175. It’s goodbye from me, and it’s goodbye from him

I haven’t posted since April because I have a job in journalism now and typing in my own time is a bit of a Busman’s holiday. So thank you to everyone who read this truly appalling blog. If I lose my job then I’ll be back.

Bye everyone.

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174. Car Crashes

I have been nestling within these Emirati dunes now for over six years, and in that time I have often thought about what I might be missing back home in Her Majesty’s Great Britain. Of course my favourite framing device for these pensive thoughts are my rose-tinted spectacles.

There is plenty about the UAE that winds me up, and most of my gripes can be read here, on this page, in the preceding 170-something blog entries. Whenever something goes wrong over here, or a mad announcement is reported in the press, I like to harrumph and stomp about wagging my finger and shouting “it wouldn’t be like this Britain I tells ya…” It’s all rather wearisome.

But truth be told, I know that I am wrong most of the time, and in fact there is plenty of things the UAE does better than the UK, and even in some circumstances, the UAE wipes the floor with Britannia.

Look, I know you've been waiting for 3 days now, but you have to be patient. Before we can remove the wreckage we need to ensure that none of the officers are allergic to nuts

Look, I know you’ve been waiting for 3 days now, but you have to be patient. Before we can remove the wreckage we need to ensure that none of the officers are allergic to nuts

A couple of weeks ago you may have noticed a few drippings of rain fell from the clouds and marinated most of the Emirates. This is one of the few events in which the UK can take a win; we know how to drive in poor weather. Here, no. Those whom aren’t used to rain continue to drive in a highly questionable manner and invariably end up upside down on a palm tree.

This meant that the emergency services had to all put in a bit of overtime, clearing the wreckages that so peppered the road network. I’m sure you all saw the police statement that claimed that in Dubai alone, there were over 700 accidents in just 14 hours. Over 700! That’s 50 an hour!

I was returning a press-car to a warehouse in Rashidiya that day, which meant driving from my home in the heart of Abu Dhabi, along the E11 and Sheikh Zayed Road, then through Festival City and past Dubai International Airport; a gauntlet even in dry conditions. The rain was absolutely tipping down and littering my entire route was wreckage after wreckage. It was carnage.

But do you know what? For what is normally a 1 hour 35 minute drive from door to door, took me only 1 hour 50. I only lost 15 minutes, which when you think about it isn’t that bad at all.

This is where I have to commend the excellent highway management of the police, yep, you heard that correctly: commend. On the E11 between Al Raha Beach and Jebel Ali I passed 14 accidents, and I was stuck in traffic for a total of only three minutes. In the UK you just know that I would have been stuck on the M1 for at least an hour before I even needed to think about second gear.

And that’s the thing; here in the UAE the police are far more concerned about getting the road open and the traffic moving than they are about taking care of someone’s already ruined Corvette. Health and Safety isn’t a factor, why? Because the accident has already happened and there’s no point crying over spilled milk. For whatever reason, two cars collided and now some people may have been hurt. So what? What will taking a million years to clear the wrecks achieve? No, it’s for the greater good that everyone else who isn’t going to crash is able to continue their journy hassle-free. Those involved will be dealt with accordingly away from the scene.

There’s more; last week two cars collided at a T-junction outside my apartment, one of them rolled over and the driver appeared most injured. Did they close the road? No, of course not, why should other motorists be inconvenienced? A brace of police cars and an ambulance were on the scene in minutes; they put out some cones, took a couple of photos with their iPhones, then a couple of recovery trucks arrived and cleared the two cars. Within 35 minutes the whole kafuffle was clear and you would have never known there was an accident.

In the UK there is so much red-tape and so many procedures that must be followed that it sometimes barely seems worth getting out of bed in the first place. I saw in the British press today that some goon crashed his Ferrari 458 into the central reservation on the M1 just outside of York, and as a result the motorway was closed for four hours! The damage was only cosmetic, it could have easily been driven to the inside hard shoulder, and within 20 minutes the motorway would have been flowing free again.

But no, this is mad Britain. The owner of the Ferrari didn’t want his precious 458 ruined anymore than it already was, so the police and recovery truck had to be careful. What?! You idiot! And what’s worse, the police carried out his wishes! But before they could gently move his scarlet scrap they had to take photographs, set up a mobile office, and measure the tyre marks with a trundle wheel, before a man with a clipboard and a luminous coat came along and said that it was too cold for the police to be working and that they should leave the M1 closed until the summer… I imagine.

Some might argue that all this is necessary so that a correct line of inquiry can be followed with regards to prosecution and insurance claims. But they are deluded and foolish. A man crashed his Ferrari, take a quick selfie next to the wreckage as evidence and get the damn thing out of the way so that the 600,000 non-crashing motorists that you have stacked-up like shipping containers can carry on with their lives.

For years now the UAE police have been trained by the British, I think the time has come for those roles to reverse.

 

RIP Peaches; you weren’t like the others and will be missed.

