31 December, 2005

The Friday Blog Bites - Emirates Today

Secret Dubai on the cabbies. Dubai Sunshine on the TV. Secret Arabian on the stupity of everyone else. An Emirati's Thoughts on books. Dubai Bigus on Christmas Dubai style.

Cinemas in general

I keep hearing that people want mobile phones banned in cinemas. All because some stupid feckers cannot keep theirs on silent, now we all have to pay.

Now they don't want kids in the cinema either (ok, I know....depends upon the rating), but after what they have access to on satellite tv, then I wouldnt worry too much, and anyway it is the parents choice.

So here we have it, no phones in the cinema and no kids either (so we cannot receive calls in case of emergencies ....kids stuff I mean).

WHAT A LOAD OF MOANERS.

30 December, 2005

censorship and movie ratings

If any of you have any interesting opinions about whose responsibility it is for content at movies, general censorship / movie ratings / proxy ramblings, whether they should be censored to 3 minutes and 30 seconds, head over here and please comment, i'm interested to read.

28 December, 2005

writers call

Please, Please, Please, if you have a story to tell, then write it down and send it to me.

I am looking for Gulf writers, especially, citizens or anyone who grew up in the Gulf who can tell their stories about growing up here.

Your audience is the children of the Gulf. A sort of by Al Khaleeji for Al Khaleej.

Send your queries to me at azucena@columnist.com

27 December, 2005

The exceedingly handsome Ibn Battuta

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com

.il .il.il.illin.

A very interesting article here.

CAIRO, Egypt Dec 26, 2005 — Staff members at a Riyadh hospital got a surprise when they looked at the fine print on the paper cups they were using. Workers in a storeroom at a Dubai hospital were similarly shocked when they took a close look at the tags on a large shipment of uniforms, towels and sheets.

The labels said "Made in Israel," according to recent newspaper reports from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which have laws that ban imports from the Jewish state.

25 December, 2005

Bloggers on the Beeb

Anybody got a copy of the BBC World Middle East Business Report interview with some Emirati bloggers?

Happy Christmas!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

24 December, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing all the members here a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for the New Year! See you all in 2006!

POCKET PC DUBAI - Forum for Mobility Enthusiasts

POCKET PC DUBAI

Meet Mobility Enthusiasts who love technology on the move

http://pocketpcdubai.com/index.htm

Get the Free UAE Web of Life PDF Guide
Email orbrary@gmail.com

23 December, 2005

more humour.

if you didn't think yesterdays KT was funnay enough, then today you will be rolling on the floor in laughter. IMHO, KT is now officialy up there with eddie murphy's delirious, and raw, they rocked, but this is just funny in an entirely different way.

read entire article here

"I admit it is a serious problem and we have to find a solution. However, punishing girls with such abnormal sexual tendencies is not the solution. Lesbianism is a disease and it needs to be treated medically or through therapies and counselling and even by discussing the problem, but I do not agree that such an issue be discussed so openly like in the West where it is not considered a social problem. Both female and male homosexuality has found social acceptance in the West, but it cannot find such acceptance in the Islamic countries," she said, hoping the authorities will deal with the problem more carefully.


and another opinion from some other dude.
He refuted the suggestion that segregation of boys and girls from an early age in schools and in social gatherings in the UAE resulted in this problem. "Segregation is not the issue in the western countries, but such trend continues to prevail there." he said.

golden. absolutely golden.

The publishing crisis in the Arab world

Al-Ahram Weekly Culture In pursuit of the reader

Quote:
The 24th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) threw into relief the publishing crisis in the Arab world. . . .

Adnan Salem, publisher of the Lebanese Dar Al-Fikr, also complains about low sales figures. In his view, the real problem is a lack of interest in reading among Arabs. "Even if you provide books for next to nothing, people would not read them if they do not have an interest in reading. The popular book series Iqra', published in the 1960s by Dar Al-Maaref in Egypt, was very successful; but the series was discontinued two or three decades ago for lack of people interested in reading."
. . .
Said Al-Barghouti, a translator, asserted that there is an undeniable crisis in translation in the Arab world. "For example," he said, "Israel translates annually more than what all Arab countries put together translate in a given year." He attributes this crisis to the limited resources of publishing houses and the absence of a vision or integrated policy of translation.
. . .
Omar Abdel-Aziz, an official from the Culture and Information Sector of Sharjah, pointed out to the need of an Arab search engine. "Arab researchers resort to Google and Yahoo, which cater for foreign choices, so there is limited Arab data available on the net. Investment in this field is essential."
Emphasis added.

22 December, 2005

Dubai Marina


A few shots from a picturesque day.

a most interesting article.

Lesbianism makes its way to varsity dorms

to quote from the article;
"The UAE is an open society with technology having invaded our homes through hundreds of television channels beaming from across the globe, mobile phones, through the Internet, etc. It is bound to have its impact on our children,” Dr Amina Al Marzouki, Student Affairs Dean at the UoS, told your Khaleej Times."
(interesting she was talking on a radio station, i thought smoke signals would've been more in sync with her "message")

"A student, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, "Only recently, I saw two women students kissing each other behind the dorms. They behaved like a man and woman in love."

Commenting on whether a close watch will be maintained on the students at UoS in the future to control the problem, she said the security at the university and other institutions at the University City has been beefed up and if anyone found indulging in such abnormal behaviour, they will be dealt with by the university's disciplinary committees.

Another student who also spoke on condition of anonymity said, "There are many female students who behave like men on the campus. They sport short hair, no makeup, and do not wear a sheila. Their mannerisms resemble that of men and appear to be physically tough,". she said, disclosing that they remain weary of such students who approach pretty female students and ask them for a kiss.

again usage of "sheila"

read the entire article, i pray you do, i haven't been able to stop laughing for the past 10 minutes after reading that article. thank you KT, you are so funnay.

MORE: Elton John 'wedding' causes stir in UAE

FOLLOWUP: Mixed reactions on KT's report on lesbians. Injections and sex education are mentioned. By the same doctor. Role of segregated schooling doubted. Read the whole thing.

Cinemas told to pay 10% civic fee on ticket sale

Gulfnews: Cinemas told to pay 10% civic fee on ticket sale

It's not a tax of course.

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

21 December, 2005

Google News - "emirates" sorted by date

One of my sources of news is Google News. A few times a day I do this search - on just the word emirates sorted by date.

As I write this the first two stories are:

1. Dubai Prince Builds City in Saudi Arabia

2. Saudi investors prefer UAE

Did you know that the actions of informed investors are revealing?

Can Your Blog be used Against You?

WXP News Dec 20 05

http://www.wxpnews.com/?id=207

EDITOR'S CORNER

Can Your Blog be used Against You?

Blogging is all the rage these days; it seems as if everybody who's anybody has one (or several). A blog, or Web log, functions as a high-tech version of a long-time tradition, the personal journal. It's a chronological record of one's thoughts, comments, opinions, or whatever else you want to write about that day. MSN, Google, Blogger.com and many other services provide free blogging space to anyone who wants to sign up.

Some blogs are information-oriented, such as the many tech blogs posted by IT professionals to share tips and how-to's about computer topics. Some are more editorial in nature, such as the many blogs that exist to promote the authors' political opinions and commentary. Others have more of a "dear diary" tone, relating intimate details of the authors' lives and feelings.

Some blogs are highly publicized. Celebrities such as Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame, singer Barbra Streisand and columnist Dave Barry are high profile bloggers. But millions of "regular old people" also have blogs (estimates of the number of blogs online range from 10 million to 60 million or more world-wide). Note, however, that millions of blogs are started and then abandoned within weeks or months. The number of currently active blogs (those to which the author is posting regularly) is much lower.

Click here for the rest of the article.

