30 September, 2006

CREATIVE ADVERTISING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Consider this for a change “There is No Box.”
When the advertising gurus proclaim that the “advertising in the region is at par with the international advertising standards”, I say “take a walk down the streets of New York, London and Tokyo and then compare to Dubai”. With a very few exceptions, the streets of Dubai do not reflect the sort of advertising that you experience in other metropolis. It doesn’t just exist in their books, but is seen on the streets and ideas reflected in all forms of media from contextual to experiential advertising.

Read More

Needed - an honest debate

There's a very thought provoking article from the celebrated NYT editor, journalist and author, Thomas L Friedman, that was reproduced in Gulf News print edition today. (Unfortunately, it is not available free online - not even in NYT)

It talks about the fundamental issue of Muslims attacking Muslims, which has perhaps heavily tarnished the image of Islam as a compassionate religion and repeatedly increased the distance between Muslims and Non-Muslims.

"Part of the problem in getting answers is that Islam has no hierarchy. There's no Muslim pope defining the faith. There are centres of Muslim learning, in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but their credibility with the masses is uneven because they're often seen as tools of regimes"

He feels that "...there's a huge body of disenfranchised Sunni Muslims, who are neither violent fundamentalists, nor wannabe secularists. They are the people who'd like to see a marriage between Islam and modernity. But right now there's little space in the Sunni world... for that synthesis to be discussed and defined".

When I see the progressive Arabs and non Arab Muslims here in UAE, I tend to agree with Friedman. I feel UAE, by lieu of its economic status and a model of progress, could take the first step towards initiating a debate within the Muslim community to find a common progressive message for the world.

No sensible Muslim - who has understood the teachings of Islam - would want to see violence as an precursor to solutions. Like all other communities of the world, all the Muslims also like to share, enjoy, and live life in peace, friendship and togetherness. Isn't UAE one of the best examples of this?

Expats raised in Dubai

So my friend Wilbur came to visit me from NYC recently. We were talking about expats brought up here and I said it seems just wrong that they are legally treated no differently from any other worker who comes here today. He said, why? Their parents came here with the understanding they are here to make money and one day will have to leave. I said, ok, but the kids didn’t have a choice in the matter. He said, fine, but that’s the parents’ problem, not the UAE government’s. Blame the parents.

My questions to him were, does the UAE have any responsibility to expats who have been here their whole lives, and who have come back/stayed to work (he says no). The other question was, is this short-sighted planning on the government’s part, to not give any recognition to a class of professional workers (I imagine nearly all of them are “white collar” as their parents had to have a certain income level to have kids here) who are perfectly happy to stay? Now, I’m no economist, but if there is an economic bust and they, as well as other shorter-term expats, leave, when the economy gets going again, who will come? Wilbur said, big deal, so they go. They’ll be replaced. This is of course a hypothetical question, but it has interesting implications. I hear many people complain about the difficulty of finding quality workers here; how much worse it might be in the future. What do you all think? Related to this, let's play the "what if" game: what if the government were to expand giving nationality (but not financial benefits) or some kind of permanent residence (like a US green card) to people who've been here a long time (say 20+ yrs, like expats brought up here from childhood). This would give them residential security, if nothing else. Do you think this would be an overall plus or a bad idea for this place?

all out of sand

Apparantly not only is Dubai running out of oil, it is also running out of sand...

"It is a process that has been duplicated up and down the coast of Dubai since the launch of the original Palm island five years ago. Today, dredgers like the Ham 318 are removing more than one million m3 of sand from the seabed of the emirate’s coastal waters every week – and the process is likely to continue for the next five years, when the reclamation of the Dubai Waterfront project is due to complete.

But after that point, there will not be enough sand left within the territorial waters of Dubai to allow for any more island building, according to dredging companies who have spoken to Construction Week."
-- read more HERE

Funny. Never would've imagined a middle eastern desert country running out of sand...

Youtube unblocked

Etisalat has unblocked Youtube! Enjoy!