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173. Phlegm

What is the worst thing in the entire world? You’re wrong; it’s having one of those precious moments of genuine contentment ruined by something – or, more commonly, someone – else. My wife and I are very much strong believers that happiness is an attitude, and can be achieved quite simply by taking a step back and looking at what you do have, as opposed to what you don’t. In recent months, as I hunt for the right job, – as a Features Writer, by the way. Do get in touch – I have been tested to the extreme. Nonetheless, everyday I am reminded that at the end of it all I have a wife, a decent flat, a mild bout of health, and enough hopes and dreams to feed the five-thousand. I don’t live in a crowded labour camp, or in Chad, or indeed even in Croydon. Nope, here are my blessings, watch me count them…

I doubt it, Pharrell, I doubt it very much indeed.

I doubt it, Pharrell, I doubt it very much indeed.

That being said, when one spends most of his time eating crisps and trolling celebrities on Twitter, the odd sense of achievement or exultation is certain to be occasionally lacking. In any normal situation I would whistle away the hours by getting the Black & Decker out and hand crafting a shower-curtain rail, or trap door, or even a working replica of the SS Great Britain. But since I nailed – pardon the pun – all that a few months ago, there is nothing left to fix or build. My vacuuming is clinical and the crockery is spotless, the laundry is freshly pressed and the DVD’s are arranged alphabetically.

So in order to try and break the mould and step beyond the blue walls of my flat, I’ve started to go about town to look for things that might cheer me up. After dealing with the thriving metropolis that is Al Ain for five and a half years, I am still relatively unconditioned to the bright city lights of Abu Dhabi. Once upon a time, TripAdvisor  was for those lucky folk who didn’t live in Al Ain. But now the content is relevant to me, so I can exploit it, and, you know, actually do “stuff”.

In keeping with this bold, new take on life, yesterday I decided to go for something called a “massage”. It’s a thing you go to where you trade your clothes for a pair of unflattering paper pants, and an Asian woman climbs over you poking at this and that; all for the reasonable sum of AED 140. It’s cheaper than a night out on the beers, and more far more rewarding, too.

During a night out downing pints of Arthur Guinness’s finest black stuff, you enlighten yourself and others with mad, right-wing logic and the feeling of serenity is, at the time, akin to being the Almighty himself. Then you cross the threshold and are sick on your shoes. The happiness you thought you were experiencing quickly renders itself inert and the next morning is spent popping Panadols like Tic-Tacs

Unlike a night out on the sauce, you emerge from a massage genuinely enlightened and contented. You’re relaxed and loose, and are able to touch toes that were once as far away from your fingers as Neptune. As opposed to walking down the road smelling of sick and second hand smoke, you walk down the road smelling of baby oil and paper pants, you feel invincible to all the wrongs in the world. For once, your disposition is at ease; you are properly relaxed…

…Until…

…Who are they? These vulgar cretins whom so callously swoop from the soiled shadows to hock up hairballs of phlegm and expel it from their oral orifices right into your path?

Is it not the most odious, vile, repulsive, detestable, abhorrent, revolting sound and sight you have ever witnessed? It’s wherever you go, from the streets to the malls, dirty men hocking up phlegm at such a volume it’s amazing they don’t actually explode.

After my massage I was skipping along the street, swinging around lamp posts, greeting people in song and helping pensioners to cross the road when, out of nowhere, some ill-mannered troglodyte jumped out from behind a phone box and hocked up an entire lung; my congenial levity evaporated and was replaced with a big puddle of discarded lung juice.

Instantly my new-found love for the world, with its chalky white castles, rolling green hills, and cuddly critters was replaced with a dark, haunted forest of vengeful hate and pestilence.

The simple solution to this would have been to go back and get another massage, to restore the faith. But this dynamic does have some longer-term flaws, especially for someone as unemployed as I. The other solution was to commit Grievous Bodily Harm, but this is illegal and fraught with lengthy and inconvenient consequences. A real conundrum.

Mall toilets are very bad for this whole phlegm thing. There you are, having a wee, when Johnny Snotty comes in to brush his teeth with his finger. After all the farting he feels the need to clear his oesophagus, just at the very moment you are bound by science to be unable to put your fingers in your ears. You can’t take your hands off the task at hand, so you’re stuck and forced to endure the repulsive hocking. It’s made all the worse when the guy next to you thinks you’re mad because your eye is twitching.

What is to be done about this menace, this scourge of the streets? I know for a fact that the rest of you are all as disgusted by this as I am, and I fear that our only method of combat is a good old-fashioned Public Awareness Campaign. I am therefore calling on all UAE Uncut readers to share this blog post around cyberspace, or to print it off and nail it to telegraph poles all around the UAE, or even to distribute it en masse in every public place you find. We must get the message out to the people that hocking up your vile phlegm is as vulgar as… as nothing else. Nothing else is that disgusting, nothing even remotely compares.

Together we can spit in the face of the Phlegm Hockers, and once they’re dealt with we’ll all go for a massage and be able to, finally, prove that happiness is a self-appointed attitude.

