30 August, 2005

Christmas or some other celebration comes early!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Petrol prices are set to surge 31.5 per cent at UAE service stations, starting September 1, 2005.

Gasoline prices at all service stations in the UAE will be increased by Dh1.50 per gallon and diesel prices by Dh1.40 per gallon as part of gradual steps to stem substantial and spiralling losses in the petroleum business of all the distributing companies in the region, petroleum retailer Enoc said in a statement.


http://gulfnews.com/Articles/BusinessNF.asp?ArticleID=179488

seems like everything in the UAE is going to hike heavily upwards in the next few months, thats of course except for the minimum wage!

East v West advertising

Lulu from Arabian Adventures has spotted this fascinating post about advertising. Here's a taste:

The 25,000th visitor just arrived at my blog...

...I do hope it is not President Bush.



Sitemeter and other stats users, do feel free to share your milestone visitors here (like The Emirates Economist does). It's nice to see the growing interest in UAE blogs, and the variety of places that visitors are from.

NB: Sitemeter is free to put on your blog, and for blogspot users Sitemeter actually installs it for you, so there's no need to worry about inserting the code.

Abu Dhabi names projects open to foreign "ownership"

link

To me there is a difference between ownership and a lease, and the difference is a lease is for a fixed period of time and ownership is for an unlimited amount of time. What is described in the link above is, to me, a lease.

From what I've read in the last few months, it remains unclear whether any property in the UAE is available for foreign ownership. And it remains a matter of dispute whether federal law permits the individual emirates to allow ownership.

Please comment if you have some thoughts on the question.

29 August, 2005

Dubai women storm world of work :: BBC

link

The article appeared August 4, but I'd missed it until now. The "representative" comments received from readers are perhaps the most interesting part.

management

This powerpoint presentation is a funny yet truthful look at management in Dubai and other places;
i just found it on my FTP server and remembered it, please share!


http://www.samurai-sam.com/management.pps


(try again now, i f'ed up the link)

Embarrassing and disappointing

These, according to Google AdSense, are the top search queries done through the Google searchbox on my blog. I am so embarrassed that I am putting them as a graphic, to avoid the keywords mistakenly "attracting" anyone to this place:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

28 August, 2005

Rajeev Nair 's story on the UAE blogosphere

Buzz-time in the UAE blogosphere:: TimeOut

Read the whole thing. It appears the link above may expire. I'll post the whole thing in an update should that happen.

Is that Secretdubai's picture on the cover of TimeOut?

Whale Shark at Dubai Marina 28-08-05



Junior was taking an afternoon swim at the Dubai Marina during lunchtime... Seeing him was an amazing experience, I believe most of us onlookers wished we could go into the water and swim beside him.

A man climbed over the railing and tried to touch him but he was out of reach, I was running along trying to take as many shots as I possibly could of this beautiful creature and amassed around 41 images!

My day haden't started of well, and yet after this small yet extraordinary adventure, I had hope and was positively energised... today was going to be a beautiful day!

I remembered my dream, the colour of the ray was the same as that of this beautiful creature. You cannot but be amazed by it's enchanting and humbling serenity. Life wasn't all that comlicated, yet we humans seem to have an uncanny talent of creating complexities to no end.

Citizenship: Here we go again

The KT reports:

The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, has proposed granting UAE citizenship to expatriates of high caliber and highly skilled professionals who could be key contributors to national development.

"Why don't we avail of highly skilled professionals for our economy needs. We should attract them and even grant them nationality to benefit from their high qualifications," the minister has said.


Will this news be fiercely denied in tomorrow's papers?


Responding to a question by your favourite No.1 newspaper, Khaleej Times...

I just choked on my coffee...

Emiratesadventure

We've just moved to the UAE and there's so much new stuff to take in and get used to (or not!). How would you ever get used to the gas-delivery truck's constant ringing of the bell? :-)

We started a blog just a few days ago primarily as a way to facilitate telling everyone at home about what's going on with us (http://emiratesadventure.blogspot.com). We're Magnus and Crystal and we're from Sweden and the US respectively. The last four years we've lived in the US and now we're in the UAE. Really, the blog is Crystal's but I guess I'll pitch in from time to time.

