31 July, 2006

An Ode to the Street Sweepers of Baghdad!

It is only in todays' world that a street sweeper is also considered a dangerous profession. Today morning according to AP, gunmen opened fire on municipal street sweepers in Iraq's capital killing one and injuring two.


Is this not Violence? Who will stand up in the United Nations Assembly or the Security Council for their rights? Are they not humans too? Are their lives not valuable as the lives all over the world?


The world is caught up in a certain conflict predicting the end of the world - the coming of armageddon - no one turns their attention to the street sweeper who lays in a pool of blood on the road. Was he killed because of his religion, his power, his money? Nay! Just his duty to keep the street clean! A dirty job, no else does in a war zone!


Tommorow another sweeper shall come by the same road, queitly sweeping away the rubble and tracing the steps of those who have fallen before him. He fights no war, he does his duty, only to feed his family. Yet when his brethern fall - the world does not care and does not notice ! Only to complain a few days later asking "why is the trash piling up?"


O Sweeper of Baghdad, sweep gently, weep not that the world has forgotton you! We are but mere pawns to be sacrificed in this game of life.


"An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind" - Gandhi

Beyond Emiratisation

Emiratisation is a policy that isn't so popular with a lot of people, but it is probably a necessity. One could argue, however, that there are better ways of going about it. I'd like to think that Emiratisation is a first step of many that the government could take to make this society more egalitarian. I know, this is coming out of left field--considering how things work here--but as this country matures, people should give the notion of equality more thought, as I do in my post, Universality.

Mideast Crisis Tracker :: WSJ.com

Updated regularly with news on the Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon crisis. All times ET. .

A useful free link for keeping up with these events hour by hour. (Earlier weeks are premium content for WSJ subscribers only.)

Here's something I had missed from July 25th:

11:25 a.m.: U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland accused Hezbollah of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel.
That tactic, though, seems to be working to Hezbollah's advantage.

Here's a question: Are these citizens open to the blending or not? If they are, then the blending is not cowardly and the citizens are not citizens. If the citizens are not open to the blending, then the blending is cowardly. Or am I missing something?

Even if it is cowardly, it still could be just if the cause is just and adopting aymmetric tactics is the best way to win.

Big Pharoah points out that there are plenty of open spaces for Hezbollah to locate its forces and weapons if it chooses. It hasn't. Following the link to BP and his commenters will also lead you to the case that conservative bloggers are making that it is a Hezbollah tactic to blend with civilians.

Life without choices

I thought we had enough of Etisalat's adventures last week until I came across this rather curious advertisement on today's Gulf News.

If they are trying to send some subliminal messages to customers, they are sending all the wrong ones.

Locals quit so often it makes firing cost fear immaterial?

Quote:
Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, Minister of Labour, ... pointed out that a large number of UAE nationals are graduates and are seeking jobs. But employers prefer to hire expatriate workforce because they are available easily and their jobs can be terminated easily without having to pay heavy compensation. But, this is not true in the case of nationals who demand high salaries and leave their jobs easily for better offers, he pointed out.
Excuse me, but high quit rates are another reason employers are reluctant to hire nationals.

Etisalat - they're up to date!

We really are lucky to live in the UAE and have such a great telco as Etisalat. Imagine, they offer configuration settings for five different browsers - Netscape 3.x, Netscape Communicator, Internet Explorer 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0!

I'll be able to get in my time machine, travel back to 1999, and upgrade to a brand spanking new copy of IE5!

And for one more thrill, let's take another look at that URL:

http://www.etisalat.ae/index.jsp?lang=en&type=channel¤tid=0861b8984273b010VgnVCM1000000c24a8c0
____&parentid=cfa883535fe2b010VgnVCM1000000c24a8c0____


It's nearly as beautiful and exciting as raw Matrix code!

Congratulations, Etisalat, for giving us all a reason to be proud 21st 20th Century UAEans!

Ibn Battuta bans entry to blue-collar workers

Has anyone read this?

Isn't that considered a form of negative discrimination, or classism?

Inability to earn enough to buy themselves unshabby clothes, by Ibn Battuta's standards, isn't a valid excuse to exclude them from enjoying their weekend.

30 July, 2006

Some people like to talk and some don't

فيما تواصلت حملة المساعدات التي افتتحت في السعودية والبحرين والأردن والامارات، أثار انتباه السعوديين الذين سعوا منذ الأربعاء لتقديم مساهماتهم، اقدام شاب سعودي معاق على التبرع بكرسيه المتحرك، وخروجه زاحفا من مكان التبرعات بحسب تقرير للزميل عبدالنبي شاهين نشرته صحيفة "الخليج" الاماراتية الجمعة 28-7-2006.
The Source

International View of the UN

After reading a couple of recent opinion articles in the Gulf News, I have a question, especially for those who are not Americans.

The editorials that I'm referring to are "Who are the real cowards?" and "Meaningless in New York". Both of these pieces seem to place a lot more faith in both the power and the mission of the UN than the average American. For example, the authors use phrases like "this august body that believes itself capable of ruling the world" and "[f]or the first time in the history of the 60-year-old organisation, the Security Council ... is refusing to carry out its role".

I'm sure to most Americans the strangest phrase is "the UN ... has become subservient to US dictates". I think that the US perception of the UN is that it almost never does what the US wants it to do (for example, get tough on Iran's nuclear program).

Anyway, I'm just curious as to what other nationalities think about the UN.

India planning stricter immigration laws

Has anyone else noticed this? I haven't seen anyone mention it:


The Indian government will soon tighten immigration laws for unskilled labourers travelling abroad for work.

Clearance by the immigration authorities will only be given after the companies recruiting the unskilled labourers submit relevant documents and get these attested by the Indian consulate or embassy...


Apparently this was also in the Gulf News, but I missed it that day.

29 July, 2006

Knocking on Heaven's Door

  Posted by Picasa

Change of URL

I'm not sure if this is supposed to be here, but I guessed it's the less-tedious way of informing bloggers.

My blog 'funky-ass randomness' has a new URL. Please update your blogrolls :)

Books For Sale

I got an email from a guy who is clearing out his book collection: here's a list of the goodies on offer

http://www.booksale.dmbh.org/

Interested? Email Adam Pope.

28 July, 2006

Farmer's jailed for sitting on Koran - INQ7.net

Quote:
A farmer's daughter from Kibungan town who went to work as a maid in the United Arab Emirates in April has been jailed for accidentally sitting on the Koran.

Provincial officials said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has learned that a Shariah court sentenced Serafina Toyan, 26, to a one-month’s jail term on July 18 and also ordered her deported after serving her sentence.
. . .
Toyan arrived in Abu Dhabi in April. Her father sold their only carabao to pay for her placement fee.

Badejim Abdullah, an Islamic scholar based in Baguio City, said sitting on the Koran is considered blasphemous and punishable if done intentionally to desecrate Islam.

A Hazy Dubai Friday


, originally uploaded by !efatima.


edit by samuraisam:

rehosted @ samurai-sam.com

Planes, trains and oil billionaires

An interesting article about how much money is being made from the petrodollar boom in the middle east: here

and another interesting article about what the oil money is spent on by people; not limited to private yachts, harley davidsons, sports cars and the like here

Can't Wait!

The Monopoly game is coming to Dubai... that is, with a Dubai version! So, which landmarks will make the cut--besides the Burj Al Arab, Emirates Towers and the up uP UP and coming Burj Dubai?

Any nominations? Here go mine:
  1. Jumeirah Beach Residences (40-tower high-rise cluster in Dubai Marina)
  2. Mall of the Emirates
  3. This one just announced today in Gulf News: the Rotating Residence Tower

    Maybe we shouldn't hold our breath on the last one.

27 July, 2006

Who Pays the Rent?

So your rent's due--what do you do? We're not talking for another month, but for a whole year! On top of that it's 30% more than it was the year before. And lets see... your salary is about the same as it was in 2000.
This is the crazy scenario that I suppose is the norm for a lot of people in the UAE. We hear about it a lot in the news. But how many people are really paying for their rent as opposed to having it provided or subsidised by their employer. My guess is it's about 50/50, those who pay and those who get it from their job. That's the topic I go into in the Rent. I think it is an issue that we need better perspective on. As bad as it is for some, it may be a story that the media is playing up.

A small protest

If anyone wants to join me in a small protest against, the images can be found here. Script and code can be ripped from my template if you want to put them in rotation (or just email me for it).