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172. Motoring

One of the perils of being out of full-time work for a prolonged period of time is that ones mind can wander far more easily. For some, the daily routine of removing oneself from bed at 11am just in time to sit down to spend the remainder of the morning on Facebook and Twitter may sound like a dream. It is not. After a while the walls do start to close in and the conversations you once shared with yourself in the mirror are now shared with various pieces of fruit… with marker-pen faces. Life. Is. Futile.

As a result, all this down time has kept me out of the real world and has forced me into a lot of reading. At this point I wish I could say I was reading something interesting like Churchill as Warlord by Max Hastings or the latest Jeremy Clarkson, but I can’t. Instead I trawl various newspapers from across the globe, specifically only reading articles that annoy me. Anything positive along of the lines of “World Peace given the green light” doesn’t interest me. I prefer to get all in a huff with Daily Mail nonsense like “EU demands all white single males remove a leg in the name of equality” or “Police chief says women drivers are to blame for every wrong in the history of the world”. I like reading things that will wind me up and make me angry to the point at which I shout at the oranges in the bathroom.

Now then, team, in light of recent events, only the boy oranges may drive the banana train, but it will cost you your skin...

Now then, team, in light of recent events, only the boy oranges may drive the banana train, but it will cost you your skin…

You can’t have missed the recent chitter chatter originating from certain traffic authorities. Within the last month we have been told that women drivers cause more accidents than male drivers, that in order to ease Dubai’s congestion issues, everything relating to motoring must be made more expensive, and then in the next breath that the legal driving age is to be reduced from 18 to 17.

Then, last week, statistics were released naming and shaming the five most calamitous nationalities on the roads of the Emirates. Yup, the top five countries that cause the most amount of accidents, injuries, and deaths. At number five we have the Egyptians, right behind Team Bangladesh in fourth. Just making the podium in third place were the Emiratis, losing out to Team India in second. But seizing the top spot was Pakistan; they caused 373 accidents, in which 577 people were injured and 33 sadly lost their lives.

Great. Now we know who look out for.

While it is easy to understand how those from other countries might not be so hot on driving competence – for example, I charge you to read up on what is involved in the Egyptian driving test – it is unacceptable to bring a gender dispute to the table. For thousands and thousands and thousands of years men called the shots. But then the suffragette movement came to be in the early 20th Century, and that laid the path for a more balanced playing field between the sexes. In modern times, gender bigotry is as welcome as polio.

I personally don’t see the harm in a bit of banter between friends, and naughty calendars pinned up in British garages are just a bit of harmless fun. But in the real world, going on public record and saying that “women are dangerous drivers” is as barmy as you like. You only have to look at the figures and details released only two paragraphs ago, about our friends from Pakistan… how many lady truck drivers do you know over here? There are good drivers and there are bad drivers; gender doesn’t come into it.

But it is not as mad as the mooted proposals aimed at tackling the congestion issue. As Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to grow as cities, it must be expected that traffic will also increase. Anyone who thinks that the car itself is the problem is as deluded as those who believe women are more dangerous than men behind the wheel.

If you build an entire city around one road – Sheikh Zayed Road, for example – then what do you expect to happen when everyone along a 40km stretch of tarmac starts and finishes work at the same time?! A rush hour is just a sign of how well your country is doing! If you don’t have a rush hour, then you need to cock an eyebrow.

So what is the solution on the table? Well, to impose a salary cap on car ownership and make motoring more expensive. Hold the phone there, does that mean those poorer folk who fall below the – currently unpublished – salary cap will be forced to…to…to what? What if they live or work miles from the Metro? A return trip in a taxi 5-6 days a week is as expensive as driving. Will the employer then send out a company driver? But doesn’t that then defeat the purpose?

Then, additionally, “certain types of people” will be only be allowed to own one car, much like communist China’s one-child-only rule. For those whom the hammer and sickle will allow to own a car, fuel, registration, and anything else involved in motoring can expect massive price increases. And then, after all this, the legal driving age is to be lowered.

But, as I say, I sit here in UAEUncutTowers, unemployed and cocooned within my neat little apartment, and away from all the hullabaloo and the madness. After reading what is going on out there in the real world, I sometimes wonder if maybe I’m better off staying unemployed and talking to the oranges…

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171. Metro

Isn’t it great being wrong? Being proven wrong suggests that you were, at some point, immensely confident that you were right, only for someone else to turn around and stick two fingers up at you. Those who believe that they are always right are, frankly, imbeciles. It takes a strong man or woman to hold their hands up and admit error. There is nothing quite so humbling, and there is little else that will aid your human development quite so.

There are, naturally, many degrees of wrongness; ranging from an ill-judged drone-strike on a convent school full of nuns to a simple mispronunciation of someone’s name. Then there are opinions. These can be tricky bastards as the definition of an opinion is “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge”. So theoretically an opinion can neither be right nor wrong.

