Sunday, 20 April 2008

pics around al ain

The first two pictures are of houses facing out to a carpark in Al Jahli. The standard of housing gets a lot less salubrious than this for some workers.

These next few shots are of the desert out past Jebel Hafeet and a couple of shots of the mountain itself.

These last few are more shots of Sanaiya; the industrial area.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

trekking Europa

It's the end of another week ... and only 63 sleeps until our European trek. We've organised a week in each of Provence, Venice and Budapest, but we'll play it by ear/budget for the remaining weeks. We've pencilled in a few days in the south of Germany and a few days in the north with no firm plans. Apart from that I'm torn. I want to go in two directions; one to Greece and Cyprus, the other to Holland and Belgium.

It's sad really that I'm concerned about such matters when the news is full of price rises for basic food items and the devastating impact that'll have on millions. There are probably billions of people who'd trade places and take on my problems if given a chance.

I know that I'm very lucky to have the opportunities that I do. I daily see the contrast between my life and that of the shop keepers and labourers here.

Friday, 11 April 2008

sight seeing in Al Ain

You've got visitors coming into town on a whirlwind tour. Where do you take them?

1. The Al Ain Museum - My social buddy took me there when I first arrived and I enjoyed it. The static exhibits are a bit the sameish, but they're okay to poke around for a while. I really enjoyed the videos though. They're quite long, but they are an interesting account of the history of the area. The nearby oasis is worth a walk through if it isn't too hot. And then there's the markets opposite.

2. Jebel Hafeet - That's an obvious attraction with the obligatory stop off on the way down at the Mercure for a coffee or a meal.

3. Green Mubuzarah - (how do you spell that?). It's a picnic area with running hot springs. Interesting.

4. Airport Road - There's the road out the back of town and the road to the airport. They're pretty stunning on a first viewing. Well the airport isn't stunning, but I like the plane sculpture on the roundabout; particularly when the water is running. There's quite a variety of desertscapes in a small area too.

5. City Centre
- the look of the shops, particularly in the backstreets is fairly interesting.

6. Roundabouts - Can you do a tour of the roundabouts? Seems a bit boring, but I'd actually like to do a roundabout tour and take pics of each roundabout. Have them all recorded before they disappear. I"m sure I'm not the first person to think of that. There are probably several people with lots of roundabout shots and a few with a comprehensive collection. I wonder if anyone has a pic of the clocktower roundabout before it was dereoundabouted.

7. Camels and Building Site - Apparently if you go out on the road to Jebel Hafeet and Green Mubuzarah, but don't take the hafeet turn off, you end up on a road out the back of the mountain that has wall to wall camels and a huge shopping complex that's under construction. Why would they build a shopping complex out there? It's the middle of nowhere. Either it's a completely hair-brained scheme, or it's a good example of forward planning.

8. International Hotels - for a coffee and dinner. There's the French Bakery.

9. The Zoo - haven't done the night walk. I wonder if that's still on, or if it's getting too hot.

10. Malls - yea. I guess.

11. Cinema - There's the one at the mall and there's the one at the Rotana. Why don't they have a gold class cinema? I like a bit of pampering every now and then.

12. Palace Museum - that's an interesting look at how life may have been in the past.

I guess there's more, but I've run out of ideas for the moment.

Friday, 4 April 2008

not before time

A few days ago the Gulf News carried this story. Yay! I'm happy.

'Al Ain Municipality bans smoking in all public places
Published: March 31, 2008, 15:21

Al Ain: Al Ain Municipality will ban smoking in all enclosed public places as of April 15, according to an administrative decree issued by Awad Khalifa Bin Hasoum Al Darmaki, Director General of the Municipality.'

city centre

The city centre can be scary. While most roads in Al Ain have three car lanes in each direction, much of the city centre is older and less planned than the newer parts. There are many narrow two way streets with one lane each direction. Toss several double parked cars into the mix and you've got a scary scenario at busy times of the evening. It's not a place I like to be at certain times.

However, the city centre does have some charm too. The coloseum roundabout is stunning, the lanterns on the flyover are pretty and there are bits of beauty dotted here and there.


Sanaiya is an ugly place and scary as all %$#@! It's an indsustrial area full of poorly paid, overworked guys with little or no education. Men outnumber women 1000 to 1. However, that's not why it's scary. It's the driving ... probably that's a result of the testosterone. Cars and oversize trucks compete on the roads dodging and weaving. Groups of male pedestrians criss-cross the road any time they see half an opportunity. It's a battlefield and I always breathe a sigh of relief when I'm safely out the other side!

The buildings are mostly old and run down and were poorly built and conceived in the first place. Sanaiya is a 2 minute drive from Ramsay Street where many of us-mob, who came in July last year, live. Despite its ugliness though it does have a certain charm. Somewhere in the shapes, colours, sounds, squalor, danger, fading signage, sand and mountain-backdrop there's something likeable.