As I didn’t have much time to plan this trip way ahead and with the Eid break underway, it was difficult to book rooms for our stay. I usually check Trip Advisor for good hotels to stay in and most of the rooms that I was looking at 2 weeks before our trip were already full as other travelers had anticipated their trips earlier than we did. There are several apartments for rent too but again, most of the good ones were filled or require at least a weeks’ stay. I don’t want to spend too much on a hotel as we’re the type who uses the hotel for resting and sleeping as we’re out most of the day. Unless you’re in Bangkok where a Pullman would cost less than half of what you’re paying in Dubai. All what we needed was a clean, comfortable room. In any case, I found another Novotel-owned hotel, IBIS HOTEL in Deira. The Ibis at The Mall of Emirates may have been better but again, rooms were all reserved.
The room was actually better than what I expected. It was spacious and the bed was big enough to accommodate the 3 of us. I guess experiencing the tiny room we stayed at in Tokyo made anything bigger than that. Still, for the amount that I paid and comparing it to the other hotel prices in Dubai, this was a steal.
It definitely was not perfect. You have to bring your own toiletries, i.e. toothbrush, paste, fave shampoo and body soap, as the room only provides you with a hair/body gel and a soap gel. The Shower area doesn’t have a full door which will surely make anything outside wet. The walls of the room are thin as well as the door so it’s not surprising to hear people at the hallways entering/closing their rooms. Luckily for us, by the time we get back to the hotel at night, we’re already too tired to really notice or for it to disturb our sleep. Light sleepers beware. Internet is provided at the Lobby but you will have to price a premium for a connection in your room.
With all the negative stuff laid out, I would still recommend this hotel for the price, cleanliness and location. It’s a No-frills hotel and that’s what you should expect from it considering what you pay for. Looking at some Trip Advisor reviews on the hotel, I can’t help but laugh at people who would expect a 4 or 5 star treatment from an Ibis. You carry your bags to your room as there would be no one to carry it for you. You don’t get any gym and you may use the next door pool of their sister hotel for a 30AED day use. However, staying at this hotel also gives you easy access to the Deira City Center Mall across it. You’re 3 minutes walk away from the nearest Metro Station. Taxis are easy to get. I’m giving it a 4 ½ star rating out of 5 based on the type of hotel and accommodation I should expect from such.
I’ve been in the Middle East for 12 years and have been to Saudi, Bahrain and currently in Qatar. To think that Dubai is only a stone throw away from Qatar, it is surprising to most of our friends that we haven’t made a short trip to Dubai after all these years. In fact, if a bit adventurous, you can drive your car from Qatar all the way to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I’m not the type who’d drive more than 8 hours. We’ve been planning, well, talking about going to Dubai and held off for so long so this time, I pulled the trigger and booked ourselves a flight to Dubai on the start of the Eid break, October 26, 2012.
Technically, we flew to Abu Dhabi then took an hour trip to Dubai as I used my accumulated Etihad Airmiles for the trip. I redeemed business class tickets for Mavis and Xiane as there are limited business class (J) seats available for airmiles redemption. I settled for the Economy (Y) but wasn’t too bothered as it was a short 45 minute trip. The reason why I actually booked J class seats for Mavis and Xiane is that Etihad provides their business class passengers a dedicated chauffeur to drive them from Abu Dhabi to Dubai instead of using the free bus provided. While one has to wait for the bus schedule to leave, the personal chauffeur leaves as soon as you’ve arrived. I was to hitch a ride with Mavis and Xiane since I was flying Y. So with our bags, tickets, and booked chauffeur, we were at the Doha Airport Friday morning.
Aside from being upgraded to Business Class, the flight was short and uneventful. As for our Visas, we were able to easily get On-arrival visas in Abu Dhabi as I was a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) resident (which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE) plus my work position (i.e. Systems Engineer) belongs to a list that entitled me to get a visa at the airport. After passing Immigrations and claiming our bags, we were whisked off to Dubai by our BMW-7 Sedan.
