Posted by Kanga.
Remember this in Singapore?
This is in Abu Dhabi -
Gate Towers at Shams Abu Dhabi on Reem Island
Posted by Kanga.
I really miss American residential laws that require that a tenant be given 24 hour notice before the landlord or any repairmen can enter the apartment. We have been having a long string of disruptions as additional duct work, wiring, etc., related to the air conditioning is done. Apparently, it must all be done in separate phases. Add to this the fact that the workmen just show up at the door and expect to come in and make a mess and break your stuff.
[White Love Bird salt shaker became collateral damage of the last repairmen visit. Now Pepper Bird has taken up with Toast salt shaker who was widowed in our emigration. Toaster didn't make it onto the ark.]
Never mind that today we were planning on going into Dubai to visit friends and I had a long list of errands I wanted to do. We had no way of knowing how long the workers would be doing whatever it is they were doing today. They finally left at 7:30 pm. We should never have answered the door.
Posted by Kanga.
You might think that moving into a brand new building would have advantages. Living in an apartment that no one else has lived in before sounds attractive. However, when you ask if it is “move in ready” and are told “yes” you may find a difference in definitions of “move in ready.” Our apartment was covered in and permeated by dirt.
There’s also the fact that construction may not really be completed. Two floors of our building had to be completely remodeled to suit the business that will be moving in. Also, the air conditioning throughout the building is being revamped, because it turned out to not be up to the challenge. This resulted in:
The mound of garbage has fluctuated up and down, but has been in our parking garage for weeks. Yesterday, we were shocked to see this:
Getting in and out of our parking space is much easier now that mound isn’t creeping out in to the drive lane.
Posted by Kanga.
If you look at any pictures of the newer buildings of Dubai, you will notice that each is designed to stand out. There are all kinds of shiny bits, curves, twists, and angles. Taller, grander, more striking. The problem is that these buildings are built next to each other. I doubt that when the architecture firm makes the model to show investors or owners what the new building will look like that they include the neighboring buildings, but perhaps they should.
Here’s a prime example of a new building squeezed in to a space where it cannot really be appreciated.
My recent trip to the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi allows a comparison. These are the building projects that can be seen from the front of the Emirates Palace Hotel.
This is approximately one year ago:
This is the current view:
This is last year:
This is the current view:
I have a much better camera these days. Can you tell?
Soon after we moved into our apartment in Dubai, there were many times we noticed a noise which seemed to be coming from somewhere in front if our building. It was a familiar noise; that of a whistle being blown repeatedly. Now, this is not an unexpected noise in a city; the frequency of the whistling suggested a policeman directing traffic. But where the noise was originating from was a mystery. With the massive Metro construction project blocking almost all of the street in front of our building, the traffic is well directed by a standing army of concrete barriers, and quite restricted as to where it can flow. There would be little that a traffic cop would be able to do in such a situation. (Except maybe practice his whistle blowing, and they don’t seem to be that bureaucratically minded here.)
To deepen the mystery our initial attempts at locating the source of the whistling were repeatedly thwarted. At first we only heard it while in our apartment, and when we noticed it and went to the balcony to investigate further, it stopped before we could get a bead on exactly where it was issuing from. Kind of spooky. Later, I sometimes heard the whistling while I was out in the neighborhood running errands, but the high walls surrounding the construction area that was once a street prevented me from seeing where it came from. So it was several weeks before the mystery was finally solved.
One day while I was at home, I noticed the whistling had started up again. Knowing that my window of opportunity may be short, I hurried to the balcony, and scanned the area below. Happily, this time the whistling didn’t magically stop and after a few seconds I spotted the phantom whistler.
At that time there were still many large rectangular holes in the ground of the construction zone, and from our perch on the 8th story of our building we could see that these went down through the underground construction of the subway station below for at least 4 floors. The work was obviously continuing there in the depths, as evidenced by the drawing up of dirt and the lowering of construction supplies through these openings, which was accomplished by the use of several mobile cranes that were constantly on duty, the tops of their masts frequently sweeping past our windows.