----------
EDIT by secretdubai - article abridged and links converted, for easier reading ;)

DNA Diagnostics

According to a 7DAYS report, the UAE government is soon going to compile a DNA database of all national and expatriate residents in the country.
He added that a person’s DNA data would then be included on their ID cards – the mandatory cards are set to be introduced next year for both UAE nationals and expats and will also include other biometric information such as fingerprints.
So this means that I have to be extra careful not to lose this ID card. In the wrong hands, I can only shudder to think what may happen. Who does the thinking for the government?
Similar attempts to build a DNA database in the United Kingdom and the United States have triggered waves of criticism from civil liberties groups who fear the information would compromise individuals’ privacy and pave the way for a “police state”.
So? What have you learnt?

Google Zeitgeist


Katrina? The Tsunami? The Force? These are some of the keywords that people have been entering in the search box at Google in the [almost] past year. The digest or better known as the Zeitgeist has just been released and it contains the top searches made using the Google search engine.

20 December, 2005

FU Mr Kipling, TU samuraisam

Thanks to samuraisam's rapid Googling skills, Mr Kipling's Exceedingly Mass Produced mince pies can stay in the supermarket this year, as Ainsley Harriot steps in:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It is unlikely they will survive till morning.

19 December, 2005

SZR

oh SZR, how i love thee.
I think all the tourists that praise dubai haven't been for a good walk down SZR, today i experienced it myself, i wasn't bothered enough to stop and photograph the mounds of scaffolding, or the pieces of sand that remain in my eye; however i shall treat you all to some 'teh-funnay' material.



Yes, thats right, you read it correctly; "Cook Door, Like Never Before", i never knew doors could be so tasty.

mmm, viagra sandwhich.......

Just incase the little people were scared away by the rule-enforcing shisha serving gentleman, then of course, this sign should scare all away.

Also, unfortunately it appears as if the quality of graffiti has still not improved in the 3 months i have been away.

Good thing Oasis centre "burnt down", or

...I would now be rushing there to buy about a million of these:

Recommend a bank

I have been trying to open a bank account for quite some time now but I manage to find faults in each and every bank I enter. Which bank have you people used and would recommend?

My requirements for an account are fairly simple. I just need an account where I can deposit money with no intention of taking interest. A check book is required (I am not paying extra for it). A credit card is a perk by not necessary. I am looking for a bank that doesn't have lengthy procedures for opening a bank account. I also don't mind maintaining a minimum balance of up to AED5,000. Any bank that provides no-nonsense services?

Wikipedia

I don't know if anyone else has been following the recent dust up about Wikipedia, but I have a little and it made me curious. I have looked things up in it before, but always taken it with a fairly large grain of salt. But I did learn about the death of Sheikh Zayed on it just a couple of hours after it was announced.

Anyway, at least one UAE blogger, Secret Dubai, is in it, though not as an independent entry, but as part of the Etisalat page. (I should note that I made a couple of small edits and amplifications to the page, but I'm not the one responsible for creating the page or mentioning the blocked bloggers.)

Don't tell me

I miss being a kid. When you were a kid your mum combed your hair, gave you a great breakfast in the morning, and hugs were an essential part of your day. We would roll around in the grass and sand, fall down in the dirt and still be laughing, and put uneaten chocolate bars in our pant pockets for snacking upon later. We would laugh at Tom & Jerry, cry over Bambi, and share chocolate sandwiches with our best friends during recess. We would wonder why adults were so worried about growing old, and we never thought twice about asking God for a little help every now and then. We could memorize the names of the other 29 kids in our class without browsing through our cell phone's address book. We would bound up 4 flights of stairs and still be breathing normally. We could stand big eyed and teary in the middle of a store and someone would come pick us up and help us find our parents. We were kings and queens in our childhood and we never knew it.

Baking powder is my new enemy in the kitchen. Having forgotten to add 1 tablespoon of it to my Christmas fruit cake batter, my gloriously rich Christmas cake has come out as a Christmas pudding. My mother is freaking out...she thinks it's been poisoned or cannot be eaten. My simple solution is to serve a slice on a small plate, pour brandy over it, and flambe it at the table, whilst at the same time giving it some exotic name so that no one notices it's actually totally messed up Christmas cake. Or does anyone else have any better ideas?

Cheers!

P.S A big thank you for welcoming me to the blog :)

BBC NEWS: Dubai defies the pessimists

Link: BBC NEWS: Dubai defies the pessimists

Gulfnews: Missing journalists raise eyebrows

Chilton proposes re-education with focus on courses in logic

Gulfnews: Missing journalists raise eyebrows

One journalist is quoted as saying: "More journalists would have covered the summit had it been in another GCC capital, but the proximity to Dubai made it difficult for them to stay because they will get nothing at the end of it."

'Difficult'? I suppose so if you lack willpower. More likely the journalists weighed the costs and benefits and decided it was in their best interest to bolt to Dubai rather stay in Abu Dhabi. If all the GCC gives them access to is handouts and statements, and not newsmakers, then they can file their report from anywhere.

Reaction to the new layout

OK - so we're getting a majority positive reaction to the new look, but a few people aren't happy.

Those that answered "Nope" - could you give feedback as to what you think still needs improvement?

Likewise, those that answered "Love it" - could you specify what you love about it?

Such as:
- colours
- layout
- content
- fonts
- pictures

This place is an ongoing work and aims to be as democratic as possible, so please let's get as much feedback as we can!

(If anyone is too shy to critcise - or praise - by name, then please feel free to do it as Anon).

18 December, 2005

Overwhelmed - Dubai Bloggers Meet @ Dome Cafe, Burjuman

  • "We had crime reporters, graphic designers, IT dudes, journalists, game developer, Mech Engineers in our midst, nationality being Indians, Sudan and Serbia!" - Godolphin (read more)
  • "it rocked!" - Maya (read more)
  • "One fine evening, we met by the side of a busy road, a bunch of bloggers, bubbling with enthusiasm and positive energy." - The Backpacker (read more)
  • "Looking forward to the next ones, with a further anticipated exponential growth in the number of attendees in 2006" - AmitL (read more)
  • "It was fun, at last I had the faces and names of the so far unknown." - KJ (read more)

Whoa! Now that was some meet!
The enthusiasm with wich all the bloggers and non bloggers attended the meet was amazing. Everyone got along like a house on fire!
Thank you everyone for making it such a success!!

The attendees were...
Bloggers
Non Bloggers
  • The Crime Reporter (important to keep his identity secret!)
  • Divya (KJ's lovely daughter)
  • KJ's husband
  • Naveen
  • Shiva (who started his blog after the meet)
Here are some pics from the meet...














































We hope to see more bloggers at the coming meets!
Check Dubai Bloggers Meet blog for updates!

dubai bloggers meet and more

Hi,

some of the bloggers out here met up at dome, burjuman...

chek http://desertdreamz.blogspot.com

and also, a longish post on how a dj misbehaved!

ROYALTY STRUCK

OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD!
Sorry I sound like a total nut.
But I was just in Carre4 with the kids, and there I was putting apples in a bag.
I turned and almost banged into someone and was about to say something when I looked up and saw 5-6 local men in a little group in front of me.
There in the middle was HH Sheikh Maktoum.
I was zapped speechless. I did so want to say SALAM ALEIKUM, but having no idea whatsoever of ROYAL PROTOCOL, just shuffled quietly to the side and stared awed and totally dazed.
Of all the places in the UAE. WOW!

Title banner competition!

The challenge: to create a suitable banner for UAE community blog.

The prize: one premium NeoCounter for 12 months

The small print: if all the entries are rubbish, no one wins ;)

Ladies and Gentlemen: The New Look

There you have it. A small discussion about translation flags led to this domino effect. Secret Dubai and myself give you the new look of UAE community blog. There are too many changes to list out here so the best way is to explore.

