"Welcome to Australia (& Dubai)" colin_bramso's Profile
On the VT Forums we're asked questions about living & working in Dubai so often that I've put a section on my Dubai page with answers to Living in Dubai FAQ There is also some general information if you scroll down this page.
I'm originally from England, Geina from Singapore, we met in Dubai, where we'd both gone to work in 1977, & we were married in England. We lived in Dubai for seven years, in 1984 moved to Singapore, then on to Australia in 1985, living in and around Sydney. I'm now Australian.
In '97 we moved to Terrigal, a small town on the New South Wales Central Coast. In October '05 we decided to move back to Dubai for a while and we spent six years there, coming back to Terrigal in August 2011.
Terrigal is about an hour north of Sydney, a beautiful area of golden beaches, lagoons, lakes, small towns & villages and typical Aussie countryside. From our balcony we see the whales migrating past each year, going north in June and back south in September. There's much more about Terrigal on my Travel Pages.
During our second time living in Dubai we lived in Dubai Marina, one of the fantastic new developments. We saw massive changes in the six years.
I've put a Travelogue called "You absolutely must see..." on a 'must-do' tour in Dubai, which you can reach here and there's plenty more in general about Dubai on my Travel Pages.
On my pages I try to avoid putting what you can find in tourist guides, they do it better than I ever could. I try to give a feeling for the places we've been, try to give some idea of the atmosphere. I find that approach is useful when I'm researching other members' pages for places to visit and I hope you'll find my pages useful for the same reason.
I only use photos I have taken (with a few exceptions and I have credited those).
Australia is a fantastic country to visit, but bushfires are something that travellers to Australia during our summer fire season need to be aware of. Most of the world doesn't experience anything like them and visitors have no concept of what they're like. You must be aware of the danger particularly if you're driving from town to town, camping or bushwalking.
Our worst ever fires were in February 2009 in Victoria with terrible loss of life. I've put a little more about these Black Saturday fires below.
But fires are a regular danger. The 2002/3 fire season was also very bad. On Jan 18 a catastrophic firestorm hit the federal capital, Canberra. Four people dead, over 300 injured, over 530 houses and a lot of infrastructure was destroyed, plus thousands of animals - farm animals, pets, wildlife. In the south of NSW and in Victoria there were also vast fires threatening resorts in the mountains, where whole towns were evacuated. Fires stretched two thousand kilometres from Queensland down to Tasmania.
In 2001/2 disastrous bushfires raged for more than three weeks over Christmas and New Year all around Sydney and even into the suburbs. 170 homes totally destroyed, over 1.5 million acres burnt, over 20,000 people on the front line fighting the fires, thousands evacuated from their homes. For three weeks we were at the mercy of the weather, but thanks to the incredible bravery of the firefighters - the vast majority are volunteers - damage was kept unbelievably low. One of the areas threatened was Wollongong and I've put the story there.
The reason I put information about the danger of bushfires on this page is that even for Aussies with experience of bushfires they can be fatal. For visitors the danger is often beyond their comprehension. For people from countries that don't have fires like ours and are not aware of their incredible size and ferocity, awareness may help to avert tragedy.
The danger is highlighted by the February 7, 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, Australia's worst ever. 173 people died in the fires, hundreds more were badly injured, entire towns were destroyed, over two thousand homes in total, and many more buildings were damaged. Over one million acres were burnt and the death toll amongst animals, domesticated and wild, will never be known but must run into the hundreds of thousands and probably millions.
The ferocity of these fires was unprecedented in temperatures in the high forties celcius and winds of over 100kph. In spite of their bravery the emergency services were simply overwhelmed by the scale and ferocity of the fires. Firefronts were several kilometres long with flames higher than the trees, and there were many separate fires.
People died in their homes, in the open and in their cars as they tried to flee the flames. The fires moved so quickly that they even overtook kangaroos fleeing from them.
If you're driving or bushwalking in Australia during the fire season, keep yourself informed about the situation, obey all the instructions of the fire and police forces and do not take any chances.
BACK IN DUBAI
In 2002 Dubai changed the law and now allows foreigners to buy property, so we decided to buy an apartment and move back to live there for a while to be able to watch the incredible development taking place.
Hundreds of billions of US$ poured in and the development is mind-boggling, both in sheer size & scale and creativity in the projects and in the individual architectural designs. New waterways and whole new cities rose from the desert.
All of this happened simultaneously and at great speed. Towers went up at a floor a week, huge new road systems were built, the first stage of a Metro train system opened on 9/9/09. It really was mind-boggling to watch it happening.
It's not just the scale of the projects that was mind-boggling but also that so much was being built at the same time. Literally hundreds of skyscrapers have been built. The global financial crisis naturally hit Dubai the same as the rest of the world and real estate was particularly badly hit. Many projects have been put on hold and many more have been cancelled - but there are still US$500 billion of projects going ahead as planned.
This artists impression, drawn on a satellite photo of Dubai, shows the new developments; they're many times larger than the original city of Dubai, outlined in white.
The offshore man-made islands are massive projects. Palm Jumeirah is near completion with thousands of people already living on it. There's also The World, 330 man-made islands in the shape of an atlas of the world. The islands are for sale for people to build whatever they like on them, subject to planning permission of course.
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