New Blog

I just found a new blog (just started posting on Friday). Emirates Adventure, by an American [oops! Swedish-American; sorry Magnus :) - That will teach me to blog at 6:30 in the morning ] couple in Abu Dhabi.

27 August, 2005

The pace of change

Just over a decade or so ago, Channel 33 was allegedly taken off the air for a week for broadcasting an episode of Benny Hill by accident (the screens apparently went black after about fifteen minutes of titillating antics).

Now in 2005: Virgin Megastore City Centre proudly displays this poster:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Expats in Dubai yet to get promised raise in salaries :: KT

Link. Quote:
DUBAI — Expatriate employees in various government departments in Dubai are still waiting to receive the 15 per cent hike in their salaries, almost three months after an announcement to this effect was made by the Dubai government in May last. The raise for local government employees was announced by all the emirates following a similar announcement in Abu Dhabi, which took effect on May 1, 2005. Sources confirmed that all local departments in the other emirates have effected the raise both for its nationals and expatriate employees.
While the expat government employees in other emirates may have received the 15%, from what I have heard there remains inclarity about just who is considered a government employee, especially in the education sector.

JBC - http://emirateseeconomist.blogspot.com

26 August, 2005

hi!

[censored]

Life in the UAE - two quick polls


What annoys you most?

Etisalat
Traffic
Other people
The heat
Discrimination
Soaring rent
Sand and dust






What do you love most?

Camels
Low crime
Multculturalism
The heat
Luxury living
Tax-free salary
The beach





25 August, 2005

Officials confirm KT report: Expats don’t need the NOC, after all :: Khaleej Times

Link to article

The plot thickens. Murkiness continues.

24 August, 2005

Obscene driving behaviour

It's bad enough that you drive right up my rear end, your lights flashing because any speed under 160kmph dissatisfies you, when there's no room to move over.

It's worse still that when a car suddenly pulls out in front, forcing me to brake, you get so mad that you start literally driving one inch from my bumper, trying to push me off the road.

But the cherry on the fking cake is when a space eventually becomes free, I move out of your way and you overtake, you wind down your blacked-out window, and make an obscene gesture at me.

Yes, Mr Beard-man, in white Nissan Patrol registration Dubai A-7650, you made me so shocked that I dialled 999 straight afterwards. They've given me a number to report you.

Now shall I rise above it, get on with my life, and forget about it? Or shall I ring up and give them your number?

Votes below please.

23 August, 2005

UAE visa ban decision looks murkier

Now it has changed from a complete cancellation of the whole visa ban malarky to something in the middle.

The government will no longer stamp a ban in the passports of workers as soon as they leave their job, according to the Ministry of Interior.

But workers can still be banned from taking up a new job, and it remains unclear whether or not they will be allowed to enter the country during the six month period.

Designer shoes stolen outside mosques

According to Middle East Online:

Police, who have recently succeeded in arresting culprits red-handed, have learned that the stolen shoes are being copied and sold on foreign markets. "The thieves confessed to the police that they were stealing only expensive shoes with unique designs not available in the United Arab Emirates markets," said the police source. "They said that the stolen shoes are sold to shoe manufacturers in Oman who duplicate them and offer them on sale cheaper than the original prices. These manufacturers pay them 50 dirhams (13.5 dollars) per pair of shoes," they said.

UAE lifts immigration ban on re-entering country

In a significant decision, the UAE government has revoked the ban on re-entry into the country of expatriates who leave their jobs or cancel their residence visas.

This was stated by Lt Col Rashid Al Khidhar, Legal Advisor of the General Directorate of Naturalisation and Residence at the UAE's Interior Ministry.

Earlier, when expatriates were banned by the Labour Ministry, they automatically got a ban stamped on their passports by immigration authorities, thus barring them from entering the UAE during the ban period, the 'Gulf News' reported on Tuesday.

The re-entry ban has been done away with, and the workers banned by the Labour ministry could re-enter the country on any kind of visa other than a work-related one, Khalid told the paper.

Looking for a way to say no?

This tactic could work if it doesn't become common knowledge among prospective grooms.

Dubai’s Sabkha is a different world

gulfnews.com: Beyond the faces

Interesting story and photos: "There’s a healthy flow of traffic in the rest of the city, but not in Sabkha. That’s a different world within the city. Far from the high-rises and the impeccably dressed crowd, some of the inhabitants of this district have never even seen Shaikh Zayed Road.

