The Sustainable City

The Sustainable City

On the edge of the desert in Dubai an unique property is arising. Diamond Developers’ The Sustainable City is a residential area and designed to be net zero-energy. Quite an accomplishment when you know Dubai’s energy consumption is one of the highest in the world and with temperatures around 50 degrees celsius in the summer definitely not tempting to turn of the airconditioning. Yet the developers found that the costs of building are lower as compared to traditional properties.

Powered by solar
40.000 megawatt hour solar energy is generated daily by 40.000 solar panels, fitted on the carparks and all the homes. The city was turend on less then a year ago and already during the first winter net-zero was realised.

The Sustainable City

This is The Sustainable City. A 5 million square foot residential area at the edge of Dubai's desert. It is designed to be net zero-energy and even has the potential to go off the grid. 40.000 PV panels produce 10 Megawatt solar a day. The city also got some interesting offers for electric cars.

Posted by Plug Me In on Donnerstag, 12. Oktober 2017

Holistic approach
Unique about the Sustainable City is that it not only looks at the traditional sustainable aspects like water, energy, waste and cooling (which all are handled well) but focusses on three key aspects: social, economic & environmental sustainability. The commercial mall which is home to various shops, a nursery, supermarket and cafe’s are all partly owned by the residents. With this business model they don’t need to pay for maintenance & service fees, costs which easily can go sky-high Dubai.

Electric Vehicles
Electric cars are also part of cities masterplan to later become carbon neutral. Residents are pushed to go electric by offering them a 40.000 Dirham (€10.000) incentive on the purchase of their first electric vehicle.
The property is car-free. Cars can be left behind (while charging on solar power) at the carpark from where electric buggy’s transport residents through the city.

Building a city like this doesn’t come without challenges. In below’s interview with Karim El-Jisr, Director of the Sustainable city he explains the hurdles they needed to take and goes more in depth in the various sustainable aspects.

Dubai Carbon

Dubai Carbon

The United Arab Emirates, the land mostly known as ‘the country were oil comes from.’ In many peoples perception oil will be pumped out of the ground until the desert has evaporated and solar panels will remain science-fiction. During my time in the UAE I discovered that this is definitely not the case and many efforts are made to switch to renewable energy sources and have I seen more initiatives who find it highly important to reduces their carbon footprint.

To hear more about how sustainable the country is and efforts that will be made in the future I contacted Dubai Carbon, a think-tank in environmental econmocis which is a co-operation between the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In 2011 this agreement was signed by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon. Dubai Carbon’s stakeholders are both public and private and DC helps them include efficiency and best practices within environmental, social and the generic sustainability value chain in their business model.

I interviewed Dubai Carbon’s CEO Ivano Iannelli, who build up a reputation as one of the world’s foremost expert in the fields of sustainability and carbon emissions management.

Q. In a country not well-known for sustainable efforts, how was Dubai Carbon founded?
Mr. Iannelli:
“There is a very large culture of excellence in this country and even though it might not be perceived as such from the outside, the sustainability credentials for the UAE are actually extremely high. There is a willingness to excel, there is a willingness to be best in class, there is a culture of corporate excellence. They wouldn’t go for the inefficiënt approach but they want to make sure the resources are looked upon for their preciousness, for their value. Not only in short-term but also a long term-approach.” Referring to Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s visionary ideas on the country.

Q. How is the mix of energy in the UAE?
Mr. Iannelli: 
“At the moment we have a very minimal solar power but this is only because the large PV-plants will be commissioned in a span of a few months. Dubai has the largest single side PV-plant in the world and has been gradually growing simply because of its success. In a span of 2 years Dubai broke 2 times the world record for lowest tariff for solar, bringing the price down to 2.9 cents, Adu Dhabi even managed to bring it down to 2.4 cents per kWh. These are signs that times are changing and that renewables are becoming cost-effective.”

“When you look at the energy mix you can not rely on only wind or solar but you need to have a balanced approach and Dubai is doing exactly this. By 2050 we will scale up renewables to 75% together with all the other sources who are being tested and launched as we speak.”

“In the current situation we have a very efficient gas-powered combined cycle power plant. Dubai produces power at 0.42 tons of CO2 per MWh produced, the next in-line is Germany, producing at 0.39 tons of CO2 per MWh but Germany add a very large amount of renewables in their mix. To give you an idea of how efficient the fossil fuel based energy production in Dubai is compared to the globe.

