Sunday, 31 March 2013

An Easter Gift from Oisín........

Its Easter Sunday back home in Ireland, and I'm working away here in Riyadh...

This morning, I received a lovely gift from one of sons back home, he sent me an Easter Card, which I have shown here, Oisín is 8 eight years old and rather creative, he is always to be found, wtriting stories or creating new ideas, colouring in etc.

His Room at home is full of his stories of super-heroes and villians and their daring feats, he also like his music, and on this Easter sunday morning, he decided that he would re-write the Lyrics of Katy Perry's "Fireworks" but would make it "Easter Egg"- Enjoy the tune......... I have inserted it here


Easter Egg

By Oisín Scanlon

Do you ever feel like an Easter egg
Drifting through the wind, wanting to eat again?
Do you ever feel , feel so chocolate thin
Like a house of ginger one bite from cravv-ing

Do you ever feel already gone off
Scream but no seems to eat you
Do you know that there’s still an Oreo in you
Cause there’s a nut in you

You just gotta ignite the bar and let it shine
Just own the egg like the 31st of march

Cause baby your an Easter egg
Come on, show ‘em what your worth
Make ‘em go “yum yum yum “
As you shoot across my tum-um-um

Cause baby your an Easter egg
Come on let your flavours burst
Make ‘em go yum-yum-yum
Your gonna leave like yum-yum-yum

You don’t have to feel like a wasted bar
Your cool original dor-it-os
If you only knew what the egg holds
After a bad bar comes a good one

Maybe you reason why all the eggs are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect nut
Like a table your egg will stay the same
And when it’s time you’ll know

You just ignite the bar and let it shine
Just own the night like the 31st of march

‘Cause baby your an Easter egg
Come on show ‘em what your worth
make ‘em go yum-um-um
As you shoot across my tum-um-um

Baby your an Easter egg
Come on let your flavours burst
Make ‘em go yum-um-um
Your gonna leave ‘em all in yum-um-um

Yum, yum, yum
Even nicer than the ore-o
It’s always been inside of the egg egg egg
And now it’s time to let it digest est est

‘Cause baby your a Easter egg
Come on show ‘em what your worth
Make ‘em go yum-um-um
Your gonna leave ‘em all in yum-um-um

Baby your an Easter egg
Come on let your flavours burst
Make ‘em go yum-um-um
As you shoot across ,my tum-um-um

Yum, yum ,yum even nicer than the ore-o
Yum, yum, yum even nicer than the ore-o

So, a nice gift to receive on this Sunday morning, a long way from home........

Thanks Oisín , Made My Day Buddy !!!!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Dubai has really grown on me.......

In my time in this region, I have passed through the city of Dubai some 15 times at least, either in transit to somewhere else or for a short break there, so I have had some time to get to know this city which we have all marveled at over the last 10 years….
On my first visit, the newness of the city can be a little off-putting, as we Europeans tend to be very used to preserving our heritage and we are always seeking out, the older, cultural parts of a city, but of course, Dubai is not like that, which is not to say the place does not have heritage or tradition, it’s just that you have to go and look for as its not immediately obvious..
A City that’s rises from the desert, and is spread out for many miles along the Arabian gulf coastline, Dubai is in fact one of seven Emirates that make the UAE which is now in its 41st year as a State here, and came together as a grouping of smaller Kingdoms in this region, encouraged by the British, the seven are (for the quiz buffs) Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al-Quwain. The best known and largest Emirates are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the other ones are much smaller, Fujairah only 1,700
The scale of development of Dubai and the vision of its Leader Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum or “Big Mo” as he is known affectionately locally, is very impressive, as the city now stands as a very modern, cosmopolitan city and very forward looking.
Dubai Metro
What strikes me about the city (and UAE generally) is how efficiently and impressively everything works, there are three airport terminals which handles literally millions of passengers a year as Dubai is now a Global air travel hub. On leaving Dubai on Friday evening last, I got from the front door of the Terminal 2, through check-in, passports , security and was at the gate in a little more than 10 mins, granted Terminal 2 is much smaller than the other larger Terminals, this is still impressive.
Taxi’s are clean, drivers uniformed and fares fixed, which is in contract to other cities in the region, where you have to haggle at times and the drivers can sometimes require a good scrub, not to mention, I recently had a spin in a taxi in Riyadh which only had 3rd and 4th gear !!
I also took a ride on the new Metro System in Dubai, which is immaculately clean, the stations are futuristic is design and style and yes , it was on time and excellent value.
View from Burj Khalifa
Dubai of course has the world’s largest Shopping Centre (Dubai Mall), Tallest Building (Burj Khalifa) and even an indoor Ski Slope !
Burj Khalifa is well worth a visit, get a ticket to the viewing platform on top for sunset and watch the dancing fountains below, it’s very impressive. Some photos here from the viewing platform, note, there are a further 70 floors overhead.
Culturally Dubai and the UAE are unique, only approx. 20% of the population are in fact Emirati’s so you have this phenomenon where 80% of the population are ex-pats, which makes for a fascinating  mix of everything in city life. Arabic, Asian, Far Eastern, European, Persian , African and American.
I can’t complete this post without mentioned “The Irish Village”, a really super Bar / Restaurant attached to the Tennis Stadium in Dubai, where I enjoyed a late brunch of rasher, sausages fried egg and opint of Guinness last Thursday morning, it’s a very popular social venue in the city and regularly hosts stars such as Tommy Tiernan & Bob Geldof who played here in the last week, staff are super, food is good, its a nice atmosphere and there are even a few ducks quacking about the place….
Dubai has grown on me over my many visits over the last almost 2 years, and is to be congratulated for being such an impressive place to visit, I look forward to my next visit….

