Dubai Taxis – I Want To Run Them Off The Road

DubaiTaxi

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.

Why I Love Emaratis & Omanis

During this little adventure of ours we had a vast experience across the UAE and crossing multiple times in Oman. It was an adventure of discovery and it was well worth it, going from city to city to get to the best riding roads I have ever been to. I have been riding in the best places in the US and honestly they do not hold a candle to the amazing locations in Oman & UAE. Aside from the roads and how clean everything was, every time we can to a security check point or interacted with them, the moment they found out we were Kuwaiti the tone totally changed and they were more then nice to us. And on the roads people would move aside 90% of the time and give us way, I mean every kind of person, we ran into a few idiots on the road but they were only 10% and were few and far apart compared to Kuwait who are 90% idiotic and rude on the road. I always knew Emaratis were nice people, and Omani’s were very respectful and kind as well but what happened to us was different then the normal situation

Omani Incident

During our ride I had a GoPro Camera mounted to my helmet, and as soon as we reached the Omani boarder heading to Khasab I switched it off but it was still mounted. When we got to the passport control, the officer asked about the camera and if it was recording, I told him it was mounted and switched off. I told him he could check if he would like but he said my word is more then enough for him. I know that it would have been a different situation if we were at the Saudi border. So after we crossed I switched on the camera and we went on our intense ride on the road by the sea on our way to Khasab which was breath taking. I saw an old sign that said military check point, but we didn’t think twice about since it looked old and we kept on pushing hard through the corners until around the next hill it turned out to be a full on military checkpoint with a small platoon of men. We slowed down quickly since we were coming in fast and they jumped on the road. Their captain came out quickly pointing at my helmet as I was slowing down, and they were talking to us sternly asking for IDs. Of course keep in mind that with our helmets on they have no idea who we are or where we are from. I had my passport with me and I was so thankful that I had that lovely blue passport with me. The moment they saw the color they said “Oh Kuwaitiyeen” and they relaxed right away, I was taking off my helmet and the captain came to me apologetically asking if my camera was recording I said yes since we were recording the ride. He said he is sorry but he didn’t want the check point showing up on the video and I said it wouldn’t be a problem, he asked if it would erase the whole thing I said yes and he apologized it didn’t take me 2 minutes to do that and I knew were gonna have a chance to hit those curves again. He argued with us to have coffee with him and food because of this, we spent 2 minutes on the security part and 10 minutes thanking him and excusing ourselves from stopping to keep on riding. They were more then nice to us and after that whenever a military vehicle saw us coming they would pull over to the side and let us pass. It was amazing, and when we rode back past them they stopped the cars and waved us through. Just because they knew we were Kuwaitis, what could anyone say, they went over and above being nice to us the moment they knew we were Kuwaitiyeen, I wish people were that nice in Kuwait.

Emarti Incident

Every time we went to somewhere new we would ask where is the best place to go to get some coffee and we usually get pointed to a nice mall, and a majority of them are nice. This was the fourth day on our trip and we were in Fujeirah, we went to a mall about 5 mins away called City Centre, very simple and pretty much all Al-Shaya’a brands so we stopped in Starbucks for a few cold drinks, and some of the guys wanted coffee. We were probably the only guys in jeans who were from the GCC, we sat there for a little while. Then one Emarati guy walked right up to us asking us how are we and if we were from Kuwait, at first I thought he knew one of the guys because of us very nice approach. We told him yes and from that point forward he told us we have to have dinner with him at his house, we thanked him and said we were still riding and he then said then coffee, you can’t just come to Fujeirah and not have coffee at my house. Honestly I was beyond surprise, what can you say to someone so nice, it was just something else. After we excused ourselves he gave us his phone number and said you aren’t familiar with the area and if anything happens and you need anything be sure to call me right away. What can you say to that, just extremely nice, I just couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. You can’t blame me for loving these people, not all Emaratis are like this but a lot of them are very kind.

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.


Continue reading…

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.


Continue reading…

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

The World Islands

WorldIslands

There has been a lot of discussion about the world islands and other projects in Dubai. Nakheel is in charge of this project and several others, and many of them have been put on hold. Dubai has done an amazing job of completing these over the top projects which have put it on the map and created a huge tourism industry. Due to over leveraging and banks no longer extending loans Nakheel has had to prioritize projects over others, and there has been a lot of rumors over The World Islands. The Palm in my opinion is a very successful project and a testament to their amazing projects. Too bad the Islands didn’t work out the way they expected but overall I still think Dubai has taken the right road to build up its city and industry. The crash it suffered was a set back but it can only go up from here. I’m looking forward to seeing what other projects they have ahead of them.

Link: Luxist

Project Completition in the GCC

Construction

Looking at all the different projects that been completed in the last 5 years you can see construction projects, financial projects, media development, business development projects, telecommunication development. So many different kinds that I don’t know how to list them all. Saudi talks about projects in the billions of dollars while Bahrain completes these important project within a certain budget and does a fantastic job when seeing the end result. Qatar is on an insane boom of every kind, and UAE is still continuing with the projects the planned out and scrapped the ones that didn’t work. In all these countries you can see all the different kinds of projects and the result of their completion, but in the case of Kuwait. In the last 5 years Kuwait has re-tendered and canceled so many projects that I honestly lost count. I can’t remember any major project that has been completed in the last 6 months. Kuwait is stagnant, in place and no change even though we all want to progress forward. They have been talking about Fiber to Home for the past 8 years with no result in Kuwait while Oman is connecting fiber between very distant cities as well as other maritime projects. Below is my ranking of countries based on project completion, the funny is that Kuwait has the highest number of running projects but a very low successful ratio. All the Gulf countries have passed Kuwait in regards to progress and development, and our government has yet to do complete any major project. For how long was the first ring road stuck with no construction of projects then suddenly everything came alive in 6 months ago.

Projects Completed By Ranking:

  • Qatar
  • UAE
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Oman
  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait

Emirates Twists Canadas Arm

Usually when landing into the UAE any European, American, and Canadian can get Visa upon arrival, but the case has changed in regards to Canadians. The UAE government will be announcing that all Canadians need to apply for a Visa at their Embassy for pre-approval and they may not necessarily get it.

The story behind this is that Emirates Airlines requested to open to new routes to Canada, landing in Montreal and Otawa which the Canadian Government refused. They said that they already land in Toronto which is enough. The Canadians said they have enough traffic and they don’t want anymore.

I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want more direct routes to the Middle East on an excellent airlines. But the UAE Government wasn’t taking this laying down.