Nothing gets a debate going quite like a differing of opinions. I have enjoyed many of these opinionated debates over time, and there is nothing more exhilarating than getting stuck in when you have absolutely no idea what you’re on about, or even what the subject is. But from time to time it’s nice to debate something of which you know a great deal, just to reassure yourself that your place in the Ivory Tower is valid. And among us expats a common topic of debate is that of airlines, something of which I am now quite well-versed.

I am forever being asked who the best airline to fly with is, and my answer is always the same: “British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, KLM, or Virgin Atlantic”. All of them are absolutely brilliant. Once I have laid my cards on the table, the follow-up statement usually runs along the lines of “Oh no, I wouldn’t go with British Airways, I had a bad experience with them once”. If you can be bothered, ask the person what the bad experience actually was, and I’d bet my face that they say something like “I sat next to smelly passenger”. Hmm… Ok.

I know people who have made a complaint about each and every one of the airlines that I listed above, and each and every reason why they “had a bad experience” is due to fellow passengers. But how can you possibly hold the airline accountable for that? Emirates don’t implement mad policies like that of Abercrombie & Fitch. They can’t turn passengers away just because they read The Guardian, nor can they deny travel to a man with curious body odour. “The guy next to me spilled coffee on my lap” they say. Ok, I sympathise, but again, you can’t blame that on poor old Richard Branson.

If the pilot shouted over the PA that everyone on board was a c*** and the stewardess thought it would be funny to open the door at 38,000 feet then yes, perhaps a cause for grievance could be raised. But you can’t judge an airline purely on the smell, appearance, or sexual orientation of its passengers. I have had two bad flights; one due to a wailing banshee, and the other due to turbulence of such magnitude that I am still amazed I am here today. Was that Etihad’s fault? No, of course it wasn’t.

This neatly brings me onto the Dubai Metro. For years I have asked why it was needed, and have refused to believe that it actually makes any difference to traffic congestion. I have called it names, pulled its hair, lifted its skirt up in the playground, and beaten it up for its lunch money. All in the name of reason, I have dragged it through the mud. It may then come as a surprise to read that, this week, I rode on it for the very first time.

Before you all begin to question the integrity of UAE Uncut and cry bloody murder on me, I can honestly say that it was an enlightening experience. With the exception of their BS claim that it carries more passengers annually than the glorious London Underground (nothing compares with the Messiah of urban rail travel), I found the experience monumentally pleasant.

Not quite enough delicious history to be ranked alongside the Tube, but you're alright...

Not quite enough delicious history to be ranked alongside the Tube, but you’re alright…

My first adventure was merely a toe-in. I hopped on at Ibn Batutta Mall, and alighted at Dubai Marina Mall, which was only about four stops away. No complaints. It was Munich-clean, timely, and peaceful. But, it was 1:30 PM, the equivalent to slack water; perhaps not a true test of its rush-hour capabilities.

I then rode it again, this time for a man-sized portion of journey during the evening commute. I jumped on at the Emirates station, up near the airport, and disembarked at Dubai Mall: that is about half the distance of the Red Line’s route. Boy, was it crowded. When I got on it was empty, before I realised I was accidentally in the ladies-only carriage. But even when I was rudely moved to steerage by a snotty lady, it was still empty… albeit for only one stop.

The aroma of body odour and the sound of hocked phlegm nestling in the epiglottises of my fellow passengers was detestable. Thankfully I was equipped with earphones and Greenday and was thus able to drown out the assorted noises. The smells, though, had to be toughed out to the bitter end.

Was my impression of the Metro altered after these two differing experiences? Yes. I still believe that it is more of a tourist attraction than a genuine means of metropolitan travel, and that it certainly doesn’t carry 12 trillion people a day. But it is clean and prompt, the trains are regular and punctual, the stations are well sign-posted and located conveniently. It is, really, an exceptionally well-designed and well-engineered asset.

Was I wrong about it? Yes. Do I take back what I said? Yes. Would I ride it again? Yes… but only if the car was broken-down.

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170. Trade

So we waved goodbye to 2013 and have observed the onset of 2014 through the usual blend of fireworks and Fonseca. For it is no lie that this grubby little corner of cyberspace is, the vast majority of the time, awash with pessimism and tales of woe. So in a rather shocking twist I am going to see if readership increases if we ditch the frown and take on a whole new positive approach. But first let’s have some hate…

I hate New Years. I have never quite been able to get my head around why we make such a song and dance about what is simply just a change in date. We insist on partying into the wee hours, or go to a lot of effort to leave the cities and avoid it altogether. Why? Do you do such a thing on the 31st March to celebrate the dawn of April? So we scribble out the “3” and write a “4”, big deal moan moan moan.

Regardless of how inebriated you were on the 31st December/1st January, every single year brings the same old stories. All we do is run around wagging our fingers and moaning about the state of the economy and the various lunacies that come out of Brussels. If it’s not the Roma Gypsies then it’s Chinese industrialization. Peace in the Middle East to Mylie Cyrus’s bottom, Northern Ireland to Fido, the basset hound on benefits. I personally spend my time trying to guess which major celebrity will be next through the pearly gates in a puddle of vomit and narcotics.