Meet Mirabella- A Dubai Dwelling Doggie On A Mission

One of the newest members to the UAE blogging community is Mirabella a chihuahua/shihtzu living in Dubai...she has been here for 2 years now and is on a mission to create animal awareness and pet friendliness within the city...her goal is to one day be a part of the effort towards the creation of a (desperately needed) Dog Park in Dubai. Please click the above link to visit her blog...

Postcards from Hatta



Sunrise in Hatta, UAE. 29 Sep 2006


Hatta, UAE. 29 Sep 2006

29 September, 2006

Rising up to be the most competitve Economy in gulf

Dubai is making ripples in many internaional rating lists. As we all know this year it rose to be the 25th most expensive city of the world. Things don't just stop there. Khaleej Times had this article a couple of days back stating that UAE's economy has become the most competitive amongst the Gulf; 32nd in the world followed by Qatar at 38, Kuwait 44 and Bahrain 49.

The article quotes "The UAE's ranking was the same as last year, despite the changes in the competitiveness index methodology. This has been adjusted to better reflect changing trends in the global economy", which stands witness to UAE and specially Dubai's dynamism. As an SME youngtrepreneur all I can say is that Dubai has cut throat competition and an increasing divergence between established and struggling businesses. Government doesn't do much to protect you unless your sponsor is Al-Sheikh... e.g. when rents nearly killed us the 15% cap kicks in. So out of the frying pan into the fire, first they doubled the rents and when they were sky high 15% increase came in as a right issued by government. Wonder how this competitiveness shapes our lives and futures.

Bereavement

Sadness mounts upon me like the flooding sea, sorrow whelms me, like the tide's assault, my heart is a castle plundered by the rabble, the red of autumn skies is forbidden in this doomed land…

Food Wastage - Must we be complacent?

The "Speak Your Mind" section of Gulf News today highlighted reader's views on Food Wastage in UAE. Many of the readers have expressed their opinions on crazy wastage of food during Ramadan "feasting", which I had observed here a couple of days ago.

Strangely though, 61% readers tend to agree - and perhaps are relaxed - over the fact that wastage of food in the UAE is at par with the rest of the world!

Personally this feedback was very depressing for me, and raised a few thoughts:
1) Is it necesssary that UAE is expected to run shoulder-to-shoulder with even the negative trends of the world (eg. food wastage)?
2) Is junk food mentality (to quote one of the respondents) one of the primary reasons for food wastage? Are we - due to better lifestyle - increasingly moving towards being a throw-away society?
3) Why do we have to order a lot more food than we can consume? Is there something to do with "Showing off" our prosperity status in public when we have a lot of "left-overs"?
4) In a structured society, driven to some extent by laws inspired by the Shariah, isn't there any way by which we can control the "visual hunger" for more food?
5) While a nationwide Food Recovery Program would definitely help, are the private sector companies the only ones held socially responsible for developing funds to fight hunger?
6) Couldn't the higher prices, that we see in garments and other lifestyle objects, be able to control "over spending" and hence wastage of food?

I'm sure readers would have more ideas to tackle this menace - Ramadan is a good time to start thinking!

Enjoy your weekend!

Of House Rents and Salaries

The tug-of war between house rent (plus other) inflation and salaries would perhaps take a long time to end. The Rent Inflation debate made headlines today in the Gulf News, along with the inadequate salaries in UAE.

The tenancy law amendment by the Ajman Govt. is highly commendable:

The Ajman government yesterday put a 20 per cent cap on rent increases and barred landlords from increasing rents for three years after the initial contract has been signed.”

The rent-freeze for 3 years on a new contract seems to be similar to what we used to have in UAE long ago (I guess at that time it was for 2 years), with the additional benefit of complete cleaning, painting and pest control services given free when the contract was renewed 2nd time! In some cases (esp. if the building was old) the landlord used to give a token reduction of rent (eg Dhs 500) if the additional benefits were not included in the new contract.

While Sharjah Municipality has set up a committee to look into the growing disputes between landlords and tenants over increasing rents, it remains to be seen how our beloved Dubai would ultimately rule this year.

