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Middle East » Jordan » North December 8th 2018

Day 18: 'Dougie at the Mosque' is how I shall remember today. While a quick tour of Doha was good (and eerily quiet of tourist's), and having company (Kaitlyn) helps majorly with logistics, I think my 40 minutes with 'Dougie the converted' will resonate for years. Entered the national mosque to be met with dismissive Arabians who said I cannot enter due to my shorts being 2cm too high - a lower waistband in it by my reckoning. Then my Lord and saviour, Dougie from Surrey, comes out and says he'd take on the burden of potential backlash from elders. Thick British accent, grey-browny hair to the top of shoulders and strawy beard (no moustache though). Surprisingly colloquial chat, but great to learn about the place. Then the speakers roared into action and the chat was ... read more
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Middle East » Jordan » South » Aqaba December 4th 2018

We are looking back at a few great weeks although it took a bit of effort from our side to fall in love with Jordan and the Jordanians. Maybe it's because we could let our guards down completely for such a long time in Iran that now suddenly we feel we are the subject of scams and tourist traps or at least not always very friendly attempts of the locals working with tourists to get more of our money without delivering any service, product or value at all. Suddenly we are the target of an army of men trying to sell us something we don't want for too high a price. If we don't specifically ask on beforehand about the exact price we know for sure we will end up in an argument about a suddenly ... read more
Amman
Amman
Amman

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Abu Dhabi November 27th 2018

A lie in was had after the late night last night. Bethany and Nick were still asleep by the time I got up and showered. Once dressed I started my usual routine of getting some cups of coffee. I sat out on the balcony to start my blog I hadn’t written the night before. The air was humid from the rain that had hit the main island the night before and I lazily lay back on the balcony furniture whilst recalling an exciting, exhilarating and a once in a lifetime day. The moment of the race that stood out for me was the three world Champions (Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso) doing donuts on the start finish straight. A great tribute to allow Alonso to join them after a terrible few years with McLaren. He will be ... read more
Abu Dhabi Hill
Sunset from the stand
the not quite Red arrows

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Abu Dhabi November 25th 2018

I wake up in panic. There is a knock on the door. Jesus have I overslept. I stagger bleary eyed to the door to find Lisa. “You wanted me to wake you for your run”. This was not mentioned the night before and it was apparent that Lisa had dreamt the whole thing. She apologised and I close the door I collapse back into bed look at my phone and it is just after 6am. Having got to sleep at 2 am last night I receded back into sleep until my alarm went off at 9.30. The usual morning routine takes place. I shower, dress and sit down for a cup of percolated coffee before departing to Denny’s to get our fill before we get the taxi to Yas Island. Today is race day and as ... read more

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Abu Dhabi November 24th 2018

The alarm went off at 8am and I roll over and switch it off remembering the texts my wife was sending me a few hours before. Probably not appreciating the 4 hour time difference she seemed determined to wake me. The run for this morning was out of the window. I staggered bleary eyed into the kitchen and again praised Lisas hospitality as I poured myself a freshly percolated coffee she had prepared before leaving for work. Outside the streets were busy with weekend traffic and the city looked alive with energy. I took my coffee back to bed and put on an audiobook in order to kick my brain into gear. A couple of cups of coffee later, having showered and dressed I knocked Nick and Bethany awake. I left them to carry out their ... read more

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Abu Dhabi November 23rd 2018

Now let me make this quite clear from the start. I had been warned not to drink the water from the tap. Lisa has kindly bought water to drink and to brush our teeth in. Not a drop had passed these lips since arriving. The food has been magnificent and I have no doubt that this is what caused the incident when I got to the race circuit today. Now I know you are all waiting with baited breath of the potential story that this could lead to but you will have to wait because this story starts with me waking up. The day is bright and I can tell that it is going to be a hot one. In fact I’ve heard that they only had a days rain last year and in fact I ... read more

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Abu Dhabi November 22nd 2018

Here I am sat on the balcony on the first morning of my much anticipated trip to the Middle East. This is my second visit to this area of the world having done a quick stop into Dubai on route to New Zealand 15 years ago. This time I would be stepping out of the airport and entering a culture and diverse region that I am totally alien to. Why I would leave my wife and kids for this trip one month before Christmas is a personal one. For years I worked within Motorsports having worked at Britain’s newest race track (at the time) Rockingham in Corby. It was here, working 15 hour days, that I met a family that would become as close to me as my blood one. Sheena Macdonald was working in the ... read more

Middle East » United Arab Emirates November 20th 2018

Stopped in Dubai for a couple of days on the way home. A bustling city and pretty amazing with all the building going on. Mark of course had to go skiing even though it was 29C outside and -4C inside on the indoor ski hill. I passed going and watched instead. No broken legs so we can go home safely now!... read more
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Middle East » Syria November 16th 2018

Murray went to Syria for 1 week for war damage assessments with a team from the UN and planning for the return of refugees. We went to Damascus and visited Eastern Ghouta which is a damaged region in Damascus. It was sobering to see the extent of the destruction, with signs of hope as people were beginning to return to restart their lives after almost 8 years of war.... read more
7% of dwellings totally destroyed
400,000 houses totally destroyed
Estimated 1.2 million houses destroyed or damaged

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai November 15th 2018

What would a person do if they were walking in the desert and found a golden coin? Would they keep the new found wealth for themselves or share it with others? Would they purchase extravagant baubles and shiny trinkets to impress less fortunate friends and neighbors? Would they spend lavishly on short-term necessities or might they invest for the future in an attempt to prolong the benefits of their good fortune? What if that person was a leader of men, who felt a responsibility for the welfare of others? What if instead of a single gold coin, they found a treasure trove of many coins? What if the citizens in their charge, while proud of their heritage, had never known the life of privilege and luxury that great wealth brings? Might that leader attempt to give ... read more
Sheikh Zayed Road- Dubai
Dubai Marina
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque




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