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Old 03-24-2010, 10:31 AM   #1
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Boating in the UAE

Just got back from directing some filming in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.* Thought those of you that haven't been there might be interested in these shots.....

(1) is the view from my hotel room in Abu Dhabi.* This is a typical marina for the area.
(2) is the Dubai International Boat Show from 50 stories up.* Note the red carpets on the docks.
(3, 4, and 5) are shots of the dhows that load and unload on the Creek (harbor) in the old part of Dubai.* They trade between Dubai and Iran and Pakistan and carry everything from cars to computers, TVs, food, spices, gold jewelry, you name it.* All loaded by hand.* They are diesel-powered today, and one of the captains I talked to said the hulls and decks are solid teak.
(6) is the old part of Dubai across the Creek.* The little boat is a water bus.* They run regular routes between various landings along the Creek and people use them to commute to work.* The open towers on the roofs of some of the buildings are the original air conditioning systems.* Wet blankets were draped over the horizontal poles and the wind was directed down through them into the building below.* They're not used anymore--- everyone has electric air conditioning.
(7 and 8) is the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.* It is just short of a half-mile high, beating the next-tallest building by almost half.* I really like the design--- from a distance it looks like something out of a science fiction movie.* Not to be outdone, Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to build a one-mile high building.
(9) is a shot of just a tiny part of the "new" Dubai.* This is what it's like all over the country---- sand with big clusters of brand new buildings.* Construction is starting to get underway again after coming to a near-halt during the economic crisis.
(10) is of part of the Palm Jumeirah, the huge artificial island in the shape of a palm tree that has been built off the coast.* It's mostly residential but the huge thing in the distance is the Atlantis resort.* So far as I can see, this is pretty much what boating is about in this region--- you go out, drive around for awhile, and tie up at some resort or marina to see or be seen.* The only scenery is sand or buildings.* The vessel just visible on the left edge of the frame is the sheik's yacht, the largest private yacht in the world at some 500-plus feet.
(11 and 12) are why we were over there.* We did some work with Emirates Airline which operates the largest 777 fleet in the world, using every 777 model including the new freighter.* Emirates is arguably the best airline in the world, and their crew training and maintenance operations and facilities have to be seen to be believed.* Their in-flight service is outstanding--- the ICE (Information, Communications, and Entertainment) system is amazing with e-mail, phone, and internet capabilities plus over 2,000 on-demand movies, TV shows, and documentaries.* This applies to coach as well as business and first class.* While unions are illegal in the UAE, Emirates pays their cabin and flight crews comparably or better than other international carriers, and since there is no income tax in the UAE, the employees can bank everything they make if they want to.* Emirates has routes that span the globe--- we flew nonstop from San Francisco to Dubai--- but every flight originates or terminates in Dubai.* So all the airline's employees are based in Dubai--- there are no remote bases.
(13) is my attempt to comply with the fairness doctrine.* For anyone who hasn't seen one, it's an A380.* Try as we could, there is no camera angle from which this airplane looks good.
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Old 03-26-2010, 04:48 AM   #2
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RE: Boating in the UAE

Excellent photos, Marin. Amazing what those oil rich Arab countries are doing. What I often wonder about is what will happen when we really do reach that pivotal point where we move to non fossil fuel energy sources. Will they remain at the leading edge, if so what will keep them there, or will they slowly (or rapidly) sink back?
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:05 PM   #3
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Boating in the UAE

Peter--

While our primary reason for this trip was to work with Emirates Airline, the secondary reason was to get footage and stills of a fledgling biofuel project that has been launched in Abu Dhabi that Boeing is a participant in. This project will ultimately grow two kinds of plants--- salicornia and mangroves--- in huge ponds which will be used to raise fish and shrimp for food. It's one of those win-win-win deals. The fish and shrimp production will create food and jobs, the salicornia and mangroves will use the fish effluent in the water to grow, thus removing the natural pollutants from the water so it can be returned clean to the sea, and the salicornia and mangroves themselves will be harvested for the production of biofuel.

That's the theory anyway. The photo below shows the plants involved--- the bush Tom is shooting is oil-rich salicornia and the trees in the water are mangroves, also rich in oil. Both plants are native to the region and thrive in salt water environments. We are shooting natural growth here--- these plants were not planted by man.

(I needed to dolly the HD camera in macro past and through the bushes, hence the homemade "Skateboard Cam" which could be packed into our equipment cases for the flights to and from the UAE).