It is a fact that 2014 will be another year of the same: immigration will continue to be an issue in the United Kingdom, the US will once again be trying to raise the debt ceiling so that it sits level with Neptune, and, of course, the UAE will continue to try and get us to spend our hard-earned in the various shopping festivals. This year will be like every other, make no mistake about it.

So, while you’ve all been surmising which member of One Direction will succumb to drug abuse this year and how much the Expo will end up costing you (imagine 10 Olympic games), I’ve been thinking about slightly more positive issues; such as how we might tackle real-world problems without the need for guilt-trip advertising. Buckle up…

The UAE only has five years of natural water resources remaining. This is a little known fact that very few will believe. The desalination plants cannot keep up with the demand for clean teeth and green grass. Water is fundamental to life, more so than oil, something that the UAE does have in vast supply.

If, then, the UAE cannot grow more water, it obviously needs to go out and buy it. After several guest ales I think I may have found the answer: Ireland.

Irish black gold exists in more than one form... but sell the rain to get at it.

Irish black gold exists in more than one form… but sell the rain to get at it.

Like other members of the European Union, Ireland is in crippling debt; billions are owed. Interestingly, and unlike its EU chums, and don’t tell the US, Ireland also has, would you believe it, oil reserves. However, at the moment it is not financially viable for the Irish to start drilling for the black gold; the returns at first would just not be enough to justify starting the project. It’s like having a locked bank account. It’s your money, but you can’t get at it.

In order to get at the oil the coffers need to be a suggestion fuller, so what if it was to receive some oil from the UAE in exchange for a natural resource in which it has a near infinite supply?: Water.

I was in the emerald isle for nine days over Christmas and you cannot walk five minutes without being marinated in rain. So what if we could devise a way for the UAE to make a cash-free exchange with Ireland: oil for water?

Oil tankers could fill up at the rig in the Gulf and sail to Dublin whereupon the oil would be put into barrels and sold to whoever the Irish wanted. The same ship would then be pumped full of the Liffey and sent back to Jebel Ali, and the Palm will be green once more.

The ships would have their efficiency doubled and Ireland could then sell the oil at the going rate, and soon enough they’d be able to afford to start drilling for their own, once all the dolphins have been re-homed of course. Before you know it the loans will be repaid and Guinness sales will quadruple overnight.

And what of the UAE? Well they would be full to overflowing with fresh, crisp Irish water of which there is a continuous supply. Grass will be green, date palms shall tower over the common man full of virility. Teeth shall sparkle and bottoms will be ever fresh. It’s a no-brainer.

It may sound a bit mad, but seriously why not give it a go? Each and every year we are reminded about how crap everything is, and then governments world over try to sell us a picture of an unattainable future. I say Ireland and the UAE take a gamble, try something new. That’s what I’ve done with UAE Uncut in trying to make it more positive.

I don’t like it. It’s easier to moan. Worth a shot though.

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169. Supersize

What is the point? No, really. What is the point of ever doing anything even remotely exciting or pleasurable? Why waste your time doing what you want to make yourself happy? The end result is always going to be the same; eternal darkness. Hmmm… perhaps one of the darker introductions to UAE Uncut, totally devoid of levity, but an accurate appraisal of how I felt when I was spooling through the papers this week.

Sad news for those with a desire to develop diabetes and for those who aspire to be obese: the Supersize drinking vessel is now banned. Gone the way of the unlicensed firearm, phone hacking, and the right to ride a horse, nude, through downtown Dubai. It is now illegal, and no more will the charming lady behind the counter at Hardees be allowed to ask you to “up-size”.

However, this being UAE Uncut, we have been ceaselessly picking our brains to try and work out how you might get around such legislation. And after a great deal of thought and practical experiments we think we may have found a loophole. If you wake up in the morning with an insatiable craving for a Supersize Diet Pepsi, because you’re watching your weight, but the catering personnel are bound by law not to provide you with your desired size, buy two large size drinks instead.

There, problem solved.

I spent 11 years of my life growing up in Blair’s Miserable Britain, 13 if you include that charlatan Brown too. One of New Labour’s party pieces was the incessant banning of everything; fox hunting, smoking, community sports centre lights being on past 10pm, smacking your children’s bottoms, hoodies, the banning of gold from British soil, truthful dossiers, putting food stuff in the paper bin, the right for a weapons inspector to carry on with his life and not be killed… the list is endless. For all the hundred reasons why not, it was always the one or two reasons why.

So, in essence, the news of the banning of Supersize should have been water off a duck’s back to me, but it grated, because it is such a tedious effort to curb the diabetes issues. Why stop at only the Supersize cup? If you can still legally buy two large size drinks then why not simply throw the machine away and sell only water? Better yet, to really make a dent in the public’s sugar levels why not simply replace all the Big Mac’s and Mega Buckets with celery and cabbage?

