Monday, July 30, 2012

Boom, Goes the Dynamite: the Burj Park Cannon

There are a lot of human conventions to mark the passage of time. We ring bells, set alarms, check our watches, heck we might even have a coo-coo clock, marking the hour with a deafening and quite terrifying cannon shot wasn’t one that was prepared for. When I first heard it a week ago – I almost instantly hit the deck, bit my tongue and felt adrenaline pump through my veins. It sounded a lot like a bomb, and I momentarily got a little nervous (honey - grab the passports and cash from the safe…).
As it turns out, we weren’t too far off. It was a bomb of sorts, a cannon in fact, and seeing how it was set off just a stone’s throw from our apartment it was no wonder that the glasses were clinking in the china cabinet. Why on earth would they be firing a cannon in Burj Park?

 Some recent snaps from the balcony of the Arabian sunset.
Well apparently it is one of the most convenient ways to alert the city that the sun has set and it is time to break the Ramadan fast at iftar.

According to Major Abdullah Mubarak Bin Misbah, head of weapons in the public administration services and equipment department at Dubai Police, “Since the early 60s, the firing of the cannon was entrusted to Dubai Police to mark the end of the fast at sunset.  The first military cannons, which were made by the British, are still in our possession and are regularly maintained so that we can keep the memory of its significance and its beauty alive.”

As part of the authority’s capacity in keeping the tradition alive, Dubai Police have assigned crews consisting of five men — one sergeant, one traffic officer and three soldiers — to bring the cannons into designated areas.

The other cannons are being shot from Mussallah and Al Raas in Deira, from Bur Dubai at Mussallah in Karama, as well as at Safa Park in Jumeirah.

Thanks guys – next time you want to fire off heavy artillery in the ‘hood, maybe just a neighborly heads up?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dubai After Dark: The Seaview Hotel

After living in Dubai for awhile you definitely come to the conclusion that every experience will be scrubbed to perfection, albeit a little inauthentic.  As an expat there is an admitted tendency to rely on the Marina side of town for your kicks.  However, I've heard many a friend sing the praises of the dive bars on the other side of town heralding everything from cheap drinks, great live music, and (ahem) interesting clientele.  A few weeks ago we decided to see what we were missing and set off to find one of the most highly recommended bars in Bur Dubai, the Marine's Club at the Seaview Hotel.  They are legendary for the all Filipino cover band, who rock out nightly with the best that 80's hair bands had to offer.

The first challenge was finding the place.  The bar is located out through the back of the lobby, through the service area and kitchens, and then up the fire escape and in through another back door.  But what's a little walk through a hotel kitchen on the way bar?  When we arrived we were informed that it would be a 50dhs cover change to enter.  Well, this threw the group for a loop.  I'm not sure any of us could remember the last time we paid a cover on the other side of town, so it seemed a pretty high price to pay, but we had come this far and our curiosity won out over our wallets.  Once inside we were told that entrance came with an included drink, which helped soften the blow.

After arriving in the venue (and removing a stray hair extension from Matt's sole - yes really...) we were ushered to a table right on the dance floor and I was disappointed to be greeted with blaring techno music, and the entertainment of shall we say, many odd "couples" on the dance floor.  With my watered down G&T and near asphyxiation from smoke inhalation I was beginning to give up hope on the live music scene when the band, coming back from break, took the stage.

And boy did they own it!  The lead singer and bassist Cherie Garcia is a talent not to be missed.  She started slapping the bass to the first few chords of Guns and Roses "Sweet Child of Mine" and screeched out a version that would have made Axl Rose jealous.  She followed by playing the bass with her teeth and behind her head during a rendition of ACDC's "Back in Black".  While most patrons were distracted by other "talent" she totally rocked the stage.

We're looking forward to our next visit to see what the new set list will be, but in the meantime I would suggest that Simon Cowell might want to stop by for a drink and the musical styling of Cherie Garcia. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dubai in 20,000 Pictures

Dubai is home to a face paced and ever changing environment, but it's not often someone captures the buzz of the city like Richard Bentley's 20,000 photos of Dubai. 

A British photographer whose time-lapse films have attracted thousands of hits online has released a new work that aims to capture Dubai's restless, bustling nature.

Dubai 3.0 looks at first glance as if it has been shot using a video camera. In fact, it is made up of 20,000 still photographs.  He left a gap of between three and eight seconds between each shot, and each second of the completed film consists of 25 of the photos run together.

In the opening scene, the Dubai Fountain can be seen flaring briefly at the foot of the Burj Khalifa before the view changes slightly as the same location is seen across the rippling surface of a swimming pool.
The viewpoint continues to change as different parts of the city - including the Dubai Marina, Business Bay and Atlantis, The Palm - are showcased.

Mr Bentley's says  "Dubai is a photographer's paradise if you're into architecture," he said. "That's what really captured my imagination.  The lighting in Dubai is incredible at night. In daytime it doesn't capture the imagination quite so much but, after dark, Dubai comes to life."

The visuals are accompanied by a haunting soundtrack, penned specifically for the montage by the composer Athar Saeed.

"What I'm trying to convey with the time-lapse is to represent the city in the best possible artistic way that I can and bring it to the internet. Dubai is a very fast, very bustling, 24-hour city," Mr Bentley said.

If a picture is worth a thousand words than this slideshow is worth 20 million!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Knot Standard Photo Shoot

Things have been pretty busy around here in Dubai - work, work work!  Fortunately, it's not all sitting behind a desk.  We recently got a team together for a large photo and video shoot of the new Knot Standard collection.  Starting at 7am on the weekend, it took three grinding days to get through hundreds of new products, but you can see the fruits of our labor on the new Knot Standard website at

Everything starts with makeup and hair - or as Katie called it, "Making of a Ken doll".
Setup and styling is no joke either - everyone at the shoot was a knot-tying expert by the end of the shoot.  Even the tag-alongs, like the stylist's dog Becks (great mascot, fits in a garment bag!):
Not everything went perfectly - you can't do a shoot without breaking a few lights:

To keep the shoot on schedule, we actually made two shoot setups, side-by-side:
 For the nerds out there, yes, that's a Red Scarlett, and yes, we shot in 5K video.  The cart in the background (and guy manning it in the black t-shirt) is just to hold the hard drives to accept the data from the camera.  James Cameron, eat your heart out:
 Meet one of our models - these suits were made for them, but true to our model, they didn't even get a fitting before the shoot - just dress and shoot!

Here's a quick clip of the full shoot - enjoy: