Weekly Photo Challenge – From Every Angle


From Every Angle.

Saw this guy sketching last night at the local souk.

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Middle East Lifestyles – Those from the Subcontinent


MB received a response to his last post that made him stop and think………….

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SONY DSC

Read More

Murder? Hmmmph…


Have reblogged a few of of this guys posts in the past. This one’s another though-provoker from DOAT, an American cop who lives and works in the city of St Louis.

Thank you Mr Don of all trades:

Source: Murder? Hmmmph…

Photo Story – 7 of 7


Middle East Living
The modern lifestyle of many Middle East Arabs is far from healthy. Night time can often involve hanging out in cafes or restaurants to watch a televised football match while smoking flavoured shisha. There is a misconception among many that because the smoke is forced through the water pipe that it is somehow less toxic. But research shows that the sweet smelling smoke is even more harmful that normal cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoking itself is also far more extensive than back in MB’s homeland.

The historic activity of nomadic desert migration is long since replaced by the wandering from the Baskin & Robbins oasis to McDonald’s to Dunkin Donut and others in search of the nightly fix. Very often the Arab driver will honk the car horn outside the restaurant of choice and the restaurant workers will rush out to take the order. They will return again minutes later with the high carb food, ensuring that Mohammad didn’t even have to take the short walk from car to counter before he wolfed it down.

The climate of course isn’t conducive to physical activity for much of the year. But there are at least 5 to 6 months when the weather is excellent for an evening stroll or jog, or any other kind of sporting activity you care to mention. There is no historical culture of sport however, so participation levels by locals are very low, as much as MB has observed. The Dubai marathon each year for example, has thousands of participants, but native numbers are lamentably poor, despite the best efforts of the Government to encourage local participation. The present nightly summer temps are in the mid thirties but the only joggers that MB sees on his nightly outings are fellow Westies.

Eating habits are also a cause of concern. The month of fasting from sunrise to sunset that is called Ramadan actually witnesses many Arabs gaining weight, as they gorge themselves at the evening ‘Iftar’ meal and the body is just unable to burn off the calories consumed during the following very shortened working day of that month. Eating to excess is commonplace even throughout the remainder of the year, as the traditional evening meal involves many and varied starters which must each be sampled, followed by large plates of meat and rice with various yoghurts, and a desert course. Then a creamy mocha or cappuccino to wash it all down following by the obligatory puffing of the hooka pipe. The incidence of diabetes, for all the above reasons, has risen dramatically in recent years and regional health authorities speak of a diabetes epidemic in the coming years.

All in all, many similarities with many western countries as you can see!

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Photo Story – 6 of 7


Qatar.

MB currently resides in Qatar. It is probably most famous at present for being selected to host the 2022 football (real football) World Cup. Doha is the capital city and already a huge amount of redevelopment and infrastructure is underway to ensure a timely completion ahead of the games. Although there are still seven years to go before the event takes place, the Qataris are taking the opportunity to rebuild their entire capital city and are also modernising much of their countries roads and transport system. The new Doha airport which opened last year, after a few years delay to the works, is as modern as exists anywhere in the world.

The award of the World Cup to Qatar has come in for much criticism, but MB wrote a recent post on  the Qatar 2022 tournament, which he fully supports: http://michealdebarra.com/2015/06/05/qatar-2022-the-case-for/

Property rents are extremely high throughout Qatar and in Doha especially, compared to most places in the Middle East region, or even beyond. For decent rented accommodation one can expect to pay in the region of Euro 1,250 per month for a single room in a shared apartment, or in the region of Euro 2,250 per month for a single bedroom apartment. Consequently recent years have seen a vast amount of residential developments completed. Many more are either under construction or at architectural design stage.

The below pic was taken by MB a few nights back in the new Doha ‘des res’ area called ‘West Bay’

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Today was a good day


A series of shots from a particularly good day.

MB has chosen some beach shots from April 2015, on a day he walked with family along one of the popular beaches in Goa, India.

He could have chosen many more shots on other days which would just as easily represent some of the things that Goa is famous for – Christian churches, Hindu temples, mad traffic and motorbikes, wandering cows, wild dogs, bars, casinos, tattoo joints, street markets, spice plantations, green forests, waterfalls, rivers, boat trips, numerous wild life species, food, and streets congested with thousands of locals.

But for this week’s challenge he will stick with the beach shots.

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Photo Story – 5 of 7


Istanbul is the most interesting city that MB has visited. Half the city lies in Europe and half in Asia. It has a wealth of history that rivals or betters most cities in the world and is a fascinating place to visit and wander about. Most visitors go to the old town to see the ancient walls of the city, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia Museum, the underground water cistern, or to take boat rides on the Bosphorus sea straights which divides the city into its two halves.

Taksim Square on the Asian side of the city is also a place of tourist pilgrimage for many visitors, partly due to the large scale street protests that took place there in recent years. There were many conflicting stories in the media at the time about what exactly the numerous groups who took part in the protests actually wanted. The protests started in the first instance as an attempt to stop the demolition of some trees in a park adjoining the square for the erection of an office block. Then they turned into anti-Government protests against various proposed laws. MB spoke to a young Turkish tour guide who took part in the protests during one of his visits to Istanbul who confirmed that many people had different agendas at the protests, but the one factor galvanising them all was a desire to stop the further Islamisation of Turkey.

