Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Cash on Wheels

I couldn't believe my eyes the other day.  What did I see?

A lorry, with it's back rolled up and inside - two fully operational ATM's in the back.  There's even a chair to sit on if you're feeling a bit tired and need a rest. No major security - just a couple of regular guys in the front!




It turns out that they move these ATM's in their lorry to various large events around Dubai - so that everyone as full access to their cash.  Brilliant!

I wonder how long they would last in the UK . . . . or would someone just drive it away!!!

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside . . .


It's October and it's cooling down . . . . still hot though - just about hot enough to still use hot water from the outside pipes, but the mercury is no longer in the 40's.    It's still a liDSC00432ttle uncomfortable to be in direct sunlight for too long in the daytime, but we decided to brave it with some friends of ours and hit the beach!


I do like the beach, but sometimes traipsing down to the shore with all my paraphernalia can be a bit irritating . . . and as you can see from the photo's  - there's a lot of stuff! 

However, we have found a piece of land in between the summer palaces in Jumeirah that has not yet been built on, and we can drive straight onto the sand - put the car in 4x4 mode to drive across the 100 metres or so of beach - and open the car right next to the shore!  We did forget that the tide was coming in though, so we had to keep moving the car!!!


The best bit about it?  It's OCTOBER!!!!!


And this is one of the reasons we moved to Dubai!

Monday, 6 October 2008

What a job!

We have just had a batch (3) of public holidays here in Dubai to celebrate Eid al Fitr, which is the official end of Ramadan (hooray)!  And it's all to do with when the new moon is spotted.

According to the Dubai Astronomy Group, “The Islamic month is tied to the moon.  This way, God made it easy for humanity. No calendar, no counting days, just follow the moon."

There are a group of people called the UAE Moon Sighting Committee and the committee meets if there is the slightest chance of a sighting because, by tradition, when the new moon can be seen by the naked eye, a new month has begun.

This time, they were looking for the Shawwal moon - which is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.  Once the moon is spotted, the committee members extend congratulations to the country's rulers, the people of the UAE and Muslims around the world.

The down-side this year (and I honestly don't know if it's the same every year) but Eid al Fitr was announced really late in the evening, and we were quite lucky to know about it - we just stumbled upon it on the internet.  I have many friends who still got up, got dressed and drove to work - only to find that the office was shut for a few days.

I appreciate that moon sighting is steeped in tradition, but I do think that being part of the Moon Sighting Committee is a cracking job to have!

Iftar Supper

I mentioned in my "Ramadan" posting, that we were going to attend an Iftar.  An Iftar is the evening meal for breaking the daily fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan.  Each day it is at a different time, depending on the time of the sun setting (Maghrib).  The Maghrib time is announced on the radio each day.

It turns out that an Iftar can be anywhere - there are traditional tents which pop up at the city's large hotels, but one of Tim's Arabic colleagues celebrated Iftar at TGI Fridays.  Even KFC have a special Iftar supper for under GBP3.

We went to two - one was arranged by Tim's work - for all of their employees, Arabic or otherwise.  We all sat on low sofas and celebrated with traditional juices and then moved on to a spectacular arabic buffet.  DSC00387

For those of you not too familiar with Arabic food, traditional foods on the buffet are mixed grills, kebabs, sharwarma (chicken in  wrap), along with houmous, arabic (flat) bread, halloumi (sort of like goat's cheese) etc.  Very nice indeed.

It is common out here for a great deal of Shisha smoking (a glass water pipe with flavoured tobacco) in the evening and at Iftar, everyone appears to be smoking the shisDSC00400ha pipe. 

Despite the fact that the regular smoking of cigarettes is banned in restaurants and malls, the shisha is still allowed!  You can see the smoke in the air!


Overall, we had a great time in the Iftar tents, but I'm quite looking forward to regular tables and chairs again.