Christians Intolerant of Others at Christmas

This report via the Khaleej Times:

MANY shops and businesses in London continued to withold presents during the days of Christmas at their outlets in violation of the law, John Smith, a resident of Baron’s Court complained to the Khaleej Times Hotline.

“Even after Christmas Eve many of the Iranian and Turkish shops around Leicester Square continued to function as usual. I do not know how they can do it without having any consideration for the hundreds of thousands who are at home enjoying their presents.” “Shops and business’ owners should give presents from their premises. It is not just a violation of law but it is a matter of respect for all those who are celebrating Christmas,” he said.

“With many outlets so openly being mean when they should be giving presents to the public during the Christmas period, the officials should intensify their inspection efforts to curb these malpractices,” he added.

SPEAKING to Khaleej Times, Tony Taylor, Director of Compliance Department, London West, said: “No shops and businesses are allowed to hoard presents on their premises during the Christmas period. The errant outlets will face fines and penalties.”

“During the Christmas period, it is a mark of respect to the faith and belief of those celebrating that others do not refuse to give presents. However, taking into consideration the cosmopolitan culture of London, many shops and businesses have been issued temporary licences to be exempt from the obligation to deliver presents. The public can pick up presents from these places but are not expected to open them on the premises. Outlets flouting the regulation will be subject to fines ranging from £1,000 to £2,000,” he added. Those shops that do not have a licence for witholding presents but need to prepare presents for Christmas Day are permitted to open the outlet but they must not be refusing presents to whomever wants one. By not abiding with the regulations, these outlets can be fined from £2,000 to £4,000,” he said.

Makes me ashamed to be a Brit, that does.

A Wedding in Dubai

Now that we are in full possession of our marriage certificate….hang on, I’ve made a mistake there.  My wife is in full possession of our marriage certificate, following the advice of my father that the woman should be its custodian as she is unlikely to ever want to deny the marriage took place, whereas the man….

So, now that my wife is in full possession of our marriage certificate, I think it’s now safe to comment on the process of getting married in the UAE.  As you can imagine it was not particularly easy, largely because the information on how to go about it is a bit sketchy and contradictory in places.  Having scoured a few websites and ringing the British consulate, I managed to get a rough idea of what to do.  And as there are probably quite a few Brits wishing to marry in Dubai in the future, I thought I’d describe how we went about it such that it may serve as a useful guide for other couples.  Bear in mind this only applies to a Protestant Brit marrying a Communist Russian, and I’ve heard Catholics have to go through a more complicated process.  Jews, of course, should by now have been put to the sword and have no business trying to get married in Dubai. Continue reading

…the Cons

Things I will not miss about Dubai:

1.  The weather and humidity in summer.  I might retract this statement after a winter in Russia.

2.  Censored internet.  Blocking anything which is deemed to be contrary to the “moral, political, or cultural values of the United Arab Emirates” is the action of a government which believes it could find itself strung up from lamposts should the population become better informed.  I will be glad when I am no longer affected by this paranoia.

3.  The traffic.  For a small city by international standards, Dubai has a serious problem in this regard.  Unfortunately, there is no way to take an alternative route in Dubai, largely due to there being only a few major arteries and unavoidable bottlenecks at the Creek crossings.  It is also difficult to change your travel times to avoid traffic, as nowadays there appears to be gridlock between the hours of 7:30am and about midnight.  No longer can you nip across town at 10:30am once the morning rush has subsided, it is the same story all day.  By contrast, a traffic jam in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is defined as more than 20 cars stopped at a junction where there are roadworks or an accident.  And after three junctions, you are across town. Continue reading

Rip-Off Britain

On Sunday I bought a North Face down jacket in preparation for my move to Sakhalin, almost identical to this one for sale in Cotswold Outdoor for £145.  I paid £53 for mine, a saving of £92, or 64%.

I can expect the usual glib replies that the one I bought is probably fake, but I’m betting these will come from Brits who cannot comprehend the degree to which they are being shafted by their own retailers.

Rip-Off Britain

Yesterday evening I bought this Fujitsu-Siemens laptop, identical except mine has a 200Gb hard drive capacity instead of the 120Gb on the one advertised.