For reasons of keeping this place open, I won't be posting any of them here. We need at least one "safe place" in these increasingly dark times.

UK heatwave leaves journalist envying dishdashas

I happened across this article this morning. I for one am glad that I am in he AC comfort provided here in Dubai and not in the UK the past few weeks.

Who wants to do a podcast?

You all seem to have a lot to say...

So how about really 'saying it' for a change?

A Word A Day • Adventures in Dubai • Al Ain Taxi • Amiri.info • An Emirati's Thoughts • An Englishman in Dubai • Arabian Adventures • Archer's Adda • Barf in the UAE! • Blacklistdubai • Blinging Dubai • Blog El Emarat • Blogging from the UAE • Bobo of Arabia • Bol Dubai! • Box400 • Bss & Brn in Al Ain • Carpe Diem • Christopher Saul • curiouser and curiouser • Desert Dreams • Desert Idleness • Desert Lady • Desertdreamz • Dubai at Random • Dubai • Bigus • Dubai Consumer Mirror • Dubai Life • Dubai Living • Dubai nights • Dubai Notes • Dubai spy • Dubai Sunshine • Dubai's Drama Queen • DubEye (((dXb))) • Dubtown Lady • El Freelancero • Emirates Adventure • Emirates Reuters • Everyday Dubai • Excess Baggage • Falapeno • GET out of my way • Grapeshisha • Husain Shabbir • I A!int Askin U • I Think; Therefore I am • Ideological Promiscuity • Life in Dubai • Lores of Dubai • M and J Adventures • MAG 218 Community • Marketing, Advertising UAE • Metal Sky • Notes from the cyber-field • oasis dubai • One Big Construction Site • Pulling the puzzles apart • Red Pen • Roundabout Dubai • safrican • Secret Arabian redux • Secret Blog of Arabia • Secret Dubai diary • Secret Dubai video • Sharjah Diva • Smoke and Mirrors • The Desert Weasel • The Emirates Economist • The Grumpy Goat • The Image Village • The N • The Shabaab Of Emaraat • The Tellectuals World • The view from Dubai • Thirteen in Dubai • Thoughts from Dubai • UAE over coffee • UAEian • uaemalumat • Ugly Camel • Underground Dubai • westmeetseast • White sun of the desert • wordhead • Yin Shui Si Yuan

Let me know...


One more time

For the second time...
BEIRUT, July 26 (Reuters) - An Israeli air strike on Wednesday hit a truck carrying medical and food supplies donated to Lebanon by the United Arab Emirates, killing its Syrian driver and wounding two others, security sources said.

The truck was destroyed just a few kilometres from Lebanon's eastern border with Syria in the town of Anjar. Israel has been hitting targets in southern Lebanon, Beirut and other parts of the country in a war with Hizbollah.

An Israeli air strike on July 18 hit another truck carrying aid donated by the UAE. The truck, whose driver was killed, was travelling from Damascus.
-- more here

26 July, 2006

Sand in my pants

Why do Americans make such rubbish beer? Millers is like dishwater, Budweiser leaves a nasty taste and Amstel is inconsequential. Except I stand corrected - Amstel is apparently Dutch. They usually make a great beer. They should be ashamed of this one. I must have assumed it was American because it tastes so bad!

Still, that didn't stop me from going to a media party last night for the launch of Amstel Pulse - a funkily bottled beer that is low in carbs but still has the same alcohol content. So you can get smashed but your arse won't get quite so fat. A fine idea except that the beer tastes of precisely nothing. So naturally I drank too much of it - because it is as easy to swill as water - the last half-hour of my evening is a blur, and I have a raging hangover today. On the upside though, I have been told that I cut a fine, fine figure on the dancefloor.

Youtube.com Blocked!

Just realized this morning that both Youtube.com and metacafe.com are blocked by Etisalat.

Metacafe allows adult content but it doesn't make any sense blocking Youtube.com (its clean)


Please send your feedbacks to etisalat http://feedback.ecompany.ae/

25 July, 2006

CineMation

If you are a student, pls consider entering CineMation, our student film contest. Info on our website at http://www.mirageholdingsfz.com and check out our blog here at http://miragestudiosrak.blogspot.com/ Thx. MN

Pick of the week

"Plunge headlong into the blogosphere to find out what bloggers from the Middle East and beyond have on their minds."

Those of you who have given up reading the Gulf News Tabloid and now only use it to line the kitty litter tray may have missed today's two page article on blogging including many quotes from members of our blogroll. Congratulations to all those who got a mention.

The world is my oyster.

Weren't Emiratis of the past known to be pearl divers? The world for the Emirati in days long gone may have been oysters, but the world for the Emirati today is more like, well...the world. Read more at A Word A Day.

BTW... who is the famous quote above attributed to? Any trivia whizzes in the house?

UAE WEATHER WARNING! - COMING FRIDAY

edit by samuraisam: the following has been found inaccurate (by its author); please before posting such information check the accuracy of it. I am placing a strikethrough over it to prevent any possible misinormation.

This is an urgent warning on extreme weather conditions expected to on
Friday and it will last for at least 24 hours!!!

Due to the current weather development very strong winds is expected of
Friday, according to the forecast that we have received wind speeds of
60mph and more is expected. This is because of a weather system that is
moving down the gulf and it is expected to reach Dubai on Friday!!!

An office I know in Qatar has closed all operations and they are now
trying to secure everything as far as possible to prevent fly debris.
Waves in excess of 5m are also forecasted.

Please inform everybody about this expected adverse weather condition.
According to the forecast the wind speeds are likely to increase as the
system moves down the gulf and it is expected wind speeds will be the
highest recorded it the region.

The message for the people is to stay in doors on Friday and avoid the
beaches

24 July, 2006

Sand in my pants

What is it with Indians wanting to do my washing? I was subletting part of a villa and the Indian nightwatchman developed a weird fixation on me. The couple I was subletting from had gone away and he had keys to the villa so he could feed the dogs. Anyway, whenever I was at work, he'd not only attend to the pooches but he'd also do my washing, clean my room, buy me toothpaste, move things around in my room - and then he started coming in to my room in the mornings when I was still in bed. That is when I moved out. But it all started with him doing my washing. I got home to find he'd sorted my knickers into matching bras and undies and was ironing a bedsheet.

Then I moved into a flat that's part of another compound and the Indian maid from one of the other houses appeared when I moved in. She reached into my car and started carrying my heaviest bag into the flat. I ran after her and told her not to worry as she was a mere slip of a woman and probably about 70. But it was too late - Suriya was a force more powerful than Superman. Then she offered to do my washing while the woman she works for was out. As this woman is incredibly rude and vile, I liked the idea of borrowing her maid (and her water and her washing powder) behind her back. The washing was gone for nearly three days. I started to worry. Then I got home from work and there it was drying away. Except my white lingerie had bright blue streaks on it. And she seemed to have used fabric hardener.

So I've taken to using my friendly local laundry service - they do an excellent job and the price is right. Except Suriya has since asked if I want my washing done again. I humoured her and left some bits and pieces out for her that I didn't care too much about. And then I went to India for a long weekend. Came back. Dirty washing still outside my door where I left it. Back to using my laundry guys. Except I now try and bring it all home after dark so she doesn't see me. What is the etiquette here? Anyone?

Peaceful Demo

(Apologies if this has been posted before. Courtesy of UAE Alias)

Have you been feeling sick of what's going on lately in Palestine, Iraq and now Lebanon? Do you feel like shouting? saying no? having a say on what is happening in Lebanon?
Yes! We are going to protest in the Cornish of AbuDahbi on THU, 27 of JUL, 2006 after AL Asr Prayer.
Make sure to bring your own signs, flags, posters, brochures, etc...
Make sure to let as many of your friends aware of this event, the more the better.
هل سئمت مما يحدث مؤخراً في العراق وفلسطين والآن لبنان؟ هل تريد أن تصرخ؟ أن تقول لا، أن يكون لك كلمة وصوت مسموع عن ما يحدث في لبنان؟
نعم ! سنتظاهر في كورنيش أبوظبي، يوم الخميس الموافق ال 27 من يوليو 2006 بعد صلاة العصر.
تأكد من إحضار أي من الأعلام أو اللافتات التي قد تود استخدامها، ومن إعلام أكبر عدد من معارفك اللذين قد يودون الاشتراك في المظاهرة.

Englishman In Dubai blog

My first post on the UAE Community blog! I saw this little article today and felt suitably happy that I live in this country.

