Weekly Photo Challenge – Story


If ever a picture could tell a story, then a picture of Reardon’s pub back at the HX crossroads could tell a plethora of them. And that’s an understatement.  Read More

HX – Bucking the trend

MB is back in his Irish homeland mere days and he already received gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh in the newly reopened HX shop and filling station. Well, in truth, he received a free cup of coffee from manager TOC, and did not actually received any of the aforementioned metal or spices. TOC, MB is now thinking, could easily have been one of the three wise men, had he lived back in the ‘Bethlehem/bright star in the sky’ days. But anyway……….

Jokes aside, MB was hugely pleased to hear of the reopening of the new ‘Xpress Stop’ facility a few weeks before his return home, as it creates a focal point once more in his HX community that was sadly missed since its closure a few years back. Older people in the community, in particular, got to meet neighbours and friends in that shop and learn of local news and gossip, and who was getting married and what baby was born and who had died and what time the funeral was on. Etc.

With much of rural Ireland losing shops, post offices and other facilities, HX is certainly bucking the trend of rural decline. Not surprising, MB guesses, when the locality has a world-renowned blogger in its midst spreading the bright HX news, week in week out, throughout the four corners of the flat-earth globe. It was only a matter of time, MB is  now thinking, before the HX shop and filling station performed its ‘Lazuras’ act. And so it has come to pass.

Anyway, notwithstanding MB’s vastly over-inflated sense of his own importance, he wishes TOC and all the ‘Xpress Stop’ staff the very best with the new venture. Onwards and upwards.

HX abu!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Ohh Shiny!

Ohh Shiny!

This week’s photo challenge phrase is one that MB was not previously familiar with. Perhaps because it’s purely an American phrase. Or perhaps, that phrase & MB’s paths just never crossed.

The phrase, according to Andrea who set this week’s challenge, means something that is distracting, like an American bird distracted by a shiny object (Irish birds just don’t get distracted – they are always focused and in ‘the zone’).

Anyway, MB got to thinking, what makes him distracted?

When he travels back to the Emerald Isle he is always distracted by the ruins of an old manor house anytime he drives past, known locally as ‘Croker’s, after the old boss man of the family who lived there. The ruin lies just across the road from the farmhouse where MB grew up.

There is a local saying back in HX-land – “I doubt it, said Croker” – which originates from a deathbed conversation that Coker had with his priest. The priest tried to console Croker in his final dying hours with the soothing words – “At least you will be going to a better place”. To which Croker famously replied – “I doubt it”.

Herewith, a shot of the ruin which MB took from the nearby wooded area along the Grange/HX road during his trip home last May:



John Carew – HX Poet & Storyteller

MB has oft mentioned Lough Gur lake in posts of his HX homeland. He has told you a little of the mystique of the lake, and the fact that one of the adjoining hills (called Knockadoon) is home to one of the four Irish entrances to the Land of Everlasting Youth, called ‘Tír Na Nóg’ in the Irish Gaelic. The entrance, as MB has also previously informed you, is secret and is known only to certain ‘Guardians’ (such as MB). It is also heavily guarded by the fairies, and it is no easy task to get past them. Beware of HX fairies dear followers. Read More

Ireland Trip Photos

MB was back amongst his own two weeks back and was shooting anything that moved. He gives you some random shots from his HX locality:

Read More

Christmas Trip Home – 20 Random Shots















Version 2


























Ireland Trip – Photos of the Day

MB traveled to his HX homeland last week and posted a random ‘Photo of the Day’ on his Fb page each day. Six in total. Read More

Take Break

Greetings lads.
MB bit subdued tonight. Been long tiring week. Thank God it’s over and weekend is upon us. MB needs break. Thank God it’s Thursday, as we never say back home.

Enchanting HX & the enchanted lake. With pin marker on the football pitches.
Read More

A surprise wedding

Morning boys and girls
Hope all enjoying the glorious sunshine back in Ireland at the moment, or if you’re in the Middle East that you’ve got plenty of moisturiser slapped on your face and a decent umbrella for added protection. Interesting to see all the pics on facebook from Ireland during the week as natives try to adjust to very rare hot weather. Lack of practice I guess means that the look just isn’t quite right, and the occasional bright red all-over sun burn (tan) just proves the point even more.  Read More

Photos from HX

Heading back to Middle East tomorrow night. Some memories of my trip home:

























The Recipe

Greetings lads

It’s only a few short days away from MB’s departure back to the homeland, to kith and kin. MB will take break from the blogging for few weeks ’till he gets back from the Emerald Isle. But as will be burning out the camera with pics, will post up some good ones for all Crosser followers to drool over. Yes lads, drooling will be the order of the day for you all over next few weeks. Inshallah the sun will shine when MB is at home and he will blow you away with the awesome images. Read More

The Holy Book

Marhaba & Hello from MB


Firstly lads, an apology from MB. In last week’s blog MB used an Arabic word that he though was acceptable translation of the English word ‘prostitute’. It was subsequently pointed out to MB that the word used is a street-slang swear word, not suitable for common usage (as in MBs blog) and likely to cause offense. The Egyptian lad who originally gave me this word failed to point out this important fact! This is not MB’s style as you are all aware. So big apology to all, especially to MB’s Arab lady followers of which there are thousands – not!

