Friday, 21 January 2011

Things to do before you...

So, my girlfriends and I were discussing things that we would like to do if the world was going to end (which one of them assures me is going to happen on 21st December 2012 - don't press me on the date - we were several glass of wine into the girl's night at this point!). So, we began a list of things we would like to see/do before the world is no more. Here's a little preview of what we plan to achieve over the next 18 months:

1. Brunch at the Burj Al Arab for all staff members at MDX paid for by MDX.

2. Snog Johnny Depp

3. See the migration in Kenya

4. Snog Johnny Depp

5. See the Northern Lights (we didn't really mind where from)

6. Snog Johnny Depp

7. Take part in Strictly come dancing (inspired by the amount of weight the contestants seem to shed whilst taking part!)

8. Snog Johnny Depp

9. Meet the Dali Lama

10. Find one of our group a husband (because she's gorgeous and single)

Oh, and I nearly forgot one, I want to snog Johnny Depp. So, take a moment - what dreams you be achieving over the next 18 months?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Dubai Persona

I was chatting with some friends yesterday (lovely, genuine people - a rare find in Dubai) and we were discussing the difficulty of finding 'real' people here. People who move here have a tendency to develop a 'persona'; a new personality to go with their new lifestyle (or to hide the lifestyle they have escaped from in coming here). If you were moving to a new place and could reinvent yourself, what would your new persona be?

So, here are a few tips and hints for those moving to Dubai, to aid them in their quest for the perfect Dubai persona:

1. The minute you get off the plane, go to the nearest bank (chose a local one, they are far more stupid) and take out every credit card option they have, plus the bank account with all the features, benefits, rewards etc. Make sure that the limit on your credit cards collectively is as high as possible. See below for reasons. Oh, and don't give them a genuine forwarding address in your home country.
2. Choice of vehicle: of course you are only going to pretend that you go driving and/or camping in the desert, but it is absolutely essential that you have a 4x4 to go to spinneys, so no other car will do.
3. Purchase of said vehicle: 'maximum cost, minimum downpayment' is the key here. A porsche Cayenne, Q7 or that BMW thing are the best options. Take out the loan over the longest period (let's face it, you haven't got a hope in hell of paying it off) and anyway the interest rate is probably only about 4% so who cares?
4. Notwithstanding that you now have an expensive vehicle (and will shortly have speeding fines to match - see below) you NEED a driver. You can't possibly get by here in Dubai without at least two servants, so both a maid and a driver are essential. The cost is absolutely prohibitive but you NEED them - its a status thing. You won't be able to hold your head up at brunch at the Burj Al Arab without being able to say you have them.
5. Driving: speed limits are for wimps. It is necessary to pay out huge amounts in speeding fines each year when you re-register your car. Remember, nonchalence is the key here - don't baulk when they tell you how much. You are the dog's bollocks after all, in your Porsche Cayenne.
6. Entertainment: The object of your weekend is to remain pissed for most of the time. A quick 9 holes on the golf course (the Montgomery, of course) followed by the all day brunch. Leave the kids with the maid, she only gets one day off a month (I mean, what is she going to do with a day off, she has no money on what you pay her).
7. Wasta: wasta means 'street cred' in Khaleeji. In order to develop your wasta you need to max out the credit cards buying designer gear. Breitling watch, calvin Klein undies, Gucci, Armani, D&G, they're all here, so knock yourself out.
8. The Moonlight flit: of course, the lifestyle can't last for ever and when you finally get the can because you are pissed at work on a Sunday (again) and the bank keep calling you at the office about the amount of debt outstanding on your credit card, it's time to bail out Dubai style. This needs careful planning, after all you don't want people thinking that you are the plonker you really are. So, don't dump the car at the airport - too obvious. Give the insurance company a few days to find it - drive it to a very large supermarket and leave it in their car park.  The bank hasn't got a clue where you're from, or indeed where you're going, so forget the debts on the credit cards. Don't bother telling the school that you're leaving, after all they have been ripping you off royally on their fees, so knickers to them. Just to be on the safe side, book return tickets when you leave - saves any awkwardness with immigration on the way out.

Have a nice life and thanks for flying air misery!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cyber Etiquette

Etiquette: the set of rules or customs which control accepted behaviour in particular social groups or social situations (Cambridge Dictionary)

In 1861, Mrs Beeton published a book of household etiquette, a rule book for the discerning housewife. Although it is something, which now, might as well be from another planet, it nevertheless raises issues over societal etiquette. At the time, Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management was the be all and end all of household etiquette. If you were struggling with an issue, you turned to her, and the matter would be settled. It was a book borne of, and actively shaping, its time.

Etiquette is indeed shaped by society as it changes. Fifty years ago, it would have been unspeakable if a man did not stand up when a woman sat down at table, or did not remove his hat in a woman's presence. But these gestures are gone, swallowed up by the seeming parity of the sexes in 21st Century society. So, as we bury further into the ubiquitous world of the cyber-age, how will this affect and shape our social etiquette?

Take social networking. Are there really any rules of engagement attached to such interactions? What is the 'accepted social behaviour' of this group? For example, let's say you receive a friend request from someone you work with, but don't particulary like. Do you accept the friendship or ignore it? Do you accept with a limited profile - which is pretty much the same as a rejection? And what if you accept the friendship (to save face) and later simply delete that person (for which he/she receives no notification). Is it acceptable to ask someone why they have deleted you, or is that 'simply not cricket'? Even Mrs Beeton (in one of her prophetic moments) warns us: Friendships should not be hastily formed, nor the heart given, at once, to every new-comer' (

Social networking is as bit of an non sequitur. It's not social at all in the sense of engaging in human interaction. It isn't  networking either, if you can't really be sure of the validity of the information about the person you are 'networking' with. So, how can a set of rules be established for something that is essentially undefinable?

Perhaps that's why we like it so much. It's random, anonymous and has no boundaries. Is this what we can expect from the 21st Century? Let's hope not.