Monday, May 31, 2010


Well, we moved to the UAE and one of the benefits would be easier travel to other parts of the world.  After a year of settling in and only a short jaunt to London to show for it, we're off to France in early September!

Very excited!!

Booked the tickets yesterday and we're off for nine nights... which will be split between Bordeaux, Paris and Euro Disney.  I visited Paris nearly 10 years ago and absolutely loved it but was traveling with a uni mate and have always wanted to take Niki back there so its a long time dream coming true.

On top of that, the girls will be coming too and they're probably going to put in extra effort in French lessons at school before the summer break :-)

We'll be flying Etihad into Paris and then taking the TGV (France's "very fast train") down to Bordeaux and meeting up with our neighbours Felippe (who is French) and Marianne and enjoy the wine country with them.  We'll then head back to Paris after a few days and take in the tourist sites and then we'll end with a trip to Euro Disney for the kids and for big kids like me!

Very excited! (I said that didn't I....)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bureaucracyat its finest!

A week has passed and I am now looking forward to the weekend and trying to reflect on how quickly it has gone...

One thing that stands out though is a run-in with our accounts department over the payment of my electricity and water.  My company pays for these things but the power companies are very slack on getting their money so I had been slack and not paid my bill for six months.

Each month, I got a bill and a balance owing and I kept saying "I should pay that" but never did.  Eventually, with the bill at 7,500 dirhams I paid it.  I took my invoice and paid and got the receipt.  No worries.

Then I sent the original invoice and the original receipt with the expense claim to work and asked for the 7,500 dirhams back.  It went through the system and was approved for payment.

Then on Tuesday I get an email saying that my payment of 1,600 dirhams will be made at the end of the week.

1,600??  Um, a bit short I think!  I emailed and called the accounts department but got no response so I turned up yesterday and demanded to see someone.  I got an elderly assistant manager type who informed me that they only pay bills month to month and that they were only paying the most recent month.  I said "what about the prior five months?"

"Do you have invoices for the prior months?  If so, submit them."  I am now confused.  I explain I have ONE invoice for six months TOTALING 7,500 dirhams and I have a receipt as proof of payment.  "Oh we don't care about receipts, just invoices" was his reply.  I asked why is that and he went on to explain that they only pay on monthly invoices because it prevents people claiming months more than once.  Huh??? I am now very confused.

He said if I submit an invoice and get the money but don't pay, then I could rort the system by then claiming the next months invoice with two months worth of expenses and so on.  Therefore, if they limit their payouts to singular months, then they cannot be rorted.

"BUT I HAVE A RECEIPT!" I said.  "I have a genuine original receipt showing I paid 6 months in one hit" I explained.  Again, he refused this argument because they dont pay on receipts, just invoices.  He suggests I send each months invoice to them to be paid and they will give me the cash irrespective if I pay the power company.  Crazy.

I then said "but you know I am not rorting the system because you can see my payment history and you know I haven't claimed any money for six months".

His response:  "Oh, our system doesn't keep record of payments out".


Crazy.  If anyone wants to get a job running an accounts payable system or you're an internal auditor who wants to have a field day, let me know!

I have months 4 and 5 invoices in my briefcase... I may have some others at home, but this is absolutely crazy logic!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Normal Service is Trying to Resume

OK, Mum & Dad have been and gone and its nearly a week since then and still no post on the good old blog.  Sorry for that!

We have been really busy this week with the kids wrapping up school projects before their mid-term breaks (which is next week) with Brooke building a building to be able to withstand 1kg of weight, a blast of air from a hair dryer and be water proof.  We have the weight and water down pat, but the house is made of Balsa wood and its a bit tricky to add weight to it so it doesn't blow away.

Kate in turn is doing an exhibition and has to create presentations and multi-media material on any subject relating to "Peace and Conflict".  She has chosen to do the history of the Stolen Generation.  (For non-Aussies, that was the Australian government policy from colonial times through to the 1970s of removing tribal aboriginal children from their families and placing them in white, anglo-saxon foster families and missions).  She has done alot of work and its been really enjoyable to see her work so hard on a research project that she knew very little about.

The girls are going to an International Baccalaureate school and this type of hands on project work is typical of the IB system and I have to say I think the kids have both taken to it with great enthusiasm and they seem to be learning so much more effortlessly than in Sydney.

Otherwise, that's about it!  Work and general life has been the theme this week.  We are planning some trips and excursions in the coming months... its nearly Niki, Kate & Brooke's first anniversary of relocation and we should try and do something to celebrate... and the girls are also heading back to Sydney in July and I am supposed to pull my finger out and book a trip to Europe in August / September.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What does Dubai look like?

Never been to Dubai?  Wonder what it looks like?

Well check this link out!

This is apparently the new world record for the worlds largest photograph at a size of 45 Giga pixels.

At first glance, you go... yeah so what.  But zoom in... zoom right in... you can read the company names on the sides of buses and are just about able to read the number plates of cars!  Best example of this is the freeways on the right hand side of the shot.

Enjoy the amazing zoom of 45 gigapixels, but also its a great photo of Dubai.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Week Off, Tour Guide

Am back at work and have had my mum & dad visiting us from Sydney last week, this week and next week.

I took the first week off to play the role of tour guide and was able to show mum & dad around the main sites of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

I guess the highlight of the trip so far, at least from my perspective, was to be able to go up the world's highest structure - the Burj Khalifa - and be able to see my new home town from the 124th floor.  The viewing was excellent and it really gave a new perspective on how Dubai looks from up on high.

I should point out though that the Burj Khalifa is in excess of 200 stories tall and it was a very strange feeling to be so high up in the sky but then to be able to look up from the observation deck and still see a further 80 stories above you!

In addition to the Burj, we were able to go to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque once again in Abu Dhabi and that place still impresses me even though it was my third trip... I also took mum & dad out to Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain to climb the mountain.  It was a work day when we went though and hence pretty quiet but it was a good drive in the countryside.

Of course, we have also done the 4WD sand dune bashing and that was good fun... mum screamed and laughed the whole way so that was pretty funny in itself.

Now, am back at work though and have left mum & dad to their own devices and they'll explore the old part of town and check out the souq's.

On other news, our dear old dog Zoe is starting to really show her age and I am really worried that we'll have to soon "make the call".  Her mobility has decreased dramatically this last week and she has had two injections to try and get the arthritis pain to subside but they haven't been too effective.  She's over 12yrs old and I am very sad about it as she has been a part of our family for so long and the girls have grown up with her.  But dogs, no matter how loving and loyal they are, have relatively short life spans and old Zoe is now starting to do it tough.  :-(