Friday, September 30, 2011

More on Masdar City

I got a small guide book on our way out of the institution and I'd like to share it here.

- There are more than 35 different panels being tested, including both thin-film and crystalline. The results o the first round of testing helped in the selection of the roof-mounted PV panels used for one of the Masdar Institution buildings. Since this city will be a self-sustaining community, most of the energy to be used will be from the surroundings. One of its sources is the solar. Being in the Middle East where the sun is always smiling, why not use it to produce electricity.

- Another source of highly advance technology of producing clean electricity is the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP). They call this the Beam Down Project. Although still in the R&D stage, initial results show that the 100kW tower could generate 75-85MWh of clean electricity a year, enough to power 10-15 homes.

- For water supply, the deep drilling of underground water is conducted. They are searching for geothermal water which is sufficiently hot. This will be used in thermal cooling and domestic hot water.

- The 10 MW power plant has 87, 777 polycrystalline and thin-film modules that covers an entire 22-hectare of land at the periphery of Masdar City. The farm aims to produce 17,500MHh if clean electricity annually, thereby offsetting 15,000 tons of carbon emissions per year - equivalent to taking 3,300 cars off Abu Dhabi's roads.

- On a 12-hectare site the contractors and builders of this incredible city bring their construction waste for separation and processing in accordance to recycling. Masdar City and its contractors are diverting up to 96% of construction waste from landfill and using it in the build of the city.

- Upon entering the city, you will be welcome a modern design but with minimalistic theme using less waste. Hanging from the ceiling of the PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) station are numerous glass-reinforced concrete panels. Copper pipes carrying chilled water run through the panels, cooling the concrete, which in turn provides highly efficient radiated cooling to the station.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A City Within a City: Masdar City

It was one of those few occasions that my husband and I decided to explore the city and look for good eats. So we picked Masdar City.

I first heard about Masdar city from an officemate. My curiosity was piqued when she told me about solar panels and driverless cars. That I've got to see. It was not the food and the cost of the food. It was what the city was all about. So I began to learn about this city within the city.

Masdar city was planned and built to be sustainable and energy efficient city. Every aspect of the place is a product of thorough research of maximizing the space, the location of windows and doors, even the shadows that will be cast by the buildings are being considered.

Going there was quite tedious, despite the printed map I got from their website, the going there was simply different from what you read on the directions. So we took Airport Road taking the road heading to Dubai. There were signages that indicates Masdar city and Presidential flight. We took two wrong turns that's why we ended up driving for nearly an hour just to look for the place.

The institution is a working progress. Ongoing construction activities are evident when you enter the area. Only a few streetlights were being used so there are dark areas. Some guards are scattered in the area and they could give you directions going to the main building entrance.

When we got to the parking area. We went through an entrance where a receiving area is decked with the scale size model of the entire city is in the center. A big screen of a world map is showing packets of information about demography and environmental issues of every country in the world. on the other side of the receiving area is individual doors where the driverless cars are parked. They call this the PRT (Personal Rapid Transit).

Excited to try out this technology, we head to the available car and took the ride going to the main commercial area. The 2 minute ride was pretty fun. The interior of the car has two seats facing each other. A screen on the right side shows information about the city. What is amazing about this driverless cars, it doesn't have train tracks where it moves. I was so impressed.

Then we get there, and asked some directions going to Sumo restaurant. We took the stairs and another door and a turn to right, and we saw this huge open courtyard where the restaurant is located and a tall tower is standing tall in the middle of the courtyard.

We were the only customer at Sumo. I ordered Beef BBQ and hubby ordered Chicken Katsu plus gyoza ramen. I was so ecstatic because they have gyoza. We didn't wait too long for our order, and it was all sumptuous. Plus the price was not that high. Total cost for the dinner was AED 125.00

We walked a little around the courtyard, and realized that tower housing a lighted structure inside is one of the energy storage from the solar panels that lights up the city. Fantastic.

Since it was already late, we didn't roam around more. But with everything that has been complicated and are already running, the place has definitely the potential of finally presenting that a sustainable city is possible if we are going to pursue it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cheap Eats Abu Dhabi

There will always be a time within the working week, that you'd get bore of the usual home cook food and end up buying fast food. This also happens, if you got out of work late and too lazy to cook. This is the moments that keep fast food alive. But if you're keeping a tight hold of your wallet, fast food doesn't really have to be quite expensive to give you a satisfying fill.