Mr. Ianelli add thats the misconception of Dubai being inneficient or not sustainable is very superficial. “If people understand what this city has achieved within a short span of time than they would be able to understand what there is. First of all there is a fantastic playing field of sustainability because not a single played in this city has not looked at sustainability in their scope of work. The second element of it is that to do what Dubai has done, they need to be highly efficient, they need to be very pragmatic in the way they use resources because they would otherwise upset the normally economic close of supply and demand. So to build this much you don’t put too much strain on the market because prices would escalate. So this balance what the city has achieved in economic term is a fantastic example of economic success in terms of sustainability, that should be looked upon and replicated whenever possible.

During my journey I started to wonder if it’s possible for a country to become carbon-neutral, and is it necessary? I saw Norway were they produce 98% of their energy from renewables but still have a lot of offset because of their richness in oil. I heard from South-American countries who generate their power 100% from renewables.

Q. Can Dubai or any other country achieve to be carbon-neutral?
Mr. Iannelli: “I don’t think any country in the world can achieve carbon-neutrality because there is always a resource consumption, and we don’t want carbon-neutrality as it will alter the balance of the eco-system. What we want is to run within the global CO2 budget. There are natural sorts of CO2 things in the world, soil, trees, water etc. So we don’t need to actually achieve carbon-neutrality. What we have is a global-warming potential which equates all sorts of greenhouse-gasses to CO2 according to the time it takes the globe to metabolize them. In the 21st century the number is 1466 gigatons of CO2. What we need to reach is that countries not consume more than the world can metabolize. Currently the world is consuming at an alarming rate. The herd offshoot day (the days we consumed all the resources for the year) last year was on September 26. So as an impact we don’t need to achieve carbon-neutrality, we just need to stat within the carbon-budget that we have been given.

Electric Vehicles

Of course I needed to know how electric cars fit in to the bigger picture. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is also involved in Dubai Carbon and has place already 100 charging stations in Dubai and just announced the second phase of stations which will double the amount. With only 57 users so far they definitely see a big future for electric mobility.

Mr. Iannelli: “The vehicles that are being brought here are being stresstest against a different kind of environment. Dubai as a city is stretched along the coast it’s a lot less dense and longer distances are needed to be covered by EV’s.

 

Full interview
Watch the full interview here

 

The Green Sheikh

The Green Sheikh

When traveling around the world you learn that interesting encounters are behind every corner. Even in countries who are not well-known for their sustainable efforts you meet people who contribute to the environment and show you that even here the awareness is raising. In the United Arab Emirates I had the honor to meet Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, member of the royal family of Ajman and also known as the Green Sheikh. I contacted him via e-mail and within a few hours I received a message from his team saying that he was delighted to meet me and wanted to enlighten me with his spiritual energy.

The Green Sheikh has a background as chemical & petroleum engineer and converted to an environmental advocate in the early 90’s, after discovering challenges as climate change, waste, human wellbeing, food and water. He has a clear vision on sustainability and has a wider approach on this subject as he sees “peace, love and respect” also important aspects in his vision. Abdulaziz names good families and good values as some examples of his approach which all lead to not further damaging the planet. A more holistic approach with clearly influences from the Muslim religion. Holistic approaches on sustainability we see being implemented by many businesses nowadays, however more Western Europe as in the areas that I have just crossed so it’s interesting to see that the Sheikh has been doing this for years.

How sustainable or non-sustainable is the UAE exactly? I wanted the know. The UAE has a clear vision on energy. in 2050 half of the countries energy need will be provided by renewable energy, the other half will be clean of fossil fuel. AbdulAziz says. Resources for the other half coming from nuclear energy.

Watch the full interview with the Green Sheikh here:

Day 355 – 371 | Beautiful Oman & Latest updates

The last weeks have been full of adventure, interesting encounters and hecticness. I try to summarize my experiences in this blog which is this time not a day-to-day overview.

