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Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport opens. Wow?

The exclusive Emirates Airline terminal of Dubai International Airport opened its doors yesterday. The airline projects catering to 40 million passengers annually, so an exclusive terminal was a necessity.

With all the crazy developments in Dubai over the last few years, each one outdoing the other, it's hard to maintain wow factor. Nevertheless, the new airport wing has been fussed about a lot, so here are the details.

According to an article in Gulf News's Xpress: At a price of $4.5 billion, the terminal has taken 10 million cubic meters of soil (enough to fill 4,000 swimming pools), 33,000 tonnes of structural steel, and 450 tonnes of reinforcement to put the terminal together. It has 157 lifts, 97 escalators, 82 moving walkways and 27 truck lifts and eight "Sky Trains" that can handle 47 people each. Also, 8000 square meters of retail space has been added to the already existing 7000 square meters of the Dubai Duty Free shopping area.

This is the first phase of the 4-phase terminal that begins by operating 40 flights a day. When phase 4 opens in 2011, 269 flights are expected to depart from this terminal daily.

It has 30 self-check-in counters alongside 126 traditional check-in stations. Rumor is that you will even be able to check in from the terminal's car park!

Dubai International Airport currently handles 40 million passengers a year; this new terminal increases its capacity enough to accommodate the movement of another 20 million passengers annually.

Gulf News has done a video walk through of this new wing which you can see here. You will not be surprised to see that it looks more like a high-tech 5-star hotel.

Photo of the Day (10.13.08)

I generally love pictures with bright colors and with shadows -- I think shadows of any sort add novelty and uniqueness to the way the picture has been taken. This photo taken by flickr user bedouin77 in Tuvkhum, Mongolia, has the best of both these aspects which is why it caught my eye and kept my attention.

I'd also never heard of Tuvkhum. Googling didn't bring out much info (can you believe it!?), but looks like it's a region in Mongolia that is also called Tuv Aimag and Tuv Khan.

Think you have a great travel shot? Submit it here to be considered for Photo of the Day.

Pilots arrested for public intoxication and "mooning"

Two Trans States Airline pilots recently got arrested for being drunk and indecent in public. Trans States Airlines is regional feeder airline for United Airlines, US Airways, and American Airlines.

The "mooner" Jeffrey Leon Saltis, and his co-pilot Michael Cody Etzel, were arrested after being belligerent in a Mexican restaurant in Alcoa, where they were refused more alcohol. Both were detained and the airline for which they were to fly was informed; the airline is investigating what happened. There are no further updates yet.

There are two counts on which this story is just pathetic:
1) The two pilots arrested for public intoxication had flights the next morning. I'm assuming that there is some form of breath test for pilots before they fly? The rule is that they cannot consume alcohol 8 hours before flying, but how can that be checked? And, if you had a lot to drink, 8 hours later you'd still be hungover -- that's no better than being drunk. A scary thought, eh?

2) The pilot who pulled his pants down and "mooned" motorists on the highway is 43 years old! I really want to believe that men reach a wonderful level of maturity post 40 (if not post 35), but that notion keeps getting axed.

Oh well. I suppose I could live if the airlines just sorted out the way they dealt with the imbeciles they have in important positions.

Photo of the Day (10.06.08)

Being an Indian, it's images like this I take for granted. Scenes like this are so common place in India that being from there, it's easy to walk by and not appreciate them. So, captured in a colorful picture like this makes me stop and take it in. Taken by user Arunchs, this photo is of Hindu Goddess Durga and...well, I'm not quite sure who the other two idols represent. Don't miss the stuffed lion in the midst of it all. A very real shot that is as unique as it is common, which is why I like it.

Do you have a great shot? Submit it to the Gadling Flickr pool to be considered for Photo of the Day.

So is Steve Fossett dead or alive?

A few days ago, $1000, a sweater, an ID card and a pilot's license -- both with Steve Fossett's name on them -- were found in a bush west of Mammoth lakes, in eastern California's Inyo national forest. Authorities are investigating the items as well as the entire area in a 10-mile radius.

Millionaire adventurer and world-record breaker Steve Fossett disappeared on the 3rd of September 2007. On this date, he took off in a single-engine plane from Nevada to head to California, but has not been seen, or heard from ever since. On his disappearance, a 20,000 mile area was searched in aim to find Fossett -- probably one of the most intensive hunts in US history. Although his body has not been found, nor has any plane wreckage, in February of 2008, his wife had him declared dead. I don't know how the law works here, but surely there must be a minimum time before which you cannot declare someone dead if missing, no? In this case, he wasn't even given 6 months.

So what if he's alive? Well, that hasn't been ruled out. Fossett's story resulted in the concoction of many conspiracy theories saying that he might have faked his own death. News reports concluded that Fossett was leading a double life before he vanished and rumors were that he had a few mistresses and that he had made some horrendous investment decisions -- enough to keep the theories alive. Oh how boring life would be without juicy rumors and conspiracy theories!