Other than that I write a little blog about my exploits as an expat in Dubai - not orginal but it passes the time and is somewhat cathartic.

http://www.an-englishman-in-dubai.blogspot.com/

23 July, 2006

Thanks Dave!

Please Help Lebanon

In addition to the ongoing aid campaign by Al Aqariya TV and the UAE Red Crescent Society Ma7aka ya Lubnan (With You Lebanon), a major fundraising day to help Lebanese war victims ("Their Children Are Our Children") sponsored by Sheikh Mohammed and organized by many local media outlets will be launched on 28 July. I couldn't find a link to it; if someone has it, please post it. For other help/fundraising efforts and emergency numbers in the UAE and abroad,
this GN list might be helpful. You can also make a difference by
joining this petition. This war is bringing horrific suffering to innocent civilians; please help.

Edit: Sorry the links in the post were all broken; I just fixed them.

Picture Query


Anybody recognise this spot?

Supposedly an airconditioned bus stop in Dubai.

shells

Undoubtedly almost everyone must've seen those photos of little supposed israeli kids writing on shells supposedly belonging to the israeli army.

I implore you to read this article and the blog it links to for a bit of perspective.

Think before you reach out

An awareness campaign for the Dubai Autism Centre makes clever use of the 'interactive bag' but I wonder if the agency who created the campaign is themselves aware that many autistic children(and adults) are hypersensitive to touch and can exhibit dramatic after-effects to even the slightest of touches.

Healthy Food UAE

Ages ago I started Healthy Food UAE as a LiveJournal community blog for people to discuss healthy food and eating in the UAE and Middle East.

It went inactive, but I would like to revive it. There are a lot of people here and in the wider region struggling with weight issues, diabetes, or just not having enough time/money to eat as healthily as they would like. There must also be a lot of people out there with great recipes to share, and local restaurant suggestions.

If anyone would like to join up, they would be very welcome. You can just click here. It's free to get a LiveJournal account, and the features are much richer than Blogger (for example if you comment in LiveJournal and anyone replies to your comment, you get email notification). Also if you want to post something more personal, you can do it in such a way that only community members can see.

Healthy Food UAE

- recipes
- articles on healthy eating
- information relating to diabetes
- dietary advice
- features on healthy foods
- links to other useful resources
- restaurant reviews

Is Dubai saying, "Give me your sick."

Dubai's Healthcare City's website proclaims,
Dubai Healthcare City will become the internationally recognized location of choice for quality healthcare and an integrated centre of excellence for clinical and wellness services, medical education and research.
Does this mean the expat HIV sufferers will no longer be expelled from the country? I examine this issue in Health at A Word A Day.

22 July, 2006

Al Arabiya TV Crew Attacked

The Dubai-based Al Arabiya Television crew, along with the Doha-based Al Jazeera Channel, were attacked few hours ago in Lebanon. The crews were bombed on their way from Marjaioon to Hasbaia. According to the Al Jazeera Office Chief in Beirut, Ghassan Bin Jeddo, the crews had to abandon equipment and transmission trucks and hide into the nearby fields. Later they managed to leave the area on foot before they were picked up by a Red Cross vehicle and were taken to Hasbaia. They are all safe and sound. Earlier in the day Israeli planes destroyed satellite dishes and transmission towers in the north of Lebanon, disrupting the LBC broadcast for a while and knocking out the Al Manar transmission.

In Our Mind's Eye

The beauty of any place is often found in what variety it has to offer. Having an eye for that variety enables one to avoid focussing too much on the negative--like, say, traffic. If one were to look at (or just reflect on what they've seen in) the UAE, then one can be pleasantly moved by the variety of images that come into view. This I try to do in my portrait of a Day.

Apple User Group starting up


Trying to take advantage of the Community Blog's enormous readership, and dedicated contributors, we're announcing here the start of a User Group for anyone in the UAE interested in Apple stuff, including Mac and iPod. The User Group has a first meeting on August 8th and we're starting a series of theme nights on August 14th. We have more events and activities planned but exactly what the User Group will do depends of course on who joins and what the members want to do.

Questions and comments via email to usergroup [at] emiratesmac [dot] com or go here.

Armenian documentary

If you can spare an hour, have a look at this awesome documentary on Dubai's streetwalkers. The film is Armenian, English subtitles. Posted on my blog.

21 July, 2006

No more 1 dirham pepsi

Prices of soft drinks have gone by 50 fils at many places in Dubai since Wednesday. Groceries and cafeterias are selling a can of soft drink for Dhs 1.50. At some places they are being sold at 1.25 fils. The price rise is attributed to the sudden increase in the price by whole- sale dealers who supply soft drinks to various grocery shops and cafeterias in Dubai.
-- more here

UAE Aid & DSS

What do you think of the UAE humanitarian aid effort? And do you still get surprised by the DSS: how about this summer? More here and here.

A History of Conflict

A History of Conflict by Mishal Hamed Kanoo, UAE national and Deputy Chairman of the Kanoo Group... 60 minutes in 2 parts with a musical interlude by Everyday Jones with Here I Am...

http://podme.org/Shows.asp?fetchpg=815822227801322942

Dubai in a Word

What is the one word that could be used to define the degrees of excess and exageration that characterize Dubai today--how about the superlative? From the tallest building in the world to the first underwater hotel, is it all too much? Not to me. Despite all the dust in the air and traffic on the roads, I believe there is purpose in all the madness.

20 July, 2006

New Blog on Dubai

Hi, everyone. I am a grad student researching in Dubai and have started a blog on my experiences and thoughts. I would love feedback from others on what I am discovering about life in Dubai and I also think it will help me learn a lot. Please visit, comment, link me, tell others about me, etc.

Thanks!!

http://nativeinformant.livejournal.com/

oh noes the internets has been stolen!

Just incase you didn’t happen to know, the internet in the UAE has been severely crippled due to a giant development in Fujeirah; pray tell what development is responsible for this?

FUJAIRAH — The Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, Etisalat, has started the shifting operation of its three undersea cables off the coast of Fujairah, due to the construction of a man-made island in the vicinity.

"The shifting of the three cables will take about two days each to steer clear of the artificial, banana-shaped, island planned to be set up in the area", according to Sean Connery, the British engineer in charge.

The "Banana" island project will stretch 600 metres into the sea, opposite the coast of Fujairah, Hamdan added.– more here.

You can read my take on this over here.

Rale Satate

Looks like the Dubai real-estate industry has turned to Henry Arnold for some inspiration - not without glitches though.

Pick Your Addiction

If you had to give up, for a year, all but one of three popular personal devices--the TV, the computer or your mobile--which is the one that you would hang onto? The TV probably ranks as the most ubiquitous entertainment appliance ever invented. Computers, being intertwined with business and the Internet, are all but essential in daily life. And mobiles, well, this is the UAE--is there any place on the planet that has more mobile phones per capita? Guess what my choice would be?

19 July, 2006

Profiteering

As you've probably heard the internet in the UAE is pretty much screwed for the next week or so while Etisalat uses shifting of undersea cables as an excuse to maximise their third-quarter profit margin...

If you planned on paying any bills in the next few days, it sounds like you may not be able to...

ABU DHABI — Processing of transactions and other work at some ministries were adversely affected due to a slowdown in the Internet service in the past two days, your favourite No.1 newspaper Khaleej Times has learnt.
...
Speaking to your favourite No.1 newspaper Khaleej Times yesterday, an employee at the Ministry of Health (MoH) complained: “We experienced the slowdown yesterday afternoon. Nearly all the 800 computers at the ministry are affected as we have only one server. Most of the work is delayed. We are expecting that the Internet will be activated tomorrow or the day after.”
-- More here

Funny, someone from the ministry of health had time to visit my blog 3 times yesterday...

18 July, 2006

I Take Sides

I'm afraid I can't just listen to the usual banter about two opposing sides, both needing to step back and take a deep breath so that the crisis can be sorted out. Why do people--in the United Nations, in leadership positions in Western and other countries--act as though there is some ambiguity about who is right and who is wrong, like the common playground scenario with little kids arguing over who started the fight?

