This weekend I was in Sharjah to talk to some ladies about organising and decluttering. Once finished, I thought I would see what was nearby for food and saw this was close to the cafe that I was eyeing up. I love cars and of course the Sharjah Classic Car Museum was on the list, so I made the detour there.
It is by the airport and you cannot miss the big sign for it and the few old cars dotted inside and outside the gates of the museum. The entry fee was AED 10 which is very reasonable. The car collection was not huge. I was expecting more cars to be on display, owned by the Sheikhs or by residents which had been kept and restored, but it was a pretty small collection in a warehouse.
The one good thing was see the various types of petrol pumps. Yeah that got me excited.
I have been to the Car Museum in Abu Dhabi which is is ridiculously huge (but with no super cars which was a disappointment). This is much smaller in comparison, but easier to get to. If you are going to Sharjah to visit a few places, then add this to your itinerary, but don’t make it the destination for the day as it will be a short visit.
This week I decided to get out of Dubai and explore some of the many museums in Sharjah. Sharjah is the third biggest Emirate in the UAE and is the cultural hub of the country. It is known for its beautiful majestic buildings, love of creativity and ridiculous traffic and road systems. This was a place you would not visit on purpose pre-Google Maps (I came here in 2005 before Google Maps and Smart phones existed).
To start I went to the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. This beautiful (long building) is the home of artifacts from the Islamic countries in the Arab and Turkish peninsula predominantly. There is a room dedicated to Islam and the three important buildings for Muslims – Mecca, Madina and Al Aqsa Mosque. I have been to none of them so far (my parents have and can talk about the three places for hours), but it was good to see old and new pictures and artifacts from these places.
There were further galleries focusing on the art, ceramics, engineering and astrology which are a major part of Islamic History.
I didn’t read every single caption and by the 3rd and 4th gallery my legs were giving up (post COVID, the tiredness comes fast), however it was very interesting. The technology, engineering and astrology sections have great interactive sections which will be fun for kids (and big kids – yep I pressed a few buttons).
I took about an hour to visit. There is a big cafe and small coffee shop as well as classrooms for kids (there was a summer camp happening when I was there).
It was pretty empty but maybe it does get busier in the winter.
Pros – lots of interesting artifacts, empty so get to see the items in peace and read the captions without being disturbed. No noisy kids.
Cons – staff using one gallery to make loud phone calls and watch videos was not enjoyable and the shop/cafe was a bit lame.
The temporary exhibitions were both closed to put in the new art for the next season. So not great planning by me.
Art as always is a personal thing. I loved a lot of the landscapes and saw some beautiful pieces. One section of the permanent gallery was unmanned and empty, so I walked around and view the pieces in peace.
The second section was guarded by two guards. One followed me whilst I viewed the art. He kept his distance when I got a vocal about my displeasure of him following me. The feeling I got was that I was going to steal the art or touch it. Of course I have manners and was not going to do either. Being the only human in the gallery made it even more disconcerting – not a great experience.
Some great pieces, but not the amazing experience I had expected (especially after reading reviews on the place before). Maybe it is better when all the temporary exhibitions are open as well.
Pros – seeing some great art from Arabian artists.
I also went opposite the museum to visit the cafe there, but it was closed. The district has the Sharjah Art Foundation and some other buildings, but it all looked closed.
I decided to get back in the car and went to the Arabian Tea House next to the Chedi (on my hotel list). The food at Arabian Tea House never disappoints. I usually have the breakfast when I visit the branch in Al Bastakiya (or whatever it is called now), but as it was lunch I tried their hummus and halloumi wrap with rose jam. I have to saw the halloumi and rose jam really worked well together. Worth a visit always – especially for breakfast.
The library opened a few months ago and boasts the biggest collection of books in the region. It is huge and beautifully made, and huge. Seven floors huge.
We drove and parked at the library parking. I believe you can also get the metro there but in this heat, it could be a hot trek from the station to the library. Once in, the security inspected our outfits and wouldn’t allow a friend in for wearing her just on the knee dress. Her shoulders were covered, but flashing her knees was a bit too obscene for the library (slightly bizarre take considering how open Dubai is being nowadays, but what to do). She ended up sitting in the car whilst her daughter and I explored the floors that were open.
Four floors were open at the library when we visited, Ground (which includes the children’s library – we didn’t visit), First, Sixth and Seventh. The Seventh floor has a really beautiful Treasures of the Library Exhibition which takes one half of the floor. It is massive and has some beautiful Quarans’ and first edition books from the around the world. Also on the same floor was an exhibition on the Emirates. Fascinating to see old photos of the Emirates. It also contained a lot of photos I had seen at Ethiad Museum, so we bypassed them quickly (also we were knackered by then).
