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.

Give me all your eggs and the basket

How things turn out to be the exact opposite of what you expect!

I had a "business" meeting today. The reason I put the word business in quotes is because it really was a business meeting. It would come as a shock for those who know me well. You see, I am the IT guy. I talk and breathe all things to do with computers.

But that is not the topic of this entry. The topic of this entry is what the title says. Give me all your eggs and the basket. That is exactly what the lady (she was da bomb) I met today wanted from me. 30 minutes of discussion revolving around that one sentence. It is funny how people expect us to provide everything to them and expect nothing in return. And they would talk so as-a-matter-of-fact-ly that it implies they are doing us a favor. Oh well. I guess this is how businesses work in Dubai.

US State Dept condemns U.A.E. arrest of homosexual couples

United States Condemns U.A.E. Arrest of Homosexual Couples

Is this not an example of the US imposing its cultural values on the rest of the world?

Meanwhile, 365g*y.c*m reports,
on Monday, Colonel Mohammed Ibrahim Al Hajiri, of the Public Relations Department, did not dispute the arrests and said the investigation is ongoing and that no official charges had been laid.

“The reports in local newspapers and foreign news agencies which quoted the Ministry of Interior on the issue of youths arrested in connection with a gay party is nothing but a personal analysis of the issue," said Col. Hajiri.

"It has nothing to do with the ongoing investigation of the accused. It is not necessarily the ministry’s opinion on the issue and does not represent the viewpoint of any of the authorities concerned.” Hajiri said.

Blat cat splat

Much as I greatly love cats and to a lesser extent 7Days, these headlines seem just a teensy little bit ill-juxtaposed:

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28 November, 2005

Taking a break

Looks like secretarabian is not going to be open to the public for the time being because of either:

a: There has been a glitch in the blogging software.
b: I have pissed someone off somewhere down the line and so they have now attacked my blog.

Which is just aswell because both LH and I have exams coming up for the next couple of weeks , so we should be concentrating on other those ;-)

Anyway till things resume...take care.

Dubai joins Metroblogging!

Dubai has become the 36th city to get its own Metroblog:

dubai.metblogs.com

It would have looked a bit flashier, but for Etisalat/TRA's timely re-blocking of Flickr.

Still, the little "image not loaded" icons give it that special UAE flavour...

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The Great Fish Story - Property World ME

The Great Fish Rescue - Property World ME
That life shall not perish

Quoting the press release:

To link The Palm, Jumeirah´s spine (the stretch of land that runs up the centre of the fronds from the trunk) to the crescent, the masterplan called for a 1.4 kilometre long, 38 metre wide underwater tunnel to be built. The underwater vehicular tunnel will consist of three cells, the outer cells each accommodating three lanes of traffic and two pedestrian walkways, whilst the intermediate cell will be used for the accommodation of services and as an emergency evacuation route.
Akihiko Mochizuki, Project Manager for Taisei, the Japanese company contracted to build the tunnel, comments: “The first stage of constructing the tunnel was dredging a channel, building dam walls, and construction of sheet pile walls to create a cofferdam. The tunnel would then be constructed within the cofferdam.”

With the cofferdam almost complete and work due to commence on the construction of the tunnel the fragile ecosystem that had developed within the confines of the dam was in jeopardy. ´The method of tunnel construction required draining all the water from the area” says Najdat Othman, Resident Engineer for Parsons de Leuw Cather, Supervising Consultants on the project. “It was estimated that in the vicinity of five and a half million cubic metres of water would need to be discharged in just 45 days to enable the tunnel construction to commence” adds Mochizuki.

It was recognised at the outset that when the cofferdam was complete, marine life would be trapped within the dam’s walls. When discharging commenced, such life would perish.

Can't guess how this story ends? Click here for Chapter 2: The rest of the press release.

Iranian earthquake tremor hits Dubai | ameinfo

Iranian earthquake tremor hits Dubai: ameinfo: "clearly some people have been shaken."

Or stirred? Unintended pun, I presume.

ameinfo also had these words of assurance:
The Dubai authorities are expected to move swiftly to reassure residents that there has been no damage to persons or property.
If the GCC does institute a six years and out policy for expats I am not so assured that the Dubai will have a workforce competent to make assertions that can be relied upon.

Understatement of the day: KT needs editing

A story on female criminals in today's Khaleej Times Online contains these quotes:

Interestingly, women under 25 committed most crimes in the emirate. . . .

Most of those convicted are young, under the age of 25, constituting 48 per cent of the total convictions, while those in the age group 26-40 constituted 36 per cent, and those above 40 constituted 16 per cent. . . .

Most crimes committed by women in the emirate of Fujairah happen to be done by those under 25.

Most crimes committed by women in the emirate of Fujairah happen to be done by those under 25. . . .

Most of those convicted are young, under the age of 25, constituting 48 per cent of the total convictions, while those in the age group 26-40 constituted 36 per cent, and those above 40 constituted 16 per cent. . . .
Did I point out that most of those convicted are young? Probably the earthquake stories saturated the editorial capacity at KT.

Understandably events like earthquakes tend to do that to are sorts of services that in ordinary times are relatively plentiful. Thus, I'm not sure what these folks are outraged about.* The resilience of the information system is in the Army of Davids called UAE bloggers posting on servers continents away. Yesterday links to reliable information on the earthquake were readily available here at the UAE community blog.

*Indeed, nowhere in KT today do I see an admission of denial service yesterday to UAE residents seeking information on the quake from KT online. I wonder how large the denial of service was. (Yes, Gulf News servers were also swamped. However, Etisilat ISP services seemed to be sufficient; it was just that newspapers' servers' capacity was reached.)

27 November, 2005

Earthquake links

Gulf News story here
Reuters news article here
Iran earthquake report here
UAE earthquake science (video) here
Google News (+earthquake +Iran) here

Click here to read Gulf News' latest, in case their server is still overloaded.

gulfnews.com: Tremor felt in Dubai

gulfnews.com: Tremor felt in Dubai: "Tremor felt in Dubai

Staff Report

Dubai:
There are unconfirmed reports that an earth tremor has hit the northern emirates.
These reports claim that the tremor was centred on a triangular area between Ras Al Khaimah, Al Ain and Dubai.
Some tall buildings and skyscrapers around Shaikh Zayed Road and Dubai Media City were evacuated.
UAE authorities are now attempting to ascertain from international sources whether there was any seismic activity in the region.
More follows..."

Did anyone feel the earthquake few minutes ago?

Cause i missed it!

Flickr Alternative

If you have been affected by the sudden blocking of Flickr, Picassa by google offers a good alternative.

Jacob

Gay newlyweds face penalties in Emirates

Gay newlyweds face penalties in Emirates :: Seattlepi

Read the whole thing. A few quotes:

More than two dozen gay Arab men - arrested at what police called a mass homosexual wedding - could face government-ordered hormone treatments, five years in jail and a lashing, authorities said Saturday.

The Interior Ministry said police raided a hotel chalet earlier this month and arrested 22 men from the Emirates as they celebrated the wedding ceremony, one of a string of recent group arrests of homosexuals here.

The men are likely to be tried under Muslim law on charges related to adultery and prostitution, said Interior Ministry spokesman Issam Azouri.
. . .
The Arabian peninsula, nevertheless, has a long tradition of openly homosexual wedding singers and dancers.
. . .
Police acting on a tip raided the hotel in Ghantout, a desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway, and found a dozen men dressed as female brides and a dozen others in male Arab dress, apparently preparing for a ceremony that would join them as husbands and wives, Azouri said.
. . .
Last year, police made mass arrests at an apparent gay wedding in the conservative emirate of Sharjah and at the Khor Fakkan beach resort in Fujairah emirate, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Two dozen men arrested in Sharjah were given symbolic lashings - meant to humiliate, not inflict pain - and then released from jail, said prominent Emirati lawyer Abdul Hamid al-Kumaiti.