On the salary front, according to this report there has been an overall increase – although it is still inadequate. The Hay Group Middle East study reports that managers and executives have seen their basic pay packets expand by a healthy 8-11 per cent on average, compared to just 4 per cent for middle income earners”

Personally I take this report with a pinch of salt:

1) It’s observed that “the average increase in guaranteed cash levels (basic salary plus cash allowances) at 5.3 per cent from April 2005 to April 2006” - which is compared to UAE’s official inflation rate of 6%. I’d put the differences much wider than quoted!

2) Instead of narrowing, the pay differentials are widening – it’s easy to observe that despite better capabilities salaries set for some nationalities are lower than that of others

3) Though research was based on info from 160 companies, I suspect that the selection is skewed local conglomerates (instead of MNCs and enterprises)

I’m sure community members would have different views…

Image Courtesy: http://www.civicforum.org.uk

Budget Planner - a Duboyous neeD

Came across a very neat budget planner done in excel using a number of interlinked sheets. I have learned the hard way that budget planning pays, be it for a business or just with managing your plastic money. I don't think blogger allows file uploads so just email me in case anyone wants to have a copy. It is not authored by me and has all the author info and contacts.

Well better still if anybody knows of an online budget planner do enlighten us. It would be even savvy to be able to track your money anytime anywhere. And if fellow residents have interest, I guess we we should come together to do an online dubai budget planner/price comarator, because prices in dubai are so location dependent if not skin dependent.

Dubai Video Site

Check out this site:
http://www.dubai-online.com/about/video.htm

They have a few example videos made by tourists - Burj Al Arab, Ibn Battuta & Mall of the Emirates. You can also upload your own stuff.

Interesting!

28 September, 2006

No clouds in Dubai's sky


Any body has noticed that we don't see any clouds in Dubai's sky? This photo is dedicated to all people like myself that miss those white beautiful stuff.

Global exposure for us.

OK, I'm quite prepared to accept that I'm the only one who didn't know about it.

But just in case there are more UAE Community Blog members as ignorant about these things as me, here's the story...

My records told me I had a visitor from globalvoicesonline. I didn't know who that was, but on checking I found quite a few of us have our blog postings being quoted and hyperlinks given.

The site says: "Global Voices Online is a non-profit global citizens’ media project, sponsored by and launched from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School.

How Global Voices Works:

A growing number of bloggers around the world are emerging as “bridge bloggers:” people who are talking about their country or region to a global audience. Global Voices is your guide to the most interesting conversations, information, and ideas appearing around the world on various forms of participatory media such as blogs, podcasts, photo sharing sites, and videoblogs.

Our global team of regional blogger-editors is working to find, aggregate and track these conversations. Each day they link to 5-10 of the most interesting blog posts from their regions in the “daily roundups” section. A larger group of contributing bloggers is posting daily features in in the left-hand Weblog section, shedding light on what blogging communities in their countries have been talking about recently."


So, if anyone else wasn't aware of it that's what it's all about, and we get a fair amount of coverage. You can find them at Global Voices Online

STOP PRESS

OK, so you all knew already! I'm the only one who didn't. Samuraisam has pointed out that Global Voices Online is already linked over there on the right. I really must pay more attention...

Air Pollution in Dubai

Soon, we will all be living in the Health City!

Photographed at 8:50 AM, 27th September 2006


Total Number of vehicles registered in Dubai
Jan 2005: 470,000
(source: alshindagah.com)
Jan 2006: 631,000
(source: gulfnews.com)


That was a 34.25% increase in the number of vehicles registered in Dubai alone in the span of one year. If anyone has the figures for this year, please do share.

Etisalat gets realistic

Etisalat gets realistic

Hi5, youtube, myspace and a bunch of other sites seem to have just been unblocked.
not sure about flickr, its not responding at all
Anyway, Thank you Etisalat. Now go and unblock VoIP kthx

(notice courtesy of mr.click)

Hooray!

Unblocked.

Murder in the Burj!

A Russian millionaire was killed in an alleged shootout, while another man was seriously injured in the incident that took place at the Burj Al Arab Hotel here in the small hours yesterday.

The victims, according to a hotel source, were guests. Unconfirmed reports said the millionaire was staying in one of the suites. Two men, known to him, entered his suite and shot him dead in the course of a dunken brawl, these reports said.