Irish Village

Monday, 4 March 2013

The "Normality" of Working Abroad and Coming Home !

It’s funny how coming home to Ireland can start to feel so “normal” after a while, I was home for a break recently and it occurred to me that though I was so looking forward to getting back, It’s not at all like it felt when I made my first trip home from abroad in October 2011.

On this occasion, I left Riyadh after work on a Wednesday night and headed straight to Riyadh airport where I caught a flight to Jeddah to connect to an overnight flight to Paris and a final connection on Thursday morning to Dublin, then jumped in a rental car, had some late breakfast and headed off down to East Clare to be home around 4pm.

The contrasts on these journeys are remarkable. On the flight to Jeddah (which is the main airport that’s serves the holy site at Mecca), I encountered many people going on the “Umrah” pilgrimage, which is similar to the Hajj pilgrimage later in the year but not as busy. Men and indeed their sons checking into their flight wearing only flip-flops and simple traditional robes/towels for their journey to Mecca, this is a sign of their equality and humbleness before God, as I am advised by my Saudi colleagues , to the more cosmopolitan Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris and on to the very familiar Dublin Airport , all in the space of 13 hours.

It also occurred to me on the car journey down from Dublin how the “weight” of the economy is resting on everyone back home and though Irish people are resilient and hard working and are as always doing the very best they can, it still seeps through on radio and in everyday conversations. The recession is still very much biting in Ireland and despite of the steps taken in the past two years and our stellar report cards from IMF / EU, it’s hard to escape that things are still very challenging in Ireland….

I also had a fabulous weekend in Youghal, Co. Cork with my boys which was fantastic, we rented an apartment by the sea, cooked food, walked by the sea, played video games and watched DVD’s and also I got a guided tour of the Titanic Experience in Cobh from my sons who have been there before. I really treasured the time with them to talk about school, their friends, their stories, their feelings and everything else going on with them and to just relax and enjoy each other’s time, including playing Hip Hop music (Black Eyes Peas !) at full blast in the car on the road out of Cork City…

I also enjoyed the simple things like baking a cake with Daithí for a school project (those of you that know me know how much fear this would instill in me !), indeed, it was Daithí teaching me rather than the other way around, and also doing homework with Oisín and helping him learn his Irish poem, simple but absolutely brilliant….

I also had the pleasure of celebrating my 40th birthday on this trip home at a really nice evening in Durty Nelly’s in Bunratty. It was super to catch up with so many friends and neighbours who made such an effort to be there, thank you all so much…

I left Ireland again after that to start back on my way to Riyadh and I can’t help feeling how much my life has changed in the last few years and how I have come to know this as being ordinary, though its anything but ordinary. 
Such is life at the moment for so many Irish people of all ages and many in very similar situations, and rather than get gloomy and down about it, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work every day and provide for those at home, and of course to pay a mortgage and look to making progress out of the mire so many of us found ourselves in after 2008, yes, it’s hard to be away from my children but I know this is the right thing in the long term and I feel it every time I make the journey home, It’s great to be home but right now, but from a practical point of view working over here is definitely the better option for the moment…..