Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter in Abu Dhabi

Christmas decoration in front of Lulu Hypermarket in Al Wahda Mall

In front of Al Wahda Shopping Mall
i In front of the Malaysian embassy in UAE, Abu Dhabi.

Scene outside the Malaysian embassy during the Hari Raya Haji open house gathering.

Giant UAE flag raised up at Al Wahda Mall for the UAE National Day celebration.

Raining in Reem Island, Abu Dhabi

Time passed really fast...have spent more than 5 months in the Emirates.Winter had arrived in Abu Dhabi and it will my first winter experience in my lifetime.Before winter, rain started to fall after more than 4 months without rain and it happened immediately after the sand storm.It was really a relief to see rainfall unlike in Malaysia which is we can experience almost every month.Many sports events in Abu Dhabi was postponed due to the unexpected rainfall and some parts of Abu Dhabi roads was even flooded.

On 2nd December 2008, UAE celebrated their 37th independence day and many major shopping centre here organised special events to commemorate the occasion.In Al Wahda Mall which is within walking distance from my villa,the mall organised traditional dance show to mark the event.Streets were decorated with colourful lightings and there was a fireworks display on the eve of the national day.

Hari Raya Haji which also falls within the same week is a big occasion here.The government offices was closed for more than a week to mark the occasion. Attended the Malaysian Embassy open house last Friday and it was great to interact with so many Malaysian working here.Some came as far as Dubai to enjoy the Malaysian food here like the bungkus nasi lemak and sateh which they missed dearly. Christmas is around the corner and many Shopping Mall have put up decorations to light up the occasion.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Aid Mubarak at the Emirates

Posed in front of the camel

In front of Souk Madinet at Jumeriah , Dubai.

In front of the Malaysian Embassy at Abu Dhabi, UAE

Malaysian Embassy Hari Raya open house gathering at Abu Dhabi

In front of the Land Cruisers after the sand duning drive

My wife and me with the Arabic costume

Belly dancer performing at the big stage under the clear skylit

For the first time, I am celebrating the Aid Mubarak ( Hari Raya Puasa ) and my birthday in the Emirates.My wife came down from KL for the celebrations.Aid Mubarak was celebrated one day earlier than Malaysia on 30th September.

Went over to Dubai on the 2nd day of Aid Mubarak and visited the Burj Al Arab the most expensive hotel in the world,the Mall of the Emirates and Souk Madinet at Jumeriah.On the 3rd day,we attended the Malaysian Embassy Raya open house and was served with many Malaysian food like Satey,Mee Goreng and Nasi Lemak which we miss so badly.Really enjoyed the food especially the Nasi Lemak after deprived of 2 months of Malaysian food.

On my birthday 3-10-2008, joined the half day Desert Safari tour which cost us 200 dirham each, quite a good rate I was told.A local Emiratis driver came over to pick us up at the hotel and was joined by about 10 Toyota Land Cruiser to the Safari.The first stop was at the camel farm where we were allowed to take photographs with the camels. Later we went for the drive over the sand dunes which was both thrilling and exciting and I am really impressed by the skill of the driver. Stop to watch the sunset from the dunes.

Our journey continued until we reached a traditional Arabic camp which is was quite isolated from the desert.There we were given opportunity to try a host of activities like camel riding,henna painting,wearing the traditional arabic clothings, Shisha smoking,the Arabic sweets and coffee significant to the Bedouin culture.

After sunset, a BBQ dinner was served under the starlit sky with belly dancing entertainment to ensure you have a memorable night.The desert sky was very clear and you can really gaze the twinkling stars.We were really treated the traditional Arabic hospitality with Arabic coffee and dates served as they have been served for centuries and continue to be served in the Emiratis homes today.

Friday, September 26, 2008

2nd Month in Abu Dhabi

Playing badminton in one of the courts at Abu Dhabi

Emirates Driving Company where all driving lesson and test are conducted

Have spent more than 2 months now in Abu Dhabi and still haven’t seen any rain yet.However the weather has improved greatly and it is now 38 degree, about Malaysian weather. Not only rain I have yet to see any dogs running around, very unusual in Malaysia.

Managed to play badminton here with my colleague and a group of Malaysian at one of the badminton hall at an international school at AD. Played on Wednesday and Sunday night same day as I played in KL.The hall is fully air-conditioned with 4 courts and is also equipped with free water dispenser.

To obtain a local driving license in UAE is not as simple as in Malaysia. It is not only costly but time consuming. Registered for my license early this month at the Emirates Driving Company at Mussafah which is about 20 minutes ride from AD. You need to get your Malaysian license translated first and get endorsement from the Malaysian embassy here. Then you need to pass your eye test before you are allowed to open a file. After this process you will have to attend for the theory class lesson which is spread over 4 days of 2 hours per day.