The other parts of the library had sections for Youth, Maps, Arts and Media. The categorisation of the books was all over the place, to the point that my organised brain was getting anxious. I will have to discuss how it was categorised with my friend, who is a qualified Librarian, to understand their thinking, but I don’t think there was much thinking (except in the Periodicals room). The collection is not vast despite being a lot of books, but I am sure that will improve over time.
There are a lot of places to sit and read books and study which is great if you want a quiet place to get on with your work. Entry is free and so is entry to the Treasures of the Library exhibition. You have to show the separate ticket QR code to get into the exhibition.
The library is very impressive and was relaxing walk around (until i look at the actual categorisation of the books). It was tiring walking around, so I would suggest visiting more than once and also to start at the exhibitions at the top and then working your way down.
Cons – the security was ridiculously tight for a library. The exhibitions could only be entered and exited by the security which was unnerving and also security followed my friends daughter and I in the Treasures room. Everything was behind glass and we were not going to steal anything, but we felt like we were potential criminals by the way they were following us. In the other rooms, the guys at the desks could not muster a hello, let alone talk about the room. So one extreme to the other.
There is a cafe downstairs. We didn’t venture to it, as wanted to go have a nice Chinese meal. Next time.
It’s been a while, but I have had inspiration recently to come back to my blog and to write about my life.
I have lived in Dubai for seventeen years. Sometimes it feels like I just arrived and then other times it feels like forever, especially when stuck in traffic. During that time I have travelled around a lot of the UAE, especially in the last nine years due to my work with Decluttr Me. However, I know that I have not scratched the surface with visiting a lot of places in the seven emirates, which to be frank is shocking.
I went to Expo 2020 in Dubai every week for the last four months it was open (ok sometimes more often in one week) and I loved it. I would go when I had a day off early in the morning before the crowds and heat got too much and see the pavilions and eat a lot of great (over-priced) food. Once Expo closed, there was this void, which I know a lot of friends had as well, who had visited often like me.
This month, whilst sitting on the couch during my day off I realised that I could do the same exercise as I did with Expo but instead visit places in the UAE. However, I needed to know where to go.
After googling a lot of blogs and travel guides one evening, I came up with the following list of places to visit.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Library
Museum of the Future
The View at the Palm
Hatta Dome Park
Inifinity des Lumieres – Dubai Mall
IMG World of Adventures
Museum of Illusions
Dubai Butterfly Garden
Snow Cinema at Vox
Oh La Lab – Al Serkal Avenue
Mirzam Chocolate Workshop
Jameel Art Centre
Burj Al Arab – stay the night
Ferrari World tickets
Abu Dhbai Pearl Journey
Yas Marina driving experience
Manarat Al Saadiyat
Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr al Watan (been there but one for you – it is huge and amazing)
Masfout – museum and fort, also hiking destination
Ajman heritage district
Umm Al Qwain
UAQ Fort and Museum – 7am-8pm
Falaj al mualla fort – 8AM–2PM, 3–8PM
UAQ Al Qwain Centre of antiquities
Al Jazirah Al Hamra (ghost town)
1484 by Puro – Jebel Jais
Shimal – small village – heritage site
Suwaidi Pearl Farm
RAKs nature treasures
Flower Farm Asima – November to March
Khatt – hot springs
Madha – enclave of Oman
Al Bidyah Mosque and fort
Ain Al Madhab Hot Springs
The Governors Palace, Masafi
Tayyibah Heritage Museum
(* all in italics have been completed)
When you look at the list you may see places that should be on there like Mussandam, F1 Abu Dhabi, some of the waterparks, and quite a few places in Fujairah (I visited there a few times to see close friends of mine who lived there, so visited a lot of the sites with them), etc – that is because I have already been to those places. However, I may have inadvertently missed places out, especially if they are obscure, so please let me know so I can update the list accordingly.
Today I started the list and went to Ethiad Museum and Union House. It seemed like the ideal place to start this list as it was where the Emirates were formally formed. I love finding out the history of places and especially my second home so I loved it. It is big in size, but quick to view. I took about an hour to see all the exhibits and videos, but I did speed through some of it. The current price to enter for Adults is AED 25 which is a bargain considering how beautifully made it is. Here are some pictures from the Museum and Union House to wet your appetite to visit there.
It was pretty empty for a weekday morning and the staff advised it was much quieter due to the summer months. There is a massive lake with the flag poles which would have been nice to sit by, but that was not happening in the 40 degree heat, so maybe nice to visit when cooler.
I have been bombarded with PR emails for the last 2 days – mostly about restaurants opening or the change of the restaurant brand in some way. My thoughts have been on the majority of these PR emails:
a) I don’t care
b) How is this relevant to my business?
c) Do they not have copywriters to review the stuff before it is sent out.
d) Address it to me and not to the “Editor”.
e) Why are they being sent to my DeCluttr Me email address.
Thankfully due to a friend who owns one of the PR firms, I found out which company provides the lists to PR firms in this city. I quickly googled and contacted them asking them to stop emailing to my DeCluttr Me addresses especially as it was not relevant content.
I got a very quick reply from the MD of the list company. His reply “I have removed Shelo9’s Cheeky Rantings from our listings of Dubai blogs in [Name of List provider]”.
I was very impressed by his very quick reply and that it was from the MD and not some minion, but eh what?? Shelo9’s Cheeky Ranting does not have any link to the DeCluttr Me email addresses (except I own it all *evil laugh*).
Just because of one # phenomenon (#needanaddress), it would seem the list provider thought it was perfectly acceptable to add my non related email address to their list without my permission and also without fully reading my latest blogs which focus on customer service (the irony!)
I know data protection is non existent in this country, but don’t these companies have a moral compass at all?? Or better still common sense?
If I can do anything today it is to provide these handy tips to these list creators and providers:
First check if you have permission to add the email address to your list (this is very important).
Check what the writer of the blog specialises in and if they will want to be added to a PR list; and
What their business is about if you are emailing to their business.
Points 2 and 3 should also apply to the PR firms as well. It is easy to not take ownership of the contacts as you have received the list, but check if these contacts will actually be interested in the product you are promoting.
If you are on Twitter, check out #UAEPR and see the amount of tweet complaints from tweeps like me who get bombarded with non relevant emails. You will also see PR companies using the #UAEPR to jump on the bandwagon with no understand that the hashtag was produced to take the mickey out of these same UAE PR firms.
By the way I am not grumbling about getting PR emails. I am happy to get emails relating to organizing and decluttering, and due to a new side part of DeCluttr Me, etiquette and personal grooming, but anything else is just spam invading my email box. Use your common sense and discern what the reader actually wants to read and what lists they want to be added onto. Don’t just annoy them with PR.
As you may have heard there was a fire on New Year’s Eve at the Address Hotel in Downtown Dubai. I had no idea as I was off Twitter until I got a message from my close friend G. She could see it all from her balcony. During the next few minutes she was sending me updates on what she could see whilst I checked Twitter and made sure people I knew were safe.
Whilst watching the scene G asked how she could alert the hotel guests that she had a spare bed if needed. She is not on Twitter or any other social media except sparingly on Facebook (if we are honest), so I suggested that I post her offer on Twitter.
Her offer was posted and within a few seconds @danielmarcevans replied and then posted his offer of his available bed:
I suggested we create a # (we do this nearly every month with other tweeps for silly things). As normal he came up with his corker of a hashtag. The # was #NeedanAddress.
And that is how the #NeedanAddress started and blew up to epic proportions. It helped we had friends like @theregos to spread the word more for us.
The response from tweeps in Dubai and globally was astounding. Within a short while there were offers of rooms, beds, Nutella and hugs from various tweeps. Here are some of the lovely tweets!
It was great to see Dubai show that it has more to it than bling, world records and fancy cars as the global media portray constantly. There is a city of human beings with hearts, beds and kindness.
From updates during the night and on New Year’s Day, the majority of guests and residents were put up at the Atlantis hotel, but other hotels also offered rooms. There seems to have been a few guests who took up the offer of a bed from tweeps.
From a tragic incident, we were able to help a few with a hashtag. It is amazing how powerful the hashtag and social media can be and I am incredibly humbled by what happened last night.
Side note – The Address Hotel Chain have advised guests and residents of The Address Downtown Dubai to contact their hotline number +971 4 423 8870 or email:email@example.com. Also Dubai Media Twitter account has asked the guests to contact 00971566835129 for any assistance.
Bu Qtair is famous in Dubai. It has been showcased on BBC World and on Anthony Bourdain’s No Limits Show (the pre CNN series). It is so unlike anything else in Dubai and is a perfect place to take visitors from abroad to show the non-bling side of Dubai.
Set in an old corrugated iron giant shed thing, it was rough but clean (what we didn’t see wouldn’t harm us…). The menu was limited to fish in masala (Sheri and Hamour being the main fresh fish choices) and prawns in the same masala. You got to choose the fish, kilos of prawns and then wait for an hour for it to be fried. Once ready, your name would be called and you would be given a plastic table to sit on with plastic plates, paratha, fish sauce and cabbage salad. Whilst waiting, we would sit on plastic chairs and drink a cup or two of tea and people watching.
