Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: March 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011


The older ones had much more quality and were built like miniature passports, these new ones look like wedding invitations.

For those of you may not know, adult beverages can be legally purchased in the UAE by non-Muslim residents but only if you possess an annually renewable licence issued by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Abu Dhabi Police, its the law! 

To obtain one, you have to personally submit a passport photo, a copy of both your residence visa and passport, a letter from your employer (replete with numerous colorful ink stamps) stating your employment status and salary, completed forms and 200 Dirhams (~$50) fee. You have to relinquish your old licence, too.

Despite my extreme adversion to anything that even hints of the administrative, I have to admire the tolerance of the Abu Dhabi government to even allow alcohol to be sold/served in their Emirate to us expats and tourists in this Muslim country. It goes against the majority religion but it is a concession to the large dependence on foreign workers in the UAE.

I have lived in Utah and the Deep South, USA where the dominant religion(s) extended me less choices than I have here. There were no permits to be had and entire portions of certain states are "dry".

Anyway, each and every year I have submitted the exact same documents with the exact same information at the exact same office. I have a thick file already at the police station and I have yet to do anything wrong! There is only one office in the Abu Dhabi City metro area for this purpose and fortunately it was very close to my domicile....until today!

I had a coworker drop me off at this particular local police station after work to get this taken care of. I met an officer in the parking lot and told him what I was there for. He said the liquor license operation had moved a couple of days before to another location near downtown. This new bit of information surprised me as I had been to this police station 5 days before but was there after hours and was told to come back later. Nothing was mentioned about the move.

The desk sergeant inside drew me a crude map and I decided to take my chances and grab a taxi to the new digs. The location was apparently in between two landmark buildings and should be easy to find. How wrong I was!

The taxi driver assured me he knew where this place was but threw up his hands in exasperation when we arrived at the general area. I told him to just let me out and I would fend for myself. I asked no less than five different people where this police station was and all gave me a different answer. Remember, there are no street addresses in Abu Dhabi. Hint: when someone points toward a destination, it is usually wrong by at least 45 degrees.

A Good Samaritan finally gave me a ride to another police station in the area. I thought my quest was at an end but they ended up pointing me to another place two blocks over. They didn't do liquor licenses there. I had already been hoofing it for an hour and figured this was my last best chance.

I found myself in one of those small blocks of 4-5 story buildings with retail on the ground floor and flats up top as is typical of Abu Dhabi. The place was a mixture of old and new buildings with ongoing renovation. I asked several pedestrians if they knew of a police station in the area, all I got was blank stares and shrugged shoulders. Then I asked a general laborer that was working in the block. He nodded his head yes and pointed to a renovated building 30 meters away from where we stood. I saw two guys just inside the door with police uniforms on and a very small Abu Dhabi Police logo posted outside.

I walked over and confirmed I was in the right place. I went upstairs and was issued a bright, shiny new liquor licence within minutes. Everyone I dealt with once inside was pleasant and efficient. I was the only one there. Why? Because it takes a Sherlock Holmes to find the place! There are no obvious signs on the building and one almost has to trip over it to find it. I spent over an hour looking for the only office in Abu Dhabi to renew my liquor licence.

I see a problem here. I know the rules and I try to follow them to the best of my ability, but when this is made more difficult than it should be, I reckon others will cut corners and not stay current on their licences. If there is going to be a legal requirement for something, make it easy for folks to comply. I think most would!

This place is really hidden and it took me in excess of an hour on foot and many false starts to find it after a long 12 hour night shift. So since I know where it is now and can save my readers time, aggravation and money, send 50AED and I will part with the GPS coordinates. Ace has to eat too!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wild Africa Indeed!

Any adult beverage that comes in a bottle wrapped in faux leopard skin should not be taken lightly, ask me how I know!

Cool bottle, good taste (think Bailey's Irish Cream), bad hangover!

I think I need some hair of the "cat" that bit me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Better Late Than Never

As a US citizen living and working abroad in an historically unstable part of the world, I duly registered my status with the US Embassy here in Abu Dhabi. It is recommended in case of a political meltdown (unlikely in the UAE) so one can be found in case evacuation is prescribed due to unrest which may put US citizens in harm's way.

One big benefit of being a US citizen abroad is that the government is dead-set serious about getting its own boys and girls out of a bad situation. I can count on that and it is comforting that I can rely on the USN and USAF to have a plan. One of the basic tenets of the US government is to protect its citizens, no matter where they are. Most other nationalities don't have this luxury.

US Embassy, Abu Dhabi

If I have to avail myself of their services in times of turmoil, I will consider every penny of tax I paid as a good investment.