If I can backtrack a little to illustrate my point:
  • Hamas abducts Israeli soilder, not so much as a provocation but with the hope of gaining a bargaining chip to force the Israelis into trading Hamas prisoners for the Israeli captive.
  • Israel responds with a totally disproportionate attack on Gaza, destroying power and other facilities, effectively bringing misery upon the whole population of Gaza.
  • In retaliation (and out of a sense of solidarity with Hamas) Hezbollah abducts two Israeli soldiers, thus, commiting an act of provocation.
  • At this point Israel magnifies its earlier response to the Gaza incident a hundred-fold and, suddenly and swiftly, attacks the whole of Lebanon, effectively pushing that country back to the miserable days of the 1980's period of anarchy.
How in the world can people look at this and talk about the two parties stepping back! One party here is soley responsible for raining carnage on an entire region. One party needs to be reigned in.

Peace is definitely needed, and I have my own thoughts on the broarder issue of Peace, but what is needed more in this case is for Israel to be taken to task by the United Nations, the United States and anyone else who can muster up enough authority to do so.

I know this isn't entirely a UAE Community issue, but we are in the general proximity of this mess and a lot of people here are certainly being affected by the crisis in personal ways.

Destroyed aid truck

A truck carrying United Arab Emirates medical aid for Lebanon was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike today, an Emirates official said.

In Beirut, a Lebanese security official confirmed that one truck in a convoy of vehicles transporting Emirates aid had been hit and set on fire as it was travelling along a mountain road shortly after crossing into Lebanon.

The convoy, which included ambulances, was clearly marked as a relief operation, the Emirates official said.

More here

World Peace

If Ever There Was A Time For World Peace It's Now

Dear All,


Mind Parlour at podme.org held an impromptu gathering last night in response to the tragic events in the Middle East...

I invite you to visit the site and download the audio program which also contains a meditation for peace...

http://podme.org/Shows.asp?fetchpg=447177267081489562

The show is number 6 - If Ever There Was A Time

Once you have heard the show, please pass the link on to your family and friends and please leave any messages on the Mind Parlour message board.

Thank you

Podme

The national ID card

Today i went through the website of the National ID card to get some information. http://www.emiratesid.ae/en/
While I think the project is useful, I was surprised to see that they charge AED 100 for nationals and AED 500 for non-nationals. Quite a steep price difference! What do you all think about that??

Sign and Forward "Save the Lebanese Civilians Petition"

Please go to http://julywar.epetitions.net and sign the Save the Lebanese Civilians Petition and forward this invitation to your friends.
Lebanese civilians have been under the constant attack of the state of Israel for several days. The State of Israel, in disregard to international law and the Geneva Convention, is launching a maritime and air siege targeting the entire population of the country. Innocent civilians are being collectively punished in Lebanon by the state of Israel in deliberate acts of terrorism as described in Article 33 of the Geneva Convention.

Thou shalt blog every day

Does blog post frequency matter? Eric Kintz says no, at least not for most blogs. He gives 10 reasons. Actually many of the reasons are not about building a successful blog, but have to do with the health of the blogosphere - he's not clear on the distinction.

17 July, 2006

Crisis in the Middle East: Local Bloggers Report :: The Truth Laid Bear

Link. A compendium of blog posts from bloggers in Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine blogging on the current crisis.

After Lebanon, what next?

Yesterday Gaza, today Lebanon... how far is this going to go? An ugly scenario has popped into my mind. I mention it here, because it is a scenario that could impact the UAE much more than any of us would like.

Israel goes on to do in Syria what it is doing now in Lebanon. Of course, Syria would strike back. The US goes on to continue taunting Iran till it decides it is time to roll in and attack from Iraq. By this time all the Gulf countries are forced to take sides, and as long as the battle goes the way of the Americans and Israelis, Saudi Arabia will be next on the drawing board. A scary thought.

I'm not a person who beleives in wild theories, but if anyone had told me a month ago that Israel would be doing what it is doing in Lebanon now, and getting away with it, I wouldn't have believed it.

The fact that within a fortnight Israel can launch attacks on two territories, over something as trivial (relatively speaking) as a soldier getting kidnapped, and the US fails to intervene and tell them to pull back, then I'm starting to think any number of other horrible scenarios could play out.

Oi, Mr Blogger Dot Com

Where did my "Leave a Comment" bit go? Eh, Eh? What did you do with it?

UPDATES - Workers Relief Effort

Read the previous post here

CAMPAIGN UPDATE For The Workers Relief Effort:

Good news - we've collected the first lot of clothes, and the rapid and extremely generous response by people in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah has astounded us.

We've received washed and clean clothes for workers ranging from formal shirts, trousers to t-shirts to shalwar kameez / kurta pajama and even new packs of undergarments.

While t-shirts,shirts and trousers would be worn by a majority of workers from India and Bangladesh, workers from Pakistan would be happy with shalwar kameez suits.

Some generous donors have also volunteered to supply or fund the entire stock of cooking utensils and flip-flops (chappals) for the workers.

Some have volunteered to collect clothes for us from their friends, neighbours.

We are truly humbled by the response!

As word spreads more and more people are contacting us, wanting to help in so many ways.

If you missed out in the first collection drive that ended on Saturday, but still want to help with clothes or in any other way in this project, please contact:

Sandeep for Dubai: 050 2570433
Farrukh for Abu Dhabi: 050 7151722
Mufaddal for Sharjah: 050 5955975

Thank you all for helping us make this happen,

Farrukh Naeem & Mayura Sandeep
Founders & Moderators
http://creativemajlis-network.ryze.com

FARK.com: (2174497) Why conspiracy theories are a good thing

Link: FARK.com: (2174497) Why conspiracy theories are a good thing

7DAYS Women's Blog makes it to Fark, misuses who's. Oh well. I like the conclusion:
what believing in conspiracy theories does for those who believe in them is actually quite profound: It hands control of your world to someone else. By believing that the forces that control the world are unknowable and beyond our control, we remove any responsibility for them ourselves. How can we feel like a failure, or gulity over something we have done, when a) it was someone else’s fault, and b) I will never be able to do anything about it, because this person is so powerful that (s)he is untouchable.

Tripped out in the Burj

New York's Premier Alternative Newspaper:
This de facto United Nations crew was dizzying enough—not only for the stark contrast from India—but made perfect sense when considering the spectacle of the Burj Al Arab. It’s a tourist attraction as well as a place to sleep, drink, shop and look beautiful, and while I don’t think a return visit is in the offing, it’s a pretty cool one-shot if you want to experience an LSD adventure without the downside. The hotel, which opened in ’99, is smack in the middle of a man-made island, and is the tallest building in the world used for this purpose. It’s shaped like a sail, as preposterous as that sounds. When you walk in the lobby, besieged by a phalanx of employees, the first sight is a vertical display where water shoots at random, often changing colors.
. . .
I’m not sure, even if the capital was available, that I’d invest in the properties of Dubai. Yes, it’s currently an over-the-top Las Vegas, where libertines come to indulge, but one killer bomb in the airport, say, and the city’s economy will collapse. The Burj Al Arab is billed as one of the wonders of the 21st century, but how long it, and the dozens of hotels that surround it, lasts is a real question.

16 July, 2006

What's Wrong or Right with Education in the UAE?

If you're a student or grad of a local university, or an educator, or one who has gone through secondary or primary in the local, Indian or other variety of school here, what is your take on it? What are the trends--are things moving in the wrong or right direction? I welcome any views. My own take as an educator is posted in Education. My summation:
The overall picture is one of segmentation within society where education is generally split along Arabic and English-speaking lines, and between the local and expat communities.

Relief for Lebanon

I am trying to organize a relief campaign to gather much needed aid to Lebanon. Does anyone know any UAE based relief/Aid agency that is accepting funds or donations and arranging sending them to Lebanon? I tried calling the UAE Red Crescent but I can't get through..

Please if you know of any, place a comment or email me directly on dubaimirroratgmaildotcom

As sweet as chocolate, as sweet as love!

I have to say that I hate that part of human being's brain which gets out of control when some body falls in love. I can compare that with getting addicted to drugs, you know that you have to stop, but you are not able to. Though it has been quite long time ago when I found myself not able to manage my feelings, I still have to see some nice people who are in serious trouble with a particular relationship, but they cannot split, or they are so depressed after the break up that they can not live their life.I have read in some article that when you fall in love, one particular chemical substance is being made in your brain which is exaclty the same when you are eating chocolates. For the same reason that you con not stop yourself from enjoying a piece of chocolate, it can be absolutely difficult to push away the strong feeling of being in love, though you know that it is not good for you. Stone-hearted people like me, have an advantage that they will never get heart-broken, but they will never taste the sweetness of love, which does not sound good at all. Imagine that you are not able to enjoy any piece of Chocolate, even those hand-made expensive ones from Northern Europe!