While we’re at it, why not deal with the fattiest food of them all; hotel food. It doesn’t matter if you go for a bowl of gruel at an underwhelming 2-Star hotel, or if you spend AED 45,000 on dinner at Chamas or some stupid pretentious restaurant in Dubai, hotel food expands your waistline as quickly as injecting your bottom full of lard. Anyone who thinks hotel food is good for you is deluded.

Mr. McDonald, it is the decree of this court that you be taken from this place and hanged for crime of class-A sugar abuse.

Mr. McDonald, it is the decree of this court that you be taken from this place and hanged for the crime of class-A sugar abuse.

I too am victim of weight gain. My favourite food in the whole wide world is a nice spicy curry. But it is loaded with so much ghee that there is every chance that each breath could very well be my last.

I have witnessed parents over here feed their offspring with so much sugar that it is a miracle that they don’t just spontaneously combust. Everything is dealt with in sweets. You barter for peace with sweets, you barter for order with sweets, you barter for bed time with sweets, and you barter for sweets with sweets. A UAE Uncut made-up study suggests that in the average class of 30 children there is a total of only 16 teeth.

Sadly, none of what I have said can come true. You can’t walk around the city banning McHardees and Kentucky Fried Gristle. First, business is business, and the point of a business is to make money, no other. Take the fast food establishments away and the treasury will be left with some very empty coffers. Secondly, if people want to inject their veins with lard and feast on an indeterminate puck of gristle sandwiched between two prosthetic pieces of so-called bread, then that is their God-given right, and who are we to stop them? If a parent wants to replace his or her child’s blood with sugar then go ahead, I’m sure they will thank you for it when they attempt to squeeze their 78 inch waist into a plane’s seat while hobbling with only one foot. Thirdly, you can’t stop globalisation. If you try and oppress people’s freedom then you end up with communism.

This is not the UAE’s fault. They are just another country to join a long list of those wishing to improve their nations’ health. But the ban culture is not the way to go. It starts with education in the classroom, and no cutesy crap either, and certainly no tip-toeing around the issue at hand. They need graphic imagery of someone having their foot amputated or a diseased kidney being fed to a dog to give them nightmares. Blood, gore, and the violent truth are the best medicines. Watch how much sugar they eat then. It’s not propaganda if it’s true.

So in summary, the banning of the Supersize cup is totally and utterly pointless. Solutions? None. But do what you want, trek to a pole, do a sky-dive, and live life to the fullest. The end result will be the same as someone who has spent their life gorging on deep fried chicken, but at least you’ll go through the pearly gates with a smile, and both feet.

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168. Expo 2020

FOR SALE: One large tent, barely used. Seeks loving home where it won't be asked to do much.

FOR SALE: One large tent, barely used. Seeks loving home where it won’t be asked to do much.

UAE Uncut resurfaces its muddy head this week after another unscheduled sabbatical. Over the past few weeks there has been much going on in the Emirates, and only if you have been living in a cave will you not have heard that Dubai won the right to hold Expo 2020. The world, well, the four cities bidding, kept up with the mad voting system via that cornerstone of news, Twitter, and as Dubai was named the champion several thousand people from all over the world cheered in the same way that the English might if they were to win the World Cup. Mass hysteria on a curious scale, and then bizarrely all the schools were declared closed the following day.

Within moments of the news being announced, social media was awash with cheers and praise for the UAE, much of the lyrical waxing coming from those who seem to have no idea what the event actually means, or indeed even is.

Those with dollar signs in their eyes may want to think long and hard about what that means for them, as a quick buck for one means a quick buck for another…

Why don’t we begin by explaining a little bit about what the Expo 2020 actually is, to spare some from the embarrassment should the subject arise with your friends. Dubai will be hosting a Universal Registered Exposition, not to be confused with a Universal Recognised Exposition. This means little. Every few years some countries wish to improve their image and host an event that usually lasts for about six months. These expositions are usually given themes, such as an Elvis theme, or mermaids. In Dubai’s case, the theme is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, which I find vague enough to mean something halfway between nothing and something else.

Once the Bureau of International Expositions sit down to vote on the winner, said winner must build a building and pepper it with lots of things relating to the theme. Usually the structures built are temporary, with some notable exceptions; such as France’s Eiffel Tower. London’s Crystal Palace was supposed to be permanent, too. But it caught fire and burnt to the ground.

Anyway, Dubai is basically going to be spending billions on the whole thing and when you look at the rivals it’s easy to understand how it won the bid. Sao Paulo gave it a good go, but I’d bet my left wedding vegetable that you’ve never heard of the other two places: Yekaterinburg and Izmir? That was as easy to predict as Spain winning a World Cup group comprising England, Andorra and Lichtenstein.

So what does it mean for the great city of Dubai to have been picked to host such a wonderful event? Go on, tell me. Because I sure as Hell can’t work it out. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that there will be plenty of builders, project managers, and plumbers required to put everything together, and that they will all be paid what will be in essence a normal wage depending on their nationality, but then what?