Met this kid on the street selling newspapers and magazines. Streetwise as hell, huge confidence, great attitude. He will be Prime Minister of Lebanon some day


The news from all over the Middle East of late just seems to get darker and darker. Acceptance of others views and beliefs seem to be shrinking. Saw interviews on the net recently with various Sunny clerics who were preaching the need to destroy (kill) their Shia neighbours, who also read the same Quran holy book. On the grounds that the Shia are somehow heretics who must be put to death for having a slightly different interpretation of the book. Bit like we use to do in Europe when we burned heretics and witches at the stake. Inshallah the Middle East does not have to wait 300 or 400 years to see basic human tolerance and decency prevail. As usual, as in most places, the majority of people are decent and reasonable, but an intolerant crazed minority can cause havoc and misery for all.


Was talking to a Syrian friend few days back and he told me that he had other Syrian friends around to his house recently. His friends are supporters of Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian Prime Minister and his government. I expressed surprise that the trouble in Syria with tens of thousands of people now killed had not affected his friendship with his friends. I am aware that he regularly posts anti-Bashar pieces on Facebook and has been advised by friends inside Syria that it would not be safe for him to return home. He replied to the effect that he could not allow Bashar Al Assad to affect 40 years of friendship he has enjoyed with his friends, regardless of their views, and they would continue to be his friends. In the midst of much blood and darkness and death, my friends attitude was a bright light. A small light for sure, but hopefully one that spreads far and wide in the future. Most have now come to conclusion that in the case of Syria there are even darker days ahead. Let us pray not.


Met a Lebanese man in recent days through work, and in response to MB’s ‘min ina anta?’ (‘where are you from‘ in Arabic) he informed MB he comes from the city of Tripoli, where a number of people had been killed in gun battle in recent days as result of troubles spilling in from neighboring Syria. Meeting him reminded MB of trip to Lebanon in early 2012 and the fantastic few days enjoyed there with family. And the friendly people encountered. In memory of that trip, and in big hope that Lebanon at least will be spared the trouble of the region MB is giving you some pics this week from that trip. Hope you like.


Thank God for music. Played this a few times last night. Switch to full screen. Amazing:

Lots of poverty throughout the Middle East and absence of welfare benefits make it even tougher than in the West. Stopped to speak to this man for few minutes, who was begging for money.


HX Festival
As informed you last week lads, MB will be heading home in few weeks for the HX Festival (3 local festivals actually). If you are of a mind to travel then take a look at the itinerary for this year’s event. Specifically this is the list for the Lough Gur Festival, but there are two other Festivals taking place in the neighboring villages for Bruff & Knockainey. Mentioned daughter of JFK in last week’s blog Caroline Kennedy – who will attend the Bruff event to dedicate a local building to the memory of her great-grandfather, who left the village in 1852. MB will have to use the grease gun on the Canon 7D before he goes back, it’s going to be hectic few weeks & photo opp heaven:

LG Festival

So hopefully see some of you at the festival, inshallah.

Like this one!


Beware the lady in the Burka who wants a hug!
Spare a thought lads for the misfortunate Indian lad who got the surprise of his life last week when a lady in a burka (abiya) suddenly hugged him in the lift. Obviously he assumed that the Arab Muslim lady was so overcome by his Indian masculinity that she threw religious caution to the wind and just gave in to her animal instincts. He later discovered this was not the case:

No lads, we did not have earthquake. MB is just playing mind games with you all, with his incredible camera wizardry!


ABU DHABI: They say a hug costs nothing, but for an Abu Dhabi resident it proved otherwise.
Indian expat Noushad lost Dh29,000 when an abaya-clad con woman stole his bulging wallet after locking him in an unexpected embrace in an elevator recently. The incident happened in broad daylight in the Al Raed Automatic Laundry building in the capital’s Tourist Club area.


The corniche/harbour area of Beruit. Has undergone huge redevelopment in recent years. A must-see location.


Sharia law – Husband to be whipped
The law in Saudi Arabia applies to women and to men. The judges really do not care about male or female. Justice comes from Sharia law which is based on the teachings of the holy book:

Manama: A judge in Saudi Arabia has upheld a flogging sentence against a husband for slapping his wife even though the wife later said that she forgave the husband and wanted the case dropped.

Beruit & Lebanon generally – Incredible food. Maybe the best MB has come across in all his travels. This pic is from the rooftop restaurant at Le Grey Hotel in the corniche.


The man was sentenced to 30 lashes and 10 days in jail and ordered to attend special sessions on marriage counseling and on how to treat and deal with spouses.

The court in Al Qateef in the Eastern Province said that the wife could witness the flogging in retribution for the physical pain her husband caused her.


