Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Photos

On the move, albeit very slowly. The Saipem 7000 is so huge, it has its own Wikipedia page. You would think with 76000 horsepower, it would be something of a speedboat. We passed quite closely on our ferry to Kvitsøy.

Earlier this week I took Julian out for a ride. He loved it. I think he was too young last year. I foresee many more rides together.

He insists on putting his cap on himself.

Eight weeks old, and exuding pure cuteness.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Still owe a proper posting about Dubai

I don't know where to begin. Perhaps my thank you email from the hotel gives some perspective. I will try to cover the highlights:

At night, I thought I saw a foggy haze over the city, but the air was much too dry to be fog. Also the air was too clean to be pollution. It turned out to be fine dust--- sand from the desert.

It takes more energy than contained in a gallon of gasoline to desalinate a gallon of water. Dubai is in the desert.

I saw nothing on sale in any stores. Nothing. Everything was full price. No bargain shopping here. Malls are huge-- since the climate can be quite hot. I was lucky.

There is no place to walk in the city. I was told it was because normally it is too hot to walk anywhere.

Dubai is not a democracy. It is run by a prince or something like that, and all the government officials are appointed. The upside to this is that there are few politics to sort through--- which is why the entire city sprung up practically overnight.

As an Islamic state, there are all sorts of religious "laws." Alcohol is only found at hotels. I encountered a restaurant that was briefly *wink*wink* closed for evening prayers. I was, however, served.

It is strange doing business with unshaven Ivy League educated men who are wearing sandals, a white robe, and a white "head dress" wrapped with a black cord. It is even stranger seeing women in burkhas in a business setting. The women were segregated from men during lunch--- and not one singe Muslim woman spoke to me all week. The only women I spoke to were the Chinese working the hotel.

It is common to smoke tobacco from a hookah in the outdoor seating areas at restaurants.

All the food served is halal.

Racism is alive and well in the U.A.E. While there are all sorts of expats in the area, there is a real hierarchy. It was embarrassing how much respect I received being a white westerner. I met up with a coworker from our office in India--- and someone started bossing him around, thinking he was a laborer working at the hotel. It was absurd.

At the airport, I had to go through security to enter the airport. Next came ticketing, then I had to go through passport to leave the country. Next was another security (second set of metal detectors). Then I was free to go to the gates.

The city has the best quality roads I have ever seen anywhere---- but virtually no public transportation, except buses. How can a city so new lack public transportation infrastructure?

Most vehicles are white.

The city has no soul or character--- it is much too young. It lacks any local culture, and in many ways, it is depressing--- akin to placing a Disneyland in the Vatican.

From a business perspective, it was a very good trip. I am sure I will return.

Thursday, April 02, 2009