Emiratization Proceeds Apace

Today's Gulf News reports on the closing of loopholes allowing secretaries from repositioning for new jobs and staying in the UAE.
Many expatriate secretaries, looking for a loophole in the system to continue working here after emiratisation comes into effect, have been outsmarted by the Ministry of Labour. As per a decision issued by the Ministry of Labour on June 24, expatriate secretaries and human resources managers in the private sector will be replaced by UAE nationals. A surprise awaits them if they approach typing centres to submit online applications under "other professional categories."
Over at the "The Business of America is Business" blog I argue that replacing secretaries and HR managers will not be as easy as it seems. I maintain that though they may not be advanced-degreed or highly-skilled labor that everyone is anxious to attract, their extensive tacit knowledge of organizational processes and policies makes them more valuable than many managers and almost all bureaucrats suppose.

600 Billion Dhs skyscraper announced

New entrants to the booming and busting Dubai real-estate market, Bottomless has announced a 600 Billion Dhs skyscraper targeted at low-income residents in the UAE.

Featuring spectacular views of the Dubai traffic, a unique roof-top heating system and intermittent shower system, the structure is expected to further consolidate Dubai's position as a pioneer in innovative architecture and sustainable social communities.

Interested buyers are requested to approach the Bottomless sales offices with a 50% payment advance before our "Sold Out" double spread advert appears next week.

I had removed this post earlier as per negative feedbacks from a few people (If 2 can be classied as few) whom I thought were active members and contributors of UAE Community. Good to know that atleast some people do have a sense of humour and awareness of issues in the UAE.

Dinglish

In a week where the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, take a minute for some light relief, courtesy of 7 Days. Of their examples of "Dubai English", my personal favourites are:-

Ahlanification - The process of an everyday expat discovering his or her inner Paris Hilton through the party pages of local magazines.

jane drain - The migration of long-term expats from Jumeirah to the exurbs of the Springs and the Greens.

my friend - A total stranger.

However I'm sure we can come up with some equally good or better examples. My contribution is:

next week, madam - it'll never happen

Over to you . . . .

15 July, 2006

Freedom of Speech

How much freedom of speech (or the press) is there in the UAE? I'm sometimes warned by my friends about blogging so much. One wonders how carefully he must tiptoe around topics such as religion or politics. When issues flare up as they did in the Danish cartoon controversy it's hard to keep one's thoughts to oneself, but how much at risk does one place himself, in just speaking his mind. A rule of thumb, I would say, whether there are issues of censorship or not, is to just be tactful. It never hurts to avoid offending people and you can still get your point of view across without doing so. This is a topic I explore in more depth in censorship, in A Word A Day.

Dubai's Resources Under Stress Due To Rapid Development

I liked this article very much ... first it started by giving some current statistics and future predictions ...

The population of Dubai is currently said to be around two million, but by 2020 it is projected to reach four million ... Also, the eight million visitors Dubai is drawing every year are expected to grow to 22 million over the next 10 to 15 years.

Local reports have quoted a top official saying that the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority expects daily water demand to reach 341 million gallons per day and daily electricity needs to reach 8,513 megawatts by 2011.


Then the article described some "unfortunate" incidents related to shortage of electricity and water in Dubai ...

In August last year, Dubai temperatures reached 47.3 degrees Celsius, the hottest day in the city for six years. In January this year, thousands of residents in the Springs, Emirates Hills, Desert Spring Village and Meadows housing projects in Dubai were hit by acute water shortages for about 18 hours. Just last week, the same upmarket area was plunged into darkness because of a power shutdown.

In June 2005, Dubai suffered a hard blow from a power blackout caused by a technical failure that lasted more than four hours and incurred losses of tens of millions of dollars.


Now read what Nicholas Coates, Gulf News associate editor, said ...

"I cannot but have certain lingering doubts that the exponential and dynamic expansion taking place has not fully taken into account the needs of its citizens .... Where are the additional power stations, desalination plants and sewage plants?"


Read:
Dubai's resources under stress due to rapid development (KeralaNext.com)

Aljazeera.Net - Saudi sideswipe at Hezbollah

Aljazeera.Net - Saudi sideswipe at Hezbollah:
Saudi Arabia has blamed "elements" inside Lebanon for the violence with Israel, in unusually frank language directed at Hezbollah and its Iranian backers.

"A distinction must be made between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements inside [Lebanon] and those behind them without recourse to the legal authorities and consulting and co-ordinating with Arab nations," a statement carried by the official news agency SPA said.

"These elements should bear the responsibility for their irresponsible actions and they alone should end the crisis they have created."
. . .
"They [the elements] are exposing Arab nations and their gains to grave dangers without these nations having a say in the matter," said the statement, which reiterated Saudi support for Palestinian and Lebanese resistance against Israeli occupation.

14 July, 2006

What Changed the World

...of the UAE (and the Gulf), that is.

Arguably it was an obscure (at the time) edict by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, then Crown Prince of Dubai, that certain projects in Dubai could be developed and sold on a freehold basis. Back to the future and what we find is this!

So, what happened? Read the lowdown in Freehold!

Bloggers on the Israeli offensive

The Lost Dot writes about how her family was evacuated to Syria, hours before the highway to Syria was bombed. I hope that everyone's families and friends are safe, Inshallah.

My family was there.. And just before the sunset they moved towards the borders in buses provided by the Embassy.
By almost 11:30 pm, they reached the lebanese borders and then only we were able to relax for we all were holding our breaths waiting for them to reach the borders as we know it will be a bit safer over there. The rest left to Damascus Airport escorted by the representative of the Emirates Embassy in Damascus and then left to Dubai i believe.

p.s. Beirut - Damascus International Road was totally DESTROYED early this morning.

Can you help us? Donated clothes required urgently for labourers.

Hi,

We are in urgent need of clean clothes in good condition for labourers who have lost everything except the workclothes they were wearing in a recent fire at their camp in Dubai.

Creative Majlis is collecting clothes which we shall distribute to this camp this week.

We'd like to complete the collection of the first lot of donated clothes by 7.00 pm tomorrow evening that is 15 July, Saturday. If there is a need, we might extend the campaign further to meet as many needs of these workers as we possibly can.

If you'd like to donate clean and ironed clothes for these adult males, or help us with the logistics and transportation, or in any other way, please get in touch with:

Farrukh Naeem in Abu Dhabi: 050-7151722
Sandeep Ramanujam in Dubai: 050-2570433
Kapil Verma in Sharjah: 050-8457606

Looking forward to your support,

Farrukh Naeem
Co-founder & co-moderator
Creative Majlis
http://creativemajlis-network.ryze.com

Illegal public kissing in Dubai



But they're popstar Cheryl Tweedy and footballer Ashely Cole, and as we all know, it's one rule for celebs and another for the rest of us.

THESE were the romantic desert scenes as soccer star Ashley Cole went down on one knee to beg stunning Cheryl Tweedy to marry him.

The star couple had headed to Dubai to cement their blossoming relationship.

And Arsenal ace Ashley, 25, took the opportunity to pop the question in traditional style after whisking Girls Aloud singer Cheryl on a camel ride across the sand dunes.

A hard rain's gonna fall

The Israeli Defense Forces have named their relentless military operation in Gaza “Summer Rain," which is cruel and sarcastic given the political, historical, and environmental context of the Eastern Mediterranean. From early May to mid-September, one can expect clear skies and no precipitation. What is raining, though, is fire and metal, along with leaflets bearing chillingly familiar threats. The Middle East is in dire need of the refreshing rains of law, justice, sanity, and wisdom. The clouds on the horizon, though, are full of fire and death, not life-giving water.

More here

Israel Attacks Lebanon

Assalam Alaykum,

May this reach you in the best state of health and iman. Ameen.

Many of us are slowly becoming aware of the shocking events that are unfolding in the Middle East with regards to Israel's fanatical attacks in Palestine and Lebanon. As Muslims [and Non-Muslims] , we can respond to these events in a variety of ways. Many of us are thinking of the humanitarian aspect of this crisis while others are focused on the political or social dimensions. One thing that we must never lose sight of is the spiritual dimension of this issue.