The famous Rafiq Hariri Mosque. RH is Assassinated former Lebanese leader. Assassinated by Hezbollah according to recent UN report.


More English words from the Arabic
More educational stuff from MB lads, who continues to amaze you weekly with his eclectic mix of photos, wisdom and general ‘stuff’. Awesome!


The Lebanese consider themselves extremely sophisticated and a cut above the other Arab nationalities. These local girls spoke French as their language of first choice as they lunched next to MBs table. They informed MB that they are equally comfortable in both languages.


These 2 would not be out of place at some restaurant in Paris. Classic Lebanese sophistication!


Gay Games 2018
Yes lads its now down to 3! London, Paris or……………………….. Limerick! Organisers have short listed Limerick, along with 2 no-hope non-entity cities to host the 2018 Gay Games. Am sure Amsterdam & Orlando will be sick as parrots to get booted out. With approx 10,000 participants it should be a fun week in HX if Limerick wins the hosting. 2018.gaygames.org if any of you want to participate lads.

The grave/shrine of Rafiq Hariri


Federation of Gay Games announces finalists in bidding for Gay Games X
Limerick, London, and Paris continue in race to host the world’s largest sport and culture festival open to all

Today the international Federation of Gay Games announced that groups from Limerick, London, and Paris would continue in the bidding process to host Gay Games X. The three finalists garnered the most votes from among the members of the FGG’s site selection assembly, who for the first time designated this short list by online instant runoff voting. Unsuccessful in the vote were groups from Amsterdam and Orlando.



Another blog

Occasionally give you link to other blogs I come across that catch my interest. Liked the following:
Letter to my 16 year old son


HX Homeland
If any of you followers wonder what the HX land is like lads, I give you link this week to our local community newspaper called the Vale Star. It’s focus is almost entirely on local sporting and community group activities. Some of you Arabs might enjoy a quick scroll through it. Gives good idea of life in rural Ireland.


Many in the Middle East were recently very surprised to discover that Hezbollah are involved in Syria, fighting on the side of Bashar Al Assad and his government forces. MB came across a Hezbollah demonstration in support of Assad on his visit last year and wrote about it in his blog at that time. Absolutely no surprise to MB that these guys got involved.


Big news in Iran last week lads. A judge can now sentence those guilty of adultry to death by other means “where the possibility of stoning does not exist”. That phrase is not actually defined. So presumably it will apply in the sandy areas where there are insufficient suitably sized rocks. One can only but have sympathy for the lads throwing fist fulls of sand in the past for days on end as they tried in vain to stone (sand) the sinners to death. But no more. Mashaallah!


It was interesting to read in the article that if a sinner can free him or herself before death they are pardoned. But a man is only buried to his waist whilst a woman is buried to her shoulders, lest any of the rock athletes should see her bare breasts during the stoning games. Hardly seems fair.

Pics of Bashar Al Assad at the Hezbollah demonstration


Let the hunger games begin!



Reluctant Emigrant
Cheers to DH!


Demonstration was good natured and noisy that day, with the soldiers smiling and joking. Suspect that would not be the case now.


Slan lads
Ok lads. Another week down. Planning a good sleep tomorrow on the Muslim holy day. Take care all. Have a nice weekend. May the sun shine!

MB supporting SMEs in Beruit



The famous bombed out and bullet ridden Holiday Inn Hotel in Beruit. Still standing to this day and testimony to the war of the 1970s. Let us hope no repeat of that fiasco for modern Beruitis. Inshallah.



Salam from Riyadh


It’s a balmy Saudi evening outside the hotel entrance door as MB writes his blog. Meanwhile, inside the lobby, MB is listening to the loudest painters making the loudest noises since Michael Angelo (another legendary Michael) dropped his bucket from the ceiling scaffold onto the marble floor miles below all those years ago. The artists in front of me are presently giving a touch-up to the ceiling which suffered some water damage during the recent 3 week monsoon. If you have seen the movie ‘Best Marigold Hotel’ you will get the picture. Each time the long-handled roller is dipped into the metal paint bucket it is producing a sonic wave throughout the entire city and structural damage is already reported to some major bridges. MB needs Panadol, or something stronger, asap. Or maybe MB is just tired and cranky after a busy week in the dusty desert. Maybe.


MB would seriously love a large cold bottle of White to relax the brain and quench the thirst, but such life pleasures are strictly forbidden in this stricter than strict Island of Islamic. If MB was in any other jurisdiction on the entire planet, a bottle from the ‘new world’ would presently be planked on the table in front of him with a long-stemmed glass sparkling in the evening sunshine . Or if that location happened to be some 3rd World haunt, then maybe a bottle of some local hooch would suffice, and the thirst would also be no more. So the thirst remains for the moment and the solution must await MBs return to the homeland next month alas.


