Sunday, September 27, 2009

This is really mental, even for Dubai

Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa in Jumeirah Beach has hired this contraption, where apparently you can have dinner at great elevation while strapped into your seat. Wine, spirits, tempting gourmet cuisine served by a chef popped up in the middle of the table (although, not that I can spot it, an easily accessible toilet) are all part of the experience. Launches Oct 1 and runs until May.

Quit playing games with my heart, BBs

This is for real. I'm going - and not ashamed to admit it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No wonder everyone smokes here

I just watched someone buy three cartons of cigarettes (talk about buying in bulk) and for 36 dirhams – or a cool $10.43 Cdn.

My first (and hopefully last, as it is almost over) Ramadan misadventure

There was a story in the Gulf News today about three people who were arrested and jailed for consuming food and drinks in public during the fasting hours of Ramadan. How dumb do you have to be, I wondered to myself upon reading it.

I mean, I've only just returned from vacation and I can remember not to chow down in front of hungry others, went the thought train. If you've been here the entire time, well, as my favourite character on Fox's old show Arrested Development used to say, "C'mon!"

Flash forward a couple of hours. It's 5:59 pm, and several colleagues have encouraged me to become excited that the Gloria Jeans kiosk in the lobby is about to open, despite the evening call to prayer signalling iftar time being a half-hour away.

As we waited for the coffees we would still need to consume in the "Ramadan" lunch room, one of them offered me a piece of her chocolate cookie. I proceeded to much away, utterly unaware – until we gasped and remembered – that I had become among the clueless few. It all kind of reminds me of this.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dubai Metro launches, I feel slightly less jaded

The long-awaited driverless Dubai Metro launched last night to much pomp and circumstance, with passengers taking to it in excited droves today. Check out this, basically one of my favourite pictures of the year.

So there were some glitches, but overall the thing works and even better, people seem to love it. Entire families turned out yesterday to ride the thing. People snapped tons of pictures. And as one of my colleagues notices, passengers did something strange for the UAE: they talked to each other, even though they don't know each other.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Quote of the day

"Most men ask that a woman's height be between 155cm and 170cm, and they want her to have a fair complexion and be young. But I am against such conditions because I am looking to marry off women who have become spinsters. And I cannot promote something unless I have tried it myself. Three of my wives were spinsters when I married them and they are not even that pretty."

-Jaser al Ghanem, a matchmaker in Jordan who promotes polygamy as a solution to spinsterhood

Say it ain't so!

One of the "don'ts" listed in an advertisement produced by the UAE Ministry to help combat the spread of swine flu is the traditional Emirati nose greeting.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In the end, pub food. Well, just food.

It's no secret that I love food. So when I am about to go on a trip, chances are tops on my mind will be all the different kinds of yummy eats ahead of me. That's why I had grand plans to eat at all my favourite restaurants this trip, particularly in Ottawa: oysters at Whalesbone on Bank Street in Ottawa; sourdough bread & steak at The Keg; brunch with peameal bacon at The Lieutenant's Pump on Elgin Street; something veggie and healthy at The Wild Oat in the Glebe and a big bowl of pho somewhere on Somerset. In the end - and to my delight - I was invited to a number of barbecues and only ended up eating lunch at The Wild Oat.

I have made it out a couple of times for beers and pub food on patios, in Toronto and Ottawa, and I have to say, pub food is something I miss the most in Abu Dhabi. It's just not the same. One thing the UAE does not know how to do (and please, correct me if you know of a place that proves me wrong) is a proper club sandwich. It's not the non-pork thing I mind. Is the addition of weird things, like egg and cucumber. Last night, complete satisfaction at Smokey Joe's on Yonge Street: an amazing club sandwich and delish sweet potato fries, spicy dip for them washed down with a couple of pints.

And I had to giggle this morning when the friend I am staying with – slim and fit but such a kindred spirit food lover she told me about the sweet potato fries before we got to the restaurant – urged me to take advantage of some of the Nutrition in Motion meals that had stacked up in her refrigerator.

"Oh no!" I said. "You should eat them."

"I don't feel like eating them," she said. "I feel like eating bad food."

Good thing I only have a few days left on my vacation. At this rate I might not fit on my plane seat.

UPDATE (Sept 10): Back in Abu Dhabi... wearing stretchy clothes. Completely forgot to write about the deep fried pickles at the Royal Oak. Mmmmmmm.

How to be a happy expat

Because a cloud wall makes you want to take a selfie.  After 10 years living in the UAE, some of that time happy, some miserable and ...