"There are so many others like these guys," al-Kumaiti said. "The police and rulers need to do more than just lash them and let them go."

Azouri described the arrests in Ghantout as a "delicate" matter made public for the first time - more than a week after the event - because the country's tribal leadership wants to demonstrate it will not tolerate open homosexuality.
. . .
The arrested men have been questioned by police and were undergoing psychological evaluations Saturday. Azouri said the Interior Ministry's department of social support would try to direct the men away from homosexual behavior - using methods including male hormone treatments, if the men are found to be deficient.

"Because they've put society at risk they will be given the necessary treatment, from male hormone injections to psychological therapies," he said. "It wasn't just a homosexual act. Now we're dealing with a kind of marriage. There was a ritual involved."
. . .
Azouri said authorities want to be seen to be taking action at a time when complaints of gay behavior were emerging from the country's schools and myriad shopping malls.

Most cases of homosexual behavior are taboo and violate Emirati laws based on Islamic sharia. Azouri suggested that other countries with laws based on religion, including Christianity and Judaism, would also ban gay behavior and marriage.
My religion is splitting over these issues.

26 November, 2005

Carlsberg Beer?

Today i thought I'd accompany some friends down to the Mall of the Emirates to have a peek at the new ski hall. The Dubai Ski Club (www.dubaiskiclub.com) was distributing the membership cards over there, together with their members' ski jackets. The back of the ski club jacket features a big logo of Carlsberg beer. As it seems, Carlsberg is a sponsor of theirs. They said: "Nothing wrong with advertising for Carlsberg Beer, it's just a sponsor". So I guess since they already place banners of Carlsberg on their website and now on the ski jackets, we can soon expect the ski hall to be plastered with Carlsberg advertising and handing out freebies to the kids? A Muslim asked the staff over there: "Do you expect the muslims to walk about with Beer advertising on their jackets?" The answer was simple: "If you don't like it, rip the Logo off". Where is this country heading to, I am speachless. I remember a few months ago there was a race at the Autodrome and there were Heineken banners placed all over the place that had to be removed later on.

A Gulf News blast from the past: October 27, 2000

Link: "He defended a man's right under Islam to divorce his wife without court action, and that if Islam had given women equal right to divorce, all men would have been divorced by now."

Perhaps the "all men would be divorced by now" is a reference to this world-wide phenomenon.

He is: "Dr Sheikh Ahmed Al Hadad, head of the Fatwa Committee in the Islamic Affairs Department."

continuation

i have decided to continue blogging after a tiny 12 hour break.

Camel jockey watch

Daily Times (Pakistan): "Sixty-four Pakistani boys used as camel jockeys were repatriated from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday evening. The boys, between three and 15 years old, were accompanied by two UAE government officials on a Gulf Airlines flight. . . . The children had been smuggled to the UAE and used as jockeys in the Gulf States’ camel racing industry. The latest batch took the total number of trafficked children repatriated from the UAE to 295. . . . Most of the boys are not very fluent in Urdu, though all can speak Arabic."

Kashar World News: '"The children used for modern day slavery as camel jockeys were forced to work up to 18 hours a day in the desert heat and fed three biscuits a day to keep their weight down." Fahad Burney, Vice Chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust said.

"The UAE leadership has given us their full support and has shown with their actions that they are ready and willing to help all those in need especially these children. They banned their use, arranged for their release, provided free accommodation, medical attention, food and clothes and now they are sending them back to their respected countries. For this we thank them." Fahad Burney stated.'

25 November, 2005

halt.

in light of some recent comments made about my blog, i have temporarily pulled the plug, all previous postings have been censored.

apparently:

its a girl, she pretty pissed, she called you "very stupid", apparently youve posted on other sites, and your a very large contributor to showing everyone how crappy the UAE is and how stupid arabs are


I certainly would hope people could read well enough to see what my blog was really about.
cut and pasted from an MSN convo with someone who translated it for me
i guess all my fears about education were correct.

until people learn how to read and stuff,
samuraisam

letters to the editor

[censored]

How to get Dubai Dreams

For those of you still unsure of how to get a hold of the BBC series on Dubai just drop me an email on desertblog[REMOVETHIS]@gmail.com and I will show you how.
I am not sure how legal this method is, but no one makes a profit from the distribution of the series, including the site the files are hosted on, which aren't connected to me in any way.
All finished episodes are available

A life on the ocean wave

A heart-rending story in Emirates Today about low-lying islands disappearing beneath the waves...

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Hmm...

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Blog Bites biting away

In today's Emirates Today, we have:

Secret Dubai diary
The Desert Weasel
The Secret Blog of Arabia
Wordhead

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Click here to see in full

24 November, 2005

Episode of alias filmed in dubai?










That's right, an episode of alias has been filmed in dubai.
Alias stars Jennifer Garner, and was created by JJ Abrams (creator of lost too).

This episode features a good 20 minutes solely of dubai, it's based at the racing tracks / grandstand.

ironically the TV show is usually about international terrorists, i wouldn't think that dubai would want this image....

and i don't think in the whole episode that "dubai" is actually said once.

and the lead actor manages to say "Sheek" rather than "sheikh"

interesting is no less than 5 seperate mentions of gambling, all of which are mentioned in dubai, at the race tracks. last time i was there, there were no places to place bets....
also interesting is this wonderful picture. an arab drinking wine.
bwahahaha

Dubai Dreams - or "Dyoobai Dreams" more like

Dear BBC,

After coming here and taking the time to produce a six part series on the sandlands, was it really so fking hard to find a narrator who can:

1. Pronounce "Dubai"
2. Have a modicum of animation in his voice

This is arguably the worst narration I have ever heard in any documentary series ever. Even those "Worlds Cutest Puppy's" [sic] DVDs in Virgin Megastore sport richer vocal talent.

Credit to you for using a "regional" accent - but next time try broadening your search beyond Scunthorpe Council Morgue.

yours sincerely

secretdubai
(NOT "secretdyoobai")

23 November, 2005

Eleven convicted of trafficking Tajik women to Emirates

Middle East Times

Flickr Blocked AGAIN??

Sigh, I thought we had already won this battle but I guess not because our almighty Etisalat has blocked Flickr again... Does it work for y'all http://www.flickr.com

Female blogger stirs up Yemen :: Pajamas Media

Female blogger stirs up Yemen

Dubai Dreams

[censored]

22 November, 2005

Building a dream

Photos from John Perkins 'Building a dream'
a photoessay on the workers' life in Dubai.


....Dubai. "The lifestyle of a lifetime. The address of the future." A place to work construction on a 2 year contract, in 45 degree heat, a place where unions are illegal, where your employer owns your passport, your dormitory, your boots, your bus to work, and the food you eat...




Caption: There are traffic jams at 6am from Sonapour to Dubai.
The camp is way out in the desert

UAE Web of Life Guide Ver 1.0

Dear All,

I have compiled a list of useful UAE websites into a single printable page.
The UAE Web of Life Guide Ver 1.0 is a 1 page PDF file that can be
printed and stuck next to your computer for ready reference of all useful UAE
websites, online services and portals.

Since I don't have any webhosting space to upload this file, for a copy, email me at orbrary@gmail.com.

