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Old 11-18-2012, 05:16 PM   #1
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Middle East

A few shots from the Middle East from our recent round-the-world shoot.

From what we were told, Qatar is now the world's richest country. They don't have any oil but they are sitting on the world's largest reservoir(s) of natural gas. They currently ship it to places like India. They are also building massive storage facilities against the day when energy stocks decline and prices soar.

If I had taken the shot of downtown Doha just six years ago the only thing in the picture would have been sand and sticker bushes. Everything here was built in the last six years. And they are building massive developments north of the city, like The Pearl, a huge condo-marina-high-rise development that is almost totally empty. Most of the buildings in Doha are empty, or nearly so. It seems to be a case of if we build it they will come.

The mosque, which was across the inlet from my hotel room in Abu Dhabi is said to be the largest mosque in the world.

The Ferrari photos are from Ferrari World, a massive theme park in Abu Dhabi. The 1966 250GTB was named the most beautiful car in the world at that year's Geneva auto show and I think it continues to be just that. In terms of design, I think it is the quintessential Ferrari and inspired countless imitators including the Datsun 240Z. The steering wheel is out of an F1 car similar to the one I am next to. In addition to driving really fast and not hitting anything, today's F1 drivers have to operate all the stuff on the wheel, too.

The silver spear in the sky is, of course, the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. This is what half a mile of building looks like. It has the world's fastest elevators at, IIRC, 50 mph. Not to be outdone, a couple of years ago a Saudi prince announced plans to build a one-mile high building.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:38 PM   #2
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Amazing what unlimited money can buy.

Agreed the 250 was one of the classic Ferrari's, but at the age of 14 I fell in love.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:26 PM   #3
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Here are two more that were on display at Ferrari World. I can't remember the model in the first photo. It is a few years later than the 250GTB I pictured earlier, and was made expressly for racing. I really like the lines of this one, too. The second photo is an Enzo. Six hundred-plus horsepower and according to the placard that was in front of it is for all practical purposes a street-legal F1 car inside a two-seat body.

With the exception of the brand new models on display, which are courtesy of Abu Dhabi's largest Ferrari dealer, and the F1 cars which I expect on there courtesy of Ferrari itself, all the other cars on display, from my all-time favorite 250GTB to my least favorite, the limp-wristed Dino, are owned by and on loan from the same guy. Proving why the guys who got the richest from the Klondike Gold Rush were not the guys digging for gold but the guys selling them eggs and shovels. There's a lot more money to be made by selling oil than buying it.

Actually, I'm not a huge Ferrari fan. I really like some of their designs, at least the older ones, but as cars they are not on my short list of favorites. I once had the opportunity to work with Nikki Lauda at Boeing when he was here getting his 777 checkout. I and a couple of co-workers ended up talking with him for a couple of hours while we waited for his plane to be signed off by the FAA. He told us the story of his very last race which he had decided to lose but then changed his mind, and about the then-newest Ferrari street model which we had recently seen in a showroom in Vienna.

Nikki does not hold back when it comes to four-letter words, and he described Ferraris--- the street models--- as "fuc*ing pieces of shit that are the worst handling, worst driving, least reliable, least ergonomic cars on the planet."

He had one good thing to say about their then-new-model, which reintroduced the front-engine layout to the lineup and was, I thought, a very good looking car. He said, "At least they managed to get the fuc*ing pedals lined up with your fuc*ing feet this time." Other than that, he was not impressed.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:59 PM   #4
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Yes, we did Ferrari world and had a good look at the Yas Marina circuit when passing through Dubai last year to the UK. Quite a place. The freeway to Abu Dhabi is interesting, especially for we Aussies where we have no roads with a legal limit more than 110kph.(= ~ 65mph). That one is 6 lanes each way and limit is 140kph.
Now, Marin, did you go on the Formula Rossa roller coaster - now that is a blast..? It goes 240kph in 4 seconds. Kinda fun. Good box to tick. Wouldn't do it again though, don't think.

Actually talking Formula 1, I'm heading off for a nap. Still feeling buggered after getting up at 0420 our time to watch the inaugural F1 race on the new track outside Austin, Texas. What a track. Fantastic. Sadly, Mark Webber, our Aussie driver's car poofed out early on and was a DNF.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:17 PM   #5
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Yes, we did the roller coaster. We did both of them actually. The other one is a dual track affair that twists and turns fairly violently. In comparison the world's fastest is a gentler ride other than the launch. The launch was not unlike being shot off a carrier's catapult but you're facing the other way (in the carrier transport (C2) you face rearwards) and the wind on the roller coaster is something else. The speed in mph is 150 at the end of the launch and the distance appears to be about 600 feet.