Some days in Muscat

Way before my host woke up I left his apartment in Sohar because I wanted to be in Muscat around noon. It was a 209km drive and 200km is about the maximum I can do. However the car is capable of doing 250km max under the most ideal conditions. Meaning 20+ temperatures, flat road, no wind and max speed 90km/h. Today all these condition were there so I decided to test it. And it was a succes, with even 15% left I arrived in Muscat at my host Faisal. When I posted I was going to Oman a Norwegian guy told his friend Faisal that I was coming there and he wanted to help me out. Faisal is a really good guy and owner of the Brotherhood motorbike shop. He even arranged that I could stay in an apartment for 5 days

On one of the first days in Muscat I was contacted by a journalist from Muscat Daily who wanted to do an interview with me. That article was published a day later and I received a lot of requests. Not just from nice people who could offer me a place to stay but from 3 different school. They wanted to know if I was willing to give a presentation. Why not?

Presentations

The first school I visited was the OurPlanet School, a grade school were the children get lessons on the environment from already a young age, unique in Oman the principal told me. I did a presentation in 3 different classes and they all were so enthusiastic. The questions I got from the kids were hilarious “how do you brush your teeth?” and “can I play with my playstation on the screen?” were some of the best ones. 2 kids who “have their own washing company” even did a nice wash on the car. A few days later I went to the American School for another presentation.

After I stayed in the apartment for 5 days I went to a Dutch family. Very kind people who showed me around town. The next day I went to another Dutch couple, Agnes en Goos. Agnes contacted me earlier as she is working for a magazine for the Dutch community here and wanted to run an article about me. Coincidence or not this night was the annual Dutch Gala night and Agnes managed to get a ticket for me. We parked the car right next to the red carpet. It turned out the be a great night, free Heinekens and bitterballen were served so it couldn’t be a bad party.

The Green Sheikh whatsapped me, he saw I was in Muscat and he needed to be there for a presentation at The Sultan’s School and he invited me to join him. He gave several presentations and asked me to give a few words too.

Visa issues / Leaving Oman

The reason I needed to go to Oman was because there was a possibility that I could receive the visa for India in 2 weeks time. If I needed to wait for that my visa for the UAE would have expired and I would be in trouble. After just 3 days in Oman I already received a call that I could pick up the visa. So on Tuesday the 15th I decided to go back to the UAE to make the final arrangements.

In the morning I had some time to visit the Sultan Qabooz Grand Mosque, a stunning piece of architecture. Up until a few years ago they had the biggest chandelier in the world here, until some Emiratis decided to make a bigger one. They also had to biggest carpet in the world, until some Qataris decided to make bigger one.

First I made a stop in Sohar were Mark was waiting for me, he is the CEO of the Port of Sohar and I wanted to interview him because they are working on sustainable projects in the port. 

I left from the far side of Muscat and it was 250km to the port, I wanted to see how far I could go. So on the final day of the first year I set a new personal record: 233km on a single charge. I had 7% left but was sure I couldn’t reach the port and stopped at a fuel station. Some nice people allowed me to recharge there and the driver of Mark picked me up to bring me to the port.

At the port I gave a presentation for the the team including some Dutch people as the port is partially owned by the Port of Rotterdam. Than Mark took me for a tour around the port, which is quite huge and told me about their efforts to make the port more sustainable. At the moment they are building a unit which is fully self-sustainable. A unique project in this country as the awareness on environmental issues is very low here, the country relies on 99.8% on oil.

The next day I tried to reach Dubai, I stopped at Mikkels place (where I stayed on the way to Oman) and recharged for a few hours. I really wanted to reach Dubai today. I needed to bring my passport to the visa company and it would take 4-5 days before it would be returned. I managed to reach Dubai around 6 and handed over my passport.

1 year!

Today I am also on the road for one year! It’s still a dream and can’t believe all the interesting encounters and adventures I had in the past year. What a ride it was.

Damn…

Than I suddenly realized I might have another issue. On Sunday the car would be shipped by the nice people of DGL, however to enter the port you need your passport and I would receive this on Monday at earliest. I called with the company and they confirmed, fortunately it was no problem to delay the shipment. This night I stayed at Jan Willem’s place, the legend who were I stayed in the first weeks of the arrival. The next 2 days I went to Adnane who I had also stayed before. With Adnane I went into the desert to take some nice shots with my drone of the car. This will be seen later in a very special movie.

On Saturday I already received the news that my passport would be returned to me today. That was only after 1 official working day so that was kind of a surprise. So now the car will be delivered to the port on Wednesday and on Saturday I will fly to Mumbai.

Eco Donut Boats

Sunday morning I had a meeting with Dubai Carbon, a governmental organization and I wanted to know from them everything about energy in the country, the video interview will be online later.