Things are "hot" in this  part of the word lately with uprisings in Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Oman, Egypt, Bahrain (close) and others. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are quiet and safe for now but who knows when things might spill over.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I just got an email from the US Embassy advising me of the troubles surrounding me even though widespread shit has been happening in the region since January. The warning is here: 
fromAbu Dhabi, ACS
to"Abu Dhabi, ACS"
dateMon, Mar 14, 2011 at 8:47 AM
subjectWarden Message # 6/2011: Stay Alert to Regional Developments
hide details Mar 14 (2 days ago)

Warden Message # 6/2011: Stay Alert to Regional Developments

U.S. Mission to the United Arab Emirates
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi - U.S. Consulate General Dubai
March 14, 2011

The U.S. Mission to the United Arab Emirates reminds Americans to remain
alert to regional developments. Below are summaries of current guidance
from the U.S. Department of State for many countries in the region. The
most up-to-date guidance and information can be found online at <> .

In the event of an emergency, such as the death or arrest of an American
citizen, the Embassy and Consulate General stand ready to assist 24
hours a day. You may contact the duty officers at +971-2-414-2500.

The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is located in the Embassies District, Plot
38, Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, P.O. Box 4009. Telephone:
+971-2-414-2200, fax: +971-2-414-2241, email:
<;> , on the
web: <> .
For after-hours emergencies in Abu Dhabi, call +971-2-414-2500 and ask
for the Abu Dhabi Duty Officer.

The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of the
Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. Telephone: +971-4-311-6000,
fax: +971-4-311-6213, email:, on the web: <
> . For
after-hours emergencies in Dubai or the Northern Emirates, call
+971-2-414-2500 and ask for the Dubai Duty Officer.


The U.S. Department of State urges U.S. citizens to defer non-essential
travel to Bahrain at this time. (Bahrain Travel Alert
<>  dated
February 18, 2011)

The latest information and guidance from Embassy Manama can be found
online at


The U.S. Embassy in Muscat advises U.S. citizens of ongoing
demonstrations, marches, sit-ins and protests throughout the Sultanate
of Oman. (Embassy Muscat Warden Message
<>  dated
March 13, 2011)

The latest information and guidance from Embassy Muscat can be found
online at


The U.S. Department of State urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen.
U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should consider departing. (Yemen
Travel Warning
<>  dated March
6, 2011)

The latest information and guidance from Embassy Sanaa can be found
online at


The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Libya
and recommends U.S. citizens in Libya depart immediately. (Libya Travel
Warning <>
dated February 25, 2011)

The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli suspended operations on February 25, 2011.

The latest information and guidance on Libya can be found online at
<> .


The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens to defer
non-essential travel to Egypt. (Egypt Travel Warning
<>  dated
February 18, 2011)

The latest information and guidance from Embassy Cairo can be found
online at


The U.S. Department of State continues to advise U.S. citizens currently
in Tunisia to defer non-essential travel to the central, western, and
southern regions of Tunisia. (Tunisia Travel Alert
<>  dated March
10, 2011)

The latest information and guidance from Embassy Tunis can be found
online at

This email is UNCLASSIFIED
 I hate to complain and appreciate the effort but a more timely "heads up" would be welcomed.


Japan Tsunami

My heart goes out to the Japanese people. At no time in my somewhat extended life have I seen such massive destruction. There was a "Hat Trick" of earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear powerplant explosions that even the most ambitious Hollywood movie blockbuster producer could not have dreamed up. I don't believe this particular combination of disasters has ever occurred before.

The epicenter of the earthquake was offshore
 At the risk of sounding insensitive, if these things were going to happen anyway, it couldn't have been in a better place. The Japanese are well known for being aware and prepared for earthquakes. Building codes, transport systems, utilities and infrastructure have all been designed with the risk in mind, but who could have expected the trifecta of disasters that all happened at one time? If this would have happened in any other country, things would have been much worse by several orders of magnitude.

Successful recovery by a real hero

That doesn't lessen my hurt though. I consider Japan and its people as good world citizens. They are innovative, productive, polite and keep to themselves, kind of like I wished my own country was.

Yes, they made some mistakes in the 1940's but since then the Japanese have been net contributors to the global population.. There is not one person on this planet that has not been influenced for the better by Japanese technology in some way.

Damaged F-16


I spent some time in Tokyo a few years ago and  was impressed by the friendliness, efficiency, comfort and overall wackiness of the place. It all works well, though. My memories of that time make the recent events much more personal.

I can't help but notice the contrast between the way the Japanese are recovering from this disaster and the way things were back in the USA after the hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans. The Japanese response seems much more coordinated and united than the chaos, shootings, lootings and finger-pointings that happened in Louisiana.

US Navy assistance for Japan

I don't enjoy bashing my own country or people, but the stoic and purposeful way the Japanese are handling the recovery sets an example for all. Maybe its an Asian thing and the more I discover about that, the more it seems a better way of life....just my humble opinion.

I wish the best for the Japanese folks, they didn't deserve this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Aviation Art

Lately I have been corresponding with a fellow airline guy and was pleasantly surprised to discover he is quite a talented artist as well. His website is:

Here are some samples:

I bought this one because I am a turboprop geek

Jerry can also do custom paintings on commission. His prices are reasonable and his talent is obvious. Check out his website and consider making an investment in an original piece of aviation art .