The websites are organised under the following categories:

UAE GOVERNMENT
Online Payment Services, E-Government, Chambers of Commerce, Free
Zones, Ports, Postal, Information, Media, Health, Tourism, UAE Rulers,

UAE MEDIA
Telecom & ISPs, Newspapers, Magazines, Television, Radio, Online News,
UAE Ezines and Newsletters

UAE BUSINESS
Biz Info/News, Tenders, Stock Exchanges, Finance Info, Banks, B2B Portals,
Country Biz Organisations,

UAE ONLINE SERVICES
Search Engines, Web Directories, Yellow Pages, Biz Directories, Free Classifieds, Online Discussion Forums, eGroups, Blogs, Web City Guides, Online Book Shops,
Art and Culture

UAE PORTALS
General, Shopping, Automobiles, Tourism, Information, Sports, Health,
Women, Online Gift Delivery, Events, ISPs, IT, Cinemas, Recreation,
Sales and Promotion, Online Gaming, Hobbies, Hospitals

UAE TOURISM & TRANSPORT
Airports, Airlines, Couriers, Hotels, Restaurants, Shopping Malls, UAE Embassies,
UAE Organisations

UAE EDUCATION
Colleges, Universities, Schools, Libraries, Online Learning, Dubai Visionary Projects, UAE Recruitment

Regards
Umesh
http://uaeweboflife.blogspot.com

Some Dubai roads and transport services set to be privatised

gulfnews.com: Some Dubai roads and transport services set to be privatised

"We are conducting a study to privatise some services enabling the private sector to build, manage and run a comprehensive system of transport, traffic and roads ensuring top class services to residents," said Engineer Mattar Mohammad Ahmad Al Tayer, Chief Executive of the newly established Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (DRTA).

Officials had earlier said the authority will study the privatisation of some services, including the imposition of fees for road network users.
Emphasis added.

It's an idea that comes and goes. Earlier stories on road use network fees in Dubai here.

Dubai: 'Like Singapore on steroids'

CNet (of all places) has a piece on Dubai - "the latest frontier for Wild West investing". Here's a selection:
Besides the abundance of white-collar jobs, Western expatriots are drawn to benefits like no income tax, sometimes subsidized housing and a chance to get in on something big.

For Westerners thinking of jumping into the froth, be warned that local circumstances take some getting used to.

Undercover police agents, for instance, are everywhere. "You can criticize the government in a bar, but watch out what you say in a grocery store," said one Western ad executive. Another source recalled how a friend got into an argument in line for movie tickets--the friend hurled an insult and his antagonist kicked him. Seconds later, a janitor dropped his broom and brandished a badge. So did about four other bystanders.

"Dubai is like Singapore on steroids," said James Adams, a marketing manager for Dubai Silicon Oasis, an tech park for silicon designers that's currently under construction.

A broad range of activities can lead to jail time. Living with someone of either gender who is not your spouse can lead to a sentence, although the authorities only prosecute in rare instances. Public displays of affection can lead to legal trouble. Giving the finger to another driver can also draw a warning from the police, one source said. In a letter to the editor, one person was recently incensed that American pop star Michael Jackson didn't get prosecuted for accidentally walking into a woman's bathroom on a recent visit.

On the other hand, street crime is non-existent [?] and no terrorist attacks have occurred. "I am glad (undercover police) are there," said one British consultant who moved here after stints in the U.S. and Europe.

Dubai's most stupid lavatories

The reason why every year, dozens of international - and local - journalists visiting Dubai Air Show stumble into the wrong bog:

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Compare and contrast with what local men and women actually wear:

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God only knows how confused Michael Jackson would be.

21 November, 2005

Dubai to remain tax haven

Mohammed assures Dubai to remain tax haven

DUBAI — General Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Defence Minister, yesterday said that the UAE would remain free of taxation.


Speaking exclusively to Khaleej Times, at the Dubai Airshow 2005 yesterday, he said: “We do not have tax (and) we do not need to have tax.”

Saudi Arabia’s agreeing to levy sales and income tax after getting the WTO membership was sparkling some concerns that the UAE would follow suit.

The thorny issue of taxation has been recently discussed by Khaleej Times in connection with the government intervention in the soaring rental costs problem in the UAE.

Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, recently said that the UAE authorities were discussing the possibility of introducing sales and income tax in the country. He told Khaleej Times last week: “We are (still) under discussion (and) we have not decided yet. They are just bringing the idea (of levying tax).”

In a recent interview with Reuters, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Economy and Planning, said that the UAE was planning to impose sales tax on tobacco products which becomes effective from next year.

“We are looking for imposing sales tax in some sectors such as tobacco,” the agency quoted her as saying.

This was regarded by observers as a possible first step to introducing sales tax on a larger scale in the country.

Earlier this year a report by the IMF has recommended that the UAE should diversify its revenues by introducing a value-added tax (VAT), which raised concerns about the attractiveness of the country to foreign investments.

With recent reports saying that the UAE’s inflation rate exceeded 22 per cent during the last 12 months, there were rising worries that the country would loose its competitive edge in providing business-friendly environment.

But General Shaikh Mohammed’s announcement put an end to incertitude, paving way for more businesses to come to the UAE.


interesting... i eagerly await an article in the near future that completely denies what has been stated in this article

Arabic speaker on blogging required urgently

Hi All,

Passing on a message:

Dear Members,

I've got an interview with Al Jazeera TV tomorrow regarding blogging and i need an Arabic speaker to speak on my behalf. If you feel you're the right person please email me at adnan.arif@gmail.com with your telephone number or call me at
050-6268528.

Best,

Adnan

20 November, 2005

Weekend in Sharjah

I relay the story on behalf of its parties as is:

"I have always been hesitant of going to Sharjah, from the stories one hears and the bad rap of its security forces. I have never had the need to be concerned but one always takes what they hear and archives it in the corners of ones memory bank.

One of the stories that had terrified me was of a friend of mine who is local & from Sharjah. She is married and has children. She once told me that one Thursday evening her husband invited her to go for a drive, no need to wear anything fancy as they will just stroll around in the car, so she wore her House Shaila over her house dress and they drove off. As they sat in their car by a beach, a police cruiser passed by and stopped by them. The officer asked her husband for identification and demanded to know the relationship of the woman with him. So he told him that this was his wife and mother of his children, to which the police officer requested the marriage certificate!

The husband offended told him that he was not in the habit of carrying it around. So (to cut this short to get to the main reason I'm saying this) they took them to the station, gave her a physical to see if she was untouched, and called her father so that he may come and bail her out. SHE WAS WITH HER HUSBAND!

Now, after hearing such a story one might feel this is an exaggeration... until one hears other stories or experiences an adventure of their own...

Thursday night I went with a friend of mine (male) for a drive on the Sharjah side of Mamzar facing Qanat Al Qasba. The place is beautiful, untouched and there are many who go there yet it still retains its privacy. After sitting outside we moved to sit in the car as the breeze was cool and were chatting when a police cruiser passed by... I thought hmmm... I hope they don't stop by us as I am worried of the whole police ordeal... They didn't.

Around fifteen minutes later, a regular mercedes passes by so close by us that the side mirrors nearly touch. The guy says good evening and my friend answers, he says it again, wanting to have a look at my face... I respond... he leaves turns around and comes back blocking our cars way. He asks my friend to step out of the car and asks for his ID... I ask him for his. He shows me his ID from the Ministry of Interior, The Police Department. I show him my drivers license.