"The shops around the district still had their shutters down. A few men were hanging around a quadrangular pavement that seemed to the centre of their universe - and the area.

"Not surprisingly, the sight of two women walking around staring at everyone boomeranged the stares back on us. As we continued to explore the streets, we realised why. There were no women around.

"But these were stares that ranged more from curiosity, amusement and amazement than anything else."

22 August, 2005

Metroblogging

Aight, so this is the UAE community blog. But how bout we start a metro blog too :D

metroblogging.com.

I've always wanted to see Dubai on that site.

They need seven (7) active bloggers, but they said even five to six (5-6) would do!

If your game you can register at http://www.metroblogging.com/apply.phtml. You'll have to enter the city as Dubai, coz its not listed up as yet, for obvious reasons!

Me and secretdubai are already registered. We need three more of you!

Its hardly any extra wprk anyway. everytime you make a dubai based post on ur own blog, just copy paste it there too. =)

wordhead: where words get heady

Hello bloggers,

You can find my blog at www.wordhead.co.uk, it's a place for general UAE ramblings and for posting creative writing and stories. Send 'em in please! It's also going to become a bit of a Sex in the (Arabian) City column -- just collecting the dirt as we speak! Currently I'm on day 7 of quitting cigarettes and you can read all about that too...

21 August, 2005

Word verification

Word verification has been enabled to prevent comment spam - this is fake comments generated by spambots that look something like this:

Just seen your blog. Really great. I'll come back again!I have a Wedding Photography Northampton site/blog. It pretty much covers Wedding Photography Northampton related stuff.Come and have a look sometime :-)

well you have done yourself proud, I have to say I enjoyed your Blog, I have a Blog all about cat t shirtmy Blog is at http://www.blogger.com you can find out about my online retail store that sells cat tshirts.

[actual links replaced with blogger.com so the spammers don't get any hits!] Their aim is to generate traffic and increase a site's Google PageRank - pretty stupid, given Google have already changed their ranking system to prevent comment manipulation. But the spammers persist.

The word verifcation means you have to type in one of those sequences of letters written kind of wonkily inside an image - their aim is to filter out humans from spambots. However, if people find it too irritating/difficult/hassle to type each time, then we can take it off.

NB: All spam comments are being deleted permanently and as instantly as possible. If you have been confused by them, and clicked to some rubbish, spam site - all apologies and hopefully the verification will reduce this in future.

Michael Jackson checks in at the Burj Al Arab :: Khaleej Times

This link provided for posterity. Unfortunately, KT can't even tell us if Jacko got under the covers.

20 August, 2005

and another...

hello fellow bloggers of uae!

first of all, thanks sd for starting this blog community. it's been a great help in tracking other bloggers residing in uae.

i'm a filipino working in dubai as a web and graphic designer for almost two years now. please, feel free to check out my blog for daily rants, raves or whatever thoughts that came into my mind.

http://www.dubaichronicles.com

cheers!

Is it our smell?

As seen on the Khaleej Times

URGENTLY REQUIRED
A leading company in the automotive business requires the following personnel to be located in Abu Dhabi and Beda Zayed city branch
DIESEL MECHANICS
ELECTRICIANS
MECHANICS
PAINTERS
DENTERS
LIGHT & HEAVY DRIVERS

Applicants should have a relative Diploma with minimum 3 years experience in Automobiles industry.
UAE D/L is a must for drivers. Indians are not preferred to apply.
Fax: 02-6767708
P.O Box 29699 Abu Dhabi

A new meaning to annoying call center calls

Mobily's women employees harassed :: Arab News

An interesting way to express the highest respect for women. Quoting:

JEDDAH, 20 August 2005 — A telephone and Internet campaign complaining about women in the workplace has prompted communications provider Mobily to shut its women’s call center and consider having separate telephone numbers for men’s and women’s services.

Despite the efforts of the Ministry of Labor to create more job opportunities for women in the private sector, conservatives, displeased by working women, launched a campaign of harassment against the women, phoning the call center numbers to accuse them of improper behavior. The Internet also was used, with certain websites alleging the mixing of men and women.

The newly established Etihad Etisalat telecommunication company (Mobily) opened a section for women in its call centers for customer service, the decision was hailed as a positive example of the private sector’s move toward employing women and providing new opportunities for them. Many women applied and were happy with their jobs, but that changed soon after they began receiving harassment calls eventually pushing the company to close the women’s section.