Executives at Burj Al Arab declined to comment on the incident, and so did Anna Bleacker, Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Jumeirah Group.

Source: KT

I hope they don't issue a statement saying it was the filming of Syriana 2 or some other mafia movie.

Anyways, what are 'small' hours?

wishes from the holy land..

wishing you all ramadan kareem and also "gmar hatima tova" which is our customary blessing for yom kippur - the jewish fast that shall take place as of sunday night through to monday evening..

our blessing refers to our belief that it is the day of judgment and we wish eachother that as the divine review of our year is undertaken - that it result in our names being inscribed in the book of life for the coming year..

peace
lirun
telaviv

27 September, 2006

Name and Shame???

This is what i found on today's Khaleej times..


DUBAI — For three years, a Filipina housemaid has been allegedly tortured by her employer, a Cypriot woman living in Dubai.

Apart from being hit by whatever object her employer, Maria M, could lay her hands on, she was apparently not given a square meal, her wages were not paid on time and she could hardly get any sleep because the household chores never seemed to end......


She had been living with her employers at Apartment 16 in Building 18 of the Jebel Ali Garden

Role of Dates in UAE Society

A short documentary about the date fruit. This six part video will give you a fair idea about the important role the date fruit & palm tree played in the lives of Bedouin before the Oil boom. This is part one of the six part series. Duration: 1 min 33 sec

You can watch the other 5 parts of this series by clicking on the following links: Video 2, Video 3, Video 4, Video 5, Video 6

You have to watch this video.

The fallout from Bill Clinton's interview on Fox News has been huge, but I haven't seen anything as remarkable as the response by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC TV during his Countdown programme.

In the 'Special Comment' segment he really lets go at Fox and BushW.

"...a past President, bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster, finally lashed back."

"The nation's freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do as much damage as Al Qaeda."

"The nation's marketplace of ideas is being poisoned by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would have quit."


It really is a remarkable attack.

Mozart Ban in Berlin!


Timesonline - 27 Sept. 2006:

“THE bloodstained King of Crete stumbles onstage and holds aloft the decapitated heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and the Prophet Muhammad. “The gods are dead!” he calls out to the audience.

German operagoers will not be seeing that scene or, indeed, any scene from one of Mozart’s most powerful works. For fear of Muslim anger, the bosses of the world-renowned Deutsche Oper in Berlin have cancelled performances of Mozart’s Idomeneo. The decision has unleashed a storm of disapproval from politicians and writers, who claim that Germany has fatally compromised the freedom of expression.”


Find more here and here

Next on 'the List of the Vice': P2P??

Etisalat/TRA today blocked Torrentspy.com, one of the leading torrent indexing sites. It sure did have adult content, but most torrent indexing sites do have adult content. And Etisalat seemed to be filtering out the adult content on it to an extent.
This blocking sends out a message to all those using peer-to-peer sites and software (torrents, Limewire, Kazaa, etc..). P2P traffic consumes most of an ISP's traffic and and clogs its traffic. In Etisalat's case, be prepared for the worst. Technology thats filters p2p traffic is already in use in the West, how soon Etisalat implements this filter is anyones guess.

26 September, 2006

Freej: First 3D Animated Series In The Middle East From The UAE

Freej Cartoon
click above for larger image

Freej, the Middle East’s first 3D animated series is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Harib who also directs the fifteen standalone episodes of fifteen minutes each, launching this September on national television. Freej is the tale of four old national women living in a secluded neighborhood in modern day Dubai. The show’s main characters; Um Saeed, Um Saloom, Um Allawi and Um Khammas try to live a peaceful life in the midst of the ever-expanding city around them, but the city’s boom unveils new social issues every day that they would have to tackle solve in their own simple way. For those four old women, there is no issue too hard to crack with a good cup of coffee at Um Saeed’s house.

The first episode of Freej was premiered on Dubai TV and Sama Dubai on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. The first season of Freej will be rerun in the latter half of Ramadan.

More ...

Read Also:
Freej Website

Educate & Rehabilitate!

With all the glamour and knowledge, comes the other side of the coin.