Tip: Clear your cache or press CTRL+F5 to ensure you are viewing the latest copy of the page.

Rants and raves welcome!

Fellow Bloggers' Opinions Sought...

Some people have Google or other ads which are automatically generated on their sites. Presumably it provides some revenue. I have been asked by a local business to place an ad for them on my blog. Of course it would be nice to earn something, as long as the ad isn't too intrusive. But how much do I charge for the ad? I have no idea. Any fellow bloggers have any experience with or opinions on this?

Telco to Sue Customers - Sarcasm

A leading UAE Telco has initiated class action law suite against customers it alleges to have engaged in activities undermining its monopoly status and is seeking billions of Dirham as compensation.

The Telco claims that a substantial number of customers have steadily reduced the amount due on their monthly bill by intentionally reducing the usage on the services provided by the Telco ; which is deemed as an act of high level sabotage to the operation of the Telco by its top executives.

The Telco is worried that such action may yet lead to an even more worrisome conclusion in the form of what may become a rival Telco. The executives that prefer to remain unnamed believe that customers have crossed the line for the last time and will not tolerate such arm twisting and bullying anymore.

The said customers were not available for commentary and didn’t answer requests for interviews.

17 December, 2005

The Muscatis: Fast another day?

The Muscatis: Fast another day?

One of my favorite regional blogs is The Muscatis. It's well written with a refreshing blend of honesty and optimism, wisdom and innocence. I learn something with every post.

Changes Are Afoot...

Traffic is such a hot button issue here. There are real issues, but people seem to complain too much. Today's Gulf News reports a 5th lane being added to SZR. If you ask me the municipality is doing a lot to keep up with the unprecedented growth of the city. So many new flyovers, many lane additions, some brand new highways... In addition new bridges, tunnels and various rail systems in the works. What more can people ask? Dubai's commuters seem to want overnight improvements. In other countries, even in the developed West, people often have to wait years for decisions to be made on new infrastructure, much less getting them built. Leave Dubai today and come back one year later and you'll be amazed at how many infrastructure improvements will have come online.

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who had participated with us in the Launch of www.iopBlogs.com.

The launch was so successful thanks to the UAE bloggers. Now we are running aggregators for 5 Countries!

Ofcourse like most of you know, UAE was our first country and the largest aggregator so far with over 30 Blogs and counting.

Egypt, South Africa, New Zealand and Jordan are our latest additions. and we will be adding more countries as soon as we get enough submissions.. so tell your friends from all over the world.

if you haven't submitted your Blog yet.. please do so here.

Thank you!

16 December, 2005

is it REALLY visible from space?

Is the palm island really visible from space?
Be your own judge (Image courtesy of MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA/GSFC)


(photos from NASA website, click the thumbnail for a larger version, beware its over 3000 pixels wide iirc)


in my opinion, not without a good pair of binoculars.

This is a pretty interesting project by the way, i suggest everyone to take a look at it to see what the climate could be like in the UAE in a few years time:
Recent reports and various satellite data show that the Arabian Gulf region is one of the largest confluences of aerosol types in the world. Emissions, smoke transported from the Indian subcontinent, and natural dust episodes result in a unique aerosol laboratory. To further complicate the intricate consortium of aerosols in this region, the Arabian Gulf also has an exceedingly complex meteorology which include variable sea surface temperatures, enormous latent heat fluxes, strong land sea gradients, and strong mesoscale circulations. These factors combined make the Arabian Gulf a challenge to our models and satellite sensors to carry out environmental monitoring. NASA, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Department of Water Resources Studies, and 20 other US and foreign research laboratories have embarked on a measurement campaign, Unified Aerosol Experiment * United Arab Emirates, (UAE2), to gain insight on the properties and concentrations of aerosols in the gulf region and understand how these aerosols might affect climate change. To accomplish this task, 15 Aerosol Robotic Network Sun Photometers (AERONET), the NRL Mobile Atmospheric Aerosol And Radiation Characterization (MAARCO), and the GSFC Surface-sensing Measurements for Atmospheric Radiative Transfer (SMART) will be deployed and utilized in the gulf, coast, and desert region of the UAE.

to look at some regularly updated high-res satellite photos of the UAE, head over here

Blog Bites - Emirates Today, Friday Dec 16

DUBAI BIGUS
Full post: Dubai Bigus: There's A New Mall In Town

EMIRATES ECONOMIST
Full post: The Emirates Economist: How to amplify a natural disaster

ADVENTURES IN DUBAI
Full post: Adventures in Dubai - Your Favourite Number One Blog: Trapped in Jebel Ali

BSS AND BRN IN AL AIN
Full post: Bss & Brn in Al Ain: FIFA is awful

SECRET DUBAI DIARY
Full post: Secret Dubai diary: Gilt, frankincense and myrrh

DUBAI BIGUS
Full post: Dubai Bigus: Headline: Arab nations plagued by reckless driving

Crossposted at http://emirateseconomist.blogspot.com

Word verification on new posts

Bizarrely, this place seems to have got listed as a "spam blog" - meaning that until it is reviewed, Blogger has mandatory Word Verification on all new posts (not just comments - where we enabled it ourselves to avoid spam).

"Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive."

Spam blogs can apparently be recognised "by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site".

Not a terribly flattering assessment of UAE community blog :(

Anyway I have submitted this blog for review, so fingers crossed.

Model society

Male-male weddings may be all the rage at the moment, but surely the UAE's male population deserves a more virile representation than this?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com

15 December, 2005

Guilty until proven innocent

The shocking findings of the Council of Europe rapporteur that the CIA abducted people in Europe and transferred them to other countries for torture is not news for many people. However, this is the first time that such a high level authority has confirmed it.
reports today’s Gulf News. Well, it might be of news to the rapporteur himself, Dick Marty, who according to his latest statement has confirmed no such thing:
From a general point of view, the rapporteur underlined that the information gathered to date reinforced the credibility of the allegations concerning the transfer and temporary detention of individuals, without any judicial involvement, in European countries.

Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards. It had to be noted that the allegations had never been formally denied by the United States.
So, allegations are made and seem to be credible, but are still under investigation. The US has remained silent, as indeed has every EU member state. Somewhat different from a confirmation of US culpability. One would have hoped a national newspaper would be able to differentiate between an onging investigation and a guilty verdict.

GCC studies 6-year stay limit

GCC Leaders to Tackle Demographic Issue

Quote:
The annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which opens in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, will discuss a number of important topics including a proposal to restrict the stay of expatriate workers in the member states to a maximum of six years, informed sources said.

The move comes in the wake of growing pressure from international organizations to allow expatriates to settle down in GCC countries and to give them equal rights.

Bahraini Minister of Labor Dr. Majeed bin Mohsen Al-Alawi confirmed that GCC labor ministers had submitted the proposal to GCC leaders for action in their forthcoming summit. The proposal exempts indispensable professionals and specialists from the rule.
UPDATE: Proposal sent back to labor ministers for "further examination."

14 December, 2005

Bloggers' Meet

All bloggers in the UAE are invited to attend the bloggers meet which will held in Dubai on

Friday, 16th December, 2005
Venue: Dome Cafe - Ground Floor, Burjuman Center
Time: 5 pm

Kindly leave your confirmation of participation at the Dubai Bloggers' Meet blog.
More information/updates available on the same blog.

Gulf nations plagued by reckless driving :: MSNBC.com

Arab nations plagued by reckless driving - Mideast/N. Africa - MSNBC.com

Extracts:
In the United Arab Emirates, there are 21 traffic deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 15 in the United States and around six in Britain. Saudi Arabia has a rate as high as 30 deaths according to some figures.

