Saturday, May 31, 2014

Perfect destination - Gulf Today - Short Take - 31 May 2014

Perfect destination

It was indeed a memorable four weeks that passed in a flash. Although the temperature shot up during these days, it never dampened the spirit of a set of tourists who were visiting the UAE for the first time in their life.

Within the short time available, it was my turn to take them around the 7 emirates of the UAE and show them the growth the country achieved within a quarter of a century.

It was interesting for me to take them around and explain to them the transformation of small shops to bigger malls over a period of time.

Impressed and interested, they were eager to start their journey each day with enthusiasm, forgetting most of the time their age and health conditions.

All these years, they were unable to visit the UAE as they had elders to look after. Now, they are leading a relaxed life and it was their turn to visit and experience this nostalgic tourism and work destination, which they had seen only in photos and on television.

I am talking about none other than my elderly parents.

Many a time before, even if they had the opportunity to visit, they had resisted. But after this visit and tour of the United Arab Emirates and witnessing its progress, they turned nostalgic. After dinner at a south Indian restaurant in Deira, my father was telling the restaurant manager that he would return soon.

It was emotional for me to take them there, as it was the same restaurant where I used to have my daily meals during the initial years of my career in the UAE.

I am convinced this is a blessed nation with magical hospitality and feelings for the tourists.

Ramesh Menon

Short Take, Gulf Today, 31 May 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Our Story of the Date Palm Trees - Indeed a journey worth following

This is an interesting example I am uploading today. While taking my parents to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, this particular palm tree caught my attention and as usual I moved away from them and started clicking many photos of the tree from various angles. My parents were watching and seeing me taking trouble, some other visitors stopped and started observing. In it was a legend from the UAE press with his family. As I noticed him, I went to him and said hello and he said, I knew it was you!. What was more funny was the scene that followed. As I moved away from the tree, I saw a man from Northern part of India, walking down the tree and started clicking it, the way I was trying, using his iPhone. He was with his family, daughters and son in laws and grand children. I walked past them and overheard what he was telling to his family. Oh, tho paagal nahi hey! Yeh bahuth khoobsoorath angle miltha hey, aise try karega tho! (meaning in english - he is not mad, I am getting beautiful angles to capture if I try this way).

I did want to go back and tell him that he was wrong - I am indeed mad about photographing Palm trees, and have by now covered almost all the flowering trees within Abu Dhabi, and nearby emirates!. Following them and in the process, creating a beautiful story and history!.

If you are interested in photography, do not miss out, join and participate in Our Story of the Date Palm Trees.

Chances are high that your clicks will be highlighted with prominence in future. Best wishes in advance and please share with friends and family who may be interested.

Ramesh Menon

11th May 2014

Sell UAE through merchandise - The National - Letters to the editor - 27 May 2014

Sell UAE through merchandise

While visiting some of the UAE’s major destinations and malls with a group of tourists recently, I realised that in those places you can’t get small merchandise promoting the spirit of the UAE, which a visitor might want to buy.

The malls and tourist outlets are filled with items such as T-shirts and caps displaying images and flags of other countries. The only time I see the UAE-specific items on display is during National Day. I think they should be available everywhere, all round the year.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

To read it in original, please visit THE NATIONAL online

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crossing the line - Short Take - Gulf Today - 24 May 2014

Crossing the line

In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I have seen pedestrians display scant respect for rules while crossing the roads in a hurry. At times, it is so scary making me wonder whether they really care for their self and family when they cross at undesignated sections of the road, even while talking on the phone.

Here is an incident I can quote, which is as recent as two days. I was driving on a two- way inside road behind Hamdan streeet of Abu Dhabi. A well-dressed man was crossing the road at his own pace talking on the phone, not at all bothered about vehicles coming from both directions.

I stopped and also saw another vehicle coming from the opposite direction.  Luckily, although the driver was also on the phone, he saw the pedestrian and he too stopped and the person crossed, without any care or consideration for both of us.

Witnessing his careless attitude, I tried to talk to him and he started arguing that it was his right to cross wherever he wanted and whatever he does was his own problem. I wished him good luck and continued.

Always drive carefully. Pedestrians in the UAE are still uneducated as far as their own safety and the drivers risk getting involved in an accident due to careless crossing.

So, be safe rather than regret later, even if the mistake is not yours. Never use a mobile while driving.

Ramesh Menon

Short Take - Gulf Today - 24 May 2014

To read it in original, please visit GULF TODAY online

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

UAE culture must be respected - Letters to the editor - The National

UAE culture must be respected

Visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque the other day, I witnessed something embarrassing. It is good that the authorities show leniency towards visitors, so as to make their stay as comfortable as possible. That includes relaxation of the dress code.

However, such gestures should never be taken for granted, especially while visiting a religious place.

Unfortunately, that’s what happened when a bus full of scantily dressed tourists arrived at the mosque. Of course, they had to cover once they were in the queue to get in. But they definitely raised a few eyebrows.

I believe it’s the duty of everyone to show respect towards the culture of this country. How to convey this message to tourists is a matter of discussion. Should it start from the point of immigration, or is it the responsibility of the host, such as hotels where they stay, and tour operators?

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

To read it in original, please visit The National online.

UAE Together safety campaign urges more respect for pedestrians

UAE Together safety campaign urges more respect for pedestrians
Ramona Ruiz

ABU DHABI // Road safety experts have welcomed a call for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to have greater respect on the roads.
The Twitter and Facebook accounts of UAE Together have been inundated with road safety messages using the hashtags #Pedestriansfirst and #ShareTheRoad.