As he speaks to me bending low to the window I catch a strong wiff of alcohol. He asks me about what relation do I have with the guy I'm with. I tell him he's a friend and though I am aware that in Sharjah this is not allowed I do apologize. He asks me if he's my boyfriend and I said no. He winks and says its ok you can tell me and goes of on how many girlfriends he has and how I'm like his sister and my friend is like his brother etc... He asks me do you sit with your friend and I said well yes, he then asked me if I sleep with my friend and I told him indignantly of course not! He then says 'you know if you wanna come here just give me a call and I'll take care of you guys' (all this and he's holding both our ID's) He gives us both his mobile number etc... he tells me that he's married to two and his second wife is morrocan and how we can all go out together.

I keep wondering why the cruiser didn't stop us?

He asks us if we drink or have been drinking and I say no. He then tells us that the police cruiser that passed had concerns about us and that's why the told him to go check the situation... (So why didn't the cruiser question us?) 'Cause this is his hang out place. I told him that we were law abiding residents and visitors and were appreciating the beauty of the place but we promise not to come here again and rather go to Duba-side of Mamzar. (I even told him, that as he'd been drinking perhaps we should look at matters differently, to which he admitted wholeheartedly) He invited us to join him on the weekend and we can all hang out together. I was offended as his insinuation was felt by both me & my friend. He then had a mood flip and said he was going to call the cruiser, I kept asking about what went wrong? he went to his car (which had two of his drinking buddies) and they talked a bit then he said ok you can leave.

We left.

As we hit the main road, we noticed him tailing us and flashing his headlights. We stopped, he said he has to take us in as the station called him (as he was urinating - his words were more crass) and though he told them we left they asked him to follow us.. So now he has to take us in.

I pleaded with him to tell them to tell them that he couldn't catch up with us as we went far he said indignantly no way My Mercedes can't catch up with this Japanese thing!... he took our documents again (and convened with his friends) and then he said: I spoke to the station and told them that you had to leave 'cause you have the night shift at your job. Call me tomorrow so that we'll see what happens.(...all I could think of was the station and what they would do to me as a girl...)

We drove of in silence anxiously heading for the Dubai border as if we were refugees escaping from one country to another which was a safe haven. My friend was livid. He was extremely offended as a guy because of how obvious it was that the guy wanted to hit it of with me and he actually said "I feel like a pimp, I have been totally humiliated and could do nothing to protect you... What kind of friend am I?" I told him he couldn't do much and it's not his fault, he said this reminded him of how his country was as a police state where an official would take advantage of his status.

I disagreed with the comparison as I do love and respect The UAE and have never felt uncomfortable in any of the emirates, I told him that other places were different, that its only Sharjah, and for him, as a visitor, it would be hard not to let that picture tarnish his image of the UAE. I told him, one bad apple... really they're all not like this guy, 90% of my friends are emirati and my colleagues, I've been here for the longest time... but really, can I blame him?

I was hurt, I was hurt because this guy used his Blue ID to hassle people and give the wrong impression of his department, I was hurt because he had no respect for the ID by showing it to us knowing full well that he was drunk. I was hurt because we do so much to try and put our best face forth and someone like him puts a crack in it. I was hurt because though I was in no uncompromising position, I felt shamed by his insinuations and felt that somehow what I did must have been wrong.

I was hurt."

Luckily the guy gave them back their documents the next day, he even called the guy and asked him when were they coming again so that they could have drinks on the beach together!

I am hurt as I respect the Police force in this country. I am hurt to hear of such an ordeal experienced by anyone who loves the UAE.

I am also very dismayed. Luckily we know the existence of the majority of good people on the force, to them I say: I salut you and thank God for your existence. This was obviously a drunk bored officer looking for some late night fun and to entertain his buddies.

Income tax?

Haven't seen anyone else post this yet, but if anyone has, apologies for double posting.




UAE authorities are considering the introduction of sales and income taxes in the country, according to a top UAE government official.


According to Khaleej Times, Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Industry, on Wednesday said: “We are (still) under discussion (and) we have not decided yet. They are just bringing the idea (of levying taxes).”

Index ranks Middle East freedom

The Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked 20 Middle East countries on 15 indicators of political and civil liberty. Here's how they stack up:

Israel: 8.20
Lebanon: 6.55
Morocco: 5.20
Iraq: 5.05
Palestine: 5.05
Kuwait: 4.90
Tunisia: 4.60
Jordan: 4.45
Qatar: 4.45
Egypt: 4.30
Sudan: 4.30
Yemen: 4.30
Algeria: 4.15
Oman: 4.00
Bahrain: 3.85
Iran: 3.85
UAE: 3.70
Saudi Arabia: 2.80
Syria: 2.80
Libya: 2.05

The UAE doesn't come out too well, does it?

For Sale: The World

Link

Quotes:

Branson said: “It is correct, we have had an approach. I don’t know if Great Britain is available, and it is something we will check out. . . ."

Earlier this year Nakheel sold “Greenland” to a group of Kuwaiti investors, who intend to turn the island into a luxury leisure park.

Another island is expected to be turned into an Islamic hotel.

19 November, 2005

FARK.com places Dubai in Saudi; either that or Finland in Saudi

FARK.com: (1768698) Saudi resident upset that motorists drive their pet tigers around in the front seat, instead of putting them in the tank (with pic goodness)

In other news, the Gulf News server seems to be up to the task of handling a spike in demand from readers of Fark.com.

Shots of todays A380 flypast at the Burj

Shots of the A380 doing its flypast and photoshoot today

It really is a magnificent aircraft and they do seem to have managed to get it quiet(ish) which should be a bonus for those living in Mirdiff

Couple of links

Quicktime file(4mb)

Windows file (7mb)

Hope to get the footage shot from the chase plane tomorrow.

Dubai Airport / Emirates Airlines Etiquette

as i'm going to be flying with emirates in a few months; i made this wonderful, very very very long etiquette list for my no.1 favourite airport / emirates airlines
It highlights the ordeals everyone has to go through when they fly emirates/go through dubai airport.
if you can think of any other pet peeves you'd like to see on the list drop me an email


I hope it is funnay for you.

Here it is

Guide to war zones printed in Arabic

After a quick tutorial from secretdubai and Keefieboy, I now understand how to link to articles from Emirates Today - and cut & paste from there as well. Woohoo!

Here's an example of the kind of story that blogosphere can spread to more readers helping the public and Emirates Today at the same time:

Guide to war zones printed in Arabic :: Emirates Today

Extract:
The Arabic version of The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law, published by Medecins Sans Frontieres, was launched last week in Abu Dhabi.

“In the UAE, we are all peace loving people who believe in humanity,” said Asma Saddique Al Mutawa, who funded the publishing of the book. “As a volunteer with MSF and other organisations, I felt the need for such a book in Arabic. This information is for people like us, housewives and volunteers. It should not be limited to specialists.” While delivering relief aid, humanitarian workers often face security risks because there is a blurring of the line between independent humanitarian assistance and military intervention. Fredrick Finio, MSF executive director in the UAE, said that 90 per cent of people caught up in armed conflicts are civilians.

“During a crisis there are no lawyers in the field to explain humanitarian laws, nor can victims afford them, hence this book,” said the book’s author Francoise Saulnier Bouchet. “Those involved in conflict resolution need to understand their responsibility towards human beings in a non-discriminating manner.” The guide, which works as an A to Z, has been translated into six languages and provides precise meaning for terms and concepts such as humanitarian work, the global war on terror, and the International Court of Justice.
If you follow the link you'll find the whole article. How long will this "permalink" last? I'm not sure. It's unfortunate that Emirates Today does not provide you with a link there back to its main page.