Even worse are the number of deaths per 100,000 vehicles: around 116 in the UAE, six times the U.S. rate, according to a study done by University of Nottingham in England.

The Nottingham study blamed 62 percent of the crashes on a combination of reckless driving and speeding. It said
reckless local driving habits had not changed despite rapid modernization in the Gulf.
. . .
A video aired at the Gulf Traffic Convention showed dozens of children orphaned by traffic wrecks marching recently in the Emirates capital Abu Dhabi. The children wore black mourning robes, and some carried banners reading, “They were killed by speed.”

“We lost our fathers,” the children chanted. “Why didn’t he go slowly?”
. . .
“We have adopted a transportation system that is killing people,” said Abdulrahman al-Janahi. “Is this sustainable? It’s a transport system with no mercy.”

But his proclamations appeared to stand little chance of catching on.

Across the Dubai convention center from the road safety gathering was the far more popular
Middle East International Motor Show, where throngs ogled Ferraris, Porsches and customized Mercedes sports cars.
The emphasis is mine.

It's not the system, it's the behavior. Reckless drivers seem to be counting on mercy, when the only solution is for them to change their behavior.

13 December, 2005

United Colors of Benniton

Are the colorful little flag icons a bit too much? I've added them to this blog so people can read our posts in their favorite language. Unfortunately Arabic isn't available. The only way the html script will work properly is to have the links appear at the top of each post rather than just once at the top of the webpage. But if it's all a bit too much, let me know. I could perhaps tone it down by putting simple text links in place of the flags.

Copy Cat Competition

Fellow bloggers,

Make sure you don't miss out on the first UAE blogger competition here!

Only 3 days to go ... ;)

Moryarti

12 December, 2005

Globalization is 2 way street

Hookah Craze Hits Eastern Iowa

Want to be on the blogroll? Or a member here?

If you are a UAE-based blogger, or you blog about the UAE, then you are very welcome to submit your site to be included on the blogrolls (see the right hand column). Even if you don't actually have a blog, you are still welcome to become a member (this allows you to post on the front page).

If you have no clue about blogs, but would like to start your own, click HERE for a quick tour on blogs, and help on signing up with blogger.com and starting your own blog

1. To get your blog listed on blogrolls (lists of sites on the sides of this site)
No commercial listings are allowed.
email uaecb@samurai-sam.com and include a link to your blog and you will be added.

2. To become a member (this would enable you to contribute content to this blog and also to comment without being placed in moderation)
email uaecb@samurai-sam.com with the subject as 'membership' and you will be added.

Typically within 1-2 days I will add you, and send you an email notifying you. You should recieve an email from blogger/google with the title "You have been invited to contribute to samuraisam's blog", you must click the invitation link within the email to be added as a member. Ocassionaly this email might end up in your spam/junk folder.

Your blog/membership request may not be added if it meets any of the following criteria:
  • The site requires a password to access or does not load

  • The blog doesn't have any posts or hasn't had any updated posts in 3+ months

  • The blog doesn't load or doesn't work.

  • The blog/email/address either contain viruses or malicious content or are attached with known spam/phishing campaigns

  • The blog is copying content from other websites/sources
Important note: If your blog doesn't have an RSS feed it will always remain at the bottom of the blogroll list. Provided it has an RSS feed (which is detected automatically) it will be properly listed.

Auto Webpage Translation

Do you (bloggers) want your blogs to be readible to speakers of a variety languages with a single mouse click--say, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, etc.? It can be done simply by pasting a bit of html in your blog's template. I've tried it--it looks and works great. (Have a look!) I'm not hawking anything. This html script can be picked up for free here. Who's the administrator of this blog? Secretdubai? Would you want to add that html here? It even gets the webpage to come up in searches done in the other language. Regrettably there's no English to Arabic function. If anyone knows where to get a similar tool (free that is) for Arabic, please let us know.

11 December, 2005

New UAE blog aggregator

The clever people at I'm On A Plane have created a new aggregator for UAE blogs:

UAE aggregator - iopBlogs

Image hosted by Photobucket.com


Do submit your blog if you would like to be aggregated there - the more readers the better!

Seaside City

Superb fun artwork from chu_hi on Katori blog:

Ho Ho Ho! Ka-ching Ka-ching Ka-ching!

I am a proponent of religious pluralism. I believe that this is a strong element in the Islamic message. Here in Dubai, it is beautiful to see all of the cultural and religious diversity. I am glad that this society supports communalism within our diverse city. Christians and Hindus are perfectly free to worship as they choose, and although the big-city-feel of Dubai prevents residents from gaining a strong sense of community, everyone lives among, works with and befriends people of various faiths and creeds.
However, recently I have felt inundated by all the ho-ho-ho-ing in Dubai’s malls and shopping centers. Should a Muslim majority country be so willing to accept the blatantly commercial nature of the Christmas shopping spirit?

Okay, let me make it clear to you that as a Muslim, I do not harbor any ill will towards Christians or Hindus or people of any other religion. Within our social context, I feel that non-Muslims should be free to eat at work and in public during Ramadan. Heck, if I were to rule the world, Christians, Hindus, and whoever else would get the day off from school and work to observe their religious celebrations. In a Western context I was always allowed days of from school and work to observe my religious holidays.

But these days in Dubai there are fat Santas positioned in the corner of every mall. Gargantuan angel topped Christmas trees glisten alight with red and green sparkly ornamentation. I have even observed nativity scenes for sale here and there. On one hand, the willingness (or naivete) with which the Muslim populace has accepted these plastic Christmas shrines is a testament to tolerance in Dubai. Take my word for it that if a Muslim or Hindu display was placed in any regular mall in the US, it might actually be vandalized. I do believe in personal religious freedom, but these Christmas displays are undeniably public and not private.

I am disturbed when I see little Hindu and Muslim children running towards these colorful displays, begging to sit a top fat Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for …well, they don’t even celebrate Christmas, so what the heck are they doing lined up for a photo-op with Santa?

I recognize the longing and awe in the eyes of these non-Christian children as they participate in all of the Christmas hullabaloo. Christmas commercialism in Muslim lands has undertones of a neo-imperialistic nature, and its negative effects will be reaped in future generations of Muslim children. This is a further assault on the Muslim identity. I realize that the globalization (or should I say “Americanization”) of global popular culture is a facet of contemporary life whether we like it or not. But this Christmas in the Arabian Peninsula is just too much. This financially driven, commercialist-capitalist Christmas spirit has corrupted the benevolent Christian message of what Christians celebrate as the birth of Jesus in so many Western countries. Do we really need this in Dubai, too? Here the commercialism is already coming out the wazzoo. But giving it a religious spin makes it seem like an overt attack on the regional belief system. An unscientific eye-balling of the malls reveals that there is more Christmas decoration abound than there were Ramadan decorations. (Of course, I disapprove of the commercialization of Muslim holidays as well, and I don't wish to see the city covered in plastic Ramadan or Eid decor as an advertising gimmick, either.)

I know what the reason is for the bloom of plastic Christmas trinkets in all of Dubai’s major malls. I can hear the ka-ching of the cash registers as I type. I personally avoid reading or listening to rhetoric that has an overtly didactic or preachy nature, so I apologize if I have taken that tone here. But honestly, boundaries must be set. Let Dubai’s Christians relish in their Holy Days with fun and merry making in their churches and homes. Allow them the day off from work or school to worship and congregate with their co-religionists. Muslims and Hindus can also attend private Christmas celebrations at the invitation of Christian friends in the spirit of amity and diplomacy. But please spare non-Christians from all of the plastic Christmas crap in every shopping center under the desert sun. It just sends the wrong message.

People who share this concern should contact mall management offices and give voice to their dissapproval.

Thanks, and a heartfelt Merry Christmas to any Christian readers.

