Postcards from Dubai I

My days have fallen into a similar and comfortable rhythm. I breakfast with my beloved before he heads off to the exhibition. I spend an hour or so reading all the freebie newspapers, including The Financial Times in the hotel lobby. My enthusiasm undiminished by the proliferation of bad news, I head for the gym to wear off last night’s dinner. A quick hour in the sunshine and then back to the laptop to write a blog entry for Velovoices. She’s a demanding new mistress and, with events coming thick and fast, it’s time-consuming just keeping up, let alone getting ahead. I’m trying to profit in my cycling-club free moments to bank a few blog entries.

Job done, I treat myself to a cup of coffee and a spot of people watching. Dubai’s a fascinating place. Over 85% of the residents hail from elsewhere and I like trying to guess where they’re from. As the various Arab gentlemen stroll around looking quite magnificent in their traditional robes, the kandura, I can tell from their headwear from whence they came.  The ladies are more difficult as most wear a slimming, black abaya, often beautifully decorated with embroidery or crystals.  Many also wear the face concealing niqab, so very handy if you’re having a “bad  hair” day or you’ve an outbreak of spots. However, it’s essential that you find time to do your eye make up so as to look alluringly enigmatic.

I then stroll back to meet my beloved. We discuss his day at the exhibition to the strains of the call to prayer as the sun sets, which I always find quite haunting. Dinner is mostly with clients or friends. We eschew the ubiquitous buffets on offer in many of the hotel restaurants, electing to head out on foot or by monorail to find something more traditional. I enjoy middle-eastern food, why come all this way to eat Italian?

My beloved and I have been visiting Dubai for the past ten years, largely on business trips, and have stayed at a number of different hotels. But, with the horrendous traffic jams, it makes sense to stay as close to the World Trade Centre as possible to ease his working day. I’m quite happy pottering about the area. On previous visits I’ve been into the desert, around the creek, walked along the beach, visited the mosque, watched Nadal play tennis and Tiger Woods play golf, window shopped in the malls, mosied around the gold and spice souks and wandered around the art galleries and traditional village. I can’t claim to have seen and done everything that Dubai has to offer but I’m slowly getting there. Here’s one of my favourite sights, the Burj Khalifa Fountains.

But don’t take my word for it, check out what else Dubai has on offer here:

Interactive map of Dubai

How much?

Today’s Armistice Day in France and hence a bank holiday. It’s also the designated day for my longer ride, anywhere between 100 and 150km. The weather today was sunny but decidedly chilly. Indeed, the mountains behind the coast already have a liberal dusting of snow. I decided to head off to Grasse via Sophia Antipolis, the coast’s Silicon Valley which affords some undulating terrain, returning by way of Pre du Lac.

While I was riding I was mulling over a recent news story. Allegedly, Astana Bertare offering Alberto Contador a contract worth Euros 8 million per annum if he signs up for another 4 years. This is double what he’s allegedly requested for next year’s contract. No word from Contador, who’s on holiday in Curacao, as the negotiations are being handled by his brother and manager, Fran who denies the claims. So I was thinking does Euros 8 million (US$12 million) seem like an excessive amount of money for a multiple Tour Winner or not?

By comparison with other sports, it’s not, but there’s one big difference. The fans don’t pay to watch live cycling. I accept they may pay to watch cycling on the internet or on cable or satellite tv but this money goes to the tv stations, event owners and organisers, not the owners of the cycling teams.  

So let’s put this in perspective. Tiger Woods, the best paid (and probably the best known) sportsman in the world picks up around US$100-128 million pa; approximately 80% endorsements and 20% Tour earnings. But Tiger isn’t paid a salary, nor is golf a dangerous sport. So maybe an F1 driver or Moto GP rider would be a more appropriate comparison. During the same period, it appears Alonso earned US$35 million and Rossi US$30 million. On that basis US$ 12 million doesn’t seem excessive. After all, Contador is only worth what someone is willing to pay him.

Back home I discovered that my beloved had left for a 10-day trip without his gout medication. That man would forget his head if were not attached to his body. I then sat down to start ploughing through the rather large amount of work I seem to have picked up over the last couple of weeks. Jobs are just like buses, they tend to come along in twos and threes.