Yes indeed lads, MB is heading home to kith & kin next month which coincides with the HX Festival. To be very truthful there is actually no HX Festival. But there are 3 festivals happening at same time in the surrounding localities. So MB will refer to them collectively as the ‘HX Festival’. In recent days it was announced in the local Press that Caroline Kennedy, daughter of assassinated US President JFK, will attend the event on account of the family connection with the HX locality. MB explained to some non-Irish Muslim Arabs yesterday that the ‘F’ in ‘JFK’ stands for the Irish name ‘Fitzgerald’. In 1852 one Thomas Fitzgerald emigrated from HX and a few generations later his grandson was President of the USA. The emigrant story that dreams are made of.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline_Kennedy


The HX Festival will host a multitude of other events and MB will give you all the full itinerary next week. One event does however merit special early mention. Namely, the Photo Workshop hosted by none other than Irish/Arab Photo Shooter  Supreme MB! Yes indeedee lads, for the paltry miserly sum of 20 Shekels (Euro) you can partake in the MB Photo Master Class at the HX lake front, which will ensure that you too can produce the Nat Geo standard pics that MB produces week in week out for the blog, and which you have now come to expect as a right. MB will not be bringing his camel, in case you were wondering, although he would provide nice backdrop to some shots. (Note to self – rethink the camel). It’s not yet publicised lads, but already the class is almost full, so get your booking application in asap.


It is not yet known if Caroline will book in for the Photo session with MB. Ok, MB will admit she is stinking rich multi millionairess with access to the entire professional photographer class of USA, probably for free. But have any of those Yankee Dog photographers ever produced an irreverent weekly blog from the land of beheadings and limb amputations? I am sure not lads. And could any of them milk a cow by hand, or make a wynde of hay with a pitchfork, or castrate a young bull turning him into a useless mutant good for nothing other than burger production? Yes lads, I think you will all agree – Caroline would indeed be selling herself very short if she chose other than MB. Inshallah she will choose wisely.


What else to tell you lads? Conversations lads, yes, conversations.

A few days back MB was traveling home from work in the company of an Aussie coworker and the young Sudan lad that MB has mentioned few times in the blog of late. MB & Aussie (Whities) sat in the front sea while Sudan lad (non-Whitie) sat in the back. All in their rightful place lads, hahahahaha! Joke lads – In case any followers with sub 150 IQ levels might be thinking MB has turned into some kind of racist Neanderthal. But am sure the blog has no sub 150 followers as it’s a minimum entry requirement.


Anyway MB & Aussie were shooting the breeze about the events of the past & the coming months. MB mentioned the HX Fest, photography, some wineries MB had visited on trip down under few years back. Aussie mentioned upcoming 25 holiday he will take on a beach down under, when he & surf board will hit the waves for few hours each morning. Wifey will set up camera on a tripod on some headland overlooking the waves to get the awesome shots of husband exiting the wave tubes just in time. Remainder of the days will be filled with restaurants, bit of shopping, friends. The good life down under.


We dropped Aussie to his hotel when MB gave permission to Sudan lad to sit in front seat! Sudan lad then said to MB – “MB, what the hell was that conversation?”. “What the f*ck are you on about Sudan lad” replied MB. “That entire conversation you had with Aussie, with talk of surf boards, festivals, photography – it was a totally and completely Whitie conversation. Two people from the 3rd world could not have had it. They would not even have understood it” shot back Sudan lad.


For once MB shut his mouth, and reflected on what Sudan lad had said. And came to conclusion that Sudan lad had said a mouthful. All conversations are products of our backgrounds. Pretty obvious I suppose when you think about it, but MB never had. Maybe you need to work in places like this to sometimes see the obvious, or have it shown to you.


This Weeks Pics
Are all from last years HX Festival, to give you flavour.


Mentioned Aussie pal above lads. He is very interesting character in his own right. Along with the day job he has spent time in recent years designing a self hypnosis app for surfers, designed to get them to perform at highest level every time, rather than the hit& miss performance that many experience during a surfing season. Now available for iPhone & Android. Am wondering if this app could be applied to other sports like tennis or golf? What say you Mr M?

So check it out lads on http://www.hypnosurf.com

Bare Breasts!
Saw on the net yesterday that 3 young European girls made a topless protest outside a courthouse where a young Muslim girl is being tried for upsetting some Salafist Muslim group and allegedly insulting Islam. I hope the embassies of the 3 girls get them home quick. Such behaviour out these parts is very much ‘haram’ and would be considered akin to behaving like a prostitute (‘sharmuta’ in the Arabic). And you will never hear any words of sympathy out here for sharmuta or any sympathetic words why girls might get into that game like you might do in the west. So MB hoping they get tickets home real fast. They will not receive kind treatment in prison if they sentenced. To put it mildly.


As for the Muslim girl, she previously posted a topless photo of herself on facebook, which caused huge controversy. Although this is not why she is on trial. Read both links below if of interest:



Note to Muslim visitors – do not eat John Finn’s sausages – they are pork (khanzeer) so haram for you. Ask him for beef burger instead.