10 December, 2005

Dubai Marina 101


For those in the Dubai Marina already, or those planning to live or vacation there, the Dubai Marina Communities is one place to visit to get general info about what is there and what's coming up. It's a new website, and I invite contributers also to participate in the DM Blog (Dubai Marina). Check it out!

Kilometre-high Kuwaiti tower

Kilometre-high Kuwaiti tower will dwarf Burj Dubai

Quote:
The 553-metre-tall Toronto tower, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year, is facing an imminent end to its reign as the world’s greatest vertical megaproject. Not far from Kuwait on the Arabian Peninsula, the Burj Dubai is under construction in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. It is expected to reach 705 metres by the time it’s finished in 2008. A 558-metre building in Jakarta, Indonesia, is also scheduled for completion in 2009. Taiwan’s Taipei 101 skyscraper, at 508 metres, is currently the world’s tallest office tower.

The CN Tower, officially opened to the public on June 26, 1976, is widely described as the world’s tallest free-standing structure.

But all of the planet’s existing buildings would be dwarfed by the planned Kuwaiti building. Kuhne said the new city and its central skyscraper would cost more than $150 million Cdn and take 25 years to build.

Tagline competition:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Prize is a week's holiday at the eight-star Al Wathba Desert Resort.

Tolls for Dubai roads to reduce traffic gridlock

Tolls for Dubai roads to reduce traffic gridlock :: Emirates Today

Quote:
Dubai’s new Roads and Transport Authority is planning to introduce road tolls in a bid to reduce traffic congestion in the city. Today, two of the authority’s chiefs were due to announce a detailed strategy to ease congestion on the road network. And charges on certain major routes, in and out of the city, are a key part of the proposals.

It is thought tolls will be used on roads into the centre of Dubai in the hope of encouraging drivers to use quieter stretches of carriageway.

Abdul-Aziz Abdulla Malik, director of the transport department at the authority, and Maitha Mohammad bin Adai, head of the roads department, were due to make the announcements on how to tackle Dubai traffic problems at a press conference this morning.
Any news from the press conference?

UPDATE, Sun 11Dec: I've posted on the press conference reports at The Emirates Economist

Fog in Dubai




e2salat...

details have been revealed on the second telco for the UAE...
article here
another article here
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) unveiled details of a new telecommunications services company following its decision in May to create a second operator to compete with state-owned Etisalat.

The new company, which will be called "The Emirates Company for Integrated Telecommunications", would have a capital of four billion dirhams (1.1 billion dollars) and would be 50 percent owned by the UAE government, said the official WAM agency.

The company would start providing mobile services in mid-2006 and then expand to fixed-line telephony and Internet, said WAM adding that 20 percent of the company's shares would be sold on the stock market early next year.

no intarnet 4 y0u!harharhar

09 December, 2005

Dubai: life in the slow lane :: Synovate

Synovate In:fact December 2005 - Life in the slow lane

Dubai gets poor marks in this survey of traffic in different cities around the world:

1. 82% of commuters say they spend over an hour in traffic everyday; 40% say it's more than 2 hours.

2. 57% say traffic influences the way they structure their daily life - the highest for any of the cities surveyed.

3. 85% blamed poor planning.

Ski Racing

'He wanted to start for Dubai, but that proved impossible.' :: Ski Racing

Hmmm.

08 December, 2005

The Dilbert Blog: Results of Why I'm Stupid

Scott Adams has some suggestions that might improve debating between blogs and in blog comments.

The value of a blog declines when the comments quickly degenerate into the same debate between the same characters.

The value of a blog improves when the comments stay on topic and produce a variety of well-defended points of view.

Emirates Today asks UAE bloggers if they make a difference to UAE news reporting

The blogging community in the UAE is skeptical it is making much of a difference - yet.

See:
Blogging poised to grow
and
Blogs �fill the information gap� left by newspapers

The headlines don't reflect the more cautious content of the stories.

Those quoted include Secret Dubai, Emirates Economist, Webmasterdubai (AKA Adventures in Dubai), and several others who chose to remain anonymous or whose names were not associated with specific blogs.

Emirates Today makes us sound like a pretty level-headed group of individuals. Only The Emirates Economist author comes across as a bit excessively exuberant about our impact on journalism in the UAE. But, getting back to being exuberant, stories like these can only enhance our influence (small as it may be) - provided that we do not disappoint those newspaper readers who come and check us out.

Seven Dubai monorails planned :: Gulf News

Gulfnews: Seven Dubai monorails planned

Monorails capture the imagination. They are great if you have money to burn. Perhaps somebody does.

UPDATE: The ever vigilant TN asks in the comments, "wasn't this a Simpsons episode?" Yes: The Simpsons: Marge vs. The Monorail.

07 December, 2005

MORYARTI----------are you safe?

Moryarti, I am sure I am not alone in wondering how you are doing in your new pad minus. Didn't they connect you yet?
Maybe you are searching the streets for your missing old jackets that Mrs.M has thrown to the wind.....watch out vagrants...Mr.M is on the rampage.

Seriously though, hope all is well in paradiso.

dubai dreams 06

dubai dreams 06 is now available, i have sent the link to all.

if you would like a link to it, email: too31337@gmail.com

A dark and very sorry day

A caution to all UAE bloggers: Sorry Dubai has been blocked by the Proxy. His final entry was a spirited rant against Etisalat, which may be the reason.

It should be noted that the author, Feed Your Head did NOT:

- post nudity or obsene content
- post anything defamatory that wasn't opinion/comment
- criticise any named or unnamed individual
- post any information about evading the proxy

Regardless of whether you agreed or disagreed with his views, this is still a serious blow for free speech and blogging in the same week that senior people at a media conference in the UAE called for the media to be more fearless.

You can probably still leave a comment for Feed Your Head here.

Feed Your Head: best wishes, and we all hope this gets sorted out soon.

NB: Please don't anyone comment anything in anger below that may get this place blocked too. And everyone take extra care for the time being.

Study on Emirates Railway project given a go-ahead :: WAM

Study on Emirates Railway project given a go-ahead :: WAM

One benefit would be getting many of the trucks off the highways. This is especially valuable given that most of the truck stock in the UAE is poorly maintained and even newer trucks used here are not capable of the acceleration and speeds that, say, trucks in Europe are capable of.

Speed kills, yes. But variance kills, too. I don't know if a railroad is a practical answer to the problem of trucks on UAE highways. I do know that aged, overloaded trucks are cheap and will continue to be used until government says no, we value human life more than the savings from using unsafe trucks.

UPDATE: Gulfnews: Truckers pin blame on cars. I blame variance.

06 December, 2005

Carlsberg contd.

Ok here are excerpts from the latest correspondence we've received from the Brand Manager of Carlsberg in the UAE:
"Please rest assured that we did not in any way intend to offend anyone with this initiative and that we have every intention of showing respect for local religion and tradition.
As a consequence of your mails, I have agreed with the Dubai Ski Club that the sponsorship of will not be extended as it was originally planned – this in order not to harm DSC, its members and - at the end of the day - my own brand."

I'm really pleased that obviously they've come to their senses at long last. Or maybe just realised that offending the UAE laws can be very expensive. Anyway, It's a small victory isn't it?

Security

Just in case you had any doubt about the competency levels of security companies in the UAE...

He said a debriefing had been held with Dubai police and the security companies. “Security companies here are not allowed to lay a finger on anyone.

pls read this kthx: Security through Obscurity

I for one did not know they are not allowed to touch anyone, i'm sure that most of 7days readership didn't either.

