Jones The Grocer – Dubai

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A lot of restaurants open in Dubai and usually in or around some sort of mall and over the recent years that is Dubai Mall since everyone flocks over there to that mall. Rarely do you explore other locations, but thanks to MFW he took to me a new location a little while back, and thats Jones The Grocer, a singular building next to Jumeirah’s residential area just off of Sheikh Zayed Road. Literally nothing around it but a small shopping complex with a few businesses and a gas station.

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You walk in and it is genuinely a unique restaurant/cafe/store, they have a very nice food selection in their menu. Loved their salads and sandwiches, I have been there close to a dozen times over the past 6 months, I make it a point to go there and try something new when I go.

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It’s not your typical place, different types of seating in different sides of the building, with the cafe display cases in the middle, and the outer areas of the restaurant has cooking and food related items for sale from high end coffee machines to cook books and Turkish delights. Literally something for everyone in that place, and if you are cheese connoisseur you will enjoy the selection they have. Try the greek salad with steak and the chicken sandwich, they are very good dishes, and even the meat dishes are good there.

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If you have been there then you are missing out since it out there not next to anything you feel like you are in a unique hip place. Feels like a place that should be in New York or San Francisco, it has this unique vibe to it and the best thing is that the food tastes just as good as the place looks.

Link: JonesTheGrocer

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Dubai Taxis – I Want To Run Them Off The Road

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Over the last two years I have been driving more and more in Dubai, following the speed limit is hard but at least traffic is moving. And because there are an insane amount of cameras I honestly don’t know the speed threshold of the cameras, like in Kuwait you can go to about 20 km over the speed limit and the camera won’t go off, I don’t know how it is in Dubai. I have had one speeding ticket in two years which isn’t too bad, it was for going 100 in a 60, when I thought the speed limit was 80, it was a 600 AED fine which isn’t too bad after all that time.

The taxis in Dubai are something else, they cut you off, lean on you and get aggressive on the roads especially at hotel and mall entrances. Especially just on my last trip these guys were acting like idiots trying to get into an entrance which is barely moving because there was so much traffic. At one point I just started pushing the car through without a second thought, in Kuwait they wouldn’t even come close to pulling something like that but in Dubai they act like crazy drivers and it keeps getting worse. Dubai is supposed to have the most organized taxi service, and I use them a lot but when they drive on the road they are maniacs.

BMW X6 – A Different Experience

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This is the type of car that people either love or hate, and in my case I was slightly confused. I was in Dubai/Abu Dhabi for a few days and I asked for a Audi Q7 but to complications they gave me an X6 instead which is an upgrade with 300bhp V6. I wasn’t sure about it but I always wanted to try it, and it was an interesting machine to drive. For being the lowest model the car still moved, it had all the options on the interior and black as night windows. I haven’t driven an X5 in probably 8 years at least so this was a new machine to me, and I was always curious about the X6 M, people always had an opinion about the X6, they either loved it or hated it, it was always a passionate reaction.

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The car was comfortable and the standard BMW amenities which did the job and on a long drive it was pretty comfortable honestly. The Navigation was really good and this time around you can go directly to each menu from buttons around the circular joystick, you don’t have to navigate all the menus to get to where you want. I think BMW have gotten better at that then before. I still find Audi a bit easier to use, but still the BMW system is really good. The car felt a bit weird, like you were driving a sports car but a bit higher and every time I bumped my head into the door frame when getting in, its an SUV with a compact form, just didn’t feel right. It was an interesting drive, but I would never buy this car.

UAE & Oman Bike Trip

This started off back in early June and we were discussing the details about going on a nice long bike and we were discussing the locations and honestly UAE was a nice location to start with. I didn’t want to rent a bike and do a tour, I wanted to ride on my bike on a trip not another bike. There were about six of us as I mentioned in the other post but by the time it came to commit only four could commit from the six, and it was a solid number so we went ahead with the idea. All the major planning and details were being discussed over the few months but the major travel arrangements didn’t happen except until the first week of October, I probably should have started it earlier since everything would get booked up on Eid and I thought we were going to go to odd places and there would be availability but I was very wrong, we hit German tourist territory with about 3/4 of all the locations we went to.