The one hour car trip to Dubai from Abu Dhabi gave us time to sleep since we were already up at 4:30. Nearing Dubai, one can see how much of a progressive city it is in comparison to Al Khobar in Saudi, Bahrain or even Qatar. It is littered with high-rise, residential apartments, and commercial buildings which provide office spaces for international companies. The Qatar business area in West Bay seems like a clump of buildings in comparison to this. You get to see the long Dubai Metro and its Japanese-made trains gliding along Skeikh Zayed Road which makes you think how much planning and money they spent building the system and each and every station that you pass every minute or so. Then you get to see Burj Khalifa miles away as it towers over all other buildings. Who wouldn’t get awed by the sheer height of the 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories World’s Tallest Building? You get to realize that Dubai has indeed made itself one of the top destinations in the world by adapting and making something out of their tiny city.
Though Qatar is touted as the next big thing in the Middle East, it is going to take at least 10 years before it reaches the commercial and cultural maturity of Dubai.
Aramede – All Day Dining Restaurant (180 seats) A modern market place, light organic colors and materials centered around a 6 story light flooded atrium with panoramic elevators. Aramede is the creation of a dining theatre that embodies the traditional dishes from both the Middle East and Continental Europe with modern reinterpretation Guests will be taken on a sensory visual journey with live cooking stations and international comfort options that ensure each visit is something new and different.
Last night, we were able to visit Crowne Plaza – The Business Park Doha which has just started operations a month ago. We were there to see what their restaurant “Aramede” has to offer. It wasn’t that difficult to find the location in Matar Road as by night time, the whole area of Crowne Plaza is engulfed in blue. It is very striking indeed but pleasant to the eyes.
Once you enter the main lobby, “Aramede” would actually be the first to greet your eyes. The entrance is quite unassuming and I had expected a fancier façade However, once you start walking towards the inner room, you slowly realize that the area is big and you get treated to an amazing centrepiece where the chefs grill and food is displayed around this center area. The music being played was comforting, not intruding.
The dinner buffet in “Aramede” starts at QR170 per person and that excludes drinks. They do serve alcohol and spirits but we really don’t drink so we didn’t order any aside from your usual pop soda. Children are treated to a 50% discount on the food.
Now let’s talk about food itself. We went around the center area to survey the food, taking note of what we think we’d like so we could come back for them later. The area is divided into sections for Salads, Appetizers, Pasta, Breads and cheeses, made-to-order Pizza, main courses, grilling station and desserts.
Mavis and I started at the Grilling station, ordering some fresh prawns and Lamb Chops. While waiting for the grilled food, we tried their Pumpkin soup, some Maki and some of their various salads and appetizers. Xianelle found their made-to-order Pizza and ordered herself a basic mushroom and olive pizza. She also took some steamed vegetables and a serving of their Turkey, glazed in brown gravy before sitting back down.
The Pumkin soup was lovely. It had the right amount of creaminess that didn’t distract you from the flavor of the pumpkin itself. The only thing about it was that it was a bit gritty and the soup being smoother would have made it perfect. The Maki were good but would have wanted more variations.
By the time we finished with the Makis, the grilled Prawns and Lamb Chops arrived. The chops were sooo good and cooked to a perfect medium. They were tender and probably the best lamb chops I’ve had so far. I immediately had two! As the Prawns were fresh, they tasted exquisite! I didn’t see any lemon butter dip so I got myself some butter which I let melt on the prawn and asked for some lemons which I drizzled on the prawns. It was like eating a steamed cob of corn with the saltiness of the sea. The meat of the prawn was wonderfully succulent and so delicious that I had 4. I think Mavis had 3 of them.
