Monthly Archives: April 2003

Eastern Dunes

evil_bunnyMy dearest friends, and all those pretending to be..

– To those with winning eggs: Happy Easter!
– To those with cracked eggs: Ace Hardware has a discounted “Arab EasterEggs”, guaranteed to smash the enemy eggs.
– To the rest: If you’ve recently converted to Christianity, contact me for your Easter Wishes!

Here is your greeting card:
http://view.greetings.yahoo.com/greet/view?XE3MQHEIVQVYF

Customarily (that’s for you, Helen!), this is Episode 2 of “Firo’s  Life in the Desert”. I have learned a whole lot more about Sand Dunes, Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrol (aha! new name! new competitor for the  Land Cruiser) and Mitsubishi Pajero (you’ll actually learn why this  is here soon).

I’ll get to the point, so here are the highlights of my best daily epiphanies of life in the Gulf:

– We start with the Gulf police. If you are a Gulf Citizen (Qatari, Kuwaiti, UAEi (try pronouncing that!), Omani, Bahraini, Saudi or Tabbouli.. uhm.. nope, that last one is a dish), the cops never stop  you or give you a ticket for anything. The law doesn’t apply to you. This means that if you’re not a Gulf Citizen, you’re always guilty. My conclusion is that, if you get hit by a Gulf Resident in your car, and it’s his fault, simply tow your own car to the desert, cover it with sand, and fly to Singapore. SARS is safer.

– Dubai is a very modern city, somewhat like a Las Vegas in the Gulf. They have special machines at the airport that poke holes in your  pockets without you noticing. From the time you leave the airport till you reach your hotel, you have spent all of your savings, those of your parents and neighbours, sold your grandma’s gold, robbed 2 banks and lost the money in a horse race, traded your car for a mule and spent the cash on popcorn, and managed to put 3 million dollars on credit cards you don’t yet have. God only knows how Dubai makes your money disappear!

– If you want to fly Qatar Airways, be ready to fight for a seat with 6000 other warriors. They were even discussing the lost space above your head, where they could install extra hanging chairs to accomodate more customers, since they’ve used all the isles, bathrooms, luggage compartments, cockpit, engine rooms and fuel tanks, and filled them all with seats. They shrunk the size of the seats to 2 inches each, and they distribute the “Qatar Airways Diet” brochure at the door.

– There is always that one guy in Business Class that wants to make sure you know that he was upgraded for free. 37 times in a 1 hour flight.

– You need permission to exit a Gulf country. Most countries make it hard for you to enter their borders, but Gulf countries punish you for entering by not letting you leave. Once you’re in, YOU’RE IN! And you need an Exit Permit signed by your boss, his boss, the CEO, the minister of External Affairs, the Prince, the Pope and John Lennon.

– Wasta: a big word. Means so much to Arabs. Wasta is the foundation of the Universe. It transcends all reality and virtuality. Wasta is when you walk into a Bank, find a 1 hour long waiting line, and decide to call your buddy who can close the Bank branch for 1 hour, kick everyone out, process your request, then re-open and let everyone back in. Wasta is when the cop writes you a ticket for $5,000,000 for running over a crowd of pedestrians and causing anarchy, then you make a phone call to your buddy who speaks to the cop for a minute, then the cop apologizes and escorts you to your house to make sure you arrive safely. He then goes back to clean up the mess. Long Live WASTA!

– Land Cruisers.. you gotta love them! If you didn’t get my first email about them, then I’ll tell you: Land Cruisers are to cars what Elephants are to Ants. They drive over them without saying “oops”, and they never notice their existence. Now there are competitors: the Mitsubishi Pajero and the Nissan Patrol. To make it simple, let’s just say that there are 700k people living in Qatar, then there are 3 billion Land Cruisers, 200 million Nissan Patrols and 100 million Mitsubishi Pajero. That’s it.

– Finally, license plates. There are no “custom” plates, but there are “special number” car license plates. For example, if your car has the plate 123, the plate is worth $200k or sometimes more. If it is 111, we’re talking close to $500k. The license plates are seldom more expensive than the cars, but rarely bigger than the egos.

– And to sum it all up, the irony of it all. Yep, you guessed it, I DID succomb to the dynasty of Four Wheel Drives! I exchanged my Mercedes for a …. nope … not a Land Cruiser, that would be IMMORAL! Well, a  2003 Mitsubishi Pajero.. which I actually love! So there! 😉 Here it is: http://www.australiasbestcars.com.au/2001/fourwheel.htm

– Here are some meaningless things I have gathered:

Lebanese Recipes:
http://www.lebaneserecipes.f9.co.uk/Lebanese.htm

Names in Chinese:
http://stage.cwasia.net.sg/~oriweb/

Wrecked Exotic Cars:
http://www.wreckedexotics.com/

And of course, my latest website, still under construction (so please don’t play around too much yet until I am done):
http://www.moustaamal.com

“Habby Eastern” to all, as they would say it here in the Gulf. I know you don’t miss me, but now that I forced myself into your day, email me back and say hello!

Firo (The Artist Formerly Known As Firas)
Mobile (or cellular, in US terms): XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Email: duh