Bike Travel Preparation

  • We did as much research as humanely possible.
  • Luckily there are a lot British nuts in UAE who ride so we found a substantial amount of youtube videos for the areas we were heading towards so we knew what we were in for
  • Tristar serviced our machines and got them prepped by checking every nut and bolt on our bikes
  • I got a Garmin Nuvi 1490 LMT with updated Middle East Maps from Seas & Deserts
  • Mapped everything on Google Maps including stops and made sure we were on track to the nice curvy roads

Setting Up The GPS

  • I got the Ram Mount for the Garmin Nuvi 1490LMT
  • Installed the Garmin Battery Cable thanks to Tristar
  • The GPS wasn’t budging in speeds upwards of 240 kph so it was perfect
  • I transferred our routes through a program called Tyre which you can download here
  • I double checked our route on the Garmin Device and modified it slightly since it wasn’t 100% as we wanted

We got information from Tristar on which shipping company to use and we also checked a few others. We decided to have our bikes shipped to Dubai and start from there, we didn’t want ride from Kuwait to UAE because I heard that Saudi is a very boring straight line, no curves so it would be tiring and no reason to ride it. After a little research and a few quotes we went with Al Sawan shipping since they have had experience shipping motorcycles to Europe and other locations in the Middle East for other riders. They got our bikes to Dubai within 5 days ready in a storage facility, so picked them up from Dubai Green Park Community on Wednesday morning and road back to Dubai. It felt like we were the wild pack and about to embark on an insane adventure.

This is the route we took:

  • Day 1 – Dubai to Ras Al Khaymah
  • Day 2 – Ras Al Khaymah to Khasab, Oman to Ras Al Khaymah (Curvy Road)
  • Day 3 – Ras Al Khaymah to Fujeirah (Curvy Road)
  • Day 3 – After we got to the Hotel we took a ride from Fujeirah to Kalba then Hatta and Back (Very Curvy Roads)
  • Day 4 – Fujeirah to Al Ain (Again Very Curvy Roads through Kalba and Hatta)
  • Day 5 – Al Ain to Dubai (Straight Line & Boring)

We had to pack 7 days worth of clothing into a small tail pack on the back of the Diavel, and I carried a back pack which was a bit uncomfortable and not a smart idea. I brought a laptop and a few things which didn’t require and taking up space. So on the travel days I was in a bit of an uncomfortable position. I didn’t know the exact routes and the GPS gave us about 90% of the right routes, the thing is I double checked it as much as possible.

I had my GoPro Hero2 attached to my Helmet and switched it on during the curves which was a lot of fun. The one thing I just had to keep in mind was to switch it off at border crossings, but we had a few incidents at security checkpoints where the camera was running but I didn’t know they were there and they asked about it if it was running. So I just had to keep it in mind during our trip since we had a few places that we crossed that I put the GoPro away.

There were three parts to the ride that I loved, Khasab Oman, a beautiful two lane road by the coast head from Ras Al Khaymah to Khasab. It was thrilling to ride and felt brand new, I wish to ride again soon, we just didn’t have the chance to fully enjoy it. Then there were the curves just before Fujeirah, it was just over the top, high speed curves and then some tight curves up in the mountains, I was excited while riding, I haven’t seen roads like that in my life.

When we got to Dibba Al Fujeirah after the first set of curves we were riding by the coast with some very beautiful roads passing by the Gas Storage Facility in Fujeirah before getting to our hotel. It was fun and Fujeirah had the most modern mall, I think it was called City Centre, very nicely done. We dropped our things and went riding to Kalba since it was only 15 KM away and then continued another 60 KM to Hatta which we went through the infamous tunnel, I loved hearing from my screaming exhaust and I think so did the people outside the tunnel. The Diavel really is another name for Devil because that’s what it sounded like screaming through. We found a few Wadi’s which we stopped by, it really was a fun adventure, and took some pictures there as well. Then we rode back to the hotel and decided to turn in after getting some coffee. The one thing I have to say is that you can find a Starbucks in every location, I was shocked, they are everywhere.

