Monday, March 31, 2008
March 30So yesterday, March 30, was my father-in-law's birthday. Oddly enough it was also my birthday.

Yes, my wife married someone who has the same birthday as her dad.

Like father, like husband, I guess.

So Happy Birthday to us!

Dodgers logoAnyway, yesterday was also the third game of a series between my Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Now as you know, I lived in Los Angeles for six years around the turn of the millennium. For half of those years I lived about nine miles from Dodger Stadium. Thus the Dodgers became my favorite National League team in baseball.

That's why I just I can't believe that my two favorite teams in baseball were playing each other on my birthday and I wasn't there.

And because the teams are in different leagues, they've only been playing each other regularly since interleague play began in 1997. In fact the last time they played with in early June of 2004 at Fenway Park in Boston ... a few weeks before I left California for Maine.

Apparently they also played in late June of 2002, June 21-23, at Dodger Stadium, but for some reason I didn't go. Maybe I was too busy going to see Lilo & Stitch?

Either way, it's full-on baseball season in the States right now, so you might forgive me if I I don't cover things like the Dubai World Cup horse race that happened on Saturday. But you should totally google it, it's so pretentious that most of the articles I've seen focus on the fashion and hats more than the horses.

Seriously, the hats are huge - in both a figurative and literal way. One store even brought in seven milliners because they needed so many hats!!

Yep, give me baseball any day of the week ... especially my birthday.
posted by Josh at 4:21 PM | 2 comments
Friday, March 28, 2008
MGM LogoHey, another American theme park in the Middle East!

Yes, this time it's Los Angeles studioette Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Apparently they've made a deal with Abu Dhabi’s Sorouh Real Estate to build an entertainment development complex in the city by 2012.

No word on the name yet, but the complex will include hotels, restaurants, retail shops and themed attractions based on its library of films.

And no, this isn't related in any way to Disney-MGM Studios in Florida, which actually has been renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios as of January 7 of this year. Here's their new logo:

Disney's Hollywood Studios Logo
posted by Josh at 10:33 PM | 0 comments
iPhoneSo you know the Apple iPhone that came out in the States last summer? Did you see how, a few weeks ago, there was this uproar about how many have made it onto the black market?

It's funny because I meant to write back then just how many iPhones I've seen in Dubai. They're everywhere. The town is lousy with iPhones. Shoot, even teenagers in the high school have them left and right.

Which is more than a little amazing, considering that the iPhone is not officially available in Dubai.

Then the other day, wandering the city with my parents, we stopped to get dad a new watch battery at this kind of seedy electronic store in Bur Dubai, down by the creek. And by seedy I mean, in their display window they had iPods that don't exist. Like really, really bad knockoffs.

They also had iPhones.

Or at least iPhone boxes.

Since the watch repair was taking a little bit, I asked one of the sales guys how much the iPhone cost.

He said 1900 dirhams - about $517.

Now, if it's real that's a bargain. The 8GB model goes for $399 in the States, plus you need to sign your life away to AT&T for a couple of years.

But how do I know it's real? I mean, if the "iPod" in the window was any indication, these guys wouldn't mind terribly to rip a customer off. Shoot, it could be a box full of rocks for all I know.

Still, there was a little part of me that was doing the math - if Liz could barter him down about 20% (she's good at that stuff) that'd make it ... just about the same as a phone in the States, minus the AT&T bit.

Then again, just my luck it'd be an "iFone" or something.

But still, those high school kids have to get them from somewhere ...
posted by Josh at 3:27 PM | 2 comments
Thursday, March 27, 2008
On Monday, my parents' last day in Dubai, we went to the beach for a few hours. Jumeirah Open Beach over by the Burj al-Arab, the one that almost closed last year about this time (see Jumeirah Open Beach Still Open).

It was a brilliant day out, our friends at the U.S. Navy Naval Oceanographic Office say the temperature in The Gulf is about 74 degrees.

Temps on land are in the low 80s, I'd bet.

Anyway, long story short although we were there for two or three hours I didn't put in sunblock and I ended the day looking a pretty healthy shade of pink.

