Our public transport system is not much of a system, and design is not high on the agenda of city planners. Yet like every aspect of life here, someone, somewhere, gets a ray of inspiration, and something wonderful is realised. The simplicity and elegance of our old bus stops, is an example of this. To me, they are the ‘red phone-boxes’ of Kuwait. Form and function sculptured into an icon.
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I am in Cairo on a short business trip. So far all I managed is a late afternoon walk. I thought the second day would give me some more time to catch up with the city – my last visit here was a few years ago – but I just learned that my second meeting will be in Alexandria…
I hope to be able to get a few shots of here and ‘zair’…
A short hop to Dubai for a day. I didn’t bring my camera this time, so it’s another old photo I’m afraid. You can tell from the columns on the left bank of the road. These are now the supports for the metro track, which is almost complete including stations. The photo above was taken in February 2008.
Dubai is still quiet – but the queue for the taxis at the airport was unbelievably long.
We drove to Yanbu’ in the evening and saw very little. This is my second time on this road so I knew there wouldn’t be much action on the way back either – even if it was during daylight. I did find the mirage on the way back rather attractive. It remained with us most of the journey and we seldom saw the horizon.
Last week, I found out that the first Friday of every May is International Female Ride Day. The BMW Motorcycle Club organised Kuwait’s – actually – the Middle East’s first participation in this annual world-wide synchronised campaign. It promotes female motor cyclists and started in Canada in 2007. I found this out because I was kindly invited. I was however on four wheels – and the only wind I felt through my hair was through the sunroof. I closed that too after a while.
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The journey from Jeddah to Yanbu was nothing exciting. The road is long, has two lanes, and desert on either side.
However there was one point near where the road splits to Medina which was rather beautiful. There were more trees and mountains in the background. In fact the roat to Medina is behind the mountains that are just about visible. I heard today that that road is a gorgeous drive all the way to sacred Medina.
This is the first personal few minutes I’ve had since my arrival! I took a taxi out of Paris, first thing Wednesday, and I’ve been busy ever since… My journey out of Paris airport reminded me what an active airport CDG really is. The number of long white clouds (from the jet engines) that lined the sky was impressive. After our meetings, there are receptions, followed by dinners, followed by late nights with colleagues, followed by more meetings the next day. It will be a tough year and many companies are struggling. We are no exception, so it’s important to agree on strategies.
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Well the photograph is obviously of the road back home. Instead of flying to Dammam – bad – I decided to try driving. I wanted to have my meetings and return home the same day. It works! but I have to say that I had a wonderful journey, so that may have something to do with it.
The weather was perfect and the cloud shielded the sun most of the way there and back. No camels and it was a day off for road idiots – though some did come in to check emails. Immigration and Customs were great on both sides of the border. I stayed in my car for the whole routine and the queues were only on the way back, when I saw all of three cars ahead of me.
For my meetings in the East of Saudi Arabia, here is a short comparison for me:
By Air: Packing, driving to airport, checking in, waiting, flying, driving to hotel, unpacking, sleeping, waking up, changing, driving to meeting, lunch, driving to airport, checking in, waiting, flying, driving home.
By Road: Wake up, change, drive to meeting, lunch, drive home!
For the second time, I’ve managed to get to Sur and back to Muscat without seeing anything in Sur! My meeting was at the harbour outside the town and we drove back immediately after.
The journey, on the other hand, was a different story. Driving this route needs constant attention to the road, conditions, bends, goats, taxi drivers, and sane drivers. Luckily, I wasn’t driving this time so I enjoyed the scenery. Unlike Kuwait, Oman really is decentralised. There were small towns dotted around all the way to Sur. That’s four hours through the mountains! The towns are different but they have common factors. They sit around Wadis – small valleys with water running through it during heavy rain – and there is always a cute (I honestly can’t think of a better word) mosque visible with small houses surrounding it. It’s such a pretty sight that keeps repeating in a different composition each time.
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We went to Failaka for my son’s birthday…. This was taken somewhere on the island. I love how the road just ends. The uniterrupted view to the desert is a welcome change to the usual electricity lines, power stations and oil installations.
I hope they do something decent with this gem of an island.