Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How To Amuse Yourself In Doha

I have been de-toxing nearly two weeks now. It has actually made me ridiculously tired but I feel so much better for it. Going to keep it up till Bahrain. I had a great weekend the weekend before I started though:

On the Thursday night, the touring DJ's returned to Doha, where they play in this massive tent out the front of the Diplomatic Hotel. It is really great as you can very easily forget where you are.

The Friday I headed to the Golf Club with the guys to basically be their beer wench and drive the Buggy round the course stopping to get them beers at the Drive-Thru Bars on the course. Last week, I actually played instead and it appears I have quite the anger management problem on the golf course and know a lot more words than I thought I did.

After driving the Buggy though, Friday night we returned to Garveys, home of the World Cup viewing, for what turned into a massive night. Nearly everyone threw up, Adrian on Kate's foot, and/or passed out at the venue. I think I came off probably the best, I found Nath passed out in some gravel and Kate under a table by the pool so decided I should probably go home before I joined them.

Saturday was, of course, the start of Chelsea's premiership campaign. Found out that Ramada is going to show every Premiership match so went down there to watch it. We played Man City and won convincingly 3-0. First goal of the season.... England's new captain in the eleventh minute followed by Lampard and Drogba.

Are You Going To Apologise To Tim?

So, a couple of posts ago I shared with you the random email that was sent, completely out of the blue, telling all DAGOC employees that we now had to work 40 hours a week instead of 35 (which we were anyway) and that instead of doing what a normal company would do and adding 1 hour to each day, it was now mandatory to work the 5 extra hours on a Saturday.

Well, since then, the story has continued to get stupider... Already, we were told that we could no longer take any holidays, but this was extended to include the ten "casual days" that we get (that I had been saving) a year. Meaning that the most anyone can ever have off in a row is one day. Obviously they didn't feel like this was restrictive enough so they then decided to also stop giving out Exit Permits, which are required to leave the country, until after the Games.

So basically, we are all now trapped in the country for the next four months. This is the country where you drive for four hours and you have covered every town and beach North, South and West of Doha.

You would think that a little bit of common sense would prevail in enforcing these new rules but you would be wrong. My friend, Mark's sister is getting married in a month, he has worked out a way that he can fly to Australia and back for the wedding and only miss two days of work (would have been only one before they extended the working week). Do you think they will let him go, of course not! Random as!

This weekend is the last weekend that we have the Saturday off and they will be issuing Exit Permits so, as you can imagine, we are all going away while we can. I am heading to Bahrain with a group of people, although two of them nearly couldn't go...

Andy was told that his exit permit would not be approved because, 'What if something happened to him while he was away?' Dan was told that they wouldn't sign her exit permit because, 'There are two many people in her role already going away this weekend.' After spending the last few days pleading their cases, it finally looks now, a day before we leave, like they may be able to come. That is if immigration process the exit permit in time.....

Another quick story, following the new rules, someone thought it might be funny to write an email from the Games mascot Orry apologising for the ridiculous restrictions and signing off as S-Orry. As a result, the entire network was turned off for the day while they scanned the system to work out who was the person that first sent it. Once they worked it out, they put him on the first plane out of the country. Only catch is, they caught out the wrong person and when the right person owned up to it, they told her to stop covering for him. Why cannot I not help to draw parallels with an episode of The Office when Gareth INVETIGATES in his INVETIGATION AND MEETING ROOM. Love it!

With Neighbours Like These...

One of the best things about being in Doha are my awesome neighbours Cath and Kim. Recently Cath decided to broadcast to the world a new hobo high that I have achieved on her website....

You know you are a lazy bastard when.... You have a shopping trolley in your flat....

I like the shopping trolley, it is growing on me each day. It has been in our flat for about 3 weeks now since we used it to bring up our pre-Ramadan alcohol purchase of 7 slabs, 3 bottles Pimms, 15 bottles of wine, 6 bottles of Vodka and a bottle of Jager. Since then it has been borrowed by numerous people with the same idea and is also handy for storing the empty boxes.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Return to Dubai

Its quite awhile since I was in Dubai but got some more photos, this time from Wild Waadi Water Park....

Below is the view of the Burj from the top of the Water Park's big slide

Monday, August 21, 2006

More Qatari Oddity

Haven't had time to update my blog for awhile but this is too odd to let slide...
Completely out of the blue, received this email today from the head of DAGOC...

From: Abdulla K. Al Qahtani
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006 9:20 AM
To: All
Subject: Important Announcement: New Working Hours

Dear Dream Team,

I would like to thank you all for your continued commitment, effort and hard work to ensure that DAGOC will be ready to host Your Games. I am aware of so many of you are already working well beyond standard working hours, and it is truly encouraging to see this level of dedication from you.

As you are well aware our collective operational obligations will increase dramatically in the lead-up to the Games and during Games Time. In order to create an environment that will enable this, I have decided to amend our current working schedule by adding only 12 days to our working load. It is merely a 12-day extra but it will help us substantially to ensure the continuity of our achievements of our milestones and reduce the pressure during the week. This amendment is in line with our policy and procedures and particularly clauses 3.1 and 3.2.