Now I woudldn't lie to you, I wasn't red. This was not in the top ten worst sunburns of my life. No sunstroke, no blisters, my dermis was fine - the epidermis was a little toasted. Maybe it was a first-degree burn, but really, I doubt it. Let's call it a half-degree burn.

Anyway, that night I had class before I took my folks to the airport. And, as can be common with the program here, I'm really the only person in the class of eighteen-to-twenty students who could be considered Caucasoid in his ethnicity (save for the German professor).

White-boy Josh.

Alone in my Anglo-Saxon ways.

Melanin missing.

Pigmentationally poor.

Coloration challenged.

Okay, that's more than enough. So who are the rest of the students? Well, we have a host of different Arab nations representing, plus a Kazakhstani, a few Indians, an Iraqi, a Chinese lady. A veritable UN.

Well anyway, they all walk in (especially two of the Lebanese guys, the Kazakhstani and one of the Indians) and just bust out laughing. I mean, I must look as foolish to them as the fire-engine-red British tourists look to me when I'm in Florida.

Their amusement is all in fun, I know they're not laughing at me, just at my pink fleshtone, but it got me thinking - some of these guys, they're pretty immune to sunburns. I mean me, with my British Isles (plus a dash of German) predecessors, well darn, our natural habitat is all cloudy and rainy.

And what with climate change and global warming these days having pale skin is like a evolutionary drawback.

I read somewhere (perhaps in the excellent book Mapping Human History by Steve Olson) that it takes around a thousand years for any group of people to evolve a new skin color. At least, that's what I think I remember. Let's say it's around that.

So pretty much all of us pale folks of European-descent? We're in trouble.

I mean, is it any mistake that James Cameron picked Jessica Alba with her mixed Danish-Mexican heritage to play the genetically-engineered super-soldier on Dark Angel? I mean, besides the fact that she's, you know, easy on the eyes?

I really do wonder in the future if the whole world will be a little closer in shades, more holistic in hues. Like we all started one color about 140,000 years ago and one day we'll all get back there.

Something to ponder.

Okay, that's enough philosophy for one day. I've got to go put some aloe on my peeling nose. Later.
posted by Josh at 11:15 AM | 2 comments
Okay, one last post about Major League Baseball's Opening Series in Japan and then I'll let it go.

And it even ties in to Dubai (albeit very, very loosely).

Did anyone notice the big red ad behind home plate during the 4th inning?

It was for Dubai-based Emirates Airlines!!

The very airline that is now allowing passengers to use their cell phones in-flight (see Emirates Airlines Takes a Nosedive) and is starting a daily non-stop flight from LA (see Los Angeles to Dubai non-stop).

They advertise a ton in Europe during rugby and soccer - they even have the naming rights to the Arsenal stadium - it's called Emirates Stadium. But this, this is a big leap for Emirates. Unless maybe they advertise regularly at the Tokyo Dome?

No idea.

Anyway, here's a photo of the ad, while Manny Ramírez is at bat:

Emirates ad during baseball
posted by Josh at 11:02 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Wow, Orbit ESPN is spoiling me! Today's the second day in the row that I'm getting live Major League Baseball!

Watch, I bet these will be the only two games they show all season. But yesterday's game was worth it. When are those teams going to learn if you pitch around Ortiz you've got to face Manny right after him?

And speaking of Oakland pitchers - Embree, Foulke, DiNardo ... wow, those names sound familiar!

Okay, back to the third inning ...

MLB Opening Series Japan
posted by Josh at 3:06 PM | 0 comments
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I forgive every bad thing I've ever said about you, Orbit ESPN (see Sox this morning and I hate Orbit ESPN and I still hate Orbit ESPN).

Honestly, that's how little I think of them, I didn't even venture to check Orbit ESPN until now - and yes, we have the Red Sox / A's game live from Tokyo!

Gotta split. Top of the 6th, Alan Embree is pitching.

posted by Josh at 4:06 PM | 2 comments
No Cell Phone LogoI'm a fan of Dubai-based Emirates Airlines. Great food, great entertainment, all-around fantastic service.

