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Friday, 10 September 2010

Mich Café: Happy Birthday Dubai Metro

The Dubai Metro (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
A year ago today -- at exactly 9 p.m., 9 minutes and 9 seconds on 09/09/09 -- SheikhMohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, used the first ticket to board and launch the Dubai Metro.

When completed, Dubai's Metro will be the world's longest automated and driverless network, snatching the title from Metro Vancouver's SkyTrain by one kilometer.

According to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the Dubai Metro, which was launched under the slogan "My City. My Metro," carried 10 million passengers between September 10, 2009 and February 9, 2010.

The elevated viaducts are now part of the city's landscape as are the zooming blue carriages.

Last year, like thousands of Dubai residents, I walked out to the street next to my house and waited for the first Metro, carrying Sheikh Mo and his entourage, to pass.

I have yet to use the Dubai Metro and was a bit in a pickle when thinking about how to mark the Dubai Metro’s first anniversary. But then I thought who better than Rupert to do that? It’s because on September 9 last year, Rupert (@rupertbu) parked his car and decided to commute solely by Dubai Metro. He has kindly agreed to write this guest post to mark the Dubai Metro’s first anniversary. Rupert writes:

Happy Anniversary my Dubai Metro (DM)

My very dearest DM,
What a track we have traveled in the past 365 days, with all the nay-sayers continuing to ignore the delights of our relationship.

Between us we have shared Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” set at a time when steam engines were only for England.

The impoverished Dorset peasantry of Hardy’s so depressing tales have been uplifted by the slanting sun coming through your panoramic windows.

James Joyce and “Dubliners” concludes with a Christmas Tale, when horses were still the means of propulsion.

My all time favorites, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” set during the First World War, andKurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five” from 1944, were very brief interludes in our relationship.

To Kill a Mockingbird” is 49 years older than you, but thankfully apartheid has moved on, though not eradicated.

In five short years I watched you being conceived by the yellow midwives, not knowing how close we would become in your very first year of operation.

Thankfully all those RTA spokespeople, one of whom was “Communicator of 2009," and the media commentators, who when questioned a year ago, then again in August, have still yet to travel on our tracks, now keep a relatively low profile.

Those fools who set themselves up as the Twitter and FaceBook oracles have disappeared, possibly the complexity of RTA websites has put them in long-term care homes!

The ignorance of car-borne individuals who did not realize that the Nol Silver Card was the key to the paid-parking and also access to your carriages. I say let them wallow in theirtraffic jams, after all there is no accounting for taste.

Occasionally we have been disturbed by adventurous Scandinavian tourists joining us, but we knew they would swiftly jet-off to their countries.

So we have grown older by a year, yet we have transformed each others life, and “yes” we have some faults, but the magnificent work of engineering, that you are, works.

Do you remember how we drove one of your most voluble critics from Sharjah to Rashidiya Parking (why only two levels are open remains a mystery, a bit like all those fly-overs) then walked along to the automatic gates and he had to buy a ticket. We love those armchair critics!

All those people who traveled in the early days of your life are no more, thankfully, our fellow travelers are now the heart and soul of Dubai, going about their everyday lives.

I hope you enjoy our anniversary, alas I fear your later hours have not proved too attractive, so it may well be early nights for you post-Eid!

Thank you for the past year, I look forward to sharing more books with you, and I will allow you to share your charms beyond my very narrow focus, despite the best efforts of RTA not to communicate!

You deserve a better friend than me, but I will remain an ardent admirer, until that time that I move on to another country. Thank you for demonstrating the worth of public transport, you are the best gift I have ever received from Dubai.

As always your devoted servant,

(This is a very parochial correspondence and may mean nothing to those beyond Dubai, but when visiting Dubai do try the DM, she works very well.)

Monday, 26 July 2010

United Arab Emirates and Dubai meeting the locals!

I am truly puzzled at the Telegraphs coverage of Dubai, by, who would appear to be, resident correspondents, namely: Annabel Kantaria and Matt Lynn.

Annabel is wondering where the locals are, whilst Matt has found them at Urban Tadka Restaurant, Trade Centre Road, Karama. According to Matt the vegetarian restaurant at lunchtime is packed with locals.

If you are reading this and have never visited the region, you will not be aware that Matt's locals are most probably Indian citizens. So if you are confused, think how very confusing it must be for Telegraph correspondents when defining "locals"!

If Annabel truly wanted to find locals on behalf of her readers, she need go no further than her Internet connection and log into a twitter account. Twitter has, from my point of view, truly opened up and brought together the diverse cultures that make up the population of the United Arab Emirates.

@wildpeeta and @emiratweet are two of the most prominent. The latter established by a group of Emirati females, specifically to bring together the community through meetings and maintaining a blog with pertinent UAE stories. Whereas WildPeeta is a "fusion shawarma" restaurant established by two brothers, with corporate backgrounds, who sought a unique take on the local snack, which generally retails for just over $1, whereas they are able to sell for around $5!

So if either Matt or Annabel want to make their articles have a bit of local substance may I suggest they get in touch with @emiratweet or @wildpeeta.

(Thank you to all who contacted me following my first post, as you can see I am still wallowing around in the shallows, but first I must establish the routine of production, so please do continue to bear with me.)

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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Bear with me please, as I am new to this blogging thingummy!

Well after a few years of following blogs and, more recently, using Twitter, courtesy a six month, subliminal, radio selling job on the part of @ALEXANDERMCNABB I am now on the "High Diving Board" looking down at all my peers and wondering "Why?".

I must be very honest and say how in awe I am of the bloggers who maintain a regular output, which is also the case with journalists; it is all very well to be able to respond with sharp one-liners, but bloggers and journalists do an incredible job of communication, day in, and day out!

I already have been running an aggregated blog of Business stories from the Middle East for the past four years, so why do I find myself teetering on the edge of properly putting my thoughts to ether?

I do not really know why, but there again Pepys did not expect his diaries to be published!

As some of you may know I have thrown myself into Twitter, both as an individual and under corporate guises, the most successful has been @EmiratesLitFest , where we spent four glorious days in March tweeting from Dubai's Literature Festival, and that is where the #dxblit comes from.

This hash tag, #dxblit , a creation all of my very own mind, was globally trending on the Friday of the Festival. I attribute this success to the enthusiasm of the five roving bloggers: @liz_fenwick ; @moneymunot ; @shaahima ; @hishamwyne and @ammouni , in association with the four photographers: @wajihasaid; @faisalkhatib; @jarofjuice and @shru_.

Never before in Dubai had such a group of people come together who were aroused by the written word and wanted to express their passion through words and pictures of the event, and they were able to do so with no rules to inhibit them.

There is no way anybody with a passion for a subject can remain inhibited and as the Festival reached it's crescendo, so did their output, which I was very privileged to watch streaming past my eyes on Tweetdeck. (Sorry if this, at times, resembles a workshop manual with jargon! Tweetdeck is used to manage a range of twitter accounts, so they do make intelligible sense.)

Even the doubters of Twitters impact, amongst Festival management and visitors, were swept along as they viewed the stream of tweets on the aptly named "TwitterFall", in essence a large TV showing all tweets using #dxblit.

I do not regard Twitter as "Social Media", my own view is that it has become an information network, that many people have come to trust and turn to first to verify whatever they may be curious about.

I remain wary of examining my mind as to why I am composing this and committing it to the public domain of the ether. Let us see how this develops over the next few entries, hopefully my execrable English and writing style will improve.

Feel free to vent your spleen or praise in the comments section below, become a "follower", but express as "anonymous". Only with your communication will this become something that you wish to occasionally visit.