Even The Sheikhs Are Tweeting

Sheiks on Twitter

How do you, as ruler of Dubai, send your congratulations on the launch of an e-library? By tweeting, of course.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai (very long title) is keeping people updated on government issues, business issues, a recently taken photo of Dubai from NASA, videos of the Dubai metro launch (was under construction the last time I was here but has opened as of last month), which are also available on his Facebook account.

I’m impressed.

“The Istanbul-based Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), which is affiliated with the Organistaion of Islamic Conference (OIC), has one of the most valuable references on the Islamic civilisation. This includes 65,000 rare reference books and 200,000 historic documents and images on the Islamic civilisation dating back to many centuries.

The project which was launched in 2008, aims to digitise all of the library’s contents, making its valuable resources available to the public through a multi-lingual portal.”

The turning of the library into a full e-library is being made possible with a grant from the Sheikh. (via Gulf News)

Flickr Unavailable

Flickr Surf Safe

Guessing the holiday snaps won’t be going up on Flickr this time around. I’m convinced I was able to upload them this time last year but but the TRA and its Internet Access Management Regulatory Policy has outfoxed me this time. (If you’re in the UAE and try to click the Flickr link above you’ll be presented with a very large version of the above graphic)

I was wondering as much when I spotted some of my daily blog reads with vacant real estate on screen. Signing into the Flickr uploader won’t work either.

Thankfully it looks like there’s no problem with Pix.ie. Looks like that’s where the holiday snaps are headed this year.

Is On Holiday

Dubai

After a hectic weekend between Sligo and Dublin (for the Irish Web Awards), on Sunday night I hopped on a plane to Dubai, a holiday long talked about but only booked a week ago today. The opportunity to get away and do nothing doesn’t arise all that often.

I managed a long weekend in Amsterdam this March, a precursor to “the wedding” in Portugal, where I hadn’t told anyone I was working with at the time that I was going and as a result continued to work for all but one of the days I was there. This time around, it’s a bit different.

Coming to Dubai for the ten days or so gives me the chance to do nothing. I’ve been here before, covered a lot of the tourist activities so if all I get to do is sit around the apartment for the day and watch TV or read through Gulf News or The National, then that’s perfectly fine by me.

It’s been a serious transition year for me work-wise, it’s been an incredibly busy year for me theatre-wise. I had to stop ordering books from Amazon as I haven’t read more than the first chapter in each book since the beginning of the year. I’ve stopped one magazine subscription and I’m close to stopping another as it’s taking me a month to get to taking the magazine out of it’s plastic postage wrapper. This past weekend was also the first in at least six months that I’ve been able to see the family en masse in Sligo such is the way things have been going.

Of course in the rush to get out of the country I left behind my headphones, sunglasses and camera. I actually can’t remember a break I’ve taken away where I have remembered to bring headphones with me. I’ve sourced a new camera here, a nice Canon Ixus 120IS so I can grab some photos so (to the family), I’ll have shots to bring home with me.

I’m letting things slow down, slow right down as in ten days time there’s projects to finish and launch, two theatre productions to oversee and a whole lot more on the cards.

But they can wait a week or so, right?

Back From Dubai, And It’s Cold

Well, i’m back from Dubai and at time of writing there’s a 31 degree difference in temperature from this morning to this evening. Gone is the sun, replaced instead with cold, fog and freezing conditions.

I’ve made it back alive, my wallet virtually empty, sand in my phone, sand in my bags a light colour on my arms but it’s been an unreal time. Seeing the likes of the Burj Dubai, the Burj Al-Arab, the various malls, restaurants, souks, old areas, new building projects… a real eye opener.

I’ve another stack of photos to upload yet from the N95 and thats even before I touch the camera.

Got caught in a sand storm too this morning on the way to Abu Dahbi but I reckon if we can get through that, the fog on the m50 won’t stop me getting to Killenny and getting a pint in.

By the way, I’d recommend Etihad Airways to anyone. Two fantastic flights, great in-flight entertainment and great food.

For now though, it’s off for another drink refill here in the airport, a sleep on the bus, and a pint on the other end. It’s been a long day…

Week Two In Dubai

Big Fish In Dubai!

