). I have started liking the Sharjah fish market over the one in Karama. It has a better variety of fish, very fresh and most importantly a better price for most types of fish.
Try out Sharjah fish market near Rolla the next time you plan for grilled tiger prawns at your weekend barbeque!.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dragon Mart

This weekend saw me making my way to Dragon Mart, the place to be in Dubai for bargains and deals. Serving as the gateway to the Middle Eastern markets for Chinese goods, Dragon Mart houses hundreds of Chinese retailers selling everthing one can think of (at least everything I could think of). From hardware to acoustic equipement and from home furnishing to shoes, you can find it all at Dragon Mart. It is bit of a problem if you don't have your own car to get down there as getting public transport to Dragon Mart can be a bit of a challenge.
Here's what I purchased; a nice handy cordless drill machine, a few of the white plastic pipes to conceal the wires coming out of the home theatre system and a tap to replace one that has given way.

Friday, August 14, 2009


The pride in his eyes could have moved mountains. I met Bak Munir Khan, an expatriate worker from Pakistan as he was celebrating Pakistan's independence day. Yom-e-Istiqlal (Pakistan Independence day) is celebrated on 14th August, the day on which Pakistan gained independence from British rule in 1947.

Bak Munir is employed with Sharjah Baladiya (municipality) where he attends to Sharjah's public gardens as a gardener. He was ecstatic when I complimented him on his beautifully decorated motorbike. He has placed several flags of Pakistan on the bike besides many green and white ribbons. I was surprised to find out that he had really no place to go but was only riding around Dubai on his motorbike to 'celebrate the important day'. As we spoke about his country, one could see the pride in his voice. Despite so many recent upheavals, he was hopeful of retiring and going back to a bright and prosperous Pakistan.

Here's wishing all Pakistani residents of Dubai, Happy Independence Day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vimto is here

Ramadan is just around the corner.

As Dubai gets ready to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, there are so many changes that announce it's imminent arrival. HR departments begin announcing shorter working hours, the retailers start screaming out Ramadan offers, food prices begin to take several columns space in newspapers, iftar tents start taking shape and good old Vimto takes centre stage!!

Vimto, a cordial of fruit juices is considered an important energy boosting accompaniment to the Iftar, the evening meal that breaks the Ramadan fast. It isn't surprising to find most supermarkets placing huge displays of Vimto at the store fronts as muslims in Dubai begin stocking up their favourite drink. Despite the high energy campaigns by the manufacturers in the past, I had not got myself to buy a bottle of the maroon drink. As I did my grocery shopping last evening, I finally got myself 2 bottles of the fine drink.

Read about the history of Vimto here

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Jumeirah Mosque

Its kind of strange that after all these years in Dubai, I had never been to the famous Jumeirah Mosque. Jumeirah Mosque is extremely well known and is usually part of the normal tourist trail. I remember our relatives visitng us a few years back and being excited about seeing the Jumeirah Mosque. That we never got around to seeing it is another story.

Located along the beach road, it is one of the largest in Dubai. Jumeirah Mosque was built along medieval Fatimid lines and is today probably the most photographed mosque in Dubai. It is also the only mosque opening to non muslims. Visitors who wish to visit the mosque need to join one of the Jumeirah Mosque tours coordinated by the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

GeekFest, Dubai

Geeks, bloggers and twitterers of Dubai came in all shapes (???) and sizes last evening as they made their way to Geek Fest Dubai at Dubai's funky spot Shelter.
For a completely out of place novice like me it was an interesting experience. I got to learn a
a bit more of geek speak and finally figure out Twitter (hopefully). I am yet to try out some of the new stuff I heard about!.
I loved the absolutely casual atmosphere and genuinely friendly crowd around the place. Every other guy was eager to share his experiences.
Thank you Alex, Saadia and Simone. Looking forward to the next one!!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary.....

..... to Dubai Photo Story.

About a little over a year ago, my knowledge of blogs was as much as it is of rockets today. Little did I realise that a casual suggestion by a friend would take me down the road to what is today 'Dubai Photo Story'.

Dubai Photo Story has completed a little over a year since the first post and its been a journey of fun and learning. The concept of Dubai Photo Story made me even more interested in everything about Dubai and I have learnt so much over the year. But what has been most satisfying has been the feedback, comments and e-mails I have received from the readers.As the blog completes a year, I made my way back to the Abra jetty to meet up with abra no 146 which has been the face of Dubai Photo Story. The number plate of Abra no. 146 has been my identity and what better way to commemorate the anniversary!!.

As abra no. 146 made it's way to the jetty, I felt nostalgia. The picture of abra no 146 was the first picture I clicked for this blog (though it eventually did not make it to any post).

Noor Mohammad has been the 'captain' of the abra for several years now. An expat from Bangladesh, Noor has lived in Dubai for 6 years and steering the abra is the only job he has known. We talked for a while as I took a ride across the creek in what is probably going to my favourite abra in Dubai!!!

Happy Anniversary to Dubai Photo Story!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bur Dubai Souk

I have always loved to go down to Bur Dubai and simply experience the old world charm that it offers. Located on the western banks of the creek, Bur Dubai is a mix of residential and commercial activities. Besides being a popular residential area for the Asian expatriate population, Bur Dubai is also home to one of Dubai's oldest souks.
This picture was taken at the souk outside the Abra station. The high ceilings and designs coupled with the beautiful wood work give the visitors an authentic arabic experience.
Read about Abras here

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dubai's blue sky

Its not very often that one can mention 'blue sky' in Dubai.

This was shot over Dubai airspace only a few minutes before landing at Dubai's airport. The sky looked divine. Almost magical.

See another picture of Dubai's blue sky here

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I have always been fascinated by the various types of dhows that one sees in the arabian waters. They are a very important part of the traditional trade in the arabian gulf. For many centuries the dhows sailed right across the Indian ocean to India and the East African coast using only the sail as a means of propulsion.
The dhow was known for two distinctive features. First of all, it's triangular or lateen sail, and secondly, for it's stitched construction. Stitched boats were made by sewing the hull boards together with fibers, cords or thongs.
This picture is of a dhow displayed outside the Al Fahidi fort in Bur Dubai
Read about Al Fahidi fort here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The humble bicycle

Got this picture a few days back while I was down in Bur Dubai.

I found this cycle along one of the many bylanes of Bur Dubai. Resting along the side of the building, the cycle was securely chained to the water pipe. It was rusting in many places and had probably been used for many years by its owner.

And amidst all of Dubai's glitzy and shiny cars, I was instantly drawn to this humble bicycle. It was as if time had stood still.

Also read:

The hand carts of Bur Dubai

The only Hindu Temple in Dubai

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Misty Dubai

Or dusty Dubai? Got this picture 2 days back while going down Sheikh Zayed Road early in the morning. Dubai has been experiencing mild dust storms in the last few days giving the city a dull hazy look.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009



Sunday, June 28, 2009

Al Khawaneej

As is my habit over a weekend, I set out to explore a new part of Dubai I hadn't visited before. As I drove eastward down the D89, Al Khawaneej seemed like an interesting place for a pit stop.

The pictures above are of the main roundabout in Al Khawaneej.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Camels on Dubai roads?

You can imagine my surprise to find these camels grazing off the lawns of a roundabout!!!

Found these fellows walking about freely and getting stunned looks from drivers zooming down the road. You can see the cars in some of the pictures. One of them walked right up to me and almost kissed my camera!


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