I have read the Expo 2020 website back to front, and all I keep reading are the words “Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity” over and over again. Where’s the creating minds and connecting people part? There is a lot in there about recycling, and that instead of building the buildings with steel RSJ’s and mortar they will use twigs and moss instead.

The plans sound a little mad. When it talks about “Mobility”, it goes on to say that it is important that people can get around Dubai, and that new creative solutions are needed. I agree, but what has that got to do with the Expo? If you stop building pointless flyovers and ban the white trucks and Land Cruisers from the roads then we will all be able to get around much easier. The paragraph on “Sustainability” is just a load of eco-jargon that seems as pointless as some solar powered Christmas lights, and the “Opportunity” page just says that people will do business. So? People have always done business, and so long as we don’t all stray into the evil grasp of Communism, then people will continue to do business.

All this blurb is just useless text, Expo or not Dubai will continue to build flyovers, it will continue to sustain itself with whatever it has at its disposal, and opportunities will exist for as long as there is money here. So why does Dubai need to spend a billion-gazillion Dirhams on a six-month event where people will be told with a grin that the future is inevitable? We know the future is inevitable. Tomorrow will happen, I can tell you that for free.

I want to make it clear that I am one the first to acknowledge how much Dubai has achieved in the last 42 years. I’ve seen the pictures of Sheikh Zayed Road surrounded by nothing but a barren sea of featureless desert, and although I feel uncomfortable addressing the labour issue, it has gone from rags to riches quicker than any country before it. So why does it need an Expo?

An American man with a bald head answered some rather dull questions on the matter and he seems to think that “Dubai will do well out of it”. For the 1200 words printed from his interview, the only thing of note was that people would stay in hotels, and Dubai is best for finance and shopping. Great. So anyone wanting to make a special visit to Dubai for the Expo will have to spend a fortune on flights, an obscene amount on a hotel as the prices will go up especially, not understand what they’re are supposed to do with the word “finance” when they’re on holiday, and then go to Dubai Mall to shop for things they can’t afford.

Oh, and then there’s property. Always the key thing with Dubai. Apparently rents will go up because that’s natural, and those who can afford to live in certain places will, and those who can’t afford it won’t. Same as usual.

Not that I want to see Dubai’s Expo adventure fail, on the contrary, I owe a lot to the UAE and would very much like to see it prosper. But I just don’t see the point. Any information you want about the world is available on the internet, apart from what will actually be in the Expo building, of course.

If they want people to go, then cut out the eco-jargon and nonsensical blub about finance and flyovers, and kit it out with lots of bars and lots of Sega Rally machines.

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167. Problems II

I have had a lot of my time on my hands recently. Curiously, I have not spent it conjuring up nonsensical prose and throwing it against the graffiti-ridden, decaying brick wall that is UAE Uncut. No, instead I have split my time across three key areas: job hunting, moping, and visa acquisition.

My first complaint is about the former. How hard can it be to get a job? I have trawled and trawled online and fired off so many CV’s that I am now fairly certain that there are more copies of it on the world’s wide web then there are pictures of Kim Kardashian. Events Management, writing jobs, and project coordination are my three areas, and have I received so much as one reply? No. It seems that I am more likely to receive an email from Elvis. Still, I remain positive that one day the phone shall ring, and that on that one occasion it won’t be my bank offering me finger nail insurance.

Things have a tendency to move quite slowly over here, and for that reason I am not going for the whisky and the revolver just yet. On a completely unrelated note, should any potential employer be reading this then I love you and think that you are very handsome/pretty and your taste in music is wonderful. And may I also compliment you on your suit/frock/child/children/haircut/car/office. Good job; and I hope to hear from you soon.

Of course when I haven’t been riding around the Emirates in an open-top bus throwing CV’s from the top deck down to the scrabbling masses, I have spent some quality time moping around the apartment and wondering what must be done with this and that. I have, as of yet, been unable to come to any conclusion about anything, and that in turn has made me nothing whatsoever.

Then we come to the party piece of my time-spending escapades: trying to sort a visa. Since I am now out of work I am authorised to be under the sponsorship of my dear wife. On the face of it that doesn’t sound like such a hard to thing to achieve, but believe me, it has been a disaster.

Without wishing to name or shame any specific individual, I was given incorrect information and subsequently had to pay a hefty fine. This did not go down very well in the Fullard residence. Once the fine was dealt with, shall we say, the process of obtaining residency status could finally continue. And by “continue” I mean stop dead several times due to myriad misfortunes, such as the “system being down”, “finishing in two hours so I cannot be bothered to deal with you now”, and of course “actually, Sir, there is one problem…”

The whole thing has been infuriating and needless to say that I am only one more obstacle short of a brain haemorrhage. You can’t just do it all in one place, you have to go all over the city getting this typed here and that stamped there, and it all has to be done in the most absurd of sequences. Get one thing wrong and you land on a snake and have to move all the way back down the board to the start again.

