Richard’s Beirut/UAE photoblog 05 March 2012

dublin / friday / 1600

thanks to drinky and weary traveller for highlighting the issue of the questionable labour conditions in dubai - as left coast points out, it certainly does make some of the buildings seem less attractive. incidentally, work stops between 1 and 4pm by law.

sadly, the world seems to be full of these concerns, not just in UAE - but also, criminally, in iraq:

and of course back home in europe. i read a very interesting (and both depressing and hopeful) article in the new yorker a while back that some of you might like to read:

a couple of years ago we agreed to play at a show (that never happened in the end) to celebrate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery... seems like there's a lot more work still to do, both home and abroad. i took a few pics of buildings, but somehow it doesn't seem appropriate to put them up after all. it's good to know that people are concerned with the plight of others, and i hope our music can do a tiny bit to carry that forward.


دبيّ, Dubai / wednesday / 1300

i'm sitting in a hotel room that's bigger than my home back in london, just having some breakfast after doing a press conference. we're three hours ahead of uk time. i'm not sure where to begin, but i've taken a ton of pics, so maybe i should let them do the talking. i've never been anywhere that feels this hot - it's 38 degrees C, having fallen to 32 overnight, apparently, and it's so humid that when i took my camera outside it just completely steamed up. tom took his computer out onto his balcony and it it did the same... sunglasses do the same... i can see people outside digging the foundations for another enormous building, and i honestly don't know how they can do it. put it this way - they cool the swimming pool here instead of heating it...

i'm really looking forward to the show - it's sold out, and apparently the first show in a while to do so - it's really cool to know there's that much enthusiasm for us here.

i wrote a couple of blogs earlier in the trip but couldn't get them to upload, so they are down below with some photos...

this was the view when we arrived - that's the sun, just trying to burn through the sand and humidity. you can just make out the skyscrapers in the distance.

steamed up!

a pretty swanky car parked outside when we arrived. sadly the keys weren't in it...

the nearby shopping centre is a bit more swanky than the arndale centre in eastbourne.

in the air / tuesday / 1500 (dubai time)

i've just been going through some pics from last night's show. lebanon will have a very special place in my memory for a long time. i am sad to be leaving, but we'll be back. the crowd were totally amazing - so much energy and excitement, and singing along. thanks so much for making us so welcome - we had a great time.


the show

Beyrouth (Beirut) / monday / 2030

i'm sitting backstage at the byblos international festival in lebanon, watching the sun go down over the med. it's strange to think that it's the same sea that you look at from the port in barcelona, or the beach in the south of france. byblos is one of the oldest cities on the planet - according to wikipedia there have been people living here for over 7000 years. we are loving beirut. it's a really noisy, bustling city, but it seems to be full of incredibly friendly people - even the taxi drivers let you cross the road (you don't get that in london). given the recent history of violence here it really does seem to be a place that just wants to move forward. i guess in europe we are used to seeing shrapnel marks and bullet holes in buildings, but from the second world war or earlier - here you see them in modern buildings, and there are military bunkers and pillboxes all over the place. i can't think of a better place to come and play music, and make friends.

we arrived quite late last night, but still managed to find a cool bar - it was still hot at 1am. this morning tim, jesse and i went or a wander down to the corniche, and walked along the shore - loads of people swimming, fishing and sunbathing on the rocks. found a nice place for lunch, and then headed out here for soundcheck. the gig is in another city, but it's just along the coast, and the land is built-up the whole way, with a strange mix of english, french and arabic signs - some familiar (mcdonalds, kfc, starbucks etc), some incomprehensible...

it's amazing to hear that people are coming from far and wide to this show - our first show in the middle east. and it's an amazing setting - right on the shore in front of a phoenician ruin. i wish we could stay and explore some more. maybe next time!

El Rawsheh - people climb these and jump off! insanity...

andy's with us too - it's always nice to have him along

this fella was practicing his diving

this may look nice, but that outflow didn't smell very healthy to me.

this lemonade / mint drink was probably the mot refreshing thing i've ever tasted

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