Well, until now.

Emirates has become the first commercial airline to allow passengers to make cell phone calls during flights.

I repeat, passengers will now be able to make cell phone calls during flights.

How stupid is that?

It's almost like all of the managers and vice-presidents and Sheikhs in charge of the airline sat around a meeting and said, "how can we totally torpedo our great track record?"

And one guy says, "I was at the movies last night, and the guy behind me had a ten minute conversation on his cell phone."


So now Emirates is running with this plan. In fact, they had to go to "considerable lengths" to ensure that all safety and regulatory issues have been fully addressed. What about when I put my size twelve up some yappy dude's hind-quarters when he won't shut up while I'm trying to sleep?

Have they addressed that?

Didn't think so.

They also, thankfully, retrofitted their Airbus A340s with a system which stops phones from interfering with a plane's electronics. 'Cause that'd be bad.

And yes, BlackBerry and other data services work, too.


I'm sure there won't be any problems with this plan. Good luck, Emirates. And let me know how it all works out. From now on, I'll be flying the "phone-free" airlines.
posted by Josh at 2:41 PM | 0 comments
In a few hours the 2008 Major League Baseball season gets underway when my Boston Red Sox play the Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan.

The Red Sox, as you'll probably note from last October, are the reigning World Series Champions.

Go Sox!

Boston Red Sox World Series Champions
posted by Josh at 12:45 PM | 0 comments
Maine Department of Agriculture LogoAwww! We missed Maine Maple Sunday!!

We still had a good weekend, though. It was the perfect storm of holidays, really. Thursday was the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)'s birthday - a National holiday here.

Then Friday was the Middle East's Mother's Day - which was cool because my parents were visiting Dubai. Saturday was Nourouz - the Persian New Year. Sunday was the Christian / large bunny holiday of Easter.

But I totally forgot that Maine Maple Sunday is the fourth Sunday in March!

Maine is the second largest maple syrup producer in the US (after Vermont), so every year dozens of sugar houses around the state open their doors to the public for Maine Maple Sunday.

And what a process - did you know that it takes forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup?

It's a bummer we missed it, but next year we'll be home to have a pancake or two, and maybe even some maple cotton candy. Mmm!
posted by Josh at 11:54 AM | 3 comments
Monday, March 24, 2008
So my parents have been in town since Wednesday, hence no updates. We've been touristing like crazy, took the Big Bus Tour the other day, been down to the creek a couple of times, and, in traditional Edwards fashion, we've been eating like crazy.

I'll have all sorts of photos and stories soon.
posted by Josh at 7:51 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
MTV Arabia LogoLast December I tol you how MTV finally cracked the Middle East with the premiere of MTV Arabia (see MTV Arabia).

At the time our satellite television company, Orbit didn't carry it.

Luckily Orbit changes the channels every few weeks, and we get it now.

It's a little bizarre, because as soon as I turned it on, I realized that I haven't watched MTV for years. Since Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno was on, actually.

Thus in my mind "The Inferno" is the pinnacle of MTV programming. Actually, if Jonny Mosely was the host of "The Inferno" it would have been perfect (he instead hosted the previous year's "The Gauntlet"). Why he never got his own tv show after that season, I'll never know. He was one genial dude.

Interestingly enough, "The Inferno" was the last time the "Real World" was pitted against the "Road Rules" on the "Real World/Road Rules Challenge". That year Road Rules crushed the Real World team, and I think someone realized that the Road Rulers are, by their very nature, more athletic and outgoing while the Real Worlders are, generally, lame.

Now apparently they just get a bunch of former cast members from both shows and mix them all up.


Like I said, I haven't had MTV for years.

Until now.

Sadly, MTV Arabia doesn't have a "Real World" or a "Road Rules" yet. Imagine what a mix of characters you could get from Dubai though? Locals, expats, workers ... wow, you could blow some minds! (Not to mention probably get some people kicked out of the country!)

Nope, so far I've only seen music videos. Generally an Arabic rap, then several Western songs, then another Arabic song.

Oh, and they have cool little channel ID bumpers like MTV used to be famous for. So that's cool.