Four students have been arrested for allegedly taking drugs. The young men, who study at Knowledge Village, were arrested in a series of raids on Sunday night. It is not clear what drugs they had been using. (7days)


This incident comes soon on the heels of the ragging fiasco in one of the KV campuses. All these vices are there in campuses world over, just that it is making its public presence felt here in the UAE. Long have there been rumours on what was going on among students, but the arrests have laid proof to those rumours.

The students in KV are young adults and they must be well aware drugs are a serious offence in the UAE. These incidents are only the tip of the iceberg as hundreds of students enroll from gulf and other surrounding countries to enjoy the benefits of higher education in UAE. With the establishment of Academic City and Knowledge Village, the Dubai authorities have brought world class education to the Gulf. However they should also keep in mind, education goes hand in hand with counselling and rehabilitation.

Who da Tallest???

Yea so who is ? currently the tallest building is Taipei 101 in Taiwan 508 meters and then ofcourse our Burj Dubai 807.7 meter. Nahh how can that be, Dubai will have the tallest building, so Kuwait plans the 1001 meter or 1 km long tower as the centrepiece of the new Madinat al Hareer development.

Hey look look they are growing tall!! and in came Bahrain's Ethic City Tower with a proposed height of 1852 meters. So lets say in total these tall building would cost roughly about 4- 5 Billion USD (towers only) or more, but what is the point. How many SMEs could be financed or sustainable research funds could be set up if it was not for becoming iconic through constructing the biggeessttt structure. I think some thing is missing here or I can't see it.

"Melting Pot " - the Tabloid scan!

Congrats to UAE Community bloggers!

Today's GN Tabloid picked up the posts of DG, auhblogger, and webmasterdubai among others. (See it here)

I feel the issue is extremely important and worth discussing more, esp. since we're ushering in a new era for Dubai! Meanwhile keep watching this forum (and contributing your ideas too) !

FAIRNESS, POLITICS AND THE MEDIA

Two questions on fairness in the media have become the focus of much discussion in the last two days. They both relate to Bill Clinton’s explosive interview on 24 Sept. 2006 on “Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace“:

1- Fair Question or “Kill Bill” Job?

Did Wallace ask a fair question “in good faith” or was he out to get Bill Clinton? Should fairness in this interview be also viewed in terms of th host's record and the political agenda of his employer?

Excerpt from the interview:

“WALLACE: I understand that hindsight is always 20/20. ...
CLINTON: No, let's talk about it.
WALLACE: ... but the question is, why didn't you do more, connect the dots and put them [Al Qaeda] out of business?
........................
........................
CLINTON: But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now...
So I tried and failed...
So you did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know is ...
WALLACE: Well, wait a minute, sir.
CLINTON: No, wait. No, no ...
WALLACE: I want to ask a question. You don't think that's a legitimate question?
CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.
I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, "Why didn't you do anything about the Cole?"
I want to know how many you asked, "Why did you fire Dick Clarke?"
I want to know how many people you asked …”


Watch video here

Text of interview here

2- Fair Use or Copy Right Abuse?

Searching for a video of the interview I noticed most sites linked to Fox News and very few copies posted independently. Fox’s copy is OK if you can put up with the advertisements. But I was a bit surprised at the lack of other copies given the storm created by the high profile interview (the highest viewership rating since capture of Saddam Hussein). Then I read this on Webloggin.com and the mystery was solved:

“If you haven’t been made aware yet you may notice that all copies of the Fox News Sunday Bill Clinton - Chris Wallace interview on YouTube have been removed …This was done via a DCMA complaint that was filed by Fox News Network, L.L.C. against the YouTube web site…”

Full story here.

Is Fox News justified in its action or is it infringing on the idea of fair use of material relating to political speech and public debate?

As for the first question, I think Bill must have watched George Gallaway's interview on SkyNews during the recent Lebanon war and learned a thing or two from it!

And concerning the second question, we should feel lucky because it is more hypothetical for us here, thanks to Big Brother ETSalad who has blocked YouTube and such similar cyber forums!

Still, worth thinking about it though.