"Allah does not change a people's lot unless they change what is in their hearts." [Qur'an 13:11]

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever." [Muslim]

"The faithful are like one man: if his eyes suffers, his whole body suffers." [Muslim]

"An Arab is no better than a non-Arab. In return, a non-Arab is no better than an Arab. A red raced man was not better than a black one except in piety. Mankind are all Adam's children and Adam was created out of clay." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "The Faithful are to one another like [parts of] a building - each part strengthening the others."

We must remember that the aid of Allah (swt) is always near. He is closer to us than our jugular veins.

Inshallah tomorrow, lets all come together, whether it be in our homes, or in local masjids, and make Qiyam for our Ummah. Theres nothing more powerful than an entire Ummah turning to Allah and asking for His help alone.

Starting after Isha tommorow, gather your family, friends, and community members wherever you can and come together and make du'a. Then spend the night weeping in prayer, recitation of the Qur'an, and dhikr. If you grow tired, ponder over the fate of your brothers and sisters in Palestine and Lebanon or reflect over what your own state will be in the Akhirah; this should re-energize.

May Allah (swt) give victory to the oppressed and destroy the oppressors. Ameen.

Keep our Ummah in your duas.

[I know UAE is pretty multi cultured and it would not be nice to leave out people, even though the letter addresses Muslims, I'd also like to ask everyone, including non-muslims, to keep the civilians, the innocent children, men and women in your prayers. I currently have a friend in Lebanon, and she can't get out, she went there for vacation. ]

Masalamah

Saudis promote kingdom for tourism :: Sydney Morning Herald

Quote: Tours by groups of both sexes will be allowed - as long as a father or brother is with any single women under 40. Visitors must follow local customs, and a booklet printed in several languages will be distributed to tourists instructing them on Saudi's strict social traditions.
. . .

All female tourists will be required to dress according to Saudi tradition: covered from head to toe with only their face, hands and feet exposed. And in the most conservative city, the capital, Riyadh, women must wear a black robe over their clothes.

The Desert Kingdom

A fascinating documentary from Australia's ABC on Dubai, with a focus on environmental and water issues. It shows the enormous change, and gives a sense how difficult it has been for local people here. As Dr Hessah Lootah puts it:

"There is so much emphasis on the value of materials, rather than the value of feelings or the value of human kindness."

Here are some then and now screenshots from the video, some things have changed more than others:







Buddha Bar disc covers


Can someone please explain why all the Buddha Bar disc covers have been censored by a large round black sticker (at the music store next to the Grand Cineplex theatre...I haven't checked anywhere else yet)...One explanation I was given was that buddha is a pagan symbol therefore it is not sensitive to the local culture...but if this is true why are buddhas and other such 'pagan' objects available for purchase at mall stands and other retail outlets all over town? If this pagan thing is true then somebody better tell the guys over at the Buddha Bar in the marina to cover up those huge Buddha statues, 'cause they must have missed out on the memo...

Arabian Heritage


Arabian Heritage, originally uploaded by !efatima.



EDIT: for those that can't see Flickr, here's a mirror of the image. Click the image to see it full size

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

13 July, 2006

XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-4317

Do you own a credit card? Do you wish you didn't, or is it a lifesaver? Credit is becoming more prevalent in UAE society. Is this a good or bad thing? I have my own thoughts on how to play the credit game--something gained from learning lessons and just being more responsible. I do think part of the blame is with modern society where the business of selling is allowed to pervade every aspect of our lives. I think it's something we all need to be cautious about.

Blogging Coming of Age

There was an interesting article in GN two days ago about the popularity and influence of blogging particularly in India, Beware! The bloggers are watching! It pointed to blogging being the second most common internet interest after email--far surpassing people's perusal of adult content. The suggestion was not so much that large numbers of people are blogging, as it was that so many people are reading blogs.

That is encouraging for us here in the UAE who like to blog. There is an audience. People come to blogs for information instead of relying totally on what they get from traditional media.

Mumbai? What About Bombay? :: The Explainer

Link: Mumbai? What About Bombay? - How the city got renamed. By Christopher Beam

As a result of recent events more Americans know that Bombay has been renamed Mumbai. From the article it seems that many in India still call it Bombay. So you have the irony of non-Indians outside of India striving to use the city's official name while many within India continue to call the city Bombay.

Note also: In 1996, Madras became Chennai.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Madras is back in style. Then there's Burberry which is so in style it hurts.

Comment policy

Due to some recent possibly obscene troll comments, commenting on UAE Community blog is currently Members Only. Fortunately I have been able to delete these pretty rapidly, but I live in fear of something really offensive remaining up while I'm away, and causing a lot of problems.

We hope to change this policy as soon as we can figure out how to stop it. The problem is that people sign up fake Blogger accounts, and Blogger has no way to filter out the good from bad, unlike other systems such as LiveJournal.

Again - if anyone has any technical expertise and can find a way round this, please get in touch. As always, membership is open to all UAE bloggers, as well as regular readers outside the UAE, and also UAE-based regular readers who don't have blogs yet themselves but like to participate here.

ban blacked out cars

Speeders pulled over

“We were very keen on pulling people over and handing them tickets since that proved more effective as a deterrent because it gets the drivers’ attention right away,”

Police pulled over 1,257 drivers on highways last month in a bid to crack down on speeding.

The trouble is, how many blacked out 4x4's were pulled over?

My guess? out of 1,257.......ZERO, NIL, ZILCH....

Overheating and happiness

The UAE enjoys strong economic prospects but must take care aggressive development spending plans do not lead to overheating and inflation, the International Monetary Fund said.

'Directors viewed that the medium-term economic outlook remains favourable,' the IMF said in an annual assessment.

More here

Overheating in a region where the temperature reaches 50 degrees celcius (oops, I meant 49 degrees); who would've guessed.

Also the UAE's happiness rating isn't much to be happy about about...

"Out of 178 countries, the UAE came a satisfyingly crap 156. Of course, we were never going to beat Russia for sheer discontent (a truly dismal 172), but we are indeed a bunch of miserable gits."

More here

Why We Are Here

What is it that makes life in the UAE meaningful from the perspective of an expatriate? As we are sometimes reminded, intentionally and unintentionally, this is not our country. How many times have we heard, If you don't like it you can leave. Whatever the feeling or sentiment behind such statements, I think it is worthwhile for the expat to reflect on the question of why he/she is here. That is to suggest that there is more to being here than is often voiced. In a word, participation in the community/society may be one way to find more meaning.

IDF was preparing for a widespread operation not only against Hizbullah but also against the Lebanese government

Jerusalem Post:
According to Herzog, Israel is holding Lebanon responsible for the attack, which was carried out from its territory.

OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam said the IDF was preparing for a widespread operation not only against Hizbullah but also against the Lebanese government. The IDF, The Jerusalem Post learned, has drawn up plans to bomb main infrastructure, including power stations in Lebanon.

"The IDF is responding with its full might by the air, the sea and the ground," Adam said. "We are also preparing for a massive operation....
Meanwhile, Europeans tilt towards Israel. More here.

12 July, 2006

Auto-Translations

Arab language webpages can be auto-translated into English by pasting the following code in front of the URL:

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ar&u=

After the equals sign (=) would come the Arabic webpage's URL. So to read the Arabic site in the sidebar, Arab Concerns, you would precede its URL,

http://pcrap.blogspot.com/

with the code shown above, to get

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ar&u=http://pcrap.blogspot.com/

You will then have an English auto-translation of this link.

I've highlighted the en and ar as these can be substitued or switched to get different translations, such as English to Arabic, or by using fr for French, ru for Russian, and so on. HTML users might want to experiment with different lanugages and make clickable buttons for the translations--esentially the way the little flags work on this site.

Note: These are auto-translations (a service provided by Google), which means they will have errors. Reading will require quite a bit of interpretation.

MKD Piano Album 5


Yup.. There is no shame... my latest improvisational album is out at BuJ Al Arab.

Five down and many more to go hopefully. Come and give it a try :)

11 July, 2006

Anti-fraud blog

A new blog for the rolls, this one with a mission, as reported in 7Days:

"A Dubai resident has started a web site to log cases of car frauds in a bid to warn people against fraudsters. Dubai Law Connector says she has been fighting to get her car back for more than a year after selling it to a man who paid with a cheque for dhs100,000 that bounced. DLC hopes that her blog dubailaw.blogspot.com will help prevent other people from being duped too."

DLC plans to feature media reports on fraud with updates on court cases and investigations. A lot of people are stung by various frauds here, from black magic money-making to fake rent deposits, so Dubai Law Connection could be a useful site.