I’m cruising into the second week here in Dubai, moreso seen as the week officially starts on Sunday (Friday is your holy day, Saturday – depending on where you work – can be a second day off).

It’s been a fantastic trip so far, just the chance to unwind and leave things behind for a week or two is great. It doesn’t come along all that often so I’m more than happy I made the trip.

I’m getting quite used to having the Gulf News sitting at the door every morning, well up to speed with what’s happening in and around Dubai. Though I think my invitation to the Atlantis party must have been lost in the post for Thursday night.

I’m not too pressed with the touristy stuff – sure enough we’ve seen a lot while we’ve been here and I’ll catch a few more things as well but even something as simple as walking to the shop, heading for coffee, knowing nobody, no phone ringing, it’s all good to me.

For the family, and anyone else who’s interested, I managed to get a few more shots up last night / this morning from a desert safari on Saturday, a trip to the Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre in the recently opened Dubai Mall and a few other spots.

The N95 is getting a lot more use than my little Nikon S200, but I haven’t touched that one yet for photos or videos so there’ll be a load more to fly up when I get back to reality next week.

Until then, I’m off to catch some more sun. These 30-degree days…

I’ve Landed In Dubai

It’s currently 4:37pm local time in Dubai. Which means it’s 12:37pm at home. Which means that I’ve been on the move for the last 30 hours but at about 3am this morning I landed in Abu Dhabi, flying in over some serious displays of city planning (everything is incredibly grid-like in the air) to a sunrise I’ve never seen the likes of anywhere else.

Breezing through the airport and customs, I’ve found myself in Dubai where I’m staying until the 29th of this month. If there was every a reason or a need to take photos, it’s coming to Dubai. Already the camera and the phoning are starting to gather snaps as building after building continue to amaze.

I’ll get into the meat of things tomorrow, for now I’m knocking around the apartment, stroll to the shop, unpack, get the local bearings and the likes.

That said, I have already learned that the local government are now scrapping cars that are over 20 years old – you’ve to find the solution but they’re gonna be banned off the road; a woman recently smuggled 1.5kg of cocaine in tablet form in her stomach through the airport; Kylie Minogue is set to earn a blind fortune for opening the new Atlantis Hotel here this week and if you’re tipping a taxi driver, you round up to the nearest 5 dirham.

The pic above was captured on the bus on the way from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, no idea what time it was when I took it, but it’s something to start with. Thankfully having the laptop means I can shoot, shoot and keep shooting.

I’m off to go find some camels or something, rumour has we’ll try and hit some camel racing to see what all the craic is about.

Dubai Here I Come

Jumeirah Hotel
Creative Commons License photo credit: James Temple

I don’t go away places often. Flying to Toronto in 2006 was the first time I’d been on a plane in about ten years (that said, on years in between I had taken a ferry over to France now and again).

But since college life began seven years or more, I haven’t gone away many places. While good friends decided to sample the delights of Thailand, Australia, America, South Korea and more – some of them still are – I decided to stay in Kilkenny and work for myself.

Working one job is enough for some people but when the design started, soon too did the music, and the theatre. When one phone switches off at 5pm, two more go on and the world continues as normal.

I don’t take holidays, and I don’t take sick days (some companies would love that in an employee). I do enough things with my day that there isn’t time to be sick, unless of course I’m on holiday (touch wood).

When I got to Toronto in 2006 I had spent the previous fifteen months working close on seven days a week, something you’ve got to do when you’re working for yourself, or something you find yourself doing rather quickly more to the point. From December 2006 to now it’s been exactly the same, almost two years flat out in the office, with gigs and the theatre, the latter growing into something I’ve become extremely proud of for the work we do as a team.

So getting to give the whole lot up for ten or eleven days will be a shock to the system.

Not only that, but I get to try some indoor skiing, catch a glimpse of the QE2 (or so I’m told), track down some camel racing and generally disengage myself from my working life.

Sure, long weekends away are great (though 9/10 times involve some kind of work) but to get out of the country and disconnect from phones, work, music and everything else is a blessing.

I leave this Sunday and I’ll see all y’all in December.