For the last 6 months, I have discovered a few names of fast food that are cheap, satisfying and delivers. Delivery is a gift to all the couch potatoes and busy peeps.

First in the recommended cheap eat is Taza. If you are Filipino this is definitely the place to be. Taza chicken taste almost the same as the Filipino's Favorite fast food chain - Jollibee. Minus the gravy, the garlic dip is compensating enough. A broasted meal includes 4 pieces of chicken, a handful of fries and bread with drink for only AED 16. If you want an additional garlic dip you only have to pay for AED1. There are two branches of Taza in Abu Dhabi - one is in Hamdan area and one at Abu Dhabi Mall.

Next is Sea Shells. Not really the typical fast food type but still sells the basic sandwich and fries combo meal. This restaurant gives quick fix for the hungry working class without bruising the pocket. A favorite ordered items are egg omelette sandwich and fries which costs AED 3 and AED 4 respectively. The egg omelette is a scrambled egg with fries and tomato wrapped in kubus. Worth every penny paid for it.

Another delivery joint favorite is Lebanese Flower. This is one of the famous Arabic restaurants here in Abu Dhabi. Famous for their roasted chicken and kababs. One whole chicken with fries, kubus and usual dip costs AED 36.00. Another hunger buster and easy order is their shawarma and chicken sandwich. The chicken sandwich is a must try. Roasted chicken with garlic sauce and pickle is sandwiched panini style, only cost AED 7.

Cheap but very good shawarma are also available from Automatic and Lulu supermarket, which costs AED 5 and AED 4 respectively.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Courtship in Different Language

Just because I'm feeling a bit heartbroken right now, let me write about love. Not the kind of love that makes you want to jump on couches. Just plain love. But could love be really as plain as a vanilla ice cream? I doubt.

I have been living in Abu Dhabi for quite some time, I have seen the different faces of love or something like that. With exemptions of some that I don't want to include in this wholesome piece.

From what I know of the Middle East culture, most partnership or marriages are often arranged. Often done by the parents of the couple before they reached adulthood. It is quite fascinating, I was raised in an environment where courtship is a celebrated event in a teenager's life. And I can't imagine going through life without experiencing the heady feeling that is brought by courtship.

Everything starts from a simple admiration. Morphing into crush stage which eventually leads to an overpowering attraction that usually open the gates to the courtship world.

Though, I must say, I am no expert with the courtship drama. Mind you, I was only seriously courted twice. No boyfriend till I graduated college. That is one serious House Rule. Anyway, from what I know, courtship is initiated by men who fancy women and wants to win her affection.

It all starts with a rose. Or whatever flower is given, this signifies that the guy likes the recipient. Then an invitation to watch a movie or eat out or just plain hang out. Burning the telephone lines at night or texting all night helps build up the anticipation of finally asking the girl that big question - Tayo na ba? (Would you be my girlfriend?) Just like marriage proposal, but less intense. This girlfriend-boyfriend commitment is a step closer to the big time serious relationship a.k.a marriage. This is the basic flow, but I took the less travelled road - no I did not marry immediately! - my courtship lasted for 22 months.

I rarely see courtship here. Maybe because it is restricted. I saw one young adult from my office window, two Filipino teens, the girl was holding and smelling one single rose. Ah, sweet courtship. The chivalry of courtship is still alive despite the cultural difference in the country I am living at.

But as more Filipinos get involve with other nationalities here, the courtship phase is slowly rubbing into the other male counterpart. I sometimes see Filipina going out on a date with other nationalities. Some received gifts and flowers. The usual trinkets that complete a courtship stage. It brings a smile into my face. And it leads me to the arrange marriage thing.

From what I know, no courtship happens before the marriage. Only after. This is the stage where you get to know very well the partner you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with. This is the time the men woe the women.

Truly love knows no perfect time and situation. I mean, look at them, even if they just met during the wedding ceremony, still they have made a compact to stay true to each other and care for each other for the rest of their lives. Love doesn't have one way of finding it. There are a thousand and more ways to find it, receive it and live it.