10 July, 2006

Dubai, A Cultural Bouquet

If we were asked to define each neighborhood in Dubai in terms of its cultural or ethnic character, what would we come up with? Would Karama be Indian? Would Jumeirah be British or Western? Of course, few areas could be labelled in any exclusive terms.

In places like New York City, you have some clearly defined neighborhhoods, like Itallian, Jewish, Chinese, etc. I share some thoughts about the Western characteristics of Dubai in my post the West, but that is just a part of the story of this city.

One interesting note. If you ever visit International City, you will really feel that you are in a Chinatown. Not only is there the huge Dragon Mart, but all the Chinese shopkeepers and workers that are employed there live in the neighboring district of China. Wouldn't it be great if Int'l City's Italy, Spain, Greece, etc. also become real ethnic communities inhabited by their respective nationals?

Arabian New York

Arabian NY, magnet, globalization, alchemy, leadership, legend, new metropolis, are some of the metaphors used in this BBC program to describe Dubai. Much of the story told here is nothing new to people who are familiar with the city, but the fairy-tale like discourse and snippets of info and opinion from some interviewees make it worth listening to. It’s part of a new BBC radio series called “The New Arab World,” that started fittingly with Dubai. Listen to the report by clicking on the relevant button on the linked page.

Shorts, Tank-Tops, and Flip-Flops, Oh My

Sometimes I wonder about some of my fellow Western expats who live in (or visit) Al Ain.

7:30 in the morning, wearing shorts, tank-top/muscle-shirt, flip-flops, trying to push open a locked store-front door that won't be open until 8. This is but one example of time and situation. I've witnessed the same attire at 5 p.m., walking through the Oasis, or strolling through the Town Center.

It's a little embarressing. I know none of you do it -- and I know Dubai, as far as culturally appropriate attire is concerned, is a different story.

And I'm sure there's always a good reason for wearing the shorts, etc., but it does come across that these few unthinking expats seem to be from another planet. They seem to be completely unaware.

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah film sanitizers ordered to cut it

Utah film sanitizers ordered to cut it out:
Hollywood has been fighting Utah companies for eight years over editing sex, violence and language from hit movies.

Here's how the story unfolded:
* In 1998, Sunrise Family Video in American Fork offered to edit nude scenes from "Titanic" for $5 for people who purchased the movie.
* Soon after, businesses like CleanFlicks began making edited copies of movies for sale. Other Utah companies like Trilogy Studios and ClearPlay, meanwhile, developed software for DVD players that skips over objectionable material automatically.
* CleanFlicks of Colorado, then affiliated with CleanFlicks of Utah, filed suit in 2002 against the Directors Guild of America and 16 filmmakers, including Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg, to force a legal ruling on the issue.
* Several months later, the directors fired back with a countersuit, which was eventually joined by Hollywood studios.
* While the case lumbered through the courts, President Bush signed the Family Movie Act in 2005, which legalized technologies used by companies like ClearPlay.
* Thursday, the U.S. District Court in Colorado ruled that CleanFlicks and similar companies are violating copyright law and must stop production.

09 July, 2006

From Richmond to Dubai

Who among you have heard of a city in the United States called Richmond, Virginia? For what seems like mysterious reasons now, I remember this city as a 21st century marvel--at least, that is how I saw it at the age of 7 in 1968. To keep a long story short, I was a little kid in the back seat of my parent's car. We were riding along a freeway in Richmond, on the way to Washington, D.C. Now that was the first and last time I ever visited (or passed through) Richmond. But what I remember seeing through the window were towering skyscrapers along the edge of the highway. It made a lasting impression on me.

Fast-forward and I'm really in the 21st century now. Almost like the kid I was then, I am mesmerized by all the incredible and incredibly tall buildings coming up in Dubai. To that I've penned my latest post in A Word A Day entitled simply, Buildings.

BTW: Are those buildings in Richmond all that great, actually?

Bottled water king

Which of the following countries consumes the most bottled water on a per person basis?

ANSWERS: A. United States B. United Arab Emirates C. Mexico D. Italy
...
B. United Arab Emirates is not correct.

The 2.6 million people of the United Arab Emirates are the third-largest consumer of bottled water on a per person basis, taking in 163.5 liters per person per year. This is more than Saudi Arabians, who drink 87.8 liters per year and the Lebanese, who drink 101.4 liters per year.

This means that the United Arab Emirates' per person water consumption is nearly seven times the global average of 24.2 liters per person per year.


More here...

SMEs fleeing Dubai

From Gulf News:
Fresh small and medium-size investment is shying away from Dubai due to the high cost of rent in its free zones. Companies are looking for cheaper alternatives in Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and other free zones, as the cost of obtaining trade licences and the rents are much lower in other emirates, officials say. The cost of a small start-up for a year including a trade licence and rental in Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone (RAKFZ) has been around Dh22,000 ($6,000), while a similar operation in Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (Saif Zone) is around Dh25,000. The same in Dubai is almost four times higher. The cost of a similar operation at the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafz) and Dubai Airport Free Zone (Dafz) ranges from Dh85,000 to Dh100,000, including Dh75,000 to Dh80,000 for rental.

The beginning of the end? It's probably not a bad thing that the other emirates get more investments but if SMEs are being more careful about Dubai, that can't be good can it?

Speedtrap wasta for the middle class?

ProfessorBainbridge.com: A Brilliant Solution

BBC NEWS :: Guggenheim expands into Emirates

Guggenheim expands into Emirates:
Architect Frank Gehry is to design the Guggenheim Foundation's largest museum in the United Arab Emirates. The museum, which will cover 30,000 square metres, will be built in the capital city of Abu Dhabi. Guggenheim's flagship museum for modern and contemporary art is in New York but there are branches in Bilbao, Berlin, Venice and Las Vegas.
Pretty nifty.

08 July, 2006

We Can Make a Difference

I am of the mind that the situation for laborers in this country is improving. A lot of that is in no small way connected to the amount of media attention the issue has gotten. I think the onus now on those who care is to keep the ball rolling. In our own small way as bloggers I believe we can have some effect.

For example, where do you think the international press and foreign policy experts get their information from? No doubt a lot of it is picked up off the web. But it is doubtful that any laborers are themselves posting views or accounts of their struggles online. So this is where we come in.

As bloggers we CAN make a difference. Perhaps we could visit their camps or worksites, interveiw some of them and share their accounts online. In fact not only on this topic, but on any other we care about, we can play a more active role by blogging and perhaps engaging in a bit of amateur journalism.

As part of my contribution toward supporting the struggle of the laborers, I add Laborers 1, a synopsis of the problem and thoughts on what the GOVERNMENT can do.

Unlikely group helps Austin beat Dubai rap

Unlikely group helps Austin beat Dubai rap
BY JEFF LEEDS and SHARON WAXMAN, The New York Times

But the release of a music producer from a Dubai jail this week, quick on the heels of his conviction for drug possession, turns out to be a story of high-level string-pulling on the part of Hatch, the conservative Utah Republican and songwriter; along with Lionel Richie, the singer; Quincy Jones, the music entrepreneur; and an array of well-connected lawyers, businessmen and others, spanning cities and continents.
...
Hatch made numerous phone calls on Austin's behalf to the ambassador and consul of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington - Dubai is one of the seven emirates - and served as an intermediary to Austin's representatives, the producer's lawyers said.
...
"This involved multiple ambassadors, a prime minister, a prince, Lionel Richie, the senator and religious leaders in Atlanta," Reeder said.

"The uniting factor of all these people - the religious leaders, the political leaders, entertainment figures and prominent private citizens - was humanitarian considerations," he said. "Where should this man be under these circumstances?"
...
On Friday, Austin released a statement that said in part: "This unfortunate experience has had a profound effect on me, and I regret any grief caused to my family, friends and business associates."

More here

Muslims not doing enough to tackle extremism, says Blair :: Daily Mail

Muslims not doing enough to tackle extremism, says Blair:

He said: "The Government has its role to play in this, but, honestly, the Government itself is not going to defeat this.

"If we want to defeat the extremism, we have got to defeat its ideas and we have got to address the completely false sense of grievance against the West."

Mr Blair went on: "In the end, Government itself cannot go and root out the extremism in these communities.

"I am not the person to go into the Muslim community and explain to them that this extreme view is not the true face of Islam."

The Prime Minister added: "I profoundly disagree that the problem here is that the Government hasn't acted.