After the interview I went to Abu Dhabi to visit Eco Donut Boats. This is a cool company who has donut shaped boats powered by the sun. The owner, Berend, sponsored me with a drone and in return I will make a movie about this project.

I didn’t had a place to sleep for tonight yet but next to the Donut Boats was a beautiful hotel, the Eastern Mangroves Hotel by Anantara and Berend knew someone there. We asked if they could host me for a night and they were ok with that! And I am very lucky as this was a 5 star hotel! The suite was stunning and it had a bath which was big enough for my tall body, great!

The next day I spend the morning at the outside infinity pool after I had one of the best breakfasts ever. The buffet in the hotel had more than I could even wish for.

Now I am back in Dubai to do the final preparations before setting off to Mumbai. It will be hard to leave but I am really up to the next stage of this journey.

PS. Yesterday I was on Dutch TV program Hart van Nederland! Check it here: www.hartvannederland.nl/nieuws/2017/wiebe-ziet-de-hele-wereld-zonder-een-cent-uit-te-geven/

PICTURES

Day 352 – 354 | From Dubai Airport to Oman, but not by plane!

Day 352 | Wednesday March 1

Earlier this week I started with arranging the visa for India. I found out that it takes a bit more preparation as for other countries. I needed all kinds of different documents including a letter from a host in India and a paper from the Embassy stating my address in Holland is legal. So today I managed to get all the paperwork and headed to the visum company. It will take 7-15 working days before the visa is approved and another 4-5 days to get the visa stamped. A shocker for me as I’m nearing the maximum 90-days on my UAE visa and it could mean that I won’t get the India visa before the UAE one expires. The solution is a quite good one: I could a road trip to Oman! I can use the 90-days in a 6-month period so I will go to the neighbors to save up some days and when I receive the phonetical that the visa is ready I will return to the Emirates and have 9 days left to arrange everything.

Today I had to leave my permanent apartment at the Sustainable City in Dubai. Not because of the visa issues but because I could stay there until the end of February. It was great to stay here as I could charge also my own batteries. A bit more privacy, building up relationships and a desk to work on really did me well.

Because the last days were very hectic I didn’t had the time to arrange a new place to stay and luckily Jan Willem who was my first host when I arrived in Dubai took care of me again.

Day 353 | Thursday March 2

A few weeks ago I was at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. I was approached by 2 people from Dubai International Airport. They told me they want to promote electric mobility and wanted to organize an event to raise awareness. They found my story interesting and invited me to speak at this event!
So I could park my car right next to Terminal 3 of Dubai Airport, which was already an amazing opportunity. There were 3 other EV’s: a Renault Zoe, a Prius and the Tesla Model X. Representatives from Toyota and Dewa were talking about their vision on sustainable mobility and I had the honour to be the final speaker at the event, which took place inside the terminal.

After the event it was time to start driving towards Oman. Todays goal was to reach Al Ain. Between Dubai and Al Ain there is nothing but desert and I can drive here for hours, I’m still amazed by this amount of sand. In the afternoon I reached the city and was welcomed by Gitte, the wife if Mikkel. They are Danish expats and Mikkel has been following me for a while since he saw a post about me on Linkedin shared by a Dutch friend of his who is also a contact of mine, small world huh. Yesterday I posted a request on Facebook if there was anyone in Al Ain were I could stay and he responded immediately. We found out that I have been very close to their home in Denmark a few months ago.

Al Ain is also known as the garden city due to its greenery, it’s the second large city in the Abu Dhabi Emirate and the fourth largest in the UAE. It’s also the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan, the founder of the country.

Compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi Al Ain is very low, in terms of the buildings. It’s not allowed to build taller as the palace in the city. Al Ain is more of a traditional town with more locals instead of expats. The UAE is mostly inhabited by expats, just 15% of the population are locals and the other part people who live here temporary.

Mikkel and Gitte have 4 children and their 2 youngest daughters life with them in Al Ain. Today Gitte had her 2nd day at a new job and Mikkel works at the airport in control tower. We had a very relaxing night and even watched a movie. That was really the first time this trip I did so.

