Monday, September 30, 2013

Dubai - City Tour

Date: 18th October 2011

Dubai is 1 of the emirate seated within a unification of UAE (United Arab Emirates). There are 6 others emirate in UAE beside Dubai; i.e. Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. We had a branch office in Dubai during a boom period and still being maintained the small office till present though we have slow down operation in Dubai substantially. 

UAE flag

My first official visit to Dubai was in 2008, before the Dubai Metro line was even open. During the first short trip, I hardly had time for shopping as when I finished with the meetings, the mall was about to close and I merely stand outside Burberry shop drooling after reaching the Mall during that 1st trip. The next day before my flight was scheduled to take off to Karachi, our office colleague was kind enough to take me around for Dubai city tour. I made a photo stop at Dubai Al-Burj, once was very famous tourist attraction. We also stop at the Atlantis, the Palm, which was newly opened.

During 1 of my trip to Pakistan in October 2011, I made an effort to stay overnight to explore the city and safari nights by booking the tour arrangement with the hotel. From the hotel, the luxury van stopped to pick up few other tourist at a different hotel and off we went to the Gold Market @ Gold Souk. The second stop was at the Dubai Creek located in the old part of Dubai City. Before taking a boat ride, we stopped at the Spice Market. I will made a separate story of this 2 places, Gold Souk and Spice Market.

The seawater Dubai Creek is the trading port on the Gulf to other parts of the emirate. The old fashioned boats called dhows criss cross the water from Bur Dubai on the left bank to Deira on the right bank. We took a cruise on a water taxi dhow travelling further upstream of which reveals the high rise buildings lining the creek, passing under several bridges.

The 3rd stop was at Wafi Shopping Mall which is part of the Egyptian Style Wafi City. The mall,represent the main feature of the Wafi city. The mall is opened in 2001 includes over 200 stores and has a small theme park inside. Raffles Dubai, a pyramidal shape 5 star hotels begin it's operation in November 2007.  

Raffles Dubai adjacent to Wafi shopping mall

Wafi City is a mixed-use development. The complex includes a mall, hotel, restaurants, residences, and a nightclub. The city is designed and styled after the Ancient Egypt, themed environment includes columns reminiscent of Karnak, small pyramids and images of pharaohs. All the walls are the color of the light brown stone that can be found on all structures in Ancient Egypt.

Entrance to Wafi Mall with a couple from America

There's a pyramid in Wafi city which is a complex that contains several restaurants, cafes and spas, including Cleopatra's Spa and Pharaoh's Club. I did not explored up to the pyramid area but chose to explore the external compound which were landscaped perfectly suited to a taste of the Pharaoh. The Spa and the Club are given free membership for the Wafi residents who occupied the adjacent Wafi Residential complex nearby.

Imitation of Egyptian Pharaoh

Our next stop was to the World tallest building, Burj Khalifa who stand aloof, visible from far distance. Burj Khalifa known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration is the tallest man-made structure in the world at 829.8m. The construction began in September 2004 and the exterior structure was completed in October 2009. The building was officially opened on 4th January 2010. 

Important to note that the South Korea, Samsung C&T is the primary contractor responsible for the construction, an proud to the Asian construction company.

So unfortunate that the project's completion coincided with the global financial crisis of 2007-2012 affecting Dubai's vast overbuilding property greatly. Dubai government forced to seek out multi billion dollar bailouts from its oil-rich neighbor, Abu Dhabi. The tower was renamed Burj Khalifa (from original intended Burj Dubai), said to honour the UAE President, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his crucial support. The rents in Burj Khalifa plummeted 40%, 10 months after its opening and out of 900 apartments in the tower, 825 were left empty. Overseas investors steadily began to purchase the available apartments and office space in Burj Khalifa over the next 2 and a half years. By October 2012, Emaar reported that 80% of the apartments were occupied. 

Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world, adjacent to Burj Khalifa

Our vehicle was parked next to rear entrance of the Dubai Mall, the world largest shopping mall based on total area but 6th largest by gross leaseable area. It is part of the 20 billion dollar Downtown Dubai Complex and includes 1,200 shops. It was opened in November 2008 attracted over 52 million tourist in 2012. It has Dubai aquarium and water under water zoo beside Dubai Ice Rinks and indoor Theme Park.