Not as cool as Bug Helmet from "The Inferno", though, but really what is?
posted by Josh at 12:53 PM | 0 comments
This morning I read a new British idiom:

it's swings and roundabouts

Apparently it's "something that you say to describe a situation in which there are as many advantages as there are problems".

You think it's from cricket or something? Kind of like how there are a bunch of American phrases from baseball?

Oddly, I can't think of any Americanism that mean the same thing. Maybe we have to adopt it?
posted by Josh at 9:48 AM | 0 comments
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
cloverHi everyone!

Still having internet troubles here (think it's the apartment or something, 'cause I can access the site at work) but I wanted to wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day!!
posted by Josh at 6:04 AM | 0 comments
Sunday, March 16, 2008
After the article today in the New York Times, I've finally put our photos from Khasab, Oman online. Check out:

Khasab, Oman
posted by Josh at 7:37 PM | 0 comments
Holy cow! Not sure if any of you have the travel section of today's New York Times, but it features an article about Khasab, Oman!

We just went up there last month with some guests, and back in October of 2006, too (see Musandam).

That reminds me, I owe you photos of our trip, don't I? I'll have to get right on that.
posted by Josh at 12:59 PM | 0 comments
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Etisalat logoSo I don't know what's going on, but every and website is still not working here.

I've looked all over the news and can't find anything about underwater cables cut or internet viruses found, so I can only assume that Dubai's phone and internet provider Etisalat is jimmying with us.

The fact that these posts are seeming to get through (my brother and father-in-law have confirmed the the website still in fact exists) is at least some consolation.

I just wish I could see it myself. Sometimes I'm rather vain about that stuff. In fact, I bet that half of these 10,000 page views since September are from me alone ...
posted by Josh at 12:27 PM | 0 comments
Friday, March 14, 2008


I can't seem to get this blog to load here in Dubai, but it seems I can still post stuff. I think. Honestly, I can't tell.

So maybe you can see this ... or maybe not ...
posted by Josh at 6:49 PM | 0 comments
Blogger logoHmm, not sure what the deal is, but as I type this Blogger isn't working.

I actually use this Mac program called Mars Edit to write and manage the blogs, but that's on my computer here. As I try and upload to the server?

No dice.

So I wonder if it's all blogger or just the UAE Blogger or what?

Either way, I hope it gets sorted out soon. I got posts to write!
posted by Josh at 6:46 PM | 0 comments
Emirates LogoGot sixteen hours? Want to travel 11 time zones? Then Emirates Airline has the flight for you!

Yes, yesterday Dubai's Emirates Airline announced a new daily flight from Dubai to Los Angeles, starting on September 1.

And they're doing it in full Dubai / Hollywood style. The new Boeing 777-200LR will feature eight luxurious private suites in First class, 42 lie-flat seats in Business, and room for 216 cattle passengers in Economy.

The 8339 mile flight from Dubai to LA will take 16 hours and 35 minutes, and the return (which is always shorter) will land in just under sixteen hours.

Wow. That's a haul.

Emirates Boeing 777-200LR
The Emirates Boeing 777-200LR
posted by Josh at 6:45 PM | 0 comments
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Today I blabber about a couple of different subjects, one of which is ABC's show Lost. If you like the show but haven't seen the past six episodes, well, read at your own risk.

We have our tickets to go home. I repeat, we have our tickets to go home. Liz mentioned this the other day (see Traveling Cats) but I'm a little less interested in the 'traveling cat' part and a little more interested in the 'us-getting-the-heck-out-of-here' part.

No, that sounds mean. I'm just really, really excited to go home.

For the past few days it's felt like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. We have our flight, our confirmation number, our seats. July 10, 2008 will be our last day in Dubai. We'll be home at noon on July 11.

Four months from today.

It reminds me a little of the television show Lost. You know how, for the past three years, the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 have been stranded on a tropical island? Well for the past two years I kind of feel like I've been trapped in ... well, a desert. But hey, we um ... we have islands in Dubai. Sure, they're man-made, but they're islands. And I bet some are darn near tropical, what with the massive irrigation and all. So yeah.