Next day we headed out for our longest ride over 230 KM and surprisingly we only had to fill once even with the Monster riding with us. We hit the fun curvy part on the way to Hatta and through the tunnels, its such an amazing road. Then when we came close to the Oman border the roads became straight and it got a bit boring, so it was a little over an hour of straight highway, and as we got close to Al Ain the roads were turning into a major highway, four lanes on each side. When you get into Al Ain it is a beautiful area with lots of vegetation, and it feels like the old Sharjah that I remember from the 90s. And one thing for sure is that it was extremely clean, every road so clean, in UAE & Oman.

Throughout our ride we only got caught in traffic during the evening in Dubai as we were leaving. The best times to leave are early morning so you can enjoy your day where ever you are going. Everyone gives us way, about 90% of people on the road were nice to us or indifferent. The other 10% are a bit crazy but compared to Kuwait it’s a walk in the park. We spent most of our day riding and when the sun sets we are back at the hotel, getting a bite to eat and passing out to walk up at the crack of dawn when possible.

Our Hotels:

  • Palace Old Town – 1 Night
  • Hilton Ras Al Khaymah – 2 Nights
  • Nour Arjan Rotana Fujeirah – 1 Night
  • Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet – 1 Night
  • Palace Old Town – 1 Night

Since the moment the GPS was switched on we travelled a total of 1402 kilometers all over the UAE and a bit of Oman on Day 2 & Day 4. It was a hell of a trip and to top it off we went wakeboarding in Dubai Marina which was a lot of fun. I only got upstaged by my young cousin and I was falling face flat into the water, but I enjoyed it. The ride to Dubai was exhausting because it started getting a bit hotter then we expected and it was all a straight line, it was very boring, so hitting the water right away was exactly what was needed. This was probably one of the best rides I have been on and the roads in the UAE are better then any road I have seen in the UK or all of the West Coast of the US. The Diavel and Monster S4RS were more then capable for a very long trip and taking roads of every kind and I’m hoping to do something like this again and soon.


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Cross UAE & Oman

This will probably be one of the most intense rides I will ever take, we have been planning this for over three months, but the real planning started about a month back. We got our bikes prepped, we were initially supposed to be 6 guys but due to work conflicts we dropped down to 4 guys on this little adventure.

The Machines On This Trip

  • 1 Diavel Carbon
  • 2 Diavels
  • 1 Monster SR2

I have done some long distance traveling before but not in the Middle East so this is going to be a new one. We are as preparred as can be at this point. I mapped out everything on Google Maps and ported it to my Garmin Device which is mounted to the left side of my handle bar. I mapped out our routes exactly, calculated what we needed and the distances between stops and the gas stations in the vicinity and some areas don’t have gas stations so we needed to plan for that.

I have to thank Tristar for all their support in setting this up. We know its the beginning of riding season but they took our bikes serviced them, and even recommended changes for a long trip. I got a rear bag mounted to the back of the Diavel which doesn’t look too bad in my Opinion. I changed out my rear tire since it was a little abused so I had to ride it out a bit before taking it to UAE. They also recommended a transportation company for us since we didn’t want to ride through Saudi, so they were very helpful getting this trip off the ground.

Right now all our bikes are waiting for us in a storage area close to Jebel Ali. We get there, we ride them to Dubai and then the 1000 KM+ adventure begins.


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Sixt Car Rental Dubai

Traveling to Dubai for the day is one of those fun things that we do every once in a while, and this time we rented a C-Class Mercedes from Sixt Rent-A-Car so that we can drive where we want to and I can get a bit more familiar with driving in Dubai. One of the hardest things is driving the speed limit because I don’t know what are the thresholds for the speed cameras in Dubai, in Kuwait its around 15 kph above the speed limit, so I kept braking every kilometer and I wasn’t sure what some of the cameras might look like since they install new kinds every day. The experience with Sixt was a bit annoying even though we got a brand new very clean car, the whole process was annoying.

  • When we booked and spoke to them we discussed all the points with them so everything was clear.
  • They mentioned we would pick up the car right away from Terminal 3 with no delay, turns out they didn’t have a station in that Terminal only in Terminal 1 so we had to wait 30 mins to get the car in the heat.
  • We faxed them all our documents prior to arrival they said they would need nothing else, then they asked for a copy of my credit card and they needed to charge it over the phone, just as we got the car so that was another delay.
  • After we got the car and sorted everything out the guy wanted us to drop him close to Terminal 1, which I thought wasn’t bad but it was unprofessional
  • The last part they told us we could drop the car off at Terminal 3, that was before we went to Dubai. When we were in Dubai they told us that we have to drop the Car in Terminal 1 and then get dropped off in Terminal 3 which was a major inconvenience and a huge waste of time.