Gulf News linking tips

Gulf News as many will have noticed has undergone a revamp. For bloggers, this will have messed up every single one of your old links to GN articles. Here is a short guide to try and relink, and to post future links correctly:

1. New story links
New stories don't stay in their original place for very long. Take this one, Jebel Hafeet, which appears on site at:
http://www.gulfnews.com/opinion/editorial_opinion/nation/10002836.html
It won't be there forever. You need to find its permanent home by doing a search for "hafeet", to get:
http://search.gulfnews.com/articles/05/12/05/10002556.html

2. Old links
Currently, some links have to be recreated part-manually. Hopefully this will change. Here's how to do it:

(i) Click the old link, for example this one:
http://gulfnews.com/Articles/NationNF.asp?ArticleID=166788
It will hopefully take you to a redirect page that takes you to the new link:
http://search.gulfnews.com/articles/05/05/27/166788.html

NB: Avoid cutting and pasting the "relocation link" shown on the 404 page - in this case http://search.gulfnews.com/scripts/locatearticle.jsp?ArticleCode=166788. Get the final URL it takes you to.

(ii) Keyword search the article you are trying to refind using the Advanced search. If you find it, and it works, hooray!

NB: You may (very rarely, and I think this is temporary) get given a link that doesn't work, and goes to an error page. In which case check that the URL starts with http://search.gulfnews... - if it doesn't, paste that bit in.

(iii) You may struggle to find your old articles. However, if you know the exact date they were published, you can manually recreate them. As you can see, original and moved articles end with the same six digits. The bit that changes is the start and the date. So have a fiddle and see if you can find it.

It does appear that more and more articles are being relinked via the relocation page, so you may be able to rely on step (i) pretty much indefinitely. But do take with linking new stories, because these are obviously the ones your blog visitors are most likely to click on.

05 December, 2005

Driven to distraction

So Bob Farrow writing in Seven days reckons that speed is the root of all the evil that is Dubai driving.

Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

It is not speed that kills, not here and in 95% of cases not anywhere. Speed makes accidents worse yeah that point can be made, but rarely is speed the cause. This assertion is simplistic nonsense that does not take into account the realities of any road situation. more

Old Abu Dhabi and Dubai Photos

Old Abu Dhabi and Dubai Photos - Maribel Eco Systems

There are some nice photos here from the 1960s and 1990s of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Secret Dubai for award

Congratulations to Secret Dubai for being nominated in the Best Middle East or Africa Blog award category!

killer Posted by Picasa

"video game know it all"

"my friend has found an Xbox 360 in UAE and has bought it for dhms 5000 in Geekay in Mall of the Emirates."

"video game know it all" has friends stupid enough to pay several times the retail price of an xbox 360.
If only wealth had an IQ quota.

04 December, 2005

Staff of the Emirates Economist travels to Oman

The staff of The Emirates Economist traveled to Oman today for a well deserved holiday. By chance we witnessed evidence of the gas shortage in Oman. Below is the photographic evidence:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
This station is just across the border from the UAE. I believe the smiling gentleman is a UAE citizen who prefers to wait in line to buy inexpensive gasoline.

2 From the Blogosphere

Woman spotted yesterday reading today's news!



Meanwhile, a nice albeit brand-new blog out of New York City. Can we do one like this for Dubai--I mean a blog with reviews and a "reporting" slant as opposed to a lot of personal commentary. Personal commentary is great--not knocking it all--but it would also be nice to have a good "resource blog" on our favorite city.

O RLY?

After reading Bss & Brn's post about the most popular amazon books/cd's in the UAE i decided to take a look for myself.
Well, the UAE has been done proud by it's amazon users.



now you don't need to ask why the whole of amazon is prolly gonna be blocked.
someone has discovered the magical powers of eb00ks!!!111

The Muscatis: reBlog: Blog Disparity

The Muscatis: reBlog: Blog Disparity

The Muscatis have a post (link above) on the differences in blog culture between different countryies in the Gulf. It collects some cogent observations from other bloggers and is generating considerable response in the comments section of the post.

I particularly like the quote from Mahmoud's Den comparing Omani bloggers to UAE bloggers.

Read the whole thing.

Removing My Blog Temporarily

Certain peoples unwanted attention has come onto my blog as of recent. My Blog holds very sensitive personal and political information in it. I would not like anyone to be given the chance to exploit that, or to make a connection in real life, between me and the content displayed on it. Therefore I am hiding and sealing down my blog, and will only allow a select few to read it. If you would like the address, then Email me at

abudhabier [at] gmail.com

No linking, quoting or mention of my blog, its content or the address is to take place.

Thank You

UAE National Day Blog Bites

Belated posting sorry, the latest Blog Bites in Emirates Today are:

The Desert Weasel
Desert Idleness
Secret Dubai diary
An Emirati's Thoughts

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Click here to see in full

03 December, 2005

no fine?

The report – revealing that each investor from the region would get no more than 1,750 shares (at only DH1 each) – came as a huge disappointment to investors, particularly the thousands of Saudis who had crossed into Dubai to lodge share applications and had to spend the night in parks because hotels were overbooked.

hahahahahaha.

i hope they didn't get a 500 dhs fine for sleeping on the grass!
Dont know if they still fine people for that

Carlsberg II

Getting back to the subject of the Ski Club advertising beer.
Anybody wondered why at the official opening of Dubai Ski a few days back, they haven't given Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan "Carlsberg"-jackets to walk about? Now there you have missed your biggest marketing opportunity!
Anyway, as their newsletter happily advertises Carlsberg: (received yesterday)
Remember that December 13th is the last chance to get your membership card and ski Jacket if entitled! The rest of the ski jackets will be sold at our Christmas Party on the 14th for Dhs 100 (members only). On the 20th November a historical event happened in Dubai. For the first time ever the ski members and hosts of the Dubai Ski Club joined together at a cosy alpine pub with snow on the floor, snow ball cocktails, plus large quantities of Carlsberg rolling freely down their necks! Here we must mention the sponsors we have supporting us - Sony Ericsson, Al Boom Marine, Carlsberg, The Golden Tulip (Khasab), and Ski Dubai.
Restaurant Brauhaus at Jumeira Rotana Hotel are hosting a Christmas Night for us on Wednesday 14th December at 8pm. This will be a cozy evening with a Christmas theme.
During the evening there will also be a raffle, with great gifts from:
Golden Tulip
Sony Ericsson
Carlsberg

..and underneath that they advertise a Santa Day in SkiDubai for the kiddies. Well not sure about you, but for me that's too much. If you feel like me, write to the Skiclub. I got a funny reply from them, maybe you will be more lucky than me:
Carlsberg is a main sponsor for the world cup, if you look at the logo on our ski jacket it do not mention anything about alcohol. Carlsberg is also making soft drinks.I am sorry if we have offend you, we can offer you either you money back or remove the Carlsberg logo from your back.

The height of laziness

Okay, this is the height of laziness! A machine? What next?

cool holiday present ideas

want to buy a loved one a gift for the holiday season? (eid/christmas i guess)

USB powered air dart launcher
Toy Dubai Police car



If you have any cool idea's post them in the comments and if the cool-factor is enough i'll add them to this (:

i'm not affiliated with any of these items, if you buy them and you die, your problem (:

Gateway Pundit: Another Democracy in Mideast, UAE to Hold Elections!

Gateway Pundit: Another Democracy in Mideast, UAE to Hold Elections!

Just a bit overexuberant, I'd say. In fact, I did. But US bloggers are certainly excited by this development.

My view is that the move towards elections in the UAE has less to do with US pressure, or even the images of Iraqis voting, and has more to do with the natural progression of the UAE, internal pressures from citizens coupled with progressive and pragmatic leadership.

Dubai Dreams episode 5

Dubai Dreams episode 5 is available now. email sam@samurai-sam.com for the link.

