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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

SHOCK! HORROR! Western expats start doing their own housework!

Times are getting tough in the Emirates for the western 'middle classes'. The rising cost of fuel has meant some of them have had to sell their gas guzzling SUVs and exchange them for easy to park, economical cars like the ones you see on the streets of Europe (article is on page 4)

BUT what's this? In a further attempt to economise they're sacking their maids and doing the housework themselves! No, this hasn't made the headlines of the Guff News yet, but being plugged into the Al Ain grapevine I can tell you this is beginning to happen... Posted by Picasa

Since sacking his maid,
Edwin has to do his own
ironing. He says the 900 AED
monthly saving means he can
buy more beer in the Horse &
Jockey pub.


Where's Syriana?

Starring some of Al Ain's finest thespians (an Al Ainite was Matt Damon's body double jumping into the swimming pool), we are waiting for the film's UAE release. See George's gag there? Well it could be a case of life imitating art as it's possible that the film won't make it past the censors. It could be that a political thriller about corruption in the oil industry is a little too near the knuckle, even though the crew had a free reign to film all over the country, including the desert outside of Al Ain, although this got them into a bit of trouble with the Omanis...

Or maybe the problem is with the film's sub-plot:

The film's final storyline follows the trajectory of Wasim, a young Pakistani who, along with his father, has been fruitlessly trying to earn a living in the oil fields of Nasir's country, but finds nothing but poverty, disappointment and alienation at every turn. When they are laid off from their jobs working in the field, their situation turns more desperate.

Their story mirrors that of the thousands of Pakistani laborers who have left their homes and families to try and find work in the Gulf. When they are met with job scarcity, sub-human living conditions, and struggles with immigration officials to stay in the country long enough to find employment, the disillusioned young men are drawn to the madrassas, or Islamic schools, some of which may seek to indoctrinate them into a radical interpretation of Islam. A number of these boys may become involved with terrorist organizations, and a few are ultimately persuaded to sacrifice their lives as suicide bombers. Such is the path that Wasim finds himself on as his life in the Gulf unfolds.

When his friend Farooq introduces him to a cleric at a nearby madrassa, for the first time Wasim feels he has a place in the unfamiliar country, and becomes more and more drawn into the cleric's radical teachings. He and Farooq are soon preparing themselves for a deadly act from which they will not return.

Wasim is played by Mazhar Munir, a young actor making his major motion picture debut in Syriana. Born and raised in London, he has appeared on several British television series, including the award-winning Doctors. "Wasim is no different from any other teenager," says Munir of his character. "But where someone of his age should be concerned about the new pimple growing on his forehead, he has to worry about making money to feed his family, and just trying to survive. He understands that there is more to life and wants better things for himself and his family, but each time he makes an effort to improve his life, forces beyond his control prevent him from doing so."

There were several days of shooting in Dubai during which Munir and the rest of the production got a firsthand look at the quality of life experienced by immigrant workers like Wasim and his father. "It was scary," recounts the actor. "There were six or seven men and boys squashed into these freight containers that were converted into some form of housing quarters, in 100 degree heat and with no adequate ventilation systems and very little light. I hope when audiences see what the lives of such people are like, they'll understand what draws them down such a road and try to understand and not judge Wasim. Hopefully, the film will enable viewers to begin to understand how people are manipulated into performing such horrible acts."

"To me, the audience's greatest emotional connection in the film is through these two young boys," George Clooney muses. "I think it's a really interesting thing when you take the two most likeable characters in the film and then watch as they're sucked into this fundamentalist group. And you begin to understand how something like that could happen. It's not an excuse for it at all, but it is saying that you can't just categorize things. They are human beings and they make decisions - some of them wrong, but we understand what led to those decisions."

From the Syriana promotional website

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Heartless Lucas McMullan Jacobs Solicitors

Telegraph | News | This toddler's mother killed herself when he was three months old. Now he's being sued by solicitor in a case which may cost him 25,000 pounds

I know this is off-topic but who cares. This came through the online Telegraph this morning...even more reason why I can't stand lawyers! I know they're in the business to make money but can Lucas McMullan Jacobs Solicitors based in Leyton really blame the dad for not being prompt in replying to letters when had wife has just killed herself?

