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21 October, 2005

This year's honours list

"Of course when I first got here, seven years ago, there were no Emirates Towers, and there was no Burj."

In one fell swoop, Mercy earns herself an OBE - Old Boring Expat award. It's an accolade that nobody - Dame Mercy included - ever expects to win themselves: when hiding their yawns as a current OBE drones on about nothing-but-the-trade-centre. If one is really unlucky, "we all used to go out for big nights out in Sharjah! In those days, alcohol was freely available there" and even "there were no supermarkets then, we had to wait for the camel caravan to arrive from Ras Al Khaimah!" are also trotted out.

All terribly interesting, except when one has heard it several thousand times, while politely sipping a lukewarm Lacnor fruit "cocktail" at yet another dreary reception.

The latest generation of expats, the post-20th-century arrivees, can expect to earn their OBE with:

"Of course, in the old days, there were only three buildings at Media City and four at Internet City. Things were so much friendlier then!"

"When we first arrived here, it only took a couple of hours to get from Sheikh Zayed road to City Centre. Of course we pack overnight supplies now."

"Five years ago, one could get a rundown beach-front villa for less than fifty thousand dirhams a year! Our driver now pays twice that every month to share a room with thirty other bachelors in Sharjah."

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Blogger Keef said...

Well, thanks for the accolade, I definitely qualify for an OBE! As I remarked to BetterArf only yesterday as we were wading through the nightmare maze of Junction 5 under reconstruction: 'I remember when all this was just MMFD*'.

*Miles and Miles of Flippin Desert.

21 October, 2005 23:19  
Blogger secretdubai said...

You know I forgot the "Ramada roundabout" one. The people (very often Jumeira Janes, as they rarely journey further north than The One) who always refer - eg when giving direction to a tailor they recommend - to the roundabout that apparently used to exist at that mega hell-junction on Bank Street/Khalid bin al Waleed Street, by Mostafawi carpets and what was(!!) the Dragon Centre, just down from the Ramada and "old" Spinneys.

It's now just traffic lights, but in the primeval soup it was a roundabout.

21 October, 2005 23:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget Falcon, Fish and Flame Roundabouts, which were removed from the lexicon of Jumeirah-speak about five years ago. Were they ever roundabouts? Did they ever exist? Where were they? Then there are those who like to refer to all-night parties at The Lodge (first time round, natch) and The Venue (pre-name change to Diamond Club and subsequent closure).

21 October, 2005 23:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love my promotion to Dameity....

21 October, 2005 23:35  
Blogger Keef said...

Snow White: Yes they were all roundabouts that all got converted into traffic-light junctions. Probably about eight years ago. Let me see. The Falcon (or Budgie) was at the port end of Bank Street. The Fish and the Flame, I think, were in Deira. In fact the Flame has been relocated/rebuilt near the Airport as you join the main Sharjah road. The Ramada roundabout had a horrible fountain thingie in the middle of it.

21 October, 2005 23:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thing I can't qualify as an OBE just yet. Two years in Dubai is hardly enough to make such comments. Traffic is as horrible as it has been since I've arrived. Same buildings and same everything. However, I do make the comments of comparing roads here with Texas, "At least I can tell which is North and which is East.. here I have to guess, or be told, 'heading toward abu dhabi, or entering into dubai from abu dhabi'.." ;)

22 October, 2005 01:23  
Blogger _sublime_ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

22 October, 2005 01:57  
Blogger samuraisam said...

what about "new spinneys" there are at least 5 other spinneys that have been built after it, yet people still refer to it as "new spinneys" it was built in like 98 or something.

Then there are the 30 or so people in dubai who can't tell the difference between the beach road and al wasl road.

Way back when i used to live near abela supermarket, that's going back 15 years. ask anyone today about abela and they'll say "who, what, why, when?" doesnt exist anymore ): . pitty, that place had a pirate movie selection that rocked, until they shutdown of course, i think i kept home alone 2 from them though (:

22 October, 2005 05:58  
Blogger Desert Mermaid said...

They still have Abela in Al Ain I think, that's Al Ain for you.