25 September, 2006

"Random lunatics"

"Meanwhile, there is the blog terror: people are getting their understanding of the world from random lunatics riffing in their underwear, rather than professional journalists with standards and passports."

and:
"So are we doomed to get our news from some acned 12-year-old in his parents' basement recycling rumors from the Internet echo chamber?"

Anyone else feel rather offended by this Time article?

Fast and the Furious - Dubai Drift & Crash!

7days today reported a new danger to hit UAE roads.

"SAND-X, the world’s fastest quad bike is facing a stormy reception in the UAE as the high-speed sand vehicle prepares to launch here. The quad, which is being touted as the fastest and safest sand vehicle around, has a maximum speed of 120 miles per hour (180kph) and can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than three seconds - that’s quicker than a Ferrari Enzo.


But the quad’s power and speed have many people worried because quad bikes do not require licensing or registration here in the UAE and the Emirates have witnesses several tragic accidents in past years, most recently the death of a young UAE local who crashed his quad into a car on a road in Dubai. Sonia Matar, the mother of 14-year-old Gabriella, who died in a quad bike accident last year, was outraged when she was told about the new vehicle and concerned that teenagers could be allowed to operate such powerful bikes without proper training and licensing."


In July, the Dubai Traffic Department carried out a campaign against the quad bike menace. The Gulf News quoted Major Hassan Abdul Razzaq, Deputy Director of Bur Dubai Traffic Control Department, "...youngsters between the ages of 10 and 19 were riding most of the quad bikes and motorbikes that police confiscated in July. Most complaints come from three areas in Bur Dubai, which are Jumeirah Beach, Al Safa area, especially around Al Safa Park and Al Quoz,"


With already the accident rate and death toll rising on UAE roads, there is surely going to be some stunts worthy of Action TV on the roads. This is a disaster waiting to happen, compounded by two factors - Under-aged drivers and no training required.


There will soon be a growing market for armoured cars, the only thing which "may" save lives incase of a direct collision with a Sand-X quad travelling as fast if not faster than a Ferrari.

I Want Out

Please remove me from this group (UAECommunityBlog). Don't get me wrong - I have no beef with any of ya'll. I just want out. Thank you very much.

24 September, 2006

Melting Point - Beware of all that melts iN

Man pleads not guilty to secret filming. An article I found on 7days. Some food for thought that when cities becoming cultural melting pots they attract a lot of external aspects. We have to pick and choose to keep up and protect our morals and our culture.

23 September, 2006

The Gulf News

It's official. Everyone now knows the basic etiquette of blogging on community weblogs. "Self-links aren't allowed as the main link in posts, unless there is full disclosure. As a secondary link, or a link in a comment, it's fine. But we don't want to see you linking to your blog right up there on the front page, okay?" is the phrase all good community webloggers are familiar with.

And this doesn't mean any extra work for the administrators of the community blog, because it's just etiquette. It's built on trust. But it always helps to mention it somewhere, so members find out about this etiquette sooner rather than later.

I remember recently a blogger by the name of "de-void" repeatedly posted posts with self-links on the front page of UAE Community Weblog. Another member by the name of "flac" left him a comment on his blog (because "de-void" doesn't allow commenting on his community blog posts! You must go to his blog to comment on the post that he posted on the community blog)!!! Can you beleive that?

Here was the comment "flac" left:

"Hello,

You are obviously new to blogging on community weblogs (as are a couple others on the UAE CWB). The standard etiquette is to not post a post that links directly to your own site. Give us something (similar but) different! What you have on your site will be there, too. Because we can see your site by clicking onto your name.

Read up on it."

What did "de-void" do? He didn't do any reading, he didn't even ask around about it. He deleted the message. And the next day he posted on the community blog (again, no commenting available) with another front-page direct link to his own blog.

RAMADAN KAREEM

SALAAMS

HI, Some of us have got togethere and have a BLOG, this RAMADAN for RAMADAN.

The Aim is to get as many of you to come and post, So that we all benefit and learn from each others knowledge.

So, WE would very much like to WELCOME you.
Please come and join us at RAMADAN-KAREEM

Italiano

HCT students prepared a young entrepreneurs handbook. Quiet an effort but focused on selling clothes Italiano?!?!?!?@!!! So how is that such a upcoming business opportunity, where is the self sustainability and the innovation in it.

