Monthly Archives: May 2009

New Header Image

I took a photo through the car windscreen today, on the way to Dubai Mall.

This photo of Sheik Zayed Road going towards Old Dubai is the blog banner for this month (or until I am inspired by something else.)

Sheik Zayed Road, towards Dubai.

Sheik Zayed Road, towards Dubai.

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Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower)

Here are some photos I took today from the car window. Okay, one of them involved me jumping out the door of the car while we were stopped for work vehicles.  I didn’t have much time to snap away… I didn’t want to hold up the traffic for fear of the cacophony of honking that would ensue.

Only a few turned out okay considering my constraints of place and time. 

The Burj Dubai is really my favourite building in Dubai.  Not just because it is the tallest building in the world, but because I find it incredibly beautiful.  It reminds me of two things. 

Firstly, it reminds me of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The other thing I think of when I see the Burj Dubai is playing in with wet sand by the beach when I was a kid.  Did you ever get really wet sand in your hand and make a fist, letting the waterlogged sand dribble out of your fist onto the beach?  It would make these kind of wormy-looking sand-towers that stayed intact as the water drained out of the sand.

The Burj Dubai is very organic-looking and reminds me of those two things.

The Burk Dubai with the late afternoon sun just above it.

The Burj Dubai with the late afternoon sun just above it.

 

Burj Dubai from the East (I think)

Burj Dubai from the East (I think)

Heating Up

It’s now 7pm and its 38 degrees celcius. The car said the outside temperature was 46 while we were driving today but the weather report says it only reached 44.  Not a personal best for me but it’s getting there!

Despite the fact that I seem to be aclimitising better than most people (maybe being Australian helps?) I did notice it was hot today.  (When its in the high 30s I now describe it as ‘quite warm’.  Madness.)

We decided a trip to Dubai Mall was in order because I had heard there was a good cafe there called Kozi. Kozi is an African-themed cafe selling coffee from African beans, and staffed by Africans.  It’s quite a charming spot and the coffee was excellent… which is why we went searching for it.

Richard and myself at Kozi today

Richard and I at Kozi today

Also took some pics of a couple of stores with interesting retail desgn.

Kurt Geiger Shoe Store, Dubai Mall

Kurt Geiger Shoe Store, Dubai Mall

The Manolo Blahnik Store - designed to look like a fishtank with the shoes being the fish.

The Manolo Blahnik Store - designed to look like a fishtank with the shoes being the fish.

Yay!  Galleries Lafayette is finally open in Dubai Mall!

Yay! Galleries Lafayette is finally open in Dubai Mall!

The Dubai Mall Fountain

The Dubai Mall Fountain

Worker on break sleeping in window, Dubai Mall.

Worker on break sleeping in window, Dubai Mall.

Photos of the Kids

Just downloaded a bunch of photos that were taken in the last three weeks.

Here is my favourite.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Here are some other good ones…

Kelli is hilarious.  She can watch birds on the TV or laptop for hours!

Kelli is hilarious. She can watch birds on the TV or laptop for hours!

Mozz likes to sit on my head.  My neck does not like this.  But I find him irresistable!

Mozz likes to sit on my head. My neck does not like this. But I find him irresistable!

Useless!

Useless!

 

We have Geckos on our balcony at night in Dubai. I love these little guys!

We have Geckos on our balcony at night in Dubai. I love these little guys!

Dubai Bag Watch

As some of my friends and regular readers know I share many of my fellow-gender’s fondness for beautiful handbags (or purses if you prefer).

I was chatting recently with a girlfriend of mine who shares this interest,  and made a throw-away comment that one day I would take a note of the bags worn by women shopping in the Mall of the Emirates.

Last week I was down there for some reason (forget why) and I happened to have my netbook with me so I grabbed a coffee and starting recording.

Here goes…

The most highly represented labels is without doubt Louis Vuitton, which for some reason I have never hankered for.  Maybe because they have only been doing funky designs since Marc Jacobs took the helm. But probably largely because they are so logo-focussed.

First up we have,

LV’s Damier Canvas Tate

Louis Vuitton Damier Canvas Tote

This bag is not ugly per se.  But it is boring.

The Litmus Test: Would I use it if someone gave it to me? 

No. I’d probably give it to someone else.
(Probably what the person who gave it to me was thinking!)

On the other hand if you have a hankering for tasteful and safe… you can buy it at eLuxury (until they close down sometime soon).