Nowadays the Square’s majority occupants are the pigeons who swoop down in large numbers to eat the monkey nuts scattered by the tourists, who purchase the nuts from the street sellers. If you ever have to good luck to get to Istanbul, and get to wander around the square, take a walk down Istiklal Street (translates as ‘Independence Street’) which starts at the corner of the square just behind the monument, and which is the primary shopping street in the city. It’s about one mile long and has a great array of shops, food to die for, and many street entertainers.

MB gives you one of his shots of Istiklal Street to give a flavour:

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Photo Story – 4 of 7


The Islamic religious holiday of Eid Al Adha is the nearest thing that Muslims have to a Christmas. It’s a great family occasion and a big meal is consumed. It is a religious duty of all Muslims to sacrifice an animal at this time, normally a sheep or a goat. Cows, cattle, camels and others are also used when groups or extended families may pool together for the purchase of larger animals. The sacrifice is to honour the story from the holy book when Abraham gave thanks to God for sparing his son, after God had earlier tested Abraham by asking him to kill him. Abraham then killed a sheep as a sacrifice in thanksgiving. The same story appears in the Christian Bible, albeit both books state different sons names (Ishmael in the Quran and Isaac in the Bible). Read More

Photo Story – 3 of 7


Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai.

The architects were commissioned to produce a hotel that would double as an iconic design/structure for Dubai. The final selected design mimics the sail of a dhow (traditional arabic) boat; and so ‘The Burj’ was built (‘burj’ is the Arabic word for ‘tower’). At 920 ft tall it is the 4th tallest hotel in the world. Many architects moaned about it from an architectural point of view at the time. Many Islamic conservatives complained loudly that the helipad and the tall spine together form what looks like a Christian cross when viewed from the sea and wanted the helipad demolished. Sheikh Mo (Dubai ruler) told them to get real!

The hotel is touted as a 7 Star hotel, but not by the owners Jumeirah Group (who incidentally sponsored Irish golfer Rory McIlroy until his deal with Nike a few years back). The 7 Star title seems to have stuck after it appeared in a newspaper article written by a British journalist who was invited to one of the opening events.

The hotel design has proved to be the iconic structure envisaged by owners, and the image of the hotel has been used the world over to successfully promote brand ‘Dubai’.

You can not just wander in for a coffee or beer. You must book something online to actually receive your security pass to enter the building. The 7 course afternoon tea option at about 90 USD per head is the most affordable!  MB took this shot from the 80th floor of a nearby 100 storey tower he was working on 4 or 5 years back.

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Photo Story – 2 of 7


The War in Syria has created some 10M refugees from a total population of 23M. Approx 6.5M are internally displaced and some 3.5M have fled the country. Millions of houses and apartments are now reduced to rubble. 250,000 to 300,000 people have died as a result of the extremely complicated civil war war which has many participating actors. More than the combined dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Read More

Photo Story – 1 of 7


Suddenly, one early afternoon in February 2012, MB found himself face to face with a Hezbollah street demonstration in Beirut, in support of President Bashar Al-Assad in neighbouring Syria. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Creepy


Creepy.

This week Michelle wants something creepy. Something to give her the heebie-jeebies, as she said. Well, what about a dead human flesh eating fish spa at a Dubai 5 star hotel? Dare you to come over and give it a go!

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Never Trust A Kenyan


Were you, like MB, a little bemused by all those Kenyans a few weeks back, claiming Barack as one of their own? Claiming him as a Kenyan an’ all.

The entire country of Kenya came out to greet their ‘son’ Barack on the occasion of his visit to a meeting of the African Union. Well let MB tell you something Mr & Mrs Kenyan. Barack is no son of Kenya. In Ireland, there is a well know song which includes the following (true) lines:

From the old Blarney stone to the green hills of Tara
There’s no-one as Irish as Barack O’Bama.

And please note, in case you missed it – it’s not ‘Obama’ – it’s ‘O’Bama

And if you need further proof Mr & Mrs lying Kenyans, read on……………………. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Beneath Your Feet


Beneath Your Feet.

Slightly off theme!

At the end of the day we all die. Sad, but what to do! And if you happened to live and die in Nepal, chances are you would end up like the robed dead body in the picture, taken at the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu.

Before a dead body is cremated it must first go through the ceremony of purification, which involves taking the body to the edge of the holy Bagmati River, dipping & washing the feet of the body in the water.  Following purification, the body is then moved to the adjoining area of funeral pyres where the body is burnt and the ashes washed into the river on completion – onwards towards the next life and eventually (hopefully) reaching Nirvana.

You will notice the the feet of the body extend beyond the end of the timber/straw pyre. As the body burns, relatives will eventually manoeuvre the feet into the flames with bamboo or timber poles.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Inspiration


Inspiration.

The natural beauty of MB’s homeland is always an inspiration every time he’s home to get out the camera and start clicking.

This shot is one of MBs from the New Year’s early morning mass by the frozen Lough Gur lake on 01.01.2010, which was a 10th anniversary celebration of a similar mass held to welcome the new millennium on 01.01.2000. MB attended that one also but alas did not have a camera. The priest inspires the flock on this particular morning with his sermon and all are inspired by the beauty of the surrounding nature.

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