When you have attended all the 4 days lessons you have to pass the theory test before you are allowed to go for the road test. For all these you have to pay AED20 for the eyes test, AED100 for opening the file and AED780 for the theory class. I have passed the theory test and will be going for the road test next month. Then you need to pay for the license which is about AED250 but is valid for 10 years.Surprising road drivers in UAE drive faster than KL drivers, maybe due to the wider roads over here.Ocassionally you can witness emergency brake at the traffic lights junctions. They like to speed and then suddenly apply their brake; very uncommon in KL.Parking is another problem in the Emirates due to limited parking space. Most of the cars parked haphazardly like in KL.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ramadhan in Abu Dhabi

It is the first week of the holy month of Ramadan and I have spent almost 2 months in Abu Dhabi. The heat of the summer is gradually dropping to 41 degree. Observing the Ramadan month in the Emirates is different from Malaysia. All the food outlets are closed during this holy month. Non Muslims are strictly not allowed to eat in the public. We took our lunch at a designated room in the office.

Working hour at the construction site also change to observe the Ramadan month. There are 2 shifts. Morning shift is from 7am to 1pm and night shift from 8pm to 2pm.There is no site activity from 1pm to 8pm.Muslim staff at our office goes off at 3pm.There are so many free things in Abu Dhabi. Water and electricity supply to the Emiratis are free. Bus service and parking is also free to the public and there is no Income Tax over here. It is really shameful to know that with so much oil in Malaysia, we are still struggling with budget deficit ever year and nothing is free in Malaysia.

Last weekend ( Weekend over here is Friday ) went to Marina Mall with Yong.Took the free bus service from my place to the shopping mall which is located about 5km away. The French hypermarket Carrefour and Ikea are located at the mall. Only Carrefour is open during the Ramadan, Ikea will open only at 8pm.There is also a Cineplex at the mall and cinema ticket is priced at 30 dirham each which is about RM27.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day trip to Dubai

Closed up view of Burj Dubai taking shape

Burj Dubai stands out among the skyscapers in Dubai

Skylines of Dubai city on the way back to Abu Dhabi

In front of Dragon Mart with Yong

Inside Souk Madinat Shopping Mall

River scene inside Souk Madinat Shopping Mall

Me at the Souk Madinat Shopping Mall river view

Me in front of the Beijing Olympics display at Dragon Mart

Me in front of the entrance of Burj Al-Arab hotel

Scene at the Abra station across the Dhow River

Time passed really fast and I have spent more than a month in Abu Dhabi. Yesterday went over to Dubai for a day trip with Yong and Poh.We took the early bus from Abu Dhabi at 8am and reached Dubai two hours later. The bus ride was quite comfortable and we passed many tall buildings which were either completed or under construction. I was told that a quarter of the world construction machineries are in Dubai, the fastest transformed city in the world. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai which is 162 storey high and scheduled to complete by next September 2009 is also located in Dubai, so is the most expensive hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab hotel.
Dubai is a city of fascinating constrasts, offering a distinctive blend of old and new. It’s where East meets West. In less than a century, under the visionary leadership of Dubai’s ruling Al Maktoum family, it has transformed from a small fishing village into a modern city full of surprises.The first place we visited, the Abra Station where we took the boat ride across the Arabian Dhow River near the commercial district. The river cruise only cost us 1 dirham each and it took only 10 minutes to reach the other side of the city.
Board a cab to Dragon Mart which boasts to have about 3,000 shops in the Mall mostly operated by the Chinese. Took quite a number of photos at the Beijing Olympics displays at the Mart. Earlier crossed over the road where there are many blocks of apartments labeled with China and England apartments. Have our noodles at one of the restaurant run by the Chinese near the China’s apartments.Our next stop was at the most expensive hotel in the world, the towering 7 star Burj Al Arab hotel. Took quite a number of shots at the hotel entrance and the Wild Wadi water park at Jumeirah.
Went over to Souk Madinat Shopping Mall which was just a walking distance from the hotel. The shopping mall was quite traditional and they even have restaurants, bars and entertainment.Cabs ride in Dubai is more expensive than Abu Dhabi and we spend quite a lot on taxi fares. Some ride could cost more than 60 dirham. Turned back by the long quee for the bus to Abu Dhabi and decided to take cab back AD which cost us 50 dirham each.

Friday, August 1, 2008

More news from the Emirates

Me with one of the Emiratis at the Mall

Me at Abu Dhabi Mall

Inside Abu Dhabi Mall

Abu Dhabi Shopping Mall

The subway where I take to go to Lulu Hypermarkets.

Lulu hypermarkets where I usually buy my Filipinos dinner

The laundry shop

My two friendly laundry assistants where I got my laundry done

The Kabus shop

The Pakistanis doing the Roti Nan type of bread called Kabus

My barber shop entrance

The barber shop where I have my haircut done for 10 dirham

Dear Comrades,

It is the beginning of August…weather had yet to reach the peak. Yesterday after our weekly dinner in one of the few Chinese Restaurants in Abu Dhabi, we went to the Gold Centre to shop at the many jewellery shops. There are also many shops selling furniture imported from Malaysia at the centre. Surprisingly there is not a single security guard at any of the gold shops while all the gold and diamond were openly displayed.Malaysian robbers will have a free time over here.