Harassment in Saudia Arabia
MB has told you all many times that the Saudi version of Islam is stricter than strict, and laughed at by people of other Islamic countries. Some of the behaviour seen here would probably get people locked in mental institutions in other countries, but not here.


This week some nutball religious conservative posted a suggestion on Twitter that people should harass women working in shopping centres to show them the error of their ways and prevent them becoming sharmuta. Thankfully, in a sign that the country might be going in a different direction, hundreds of Twitter people turned on the guy. But others supported him. Such is the thinking, sadly, of many in thee parts. MB read in separate report that Muslim Imams (Priests) are making weekly presentations to the office of the Ruler, King Abdullah, to change the law to ensure that women could no longer work in shops and shopping centres. Crazy in any other country. But not here:



In a related story MB saw the following from a fellow blogger earlier this week. No comment:

Kuwait shows respect for Saudi women driving ban
Last Thursday, Brig. Saleh Al-Najim, the head of a Kuwaiti delegation, stated that out of respect for the Saudi ban on women driving, his country will make the exception of not issuing driving licenses to Saudi women until they provide proof of their male guardian’s permission. I’m shocked and disappointed that the Kuwaiti government would exploit how politically weak Saudi women are to gain favor. But that isn’t why I’m writing this post. I’m writing it because this particular tactic of expressing an opinion about a sovereign nation’s internal laws by altering yours is something that has occurred to me before. A few years back I either dreamed or read somewhere that a politician proposed to the European Union that Saudi men not be allowed to drive in the EU until they end the ban on women driving in Saudi. Judging by the last Olympics, that type of restriction on Saudi men could actually work in making a change. How weird would it be for those banning people from driving their hard-earned cars because of their gender to have a taste of their own medicine?


My watch!
Like this story. Husband presented future wife with expensive watch as gift. Watch broke and upon taking it for repair wife was informed that the watch was a fake! She is now divorcing the cheapskate husband:




Nice to see Pakistani girl Malala Jousafzai in Abu Dhabi last week to say thanks for the air ambulance supplied by UAE to take her to UK for treatment after she was shot by the Pakistani Taliban in her Swat valley homeland. Still under a death sentence from the crazies. She met with future ruler Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nihayn, son of UAE ruler.



Reluctant Emigrant
Have not had chance to read DH blog this week. Think it’s about the expat wife and kids heading back to the cooler climates of the west leaving hubby to toil under the hot desert sun:



Adios lads!
Have a nice weekend. I see some sunshine appeared in the Irish this week after long absence. Inshallah it continues to shine.
Take care all.


Tall, Taller, Tallest

Greetings & Salam to all

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway


Hope all well lads. We are getting belted with rain in the Middle East at the moment. This weeks blog from DH (below) is all about the rain in UAE, and MB can confirm that we are also getting rain of biblical (or Qoranical) proportions in Saudi for last few weeks. It’s very late to get such rain in this region so we are not sure if just one of mother natures little quirks, or the rain gods are displeased, or global warming. Who knows?!

And then the sun came out for a moment




And if you thought you are getting heavy rain in Ireland this past while lads then please think again. It seems that in 2,345 BC Ireland suffered 20 years of continuous rainfall, and numerous umbrella millionaires were born. The following link gives you that story lads and there is also mention of 10 years non stop rain in 540 AD. So please all Irish lads, quit your moaning and belly aching about a mere 9 months of wetness. There could be plenty more on the way:

Irish Rain


MB has no clue what to write about this week lads so he will have a cuppa qawah (coffee) + some choc to try to kick-start the brain. This week’s pics are mainly from last week’s visit to Dubai and MB had the good fortune to be outside the Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower – in English) on a cloudy evening & night with his best camera, and he just went mental with the pics. The pics are over a few hours, and go from early evening daylight to later dark of night. Hope you all like.

Evening descends


The Burj, as some of you might know, is the tallest building in the world at approx 830M high. When you are on the viewing deck on Floor  Nr 126, there is still a height equivalent to the height of the Empire State Building in NY to get you to the top. MB’s pics do not convey the height of the structure, as they are all too close range. If you are a few kilometers away, looking at the adjoining 50 & 60 story buildings then you can really see the perspective and appreciate the scale of it all.

From wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Khalifa

MB still wondering what to write about!


Tornado in the desert
Yes lads, MB got caught up in a tornado in the Saudi desert this week (yesterday actually) and for once MB did not really have a solution if his office complex got sucked up into the Saudi sky. It came upon us in an instant lads, and within seconds our bright sunny mid afternoon sunshine disappeared, to be replaced by night-time like darkness and a thunderous noise.

Met this dog with his owner on the street. Owners were happy when MB emailed them the pic. Even in liberal Dubai there are many areas where you are not allowed to own or walk a dog. Dogs are considered unclean by Muslims so they do not have them. Saudi Arabia has population of some 25M people but I have never seen a single dog!