“We were so happy with the job and the workplace. It was not at all like what was being said on some of those Internet sites claiming that we were mixing with men and talking casually with them all the time,” a female employee at Mobily told Arab News. She said that the call center for women is divided by a partition from the men’s section, but the fact that they were answering inquiry calls by men irritated some conservative community members.

“We were getting harassment calls and hearing all kinds of insults by male callers, but we dealt with them professionally, and, as much as it hurt our feelings, we still wanted to continue with the job,” she said.

And now, something not so happy

I feel bad doing this, so I apologise in advance for being the first to bring a negative tone to this page. It's just that, after everything that's happened in the past couple of weeks, I've pretty much lost my patience.

Am I the only one in the country who's about had it with the current state of our one-and-only ISP?

Ever since they first threw a proxy between us and the world (back in '97, was it?) it's been downhill all the way.

The past year though.. Wow. That was something special.

Let's run through it, shall we?

The Monopoly

Sometime near the end of 2004, Gulfnews carried a nice little article that promised legal voice-over-ip telephony as of 2005. Cheap telephone calls from the UAE? Never!

Never is right. Visit Skype and see what I mean. Not just blocked.. they've pulled them off the routing tables. As far as we're concerned, the entire skype domain no longer exists (sort of like a certain country (cough .il cough) .. because that's the best way to deal with a problem, dontcha know).

In May of this year though, another good sign. The telecom industry is 'officially' deregulated, knocking the Etiopoly off its throne.

I'll believe it when I see it.

The Proxy

How many times have any of you tried to access a perfectly innocent site only to discover that *gasp* it's content is inconsistent with the 'religious, cultural, political and moral' values of the UAE?

Nuff said.

Prices

This is another area where I start to see red. We've had 'net access over here for over 8 years.. Why are we still paying extortionate prices for it? Oh wait.. right.. See point 1) above.

If you aren't mad yet, check out Bell Canada's site for their dsl prices. 5 megs/second for $50 a month. That's Canadian $, by the way. That's around 150 dirhams a month.

Let's work through that one more time.

Here: 2mbps -- 650/month
There: 5mbps -- 150/month

If there's any reason to stop this monopoly shit, it's that one right there.

Service

Another quick trip through history.

In March or April of this year, Etisalat hit some sort of problem with some of their international links, bringing the Internet to its knees. You could still browse (sorta), but forget about any large downloads or any multiplayer gaming sessions.

It took them over 2 months to fix the problem. No refunds were issued.

Two weeks ago, the same problem happened. This time, they were more forthcoming with the details: 'A cable has been severed near India! No wait, two cables! That's right, two!'.

According to this article in 7days, the problem will be fixed on the 26th of the month. But note the detail at the bottom of the article?

"Etisalat also ruled out compensation to businesses which rely on the internet, and has refused to reduce or refund monthly fees to subscribers who have experienced slow connections. "


Interesting.. With customer service like that, I think I'm just going to switch providers! Oh wait.. point 1) above bites me in the ass again.

Allow me a moment to put on my conspiracy colored tin foil hat. So Etisalat won't compensate us for the problem because it wasn't their fault, it was the 'international service provider'. Then why the hell are they the ones sending out ships to fix the problem? Me bullshit sensor is a-tingling.

I think I'm done.




I apologise again, both for the negative rant and for taking up so much screen-time. Please feel free to thrash me in the comments section.

Oh, and thanks to SecretDubai for 2 of the above links.. Saved me from the hell that is searching gulfnews.com!

Guide to blogging in the UAE

For new and older bloggers wanting to avoid trouble, here are some points to bear in mind when writing your online journal (assuming you live in the UAE):

Things that should not be written:

1. Anything harmful to the internal security of the state

2. Any rumors which may be extremely damaging to the economy

3. False statements or insults made against the ruling families

If you come across an amazing, obviously negative rumour, but have no substantial proof, the best advice is to wait until you see it printed in a local media outlet (Gulf News, 7Days, Khaleej Times) then refer to that story with a link. Anything controversial published in the papers will have been past the eyes of professional editors and media lawyers, saving you the worry.