We took a turn into the Jumeirah Beach thereafter. The beaches in below photo look so quite and empty, almost deserted.

We took opportunity to explore Miraj, Dubai Islamic Art centre. There are many displayed items including souvenirs and arts of decoration for sales.  

When we took another turn to admire the Dubai Al-Burj. I just snapped few photos from inside the car as the weather was unbearable for me to step down outside.

Thereafter, we were heading towards the artificial built land of Atlantis and the new reclamation development within the areas. Atlantis, The Palm is a resort located on Dubai's reclaimed artificial island, The Palm. It was the first resort to be built on the island and is based on the myth of Atlantis includes distinct Arabian element. The resort was opened in September 2008. 

The resort has 2 accommodation wings, referred to as the Royal Towers consisting of the East and West Tower, both linked by the Royal Bridge suite. It has 1,500 guestrooms and suites with private balconies and views over the Palm and the Persian Gulf. There are 2 underwater suites, each 3 storeys high with views directly into the Ambassador Lagoon. It cost a fortune to stay in this this suites. 

We were on the artificial island a little bit longer to see other developments comprised of all high rise on Jumeirah Beach. By 4pm, we were back to the hotel to be ready for the next Safari desert adventures.

View of Dubai Jumeirah Beach

Old town where the original Dubai city was once originated

To be continued....

Arbitration Award

I got mail in my inbox office email ID this morning. It's from our lawyer in Karachi with a very short notes saying "FYI. Congratulations." He forward an attachment, "AWARD" from the learned Arbitrator for the case that we pursuit since my demobilization back to the headquarters from Karachi Office, i.e. 2010. 

Hearing in June 2013

My heart beats with the good news and my eyes moist. After 3 years of a hard works, numerous trips back trying all routes (courts, settlement talks, arbitration), now, we have a positive award in our hand. Next is to enforce the award into monetary values. May God grant us a smooth last transaction in getting our claims through.

Cross-examination in a private meeting room of KCDR 

Alhamdulillah, we have a good and committed law firm headed by the most genius and sharp lawyer that I've ever dealt with. He's blunt, hot headed, outspoken and always give me a stern look "don't you dare to waste my time". Whenever we arrange for the meeting, all question must be clearly stated because he does not even want us to waste our money too as much as he does not want we waste his time. 

1 of the visit to the lawyer's office in May 2013

Unfortunately that he did not represent us for the hearing but assigned another who is easy and willing to adopt our briefing and ideas for preparation of case statement, cross examination and final delivery in front of the learned Arbitrator.

Our senior counsel who brought the case up to the Arbitrator, a big thank you!

Arbitration is a private and expensive proceeding supposedly to be faster than a normal litigation in usual house of law. While in dispute, most people had to que up in courts to get the judge to hear the matter. I was lucky to attend 1 of the court hearing and able to sit in the bench to see the process. It was in June 2013 that I was in Karachi High Court and illegally took 2 pictures, shared below. 

High Court hearing day - Summer 2013

It was in summer where's the court took a summer break but allows only urgent cases to be heard. The court languages are mixes, Urdu and English, hence, it was a fun trying to understand the disputes during the debates among the solicitors and the judge. 

Karachi High Court
Most of the high courts building complex that I've seen seated in a nice grandeur building. The High Court of Sindh, built in 1923 is the same. Taking photography inside is forbidden but I hope, few will mean no harms.

Chai break at High Court cafeteria

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Eating & Drinking by Kahlil Gibran

When Kahlil Gibran speaks on "Eating and Drinking" in the Prophet

The best Beef Pulao in the world, from Karachi

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother's milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.
And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.

Pomegranate Juice, good for health

When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
"By the same power that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed.
For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven."

Pomegranate from Pakistan

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,
"Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons."

Grill crab from Ocean Bucket, Clifton Beach, Karachi

And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyards for the winepress, say in your heart,
"I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,
And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels."
And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;
And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.

Enjoy the grapes, flies!

Remarks: Photos shared in the entry were snapped in Karachi on 19th November 2012. Fruits season was once a joy to me, similarly to Beef Pulao and pomegranate juice.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friendship by Kahlil Gibran

When Kahlil Gibran speaks on "Friendship" in the Prophet

My daughter, Syahirah

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

My sister, Roshayati

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;

For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.