Day 354 | Friday March 3

After a relaxing morning and nice breakfast I left to Oman, the border is only 10km from Al Ain. While entering the UAE in Sharjah was a very difficult, long and expensive process, exiting was not. Not many questions were asked, I got a few stamps and 30 minutes later I was at the Oman side of the border. Also there it was very easy to enter the country.
From the minute I crossed the border the landscape changed, I was surrounded by mountains and the sand was more darker compared to the red desert in the UAE. In the afternoon I reached Sohar were I met Mohammed.
Yesterday I contacted Mohammed on Couchsurfing and he could host me for a night. He is a 25-year old who works in a oil refinery, most people in Oman work in the oil industry. He introduced me to Karak, a traditional thea mixed with milk. Sohar is located on the Arabian Sea and we walked over the corniche for a while were mainly Indian and Bengalese people were barbecuing on their day off. Oman has 2.4 million citizens of which 2 million are from Indian nationality.

Mohd lives on the 2nd floor of an apartment so we had some hassle to connect the car but with the extension cables it worked out!

PICTURES

Day 339 – 341 | New adventures

After some weeks of silence I felt the need to pick up the blog again. I had some great weeks with the team of Global EVRT. Ap part of the event team I helped organize the first ever Emirates Electric Vehicle Road Trip which was a big success. The event took place at the end of January and worked for another week when it was finished. I will publish an article about this adventure later, now I will continue with my experiences in and around Dubai.

Day 339 | Friday February 17

A few weeks ago I had the honor to meet Abdul Aziz al Nuani, aka The Green Sheikh. He is a member of the Ajman royal family and has made many efforts on the environment in the UAE and beyond. I interviewed him about his vision on sustainability and after that he asked me to come back today. He was hosting 22 students from the United States and also asked some of his friends to give a presentation on sustainability or other forms of energy.

The Green Sheikh lives in Ajman which is one of the 7 emirates and about a 50 minute drive from my home. When I arrived at his residence his friends were already there and I was welcomed in a big room with many artifacts he gathered over the years. Including huge animal teeth and the neck of a giraffe.

Later all the students joined us, they were from various places in the US and had different backgrounds. We started with laughing sessions, which was seriously funny, of course, and awkward. Later I had the opportunity to share my story.

After the presentations we went with volunteering with the whole group, the sheikh promotes volunteering very actively. With the group we handed out food bags to homeless people.

Day 340 | Saturday February 18

Together with Abdul Aziz, 3 US students and Colleen (who works for the Green Sheikh) we went for breakfast in a traditional Emirati restaurant. Great food they serve here! It’s kind of a mix with a lot of meat, veggies and some spicy food. After ‘dessert’ they brought us some traditional kind of perfume. 4 different bottles were served on a plate heated by charcoal.

After breakfast we visited the Ajman museum where was shown how the family of Abdul Aziz lived here years ago and it tells the story of the emirate.

The plan for today was actually to go to the desert to clean-up waste but yesterday it started raining. Yes rain in the UAE, it’s something very unique and I had the honor to be part of it. So instead of doing the clean up we went to the dessert in Ras Al Khaimah for a jungle safari!

Man I love desserts, there is something special about this eternal area of nothing but sand and some lost trees. I was driving with Katie, one of the students and we were not sure about where to go as the navigation didn’t really work in this area and we lost the car we were following. After about a 30-minute drive with nothing than sand besides us a runner passed the car. We stopped and asked him if we were on the right way, “yes you are” he answered in Dutch and told me he recognized me. Apparently this Dutch guy had seen me on social media and now even in the middle of the desert I get recognized, amazing.

We arrived at this cute village in the middle of the village. It felt a bit like these dreamy idyllic oasis’ you see in movies. A few tipi’s were people were smoking shisha while camels passed by, great sight. So than we went for the jungle safari, with a 4×4 cruising through the dessert, dune bashing as they call it. Pretty amazing experience, it’s like your floating over the dunes.

After a crazy hour of hitting the sandwaves we relaxed at the desert village, rode camels and headed back home.

Day 341 | Sunday February 19

Last Sunday I was contacted by Michelin Middle East. They heard through a contact at Renault whom I met during the EVRT that I was in the need for new tyres. In Turkey I switched the front tyres but I found out that those were in not so good condition and with the though countries coming up I thought it would be safe to switch to new ones. The people at Michelin were really good in helping me out, on Wednesday I could come by at TyrePlus and replaced my old tyres with brand new ones. Great service and a very nice gesture too!