Partly due to the terrible heat over here, I need to have my haircut early and got it done in one of the Indian hair saloon for only 10 dirham. The villa I am staying is located very conveniently to the numerous groceries shops, hair saloon, and some big shopping centre like Al Wahda Mall centre and Lulu Hypermarket. Did my Window Live Messenger with my wife regularly at one of the Internet Café for only 5 Dirham per hour which is also walking distance to my villa

It hardly rains in AD and there is no drainage system in their building layout.The landscaping here are maintain green by the sprinkle system which run underground.Newspapers here are sold for 3 Dirham but their paper quality are superior with glossy finish and come with 5 sections.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

News from Abu Dhabi

Part of the street of Abu Dhabi

Part of the city of Abu Dhabi

Part of the skylines in Abu Dhabi

Yong posed in front of the pub with a African bouncer

My buddy from KL enjoying his beer and steak with me at one of the pub in AD

One of the old building being demolished to give way to new buildings

Dear Comrades,
10 days have passed in AD...Slowly adapting to the life and weather over here.We work halfday on Thursday and rest on Friday. In the month of Ramadhan we stop at 3pm.Attended the orientation session for new staff at our head office today.There were mixture of nationalities in Tamouh Investment, mostly from the Philiphines,India,Malaysia and Gulf nations.

Yesterday underwent the full medical check up given by the company.They even have my stool taken for examination.The dental check-up was good as it has been years I went for one since school days.The dentist adviced me to clean up my teeth deposits at the gum area and have make appointment to see him next week,We are only paying 20% of the cost.Accomodation is a big problem in Abu Dhabi.A small little studio room is going for AED5,000 per month and you need to pay 12 months upfront to get the room.Cars here are cheap and you can buy a decent used car for less than AED10k. New cars are affordable and Kia Picanto is selling at less than AED30k.Parking is free even in Shopping centre and there is no road tax over here.There are so many types of luxury cars in AD which you can't find in Malaysia.

Crime is almost zero in AD.Ladies feel safe to walk in the street at night.The punishment for crime committed is serious.You will be send to the jail before deported to your country of origin.Policemen are paid AED30K per month with housing facilities provided.The majority of the employee are either from Philpines,India,Pakistan and Gulf nations.The Pakistani are mostly taxi drivers or hard labourers,The indian operate the sundry shops and also as labourers,the Filipinos in the service industry as maids,clerical staffs,restuarants.The Gulf nation are from Egypt,Lebanons and are mostly semi-professionals.The locals hardly work as they are filthy rich and mostly as government servants and sponsors.They usually dressed in their traditional white custumes with the headwear kondura.

The construction work stop from 12noon to 3pm during the summer season.We are now experiencing the summer and weather now is touching 50 degree.The joke here is there are plenty of water in UAE even though it is a desert but no water shortage.Unlike in KL where we have plentiful of rainfall but facing water supply crises issue.Will post more photos soon.To be continue...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Update from Abu Dhabi

Bahrain duty free shops during my transit to Abu Dhabi

Mr Richard Ibanez, a Filipino which I met during the 4 hours transit at Bahrain.He worked 1 year as a technician in Saudi Arabia and is leaving for Philipines for good.

Dear Comrades,Safely arrived at Abu Dhabi on 16th July 2008 local time 10.10pm via Gulf Air flight transit at Bahrain. Started working the next day for the local property developer Tamouh Investment Company LCC. Weather terribly hot at 48 degree.
Lodging is the biggest problem over here with the rental going up as high as Dirham 5,000.Our company have about 90% Malaysian with the Filipino filling up the clerical positions.Will post to you more photos from Abu Dhabi soon...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Farewell gathering with friends and relatives in KL and Malacca

My colleagues, consultants and contractors at farewell lunch in a Thai Restaurant in Taman Melawati.

My Malacca buddies enjoying dinner at farewell gathering in Malacca.

My childhood friend Richard Yeo, all the way from Johore Bahru to attend the farewell

Farewell lunch with my brothers,sister and parents at New Kingdom restaurant, Melaka Raya

Lunch farewell given by my brothers and sister at New Kingdom restaurant in Malacca

Farewell dinner organised by DAP Salak South at KFC Kuchai Lama

DAP Salak South N/V Chairman Abdullah Chong ( standing brown shirt) and secretary Fong Kok Leong white shirt at KFC Kuchai Lama restaurant

It was indeed a hectic weekend with many farewell gathering organised by friends and relatives before ny departure to Abu Dhabi. On the last day of my work on 9th of July 2008, my colleague,consultants and contractor treated me to a lunch at a Thai restuarant. Later in Malacca on Saturday night my Malacca childhood friends threw a farewell dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Melaka Raya.I was really touched by my buddy Richard and Quek who came all the way from JB and KL respectively to attend the dinner.
On Sunday, my brothers and sister bought me lunch at New Kingdom restaurant at Melaka Raya.Meanwhile at night, DAP Salak South treated me Kentucky Fried Chicken at the Jalan Kuchai Lama KFC outlet. Will be leaving for Abu Dhabi on the 15th July 2008 for new job assignment.