We drove from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and then back but the highway speed was limited at 120 kph. Perhaps there's a second parallel highway we didn't go on, I don't know. I have a Middle East chip for my GPS so I just programed in where we wanted to go and followed the directions "Mechele" gave us.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:27 AM   #6
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Marin, the one we went on was quite new and definitely rated (at that time) to 140kph. We had a rental with a ruddy waring beeper fitted to go off at 120 (actually activated at 117 because of speedo error), and we got so sick of either the noise if we drove nearer the limit, or getting beeped by the Emirati drivers if we dared travel at less, so we ended up driving in the truck lane on the outside to be left alone. However, it is possible since then they have had so many accidents they have downrated the speed limit I guess, as I doubt there would be that many freeways between the two, but there might well be an original road before they completed this one. It wouldn't surprise me - it seemed to be the Arab way - build new - don't repair an exisiting thing. This one was 6 lanes each way. Does that sound like the one you drove on..? Did you notice how impatient they are over there. A bit slow off the mark a lights or a bit hesitant going round a roundabout and they beep you. I was glad I researched it before we went on the iNet, and was prepared.
I call my GPS my 'Precious' - annoys the nagivator no end...
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:45 AM   #7
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The road was six to eight lanes wide but not particularly new. It was the same road we took two years ago. In Dubai it parallels the elevated train. It goes close to the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab. Driving there is pretty much like driving here except the taxi drivers are more impatient.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:36 AM   #8
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Actually Marin, apparently the speed limit once was 160kph, and was reduced to 140kph because of the accident rate. Have a look at this. You must have gone by a different route to Abu Dhabi I suspect....
No more 160kph on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway - The National

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/new-s...ad-394066.html
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Old 11-20-2012, 03:27 PM   #9
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Actually Marin, apparently the speed limit once was 160kph, and was reduced to 140kph because of the accident rate. Have a look at this. You must have gone by a different route to Abu Dhabi I suspect....
l
My GPS had us take the E-11 from Dubai to the E-10 in Abu Dhabi. It was the shortest (time) between the Dubai airport, our hotel in Abu Dhabi and back to our hotel in Dubai. I have no idea if the E-11 is the same as the Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway.
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:55 AM   #10
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Yep, you must have been on it Marin. You weren't texting were you and missed the speed signs. (He he just kidding)
They vary at certain points and it only becomes 140kph out of the city limits - 120 inside the city limits.
From Wikipedia...
"In Dubai, E 11 is known as "Sheikh Zayed Road" (in Arabic: شارع الشيخ زايد). The highway runs parallel to the coastline from Trade Centre Roundabout to the border with the emirate of Abu Dhabi, 55 kilometres (34 mi) away in the area of Jebel Ali.[1]
The road was formerly known as Defence Road.[1] Between 1993 and 1998, 30 kilometres (19 mi) of the road was expanded.[1] Along with this improvement came a change in the name. Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai at the time, named the road after the then president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.[2]
The Sheikh Zayed Road is home to most of Dubai's skyscrapers, including the Emirates Towers and the Burj Khalifa. The highway also connects other new developments such as the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and Dubai Waterfront. The road has most of the Red Line of Dubai Metro running alongside it."


Apparently driving while texting is quite an issue over there... as in this news exerpt....



Why Are Dubai and Abu Dhabi's Roads Some of the World's Most Dangerous?

By Max Fisher

inShare4
Oct 17 2011, 11:31 AM ET 1 The oil-rich United Arab Emirates, like Saudi Arabia and Libya, have poor policing, lots of money, and maybe too much machismo

On the road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Police and firefighters work at the scene of a 2008 pile-up that killed three and injured 277 / Reuters
When Blackberry service went down for three days last week, traffic accidents fell by 20 percent in Dubai and 40 percent in Abu Dhabi, according to officials from the two cities. The United Arab Emirates, where both cities are located, has the eighth highest national accident rate in the world, with 37.1 killed in traffic deaths per 100,000 people per year, about five to ten times the rate of the developed world. Even the dramatic drop only reduced UAE traffic death rates, for a brief but celebrated three-day respite, to about that of Kyrgyzstan or Burundi."

"Traffic isn't the only part of life in the United Arab Emirates that's different from much of the rest of the world. Prominent Emirati journalist Sultan Al Qassemi joked, "Many of us are disappointed the financial crisis ended so fast. Roads were great until this year." The return to somewhat-normal flows of capital in and our of Dubai and Abu Dhabi means more young Emiratis are getting their hands on super-fast sports cars. Well, one hand, anyway -- the other hand is probably still thumbing away at a Blackberry."
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:13 PM   #11
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I've driven in Dubai and Abu Dhabi several times now over the years and don't find the driving itself any more challenging than driving here in the Puget Sound area. And no wet or snowy roads in the UAE. The worst part is that I don't know my way around so have no clue what the road signs are telling me, "Al Habbar Road" with an arrow doesn't mean anything to me. So I don't know if it's a direction I want to go or not. If I lived in the UAE or frequented it more often I'd gradually get to learn it.

The main problem we encountered on this trip is that the Middle East chip in my GPS is now two years old. The pace of building and road construction and modification is so fast over there that reality doesn't always match my chip. So we'd occasionally get a "turn" or "bear" or "exit" command for a ramp or turnoff or roundabout that no longer exists. We always figured it out but it wasn't always immediately obvious what we had to do.

All the speed limit signs we noticed on the E-10/E-11 were 120 kph. If the speed limit went up to 140 at any point we didn't see it. The vehicle we had--- an older Nissan Patrol which we'd overloaded with all our equipment--- had a shimmy in the front end that would make itself apparent over 130 kph. So I stayed at that speed or less the whole time. For the most part we were going the same speed as everyone else although there were plenty of cars that went past us a bit faster. But I have never seen what I would consider extremely fast traffic over there other than the occasional fellow in a major hurry.
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