The man who fell to earth

The man who fell to earth left our planet today and we are a worse place for his early departure.

A man who explored so many Changes, whether as a Space Oddity, questioning life on Mars, re-branding as Ziggy Stardust or having fun with his China Girl, David Bowie was always a musical genius.

David Bowie was just 69. His 25th album was released to wide acclaim last week on his birthday. He must have known he had just a short time left. It was a well kept secret.

As a teenager in Nigeria the party song was Life on Mars. I saw him live at Wembley Arena shortly after the release of Lets Dance. Maybe 1986 or 1987. We were in the second row. He was spell-binding.

His music helped to define my generation. But he will be remembered for generations.

There are many tributes – here is one from Reuters:

David Bowie, musical legend behind Ziggy Stardust, dies at 69 from cancer

And thirty essential Bowie songs from Rolling Stone magazine:

David Bowie: 30 Essential Songs

Dubai’s Address Downtown hotel fire

Dubai once again caught the attention of the world at the new year but not in the way that the city had hoped.

Some three hours before the midnight fireworks at the Burj Khalifa a serious fire broke out in the adjacent Address Downtown hotel.

The fire spread quickly as it lit up the night sky. It appears that the use of non fore-resistant cladding on the building facade meant that the fire engulfed the front of the building.

It was New Year’s Eve. Bars and restaurants were packed. People had booked parties in hotel rooms to see the fireworks.

Miraculously – given how serious the fire appeared – hotel staff and rescue services evacuated the hotel with by all accounts just 15 minor injuries to guests and staff. No fatalities were reported.

Debris from the building blew onto surrounding grounds and rooftops. But no other fires started and the fore at the Address could be contained. It was however still burning in places the following morning.

The authorities took a decision to continue with the fireworks from the Burj. Although fireworks on adjacent buildings were not released. No explanation was given of the reason to proceed while the hotel burned in the background.

Were the authorities certain that there were no casualties; that everyone had been evacuated.

Were the authorities certain that it was better to proceed rather than cancel the fireworks and leave hundreds of thousands of people wandering downtown and perhaps hindering the rescue and recovery work.

What was clear is that some of the official PR was inappropriate. Auto tweets has been set to post after midnight. There was no thought that anything could go wrong.

This was typical: Dubai Media Office @DXBMediaOffice #MyDubaiNewYear … Burj Khalifa kicks breath-taking firework show

The Editor of the Gulf News: Abdul Hamid Ahmad @AbdulHamidAhmad The show goes on and Dubai surprises the world #MyDubaiNewYear

The trouble was we had no idea if people were still trapped in the burning building….or indeed whether the fire would spread.

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This is a timelapse taken that evening – it looks like it was after the midnight fireworks:

Huge Fire at The Address Downtown Dubai Luxury Hotel timelapse

The hotel will be rebuilt. But the wider issue is just how safe are Dubai’s tall towers – fire resistant cladding was only required by law after 2012.

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