Postcard from Dubai

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 7 March 2004

Very rarely on currybetdotnet do I stray into the kind of "What I had for breakfast" territory that gets blogs such a bad name - but....

I'm posting this from Dubai, where I am enjoying / enduring a four day non-BBC expenses paid pseudo-business trip that has sent my body-clock into spasm. My observations so far:

1: The traffic in Dubai seems markedly worse than the last time I was here two years ago. With all the construction work going on around me I still can't work out why they don't add another bridge across the creek.

2: The Sea View Hotel where I am staying inexplicably has piped music in the corridors, which leaks stealthily into your room like James Herbert's "The Fog". It is on a loop which adds to the irritation, as I have now developed a dread fear based on the fact that I know that at any point during daylight hours when I am my room I am a maximum of 57 minutes away from being force-fed "Tragedy" as mutilated by Steps.

3: The invention of the mini-bar is surely one of the greatest examples of man's inhumanity to man. Lurking beneath the television in my room is the constant temptation of alcohol, with no actual cash transaction having to take place to deter me. All afternoon and evening I am plagued by the voice "I am chilled beer and you love me. Drink me! Drink me!", whilst I am thinking how terrible it will look if I run up a huge mini-bar bill on an expenses paid trip. Particularly in the UAE, where a casual late night Vodka & Orange is setting someone else back around £5.80

4: I type faster when I am paying for internet access at hotel rates.

5: Before I went away I really should have found out more about international call charges from Orange. When I remembered the day before I left to set up international roaming on my phone they took great pains to read to me various legal disclaimers, and offered to explain all the tariffs. "No, it's fine", I said, "I have to go away, and whilst I'm there I will have to make calls, so it doesn't matter". After a simply wonderful 20 minute conversation with my wife this afternoon it occurred to me I probably should have maybe had a little idea, lest it was something like £4 a minute and I had just blown a very worthwhile £100.

6: After you've worked at the BBC for a while it is easy to forget that size & scale brings huge advantages, and only see the drawbacks instead.

7: Bloglines is awesome. I am in no doubt that eventually the demands on their servers will mean they have to start charging a subscription for the service. At which point I shall either have to cough up or write my own shonky personal version.

8: Isn't it a bit stupid to bring a selection of 10 minidiscs and my personal stero away with me, when I also have a laptop with iTunes for Windows and 9.8 gig of mp3s on it?

9: Talking of laptops...I wish mine came with some sort of location awareness that would have changed the timezone automatically for me. I'd just got the hang of the fact it was coming up to 7pm when I switched on the computer which reminded me that back at home it is only 3pm for my wife.

10: Talking of time zones...When you post to your site from a different timezone, is the etiquette to adjust the timing of the post to reflect the local time you posted? Even if it means that the post will appear to have been written "in the future" back at home?


"Isn't it a bit stupid to bring a selection of 10 minidiscs and my personal stero away with me, when I also have a laptop with iTunes for Windows and 9.8 gig of mp3s on it?"

Not really. For example you might - and this sound a little crazy I know - want to go somewhere without your computer, but still listen to music.

In fact it seems like a good idea all round, especially if you have a Net MD and can transfer music from your computer to your MiniDisc, thus allowing you access to your large library of material but without worrying about it all being stolen in a mugging or sat upon, iPod stylee.

100 quits... the future is bright

what's the mood on the street in dubai, belam-boy?

The streets of Dubai are currently filled with a herd of brightly painted camel statues. It seems to be a variation on the "cow parade" concept. But with camels. The one painted up in a spiderman costume by Sheikh Zayed Road was particularly spectacular.

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