And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.


For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Ane Zarina

Remarks: The pretty and beautiful ladies in the photos that I shared here are the 1 that I showered with loves and cherish each of my precious moment with them. I hope and pray that our friendship/relationship will last and that we will be able to grow old together... Amen!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Turkey - Ankara (2004)

Date of visit: 23rd November 2004

It was a journey of 279km on the road from Cappadocia to Ankara, a day before on 22nd November and another 454km from Ankara to Istanbul after a sightseeing in Ankara was completed. We mostly spent so much time on the road on the last few days of our stay in Turkey but in total, we traveled over 2000km covering many important cities in Turkey in a week. In the beginning I made a small complaint to myself as bus journey as compared to local flights inter city is a much convenience and relaxing way of travelling. However, air flight is different from overland travel as you had more opportunities to see the view of other country, their culture, their style of farming, the roads etc etc.

We were touring Anıtkabir (literally mean, "memorial tomb"), a mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. The photos that I shared in this entry are mostly a memory of Zuri and me, thus, I specially dedicated all entries in Turkey and Istanbul to her. Who knows that 1 day another opportunity come by for us to travel together again.

Anitkabir was designed by architects Professor Emin Onat and Assistant Professor Ahmet Orhan Arda, whose proposal beat 48 other entries from several countries in a competition held by the Turkish Government in 1941 for a "monumental tomb" for Atatürk. The site is also the final resting place of Ismet Inonu, the second President of Turkey, who was interred there after he died in 1973. His tomb faces the Ataturk Mausoleum, on the opposite side of the Ceremonial Ground.

Wall Relief of Anitkabir

The mausoleum was depicted on various Turkish banknotes during 1966-1987 and 1997-2009. Turkish Chamber of Civil Engineers lists Anıtkabir as one of the fifty civil engineering feats in Turkey, a list of remarkable engineering projects realized in the first 50 years of the chamber.

Anitkabir has been characterized mostly by monumental, symmetrical, cut-stone clad buildings with great emphasis to detailing and workmanship in construction. In addition, Anıtkabir features Seljuq and Ottoman architectural and ornamentation features. For example, the eaves of the towers and the Hall of Honour are all Seljuq-style sawtooth ornamentation.

The site chosen for Anıtkabir was known as Rasattepe (Observation Hill), which, at the time of the architectural competition for Anıtkabir, was a central location in Ankara and could be seen by all parts of the city. Archaeological excavations (during construction) unearthed artifacts belonging to the Phrygian civilization, which were carefully excavated and put on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, also in Ankara.

The construction of Anıtkabir, which took 9 spanned within 4 stages, commenced in 1944. The 1st stage of the construction, comprising the preparatory excavation and the construction of the retaining wall of the Lions Road completed in a year. Upon its completion, the 2nd stage comprised of the mausoleum and the auxiliary buildings surrounding the ceremonial ground commenced and completed on in 1950. At this stage, due to problems related to the mausoleum's masonry and concrete structure foundations, some revisions was made. 

The 3rd stage of the construction was building the roads leading to the mausoleum called The Lions Road, and the ceremonial ground seated at the mausoleum's upper-level stone pavement, the grand stairs, placement of the grand tombstone and building services. Laying the Hall of Honour pavement, vaults under the side linings, and Hall of Honour perimeter stone profiles and fringe decorations was the last stage which was completed on 1 September 1953.

From Anitkabir, we had a short tour in Ankara and had lunch before adjourned to Istanbul on the long road. We stopped for lunch, but, in overall I had not really enjoyed Turkish food as not too much hot and spices item added to it. We had to pour on pepper for better taste and I kept on regretting not bringing any chili padi along the journey. It was different when we were in Italy 2 years later as we stopped majority at a Chinese Restaurant which share similar Asian taste. Tips: bring soy sauce and cut chillies along :)

Below photo is 1 of the beautiful view of a newly constructed bridge along Ankara - Istanbul road.

Road from Ankara to Istanbul

Everybody started to smile broadly when the itinerary were coming to close. We had so much fun and great friendship with everyone in a group during a short period of time. Till we meet again, my friend, adios!

The end of Turkey's trip in 2004.