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‘Boring James Milner’

April 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Football, Sports Journalism, The National, World Cup, soccer

James Milner is an Englishman who plays for the Manchester City club. He is in the starting 11 now and then.

Mostly, he is an industrious backup midfielder. With the emphasis on industrious. Supreme fitness seems to preoccupy him.

At a Euro 2012 tournament game, he famously ran 1.4 kilometers more (in excess of .86 miles) than any other player on the pitch.

And even with all that running, he completed only nine passes, leading a British soccer writer to characterize Milner as “A man very stubbornly doing lengths of a swimming pool while a water polo match goes on all around him.”

That episode, plus his brief remarks to journalists, led to the notion of James Milner as not a very bright guy.

Well, actually, a very dull guy.

And led to a fake Twitter account that is amusing.

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The Welcome Mat

April 13th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

Outside the front door of an apartment here in my building in Abu Dhabi is a sort of welcome mat. One with a message.

It reads:



(at last)

It strikes me as a bit of an unusual welcome mat.

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The Gym, and Picking Up After Yourself

April 12th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

How hard is this? Really?

When you leave a gym … you put away whatever it was you had been using.

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UFC Returns to Abu Dhabi

April 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE


The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Abu Dhabi tonight, and it seemed to get plenty of attention.

The du Arena on Yas Island appeared to be filled to capacity (about 6,000) to see an eight-bout card capped by the American heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson knocking out Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira of Brazil.

This was not the first UFC card here … but it was received with greater enthusiasm, it would seem, than the event four years ago.

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Solving Spinster Problem? More Wives

April 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

At times, driving in Abu Dhabi, a person could be excused for thinking he was in south Orange County. The green medians. The palm trees. The sun. The four-lane (in each direction) highways crowded with SUVs and recent makes of high-end cars.

At other times, we are reminded some significant gulfs exist between ways of life here in Abu Dhabi and the UAE … and a western country.

One prominent example?

A discussion in the Federal National Council, the UAE’s parliamentary body, about unmarried Emirati women.

Which led to one of the FNC members suggesting the problem could be solved if Emirati men simply married more Emirati women.

Here is that story, as reported in The National.

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‘Batkid’ a Fun Story Anywhere

April 9th, 2014 · No Comments · Baseball, The National, UAE

We make room for offbeat stories and lists and lots of photos on pages 2 and 3 of The National sports section.

The stories can come from anywhere in the world.

Even, say, San Francisco, where the first ball of the Giants’ home opener was thrown out by … “Batkid”.

But before we get any further, let’s link you to a photo gallery of his appearance at AT&T Park.

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Arab Youth Dream of UAE, USA

April 8th, 2014 · No Comments · UAE

In an annual Arab Youth Survey, the UAE led all destinations on the question of “where in the world would you like to live?”

The country was No. 1 in the poll, with 39 percent of all respondents (”youth” was not defined in the story) naming the UAE as the place they would like to be.

Second on the list was a bit of a surprise — the United States, with 21 percent of Arab youths making it their top choice.

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The Best Soccer Team in the UAE

April 7th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Arabian Gulf League, Dubai, Fifa, Football, The National, UAE, World Cup

I’m trying to figure out how this happened. How Al Ahli of Dubai went from being one of the better teams in the UAE soccer league to being the unrivaled best team in the country.

And, like many takeovers, it was incremental.

I saw Ahli play last night, against Al Jazira, just down the street from The National, and it was supposed to be a test for the visitors. It was not.

They surged to a 3-0 lead, defended diligently and intelligently, and it finished 3-1.

Ahli has all but clinched the league, with four rounds still to play, and remains on track for a domestic treble (as the Brits like to say) — all three championships available in a UAE season, which has never been done here.

And I think I have a turning point.

Summer of 2010: Al Ahli signs Fabio Cannavaro.

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The L-o-o-ong Soccer Meltdown

April 6th, 2014 · No Comments · Arsenal, Football, soccer

Watching a team fall to pieces in European soccer is unlike seeing an American sports club go bad.

The fall-into-ruin can drag out three months, easy.

In baseball, teams can blow big leads, and it may seem forever, but it generally is a month, maybe two.

In the NFL,  a collapse can be measured in three Sundays, 15 days.

Regular-season finishes don’t mean all that much in the NBA and NHL, so the notion of “losing something” (aside from playoffs position) is not really relevant.

Quite different, in soccer.

As evidence, I present the 2013/14 Arsenal Gunners of the English Premier League, who have been unraveling since … the middle of December. That’s nearly four months of unraveling, now.

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A Room with a View

April 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE


It’s nice being on the 10th floor of a building. With a balcony.

Sometime, it lends itself to a view. Such as a really interesting sunset, above.

A couple of points:

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