22 October, 2005 08:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be knocking Abela, y'all. I celebrated my 7-14yr birthdays with their delightful Black Forest cakes - used to be the bomb before Mr. Baker popped in his fat head.

22 October, 2005 10:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Secret! - There's another (again rather hackneyed) comparison (lament?) one hears frequently from (senior) expats concerning the times of yore, but it has nothing to do with buildiing construction or magic roundabouts --- rather, it relates to the precipitous "decline" in the social mores and values of the youngsters growing up in the vibrant city....under the influence of all sorts of "vices"... ahem... ahem..grunt.....cough ... cough..

22 October, 2005 10:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I guess I qualify for Knighthood then ... being in Dubai since 1995. I was here pre Burj Al Arab, pre Emirates Towers, pre " " City ( insert any name you like into inverted commas). The only rocking places at that time were 49ers at the Shell Inn, El Ranchos at Marco Polo and Rock Bottom at Regent palace hotel. Jebel Ali to Dubai would take 25 mins ( i even managed 17 minutes one balmy romantic February evening) and life in general was wonderful... ohhhh the good ol' days !

22 October, 2005 10:50  
Blogger samuraisam said...

i remember when i was first in dubai, back in 1990. with my brothers and sisters, we were all around 4-5 years old, and my mother gave us like 10-20 dhs each to go abela to buy sweets and chocolates. we came back with HUGE bags filled will all manner of sugary crap. you can certainly get stuff for cheap here.

22 October, 2005 11:28  
Blogger El Sid said...

My missus came here whjen she was 2 in 75 and lived in Mirdif in the early 80's...god knows what Mirdif was like then.

22 October, 2005 13:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the knowledge of all who have been saying "Fish Roundabout" a history. Please note, it still exists in Deira, near Maktoum Hospital and Al Gurair City. I think that part of Dubai has stopped growing anymore.

Some seven years ago we saw the masterplan of Dubai published in Gulf News. There were no Palms and Worlds planned that time. And in the master plan they had planned to demolish entire Deira corniche area all the way upto Naif Road and lots of Hotels were supposed to come there.

If that master plan holds some place still then keep waiting, many more OLD LANDMARKS will vanish in thin air.


22 October, 2005 13:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could I add another award to the OBE, the ADE - Arrogant Dubai Expat.

We had a visit from a group of golfers from Dubai yesterday, and there was a prime speciman at the golf club bar, ranting and raving and calling for the manager just because his beer didn't appear instantaneously. An ADE-winner if ever there was one.

Anyone from other Emirates ever experienced one of these before?

22 October, 2005 14:43  
Blogger Desert Mermaid said...

Arrogant expats are everywhere! Today when shopping in Carrefour I saw a lady I hadnt seen for ages. She arrived in the country the same time as I did and back then she was as ever-so-humble. She's managed to get her own business off the ground (good for her), but today I saw her in the supermarket, kids at school but with a filipino maid follwing her with a trolley as she charged around. I mean, do you really need your maid with you if you're shopping alone? Can't you put things in your trolley by yourself? I see locals doing this all the time but now westerners.Pleeeease!

22 October, 2005 14:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want one too! (OBE.)

Fish R/A is the one in front of Claridge Hotel. The contorted "fish" are now hidden by ageing palms, I think....Al Mussalla Junction (@ Khalid Ibn Waleed and Al Mankhool) was once Al Mussalla R/A...the fountain/bucket thingie was in front of Stand Cinema (that itself set to disappear soon); similar to the one in front of Rydges Plaza....(earlier it wuz just Plaza Hotel with window A/Cs)....Flame roundabout was in front of DNATA building (now Emirates HQ)...

There was no City Centre then, no Bur Juman...(just Al Ghurair)...KT was out in the desert on the way to Abu Dhabi (next to Capri Sonne)...

22 October, 2005 15:54  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Looks like SDd will crack 50,000 on Sitemeter today or at latest tomorrow.