From what I am told, there is a tremendous awareness of the potentially finite supply of oil in the Middle East (assuming one ignores the recent studies that claim that we will never run out of oil, that it's a product of reactions in the earth's core). So there are many plans to make the region a center for other forms of sustainable energy. Nuclear power is very high on the list, as is biofuel production (the largest producer of algae for biofuel production*right now is Israel.) With regard to nuclear, the thought is that huge generating plants could be constructed that could generate far more power than the region needs, with the surplus being sold to western and eastern Europe. It would not surprise me if Iran's interest in nuclear power is based largely on this plan, with the side benefit of giving them something to use for sabre-rattling.

Of course the economy of Dubai is not based on oil because they don't have any to speak of. Dubai's economy was originally based on trade (the dhows), and this has been supplemented by tourism and to a growing degree, business centers. Most of the huge buildings you see in Dubai, including the world's tallest Burj Khalifa, are largely or entirely residential. We were told only the upper floors of the Burj Khalifa are intended for corporate offices. The bulk of the building is intended to be residential. Dubai has transformed itself into an air and sea world trade hub, and a destination, either to visit or to live full or part time.

This is why Dubai was hit so hard by the global recession--- when people stopped spending money, cargo shipments dried up (the world air cargo business dropped by 30 percent almost overnight),* travel and tourism dried up, the purchase of luxury items from penthouse suites to Aston Martins dried up, and Dubai, which was madly putting up buildings and infrastructure to accommodate the anticipated demand, came to a halt.

Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, does have oil which is why they were able (reluctantly) to bail out Dubai and why Dubai had to (reluctantly) rename their new big building.

One of my favorite quotes is by a sheik (I believe from Saudi Arabia) who in discussing the future of oil production and the need to develop other sources of energy and income to supplant oil production said, "The Stone Age did not end because man ran out of stone."* The intention of the leaders in the region seems to be to shift their economy from oil to other, more sustainable sources far in advance of the depletion of their oil.


-- Edited by Marin on Friday 26th of March 2010 08:31:06 PM
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:19 AM   #4
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RE: Boating in the UAE

Interesting. I never knew Dubai had no oil. Fantastic developments thought. I found the building of the Burg El Arab on Nat Geo fascinating, and the new tallest building project. Is it called the Burj Abu Dhabi now?
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:47 AM   #5
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RE: Boating in the UAE

No, they had to change the name to Burj Khalifa. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is the hereditary ruler of Abu Dhabi.
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:18 AM   #6
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RE: Boating in the UAE

Ah....so I guess it was going to be called the Burj Dubai...?
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Old 03-29-2010, 07:22 PM   #7
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Boating in the UAE

Yes, it actually was called the Burj Dubai until fairly recently. But now you can pick up T-shirts in Dubai with the picture of the building and the name "Buj Dubai" for mere pennies. Here is a frame from one of the video scenes we shot at Emirates Airline showing the Burj Khalifa way off*in the distance.* The building is visible from 60 miles away if the air is clear enough.


-- Edited by Marin on Monday 29th of March 2010 07:24:09 PM
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:50 PM   #8
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RE: Boating in the UAE

Very cool photos.* Thanks Marin.
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:16 AM   #9
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RE: Boating in the UAE

Quote:
superdiver wrote:
whats scary is all that stuff is built on SAND! thats just scary to me!
*********Diver, Never thought about that but have to agree.

*********Marin,* Great photos, and commentary!*** JohnP

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Old 06-13-2012, 11:47 AM   #10
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When I was thinking of travelling to that area for work I did some research and found that Dubai as a result of no oil and tourism based economy was essentially "westernized" and not subject to the more rigid mores of the oil based countries. Did you find this to be true?
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:27 PM   #11
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Yes, to a degree. While the Muslim tenants are adhered to by Muslims in Dubai, western dress, customs, and behavior are tolerated and accepted. For example in Dubai there is a thriving prostitution industry comprised mostly of Russian girls. (Dubai is a very popular tourist and shopper's destination for Russians.)

In contrast to Saudi Arabia, for example, where co-workers who've been there tell me westerners are confined to compounds and if they venture out have to adhere to Muslim requirements, particularly with regard to women's dress and behavior.

However I would apply the acceptance and tolerance in Dubai across the entire United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi, the Emirate with all the oil, seemed every bit as tolerant and accepting of non-Muslim dress and behavior as Dubai. I suspect the tolerance of the nations in the Middle East has much more to do with the attitudes of the ruling family or families than whether or not they have oil.
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
superdiver wrote:
whats scary is all that stuff is built on SAND!
So is Waikiki. The secret ingredient is pre-stressed concrete piles. In Honolulu the first step in building a new hotel or office high rise is driving in hundreds of piles.