But seriously, back to 'Lost'. The show, for the first three seasons, was famous for flashbacks to the characters' pre-stranded, former lives. But now, starting at the end of the last season, we're now getting flash-forwards to their lives after being rescued. Well, not all of them. Only six get rescued, but so far we know of four of the apparent Oceanic Six.

"So what?" you ask? Well, the writers of the show are somewhat fond of killing off characters. I mean, we've lost Boone, Shannon, Artz, Scott (or was it Steve?), Mr. Eko, Ana Lucia, Libby, Charlie, as well as Ethan, Goodwin, Mr. Friendly ... and the entire DHARMA camp.

To know that Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid survive, well, it's hopeful.

As for relating it to Dubai, well, somehow I feel like I'm one of the Oceanic Six.

Like, I'm going to make it. The end is in sight. Begin flash-forward now.

I just ran into a friend outside, and he likened our summer plans to "escaping from jail".

Cue the rushing WHOOSH sound and cut to me, sitting on a dock on the lake, pork hot dog in one hand, cold Shipyard beer in the other. Smiling.

This is coming off as terribly negative, and probably disjointed as all get-out. Can I blame Holden Caufield? Right now we're reading The Catcher in the Rye so I think my writing is a little more scattered and mental than normal. Hey, at least it's not profanity-laced. That kills me. It really does.

Maybe I can blame my other school, where I'm knee-deep and sinking quickly in midterms and projects?

I'm overtired?


There's got to be a good excuse in here somewhere.

The end is in sight. In the case of 'Lost', well, that might not be a good thing for the characters. For me? I'm quite looking forward to the beginning of the next chapter in my own life.
posted by Josh at 4:36 PM | 1 comments
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The other day I got some gas for the car ("petrol for the auto", if you're one of those non-American English speakers). I realized ("realised"?) that it's been awhile since I noticed how much the prices are. See in Dubai there are no big price signs outside of the filling stations. And we buy it in Imperial Gallons, which I'm not terribly familiar with. Also have I mentioned all of the stations are full-service? That rankles me a little big. I'm a big boy, I can pump my own gas, thankyou.

Anyway with news that gas prices in the States are going to reach $4 a gallon this summer - just in time for our return - well, I want to see what we're paying here on the Gulf.

You'll remember I did this last in September of 2006 (see Gas Prices in Dubai).

Last week I wrote down that 1.6 Imperial Gallon cost 10 dirhams.

So if we reverse engineer that:

1 Imperial Gallon = 1.20095042 US Gallons.

Thus 1.6 Imperial Gallons = 1.9215206 US Gallons.

So that's 10 dirhams for 1.9215206 US Gallons of gas.

And 1 dirham = 0.272346 US dollars.

So we paid 2.72346 US dollars for 1.9215206 US Gallons.

Or 1.42 US Dollars for 1 US Gallon of gas.

... exactly the same as a year and a half ago.

It's odd with a rapidly growing inflation around here (grocery stores are raising prices monthly, Starbucks almost weekly) that gasoline appears to be fixed. Very fixed.

It's almost as if we're living in an oil-rich nation ...
posted by Josh at 6:58 AM | 0 comments
Monday, March 10, 2008
(a/k/a I just put the "ass" in "assessment")

So I probably would have been better off writing a longer post about "The Kite Runner" this afternoon than studying for my midterm. Man did I just bomb it. Totally ransacked.

Of course it didn't help that over three-quarters of the test was on one of the four major points we studied. The other three? Barely mentioned.

Yep, the test was six multiple choice questions about six different topics, and then one essay about one topic that counted for 80 percent of the points.

So I'm here to ask, how is that an accurate assessment of the knowledge or skills we've learned in the last six weeks? Yeah, I know, the word "assessment" is one of them-there new fangled teaching words that they cram down your maw in teaching school, but still, is testing on one topic a valid assessment?

I know, I know, I'm just about to start throwing around phrases like "meaning is constructed by the learner" and "there are multiple ways of expressing a similar learning" but shoot, I kind of feel robbed over here.