We did try there other grilled beef skewers as well and like the Arabic spiced beef better than the Oyster sauce marinated one. But that is not to say that the Oyster sauce marinated beef wasn’t good, it was just that flavor of the beef was trimmed down because of the marinade. However, the saltiness that touches your tongue upon eating these beef skewers brought me back to eating in a Brazilian Churrascaria. The meat was very tender and every bite brings out the intoxicating flavors of the meat which any good meat enthusiast should know. This got me excited about the opening of Rodizio, Crowne Plaza’s Brazilian Churrascaria, in a couple of weeks so I can compare it with the other Churrascaria in Doha, Ipanema at West End Doha. If the beef skewers served last night were a taste of what is to come, we’d have a battle of Churrascarias in Doha!
Still wanting to try out the other main courses, Mavis and I got ourselves a sampling of the Fish Curry, the Turkey in gravy, Stir-Fried Shrimps, and Beef Meatballs. The meatballs were good. Nothing too fancy about them but still good. The Turkey was great as the meat was not dry and the gravy wasn’t overpowering the flavor of the meat itself. The Shrimp dish had more of an Asia-stir fry, mildly Mediterranean taste. The shrimps were tender and not overcooked. Again, the sauce it had was complementary to the taste of the shrimps and doesn’t hide their savoury flavor. The most surprising was the Fish Curry. The curry was sweet but wasn’t close to other Indian-spiced curries or Japanese-inspired curries I’ve had before. The curry sauce itself was to die for. What made it even better was that the fish wasn’t enveloped with the curry taste and was probably only added after the curry was cooked and ready so you get that clear taste and flakiness of fresh fish, enhanced by the balanced sweetness and spiciness of the curry. It would be perfect partner to some Nan bread or white rice.
Xiane is a picky eater and stays loyal to home-made meals we cook but she finished more than half of the pizza that she ordered along with the vegetables and turkey she got. By the way, the pizza filled a whole plate so finishing half of it is more than enough for her.
However, she indulged herself with the desserts. She had a plateful of various pies, cakes and her favorite was the Chocolate Mousse, which she had 4! We do agree as the mousse was yummy. I enjoyed the Mango and Mousse Cake as well while Mavis had praises for the Chocolate Swiss Roll.
We enjoyed the food at Aramede – Crowne Plaza Doha – The Business Park and would definitely go back there. Service was impeccable and the Manager and Assistant Manager were visible and helpful. Since it’s new in town, the place wasn’t filled when we arrived at about 7 PM but more people came past 8. Aramede caters to several food interests you might have and as for us, it didn’t disappoint in any way.
*Note - Sorry for the quality of the photos as I wasn't able to bring "THE" camera and had to make do with Mavis' Galaxy Note. Probably when we come back, we'd have better photos for you.
I’ve been interested at trading US stocks ever since the news broke out that GOOGLE (GOOG) is preparing for its IPO. That was in 2000. I didn’t really know much about trading then but I knew that Google is where people should bet their money at. Google offered USD $100 per stock and today Google is trading above USD $700 per stock. Wow. That’s a nice 700% increase of your invested money if you haven’t sold/bought their stocks in between. In comparison to a bank interest, you would have earned a measly .25% – .50% per year that. But playing the stock market is like betting, informed and calculated betting. It may not be for you as there are risks, big risks, involved. I know people who have lost more than what they want to loose in stock trading. The Facebook (FB) IPO got me interested with stock trading again and told myself not to just stand a watch this time.
In any case, this post is about opening an account from a US-based Brokerage firm if you are in Qatar and how to buy US Stocks from Qatar.
In my case, I chose to open an account with TDAmeritrade. I went with TDAmeritrade because it was easier to open an account with them and they only charge $10 per online transaction. They also provided great support when I inquired about opening an account from Qatar. There is also no yearly management fee o maintenance fee.
TDAmeritrade lets you apply online to fill the Application Form and print out. Eventually, you need to send the Application Form by Postal Mail for processing. Yes, you would need to send paper documents from Qatar to their US offices for them to process the papers.
