Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Housing Crisis in AD

"...There was evidence rental rates in some Abu Dhabi neighbourhoods had risen at a rate of 2.5 per cent per week." Can you imagine that I laughed when I read this? I laughed because it is so true and it is so Abu Dhabi.

The housing issue in the city has been somewhat of a hot topic these days - when you hear expats who have been here for 20-30 years say that they've never seen anything quite like this you know it can be called a crisis. Media coverage about it is everywhere everyday (here's another article), but let me share with you our very own experience.

Take a guess with me - guess how much the price for the same apartment unit has gone up between last June when we moved in to this January, that's just about 7 months' period? Ready for the answer? ...50 %! So it really sucks for expats who are new to AD as it is impossible to find a unit in their original budget. Lucky for us, we are protected by the government-set rent cap of 5% per year for our lease renewal - phew!

Underground parking is another evidence. At first we didn't get one because we thought 5000 dhs (~1000 euros or 1350 dollars) per year for a parking spot was too much. Six months later the parking situation around our building got so bad that we decided to bite the bullet and getting one after all. Surprise, surprise, we were told that the price has been doubled only six months' later! Not only that and now there's a waiting list so we can't even pay to get a spot right away! The security guard told us the next door building is only higher at 15,000 dhs (~3,000) for an underground parking spot! Just fyi, we live on the edge of the downtown city, not even the centre or anything.

Anyhow, my apology for sounding a bit like Debbie Downer with my recent postings, but such frustration is just the one facet of living in AD, and I think it's just as equally interesting, and maybe even entertaining.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Identity Challenges

There is something about living in the Abu Dhabi that challenges every resident's identity in the most in-your-face ways. Here are some of my stories.

When I was reminded that I am Chinese: A few days ago, I stepped into a taxi and noticed the taxi driver "forgot" to reset his meter. After I politely pointed it out, the driver reluctantly complied, only after throwing back a disgruntled remark, "Chinese!"

When I was reminded that I am a Chinese woman: While on my way to visit a friend staying in a hotel apartment, the concierge staff stopped me - not only did he ask for my ID, but also took a copy of it. I found out afterwards another visitor who is a Caucasian guy didn't get this treatment. Hmm.

When I was reminded that I am a Chinese woman: Walking home alone at night, three Arab teenager boys cruised their bicycles along side of me and tried to start up conversation. After I ignored the annoyance as I always (and unfortunately too often) do, one of them started swearing at me. After a few similar incidents earlier the week, this just made the last straw on the camel's back - I turned on my self-defence face and called the cops while swearing back at the boys until they ran off. Not pretty I tell you.

When I was reminded that I am Canadian: While filing out my medical claim, I put down "allergy condition" as reason for visiting doctor. Apparently that was not enough, I was told either give a detailed reason and diagnosis or there wouldn't be a claim. *Sigh*

When I was reminded that I am Canadian: At least three of the office secretaries know my salary and oh yeah, the mail courier guy who delivers my pay slips. I guess it's somewhat of public information.

Personally I'm still struggling with these uncomfortable situations and make peace with them somehow. "All problems have at least one solution, including living with them." We'll see.

p.s. I want to thank those who responded to my previous posting on "Shu Man-Chu" - your opinion is greatly shared and appreciated. Cheers!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Shu rides a Segway - and loves it!

Still a little expensive for our taste (we can buy a second hand car for that money!), so we gave it back to the sales lady :)
More info on

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Red Bull Air Race Abu Dhabi

The day before yesterday I had lunch on the Corniche in the hopes of catching some glimps of the training of the Red Bull Air Race which will take place today. That day was such a good oppertunity since the crowds were not there!
And we struck lucky, first a helicopter explored the course and then two little airplanes raced across the track!
The organisation is expecting huge crowds today and I can't wait to see the race!
More info on