Is it just sour grapes?

Hey, maybe he'll grade easily.

No need to get worked up.


posted by Josh at 9:01 PM | 0 comments
Good news on the traveling-with-cats front. (For the two or three of you reading this who are/were actually concerned. Thanks AK!)

As you may know, Josh and I anticipated traveling back to the US separately, each of us with one cat on board. (Insert chuckles of disbelief from non-pet people or nods of total agreement from pet people here.) But thanks to the folks at Delta, we can travel as a family, since they allow two cats in the economy cabin. Had we had the great misfortune of being business class or first class travelers, we would have had to be in separate planes. But, luckily for us, we’re die hard economy folks. So today Lily Lou Salalah Greason-Edwards and Kitty Kitton Edwards-Greason got their tickets to fly…and so did we.

See you in July!
posted by Liz at 7:17 PM | 0 comments
Sorry gang, busy studying for a big ol' midterm this afternoon, don't have time for a full post. I do, however, want to mention that over the weekend we went to the movies and saw The Kite Runner.

I hadn't read the book, but Liz had. We both liked the picture. Granted, there were at least two parts where it looked like the UAE censors had excised content. Two abrupt edits. Hmm.

I hope to have more time to get into the specifics of a full-on movie review later, but for now I wanted to mention the opening credits. Amazing motion graphics. It really took Arabic calligraphy to new levels.

You know, right now I think we're starting a new renaissance in title sequences. Take both The Kingdom and Enchanted from last year. I mean, we're not to Saul Bass levels yet, but I think we've surpassed most James Bond flicks.

So here it is via our friends at YouTube:

posted by Josh at 4:32 PM | 0 comments
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Six Flags LogoWell gosh, this is almost getting about as repetitous as me telling you about Dubai getting the "world's largest" something.

Hey Dubai's getting another theme park! It must be ... I dunno, name any day of the week.



On Tuesday Tatweer, a member of Dubai Holding, and Six Flags Inc announced a deal to build a Six Flags park in Dubai.

As we told you on Monday, Dubai's just struck a deal to get a quartet of Anheuser-Busch parks - Aquatica, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove, and SeaWorld (see Shamu Moves to Dubai).

And there's the rest, again - DreamWorks Animation, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Marvel Comics, as well as the dino themed Restless Planet.

Most of these, including the new Six Flags, will be a part of the massive three billion square foot "Dubailand" property.

Apparently Six Flags will be getting five million square feet of that.

As all of the others have done, Six Flags has licensed its concepts to Tatweer, and while it will run the park, it will not own it.

Dubai Holding, through Tatweer, will own the park.

And not only will Tatweer own the first Six Flags project outside of North America, but they also plan on creating new Six Flags concepts across the entire Arab region, including branded restaurants, hotels and retail outlets.

A Six Flags restaurant - that's genius! Because I always wanted to eat at somewhere that's blasting annoying commercials the whole time you're there (remember this series from a few years ago?)

Granted, we have no idea when Six Flags will be open - after all, it is part of Dubailand - it could be 2015, 2018, 2025 or beyond. However groundbreaking on the park is expected to begin in 2009.

Geesh, and I thought those domestic Six Flags ads were cheesy. Just wait until Dubai One starts playing the shoddily made Arabic ripoff versions ...
posted by Josh at 4:12 PM | 0 comments
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Dubai's been in the New York Times twice in the last few days, here are some links:

A Sports Mecca (Pardon the Expression)

City on the Gulf: Koolhaas Lays Out a Grand Urban Experiment in Dubai
posted by Josh at 6:54 AM | 0 comments
dubai tennis logoNot sure if you saw this, but on Monday four-time champ Roger Federer lost in the first round of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.

Quite the shocker.

As Liz mentioned the other day, we haven't had a chance to go to see a match yet, and now that it's getting down to the finals (the last match is on Sunday) well I doubt we'll go at all.

That's a bummer.
posted by Josh at 6:51 AM | 0 comments
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Airbus LogoI don't know how much attention you've paid to airline travel lately, but for us, well, we keep a pretty close watch on it. As you can imagine we have to. Anything new can alter the industry landscape significantly and, more importantly, screw up ticket prices.