Absolutely heartless.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Al Ain Airshow

As you know, money is tight at the moment so I decided to park up and view the airshow from outside the 'paying area'. Of course, this is what all the taxi drivers do and I got a good opportunity to take not only some very bad photos of the planes but also a nice one of the drivers having a break from the daily grind and enjoying the show. Posted by Picasa

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Al Ain taxi sign

This is what an Al Ain taxi sign looks like. Sorry about the quality of the photo but I didn't want to draw attention to myself so I had to take it from a distance and zoom in on Picasa. If you don't read arabic, on the right it says 'taxi' and on the left 'Al Ain'. Does the shape and colour of this sign look familiar? Posted by Picasa


Abu Dhabi taxi sign

This is the sign on an Abu Dhabi taxi. Those who don't read arabic note the different words on the left side of the sign. It says 'Abu Dhabi'. You see quite a few of these in Al Ain and when you get used to the different signs its quite fun to spot them as there are not as many of these ones about. The driver of this cab was approachable so I asked him if it was OK for me to take the photo, hence the close-up. Posted by Picasa


Monday, January 09, 2006

Just Chillin'

Two gentlemen (you can only see one) take time out to enjoy an Al Ain mini roundabout. This is a common sight in our city; sometimes you will see whole families picnicking on a roundabout which Al Ain has many. Sorry about the quality of the snap. Camera phone combined with nervous photographer. I tried to zoom and edit on Picasa as much as I could. Posted by Picasa

Skinflint's and Dieter's Guide to Al Ain Part 2

I remember the first time I saw a woman jogging on the streets of Al Ain. She was a western expat dressed in the kind of clothes that you would normally see a woman jogging in on the streets of London or New York. She was already trim and looked like she'd been doing it since she was out of nappies. What was strange was the reactions she was getting from passing drivers, especially the taxi drivers.

They'd slow down, opened mouthed, until realising that this lady could be a potential passenger. So they'd start to hoot and maybe even stop a few yards ahead, hazard lights a-blinking*, hoping that she'd hop in and even better, given them her phone number. You see it's so logical in their minds: an attractive 'gora' would run down the street in tight clothing in the hope she would attract one of those amazingly sexy cab drivers who would invite her into their car.

Yesterday I decided to don my baggiest t-shirt and my sloppiest jogging bottoms and go for a 'power walk'. I made sure my I Pod was cranked to a deafening volume to drown out hooting cabs. I took this photo half-way, it reminded me in some funny way of my childhood.

Anyway, I think I must've burnt off a few calories, blew some mind-cobwebs away and not spent a single fil.

*Hazard lights are over-used out here. Mind you, I think an Al Ain Taxi definately constitutes 'a hazard'

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sign of the times

Selling all the best stuff from Ras Al Khaimah...

 Posted by Picasa


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Skinflint's and Dieter's Guide To Al Ain Part 1

Ahh, Christmas and New Year are over. Now let's have a look at the bank account....


Looks like the Taxi has overspent yet again this holiday season. What to do?

Now lets step on the scales....


Looks like the Taxi has overate yet again this holiday season. What to do?

Here's my guide to losing weight and saving dirhams while staying sane. Stay tuned, I'm sure I'll be back with some idea of what to do. Any ideas you have would be appreciated in the comments section. Thank you.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

More mirrors..

Mirror.co.uk - News - THE NEW CHIC OF ARABY:

"And it is here you get a glimpse of an Arabia that would have been familiar to Thesiger."

Al Ain: so behind the times that Wilfred Thesiger would recognise it. Really? I know we're a little old fashioned compared with Dubai but...

In response to Secret Dubai's posting of UK tabloid newspaper The Mirror's recent article/advert on Dubai, here's what they have to say on Al Ain in an article about Abu Dhabi Emirate.



Have a great 2006, the best year you've ever had. My posts will have a little more meat on them in the coming year, I promise.

Who went to Luce's last night to celebrate? Or did you stay in the HnJ? Any reviews?
And did Luce's look anything like this?:
Posted by Picasa

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