Sometimes they'd set a pile in the driver, give it the first whack, and the pile would sink slowly down into the water-saturated sand on its own. All sixty feet of it or whatever. The procedure in Waikiki was to keep setting piles on top of each other and driving them on down until the first (bottom) pile hit something solid. Sometimes it would take ten piles or more stacked on top of each other before the bottom pile hit solid material.
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:51 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Marin View Post
I suspect the tolerance of the nations in the Middle East has much more to do with the attitudes of the ruling family or families than whether or not they have oil.
I have always wondered if it isn't more like the relationship between SLC and Las Vegas. If there wasn't a relief valve nearby the good folks of Utah might be a bit more repressed than they are now and Saudis would have more witnesses.

I used to live in the West End of London and the clubs were filled with Saudis boozing and womanizing and generally performing activities that would get them imprisoned or worse at home. When I spent a few weeks in Dubai during the Gulf War it was just like London in that respect except there was a surprisingly large number of young Kuwaitis enjoying the counter culture. Dubai really is the world capitol of hypocrisy but without it few if any Westerners would spend time or money in that part of the world, I think.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:13 PM   #14
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The reason the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai is built on an island (man made) is that by being on an island instead of being in Dubai proper Muslim tenants do not apply. That is why it was originally planned to have a casino in the hotel, for example, something that would not have been allowed were the hotel to be sitting on Dubai soil.

As it was the casino plans were scrapped when Dubai's rulers decided against it.
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:20 AM   #15
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It's like watching the history channel around here! Very cool!
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Old 06-15-2012, 03:32 AM   #16
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It's like watching the history channel around here! Very cool!
Yes, very interesting, especially having passed through Dubai and Abu Dhabi since Marin started this thread. My second son and I went that way a year ago on the way to the UK, to visit eldest son and family in London. I found the architecture around the area fascinating, and as we follow the F1, of course we had to take in Ferrari World, the doco of the construction of which we had enjoyed watching on Nat Geo...along with that of the Burj Al Arab, and Burj Khalifa, and the indoor ski field in the Mall of the Emirates. What a blast. I can vouch for the speed of the world's fastest roller coaster, reaching 240kph, at Ferrari World. Of course being not only F1 fans, but boaters as well, one was forced to go take in the Yas Island Marina and F1 circuit there. Very spectacular. I can recommend spending some time there, but look up about the place, road rules etc, on the various web sites first. I was really glad we did that. They are indeed the most impatient drivers in the world, and toot you if just second slow getting away from the lights. Also - never - repeat never - give anything remotely resembling a rude gesture to an Emirati, as they can complain to the police, who then have to arrest you, and it can all get very tricky. A London cardiac surgeon was still languishing there waiting for his case to come up when we reached London, and his family had had to fly back there without him. Apparently it was all because he just raised his hands in despair when unsure of the way to go on a roundabout and an Emirati tooted him, and took the gesture as 'flipping the bird', which he absolutely denied. Even the policeman was apologetic at having to arrest him, but had not choice. He was there over a month in detention. So, as Marin says, they are tolerant of a lot, but the Emirati is king there, so watch your P's and Q's as they say.
For you in the US it would seem quite normal, but I must say I found heading out into a strange city with just a GPS and driving on the wrong, (for us), side of the road for the first time ever was quite a challenge, but one other box I am pleased we ticked. It only took us about 8 hours to find our hotel....lots of road changes..."recalculating..."
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:26 PM   #17
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Not boating related but Abu Dhabi reminded me of a funny story from the good old days: In 1985, I was a college freshman rushing a fraternity and we were required to "interview" active members of the fraternity as part of the process. The actives made this very difficult, constantly making appointments and not showing up and just plain refusing. Then we heard about "Raj". He was an active member and was willing to be interviewed in time for our Sunday meeting when our interviews were due.

My roommate and I walked over to his on campus apartment and knocked on the door. Raj opened the door to a room right out of Animal House. The upper three feet of the room was filled with pot smoke, there were beer cans everywhere and there was porn on the TV. At 17, having just left Mom's house a month before, just graduated parochial school, we had found heaven. We got our interviews and were not sober when we left.

The funny part is that Raj was there to learn computer engineering paid for by his government, a government that didn't approve of any of this. When I got there Raj had been there for three years and he was still there when I left. The year or two after I left he got the ultimatum to finish his degree and he did. I heard from him a year or so ago and he is heading a computer program for the government and is married with five kids, his wild ways behind him!

We sure had some good times learning about the Middle East in college.
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