That's why this whole Airbus A380 plane is just so wacky.

If you haven't seen anything about it, the A380 is the new double-decker, super-jumbo jet from Airbus. It's the world's largest passenger airliner, actually. And since Dubai loves all things "world's largest", naturally Dubai-based Emirates Airline has placed the biggest order for the plane so far. (They hope to have 58 Airbus A380s by 2012).

Anyway just the other day Emirates annouced that starting on October 1 of this year they'll offer daily flights to JFK Airport in New York from Dubai.

Service to London Heathrow starts on December 1 and to Auckland and Sydney on February 1, 2009.

All three of the routes will offer a staggering 489 seats (14 in first class, 76 in business and 399 in economy).

In comparison, the Boeing 777-200ER that Delta flies from Dubai to Atlanta carries a mere 268 passengers.

All of this, of course, doesn't do much for Liz and me - we'll be moved home by October. I guess we could come back and visit, but right now I'm too concerned with getting home first to think about coming back ...

A380 and the Burj al-Arab
An A380 flies by the Burj al-Arab in this publicity still
(click to enlarge)
posted by Josh at 6:48 AM | 1 comments
Monday, March 3, 2008
SeaWorld LogoYou might have already seen this, but on Thursday theme park owner-slash-brewer Anheuser-Busch signed a deal with Nakheel to build four theme parks on the Palm Jebel Ali here in Dubai.

Yep, looks like we're going to get the opened-in-Orlando-on-Saturday Aquatica, the standard coaster friendly Busch Gardens, the $250 a day Discovery Cove, and good old SeaWorld.

However strict Islamic Dubai won't, I bet, get any Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Ice, Bud Dry, Michelob, Michelob Light, Michelob Ultra (if they still make that crap), Busch, Busch Light, Busch Ice, Natural Light (my father's favorite ... seriously), Rolling Rock, Tequiza, Bacardi Silver or King Cobra.

Maybe they'll have a non-alcohol O'Doul's, though.

Anyway, SeaWorld and Aquatica will open in 2012, and Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove will debut shortly thereafter.

Dubai, as we've previously mentioned, has proposed theme parks deals with DreamWorks Animation, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Marvel Comics, as well as the dino themed Restless Planet (all wrapped up in their "Dubailand" property), while neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi has the proposed Warner Brothers theme park and the Louvre museum.

So gee, Dubai is angling to be the next Orlando, eh?

It really makes you wonder what's going on at the Walt Disney Company.

You might remember that about a year ago there was the rumor that Disney was planning a park in the Kingdom of Bahrain (see News: Disney's Bahrain). But that was just that - a rumor.

And two years ago Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, told local paper Khaleej Times that, "there is a still a fundamental evolution of infrastructure that has to occur so that people can get to a single destination with the footprint that we would like to develop. Today that footprint is not in place."

In fact, it appears that Disney is going the opposite direction with its theme park expansion with smaller regional resorts. In October Disney announced plans to build a resort on Oahu in Hawaii, its first stand-alone hotel destination. (see the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's story "Aloha Disney").

Then there's their Adventures by Disney - guided vacations to Costa Rica, Italy, England, France, Wyoming, Latin America and the American Southwest.

I think that Disney has something going on. A plan, if you will. As a Disney ... aficionado ... of sorts it's rare that I agree with the prattling internet gossip-mongers out there, but there's this one article that stopped me dead cold when I read it last year.

I'm not sure if he has proof or not, but author Kevin Yee's article For Sale, 1BR, 1BA says that Disney, in our post-September 11 world, is running off of a 'worst case scenario' playbook written with the help of outside consulting firms. And that these worst-case scenarios for the theme park business are pretty bad. To prove it all, he quotes James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency.

And yeah, I've read that book. And have been meaning to talk about it here.

But more on that later this week ...

Until then, here's a photo of what the Palm Jebel Ali is going to look like with the theme parks. And no, I'm not making this up ...

Palm Jebel Ali
posted by Josh at 4:30 PM | 0 comments