Had I bought it in the UK, as the advert shows, I would have paid £1209 including the VAT.  As I bought it in Dubai, I paid £670.  That is a saving of £539, or 45%.  Yes, I am sure you could get it cheaper than £1209 in the UK by not buying direct from Fujitsu-Siemens, but even so the consumers in the UK are being shafted royally.

If anybody asks you why some of us prefer to live in a 50 degree desert or minus 40 tundra than stay at home, be sure to direct them to this post.  Rip-off Britain is still alive and well.

The Pros…

Things I will miss about Dubai:

1.  The weather in late Autumn and early Spring.  This cannot be beaten.

2.  The swimming pool on the roof of my apartment block.  I doubt I’ll have one of these in Sakhalin.  Maybe a skating rink, but not a swimming pool.

3.  Multi-screen cinemas.

4.  The shopping malls.  Normally avoided, I will surely miss being able to buy all manner of clothes, household goods, and electronics all under one roof.  The first time I need a new pair of jeans, I know I’ll be wishing the Bur Jamman Centre had a branch in Yuzhno.

5.  Driving about in a Mercedes coupe.

6.  Clean streets.  I know they are covered in litter and sand, but at least it’s dry dirt.  Your car doesn’t get covered in sludge, and your shoes don’t need a polish every day.

7.  Being able to nip out to the grocery store without changing clothes or putting on a jacket.

8.  The abundance of electrical and computer shops, and the prices at which they sell stuff.

9.  The Viceroy bar in the Four Point Sheraton hotel, and one or two other bars and restaurants.

10.  Seing the sun shine every day without fail.

11.  The Fillipino band in the Sea View hotel.

12.  Cans of Pepsi for 1 Dirham.

13.  Proximity to a major airport served by a pretty decent airline, and a superb geographic location for travelling.

14.  Scuba diving.  Although I’ve heard you can do this in Sakhalin, if you bring a pickaxe with you.

15.  Watching live Premiership football immediately after work on a Saturday and Sunday.

16.  MBC2.  I know they show a lot of crap, but I’m going to miss it.  I really liked how they had no watershed for showing 18-rated films.  You could wake up on a Friday morning and find yourself watching an uncut Platoon.

17.  The general benevolance, or laziness, of the police.  They leave you alone, which is good.  I’m going to yearn for this after a year in Russia.

18.  Dirt cheap petrol.

19.  Seeing Dubai’s megaprojects completed.  I know half of them won’t be, and the other half will be white elephants, but I’d still liked to have seen the Burj Dubai and The Palm finished.

20.  The guarantee of doing next to bugger-all at work in the three months of summer and a month of Ramadan.

A Change of Scenery

Ah! Dubai.  The Jewel of the Desert, Pearl of the Middle East.  With its rich culture, exotic beaches, authentic cuisine, world class hotels and restaurants, friendly locals, and luxurious lifestyle for all, Dubai is truly heaven on earth.  Witness those who pay thousands to come from the slums of Europe to taste the nectar of this desert flower for a short week, and the place speaks for itself.  And with a dozen exciting new projects under construction and a further dozen on the planning charts, life in the city can only get more idyllic.  Who could want more?

Well, me for one.  I’ve had enough.  I’ve handed in my notice, and after 6 weeks or so I will be moving to that other well known holiday paradise, Sakhalin Island.  Here’s a description of its climate:

Owing to the influence of the raw, foggy Sea of Okhotsk, the climate is very cold. At Dui the average yearly temperature is only 0.5 °C (January -15.9 °C; July 16.1 °C), 1.7 °C at Kusunai and 3.1 °C at Aniva (January, −12.5 °C; July, 15.7 °C). At Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinsky near Dui the annual range is from 27 °C in July to −39 °C in January, while at Rykovsk in the interior the minimum is −45 °C. The rainfall averages 570 mm. Thick clouds for the most part shut out the sun; while the cold current from the Sea of Okhotsk, aided by north-east winds, brings immense ice-floes to the east coast in summer.

All the snow you can eat, and all the seals you can club.  Now that’s what I call expat living.

Local Joke

A man brings a lion into Dubai.  For the next month, the man feeds the lion nothing but bananas.  The lion is obviously unimpressed with this, but still the man continues to feed him only bananas.  Eventually, the lion snaps:

“Look, you dickhead, I’m a lion!  A lion, understand?  That means I eat meat, not damned bananas!”

And the man replies:

“Yeah, sorry about that.  But I got you in on a visit visa as a monkey.”