Of course the operators of these cranes could not see down into the deep holes to know exactly where they delved or what might be in the way, and this would be a particular problem when lowering tools down into the gap. This is, of course, where the whistling came in.
My first glimpse of a whistling-wielding, crane-directing worker, revealed him leaning over the side of one of those large rectangular holes as a crane was lowering a bundle of rebar down. He waved to the operator while issuing a steady, staccato volley of whistling. There didn’t seem to be a particular meaning to the whistling itself, other than to keep attention that the operation was in progress, since he kept the same pace to the whistling no matter what different gestures he made. I’m sure the shrill noise acted as a warning to those below as well, to be aware that materials were being lowered down. Sort of like trucks with an automatic beeper that sounds when they are backing up. Perhaps they’ll affix such devices to these cranes in the future too, and whistles will go the way of buggy whips on such construction sites.
This sighting ended the elusiveness of the event. We caught many more crane-lowering-and-whistling sessions after that. Occasionally there were amusing moments watching the whistlers. Sometimes one of them would leave the whistle in his mouth even after the job was done and as he stood there he would lazily whistle with each exhale of breath. Once a whistler kept the whistle in place as he hopped down the scaffolding from his high perch, issuing a sharp ‘tweet’ with every little jump.
So this was another case of a rather mundane occurrence being lent an air of mystery, by virtue of a lack of information. All we had was random shrill noises and no way to account for them, the conundrum heightened by the initial fruitlessness of our search. Of such simple things is life: it’s all in the reveal.
Months later, the construction has made a lot of progress and almost all of the holes have been sealed and built over, making for much less activity for the cranes. But just the other day I noticed the whistling once again and went to investigate. It wasn’t the usual activity of before; a crane seemed to be assisting in adjusting some rebar that was being laid out and put into place in a concrete form, and again there was a worker nearby whistling and signaling.
It made me wonder. When the construction is over, the Metro finished, and the road in front of our building open again, what new noises will we hear, and will we prefer the old ones? How cacophonous will the flow of traffic and the honking of horns be? Will it be better or worse than the various sounds of construction?
And might we, after it has all changed back from construction zone to busy street again, suddenly find our ears treated to the sound of a traffic cop, blowing a whistle?
Yes, many of the buildings in Dubai are currently under construction. Word has it that 35% of the world’s construction cranes are in Dubai. As for the pointy things on top of buildings, we do have lightning here (apparently with every rain storm), so my best guess is that they serve as lightning rods and as a secondary use, it may be an attempt to make the building a little bit taller than the existing buildings around it. It is all about bigger and better, baby!
Apparently, the grand opening ceremony for the Atlantis Hotel was well publicized in the States, because several of you have asked us about it. The fireworks were supposed to start at midnight and we did look out the window at 5 after midnight to see if we could see them. However, apparently they started about 40 minutes late (typical Arab time) and we were fast asleep by then. We probably would have been able to see them, had we gone up to the roof and waited long enough. Fireworks are common at ceremonies here (even my college started the year with a fireworks display), but I am sure this was a record setting performance.
This next week is National Day — the celebration of the creation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 — 37 years old (or young). The build up has already started and displays are already going up. We passed the house below on the way home tonight. It is literally covered in lights all the way around roof to foundation.
So, I may have mentioned the lack of infrastructure before, as in the heavy traffic on arterials is due to a lack of alternative routes on side streets and the randomness of buildings – both in size and placement. There’s also the lack of systematized addressing and residential postal delivery.
I have learned that there is another major piece of the infrastructure puzzle missing — sewer system. Actually, that’s unfair, they have a sewer system, a significant portion of it does not involve piping leading to the sewage plant. Sewage goes into storage tanks and is then pumped into trucks and trucked to the sewage treatment plant. Apparently, 3000 of these trucks are trying to keep up with the daily demand, so to speak. One would think that the inefficiency of this system in the long run would have occurred to someone before the population reached 1.5 million.
So, the moral of this story is: If you are apartment/villa shopping in Dubai, add “how close is it to the sewage plant?” to your list of questions to ask. Just imagine — sewage plant + sewage trucks + 110F = reek!