UAE Together is a campaign by Abu Dhabi Police to educate the public about traffic rules and regulations, and the need to look out for each other.

“This is brilliant because it is so true,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder of website Road Safety UAE, of the ShareTheRoad tag.

“The one simple way to get rid of all our traffic woes is to treat others like you want to be treated. We have to drive with each other, not against each other.”

All motorists, he said, must remind themselves that they are also pedestrians the moment they step out of their cars.

Brendan Halleman, deputy project director at International Road Federation in the US, was equally enthusiastic.

“Sharing the road is exactly the right message,” Mr Halleman said. “After all, everyone is a pedestrian at some point in the day.”

Worldwide, more than half of all those killed in crashes are pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists, he said.

Of the 63 traffic-related deaths in Abu Dhabi in the first three months of this year, 33 were caused by vehicle crashes, 22 pedestrians were killed and eight people died after the cars they were travelling in overturned.

Most fatal accidents were caused by drivers not giving priority to pedestrians crossing roads, sudden swerving, speeding in unstable road conditions, burst tyres and tailgating, said traffic police chief Brig Gen Hussain Al Harithi.

The road safety initiative also asks drivers to slow down “as a pedestrian may pop out of nowhere”.

It reminds motorists that they share the road with other users and that “traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility”.

“Simple as this: cars on roads, pedestrians on sidewalks and cyclists on cyclists’ lanes. #Sharetheroad,” read another tweet.

Residents were invited to share their thoughts under the hashtag, and asked to reply “yes” or “no” on Facebook if they felt a lack of respect between road users was the reason behind accidents.

“Motorists are self-centred and even oblivious to pedestrians who use designated zebra crossings,” said Roshanara Sait, director of Ciel Marketing and Events, which organises road safety awareness campaigns across the country.

UAE Together also tweeted hard-hitting messages such as “Road users have equal rights, respect my rights #ShareTheRoad” and “The road belongs to everyone. It’s road safety, not rocket science. #ShareTheRoad”.

Ramesh Menon, an Abu Dhabi resident for 25 years, said pedestrians should also be aware of their surroundings.

“In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I have seen pedestrians showing little respect for their own safety while crossing the road in a hurry,” Mr Menon said.

Ms Sait proposed sustainable road safety campaigns to raise awareness and highlight the dangers for both pedestrians and the motorists.

“Pedestrians in the UAE are still uneducated as far as their safety is concerned,” Mr Menon said.

 To read it in original, please visit THE NATIONAL online.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lest we forget - Short Take - Gulf Today, 17th May 2014

Lest we forget

It was a small gathering of people who came with passion and emotion for the nation. The Talk Show, “Lest We Forget – Structures of Memory in the UAE” was organised by the curator and research team of The National Pavilion of the UAE for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale, discussing the upcoming exhibition that presents a retrospective of the architectural history of the UAE from 1914-2014, with an emphasis on modern heritage buildings.

Those who attended were of different age groups. Some as young as in the 20s and some others in their late 60s. The age difference made no difference to their emotional feelings towards the country they lived in.

The UAE grew steadily and strongly during these 100 years. During the process, all missed the transformation from the olden to modern times during which several changes were made within and outside cities and villages.

The once famous Toyota Crowns, Carinas and Cressidas gave way to new models. The fixed rate taxis gave way to metered taxis. Many traditional souqs gave way to modern markets.

The conventional camel race within the boundaries of once harmoniously spent joint family home and time was there to cherish. Some recollected with emotion how they, as little children, assisted then in the surveys that formed the basis of the modern developments.

All the prominent architectural structures of the emirates were remembered. The changes, however, were felt more deeply and emotionally on a major architectural structure of the country, that was once rated among the top ten fountains that existed in the world.

Volcano Fountain — all those who remembered it, said with one word, we would love to see it back. Little girls, who once played around it, shared fond memories of their childhood. Their thoughts and voice were unique in their wish to see it back in Abu Dhabi.

I am confident the hard work by the curatorial team of the UAE National Pavilion in Venice Biennale, that will open on June 5, will not fail in bringing the fond memories alive. It will be a great moment for the visionary leaders of the UAE.

Ramesh Menon

Short Take - Gulf Today, 17th May 2014

To read it in original, please visit GULF TODAY online

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Volcano fountain - Short Take - Gulf Today - 10th May 2014

Volcano fountain

I love the UAE and always think of ways to contribute to the society.

Of late, I have been wondering if there is any possibility for the restoration of the historic Volcano fountain, that was there in Abu Dhabi, from the period 1984 - 2004. It was demolished and gave way to the modernisation of Abu Dhabi Corniche.

As we say, when something is there, we do not find its value, and when it is gone, we miss it very much.

Volcano Fountain, rated as one of the top 10 fountains in the world, was one such fascinating attraction.

Since 2005, I am making humble efforts to attract the attention of the authorities about its prestigious value in the architectural history of Abu Dhabi. The campaign is gaining momentum slowly and steadily.

Whoever were here during the period, and whoever were not here and watched the videos of it, say that it is one attraction that should be recreated in modern Abu Dhabi. It was a place where all nationalities once turned up to exchange pleasantries, met family and friends during weekends.

I continue to dream too, placing the Volcano Fountain among various probable scenic spots being developed within the city.

As they say, if you dream, Dream Big, and one day I wish and hope that my hope of recreating a new Volcano Fountain will come true too.

Ramesh Menon

Short Take - Gulf Today - 10th May 2014