Now that has all changed. The cabin/shed thing has disappeared.
The old spot for Bu Qtair.
The restaurant has moved to the opposite side of the road to a purpose built restaurant (see above). The system for ordering is the same. Queue (for bloody ages) to order fish and prawns. pay the guy, wait in the designated waiting area, get your name called, sit at a table and eat.
Whilst waiting in the order queue you will be pushed out of the way by passer-bys who want to go clean their hands in the sink. Due to non-excellent planning the sink for washing the hands is beyond the order queue. Not clever.
In front is the queue to order the food. Behind is the sink area to wash your hands. If you were waiting, there would be a lot of people pushing past with dirty hands to wash their hands.
There are seats inside but this area was overrun with customers who had ordered and were waiting for their food. The actual waiting area is outside past the purpose built dining area. A lot of customers didn’t see or understand the concept of sitting in the waiting area (which now has proper benches as well as those old plastic stools to sit on).
The new clean sparkly kitchen
It is not clear by the staff or the signs that all customers have to wait in the waiting area and that their name will be called out by the staff. They will then be given a table to sit on.
It was amusing to watch the customers trying to grab tables and then being told to move off the tables for customers with food. However, it got to the point that the waiters were practically begging these people to move off the tables and facing a lot of attitude. I stepped in twice to reassure customers that they would get a table once their food was ready.
The restaurant needs to have a poster or massive sign explaining the process for eating at the restaurant: ordering, buying drinks separately, waiting, sitting and eating. They can read the process whilst waiting in the really slow ordering queue.
The food was the same as normal, although our prawns were a bit cold. So (as another reviewer mentioned recently) same same, but different location.
Is it worth visiting. Absolutely. Do you need to have more patience than before. Yes. We got there for 7ish on a Monday. After that, it was heaving with people. It might be due to the holiday season and cool weather, but it could be the norm now.
On a side note, we wandered around after eating and found a restaurant practically next door selling the same concept, called Al Fanna. The place was completely empty for some reason. It seemed to be very new and I can’t vouch for the taste of the food, but it looked exactly the same as Bu Qtair. Maybe worth trying next time.
The Fire drill just occurred in my building. This was the second time I had the glorious opportunity to witness the drill in my building. We were given one weeks notice that the drill would be happening today. I wanted to come up with a reason to not be home, but … nothing pulled me away from this!
Anyway the fire drill.
Fire drills are not taken seriously in this side of the world, until one happens and then everyone collapses into a pile of panic!
Today, I witnessed two incidents which added fuel to the fire (see what I did there?) that we have a serious issue with health and safety in this country.
The fire evacuation point was in front of the building (in front of the restaurant) – whether this was a drill or not the evacuation point should be away from the building and definitely not in front of the restaurant! If there had been a fire, debris would have fallen on the evacuees or if there was a gas explosion from the restaurant… well I don’t want to think what could happen.
3 men came out 20 minutes after the drill started. One was so arrogant he walked back in after asking whether it was a drill (doh!), ignoring the security guard. If there was an actual fire, and they didn’t come out someone such as the security guards or firemen could die trying to save them.
Another 2 men who do not even live in the building, came out of a flat on my floor straight after the drill had finished; when I asked them why they were in the building they said they didn’t care it was a fire drill and had work to do! They seem flabbergasted that someone would dare point out that a fire drill means that you are not allowed to be in the building. They also didn’t like it that a woman was telling them off (sexism is still rife here with certain nationalities).
I know a lot of people do not take drills seriously and it has been a common problem for many years, but this is unacceptable and dangerous. There has to be a change in the manner that drills are taken in all the buildings whether big or small.
I have complained to the Building management suggesting that they not give notice of the drills (like they do in the UK), as it may wake these residents up to actually take the drills seriously. They also need to change the evacuation point. Just because it is sunny doesn’t mean that the residents have to stand in the shade of the building for the drill – it’s a bloody drill!
Update 10 December 2015 – I have had a reply from the Building Management. They advised that the assembly point is as per the drawings approved by the Civil Defence. This must have been approved over 4 years ago when there were no buildings on this site. I am sure they would change the point to be away from the building if they reviewed it now. If.
With regards to the people not participating with the drill, the fire marshal is supposed to ensure everyone leaves the building and stays out (no idea how they can tell if people are still in the apartment but anyway). However as this was a drill there is no way to enforce this. I am sure that this is not the stance in Europe when there are drills.
What else can you suggest should be done to ensure that these drills are taken much more seriously?