Currently Emirates Today is advertising itself as "Heavy in Content." Let's hope that's its aspiration, and it's not resting on its laurels.

While I'm in a curmudgeonly mood: I could not find information on how to obtain the book (or any of its translations) at MSF. How do you get a copy? And shouldn't it be available for free? Or is it necessary to create the financial incentives to create it -- a la new medicines from drug companies.

Education reform in the UAE - a call to arms?

If you have opinions on education reform in the UAE click over to The Emirates Economist. I would be grateful for your comments.

Wild driving

Was this video shot in the UAE? There are several visual hints, but I can't be certain.

http://www.excelerate.com.au/downloads/drewie/BOBO.wmv

18 November, 2005

Yay, Blogbites

In this week's Blogbites in Emirates Today:

Dubai's Drama Queen
Clearly Demented But Thoughtful
Secret Dubai diary
Arabian Adventures
Adventures In Dubai

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Click here to see in full

MENA Online Censorship Report

Secret Dubai is mentioned in the "False Freedom: Online Censorship in the Middle East and North Africa" report by Human Rights Watch.

Download it here (5.17mb PDF).

Moryarti

Dubai Dreams...

I would like to thank the kind person who spread the link around to the dubai dreams file.
"http://www.samurai-sam.com/dudreams01.avi 20 hits"
that link is nonexistant now.

Next time i host something like this i will be much much more selective of who is given it.

unfortunately for a certain someone i only gave this specific link to 1 person... i am verifying how much bandwidth was lost at the moment.

It is still available for anyone who wants it, however i shall be moving it much much more frequently.

In praise of: Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Education

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Education and Chancellor of UAE University, recently attended the Rememberance Day service at St. Andrews Community Centre in Abu Dhabi.

He's good man, a forthright man, and the right man for the job at the helm of the Ministry of Education.

michael jackson disproved

In a similar manner to Adventures in Dubai, Michael Jacksons "Can't read bathroom sign" theory has been disproved and owned by emirates today.

article here

17 November, 2005

Iraq Movie

I found a very moving movie about Iraq (only about 5 min long) that I'd like to share with you courtesy of Al Mulhama.

Please click here to link to the movie directly.

16 November, 2005

Awful comments

I refuse to answer this abhorrence any more, so if anyone else would like to, be my guest. The subject is the Women's Shelter in Dubai.

I fully admit that I have a limited understanding of the Quran, but to claim that the battered women's shelter "encourages" women to "rebel" and is basically a front for a brothel is just libellous and sick.

So any learned scholars wanting to take this guy on - or just anyone who thinks he's wrong - be my guest.

Put a Tiger in your Range Rover

Today's Gulf News website has a report with photo on a former Dubai resident who was "outraged when she spotted a tiger looking out of a 4x4 while on holiday in the city."

Who was on holiday - the former resident or the tiger? Ah - the vagaries of the English language!

The article goes on to say that Finn, Adele Kofler, then wrote to the World Society for the Protection of Animals to see what could be done about it.

The demise of endangered species, such as tigers, has a common enemy: man - through his greed and stupidity. A dead adult tiger can be worth as much as US$50k with the head, skin, claws, meat, blood and p*nis all being valued for trophy or medicinal purposes.

We watched a program on National Geographic on the tigers in a reserve in Ranthambhore, Rajasthan in India. It tracked some of the resident tigers, as well as described how the reserve rangers watch over them, but obviously they didn't watch them that well.

Sadly, all of the 18 or so tigers which were in that reserve have now "disappeared" - as have tigers in other so-called sanctuaries, such as Sariska National Park which is also in Rasjathan. An article on the Debating India website has tiger population figures that show the alarming rate of decline in numbers over the past century.

The tiger's plight is certainly not helped with acts of sheer idiocy as in Baghdad in 2003, and if I had been there, it wouldn't have been the tiger that was shot.

All seriousness aside for a minute - wouldn't it be very cool to drive down SZR with a tiger hanging out of your car? I wonder what the impact would be on the Sunny and Echo drivers!

GN: very well said on zoo procrastination

When promises mean very little

That Dubai Municipality will build a new zoo in Mirdif would have been met with delight. Over many years there have been complaints of the condition of Dubai Zoo and even its location now in the middle of a residential area. So the promise of a new zoo by 2008 is to be welcomed.

Or is it? Because those with long memories and equally long stay in Dubai will know a new zoo was first mooted by Dubai Municipality in 1986; then again in 1992; again in 2001 and again in 2003, when the first plan for a new zoo in Mirdif was proposed. The 2003 plan is very similar to the 2005 one just introduced, although the new zoo is one-third the size and one-third the cost..

The question now is, will Dubai Municipality once again shelve the new zoo plan, only for it to emerge yet again a couple of years down the road?


Respect for and proper treatment of animals is - as I understand it at least - required in Islam. Isn't this an Islamic country?

Dubai Dreams ep 3

Has anyone seen Dubai Dreams ep 3? It's about the biggest real estate company in the world.. would be interesting to see what people think about it and if it's available digitally (with Sam's help we can perhaps post it on a secret 24 hr link also).

15 November, 2005

Wacko Jacko

Michael Jackson's left Dubai shopping malls behind him and is now in Oman - read here for more details.

Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers :: North Korea Times

North Korea Times

What is the North Korea Times doing running an article on a 5 Star hotel in Abu Dhabi?

14 November, 2005

Fighting Blog Spammers, the 'Dubai' movie illusion, Jobs in Dubai

I think i've finally found the way to hold off comment spammers here on Blogger:
Away, Spam, Away!

Whew. It's a pain to keep deleting them.

It's a good thing that they have these features. I only needed to look closer inside the settings. Nyuk nyuk.

And no, I haven't seen the 'Dubai' movie yet, but from all the feedback I've heard, it seems that no one likes it except for the ones who made the darn movie (it's a movie from the Philippines, by the way). People who live and work here especially loathe it because it shows too much candy and illusions about Dubai being an oasis for jobs and good living.

That's not necessarily untrue, but then majority of Asians who work here aren't really living a charmed life, believe me. It's worth taking a chance in Dubai, yes, and better if you're armed with a degree and some solid working experience, especially in areas like Construction (engineer and architects) and Hospitality (Hotels and restaurants).

In this vein, it makes me sad that Filipinos prey on their own countrymen by asking for Php100,000 (around Dhs7,000) just to get here, when the actual cost can be as low as Php40,000 (around Dhs3,000), for a tourist visa and plane tickets.

A lot of Filipinos here are wandering around jobless and have debts at home amounting to the previously mentioned Php100k. It's sad.

Links:
Official Site:
Star Cinema - Dubai

Gulf News:
New movie portrays a slice of life in Dubai

Reference to Toilets a Plenty and the DMC Toilet Roll Dilema

My colleague suggests we blame it on M.J.

"Public lavatory pop-freak
Less welcome than avian flu, the plastic pop-freak Michael Jackson has invaded Dubai, making his first public appearance in a public lavatory. According to Gulf News eyewitnesses described a "tall and thin man, dressed in a black cloak and black hat" in a bookshop:

A bystander who said he had managed to speak to the man who had hidden inside a stall said he had replied with a strong American accent. "He said: 'I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.'

"Everyone's Most Derided No. 1 newspaper has Jacko cross-dressing in a muslim women's headscarf, putting on his make-up in the ladies' loo:DUBAI — When she went to the ladies washroom in the Egyptian Court of Ibn Battuta Mall at 9.30 last night, 37-year old Latifa M. never imagined that she would come face to face with pop icon Michael Jackson, who walked in dressed in a T-shirt and trousers, with his head covered with the Emirati women’s traditional head scarf Sheila.