02 December, 2005

Madha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Madha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quote: "Madha is a wholly Omani exclave within UAE. As with other maps, the north east corner of Madha is closest to the Khorfakkan-Fujairah road, which was verified by photographs where you can see the border post just approx 10 meters from the road.

There is an enclave of UAE wholly within Madha called Nahwa, which belongs to Emirate of Sharjah."

Been there. Interesting geography, politically and geologically.

Skyscraper that may cause earthquakes

Guardian Unlimited | Science | Skyscraper that may cause earthquakes

Quote:

Using the construction information, Dr Lin has calculated how much pressure Taipei 101 exerts on the ground. The weight of steel and concrete came to more than 700,000 tonnes. This is spread over an area of 15,081 square metres (3.7 acres), meaning that it exerts a huge pressure of 4.7 bars on the ground below. "The construction of Taipei 101 is totally different to many other high-rise buildings because it used hybrid structures made of both concrete and steel, to give it added protection from earthquakes and fire. Therefore it has a huge vertical loading on its foundation," says Dr Lin.

And it is this exceptional downward stress that Dr Lin thinks may have caused the extra earthquakes.

"I think that the considerable stress might be transferred into the upper crust due to the extremely soft sedimentary rocks beneath the Taipei basin. Deeper down this may have reopened an old earthquake fault," suggests Dr Lin in his paper, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Other experts are more cautious about blaming the skyscraper for the earthquakes.

Funniest Garfield comic

This is by far the funniest Garfield comic strip I have read. Thought I shall share...

By the numbers

2004: UAE nationals

males age 15-19: 67,000
females age 15-19: 62,000
(Tanmia estimates)

males enrolled in secondary education: 49,163
females enrolled in secondary education: 53,116
(Ministry of Education)

males enrolled in higher education: 14,274
females enrolled in higher education: 27,262
(Ministry of Education)

males graduating from higher education: 4,546
females graduating from higher education: 8,597
(Ministry of Education)

Discuss.

[Source: UAE Human Resources Report 2005. Tanmia.]

Update: Girl in the Locker Room! makes an excellent point about similar US numbers: Men aren't disappearing from campus, it's just that their numbers are growing slower than those for women.

National Day

since no-one else has specifically mentioned it. i guess i will.

Happy birthday to the UAE!

you have made tremendous progress in such a short amount of time. i salute you!

Dear Khaleej Times,

Dear Khaleej Times,
I have an interesting query for you.
Exactly how many advertisements can you fit on one web page?
One? How about two? Three? No, you actually manage to fit Nine advertisements on a single webpage.

i hope its worth the extra money.

Let's Be Original

Let us not be lazy. Don’t just borrow some thing from the West to show them that you are on the same level. That way you will never get their respect. To earn respect, you have to be better, I am sure that there is a goldmine of talent in the UAE, why not us it? Have some competitions-do something that shows that the UAE is a free thinking and self confident country. Not a mindless copy cat. Let’s create some new democratic values. There are many living here in that are getting more and more worried about the turns that we are taking. Rapes, murders, homosexuality, prostitution, worker abuse, lewd clothing on young Muslim girls along with the headscarf, and a diminishing respect between everyone-yes, we seem to be on our way becoming a full democracy.
UAE-the undemocratic paradise for Westerners, because of its values, security, and lifestyle. Western democracy no longer works- unbridled, it has become like a wild fire. Yes, we need transparency-where no one is above the law, public opinion matters, and people do not live in fear of retaliation if they have a complaint. Religious values were the foundation of all democracies, from polytheist ancient Greece to Christian colonies of the US, but as they lost their values, lost their way. Democratic values are not variant forms of sex, drinking alcohol, or the right to abuse others. If we have to have democracy in the UAE- then let’s be original.

UN imposes asset freeze on arms dealers

UN imposes asset freeze on arms dealers :: ABC News

Quote:
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N. Security Council committee called on all governments on Thursday to freeze the assets and travel of two individuals linked to international gunrunner Victor Bout over past arms sales to Liberia.

The council's committee on Liberia sanctions added Syrian-born accountant Richard Ammar Chichakli of Texas and Ukrainian-born businessman Valeriy Naydo, with an address in the United Arab Emirates, to its list of people whose assets and travel are to be frozen around the world.

The panel also called for an asset freeze on 30 business entities with ties to either Bout, Chichakli or Naydo, including Air Bas, Air Cess, CET Aviation Enterprise, Centrafrican Airlines, San Air General Trading FZE and Trans Aviation Global Group Inc.
Let's google "Victor Bout" and Sharjah and see what comes up. See also this google search.

Bloggers Beware

An Iranian-Canadian blogger was turned away from the U.S. border because of suspicions raised by his blog. Note that the suspicions were not necessarily political - he was apparently suspected (on fairly weak grounds) mainly of overstaying his visa - however, the border guards' suspicions were heightened because he was of Iranian descent, wrote about Iran, and had recently returned to Iran. "It was obvious the guy was trying to find an excuse not to let me in, and he found something," said the blogger after guards Googled him and read his blog.

01 December, 2005

Tiny Dubai is having huge global impact :: Daily Telegraph

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reporting:

Cannily, Dubai has found a niche recycling the oil wealth of its neighbours.

With global oil exports expected to reach $700billion this year, this is a huge sum, and some of it is sticking to them. The Dubai stock market has soared 1,200pc in just two and half years, and is now worth $253billion.

Its booming free-trade zone, entered through a granite Arc de Triomphe, has become the petrodollar entrepot. IPO share issues for the Gulf region have risen 20 times over the last year, expected to reach $15billion by the end of the 2005, according to the law firm Trowers & Hamlins. "This huge amount of cash will add fuel to the current wave of M&A activity. More European and North American companies are going to be targets of takeover bids," it said.
. . .
As far as buying private UK companies, in March Dubai bought Madame Tussaud's waxworks for £800m, which has since taken a majority stake in the London Eye. In just a year, the sheikhdoms have snapped up $1billion of DaimlerChrysler, America's CSX ($1.15billion), Holland's Celtel telecom operations in Africa ($2.8billion), Turk Telecom ($6.5billion), and property in London and New York.

The oil states seem to have learned the lessons of the 1970s when the windfall slipped through their fingers, leaving grand buildings, wide roads, and debt. This time they are saving 60pc, compared to 40pc in the first oil shock. Shunting wealth overseas, they are buying future global growth.
The story was sent to me by John Palmer who read it at the (Canadian) National Post under the title " 'The City' of Islam: With oil reserves quickly dwindling, Dubai has reinvented itself as a 'recycling' business hub for its oil-rich neighbours" (I've not provided a link b/c it's premium content at NP).

Etisalat Block a good source to redirect traffic


This is a part of the 'Block msg' one sees on blocked ad displays e.g a Weblog displaying a Flickr album preview would have a similar (part) block message.


This is actually a prime Advertising space occupied to display a 'Blocked message' in arabic.

What they should do is display 'This website is blocked but consider these website' Website One, tow, three etc. Infact, with the no. of sites being blocked- Etisalat could buy the Adsense technology and make money out of it ;-)

UAE to hold elections

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Dec 1, 2005 — The United Arab Emirates will hold its first ever elections in a vote to pick half the members of a consultative council, the president announced Thursday.

Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that the Federal National Council, the closest body the country has to a parliament, will have half of its members elected and the other half appointed. He did not set a date for the election.


any thoughts?

personally i liked the fact that dubai was never keen on political campaigning in the press etc. i cant stand it ):

25 top officials quit HCT :: Khaleej Times

Khaleej Times story.

So what's the rest of the story?

Sorry guys a bit off topic, but...

This goes back to New Orleans. Although it would be nice to get their free internet service I hope that Dubai never becomes so mired in government shenanigans.

Just read the following intro. If you find it interesting then by all means follow the link to read the rest of the story:
A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply...