 

LV’s Mahina

LV Mahina XL

 

 Now this is more like what I expect when parting with serious amount of cash! It has a luxe finish and sits nicely against the body. I also like the fact that the logo is not jumping out at you as much as some of their other designs.

The Litmus Test: Would I use it if someone gave it to me? 

Hell Yes.

Like it?  But It at eLuxury.

 

LV’s Monogram Canvas Neverfull

Monogram Canvas Neverfull

Okay. So you need a shopping bag, you want people to know you are not poor, and you have no imagination whatsoever. This is the bag for you!

The Litmus Test: Would I use it if someone gave it to me? 

No. No. And no.

Having an attack of madness? Buy it at eLuxury.

 

LV Damier Canvas Saleya

Damier Canvas Saleya MM

This is the Daimer version of the Logo Neverfull in my opinion.
It’s even uglier because the handles are too structured.
Blech!

The Litmus Test: Would I use it if someone gave it to me? 

No.  Petite peeps like myself should not wear bags on their shoulders that have flat bases. They accentuate the height (or lack of).
Did I mention I hate it anyway?

Like it? Buy it at eLuxury.

 

LV’s Monogram ScubaLV Monogram Scuba MM

Massive in size and cyclamen pink. The Scuba puts paid to the myth that LV does not make bags that are fun!

The Litmus Test: Would I use it if someone gave it to me? 

Absolutely!
Technically it is far to big for my frame and height.  But I love it so I would probably use it anyway. Maybe I would just sit it in the corner of my living room and fill it with magazines or something.

Like it? Buy it at eLuxury.

 

The bag in the Madonna Campaign

madonna_vuitton_501

I don’t know what the name of this one is but i was impressed to see the woman sitting next to me had one on the chair beside her. The first thing I noticed was the MJ influence in the gorgeous red laquer toggles.

The Litmus Test: Would I use it if someone gave it to me? 

Despite the exquisite embellishments this bag doesn’t do it for me.

Like it? I imagine you have to be on the waiting list at your favourite LV Store for this one.  If you know Madonna ask her if you can borrow it.

I have a feeling Beyone is going to invest in one of these.

Chloe Saskia – Sling Version

Chloe Saskia

I like these multicoloured versions of Chloe’s saskia better in the sling style, than the satchel. Somehow the multicolours look more sporty on a sling.

The Litmus Test: Would I use it if someone gave it to me? 

It’s not my favourite Chloe but based on previous experience the smell and feel of the leather would have me drooling in seconds. So yes, I would probably wear it forever. But not with black. It would look great with the new neutrals; nudes and bones.

Like it? They are no longer listed on www.net-a-porter.com but you should be able to find one on eBay or other online retailers.  Just keep looking…

Letters from Holland

One of the reasons I decided to write a blog about our experience moving to Dubai was that I had lost a lot of ‘letters home’ about our first international move to Holland.

I found a few today as I was tidying up my folders on the netbook.

Here is one from 2001.

Hi Win,

A busy couple of weeks have we had.  On the 1st August (ed: 1991) we moved from our previous abode to our current rental accommodation. 

This was not without incident due to an incompetent and infuriating makelaar (real estate agent).  Makelaars have much the same reputation in Holland as they do in Australia but this guy was particularly deserving. 

 Despite the fact that I had specified our lease caveats verbally and twice in writing, he had neglected to inform our landlord that we required a) a double bed in the guest room, and b) repainting of the children’s rooms to a neutral colour. 

The House in Dahliastraat, Badhoevedorp.

The House in Dahliastraat, Badhoevedorp.

 It was Richard who actually attended the key handover and final inspection and relayed back to me over the phone that the bed was missing and the bedroom walls remained shades of bright pink and yellow with gold stars. 

I was very pissed off to say the least and threatened to pull the pin on the whole deal if the bed wasn’t installed by tomorrow when my mum and her husband arrived from Oz for a week. 

(ed: What kind of fantasy world was I living in not following up to make sure this stuff was done?  And who the hell has visitors one day after they move into a new house?  God we were green!)

So a bed was purchased by our bamboozled owner from Ikea that night and installed by morning when we moved in.  He has also promised to paint the rooms at a date convenient for us.  Poor guy – he has been really great. 

He even offered to register the phone in his name as we would have to pay a 750NLG deposit (700AUD) to have it installed because we are foreigners.  Like most things here, the telephone will take around 2 weeks to connect.

 The house had been on the market for either sale or rental, as the owner occupiers were moving into larger premises in the same area (comforting – given we have some difficulty making sure we are moving into a desirable neighborhood.) 