22 October, 2005 16:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL..and yeah..I've heard comments along those lines more times than I care to remember

22 October, 2005 17:02  
Blogger CG said...

OK....this is totally sad. Now I know exactly what all of you think about me. Between my sobs I shall try to explain my sad story....
It began in 1977 where we shopped at Choithrams Al Rais and occasionally had to fight over the tins of Nido milk (fresh milk? are you kidding?). We celebrated Dnata opening at the Flame roundabout not long after....boy that was a drive all the way from Jumeirah.
Gulf Radio Taxi company opened up and had 3 cabs. We would book them an hour before we needed them (wellllllll they might have been busy!!). We spent Thursday nights at the Red Lion Pub, followed by Lucifers Disco and on the daring occasions we would even venture over to the International Hotel near the Airport (Meridien) for a boogie in Studio 7. Once a year we went like a gang to the bangkok Cellar in Sharjah.
We had a nice life, there were no choices, only "shall we go or not".
I would like to say that I qualify for an OBE (with honours) but since I have acquired nationality here (noooooooo dont even go there) I consider myself excempt.
Sorry to say this to DM, but I do on occasion take one of the maids to Carrefour, when I can lower myself to venture there. You don't honestly expect me to stretch up and take a can of beans of the shelf do you?

Sorry SD, I think I am your worst nightmare.

Oh and btw....where exactly is Internet City?

22 October, 2005 19:24  
Blogger CG said...

SD...I think this was a gross attempt on your part to lure us all in.
well done

22 October, 2005 20:22  
Blogger secretdubai said...

It is actually fascinating to hear of people's experiences. As a more recent expat, you only have to look at the pics of 10-15 years ago to shudder at the sort of inconveniences people must have suffered back then.

Especially in the early days of the oil boom when the Intercon was about the only hotel, it was booked out a year in advance, and there was minimal (if any) air conditioning anywhere.

22 October, 2005 20:40  
Blogger CG said...

Oh no SD. no inconveniences at all. Until the age of 7 I did not even experience an a/c at all. amazing really, but it never bothered us. I think it is a case of "if you havn't had it, then you can't miss it". What I do miss is the atmosphere of the old days. I meet a lot of people who get sick of hearing from us 'oldies', but I do often wonder if they can even for a moment comprehend how fantastic it really was, at other times I feel some are jealous.
We had the best of Dubai, there is no doubt. Times are changing and we can only fight it for so long.

22 October, 2005 20:53  
Blogger samuraisam said...

gotta love air conditioning

the maintenence company for my house was so effing useless i may aswell have lived without AC during the summer, the AC has broken more times than i care to remember.

but that isnt half as bad as when the AC in someone's car decides to go bust during summer.

22 October, 2005 22:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai is where I grew up. I loved this place until a few years ago. A lot of good memories.I always thought I would never leave here.

23 October, 2005 10:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have lived in Dubai for a while and my parents even longer. Dubai has lost a lot of its charm. In only 7 years Dubai has seen a phenomnal change in both is landscaping and people.

I maintain that people in Dubai used to be a lot warmer and friendlier than they are now. It shows most when one is driving or even just walking around a mall. Wish people would be a little more polite and conscious of others around them.

- Al Ghurair was the only "shopping mall" for the longest time. As kids Sindbad used to be the main attraction :)
- There were only 2 or 3 Spinneys and one was in Karama. I dont remember too well but it looked like a warehouse from the outside.
- First Interchange on Shk Zayed Rd was the Defense roundabout. There was literally nothing between Dubai Trade Centre and Defense r/a.


23 October, 2005 13:05  
Blogger Keef said...

Got to agree with the last couple of posters - Dubai has lost its charm. I wonder if you can create a 'charm index' based on the numbers of Spinneys? I remember the Spinneys in Karama - it was opposite the first office I ever worked in in Dubai - which is now also long gone.