Other than some snippets of negative publicity, Fossett's adventurous feats have been an inspiration to many; we at Gadling have often covered his challenges. He was the first person to fly around the world solo in a balloon, and the first person to fly around the world in a plane without refueling it. He has a total of 115 records in aviation, gliding, ballooning, sailing, boating, mountaineering, skiing, triathlon, and even dog-sledding.

Perhaps this new evidence will help get some closure to this case. Or perhaps it will stir up an entire new trail of investigation.

Photo of the Day (9/29/08)

I love the perspective of this photo taken by Flickr user lecercle, in Palolem Beach in South Goa. It's amazing how your eye can define the way other people see an image; it's such photos that make me want to take up photography more seriously. The silhouettes of the cows, the water, and the sky of this photo, all complement each other wonderfully.

Do you have an excellent shot from your travels? Submit it to our Gadling flickr pool to be considered for Photo of the Day.

Learn a new language, and the Silbo Gomero

I recently had the opportunity of meeting the co-founder of a new language-learning website called "Busuu". Busuu is a language on the verge of extinction; apparently today it's spoken by only 8 people in Cameroon. Other than that cool snippet of information, I didn't pay much attention to the website until I got an email saying that it will teach you how to do the whistle "Gomero", i.e. the Silbo Gomero.

The Silbo Gomero is a whistle that is (was?) used to communicate in Gomero, in the Canary Islands. People who know this language can communicate full sentences through this whistle, and since it can be heard up to a distance of 8 kilometers, it used to be an extremely useful way of communicating across the deep alleys and mountains of the island.(Voice can only travel 200 meters). It used to be a recognised language, but now since there are few people who can whistle this way and it's not an easy whistle to learn, this "language" faces the threat of extinction.

Busuu aims to help preserve such languages that are under threat of disappearing, and their proactiveness towards trying to help users understand and learn this whistle is commendable. The fact that you are far from learning the whistle after looking at their material is a different point, but if they are planning to expand on such efforts, this is a great start. Here you can check out a great video they did that explores the hows and whats of this Silbo Gomero.

Wheelchair on plane explodes on landing

Having the battery of an electronic item you take on board a flight, short-circuit and then burst into flames, doesn't even come to your mind when you think about plane accidents.

Earlier this month, a wheelchair stored in the hold of a Boeing 727-200 First Choice flight carrying 229 passengers, let out blue sparks while being offloaded from the plane. The minute it was placed on a vehicle to be transported at Manchester Airport, it caught fire and exploded. Luckily, no one was injured. Thank goodness it didn't happen on the plane. A similar incident happened in February last year, where a fire started aboard a plane because a camera battery short-circuited while in the overhead compartment.

The articles about this incident talk about passengers needing to be more vigilant when taking items on board. True, but I also think it's the ground staff's responsibility to fiercely spread awareness of things like this, and make their check-in and boarding procedures more stringent. Although the exact cause of the accident has not yet been found, assuming it was a short-circuit, it could have been avoided by making sure the battery was fixed properly and that there was no way for it to switch on automatically while in storage.

Photo of the Day (09/22/08)

I love the haunting and historic air of this picture. Shot by user Styggiti, it is a photo of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. It looks like something out of a story book and also reminds me of the Bavarian castle in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It's magical yet very real; makes me want to go!

Want your shot considered for Photo of the Day? Submit your photos here.

Is there hope for Dubai's traffic problem?

Other than my occasional rant here at Gadling, we almost always talk about Dubai's mind-blowing developments. As much as I think that Dubai's growth, development, and all-round vision is extraordinary, I can't help but wonder: how, in this extended planning phase, authorities forgot to include the development of public transport.

Other than a poor bus system, the 2.2 million residents of Dubai depend on their cars and taxis to get from one point to another. The result? Dreadful and excruciating traffic jams at peak hours.

Dubai has already begun constructing a fully-automated under-and-above ground metro system (which at the moment has worsened the traffic situation because of the dug-up roads), but until then, their solution to the horrendous traffic problem is the addition of automatic toll gates (called Salik) on main roads across the city, that charge $1.10 (Dhs.4) every time you drive through them. This system started last year, and this month, phase two of the Salik system has begun. The hope is that this will reduce the traffic on certain roads at certain times, but this picture shows what is happening instead.*New addition: Seems like this is actually Moscow, not Dubai, as pointed out by nzm in the comments. Oops. However, this could totally be Dubai, as also pointed out by nzm.)

Yes, yikes.

Along with the increased cost of living in Dubai, Salik will certainly be pinching many pockets, however, the long term plan makes sense. The way the system works, you can be charged up to $6.5 (Dhs.24) a day passing through these gates. This way, the Dubai RTA plans to generate about $11 billion over a 3 year period, with which 500km of roads will be constructed, and traffic will flow freely again. I really, really hope so, especially because I might be moving back there soon.

[Thanks to BuJassem at UAE Community blog for the picture]

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