As DAGOC is a project based organisation and dynamic in nature, it needs to execute all its assignments by the prescribed deadlines. To this end, all Employees are expected to work extended hours that progressively increase as DAGOC approaches the date of the Games. Management reserves the right to reschedule the working hours from time to time and establish any working hour system as it deems necessary.


Working hours are normally 40 (forty) hours per week. Management may establish other working schedules to meet its operational requirements.

From the above you can see that we are currently working 35 hours per week, and the new amendment will bring the working hours to 40 per week.

Accordingly, the new working schedule effective September 1st 2006, is as follows:

Independence Day Holiday
DAGOC Offices will be closed for Independence Day on Sunday, 3 September 2006.

Amended Working Week / Working Hours
Our working week will be amended as follows:

A. Pre Games Period – 1 September – 18 November 2006:
Working Day(s) Working Hours
Saturday 09:00 – 14:00
Sunday – Thursday 07:30 – 14:30
Friday day off

B. Games Time Period – 19 November – 16 December 2006:
Working Days per week 6
Working Hours As operationally required
Days Off per week 1
Your actual working days and working hours will be determined by your specific operational role / venue / FA during Games Time, and will be communicated to you personally by your Director / Manager.

C. Post Games Period (17 December 2006 – End of Service Date):
On completion of the Games we will revert to the standard working week (Sunday - Thursday, from 07:30 – 14:30 daily).

Ramadan Timings
The holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on or about September 24, 2006. During this period our working hours will be:
Day(s) Timing
Saturday 09:00 – 14:00
Sunday – Thursday 08:00 – 14:00
Friday day off

Eid Al-Fitr Holiday
Eid Al-Fitr is expected to fall on 23 October 2006. Accordingly the Eid Al-Fitr break will start on the first day of the Eid and will end on Friday, 27 October 2006. Work will resume effective Saturday, 28 October 2006.

I believe that these changes will be embraced by all, and I look forward to working with you over the next few months to ensure that we achieve all that is required to deliver the Games of your Life!

Thanks once again to all of you, the Dream Team!

Kind regards,

Abdulla K. Al Qahtani
Director General
Doha Asian Games Organising Committee
Tel: +(974) 448 2001
Fax: +(974) 447 9761

So basically, we have been told that we now have to work one day of our weekend.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Excuse Me Sir, That Is Not Appropriate...

After over two months of Doha confinment, I was, last weekend, finally given my reprise and permitted to travel to Dubai. Flew out on Thursday night with Andy, Nath and Mary and met Dunlop and Murray at our 5 star hotel - The Sheraton Jumeirah. That night we headed to the Kazbar. Andy had told us about it from last time he was in Dubai and it didn't disappoint, was awesome to sit on the cushions smoking sheesha, drinking cocktails and eating a ridiculous amount of dips and bread. Headed home at about 1am to meet up with Michael who had flown in from Europe.

Next morning headed to the Burj... that 7 star hotel that you see on all the Dubai footage. We had booked in an all you eat brunch from the restaurant that protrudes out of the building over the Arabian gulf.

It was amazing... as most of you know, I have never been the eating-out, restaurant-type so this is a list of all the things that I ate that I had never eaten before....

Wagyu beef
Salmon roe
Tuna Sashimi
Raw Octopus
Crab meat

The bill for the meal was HUGE but worth every sent, Michael shouted us all :)

After that we went and relaxed on our 5 star resort beach (if you look closely Michael is wearing a shirt) before Dunlop and I headed to the Madinat Souqs for an awesome view of the Burj at night. Dunlop managed to con our way onto the roof of this amazing hotel where we sat for a few hours taking photos and drinking cocktails. It was an extremely romantic night for my husband and I :)

We were the first back to the hotel so, instead of getting ready to go out, I put on my 5 star hotel robe, and Dunlop, Murray and I started on the drinking games. When the others returned, they seemed to think we were onto a good thing and the night ended with Michael and I, in soaking wet bath robes, locked out of Nath's room at 6am in the morning after we had all broken just about every hotel rule possible, including some that are probably not actually written down, like - 'Don't try to convince the security guard to go swimming in the Arabian Gulf with you at 3am'. I guess if you put 7 ex-backpackers in a 5 star hotel you really shouldn't expect too much more.

The next morning, we headed to the Wild Waadi Water Park. Just got on a inflatable tube and floated around the park all day. It was sooo much fun! Also enjoyed finally getting some sun as you were able to stay outside for more than 5 minutes without passing out from the heat. Well, everyone else managed that... Andy struggled a little..

True to form, we nearly missed our flight back to Doha. We arrived at the airport to hear that our flights check-in was closed but we managed to convince them to let us on - with no help at all from me. I didn't want to go back to Doha so was more than happy to have to stay an extra night!