Today the Michelin team invited me at their office. Because sustainable mobility is important for them they were very keen to hear more about my experiences. For the whole team I explained how I came up with the idea, what I have been doing in the past months and my experiences with the electric car. When I tell my story everyone is always very excited which makes it a lot of fun to give these presentations.

Sunday I was contacted by Michelin. They heard that I was in need of new tires and offered their help. Just 3 days later…

Posted by Plug Me In on Donnerstag, 16. Februar 2017

Note: I won’t post a daily blog yet. At the moment I am still working from ‘home’, at my temporary appartement in the Sustainable City. I am doing a lot of work: preparations for the next stages and catching up with work I should have done in the past months. So not every day is full of excitement. My visa runs out the 12th of March so than I really need to leave the country. It’s still not sure how I will leave the country but I hope to have a solution this week. Keep an eye on this space. When I will reach India I will start with making daily videos and found a way to make them way more exciting!

PICTURES

Day 291 – 294 | Got a job & stopping the blog

Day 291 | Friday December 30

Another special day in Dubai, it’s my 30th birthday! It’s not the first time I celebrate my birthday away from home, in 2009 I did it in Australia. Not much time for celebrations though, I still needed to arrange my car insurance and for that I needed to drive back to Port Khalid in Sharjah where I arrived 2.5 weeks ago. It’s an hour and a half drive and when I got there I was surprised that there was not much activity going on as it was a vivid place before. I than realized it’s weekend… I can’t get used to the fact they have different weekends in Asia. 

So when I returned to the Sustainable City I lost the whole morning. Back home I read some nice birthday messages people left on my Facebook page and Whatsapp. My ‘flat mates’ Ben and Sophie from the EVRT noticed it was my birthday and got me some candles and pie. Chocolate pie! After dinner we went to a Belgium bar not far from TSC and celebrated. A nice birthday after all, the last time I celebrated away from home no-one knew it was my b-day at all. 

Day 292 | Saturday December 31

Good news! I’ve already had a permanent place to stay but now I got a permanent job as well! The guys from the Global EVRT wanted me to join their team in the period leading up to the event at the end of January. They saw I had experience with organizing events and of course that I have been making a road trip in an electric car. We both have so many similar goals that it has to be a match made in heaven. For me it’s also good as I can save some money for either the shipment or the very expensive trip through Thailand. Also it might sound a bit weird but only traveling becomes normal after some time that it gets a bit boring. So this job will be perfect for me in to many ways.
Today we mainly talked about the coming weeks, it’s going to be hectic 🙂

NYE
It happened to be the last day of the year today and Jan Willem (my first host in Dubai) invited me for a ‘party’. I didn’t want to show up with empty hands, my nice friends from my hometown Haarlem gave me some pocket money for my birthday so I decided to bring a carton of beers. Almost 30 euros for 12 beers, insane prices here!

At JW’s place we spend a while trying to make nice oliebollen, which succeeded at the end. The Palm is the perfect place to see the fireworks as you can see both the Marina, The Atlantis and downtown were you have the Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa. All places were you have the biggest fireworks. Amazing that I get to spend NYE in this crazy city!

Day 293 | Sunday January 1st 2017

It’s new years day, don’t expect a crazy adventurous travel story today, I’m in bed.

Day 294 | Monday January 2

Today was my first official working day. Big preparations for the Global EVRT. It’s not so interesting to talk about on the blog and as the coming period will be basically only work I will pause the blog for now.

I will post updates on my social media channels instead so be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I will be back with blogs AND videos when we get close to the event.

PICTURES

Day 290 | Charging-up in Abu Dhabi

Day 290 | Thursday December 29

So I woke up in a boat. This catamaran is part of the Belevari Marine which is owned by my host Berend. In the morning Berend came by to meet me and brought me a big cup of fresh coffee. This was only the first nice thing he did for me this day. After he livestreamed a short interview about the car and Plug Me In on his Facebook page, he brought me to a restaurant were he offered me breakfast, not a small breakfast but a huge buffet with nothing missing was waiting for me. Than I could take a shower and refresh myself at a gym in another part of the marina.