MB was in his office being his beautiful brilliant best when the deafening tornado noise erupted without warning and went on for 10 or 15 minutes. The amount of desert sand sucked up by the wind took visibility down to almost nothing as deepest darkness descended. Within 30 seconds the entire interior of the offices were covered in fine sand dust as it blew in through every possible orifice – doors blown open, tiny cracks at edges of windows and others. Computers, desks, humans – all covered within seconds. Many seasoned locals immediately had scarfs over their faces with only eyes visible as they sat at their work stations. But most like MB did not have such attire, and just choked on the dust.


The office complex immediately started to shake with the ferocity of the force of nature at work, and it seemed for a while like everything would come away from the foundations and we would all end up in Iran within a short while. Mercifully (God is Irish surely) the building structure held good and eventually the storm passed. We were then battered by extremely heavy rainfall for 2 hours or so, which caused huge flooding throughout the locality. Driving home later involved trying to find shallowest parts of road-lakes to drive slowly through, with some Arab lads struggling in their broken down cars in middle of the lakes (haha!).

But MB survived to tell you the tale lads. So all’s well that end’s well. Allah u akbar!

Still wondering what to write about!


Where the hell is Matt
MB is sure many of you will have seen the Matt Harding videos online, where he dances in numerous locations around the world with the local people. And just conveys a great sense of fun and the goodness of humanity, regardless of race, creed or colour. It’s referred to as a ‘jig’ on Wikipedia, but its unlike any Irish jig you will have ever seen. Really great great stuff, and MB defies anyone to watch this without a smile on your face. I see some of the YouTube comments admit to crying while watching. Can understand why.


From Wikipedia:
Where the Hell is Matt? is an Internet phenomenon that features a video of Dancing Matt (Matt Harding) doing a dance “jig” in many different places around the world in 2005. The background music in the video is the song Sweet Lullaby Dancing Remix by Deep Forest. The video garnered popularity on the video sharing site Youtube. There are now five major videos plus outtakes and background videos on YouTube.

In 2007, Jawed Karim, one of the founders of YouTube, stated that Harding’s video was his favorite on YouTube at that time.[9]

Clouds wrap around the top of the Burj Khalifa



So for those who have not seen previously (and for those who have):


Go on lads – play it again!


The Hasidim
Think I mentioned BBC World News programme recently about the Hassidic Jews in their native Israel, where there is much conflict with the secular majority. But because they hold balance of political power they are influencing the whole political situation in the country to a far greater degree than their 20% of the population might merit. And like religious zealots everywhere, tolerance is not a quality they possess in any great abundance. Preferring to look in tunnel vision fashion at everything from their own very narrow perspective. And when you believe that God is also on your side, and only on your side, then you become one seriously difficult group to deal with.

Follower MOD posted the following link on Fb recently which tells story of the Hassidim in USA and issues that are arising. Long read but very interesting, if you are into this kind of politico/religious stuff like MB:


Still wondering what the hell to write about!

The Burj disappears into the clouds


Dubai Police Cars
Think I mentioned recently lads that the recent purchase of some dream machine cars by Dubai police force was possibly big PR exercise by the Ruler to promote brand ‘Dubai’ around the globe. The following article confirms same, with confirmation that the Ferrari will spend most of its time in the tourist spots, rather that chasing boy racers on the major highways.

And to blow everyone away lads it has been decided that the Ferrari will be driven by female officers. MB smiled when he read that one – living as he does in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed drive cars – at all. Dubai’s Sheikh Mo is really giving a poke in the eye to the backward thinking of many out these parts. As MB has often said – Long Live Sheikh Mo!


What oh what to write about!Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
MB though that the 70s or 80s band Depeche Mode were all dead with only some remaining memories in Madam Touseau’s or some musical museums. But how wrong can MB be lads? (not a serious question lads). DM will play the after-race gig at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – for God sake!http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/tabloid/depeche-mode-to-close-abu-dhabi-f1-1.1180240?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=&utm_term=%26282937If MB does not think of something to write about soon lads he just might give the whole thing a skip this week!


Reluctant Emigrant – Let It Rain
In keeping with this week’s theme lads DH is also writing about the local weather, with great style.

Met this Arab couple on the street who were trying to take self-portrait with their camera phone. MB appeared before them like a Photo God and took this shot, which he email later. They are still smiling!


I Quit!
Just could not think of anything decent to discuss this week at all lads. Humblest apologies (a rarity for MB). Will produce better effort next week inshallah. There will be days like this!

From one of Ireland’s finest – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-h2AgbaVNA

Have a good one lads!




Dia Dhuit lads
Hope all in the full of your health.
The lads head for prayer
MB arrived back in Dubai on Sunday last and has a few more days left in the Desert Oasis before his return to Saudi. Dubai is looking good, full of tourists and lots of activities for all.The biggest event of the annual Dubai social calendar takes place this Saturday night – The Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race. Huge corporate entertainment night, big style night for the ladies (hats, hats & more hats), and will see 60,000 or so attend the event. You have never seen a racing stadium like Meydan, which hosts the event. The grandstand is 1.2Km long and the lighting after dark provides a spectacular backdrop. Inshallah I will be there with the camera ladies and will give you few pics next week. If you like the horse racing, and aware many of you do, then take look at the following links:

The awards night of the big Photo Contest I mentioned some months back (hipa.ae) was on recently lads and sadly MB did not feature. Some great pics in the winners enclosure, so pleased to give you link to take a look. Next year for MB inshallah!