Open a TDAmeritrade account from Qatar:
You can start your online application by clicking this:
Gather other required documents:
Aside from the application form, there are other documents you need to submit along with the printed Application form:
- 3 months Bank statement indicating the same name and mailing address on your TDAmeritrade Application form, stamped/signed by the bank. This is important so make sure that the details match.
- As you are international client, you should also submit the IRS-W-8 BEN form.
- Passport Copy
IRS Form W-8BEN
Use Form W-8BEN to certify that the beneficial owner is not a US taxpayer.
IRS Instructions for Form W-8BEN
Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding.
*Note on IRS-W8 BEN
If you are not a permanent U.S. resident, you must complete the IRS W-8 BEN form, which can be found in the Forms & Agreements section under Client Services, in order to open an account. TD Ameritrade is required to have this tax form on file for each non-U.S. resident client. You will need to include a complete copy of your current passport. If you have a U.S. home or mailing address, you must include a signed letter of instruction that explains why you claim non-resident alien status but have a U.S. address.
- If you are a legal resident alien of the United States or Puerto Rico, you are not considered an international client and do not have to fill out a W-8 BEN form.
- All international clients must fund their accounts by depositing checks drawn on U.S. banks.
- TD Ameritrade does not accept transfer of options or stocks that trade exclusively on foreign exchanges.
Submit all required Document to TDAmeritrade
Send your new account documentation via regular or overnight mail, or by fax.
PO Box 2760
Omaha, NE 68103-2760
From Qatar, it might take a week or so before they are received and processed by TDAmeritrade. You would receive an email like so:
Congratulations on opening your new account and welcome to TD AMERITRADE. Now you’re ready for the next step – funding your account.
That’s it! You now have a US-Based Brokerage firm in which you can buy US stocks from Qatar.
Next article would be about funding your account as even if you have a TDAmeritrade account, you need some moolah on your account so you can buy US Stocks from Qatar.
By the way, send me your email address if you need a referral 😉
Expectations about the reopening of Villaggio mall before Eid Al Fitr has increased after several announcements made about events to be held at the mall during the holidays, although there is no official announcement yet.
Since its closure due to the fatal fire accident on May 28, Cineco has released the film screening schedule for Villaggio cinema commencing today. The schedule is released every week from Thursday to Wednesday.
The cinema is scheduled to show ‘The Dark Night Rises,’ ‘The Expendables 2, Back for War,’ ‘Tita Rahiba,’ ‘Brave’ and ‘Step Up Revolution.’
Qatar Tourism Authority in its formal announcement for activities to celebrate Eid Al Fitr next week has mentioned Villaggio as a participating mall. This too has raised more expectations about the shopping mall’s reopening, as its management early this moth said that Villaggio has undergone renovations to meet security and safety requirements of the government and is now set to re-open before the Eid celebrations and expressed the mall’s keenness to participate in the festival.
Among the eight entrances to the shopping facility with 220 outlets, gate No.1, 2 and the VIP zone are expected to re-open on the first phase, which would allow the cinema, Gondolania Theme Park, departmental store and several other outlets to re-open for business. Other areas will remain closed especially gate No. 3 and 4 which was affected by the fire.
“The area affected by the fire between gate 2 and gate 3 has been covered. Employees of outlets in the remaining areas are now engaged in different kinds of work,” said a manager of a leading outlet inside the Villaggio shopping mall.
“Many outlets have begun to receive new stocks, although we have not been officially informed about the mall’s re-opening,” he further said.
The fire broke out in the Villaggio Mall on May 28 and as the fire engulfed the Gympanzee nursery, the entrances to the nursery became blocked by smoke, trapping 13 children and four staff inside. Firefighters from the Civil Defence force were forced to make an opening in the roof of the mall to attempt a rescue. Along with the 17 trapped in the nursery, two firefighters were also killed.
The committee appointed to investigate the fire accident revealed that an electrical fault at the Nike store as the cause of the deadly fire. It also found that all parties concerned had lacked adherence in varying degrees to related laws, systems and safety measures.