The car was perfectly fine but the whole process was ridiculous and unprofessional, not something that I would expect from a professional rental company in Dubai. I have rented from these personal companies in Dubai before, they would get the car ready for you at the airport door, you sign off and take the car right away, this could be for any type of car, a regular Landcruiser or an German four door. I don’t think I will be using Sixt in Dubai again.

Food & More Good Food

I love food, there is no question about that, and I thought about all the most memorable places to eat in the region that I would want to eat again. So this list came together as I was getting hungry at night, and I think I want to visit them sooner rather then later. This is why I have a problem dieting, I love food too much to stop eating.

UAE

  • Zuma – It’s in Dubai and its going to open in 2012 in Beirut, and I’m a big fan of their amazing food
  • Hakkassan – Just opened in Emirates Towers
  • Caramel – DIFC really tasty and great selection
  • ToroToro – South American Steak Dining
  • Le Petite Maison – Always good food
  • Meat Co – Always a good place to eat
  • Cippriani – Abu Dhabi – Amazing food, seriously delicious
  • The IVY – Just like London

Kuwait

  • OFK – Can’t get enough of their food!
  • Slider Station – Those sliders hit the spot
  • Prime & Toast – Large Menu & its Open 24 hours
  • Q Cafe – Really Tasty Food
  • UpperCrust Pizza – Damn good thin pizza

Beirut

  • Zinc – Very good steak & always a buzzing place
  • Le Stay – Trendy French Cuisine
  • Momo’s – Fusion Morrocan Cuisine, love the place
  • Muneer – The best Lebanese restaurant, really damn good food

Dubai Comic Con – MEFCC

I have been thinking about Comic Con in San Diego for the past decade I’m honestly not happy that I didn’t go while I was in the US. Then MEFCC came to mind when I was traveling in Dubai for a quick business trip, and it was a few months ahead, so I went booked it kept waiting for it to come around and I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was excited.

I got the VIP Tickets which basically means you get to go early before the crowd and skip a few lines or go to the shorter lines. What was great is that you get to meet a lot of Artists and Publishers, then there were so many comics and manga available but it was a bit of a mess trying to figure it out. I liked seeing all the different kinds of models available there and it was hard resisting the urge to buy anything, I picked up one Street Fighter Comic Book from there which I was looking forward to reading. Kinokuniya & Jashanmal had a strong presence at the Comic Con with a lot of books and comics.

What I liked was meeting a few artists from Top Cow which is a publisher out of California, picked up a few pieces from them. Then the top floor which was very cool highlighting local talent, and there was a lot of local talent. Then there was the a few model makes who can make pretty much anything for you which is very very cool. There were quite a few actors who were there from different movies and tv shows which is very cool and you could get access to them, I didn’t have time since I was on a schedule. Overall the whole thing was very organized, a bit on the small side but a lot of fun, my hat goes off to them for doing something like this.

Be warned there are a lot of pics! Enjoy


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On Impulse

Every once in a while I do this, I get something that has been on my to buy list as soon as its out even though I wanted to do abit more research. It seems this I will be doing a lot of testing with these two lovely products. Usually I think of Dubai Duty Free as a rip off that I can always get things cheaper online and I am better off getting it from Amazon. But when I saw the items in front of me I had to take a look of them, then I walked off and thought that I will get them later.

  • Canon G1X
  • HTC One X

After a little while of thinking I thought to check the prices in Amazon and in Dubai Duty Free just to make sure and this is the simple breakdown for the HTC One X its $645 on Amazon & $681 in Dubai Duty Free, for the Canon G1X its $799 on Amazon & $815 in Dubai Duty Free. I couldn’t believe, the difference was so small, I always thought the difference would be huge but I was surprised it was so little, at that point I had to do very little thinking and the one thing that was stopping me from making a purchase was no longer there. It seems everything I purchased had a an X in it, and I have to say that I am currently very happy but my credit card took a hit with this purchase. For now my appetite for electronics has been satisfied and I will be posting a review or a decent write up on both, the camera will be first of course, I was snapping pics with it since I got it.