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.
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.
This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month aka Pink October.
Breast cancer awareness month is great as it has made women and men more aware of how to detect lumps and prevent getting the disease.
I have lost a dear friend and a lot of family to breast cancer and other types of cancer over the years. Cancer is not kind and I am all for awareness, prevention and getting a cure for this menace.
In the UAE breast awareness month only became an event a few years ago and companies embraced it wholeheartedly. You can get pink nail polish, clothes, bags, cup cakes; you name it and you can get it in pink for this month. You are expected to buy this stuff and not question the commercialisation, as it’s for cancer, innit.
But, how many of these companies actually donate proceeds to cancer charities? Yes a lot say they donate, but how much? I have a feeling it’s a nominal amount or for a lot of companies absolutely nothing. Plus the products always seem to be more expensive; thus meaning they are only donating the difference!! No one seems to show how much they donate. It’s all about showing they are part of the month for PR purposes rather than to actually help the cause to bring awareness to this cancer.
It seems to be contrived and fake. And how much can we spend on overpriced pink stuff in a month. It’s adding pink clutter to our homes.
I’d rather donate direct to charities who are working to bring awareness, prevention and find a cure, than buy the contrived pink products. If you are a charity in the UAE/GCC region collecting money for breast cancer awareness month, please let me know.
I would be interested to see which companies are actually positively participating in the month and not using it for PR purposes only. Please let me know by leaving a comment below.
Today I was at a coffee shop in Downtown Dubai waiting for a friend. Whilst waiting for friend at a table with three sofas around it, one of the employees came and without asking moved one of the chairs at my table to give to the people next to me.
She didn’t ask if I had wanted the chair.
I had to tell her that she should have asked first before moving the chair. I might have wanted that chair.
As normal routine in the service industry, she argued with me – today’s argument was that the chair should have been at the other table not mine. (They already had four chairs around a small round table).
My reply was that:
a) She shouldn’t have argued
b) She should have just apologised for being so rude.
c) She showed no manners to a customer (me!).
After I told her that it was inconsiderate behaviour on her part, she tried give back the chair. I didn’t want it.
It’s the principle.
They don’t get it, do they.
When will they start training people in coffee shops and restaurants properly to have manners and common sense.
Can I start a school to start teaching it??
Update 9 September 2016 – 1 week after the incident and sending a tweet about this. I finally got a response on Twitter and also an email with a $5 voucher to use at the coffee shop. Only problem is that there was no message in the email about why they were giving me the voucher, and I have no idea if I can use it in Dubai (the currency is AED here). Also had to chase the twitter people during the week for a response. Not great coffee shop.
Update 13 September 2016 – received a terse reply from the American HQ regarding the $5 (it was sent in error) and that someone would get back to me from the Dubai office.
Recently I volunteered to talk to Year 9 (age 14) students for a Career Fair. I had advised the lady who was organizing this event about my past of being a Legal Assistant – Legal Executive – Solicitor – Businesswoman/Entrepreneur. She listed me on the programme as an “Entrepreneur” (I didn’t know this immediately).
I was asked to talk for 3 times for 20 minutes to students and parents in a large classroom. At the first session it was a full room and I nervously explained my career path, with the students and their parents watching either in rapt attention or disapprovingly. One father was not amused with my sage advice to always carry a notebook and pen in your hand when you go to see anyone in a corporate office.
If you have not heard this advice from me in real life, here it is:
When you go to see anyone whether the CEO, your boss, the marketing administrator or the receptionist take your notebook and write down what they say. You will NOT remember what they say after you leave them. Trust me. This advice applies especially to those 21 year old MBA graduates who have not bothered to think about what they want to ask and bother the in-house legal department and then demand immediate attention and response to a non question.
I noticed after the first session that my classroom had been full, whereas other rooms were half empty or even empty. The second session started with a full audience and more people outside. It was weird. I’ve never had a queue of people waiting to see me, a trickle after I give speeches but never a queue!
I asked some students before I started the second session: “what are you planning to do in the future after school”.
“We want to be Entrepreneurs”, they replied
“Entrepreneurs in what? Have you created a product? An app?”
“Do you want to go to university?”
“Do we have to if we are going to be Entrepreneurs?”
I looked at the door of the classroom, it had my name and “Entrepreneur” next to it.No mention of being a lawyer.
*ching ching ching*.
They wanted to find out how to be an “Entrepreneur” from me. No wonder the attendees of the first session were slightly disappointed by my speech!
They have this believe that they can have the title and the money will come rolling in!!
The amount of times I go to networking events and people say they are Entrepreneurs but their business sounds like fluff. It’s just a cool term to use around town right now. I tend to call myself a businesswoman to try and show I am serious about my business.
These students didn’t want to be serious; they wanted to be cool.
How do you explain to them that it is not that easy to be an Entrepreneur in 20 minutes?
I had to tell them. I couldn’t lie. So I gave them my sage advice:
a. go discover yourself and enjoy university,
b. study something useful but broad enough like law,
c. work for a while to see how to businesses run. It doesn’t matter if they are successful or not (2 out of the 5 companies I worked for no longer exist (it wasn’t me!)), it’s the experience that will help you with running your own business, and
d. start a business, say at 35.
Yes, that’s what I did and of course other entrepreneurs have different stories. Some started much earlier, but I was a chicken for 13 years, and hey I was pioneering enough to go in-house when 95% of law students became Solicitors in law firms (tied to only one type of law and with multiple clients – not my cup of tea) or Barristers (I did a mini-pupillage and can confirm it was boring. The John Grisham novels I read were more exciting, until a Judge told me off for reading them in his court).
The students may not have liked what I had to say, but many of the parents did (you are no longer young and cool when parents agree with you). However, some parents wanted their children to be entrepreneurs and wanted private sessions with me to find out how to become one! I tried to be helpful, but if you have no idea, no product, nothing and just want the title, you will never be an Entrepreneur/business person.
If you want to be an Entrepreneur and need guidance, come to me with an idea, come with a plan (a mind map is even better, like the one above) and I can give you some advice. But if you just want the title, print the first picture above and wear that as a badge.
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:firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.