When I was recharged he said “you’ve been traveling for a long time now, you probably didn’t have your teeth checked so we should see a dentist.” So we did, we drove through Abu Dhabi which was very cloudy in the morning and arrived at the practice of Dr. Firas. It was a surprise that the doctor already heard about me even before I arrived in the UAE. One of his dentists had a brother in Holland who told him about me.
Mr. Firas is a very modern dentist, he even uses snapchat to updates his fans about his life at the dentist and posted that I was there, very funny. So he offered me a free check-up and cleaning of my teeth. A dentist and 2 assistants (!) inspected my teeth and cleaned it were necessary, after 30 minutes I walked out the room with a glistering white smile 🙂 While that already was great Dr. Firas even ordered a lunch for me. So helpful the people here.

We went to Berend’s office and he told me about the projects he runs here. He is very interested in sustainability and finds it important that his projects contribute to a better environment. One of his businesses are the Eco Donut Boats, boats running on solar energy which you can sail down a river. When I come back to Abu Dhabi I will go for a restrun. Another project of his are self-sustaining floating water villa’s.

Berend thought I had to leave Abu Dhabi completely refreshed and offered me a haircut. I got the full treatment with short hair on the back and they trimmed my beard, Arabian style! I really left completely refreshed.
In the afternoon I drove back to Dubai to the sustainable city, enjoyed the meal of Dr. Firas and called it a day.

 

PICTURES

 

Day 288 & 289 | Dubai – Abu Dhabi

Day 288 | Tuesday December 27

Adnane and his father in law took me to a traditional market. On these markets you can buy anything: fruits, toys, vegetables but they can here to buy dates. Dates are a speciality from this region and the quality is high. From here they export them to anywhere around the world but the preserve them they cover it with a layer of glucose if I remember correctly which lowers the taste. It’s interesting to visit a market like this as it’s a big contrast with the huge malls.

In the afternoon I said goodbye to this nice family who took care of me really well and left to a new place: the sustainable city. The sustainable city is an area in Dubai which just have been finished and aims to be an international model for sustainable living. In the coming days I will find out how they do that.

The organizers of the Global EVRT are based in the Sustainable City and one they had a room left were I can stay for a while. For me it’s great to have a place for my own. I love to be around people but the only thing I miss this journey is a bit if privacy. Besides that I don’t need to be social at the time and have some space to relax, perfect!

Day 289 | Wednesday December 28

Last week I was contacted by Sofitel Dubai Downtown, they heard I was here and invited me for christmas brunch and a swim in their pool. That they I couldn’t make it but luckily I could come by today. The hotel is based in downtown which is the business district and area were all the huge skyscrapers are, including Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

After I left the car the charge in their garage I was led to their swimming pool on the 5th floor. Probably one of the most beautifulest I have been. When hanging over the edge of the pool you could see all of the downtown. Friendly waiters served me spring rolls to start, a burger as main course and a strawberry creme brulee as dessert, all my batteries had been recharged.

In the afternoon I met Laure and Carole from the Sofitel. They told me about the Planet 21 program of the AccorHotels. AccorHotels has thousands of hotels all over the world with millions of visitors. They find it important to reduce the carbon footprint and also teach their guests about sustainable aspects in an interesting way. For example guest could choose to not wash their linnen and instead plant a tree. Because with not washing linnen money will be saved which could be used for this cause. The social aspect of sustainability is also part of the program. In the Sofitel they asked children from the local Dubai center for Special needs what their dreams are. These wishes are written on cards which can be seen on the christmas tree in the lobby. Visitors can help with fulfilling these wishes.

Time for a little road trip to Abu Dhabi. Last week at the Dutchies meeting I met Lainish who is organizer of the Dutch in Abu Dhabi Club, he invited me to come to the ‘Oliebollen Party.’ An oliebol is a Dutch delicatesse. It’s basically fried dough with a lot of sugar. We only eat this at new years eve as it’s to fat to eat daily but it’s really good. I met some other Dutch people there, with some of them I was already in touch and most of them already heard about my story.

In Abu Dhabi I was in contact with Berend who has some sustainable projects in the city. He was not at the party but offered me a place to stay at his catamaran. The boat was located in the marina and it was a 30 minute drove from the Westin hotel were the party was. It got very foggy and I could only see 10 meters in front of me. I arrived there after midnight and Victor, a very friendly guy was waiting for me. It was a challenge to connect the car as the car was parked about 30 meters from the boat but we managed to do so.

My bed for tonight was the shippers cabin. This trip I slept in beds, tents, in the the car, on the floor and in a tent but a boat was the first time. I love sleeping in boats as I fall a sleep very quickly when the boat moves with the waves, so I did now.

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