The Tunisian, who is a teacher in a private school in Dubai, screamed in shock and ran out of the ladies room when she realised that the woman-like person was a man. She went back in to photograph the pop singer with her mobile phone, while he was busy fixing his make up.

Khaleej Times - we all know you're the most cretinous atrocity to journalism ever printed - but you must have at least one person on your staff with enough basic literacy to know that a headscarf is generally transliterated "shayla", as opposed to a "sheila". Again, here's a call for the resignation of the entire KT editorial team for their continued, embarrassment-to-the-nation journalistic incompetence."

Dubai Dreams

for the next 24 hours, almost anyone can have a chance to download the "dubai dreams" tv show; only the first episode is available.

if you want access to this file; you must agree not to spread the link;

it is 250 mb in size, and in AVI format; broadband connection is a must.

email me: sam@samurai-sam.com , or add me on MSN: sam@samurai-sam.com , and if i trust you, i will send you the link; my email checks every 10 minutes, so i will give you a prompt reply (except for the time when i am at school for 4 hours)

those of you who already have the link, please keep it to yourself
(you may be excluded from participating if i do not trust you, tough luck)

The Other Side of Jihad

I was looking for some info on what's going on in France and tripped over this.
The scariest thing is that at least one of the organizations mentioned on his website has a friendly sponsor right here in Dubai.
I know better than to mention names but I will that up to the Sherlocks and Watsons.
WARNING: Don't click on the Muslim M--- Gallery. It is really gross.

University of Sharjah on Blogging

Seems like the Communications Department at the University of Sharjah is planning to discuss online media and web journalism in its annual conference this year. And according to Maha, blogging will be on the agenda..

I am curious to hear what they have to say about it ...

13 November, 2005

What's In A Name?

My three best friends are Shirley, Hillary and Meg. They’re all guys! Shirley is an athletic, determined dive instructor from Sri Lanka. Hillary is a handsome, mustached concierge from Goa. And Meg is a cute and charming waiter from Nepal. They’re not really my best friends but I have to group them together as the three guys I know with the most unexpected names. I don’t really know how they ended up with such names, except for Shirley. He said his father just liked the name. He doesn’t have any sisters, but that’s kind of irrelevant anyway as he was the first child. Perhaps his father just couldn’t wait to use the name—which is just as well, since after Shirley came 3 more boys.

Anyway, the next time I hear the names Shirley, Hillary and Meg, instead of thinking Temple, Clinton and Ryan, I’ll have to summon up images of three dudes from the Indian sub-continent.

World's tallest tower with a twist

...and the twist is?




It's not the world's tallest tower at all. It's just the world's tallest tower with a somewhat twisted style to its architecture.

This report comes you to from the world's largest cell with a dying bougainvillea, 48 cockroaches, a green lava lamp and a gecko called Specky

Piracy on the High Seas?

Take a look at this - anyone spot the Skull & Crossbones sailing past the East Coast? OmanDVD.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Dukes of Hazzard and Cinderella Man aren't out until 6th December 2005, 40-year-old Virgin is out on 13th December 2005, and Wedding Crashers isn't out until 3rd January 2006.

Toilets a-plenty ....

Looks like blogs are full of bogs these days - Secret Dubai brings us Gulf News and Khaleej Times stories of Wacko in the public conveniences of the shopping malls. Campaign Middle East editor Tim Burrowes gets his industry gossip in the men's washrooms at the Media & Marketing Show. And we are up in arms in Dubai Media City about an enforced shortage of loo paper .... can everyone let us know when the bog roll's back in DMC?

Spam policy

This post, which has had to be deleted, concerned an auction at Jebel Ali Club. I personally don't mind people posting about events or market festival type things that they think will be interesting and useful to members here. But cut and pasting a long piece of commercial company promo material doesn't come under that category.

As always, other people's opinions are very welcome. I have a copy of the post, and if a majority of people disagree, it can be reinstated.

edited by secretdubai

12 November, 2005

Don't touch the Grim Reaper's goods

There is a rumour abound that in the UAE if one witnesses a road accident one must do nothing to aide injured victims, not even TOUCH the victims because the last person to touch a deceased accident victim will be charged with his death according to Shari'ah law. The person who actually caused the accident would be free from any legal prosecution (for involuntary manslaughter or whatever). This sounds ridiculous, and I can think of nothing in the common understanding of Shari'ah that would lead to such a law.

In the US and in many other countries, people are discouraged from aiding accident victims because of liability law suits. However, they could touch an injured person, perhaps in an attempt to comfort that person. They just shouldn't attempt to administer first-aide, give CPR, move the victim, etc. I assume that this is what such a law in the UAE, if there is one at all, is aimed at.

There are misconceptions about Shari'ah law among Muslims themselves, but even more so among non-Muslims, especially in the post 9/11 War on Izzz-lamb era. Because of some wacky laws supposedly derived from certain understandings of Shari'ah, especially in regards to women's rights and family law (like about driving in a certain nearby nation, or because of bizarre interpretation and implementation of Shari'ah by the Tally-ban), many non-Muslims have a very bad image about Shari'ah.

I kind of thought this rumour was tied to that. We all carry some deeply internalized prejudices and even the most open minded and tolerant among us have them. I heard this rumour from some non-Muslims who were gasping and saying "Did you know that according to Shari'ah law..., so don't even touch an accident victim!!!" It also appeared in the discussions in a UAE off-roading forum. I figured the rumour was just another one of the many sensationalized issues used by non-Muslims to vent about how crazy and imhumane so-called Shari'ah law is (not that there aren't serious problems with certain misuses of interpreted understanding of Shari'ah, and no one is in denial and saying that they don't exist).

Muslims and non-Muslims have a lot of odd ideas about each other because of our internalized prejudices. Like, umm, I have heard some Muslims here say that all non-Muslims in the UAE are pocked with in cancerous melanomas cuz they don't cover themselves. Or the non-Muslim counterpart: covered women will all develop osteoperosis cuz they are not getting enough vitamin D via sun exposure. Both of these make me chuckle. Rather than revealing scientific facts, they reveal how people feel about each other.

Anywayz, if you know anything about the truth of this rumour, I'd sure like to get to the bottom of it. If there is such a law, its Shari'ah origins are highly dubious.

Journalists facing libel cases are on the rise :: Gulf News

Link.

Rent Cap

The announcement that Sheikh Mohammed has ordered a 15% cap on rents over the next year is both good news and bad news. The good news is that finally some visible action is being taken to try to control the runaway inflation that is causing many individuals and companies to consider moving out of Dubai.

The bad news is that every property owner in the emirate will take this as an instruction to grab the 15% rise as soon as possible.

Dubai Dreams: first impressions

i've just watched it; my initial impressions;

http://onebigconstructionsite.blogspot.com/2005/11/dubai-dreams-first-impressions.html

mostly a critical view of it.

Blogbites - Friday 11 November

Quotes this week from Secret Dubai diary, Adventures In Dubai, Arabian Adventures, Secret Arabian and Desert Weasel.

And huge congrats to keefieboy for his use of the evil "J-word"!! ;)

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Click here to see in full

test

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11 November, 2005

Smokers smoking end?

UAE joins WHO's anti-tobacco accord
New York, 11 Nov. 05 (WAM) -- The UAE government lodged on Thursday a document of its official joining the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control with the UN.

