Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Fabulous 40's

Any lady can attest to the the myriad of tools that lie within our beauty regime.  We've got gels, sprays, lotions, pins, brushes, and "that thing that looks like a mid-evil torture device" according to Matt - eye lash curlers.  However, in my quest to perfect my throwback 1940s do, I didn't think that I would be standing in the bathroom cutting up a dry sponge and swearing like a sailor.

It all started the evening before.  Matt and I had been invited to the USO's annual gala (where all the funds go directly to the troops)!  It was a big band 1940's event and patrons were encouraged to dress from the decade.  I've been watching 'The Pacific' lately and I decided that I was going to attempt the quintessential decade do - the "victory rolls".  A quick YouTube tutorial on how to get 1940's hair in less than 10 mins gave me the confidence I needed to achieve the look.

Boy, was I in over my head.  Hair needs to be set in rolls, then teased, then wrapped around 'filler sponges', then pinned and rolled into place.  Ninety minutes later I realized why they were called victory rolls - because by the time you finish them you want to scream "VICTORY" over your poor head of hair.  I gave it my best shot!

So off we went, and had a great time enjoying the musical stylings of the Liberty Bells and the big band musical.  We boogie-woogied our bugle boy all night long.
Then, in a total surprise visit, her Royal Highness Queen Sylvia Nagginda Luswata of Uganda showed up during the evening to lend her support.  Of course, I didn't expect to meet a Queen with kitchen sponges in my hair - that will be our little secret!   

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flying Platinum Class

At some point the world's creative marketers are going to run out of precious metals and gem stones to name loyalty groups after! Through vigorous travel and credit card deals Matt and I are a member of a number of "Gold", "Ruby", "Sapphire" and "Elite" classes all of which for the most part just equal a whole bunch of junk mail (not you Starwood we love you!).
Last week we found one of the last remaining 'classes' that you want to be part of, the Platinum class at Regal cinemas - it's like watching a movie from home only better!

First a word of caution on trying to actually see a movie in Dubai in peace - it's nearly impossible. In the past three years Matt and I have attempted to see movies of all ratings and timings and without a doubt the room is packed with cell-phone answering, talking-during-the-movie, I'm-pretending-my-kids-aren't-running-up-and-down-the-aisle types. Movie theatre etiquette is non-existent and in fact even turned on its head. "I had to turn my cell phone up even louder so I didn't miss the call during the movie" and "I couldn't find a babysitter for this rated R, 11:00pm showing so dealing my children is your problem, they won't bother me, and I can tune them out".

So over the years, much to our dismay we've avoided the theatres all together. That is until now....

For a premium (well worth it) you can buy your way into Platinum class, with is an 18 seat theatre with full reclining leather seats, a table between them, your own waiter, a full service menu, and a little button you can push if you want anything at all during the movie. Decide you want popcorn halfway through - no problem! You think it would be disruptive, but it's surprisingly not.

They even encourage you to chill out at their lounge before the movie and an usher comes to individually seat you in pre-assigned seats - no draped winter coats needed in this seat-saving! Then again it is harder to sneak in a bottle of water, and family size bag of sour patch kids (not that I know anything about that).

We paid the price but we did get to see Iron Man 2 on the big screen in peace and quiet while enjoying a lychee flavored Italian soda and some caramel almond popcorn - I told you, this isn't your father's movie theatre!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ms. Shaver Goes to Washington

Congressman Dan Burton from Indiana's 5th district

I was warned on my way to Capitol Hill. Experts, lifers, current employees, hacks, and even my close friends told me that I may be all smiles as I stormed the gates but by the end of my week I would be worn out and totally dejected with the way my government works.

By way of background, because of my role on the Board of Directors of the American Business Council in Dubai I was able to serve as part of a delegation to the US from the Gulf on behalf of a group called MECACC (if you get a little flem in your throat you can pronounce it better!) the Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce. This group has been taking our message to DC for 25 years and I was thrilled to be a part of this year's delegation.

In sum, we believe that American's aboard are incredibly important for a whole host of reasons diplomatic and economic reasons. We have a ton of opportunity to influence big trade deals and import American goods into our host countries (which equals jobs at home) but we are pretty limited in numbers and we believe that this is namely because of unfair US tax policy on expatriates. The US is the only industrialized nation in the world that taxes based on citizenship and not residency, and the rest of world is laughing all the way to the bank. I won't proselytize, but if you have any interest in knowing more check out these great articles. And if you really care I have a great PWC study on the issue:,8599,1983238,00.html
Anyhoo, now that it is in the national interest to double US exports in 5 years based on President Obama's State of the Union imperative, we received a warm welcome on the hill as our issue was thought to be part of a bipartisan solution that could help by increasing exports to the world over.

I left my week on the Hill with a profound respect for the work that both the members and their staff do. They are hardworking, smart, professional, and dedicated people regardless of which side of the isle they come from....
...for the most part. A member who will remain nameless (but is in one of pictures here), asked in our meeting, "If I come to Dubai how long would it take me to rent a car and drive on down to Beirut?" I politely had to stress that Beirut was Northwest from Dubai and is better reached by plane in a 4 hour flight. Hmmm. To which he said "oh it doesn't really matter, I'll charter an army jet to get me there anyway."
Oh boy. Smiling Katie: 1, Cynical Katie: 1 -it's a dead heat!