23 October, 2005 13:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the good old days of the early 70s, when we used to have Dixi-cola. Cant remember if Pepsi was around yet. Spinneys in Karama (near GPO) was the only one and upmarket those days. My dad used to take me to his office at McDermott Inc on some weekends (now what is the extension of the Baniyas street, between Sheraton & the Creek Wharfage. Things have changed a lot now but the memories are still there.

23 October, 2005 14:55  
Blogger CG said...

Oh how I yearn for a dixi...they had some nice flavours. Do you remember Orange and strawberry Crush in big dark orange glass bottles......? anyone? ok ok...too far back.
I remember crisps arriving here, what a change after Pofak Nomaki all my life.

Thats enough. I feel miserable now, and the newbies are gagging.

Was anyone else at the opening of Leisureland?

23 October, 2005 17:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

28 odd years ago I had views of the Dubai creek from my apartment building (G+2) near the Deira Taxi stand. Cable & Wireless (now Etisalat) was a small building, I think it still exists now). It was awesome watching the Al Ghurair Centre under construction, I still recall how a helicopter lifted equipment on to the rooftops of the towers. It was a grand construction project back then. Does anybody remember the hailstorm in 1980 that damaged some cars (not many cars were around anyway, signboards etc?

24 October, 2005 14:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No body has mentioned clock tower roundabout. Is it still there?

27 October, 2005 22:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really miss the old days! we made the most of what we did have! dubai was a lot more friendlier and smaller...

i cant stand this *new dubai culture* of superficiality - since ive been living there (im in the UK right now) for 21 years i have seen and felt the change... dont get me wrong i still love life in dubai... but only because its home.

the good old days.. for those 'new to dubai' u cant imagine how different it was back then!

ahhh- i can still remember when we didnt have coca cola in dubai... hahaha! our first mcdonalds opened in al ghurair centre - is that right? before that we only had hardees.. also we witnessed the birth and death of Arbys (which was at Wafi mall). that was the first fastfood place which had a children's softplay area- i used to go there! hey i just had a flashback - does anyone remember the masafi bottles which had these weird ridges!?!?? inflation?? it used to cost us 10 dhs to go to Al Naser cinema (our main cinema) to watch movies (which arrived several months later than the premiers in the UK and the states). i miss 6 digit phone numbers. also- 20 years ago, camels roamed freely in umm suquiem. i can remember that...

27 October, 2005 23:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubaigirl, that was a good reminder of Dubai was during the good old days. Im not saying that the new days are bad, the city is growing, population is increasing, rents, etc etc.... things have to change I guess. I miss the days I would pay Dhs. 7 - 10 to get between Deira, Karama & Bur Dubai by taxi and get to my destination within 10-15 mins. Al Nasr cinema tickets were Dhs 9 & 15 for orchestra and balcony respectively. BTW to anon @ 22.05, Clocktower R/A is still there although they should rather scoop the icon out of its foundations and place it in Dubailand or somethin.

29 October, 2005 00:20  
Blogger dubaiite said...

Interesting postings!I have memories from the early 60's and the family landed in Dubai in 1951.Dubai-Sharjah Road was just sand,sand and more sand and when we saw the "Mothercat" neon sign,that was the first indication that we were approaching Sharjah.The only hotel was the 3 star Al Bustan and till very recently,was the only city in the world with no traffic lights and traffic was controlled thru round abouts.More nostalgia soon!

31 October, 2005 18:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow I am late to this OBE but I grew up in Dubai since 1975 and left around 1991 stateside. When I went to school folks had never heard about Dubai and I had to explain its the country next to Saudi Arabia but lately they all my ol' school buddies keep telling me - so that is where you grew up - the burj dubai, the ski slopes and its difficult to explain to them - it was nice comfortable fun - life was a lot simpler...
ps i found this site looking for Dixi Cola

16 February, 2007 11:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my gosh Dixi Cola really was the way forward, as was Shanta.
And the Lodge (first time round) was a great haunt for us, ahem, 6th formers (ok, so wasnt quite even in the 6th form then!)
And the wee man at pancho villa's, he was adorable.
In uk now, and have been back a few times, but it is just not the same:(

03 May, 2008 02:10  

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