"It was Colonel Fullard, in the Waiting Room, with the victims own leg..."

“It was Colonel Fullard, in the Waiting Room, with the victims own leg…”

It’s getting to the stage that my metaphors for visa acquisition will soon shift from Snakes & Ladders to Cluedo

I’m not kidding when I say that I have not endured one stage where there hasn’t been at least one “problem” of some kind. Why can’t there just be a list, a detailed list of what you need, how long it takes, how much it costs (so far I’ve spent somewhere in the region of AED 70 million) and most importantly where you actually have to bloody well go? I have traced my route on a map of Abu Dhabi and thus far I have covered 60,421 miles. And yet have only made about six feet of progress.

Still, no matter, at least I have my health. Yes, that was verified by the Disease Prevention Centre only today, I am “Fit” apparently. I don’t know how reliable that information is because all that happened was a doctor asked me to lift my shirt for 1.5 seconds so that he could see my back, I was drained of my blood, and had my upper torso x-rayed. All that was confirmed was that I have a spine, that I’m not Vulcan, and that I have some gooey things under my skin. I went to play football in Dubai last week and let me tell you, I am anything but fit.

Still, all my problems and grievances of late pale into insignificance when compared to the events of the recent devastation in the Philippines. All my fist thumping and harrumphing melted away when I saw the images of the wretchedness. I can’t even imagine what horror and hell the people of the Philippines are going through. With over 10,000 reported dead and the survivors totally cut off from the world, I refuse to accept that anyone else has a problem.

Thinking about it just isn’t enough, but I don’t know what else I can do. Hope.

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166. Road Names

What is the most annoying thing in the world? Vevuzelas? Bluebottle flies? Kardashians? The answer is none of these; it is in fact the bureaucratic mentality that prevents anything from happening within a reasonable timeframe.

It seems that wherever you go, local councils and governments want to spend as long on any given project as possible, seemingly to do nothing more than justify their existence. Take for example a very British conundrum; do you have any idea how much red tape you need to tear through to get a new park bench installed? No, neither do I. But only because when I stumbled across the procedure online I fell asleep after page 74. It is horrendous. Why does it need to take so long to put a bench in a park? You buy a bench, engrave the brass plaque with the name of a locally renowned goose, and place it in situ. A bench needs planning permission. Why? Put it there, and if enough Guardian readers complain about it then pick it up and move it somewhere else.

This type of mindless bureaucracy, it seems, is a global pandemic. Even those whom reside in the most remote outback wastelands of Mongolia need permission to paint pots. Why can’t those running the show just get things done? Why wait? Alex Salmond wants his vote on Scottish independence, why keep with him waiting until 2015 or whenever it is, just let him do it so we can all get back to work.

Cock-A-Dobby, Jumeriah Lake Towers, please.

Cock-A-Dobby, Jumeriah Lake Towers, please.

It therefore came as no surprise to me yesterday that it is to take five years to rename all the roads in Dubai. Allow me to explain the situation: The road naming system in the UAE is, by its own admission, a joke. There are snippets of sense, such as the main motorways being given numbers like E11, E22, E66 and so on, and of course we have the big landmark roads like Shiekh Zayed Road which are easy to identify. But everything else is a mish-mash of incomprehensible balderdash.

In order to understand the incumbent numbering system you need a mind of such ability that you would be able to crucify Stephen Hawking on Countdown, in the same way that a ferret could outsmart Kim Karsdashian in a game of Battleships. It is all so dreadfully hateful.

Along with the numbers there are also roads named after Sheikhs and prominent Emiratis, and that is normal. It’s no different from road names like Victoria Avenue, Kings Road, Albert Road, Elizabeth Street, and so on. But it can get confusing sometimes. If I’m navigating the Dubai traffic looking for Khaled Bin Khalifa Street, invariably I will get confused and end up on Khalifa Bin Khaled Street.

The new system means that every single road in Dubai is to be renamed, and in keeping with global tradition, the names are to reflect the local district and its history. Take the coastal area, Jumierah. Roads along the coast are to take their names from fish, famous boats, and an array of other nautical paraphernalia. Great, it will be like Portsmouth; Fish Street. Cod Cresent. HMS Ark Royal Avenue. Navy Mews.

The Trade Centre area is to be named after various currencies, which sounds fine, but there are only a finite amount of currencies in the world, so expansion of the Trade Centre would be halted should the limit be reached. Unless they build more roads off Dollar Drive, in which case they can raise the debt ceiling to whatever fictional level they like…

The thing is, this renaming programme is going to take five years, and for the life of me I can’t fathom why. How hard can it be? You break the city up into zones, as they have done, and just go nuts. Honestly, if they were to get in touch with me then I could rename the whole city in a day. Just give me a copy of the Viz Profanisaurus and immunity from prosecution and before you know it you’ll be driving through Uphill Gardens and Bell End, past Busty View and before you know it you’ll be back home on Penistone Road.

Problem solved.

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