Senator "Kit" Bond from Missouri (he's in the yellow tie)
Congressman Bob Latta from Ohio's 5th district
The MECACC team on the steps of the Cannon Building

Global Credit Crisis Solved: An ATM that Dispenses Gold Bars

(Photo Courtesy of the The National)
Honestly, this doesn't even need a clever title or any spin:  Emirates Palace hotel, in Abu Dhabi, has just installed an ATM machine that dispenses solid gold bars in 4 different sizes as well as solid gold coins.

I know, it's a common problem - you have too much money, but you can't spend it like water when the ATM limits your withdrawals to $5,000 a day (seriously - people buy cars with a fews trips to the ATM over here).  Let it not be said that the Middle East doesn't innovate - astronomy, assasins, our modern Arabic numerals, the word "alcohol" (originally "al-kuhl") - and all other nice things starting with the letter A.

This ATM, however, is just all kinds of right.  About AED175 ($47.60) will buy a one gram bar, AED760 ($206.80) a five gram bar and AED4,645 ($1,263.90) an ounce, according to The National newspaper.  Of course, the ATM checks the daily price of gold and adjust accordingly.  "It brings gold to the public,” Thomas Geissler, the chief executive of Ex Oriente Lux AG, told the paper. “It demystifies it.”

It sure does.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tall Buildings, Hotels, and Excess – OH MY!

Here at Hello, Dubai we are equal-opportunity bloggers which is why when our fantastic friend Jessica offered to donate her own thoughts and pictures regarding her trip here we were happy to oblige.  Take it away, Jess.....!

I missed the volcano and landed in Dubai!!

After a dubious 22 hours of travel, flying full speed southeast to escape the cloud of volcanic ash, I arrived safely in Dubai. A sleepy-eyed Matt was there to scoop me up and welcome me into a land of sparkling skyscrapers, fountains that dance to Arabic music, $30 martinis, designer man-made islands, and construction as far as the eye could see…. Or at least up to where the barren desert begins.

Since my body had no idea what time or day it was, I couldn’t agree more with the first activity planned - a “Sunday brunch” at the polo club. What a brilliant idea for a Friday afternoon!

Though a strong start, guess how many hours I lasted before Matt had to hook me up to an IV of coffee?

Don’t think for one second I was going to fly all the way to the Middle East and not try to bury a 4-wheeler in the sand! Despite explicit instructions from Matt on how to avoid this, I could not help but get myself stuck over and over and over again.

“I know you explained this to me, but why does it keep happening?!!”

Next I will play the role of American tourist who begs shop keeper in Gold Souk to try on some of his golden spectacular, then makes him take her picture wearing it, while at the same time cheering for the hometown baseball team….. Go Phillies!

I’m trying to rationalize buying this necklace by thinking of all the appropriate places I could wear it? So far I’ve come up with: any client meeting, Saturday afternoons in the park, scuba diving (instead of weights), anyplace I may lose my shirt but still want full coverage, weddings, Bat Mitzvahs, funerals, and if I ever get the opportunity to ride a float in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade - wearing this would be a must! (Though maybe not the ring, it’s a little excessive don’t you think?)

I loved the energy and organization of Dubai Creek, the life-line of the city. Would you believe that behind where I stood taking this picture there is a state-of-the-art receiving area that tracks and funnels these goods precisely where they need to go? You shouldn’t, I’m lying.

I had a fantastic time staying in the Hello Dubai Bed and Breakfast! The view was to die for, the activities plentiful and entertaining, and my hosts Matt and Katie are without question, worth flying half way around the world to visit! A huge THANK YOU to them both for having me and letting me share in their Dubai experience.

From the balcony at Chateau Mueller-Shaver, Dubai + 1 Jessica Yuspeh


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Fly Now, and Get a Free PhD!

Good news, bad news - good news first. You now have to call me Dr. Mueller. Sure, it's not as good as Dr. Strangelover, Dr. No, or any of the doctors on MASH, but it's a start!
The bad news is that I only found out as I was supposed to take the stage, and boy was that an interesting conversation!
Enter the first Hello Dubai Blog Contest: Name the doctorate! Write your best backstory, school, and degree in the comments, and win a traditional Saudi dishdasha, along with a signed copy of my book, "The World According to Dr. Mueller".

Monday, May 3, 2010

Top Gun - courtesy of the Dubai USO and Navy League

Normally, I hate being a taxpayer - but this week was not one of them.  Sure, roads are nice, sometimes our legal system works out, and hey - everyone enjoys filling out census forms, but the real action is when you can kick back, have a beer, and watch the sunset on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
Mind you, I felt a LOT safer standing next to an F/A-18 Super Hornet than I usually do in Dubai, and for that, tax dollars well spent!  Besides, when your wife is out of town, you have to do something to occupy your time - it was either this or actually going to the gym.
Some fun facts:  The USS Eisenhower (pictured here with our friends Maurice and Gemma, who come free with every carrier purchase), was commissioned in 1977, carries two nuclear reactors, 60 aircraft, and a little over 6,000 sailors.  Typically, they don't let civilians command the whole ship, but since I asked nicely:
All in all, an amazing evening (they even had snickerdoodles - thank you very much, Navy chefs), and it was a pleasure to be a part of it.  This was also a special occasion, as the having the Eisenhower Strike Group in port was the launch event for the Navy League in Dubai, as well as a USO Event.  If you're living overseas, and have that little extra change in the pocket thanks to lower taxes, I highly recommend you donate to the USO or host for the Navy League when they're back in port.  Otherwise, they may never let me back on one of these things!