(actual letter): Dear Sir:

Upon review of your letter adjoining your client’s loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral proper back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin.
The rest of the story, the lawyer's reply!

The day the power went out

I was reading the July issue of Gulf Business magazine the other day at the barbershop. On page 12 there was a two line report that said business losses from the June less-than-8-hour power outage were estimated to be $75 million.

Hard to believe. Does anyone have information on how that estimate was formed?

hilarity ensues.

Dubai: Etisalat is in negotiations with a UK-based company to purchase a system that could block all voice over internet calls. Currently, Skype bypasses network proxys, allowing individuals to talk or exchange information undetected. Bitek has two systems Snyper and Guardian which can block Skype.

I'm not so sure etisalat needs the stupidity of this plan pointed out to them.
This is so entertainingly stupid, i think i may stick it on my wall.

Dubai The Model? :: Tech Central Station

Dubai The Model?

Former Gulf News reporter Neil Hrab writes:

the UAE censors the Internet. The state-owned communications monopoly blocked a local blogger in July, for posting an allegedly offensive satire of life in the Emirates.

The media face severe pressure at times to follow the government line. Foreigners working in the newsrooms of Dubai's older daily papers quietly bear the wounds (thankfully figurative) of past tangles with officials eager to shape the news.

As open as the UAE is to outsiders, its
press law is not going to win any awards from the ACLU. The text of this law (which I encourage you to read) leaves no doubt that the authors believe in a highly regulated press.

Read the whole thing. Hrab's bottom line: half a loaf is better than none at all.

Something that's nagging at me... (I should be sleeping now!)

Are there any Indian expat's on this forum? I would really appreciate some feedback on the following:

Let's say the UAE government decides they want such-and-such class of immigrant to have a minimum of a high school diploma. Now once word of this spreads in India, how will the would-be-immigrant who falls into the aforementioned category respond to this new (UAE) government edict. Will he think, OK, let me go to school for a year or two and earn my diploma, or instead will he think only, who do I have to pay now to get that diploma.

I raise this point because in some sense you have a double-edged sword in the labor/exploitation "game" in the UAE. Sure, you have the companies that are up to no good, lining their coffers at the expense of cheap labor. But at the same time you seem to have a country full of would-be-immigrants who have little regard for what is legal and their first (and probably only) thought is who do I have to pay and how much.

Any comments. I really want to hear others' perspectives.

30 November, 2005

Could Dubai Learn a Lesson from New Orleans?

"The broader WiFi system is an expansion of that network, using equipment from Silicon Valley-based Tropos Networks Inc. The system uses shoebox-sized devices mounted on streetlight posts to provide the wireless coverage. Some of the devices also beam the signal to existing fiber-optic trunk lines that connect the city to the Internet backbone. About 20 to 25 units are necessary to cover one square mile."
What this is all about is a system just put into place in post-Katrina New Orleans to provide free wireless connectivity to all. It's Mayor Nagin's idea of a way to boost interest in the city, business-wise and otherwise. Dubai, the city of innovation, would do well to take an idea like this and run with it!

Census: secod-rate and illtrate

Here's the census form. You may click it to see a bigger version:

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Don't forget to answer all the questions correctly...

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...if you can understand them, that is:

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...

i am speechless. an instant sticking on the wall though.

DUBAI — Two UAE nationals — Ali S. A. (38) and Abdullah M. S. (30) — were sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting dead a Sudanese national Abdel Monaim M. Y., who claimed to be bullet proof, was shot in the stomach and the head, resulting in his death.

EDIT by secretdubai:

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Helicopter Sighting


Helicopter sighted minutes ago (about 12:30 p.m.) hovering over Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. Don't know if it was trying to land, pick up someone, drop something off...? Door seemed to be open. It hovered perhaps 10 minutes then flew away. Any information, anyone? (Click on photos for larger view.)





Flying off...

lol.

In gulf news:

Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Interior has categorically denied reports appearing in a section of the media that 26 individuals who were held at an alleged gay wedding have been subjected to hormonal or any other treatments.

"They [the arrrested individuals] have not been treated with hormones or any other medicines," the spokesman said. "What has been reported in the local and international media is wholly inaccurate."


7days, the same day:

Colonel Najm al-Sayar told Reuters the foreigners were likely to be deported while the locals, who are being held in the capital Abu Dhabi, would undergo hormonal therapy - most likely induced testosterone.

"They will be given psychological, medical and sociological treatment. Some of them will be given male hormones because some actually took female hormones," Sayar said.

Two Tales of One City

This is a must-read! S. Paradise: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai? ~by Mike Davis (www.commondreams.org). I abbreviate the first word in the title because it gives away too much of the article's conclusion. It's better to read it and form your own opinion of which Dubai is the real Dubai. I think everyone can latch onto something in this article. Fans of Dubai will love the imagery of Dubai in 2010. Champions of the underprivaledged will applaud the stinging rebukes. I find myself nodding in agreement at nearly everything but finally feeling disappointed with the conclusions.

Instant messaging client of choice

A few weeks ago I had written about why I stopped using MSN Messenger as my instant messaging client of choice.
That does it. MSN Messenger is gone from my system and will never come back. RIP. That piece of crap has interfered enough during my chat sessions with colleagues, friend and loved ones.
I have been using Trillian now and am fairly happy with it. What instant messaging software do you use?

Another reason to prefer Emirates over Qantas

Airline Seating Policy 'Demonizes' Men -- 11/29/2005

29 November, 2005

The country is making money, but what about the laborers?

I return to this topic because of an interesting article in the Washington Post dated 02 November. No doubt, with all the attention Dubai is bringing upon itself with its building extravaganza, more and more people on the outside are finding out for the first time about the system of indentured labor here. This wider attention could mean we are at the beginning of the end of this abhorant practice. I have my own reflections on this issue, taking the perspective of the developer, builder and buyer. There are conscientious people among those who obviously benefit from the existence of cheap labor. My argument is that these people can do something without having to sacrafice their dream of building or living in palaces in the desert.

I would also add one caveat about the higher wages that I'd like to think we all believe the laborers should get. The irony is that it probably wouldn't do anything to improve their lifestyles here anyway. As can be seen in the UAE even "executive bachelors" with salaries of Dh2000-Dh3000, up to 4x what laborers earn, still choose to live in cramped, squalid accommodations, as their first priority is to repatriate as much money as possible. Well, that really is their choice, while it is still the obligation of employers to pay them a fair wage.

The latest from CNN (30-Nov-2005) and a host of other links on the topic. I believe the pressure is mounting and as the party with ultimate responsibility the UAE government will have to be more proactive on this issue.

seriously..

you know when things are going to be taken seriously by the world.
when they firstly appear on cnn.com, and when they are on the front page.




oh dear.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Reuters) -- Men arrested at what a United Arab Emirates official said appeared to be a gay wedding are to be given hormone therapy, officials said on Tuesday

Break Over

Thanks to Samuraisam. It appears that he was correct and someone at blogger.com made a boo boo and deleted something important on my site, crashing the entire blog. Anyway, I fixed the problem (with no help from tech-support, except a bunch of frigging automated emails from them, that led nowhere) and the blog is back open to the public now...

thanx again Samurai ;)

pop up

pop up ad's. aren't they a pain?
my browser, maxthon, blocks out advertisements, and blocks pop-ups and counts how many have been blocked in the browser session.

Recently on visiting someone's blog (within uaecommunity), who will remain nameless; i was face to face with an infinite loop of pop-ups, i didn't actually see any, but take a look at my pop up counter before and after.
BEFORE:

AFTER:


i was also given several warnings about activeX plug-ins trying to take over my computer.

not everyone likes pop-ups (:, be friendly and ensure your blog doesn't infect people's computers.