Monday, February 18, 2008

Catch 22 with the GSM network

Every time I try to use my mobile phone I get a recorded voice in Arabic and I can't progress. Sending a text, a message comes back "message blocked".

For a long time I believed that this was due to network congestion and so I blamed the local mobile operator. Eventually the correct reason occurred to me: I had transgressed my £140 credit limit. I called customer services and paid £100 into my account from my credit card. "Wait half an hour," she said "turn your phone off and then on again. You'll be fine."

Did that, and made a trial call. The Arabic lady came on the line again and this time I hung on. The recorded announcement eventually finished and was replaced by an English voice telling me my ability to make outbound calls had been suspended. I should call 155 to get unblocked.

Fine. I called 155. A familiar recorded female Arabic voice responded ...

I get mixed reports about how well Skype works here - definitely time to move on that, though. I'll pop round to the local Mall of the Emirates and buy a cheap call-centre style headset. The challenge is to persuade someone as technophobic as Clare to install Skype on the home machine. I knew I should have set all this up before I left.

I hear that in England right now it's freezing. Well folks, it's a little humid, but otherwise I would say that here in Dubai we're on the right side of 20 degrees and of course it's sunny. Feels like June in fact.