Please check it out and enlighten me too.

Hebraic Happiness

In the first mention of the Hebrew language in a good light in our local media, educators have voiced their opinions about promoting the learning of the language in Arab countries to reciprocate the learning of the Arabic language in Israel, where Arabic is one of the official langauges.

I'm all for it! Please go ahead and start teaching Hebrew to those who want to learn the language in universities and colleges, if not in schools. I speak a little bit of Hebrew myself, though it's not very advanced and my vocabulary is comparable to that of a six-year-old Jewish Israeli child. I wonder if I should teach it to those who are interested... I mean, I've learnt this language with the help of certain books and people and now it would be nice to 'pass it on'.

Though, I'm opposed to the reason behind the people's desire to learn the language. In the article, people say they want to learn it so they can know their enemy. Why not 'know thy neighbor'? It's about time the two sides stopped seeing each other as 'the enemy' and let the ordinary people communicate and connect with each other so they can hurry the hell up and get the peace process started!

It was nice to read such an open-minded article about Hebrew on the first day of the new Jewish year - yes, today is Tishri 1st, 5767, and also Ramadan 1st, 1427, the first of the 30 [or 29, depending on the moon] 14-hour-long fasts. Yom Kippur, the 25-hour-long fast for Jews falls on October 2nd - Tishri 10th, so Jews and Muslims will be fasting together. Here's to a month of peace! 

The Spirit of Ramadan

One of the puzzles I've never been able to answer throughout my 8 years in the Gulf, is that during this one month of Ramadan, the sales of food items increases phenomenally throughout the GCC region - despite the fact that this month is supposed to be the fasting month! What could be the reason? More influx of foreigners to expereience Ramadan? Food offered to more poor and hungry people during this period (who are otherwise ignored throughout the year)? Or is it that more Muslims congregate in GCC countries to experience Ramadan closer to the place of birth of Islam? Or is it that people tend to waste more food more often?

Any statistical insight available from any of the contributors on this forum?

One of my Muslim Friends sent me a very thought provoking piece on the Spirit of Ramadan, which I wish to share with all bloggers contributing to this forum. Many of the Muslim brethren would already be aware of what's mentioned here. Nevertheless, no harm in repeating good words :) :)

I'm reproducing the full article from my mailbox (Thanks AH!!):

Fasting in Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is generally taught with ritual precision: abstaining from food, drink and intimate relations from dawn to dusk. Ironically, Ramadan is best known,whether by Muslims or others the world over for its exotic culinary delicacies.
Ramadan, however, has nothing to do with feasting. The spirit and intent of Ramadan lies in a human transformation, with hunger and thirst being merely the first stage, the external dimension, in a month-long inner journey of struggle and discovery.
For starters, fasting is not solely about hunger and thirst. The prophet taught that God has no need for the hunger and thirst of someone who hurts others, violates their dignity or usurps their rights. The fasting of the stomach must be matched by the fasting of the limbs.The eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet all have their respective fasts to undergo. The tongues temptations, for example - lies, backbiting, slander, vulgarity and senseless argumentation - must be challenged and curbed to maintain the integrity of the fast.
Consciousness of behavior and vigilance over action are meant to lead to the most profound dimension of fasting: the fasting of the heart in focus on, and attachment to, the divine. It is then that Ramadan really becomes a source of peace and solace.
Fasting is meant to impart a sense of what it means to be truly human.
We are more than the sum of our parts, more than mere material creatures or a series of conditioned responses. Different traditions have different names for it - soul, spirit, heart - but almost all argue that we possess an essence beyond our physical body. It is perhaps this recognition that accounts for the fact that fasting is a common practice in other faith traditions.
True fasting is self-purification and, from this, a rich inner life embellished with values such as justice, generosity, patience, kindness forgiveness, mercy and empathy - values that are indispensable, especially mercy and empathy, to communal life as we know it.
The world has shrunk but so, it seems, has our empathy for one another.
Perhaps we should ask why is it so difficult to connect with others?
One reason is that knowing about hunger is different from knowing hunger. Empathy is not an intellectual equation; it is a human experience. In our ivory towers, we are typically spectators to the human drama around us. Our hardness of heart often springs from our distance from the human condition of others. The poor, sick, disenfranchised, oppressed - we have rarely walked a mile in their shoes, or even just a few footsteps. "Rest assured," cautioned one teacher, "if you do not taste what it feels like to be hungry, you will not care for those who are."
That 1.2 billion Muslims are fasting concurrently speaks to the universality of fasting in transcending the barriers of geography, colour and race. For fasting to be truly universal, however, its benefits must extend beyond the fraternal ties of Muslims and must extend to forging a common humanity with others. Each one of us must look within.
As an abrupt break in our annual routine, Ramadan will come and go with such stealth that we cannot but be reminded of our mortality. What is it that we value and why? The food and drink, previously indulged in with a sense of necessity, even urgency, were reduced with no dire consequence. Habits, customs, obsessive behaviours like smoking, too, were curtailed with relative ease in the face of a higher calling. What does it mean to be a global citizen? How much of me is really an algorithm of consumption?
Though the annual ritual of fasting takes 30 days, its true destination is endless.
May we always have hunger to discover our heart!