The document, signed by Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah, was deposited at the international organsiation by the UAE Permanent Representative at the UN, Abdul Aziz Nasser Al Shamsi, through a message he sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The document contains a UAE pledge to implement terms and conditions of the convention.


yay, no more smokers or something.

i certainly hope this doesnt spell the end for shisha ):

Dubai Dreams

In favour of transperancy, and although I may not agree with the series, people have been wanting this series and may want to watch this for themselves.

I got the link for this series, or an episode, which someone I talk to claims is here.

Fujeirah, Al Hayl

The EconoEmir wife is in town. We traveled over to Fujeirah the other day. Some observations:

1. The Friday Market isn't what it used to be. The shops are becoming increasingly homogeneous.

2. There's a great place for lunch in Fujeirah just down from the Big Golf Ball (Etisalat building), opposite the Pizza Hut. The name is Al Mallah. The cuisine is Lebanese/Indian. Atmosphere is nice. Food is great, fast, and inexpensive.

3. I was pleased to see that the construction around the mangroves in Khor Kalba appears to more environmentally friendly than I feared when I save it under development. It's a park, not the housing that I supposed.

4. The road to Fort Al Hayl has been improved, but one of the routes there described in my copy of the Jeep Guide seems no longer open. Shortly after you pass under the Adnoc arches on the road from Masafi to Fujeirah turn right towards the Driving Academy. Just keep going straight until you reach the fort. You'll come to Al Hayl village first and you may see a T sign indicating a deadend, but drive through the village and the paved road continues and takes you all the way to fort. The fort is under restoration, but it's not clear restoration is proceeding fast enough to keep up with the destructive forces of the elements.

Final test of the night

losing hope :(

Question regarding weather

I have friends coming over from Europe in January. Now My Question is this, is it suitable to go swimming and to the beach in that time ? Many thanks (and sorry if its off topic)

UAE community blog mailing list

A mailling list has been created (via Google groups) for those who would like to be notified of new posts here:

UAE community Google Group/mailing list

It has been set up just as a notification service - ie replying to an email won't work, to avoid list members getting spammed with too many emails. Basically, its sole function will be to mail out new posts on this blog to list members - either each individual post, or as a "daily digest" (you choose which option when you subscribe).

I'm in the process of sending an invitation to everyone on the list, though you should be able to sign up yourselves at the link above if you want to. I could only do a few people at a time, because Google stops letting the invitations go out if you try to invite too many people! There is no obligation to join, and you can unsubscribe and resubscribe just as often as you like.

10 November, 2005

This test is to try and make a mailing list

So that anyone wanting to be emailed new entries here can sign up.

Thanks to the wisdom of samuraisam, hopefully it will eventually work.

*fingers crossed*

09 November, 2005

housing fees...

I recently moved again and when I received my DEWA bill...BANG. There it is. The 5% housing fee. Gosh, that's another 500 Dhs monthly going down the drain.
Is it only me or did I miss the big announcements of implementing this fee in Dubai. Went to Dewa the other day and checked out the info there. I was shocked to learn that it is not only 5% of the yearly rent but also, property owners must pay 5% of 10% of the purchase price!
Now here's the question. If I live in a building and pay 5% housing fee, does the owner of the building also pay a housing fee? Is this fee only for expats? Do offices/shops also have to pay this?
Appreciate any reliable info anyone has.....

British Nigerian blondes

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Emarat atrocity

Many people have doubtless been following the Emarat-employee-strip-searching saga with a sense of increasing disgust.

According to someone here, the management do in fact keep the tips they confiscate (=STEAL):

"I just came back from an Emarat station, I asked 2 of the station attendants what happened to tips and they both told me management takes it. I asked about the searching and they said yes it happens, instead of tipping this time, I shook the gentleman’s hand and that is the last time I will buy gas from Emarat. I asked about the searches and he said this happens.

"I asked them if they knew Eppco/Enoc attendants and they said they did, these stations allow their employees to keep tips earned."


In order to be as fair as possible to Emarat I plan to do my own investigations, and if I confirm similar, I vote for a total boycott of Emarat and a letter-writing campaign to all the papers. If anyone else finds out anything more about this, please do post below (anonymously, if you prefer).

To take money given in good faith by a customer to an attendant that has rendered them an extra service in the dust and heat is execrable behaviour. It is theft and exploitation.

Emarat might also like to explain why there are no signs around their petrol stations advising customers not to tip in the first place?

08 November, 2005

Dubai. Hip. Not.

Following on from the recent halfwit statement about Dubai being the hippest place on the planet. I'm pretty sure that whoever made the original statement has no idea what 'hip' means. Anyhoo, it has attracted a lot of attention, and there are some very interesting comments on this Lonely Planet forum.

Dark side of Dhabi

Superb post by Lulu at Arabian Adventures pulling no punches about life in our Esteemed Capital:

Let's be honest : The magnificent skyscrapers and glittering malls are only the facade to a crumbling, stinking, rat-ridden, cockroach infested inner city which is swimming in gobs of spittal and decaying vegetables.

Let's be honest : There is no crime according to statistics, because nobody is going to report it - what's the use if the weak and voiceless are the victims and the well-connected and wealthy are the perpetrators.

Let's be honest : People here do not place a high value on other people, animals or property. Rudeness and arrogance abound, most are selfish and oblivious of anyone else's comfort or discomfort - they blow smoke in your face and your food, they use two or three parking spaces at once, they push in, they hawk and gag and spit within inches of you, they don't keep appointments or promises or guarantees. Cruelty to animals - wild and pets - is the norm and is almost a national sport. Cars are routinely scratched, sat on, bumped into and dented, whether accidentally or on purpose.


Well worth reading in full...

Everyone's favourite ISP

Etisalat has said an Internet failure in large areas of Dubai on Sunday was due to technical faults, reported 7Days. But website administrators said it lasted more like 15 hours. Etisalat did not offer an apology or further explanation.


7days view on the mayhem:

Etisalat, the UAE’s monopoly telecoms provider, last night blamed Internet disruptions to large areas of Dubai on “technical faults”. Ecompany, Etisalat’s internet arm, claimed the service was restored within 90 minutes on Sunday.

But a website administrator in Dubai claimed yesterday it was more like 15 hours. Services in Garhoud and Dubai Marina failed at 5.30pm on Sunday and were not restored until 8.30am the following day, he said.

“I know because I was here most of the night trying to upload content into a website,” he said. Etisalat did not apologise for the outage, or provide any more details.


typical etisalat attitude.

TELL ME WHY KT WOULDN'T PUBLISH THIS?

REALLY I GOT FED UP! I LOOK AT THOSE WHO SURVIVED THE EARTHQUAKE IN PAKISTAN AND I JUST THINK: WHY ARE THEY STILL SUFFERING?

I KNOW THAT THERE ARE LOTS OF PEOPLE DOING THINGS. BUT THE OTHER DAY I WENT TO A FLEA MARKET AND SAW PEOPLE SELLING WINTER CLOTHES BLANKETS AND WARM CLOTHES THAT CAN'T REALLY BE USED HERE FOR 4 AND 5 DIRHAMS. I THOUGHT, WHY NOT SEND THESE SAME THINGS TO PAKISTAN? SO I WROTE A LETTER TO KHALEEJ TIMES AND THEY DIDN'T PUBLISH IT. WHY?

