Thursday, 29 November 2007


Another cultural coup for Abu Dhabi - an international art exhibition came to ... you guessed it ... Emirates Palace.
There were stalls from UK, France, various Middle East destinations with a really good range of artwork from contemporary sculptures to Van Gogh to Andy Warhol and everything in between. I really enjoyed looking around even if I knew I was not going to be one of the ones walking away with a Marc Chagall at the end of the show!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Teaching mum to use email

Can you believe that someone who used to be able to type at 50 words per minute is now reduced to two finger typing? I'm not sure why a computer keyboard is so different from a regular typewriter but apparently it is because your fingernails get caught in the keys!
And let's not get into getting the page to scroll up or down!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Fashion week

I was at the launch of Abu Dhabi Fashion Week this week, which was exciting.
This is the back of a very nice Valentino dress. Unfortunately, I didn't get my camera ready in time to get the front too ;( The local designers showing collections are definitely worth checking out: Rami Al Ali for sophisticated, chic dresses and Milia M for modern, funky styles.
My main claim to fame: I met Mrs Ferragamo...and was completely star stuck!
Now if I can just get a ticket for London or Paris Fashion Week...

Friday, 16 November 2007

Visa run

My dad booked my flight to Oman. 9.20 departure, back in Abu Dhabi just after 12. Great.
So, I get pestered out of bed in the morning and make my way to the airport with my print out clutched in my palm. "Sorry madam, but this is not a proper ticket. You have to go to the ticketing desk to get a number." OK. 55 minutes before the flight leaves, but that's enough time to get a number. Next problem: "Sorry madam but this ticket has not been paid for. You'll have to pay for it at the next counter." At this point, I'm starting to panic slightly as the check in desk is about to close. "Sorry madam, but this reservation has been cancelled so I'll have to re-enter all the details." Argh! "Oh and it's going to cost you 300 dirhams more than you thought." (That might not be an exact quote, but you get the idea!) "Sorry madam, the check in has closed now."
Maybe you'll be able to picture my face at this point…

Anyway, a nice supervisor got me checked in seeing as how I didn't have any bags and Abu Dhabi airport is hardly difficult to get through. She asked someone to rush me through security and passport control but he was too busy chatting up one of the check in clerks so I just got on with it myself. Surprise, surprise I got through in plenty of time and wasn't anywhere near the last one on the plane.

Arrival at Muscat. I go to the transfer desk to get my check in for the return flight and see that the efficient guy from Abu Dhabi has changed the original flight to one leaving at midnight. At this point I decide the only recourse is tears and lo! I'm on the next flight to Abu Dhabi.
The cabin crew were a bit disconcerted to see me back again so soon but I was soon sampling the delicious Etihad sandwiches (ahem) and preparing for landing back in AD.

I cannot wait for my residence permit to come through so I don't have to go through the whole palaver again.

Monday, 12 November 2007


Bad enough that it took 6 weeks to get my first pay check, but it looks like it will actually take even longer.
I could only get a cheque because I don't have a local ID yet. And I can't cash the cheque because….you guessed it…I don't have a local ID.
The world's local bank? The world's crappiest bank more like.

Friday, 9 November 2007


Abu Dhabi is trying hard to compete with Dubai for tourists and recognition. The new island construction (name?) will house a Guggenheim and a Louvre and this week we saw opera come to the capital.
Carmen is one of the more accessible stories, if a bit culturally insensitive, so there was much excitement about the show.
We were taking bets to see if the performance would start on time. With an international opera group, most thought that it would. I would have won enough to buy a small island if I had actually put money down. And even though the show started late, there were still people coming in to the auditorium 30 minutes into the performance. Anywhere else in the world, people are asked to wait outside so as not to disturb people who arrived on time. Not so here.
It immediately became apparent that the theatre was not designed for opera. In fact I can't imagine what it was designed for. The acoustics were more than lacking. And while you might think that the singers could adapt to the deficient surroundings, it seemed like they hadn't even rehearsed on the stage because it was certainly hard to hear all of what was going on. But of course you could follow the 'subtitles', I hear you say. The highlight of the evening was the translation / spelling / speed of the titles. 'Fans to make wind' ;)
What a disappointment. It felt more like a travelling circus than a professional opera outfit. While one friend pointed out that opera in Abu Dhabi was a miraculous feat and we should be grateful for any culture we can get, it begs the question: if the powers that be have so much money to spend, why could they not spend it on getting a top class performance?
Part of the disappointment was with the sets - sorry, set. Substitute faux wood for faux tiles and that counts as a whole new set…not quite the Vienna Staatsoper! But maybe all of these gripes would have paled away if it had not felt interminable. Act, interval, act, interval can get boring, particularly after 4 hours!
In spite of all this vitriol, I'm glad I went. No, really. I just wouldn't go again!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Ladies' night

To quote the song: Oh yes, it's ladies' night. Oh what a night!
The only problem with as much free champagne as you can drink is that you tend to get quite drunk! I always think I'm going to be suave and interesting when I go out, then the next day I realise I just ended up being drooly and annoying.
On Sunday I even gave away one of my favourite necklaces. I'm all for random acts of kindness, but I think that was more a drunken act of stupidity!

Here it is on my neck for the last time… :( Bye bye beautiful!