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Gaddafi Stadium? Time for a Name Change

May 23rd, 2015 · No Comments · Cricket

It comes as a surprise every team I see it.

The big cricket stadium in Lahore, Pakistan?

Gaddafi Stadium.

Yes, that Gaddafi. Muammar Gaddafi. Or Qaddafi or Kadafi, or other spellings by which he was known.

By any name, he was the bloody despot who ruled Libya with an iron fist for 42 years — before his own people overthrew him in 2011 and killed him after he was found hiding in a drainage pipe. His corpse was then displayed in public for four days, with Libyans coming from all over the country to see his body — not that the citizenry was angry with him, or anything.

And that is the man whose name is attached to the stadium where Pakistan ended six years of cricket international isolation today and yesterday.

Yes. Bizarre.

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The Littlest/Most Fragile MVP?

May 22nd, 2015 · No Comments · Basketball, NBA

Stephen Curry may not be the shortest or the lightest NBA MVP.

But he seems the Most Likely to Break. He seems the most fragile. Which makes his current mastery of the game even more impressive.

OK, little MVPs.

Let’s consider them.

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The Authentic Emirati Experience: The Soccer Match

May 21st, 2015 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Arabian Gulf League, Football, soccer, tourism, Travel, UAE

Whenever someone visits us in Abu Dhabi, I try to get them to a local soccer match. As I have noted before.

For one, it’s free. Also, the crowd will be overwhelmingly Emirati, and the way that crowd reacts is a revelation, too, to visitors who typically spend their days in crowds of expatriates.

Which is why we made the effort, last night, to get to Al Ahli’s stadium and see their Asian Champions League match with Al Ain.

For our young visitor from the States, it was a revelation.

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1,483 Feet Up the World’s Tallest Building

May 20th, 2015 · No Comments · Dubai, The National, UAE

The Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world, opened in Dubai in January of 2010. I was working in news at The National, back then, and I edited the “grand opening” story the night of January 4.

Almost four-and-a-half years later … I finally went inside the Burj. And rode the elevator up to the 124th floor.

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Ferrari World: Better than Expected

May 19th, 2015 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi

The Ferrari World theme park opened in Abu Dhabi in 2010, just before the second edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It made good sense, from a marketing standpoint. Once a year the popular Ferrari Formula One team would race at the track, and right next door, on Yas Island, was the theme park promoting all things Ferrari, which is one of the world’s great brands — and particularly popular with Emiratis.

(A red Ferrari cap is considered a desirable sporting accessory to wear with a white kandura.)

The park in an impressive sight. To walk inside is to enter an  enormous space, high and airy and nicely cooled even through the harsh UAE summers.

It also is impressive from the air: the enormous Ferrari logo on the sprawling red roof can be seen by passengers on aircraft about to land in Abu Dhabi, or which have just taken off.

But almost from the start, Ferrari World had an indifferent reputation locally.

Some stuff there, yeah … the “world’s biggest indoor theme park” and “the world’s fastest roller-coaster”, but

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Motion Sickness: Hasn’t Left Me Yet

May 18th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Infants apparently do not get motion sickness, not that they can express their relief at their resistance — nor lord it over the rest of us.

But it has been suggested that the old also have some degree of immunity to the condition.

I am still waiting for that geriatric benefit. So far, my sense is that the older I get, the less resistance I have to the condition.

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The Clippers!!!

May 17th, 2015 · No Comments · Basketball, Clippers, Lakers, NBA

It was a week ago that the Los Angeles Clippers, the city’s eternal “other” team, looked bound for the Western Conference finals. Much to our surprise.

Up 3-1 on the Houston Rockets after a blowout victory in Game 4 … it was going to happen! The Clippers in the conference finals for the first time!

And then?

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Today’s Earworm: “Puttin’ on the Ritz”

May 16th, 2015 · No Comments · Earworm

Interesting song, written 80-plus years ago by Irving Berlin. Heavily syncopated with vivid lyrics jammed into all those stop-and-start phrases.

Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Always interesting.

But the version going through my brain?

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Basketball’s Global Creep*

May 15th, 2015 · No Comments · Basketball, Olympics

* Not talking about a person, though Donald Sterling might qualify.

A friendly discussion/argument you can have nearly anywhere in the world?

Which is the world’s No. 2 sport?

Soccer is No. 1. The end.

But what is No. 2?

I am beginning to think it is basketball, which is played, to some extent, almost everywhere. A ball and a hoop is all you need. Also a game that can be played inside during inclement weather.

Anyway, “global basketball creep” was in full view tonight in Abu Dhabi at a 3×3 Fiba tournament, which The National covered with a story and with a photo gallery.

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Brad Friedel: The Goalkeeper Americans Found It Hard to Love

May 14th, 2015 · No Comments · English Premier League, Football, soccer, The National, World Cup

Brad Friedel, the 43-year-old American goalkeeper, said today he will retire from soccer when Tottenham’s season ends next weekend.

That will end the professional career of probably the most-respected U.S.  player, in England — and perhaps around the world.

Friedel, however, was never quite as popular at home as he came to be in England and other precincts.

We can come up with several reasons for his muted popularity in the U.S. but it probably comes down to this:

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