Has anyone in UAE ever experienced an earthquake? Well, maybe not. If they had, maybe then there would be an UAE contingent set up at in Pakistan for the duration of the winter. I know many have given, but imagine that even the mountains are swaying to and fro. The mere psychological effects of having survived an earthquake is more then enough stress, and to be homeless and cold and watching your children die, your husband die, your mother die, your wife die, your father die, and your neighbor die; this is what is happening.
The notion that Pakistan is the land of the terrorists and that maybe they deserve what they got is something that puny human minds cannot decree.
I am sure that there are many of us who have winter clothes from our home countries (Europe, Shamsiyya, America, etc) blankets, sheets, mittens, gloves, socks and boots, caps, hats, and scullies. I appeal to all of you to LET THEM GO TO PAKISTAN. You will get more. YOU CAN GET MORE. Homes and shops were destroyed. So, even if someone had money to buy something, where would they go? There are no mega malls in Jabel Hafeet, so why would there be any in the Himalayas?
Make yourself feel good, add a brick to your house in Paradise, create good karma-pick a reason, JUST GIVE.
If you don’t trust the UN or like agencies find a Pakistani and ask them do they know someone who is going there. Just send a package your self via DHL or UPS even EMPOST might do it. Just address it to Earthquake survivor or pick a name. Gulshan Bibi or Mohamed Razak, just think. Send it to your favorite Pakistani commentator in the newspaper. THERE IS NO EXCUSE.
Don’t let them go crazy, freeze and die in Pakistan when right across the water is the hippest city in the world.

07 November, 2005

Play for the day. Stop Thief

This is a pet hate, I will relate the latest example but to be honest these conversations occur fairly regularly, are all pretty similar and have a degree of inevitability about them.........more

Hello Dubai :: BBC

It's portrayed as a place of glittering spectacle and conspicuous consumption, but what's Dubai in the United Arab Emirates really like? Clark Stevenson, an English expat who is one of those who has joined this new gold rush, gives his view.

06 November, 2005

Google: Dubai Failure

Now I'm sure most of us have come across the Google trick of typing in Failure in the search engine page and clicking I'm feeling lucky. Apparently this funny joke has a Dubai version as well!

A certain Internet City-based recruitment specialist company is the target when 'Dubai failure' is entered into the google search page followed by clicking 'I'm Feeling Lucky'. Is this Google's wise wisdom at work, warning the general public of the dangers of dealing with this company?

Still very amusing.

Very funny!

Try it out!!

1- Go to Google (http://www.google.com)

2- Type in the word "Failure"

3- Instead of clicking "Google Search," click "I'm Feeling Lucky."

4- Giggle

5- Spread the word before the people at Google "fix"it.

Petrol pump attendants

In an amazing glimpse into employee relations in the city of Dubai, Emarat one of the biggest gas station chains openly admits to strip searching employees to make sure they are not keeping any tips.

With a truly spectacular display of a total lack of understanding of even basic PR, the spokesman said,

" 'Body search is part of the procedure and we will continue to do it. However, a supervisor should ask the staff to take off all his clothes only if he is sure that the staff is guilty' said Abdulla Al Noman, the retail sales operations manager at Emarat"

So that makes them judge, jury and stripper all in one, wonder what the qualifications are for that cushy little number? more....

Bahrain bloggers and family law

Gulf News link

Rallies, public debates and sermons are focusing on the issue. But one normally outspoken community has lapsed into an eerie silence: Bahrain's bloggers.
. . .
The only serious articles to address the law were on Mahmoud Al Yousuf's blog, seen as the country's finest.

Almost lethal...



Dear all,

For the some that know me you would know that I oscillate between the UAE and the UK, and I'm in the UAE now for a few days so my hope was to write about something over here. However, what happened a few hours really shook me and I hope I never have to write about something like that again and for it never to happen to anyone. Anyway I'm talking about UAE driving, so statistics paint a very different story.

While driving today and minding my own business in an area between Rashidiya and Nadd Al Hamar I was waiting for my turn on the traffic lights which were about to turn green. The point of traffic lights is to regulate traffic and the underlying principle is people have to observe the lights for them to work properly. Unfortunately there was one truck that did not, and he was probably doing 100 km/h when he crossed this particular red light. The scary thing is that I was the first in line, so the first to interrupt this guy's journey. However because I'm generally a skeptic I always look around me before entering a traffic junction. This time it saved my life.

The truck entered the junction almost a full 10 seconds after the lights turned red for him (I could see both his lights and mine as it was dark). The ridiculous thing is that if he touched my car I would have probably rolled over a few times (depending of how much of my car he will attack). Also my car will probably collide with the others next to me (there were 3 lanes going straight and 3 turning and about 5 cars per lane.. that's a lot of cars and a lot of human lives.

Anyway luckily I escaped with only about 1 meter from the madman. I'm fairly sure he must be blind or on drugs or probably wanting to commit suicide, as I doubt the truck would shield him from death if he collided head on with 6 lanes of cars. Idiot.
When it happened my human instinct drove me to plant my foot on the brakes while my Arab instinct quickly followed with my hand on the horn. I only understood what happened about a few minutes afterwards.

The bizarre thing is that people were actually passing me (I could only muster 40km/h on the 100 km/h road) and giving me the thumbs-up symbol with big supportive smiles. The imbeciles, what do you want from me? Is this some sick form of entertainment? You like to see things like that for fun? You're happy I almost died? Do you know that that gesture with the thumb originated as a sign to represent the phallic symbol?

A few conclusions:

1- ALWAYS look at all directions of traffic before entering a junction.

2- If anyone can tell me what drove these idiots (I saw 3 different cars do that) to cheer like that, I would be interested to hear from you.

3- If anyone can please post the Dubai Police number to report mad drivers then that would be really appreciated. I intend to save it on my phone. I was too busy being happy to be alive to even remember to look at his number plate though.

4- Why didn't the police cameras that detect offenders crossing red lights flash when this happened? I was in front of one of them and it was past midnight, so I would notice the flash. When is the police when you need them?

Anyway I'm happy I'm alive for now. Elhamdilla. So I guess it's a thumbs-up from me for now. Please drive safely.

05 November, 2005

A few notes..

First I would like to say hello to everyone that doesnt know me, im the owner of the "controversial", to say the least, blog called An Emiratis thoughts. I have relocated for the last time hopefully to

http://aethoughts.blogspot.com

The reason for the various relocations was some disaffected readers (who had a problem with me naming the Gulf Arabian) had tried twice to take control of my username and delete my blog and twice they failed.

In any case, any bloggers that link to me, please adjust the link, and if my blog is not linked to you, or you would like you GCC-Area blog advertised please post something about it in the comments section. Thank you.

Bloggers at risk

Egypt - Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman
Anti-Islamic Blogger Detained, Missing :: Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Libya - Abdel Raziq al-Mansuri
Libya has sent to prison for 18 months a blogger who criticized the government on the Internet :: The Tarpit

04 November, 2005

UAE community blog

Eid Said Everybody:

I just thought I would let all of those UAE proto-novelist know that you have until about 9:00 am today to sign up for a 30 day novel writing slam. You join this group and in unision as one crazed community you have to wrtie a 50,000 word novel. check the websitehttp://www.nanowrimo.org/ they have a radio station to listen to also. So go for it!

03 November, 2005

EID MUBARAK

Wishing all of you a very happy Eid.

02 November, 2005

Eid Kareem

Demand for Viagra during holidays :: Gulf News

By Nina Muslim, Staff Reporter

Dubai:
Sales of the little blue pill increases with Eid Al Fitr, according to UAE pharmacists and Viagra manufacturer Pfizer.
. . .
"Figures reveal that during the holiday period, a time when families gather to celebrate Eid, pharmacists have seen a three-fold rise in demand for Viagra [over the past three years]," the statement said.