"We are not having a debate of a fundamental enough nature within the community, which is where the moderate majority go and stand up against the ideas of those people, not just their methods.

"You cannot defeat this extremism through what a Government does. You can only defeat it within a community.

"People should stand up and not merely say, 'You are wrong (but) you are wrong in your view about the West, you are wrong in your sense of grievance, the whole ideology is profoundly wrong'."

Extremism would not be defeated "until you challenge that at its root in the community".

He went on: "People kind of say, 'We understand why you feel like this but you are wrong to do these things'. You are not going to defeat it like that.

"You are only going to defeat it if you say 'You are wrong about these things'."

Meanwhile:
13 per cent of UK Muslims believe July 7 bombers 'are martyrs'
I don't recall seeing this DIFF publicity article before (or may be saw a brief news item about the event); Please edit/delete if otherwise. I find this description to be particularly worth quoting:

Woven around a quintessentially Arabic theme, the evening recreated the magical beauty of the Middle East with an ensemble of lantern-lit marquise reflecting authentic accents of the Orient in its décor, mood and menu. Among the thematic elements were henna tattooists, fortune tellers, belly dancers and an over-friendly camel at the entrance.

Aladdin would’ve been proud!

The usual boring introduction post

Well, this is my first post in this blog and the 2nd after my failure attempt to create a stupid blog focusing on another issue.

Writing isn't really one of my best skills, especially if it was my thoughts we are talking about here.

I've always got the worst grades in composition exams. It is the subject I lose grades the most in. So I'll give it a shot here to see what it might lead me to.

As an introductory post, I'd like to give you an idea about what this blog is all about. I named it Emirates Reuters referring to the news paper agency. I don't want to sound stupid but I think you know that already. You can see that my first post is "The newspaper guy" which really sums up almost everything about me.

Yes, I am addict to newspapers, might be a weird habits to most of you or shall I call it hobby? Even I consider it stupid and it really gives me a hard time.

To see the remaining of this post visit my blog http://emiratesreuters.blogspot.com/

07 July, 2006

Modhesh makes it into the bigtime

Local icon Modhesh is being hounded by unnamed Hollywood animation studios for the rights to film his story.

No stopover in Bollywood for this guy - he's going straight to the top!

Personally, I think that he'd be better off making a name for himself in other movie genres before heading off into the mists of animation to become just another famous voice for some cute donkey or wooden cowboy.

Modhesh - if you read this - think about it, man!

Your name and face - in lights - above all the movie theatres in the world!

Before signing your contract, insist on making some decent blockbusters.

Click here if you want to see some movie suggestions for remakes which will make you into a star!

Netherlands in another racism kerfuffle

Involving a Sony Play Station Portable advert. White appears to dominate. Black appears to submit.

One Year Later

On the first anniversary of the London bombings the sense of grieve and anger over the loss of so many innocent lives is compounded by the lack of closure over the simple question: why? We may never know the full truth behind this tragedy, but one aspect of the debate over the rise of such home-grown terrorism has been the role of British foreign policy. The Blair government has always emphatically denied any connection between the 7/7 bombings and their foreign policy, especially the war in Iraq. Yet two new pieces of evidence seem to contradict this position. The first comes from the videotaped message of Shehzad Tanweer, the bomber from Beeston, who detonated his bomb in the Aldgate tube, which was broadcasted on Al Jazeera Channel yesterday. The Guardian today leads with this story: “One year on, a London bomber issues a threat from the dead”. The second one is a semi-confidential document containing the conclusions of a study by the UK’s counter-terrorism specialists on the possible reasons for the bombings and distributed to senior police officers recently. Excerpts from the article entitled, “Police report: foreign policy helped make UK a target”:

The document…says the conflict in Iraq has had a "huge impact". It explains that British policy over Iraq and Palestine is used by terrorists to justify their violence...

The report says the removal of grievances the jihadists use to justify violence will take time: "What will change them - gradually - is argument, the removal of justifying causes (Palestine, Iraq), the erosion of perverted beliefs and day-to-day frustrations."

The police document says terrorist anger at UK foreign policy "masks" other motives, which are "insecurity and fear, loss of identity through encroaching secularism and a sense of cultural failure, past and present ... Hatred of the west may be characterised as transferred self-blame and self-hatred
.

This is obviously far from the end of discussion and speculation on this most sensitive and emotional subject. But the evidence from these two contradictory sources only highlights the need for a more honest and comprehensive discussion of the plight of terrorism, namely at the level of government.

Arablish 101

7abibi

How did you read that? The first time I read that word somewhere I read it as sevenabibi. But I realized that it was Arabic written in English so I corrected myself and read it as sabahabibi instead. Wow, gr8. Okay laugh your ass of if you know how to read that, but nobody's telling us people who are unfamiliar to Arabic language what numbers are supposed to be in Arabic-English! How are we supposed to read number 7 in 7abibi? Today is your lucky day as I’ll teach you how to read - numbers!

Read more..

Legs akimbo in Abu Dhabi

ITPBusiness.net :: Legs akimbo as client rethinks - Dancing still on for now.

Mostly I just like that headline - "Legs akimbo in Abu Dhabi" - but I do wonder who would inhabit in those legs.

Legs akimbo meaning here.

Dubai-based firm out to rival Skype

Khaleej Times:
Dubai-based Efonica is positioning itself to become the global leader in voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services, ahead of current leader, Skype, which has 100 million subscribers.

And as soon as the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) in the UAE rules that VoIP is legal, slated to be in the first quarter of 2007, Efonica is ready to pounce.

"We aim to be ready as soon as the TRA makes an announcement," said Efonica's regional director for Asia and Africa, Ibrahim Choueiry.

The question remains however whether this IP to IP based dial-up service remains free, as thousands of residents within Dubai and other emirates would like, or whether the service will be available only through two providers — the incumbent etisalat and the new operator du.

Choueiry, believes that the TRA will "probably let IP to IP calls be a free service," in much the same way as communicating via MSN Messenger is free.

Hockey Help

Hi all,

Does anyone know the price of hockey sticks in the UAE and where to get them? I didn't see anything on the Sun & Sand website and I'm out of the country right now so I could use some help! I'm looking for wooden street/ball/ice hockey sticks, not field hockey sticks. I need about eight of them so if you have any info or are looking to sell then let me know.

Thanks!

Traffic tickets and diplomatic immunity

Economists find: Diplomats From Countries With Dim View of U.S. Were More Likely to Ignore NYC Parking Tickets :: CBS News. Quote:
The study was conducted by economists from Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, who were hoping to uncover why officials from some countries frequently abused their diplomatic immunity by parking illegally, while others played by the rules.

Their main finding was that diplomats were more likely to run up unpaid parking fines if they hailed from countries with a history of unchecked corruption, such as Nigeria.

But a second factor _ poor U.S. image _ emerged when the researchers matched the list of offenders against a 2002 world public opinion survey performed by the Pew Research Center.

"It's much easier to flout the law if you tell yourself that the government that is making these laws or enforcing these laws lacks legitimacy," said Raymond Fisman of Columbia University's Graduate School of Business.
The worst and the best?:
Based on statistics supplied by the city, the report said the worst offenders during that period were Kuwait, which averaged 246.2 unpaid tickets per diplomat per year, followed by Egypt, with 139.6; Chad, with 124.3; and Sudan, with 119.1.

Twenty-two countries averaged zero unpaid tickets per year, according to the study, including Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
That's an interesting way for Kuwait to show its gratitude for the U.S.-led fight to restore Kuwait's sovereignty. Ditto Egypt which receives so much foreign aid from the US.

And UAE has zero unpaid tickets. And yet when it comes to paying the congestion fee in London, the UAE diplomatic corp has the worst record ranked by total owed. The US is 10th worst. The US's contention is that the congestion charge is a tax and diplomatic missions are exempt from taxes. But congestion fees and parking tickets are both more akin to fees for services - a congestion charge reduces traffic and, hence, shortens travel time. The US should pay up; so should the UAE. And so should Kuwait and Egypt. Should - that's a normative statement: stealing is wrong.

Why Do We Blog?

We are a forum of UAE web diarists. That sounds like a good description to me, which I have elaborated upon in a post on blogging. But why do we as individuals blog--in our own blogs and at UAE Community? Do any of us have an agenda--and is it wrong if we do? Is it because we want to be more involved in the community--and is that happening? Somehow blogging in general and this particular blog seems to have evolved organically. That is one of several things that makes it so interesting.