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A Dry Heat

November 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Long Beach, UAE

Day 1 of a Southern California visit.

Almost as warm as Abu Dhabi.

Not nearly as wet.

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EY171: The Longest Day in Flying

November 24th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Abu Dhabi, Paris, Travel

Yes. I know. Tales of long/delayed/strange plane rides generally are of interest only to the people who suffer through them.

But this one was particularly odd and exotic. Really. Trust me.

How often have you flown over Greenland? Not just the tip of Greenland, like, 500 miles of it right in the middle?

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The Biggest Day in Sports … Eclipsed by Soccer, of Course

November 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Football, soccer, The National, UAE

Noted a week or so ago:

Too much good sports stuff this week. Specifically, today.

Actually, we had even more good stuff than I presented.

Add to the list:

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The UAE’s Star

November 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Football, London 2012, London Olympics, soccer, The National, UAE

Omar Abdulrahman … the best player nearly no one outside the UAE knows about.

He is really good, if he is allowed to play, and he has become the leader of the UAE national team, which plays host Saudi Arabia in the semifinals of the Gulf Cup of Nations tomorrow.

He dominated the final Group B match this week, against Iraq, which generally is a pretty tough side. Held the ball, did tricks with it, ran the Iraqis in circles. And also did all the talking in the pre-match huddle.

So, I was inspired to write a paean to Omar for The National. Not only is he a great entertainer, he has become the team’s captain without portfolio.

Other Omar facts:

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Etiquette Tips for UAE Visitors

November 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, The National, Travel, UAE

This actually is a handy compilation of information, if you are planning to visit the United Arab Emirates sometime soon.

And you probably are not planning any such thing, if you live in the States. It’s just too far.

But this should be required reading for Europeans and, in particular, for Britons and Russians, who form a big chunk of European visitors to the UAE but also sometimes show up behaving as if people in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are comfortable with the same behavior seen at Cancun or Phuket or Bali.

Which is not the case. The UAE is liberal, when it comes to dress and alcohol, compared to several of its neighbors … but not that liberal.

So, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi has created a website meant for foreigners to check out before they arrive. Which is a good idea any time a traveler is leaving an area where he or she is confident about societal issues.

The No. 1 tip the author has for visitors?

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‘Hijacking Our Identity’

November 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, The National

Sometimes someone says something that makes so much sense, you have to share it.

So it was with Queen Rania of Jordan, who at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit this week said Arab and Muslim extremists are using social media to drown out the peaceful majority.

“A minority … is using social media to rewrite our our narrative, hijack our our identity and rebrand us,” she said. “This is their version of their Arab world story — their narrative, their plot, their heroes. And the rest of the world is listening and watching.”

Among other points she made:

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Witness to the ‘Shot Heard Round the World’ — 25 Years Ago

November 19th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Fifa, Football, Italy, Landon Donovan, Newspapers, soccer, Sports Journalism, World Cup

I had forgotten the date. A former colleague sent me an email about it, and yes, he was right.

It was 25 years ago today that the U.S. national soccer team recorded the most important victory in the history of American soccer.

We can say that without reservation, actually, because soccer was languishing in the U.S. in 1989.

The North American Soccer League of Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia was long dead, seemingly only a fevered dream. No league of any significance existed in the US. And the national team still had not reached a World Cup since 1950.

A good case could be made, in 1989, that the U.S. was going to remain immune to this “global football” thing … forever.

Instead, Paul Caligiuri scored a random/miraculous goal and the U.S. defeated Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain, on November 19, 1989, setting the stage for all the American soccer that has come thereafter.

I was there.

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Watching Kim Kardashian Dine in Dubai

November 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Dubai, The National

Apparently, it is Dubai’s great good fortune to have vacuous celebrities drop by fairly regularly.

Last month, it was Paris Hilton.

In this case, it is Kim Kardashian, who may rank No. 1 in world history in the dubious category of “famous for being famous”. Which, apparently, qualifies her as the “world’s hottest dinner date”.

This media release dropped into our email, at The National, today.

Nobody seems to plan to do anything about it, but it was a topic of conversation.

This is what it looked like, complete with typo in the first sentence of the text.

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The UAE: ‘Little Sparta?’

November 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi

We have known from early in our stay, here in the UAE, that the U.S. Air Force has a base not far from Abu Dhabi.

It is the Al Dhafra base, on the mainland. Maybe a half-hour drive from Abu Dhabi Island. The name is easy to remember because a soccer team in the Arabian Gulf League has the same name.

We have known USAF personnel — apparently part of the 380th Expeditionary Wing — who have been stationed there. And we also have seen groups of guys of military age and with military haircuts (and heard American accents) in the city, on excursions. Often, at the Mexican food restaurant in one of the malls.

But now we have a Washington Port story about how important the UAE is to the U.S. military in the region, and not just as a host.

But as a combatant, too.

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Too Much Good Stuff!

November 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Arabian Gulf League, Dubai, English Premier League, Football, Motor racing, soccer, Sports Journalism, The National, UAE, Volvo Ocean Race

It often turns out this way, in the news biz. Weeks of making something out of nothing. And then a stretch of time where you have big events colliding on the calendar.

This is one of those “colliding big events” weeks, here in the UAE.

Four events that pretty safely fall into our top 10 for the year are going on right this minute, or abiout to go on. Which is fun and exciting for the sports staff of The National … but couldn’t we have spread these out a little better?

Here is what we have:

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