The worst that could happen if you post the above:

1. Your site will be blocked

2. Questioning by the police

3. A fine

4. A defamation action (by the authorities or a private individual)

You are unlikely to face jail unless the charges are terrorism-related, or a serious slander of the royal family. If common sense and fairness prevail in your blog, you should be quite safe.

19 August, 2005

Greetings

Hey everybody,

Finally got around to signing up. I'm not expecting to post much here, I'm having enough bother keeping my own blog going (Adventures in Dubai). But it's a great idea, well done SD!

UAE blogging poll

Never done a poll before, so here goes. This one is more of a test to see if it works, as we could easily work out who blogs from where by visiting people's profiles!


UAE blogging

Where do you blog from?

Dubai
Abu Dhabi
Fujairah
Sharjah
Ras Al Khaimah
Ajman
Umm Al Qawain

He's back

Thank you to secretdubai for starting The UAE community blog.

I've just returned from my annual summering in Orkney Springs. The last few week The Emirates Economist was on hiatus as I was traveling in Ireland. Routine posting at EmEc has resumed; I'll be posting or commenting to UAE community blog from time to time. For now I'll add the community to my blog roll and be visiting daily.

Chinwagging from Abu Dhabi

Hello fellow UAE Bloggers. I blog semi-frequently on Chinwags from Abu Dhabi and more frequently on my more high profile blog Movalog. I'm quite excited about this blog as I've been searching for more UAE bloggers the past few years and have always failed to find many active bloggers.

So how is everyone enjoying the summer holidays? I personally have just returned from my holiday in India and will hopefully be posting the pictures onto Flickr soon. Kudos to secretdubai for starting this blog, I'll be keeping a keen eye on the Atom feed :)

And yet another..

Greetings to all!

I'm yet another blogger who joined the flock just after the whole secretdubai/Etisalat/Gulfnews love triangle.

My blog (snmdubai.blogspot.com) is mostly about my life here in Dubai (23 years and counting) with only the occasional rant thrown in.

18 August, 2005

New blogs

Lots of new UAE blogs are springing up - as soon as they make themselves known they get added to the Bloglines aggregator and to the Blogroll as seen in the left-hand column. As well as Strange Loops below (great title!) here are some other newbies:

Dubai Thoughts and Musings - this is by sandsoftime, an emirati blogger, and already promises to be very interesting

Dubai Flipside - by the aptly nicknamed DubaiNewbie (who will presumably have to change his name in a few months), another amusing expat blog

Paddy in Dubai - no prizes for guessing this guy's nationality, he joined the blogosphere in August

Queen-M - another August arrival, Queen M is presumably a female writer given the name, but everything else is mysterious so far...

The Desert Weasel - Desert_Weasel has been expatting in Dubai for a lengthy six years, so hopefully will have lots of great tales

The New World Order - so far a one-hit wonder, hopefully there'll be more from NewWorldOrder in future

Wordhead - Wordhead, a female expat, is currently struggling with giving up smoking

If anyone's been missed off, please let us know. Newbies and established bloggers are also encouraged to introduce themselves.

Hello

I have really enjoyed reading several of your blogs, and thought I’d try my hand at writing one too. I’m a Canadian male expat, based in Dubai for the past year and a half. You’re welcome to drop by at:

Strange Loops

Echoing the comments from Desert Idleness, it's impressive to see how many local blogs there are. Thanks, secretdubai, for organizing the community site.

Jamie Kane and the Fake Sheikh

Who is this mysterious sheikhly figure in the lift of the Royal Accord hotel with popstar Jamie Kane?!



A nice try from the BBC, but so many mistakes:

1. Five star hotels in Dubai are infinitely more palatial than that one (it looks like a budget motel)

2. No guest would be left to make their way to their own room, they would always be escorted

3. There would be way more staff than that standing around to help

4. Sheikhs don't wander around in their ceremonial robes all the time, and when travelling usually carry them

Emirati bloggers can doubtless spot a dozen or more other things wrong with the "sheikh" and his costume.

17 August, 2005

Desert Idleness

I too would like to thank SD for creating this, an excellent idea and after looking at the list of blogs to the right of this page I had no idea there were so many UAE-based ones.
I am a UK expat based in Dubai and my blog - Desert Idleness - looks at issues, some amusing and others more serious, that face this desert city.
Feel free to have a look at it and I hope more people jump on the blogging bandwagon!