Desirable neighborhoods here have generally been described to us being “empty of scarves”… a not very benevolent reference to the large population of Moroccans and Turks here.  Initially it felt very strange to us to hear such blatant racism in a country that appears so tolerant to the outside world.

(ed: Okay – I’m not even going to comment on this except to reiterate my previous statement… Green!)

 Expatriates were blasted in a newspaper last week by a local journalist with the headline written in Dutch that translated to “If you can read this, you can stay”. 

Globalisation has begun to erode the Dutch language and customs, with the emigration of skilled workers from English speaking nations, in particular American’s, whose culture is in many ways diametrically opposed to the European way of life. This understandably disturbs the patriotic Dutch population. 

(ed: hah! Globalisation my butt.  More like they were afraid of the non-integration of the Arabs.)

However, not all share such a hard line view as this journo. Still, it is an interesting lesson to be considered a ‘foreign pest’ when you have been a member of the powerful middle-class majority all your life in Australia, and when traveling, one of the world’s more popular tourists. 

The experience as an English speaking expat was exemplified by an encounter my mother and I had with a couple of very nice local women who were walking their dogs in the park near our new home.  Mum struck up a conversation with them about their dogs and they were very friendly and chatty, in perfect English naturally.  They asked mum if we were from Australia and then how long we were staying.  When Mum explained she was here for a week there was much nodding and smiling and concern about “such a long trip”.  When she explained that I was living here they smiled politely and said nothing more before they excused themselves. And that’s pretty much about it as far as social interaction. For better or worse, that’s the way it is.

 (ed: And that was nothing to do with being an English speaker.  That’s perfectly polite and normal behavoir for the Dutch (and many other cultures0.  Australians tend to invite you around for a barbeque as soon as they meet you. Not everyone does this.)

On to matters we have some control over… my mum arrived from Oz via London last week and stayed with us for 7 days.  I was able to take off two days from work to help her, and husband Ron Menz, see the sights. 

The reason I mention the last name is to explain one of my more embarrassing incidents on the telephone to their London hotel.  “Can you put me through to the Menz room please”, I asked politely. The receptionist was strangely silent.  Once I realized my mistake I sheepishly asked to speak to Mr. and Mrs. Menz. 

I’m sure that was the lobby joke for the evening. 

I was truly mortified. 

Anyhow, they were great guests and I think they had a great time.  We did the usual stuff and took them down the red-light district – their eyes might still be stuck to any number of objects down that street.  Mum tried to convince us to go for a smoke and a sex show which Richard though hugely amusing – because I had previously explained to him that it would be cold day in hell when I attended a sex show in the company of my mother.   

Our cats (katjes) arrived from Melbourne on the Saturday the same day that mum and Rob departed for their 8 week European tour.  We had to go to the airport to collect them and clear them through customs which was all very exciting and extremely stressful.  I did the sooky thing and cried when I saw them! 

They were fine and only Mozzle seemed slightly the worse for wear after their 24 hour flight.  He fell asleep constantly throughout the day and his back legs were a little stiff for the first day.  Overall, I’d venture that cats travel better than humans on long-haul flights!

 

 The season has changed with fierce rain and hail driving at the windows, giving us a very mild taste of what the winter will be like (god help us).  I am off to Paris next weekend to spend a couple more days with my mum, while Richard minds the cats. 

Think it might be time to invest in some winter woollies while I’m there.  Also feeling a previously unknown urge for a Hermes scarf.  Must be the weather (or an attack of logo-mania).

 I’ll send some pictures of our new neighbourhood and Paris soon.

 Love,

Sophie and Richard

Cute Restaurant in Dubai

MoMo - Mall of the Emirates, Dubai

MoMo - Mall of the Emirates, Dubai

Last weekend we had dinner at MoMo in Harvey Nichols in Dubai.  It was incredibly glam and full of beautiful Emiratis, as well as a generous sprinkling of uber-trendy Middle Easterners and a few Europeans.
 
Richard and I enjoyed a tagine of chicken with olives and preserved lemons. While the lads were smoking shisha I enjoyed a wafer-thin apple tart with star anise ice-cream garnished with crushed pistachios.
 
We really enjoyed the Moroccan tea they served from a beautiful silver pot into little glasses.  It was a mixture of mint, clove and cardamom I think. We went straight out and bought some from the supermarket.  (Lipton makes one.) We are enjoying it without sugar, with a couple of fresh mint leaves floating in it.