Where’s my whip?!


Was traveling in the car of a young Saudi guy recently. He is a young judge in the courts in Riyadh, but presently on time out to finish his Masters. He had CD of illegally downloaded songs in the car player, so he obviously has not yet read the chapter in the law book about copyright. Anyway, his CD had one or two decent songs including the following one which is very catchy addictive tune by young Portuguese singer called Michel Telo. A kind of ‘one man boy band‘ and he is big hero with the young ladies as you can see. Anyway, have played it loads of time, great tune, hope you like:
So just click on the tune lads, and let it play while you read this weeks HX!


This Week’s Pics
Dropped a few young lads to the local Mosque last Friday  (see next story) and took a few shots. Nothing special, but will give you flavour of the buying and selling outside, before the prayer starts inside.

And in new addition to the blog lads I have challenged work colleague and friend OL, who likes taking pics, to give me one pic per week for next four weeks which I will feature. Trying to motivate lazy OL to get off his ass and start using his camera again. And am also featuring great pic from young HX based apprentice Shooter TM. This pic is a real gem. In honour of the two contributors I am calling this section of the blog The Tom & Osama Corner (HX native & Egyptian).

This lad seems to have bought that red blanket

So now throwing this invitation out to all lads – anyone can send pic to MB to include in the HX – until I change my mind – which is a man’s prerogative! But if MB thinks the pic is garbage he will just delete and inform you that (sadly) it did not meet the minimum MB requirements (which are unspecified and ever changing!)

MB receives verbal attack!
Did a good deed last weekend lads but paid a heavy price. Let me explain.

Some of the young lads in my hotel needed lift to the Mosque for Friday prayer and asked MB if he would oblige. “No problem young Muslim lads” MB replied, “I am a brother to all” and threw 5 of them into the 4×4 for the short spin. Had the camera with me (of course) and lads asked me to take shot outside the mosque so they could send to family members back in home countries of Egypt, Yemen. India & Bangladesh.

Photo taken, lads disappeared into Mosque, and then MB noticed loads of Muslim traders selling everything you could think of around the outside of the mosque. Fruit, veg, blankets, male perfumes, batteries, holy books, arabic clothing, and loads of other stuff. MB immediately thought of the story in the Bible where Jesus  (the Prophet Isa, as the Muslims refer to him) gets angry with all the traders in the temple, gets out his whip, and lashes the hell out of the sinners for making money in holy place, and kicks them all out.

As MB did not have whip in the car he instead decided to take some pics, as future evidence against the sinners. So politely and as discreetly as MB could, he mingled with the Muslim lads, cracking a few jokes as he wandered around. All went well, as the traders obligingly gave permission to MB to take some pics of the buying & the selling.
Happy Muslim
But then MB came up against an elderly conservative Muslim man. He had big beard, and his taub (white dress) was above his ankles – a sign of Wahabi Muslim, the very conservative Saudi version of the religious practice. His brand of Islam would consider photos to be haram (forbidden) I am informed, especially photos of the face. But he could hot have been in any doubt about MBs photo as MB was clearly pointing the camera away from him, in preparation for the shot.

He was buying some goods from a trader at same time trader gave permission to MB to take pic of his goods, which were nicely laid out on blue sheet on the ground. Picturesque for sure. But as soon as MB raised the camera to his eye, the old lad started screaming and shouting at MB in excited Arabic. MB had no clue what the lad was saying, but he certainly was not enquiring if MB uses Canon or Nikon.

So MB, trying to avoid a crowd gathering around and maybe lynching MB, lowered his camera, and said “lau samah, mafi photo” (excuse me, no photo), trying to stop the old lad shouting.

So MB moved away as quickly as possible, and the shouting thankfully died down. MB, calm as one of the cucumbers he had just seen at the veg stall, moved onwards towards the Mosque entrance and saw great photo opp in the hundreds of shoes lying outside the door, which is the Muslim custom.

But just as MB raised his camera to take yet another prize winning pic, a large rough hand grabbed MB by the shoulder from behind. The same lad. Lots more shouting ensued into the face of MB, which finished in a question the MB understood fully – “Muslim?”. “La, Christian” (no, Christian) replied MB. The shouting then continued, and MB understood that it roughly translated as ” Please Mr Christian gentleman, would you be so polite as to leave the grounds of the Mosque” – or words to that effect. So MB, still keeping his personal safety foremost in his thoughts, lowered his camera, and his head, walked quickly to his car, and drove off.

Some nice spring onions lads

But MB still needed the ‘shoe shot’, so drove around the block few time until the shouting man had entered the Mosque, and took the shot from the car with the window lowered. Success!
And that lads is the story of how MB got all the pics for this weekend’s HX Report. Allah U Akbar!