Greetings

I would like to thank SD for setting up this great idea and for inviting me to participate. Just to introduce myself, my name is Brian, an American working at the UAE University in Al Ain, and I blog at Bss and Brn in Al Ain. I set up the blog as a fast and easy way to communicate with friends and family back home about life here, so most of my posts are aimed at explaining life here to Americans. But as an added bonus, I've gotten a lot of interesting feedback from nationals, expats and departed expats here.

New picture array installed

It should be working - assuming javascript is enabled on your browser. Here's what all the images will look like (you should see a different one each time you visit/reload) - if anyone really dislikes any of them, please let me know. They were made ages ago as tourism-themed icons about the UAE:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Kick Start!

Since everyone else seems to be shy, I guess I will kick start the introductions.
My name is Jacob Joseph, I am a journalist based in Dubai.

Introductions

Please feel free to post entries introducing yourself and your blog.

There are so many UAE bloggers now that it's hard for people to keep track! So do use this blog as an opportunity to promote yourself.

And any new UAE bloggers, or anyone we haven't found yet, do email for an invitation here.

Hello from the ORB Creative Club Blogs!

Greetings UAE Bloggers!

This is a wonderful idea! This is definitely on the watchlist for the ORB-UAE CUB (Cool UAE Blog) Awards!

http://cooluaeblogs.blogspot.com

Regards
ORB-UAE Moderator
ORB-UAE Creative Group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orb-uae

16 August, 2005

UAE community user icon

It has been pointed out that some people might take offence at using the picture of Sheikh Zayed that you can see top right.

For the record, it was put there out of respect and relevance as Sheikh Zayed created the UAE, and is supposed to be a kind of artistic-ised version of the official portrait. It is supposed to look dignified, but (not having the talents of Leonardo da Vinci) perhaps it hasn't turned out that way!

Getting people offended is never a good idea, and this is supposed to be a community blog where members get a say in how things look, so feedback and suggestions on this subject are very welcome. Please do comment if you find it inappropriate and why, to help give some guidelines on more appropriate images.

Ideally, a random image pic would be great: so we could have a set of a dozen or so, and fix some sort of javascript array to pick one at random when someone visits the site. Input from webmasters here would be extremely welcome, otherwise it's off to the Javascript source and hours of frustrated fiddling with incomprehensible code.

Grapeshisha newsletter

This is a great free newsletter with interesting and genuinely useful information about the UAE:

Grapeshisha.com
What exactly is going on in the UAE? What is this property boom in Dubai? Abba Dabba who? We provide the answers to all of these questions and more. GRAPESHISHA is a monthly newsletter giving the real deal on life, work and customs within Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the UAE.

So sign up if you can - it's a great idea executed really well. All the archives are available on-site, so you needn't miss anything. No clue who's behind it, other than that they deserve a huge pat on the back.

Capital Calling

Kudos to SD for starting this blog. Here's my 2 cents:

1- This week, those living in Abu Dhabi (including yours truly) can truly compare their lifestyle to Dubai. With most of the Hamdan/electra street intersection being closed due to maintenance work, the traffic in peak hours is beginning to make people pull their hair. Traffic accidents were witnessed today, and one also had to make way for civil defence personnel amid the rush.

2- SD often praises Dr.Al Ka'abi (UAE Labour Minister) on the SD Diary. Today, I learned just why. Companies listed in Category A with the labour ministry have to pay AED 500 per person for renewal of their employees' labour cards - a massive drop from the AED1200 earlier! Who says fees at govt. departments only knew the upward route?

3- http://www.theonion.com/news/index.php?issue=4132 - Interesting piece of bogus news.

Welcome to UAE community blog

There are lots of reasons for this blog, and here are some:

1. A place for UAE bloggers to meet and discuss general blogging issues

2. A place for new people to publicise their blogs

3. A place for less frequent UAE bloggers to cross-post, so people are reminded that they exist!

4. A place to blog stuff that doesn't fit in with your personal blog content

5. A place for UAE bloggers to come up with something not covered in 1-4

Any bloggers based in the UAE - or the dearly departed - are welcome. If you see this and would like an invitation, just drop an email to my username at gmail. Usual disclaimers apply: abusive content will have to be censored or deleted, let's not forget the superbly nebulous media laws here.