Getting Older – Your skin
Getting older ladies? Worried about all those wrinkles? Then worry no more ladies – MB gives you the solution. Surgery – no. Knife – no. Just a quick visit to your doctor from time to time ladies and you will have skin as smooth as a babies bottom! Read on ladies:

A cure for ageing?
With life expectancy soaring, we’re desperate for new tricks to stop the outward signs of ageing, but can you turn back the clock without resorting to plastic surgery? Kelly Rose Bradford investigates the cutting-edge – but knife-free – secrets to eternal youth.

Yes, I’ll take them

Enemy at the Gates

Did you see that Movie lads – Enemy At The Gates. When Russia was losing badly against the Germans at Stalingrad and they needed a hero to motivate the people. And so the young sniper Vassili Zaitsev becomes a Russian folk hero as he battles his wits against the German sniper Major Konig. Take a look at the movie trailer lads –
And take a look at the full movie if you have not seen. A good one.
As the line from the movie says – ‘What we need are heros‘. And that is exactly what we found in Saudi Arabia last week lads.

Fire fighter Abdullah Badhan Al Subai had to rescue a young boy from a burning building in Jeddah lads, and there is great pic of him in the below link as he brings the boy out. He has removed his own oxygen mask to place it  over the boys head, at risk to himself. “Ara twas nothing” said Abdullah (using Irish English), as the media heaped the praise on the new Saudi hero.

Weighing the veg


UAE Death Sentence
I have often mentioned the death sentences in Saudi Arabia lads. But the UAE also has the same penalty for certain crimes. In Saudi its the swordsman who cuts off the head. In UAE they use firing squad. The punishment was confirmed last week for a man found guilty of the murder of a prostitute. He will now face the firing squad after Sheikh Mo signs the order to proceed:

Dubai: A Pakistani man will be executed for repeatedly slitting a prostitute’s neck and stealing her cash and mobile phones. The 29-year-old murderer A.K. lost his petition on Monday before the Dubai Cassation Court that confirmed the capital punishment against him. Dubai’s highest court rejected his plea to have his capital punishment cancelled or reduced to imprisonment.

There is no outcry over here when someone gets the death sentence like you would see in some Western countries where the punishment still exists, or where people campaign against it. Its not that people are worried about protesting from what I can see, it’s that they generally approve of such a punishment for those guilty of extremely serious crimes. Think all surveys in Western Europe show majority opinion against it.

France & Head Scarfs
Interesting court decision in France last week where a court sided with a Muslim lady, who was fired by a Nursery School for refusing to remove her head scarf. 85% of the public are against the court decision, and the Politicians are also speaking out against the ruling. As we have seen in recent years the French are at the forefront in bringing in legislation against dress codes they believe are contrary to the freedoms they espouse. Which in the Muslim world is just seen as anti-Muslim legislation.
Some holy books & some head male head scarfs

Paris: Backlash is growing in France against a court ruling in favour of a Muslim employee of a private nursery school who was fired after she refused to take her headscarf off. A new poll has found that four-fifths of people in France would back a proposal to ban Muslim headscarves and other visible signs of religion in private companies. France’s Interior Minister, who is in charge of religions as well as being the top security official, came out against the ruling last week. In the poll released Monday, 85 per cent of respondents opposed the decision, and more than 80 per cent said they back a ban in private workplaces and schools.


Mentioned a few times recently to you lads about the preferential treatment I get out these parts due to fact that I am Westerner (a white bread). But thinking about it, my treatment may also be because of my management position – very high lads! Hard to tell. But what is very clear is that many non-Westies will treat me much better that they will treat members of their own community. Must admit that I also saw some of this during my London days. It was often said in the construction trade that nobody treated an Irish man worse than another Irish man. Not generally true of course, but the statement did contain grains of truth.
I was recently discussing some of the above with my young Sudanese work colleague, who seems to be getting weekly blog mention at this stage. I told him the story of the TV programme ‘Roots‘ back in the 1970s which was controversial at the time in America, telling the slavery story and how the Africans were treated on arrival. There is famous clip in which the Plantation boss forces the African worker to admit his new slave name. I found it on YouTube and young Sudan lad enjoyed it immensely. He now refers to himself as ‘Toby’ – his new slave name. Thankfully a whipping did not prove necessary.

Truck load of spices & seeds


Reluctant Emigrant – DH
Had the pleasure of visiting DH at her Abu Dhabi palace during the week lads. DH & her blog were featured in a recent article in the Irish Times. So big congrats from MB, and urge you all to click on the link and become followers. Amusing read each week.
This week DH tells us about her recent trip to Beiruit:

MB went through torture to get the ‘shoe shot’

The Tom & Osama Corner

Tom’s Shot from HX. Can you see the fox & the duck lads?

Osama’s Shot from Dubai:

Slan lads

Ok lads MB has exhausted his creative juices for this week. Sin e for now. Enjoy your weekend.
Regards & Happy Easter to all.