Can someone please explain.......

Yesterday (22nd Sept) was the day that the 'new moon' fell. A new moon has 0% visibility. That's zero, nil, nothing, it cannot be seen. Today is the first day in this moon phase that it might be possible to see a slight sliver of the waxing crescent and even then it cannot be seen until after sunset (today).

So, can someone who knows more about this than me please explain how the crescent of the moon was spotted last night? I am very curious.

Thanks,

HMHB

ps is the weekend in Saudi still Thursday and Friday?

Ramadan Kareem to all Readers and Bloggers

Ramdan Kareem to all of you from the 'Dubai Informer'.
I hope you all know what to do and how to behave now. Just in case you need more information about Ramadan:

Ramadan Begins Today

or here

Holy Month Of Ramadan

Dubai Informer

Ain't That A Kick In The Head?

After nearly a year of blogging, my blog has finally been ploxied...huzzah! I'm guessing my content is a bit too risqe (spelling!??) but the blog is going to be updated anyway. Though readership from here will be limited to people in the FZ who are frightfully bored at work. Stay faithful my dahrling readers!

22 September, 2006

Dubai DED website

Can't they fix it? The dubai department of ecocnomic development's website has its database locked. Wonder if they paid their bills. Chek it out
And trust me I have been trying to access it from about more than a month now.

Ramadan Kareem!!!!!

Ramadan Mubarak!!!

May Allah answer all of our prayers and accept all of our deeds.

Fi Iman Allah

Etisalat wins another Award!

UAE incumbent Etisalat, which is undergoing a massive change in culture and market outlook in the face of the looming entry of competition, was rewarded with two prizes. The judging panel deemed Etisalat’s improved customer care credentials to be the best in the region this year, and also considered the operator’s overall business strategy worthy of selection as the overall operator of the year. [more]



Have a nice weekend!

Nightly Lights

My friends and I were out in a park in The Meadows about an hour ago and we were sitting on the bench and talking. Between the leaves of the palm tree that was beside us, I saw a some bright red lights in the sky. I jolted up and saw that there were actually five of them - five bright orangish-red lights, floating in the sky like balloons on fire. They weren't stationary like the stars around them, they were actually moving. And they looked bigger than the stars, so they must've been closer.

One of my friends screamed "UFO!" without hesitation and the other one followed suit. I was like, "Maybe they're just balloons. Or maybe it's the government doing something silly." I dunno what prompted me to say the second sentence.

Slowly, as we watched, the lights moved from north to south, across the sky. They were diminishing in brightness as they floated by. All three of us by now were really excited and thanking our lucky stars [no pun intended] that we were witnessing something like this. "Oh, I've never seen anything like this before." "Oh, this is so beautiful." "I'm so glad we came here."

Awed and amazed. Did anybody else spot these floating orangish-red lights other than us three teens? What do you think they were? Has this happened before? I don't have a picture right now, but my friends clicked some really useless pictures of the sky with their cell phones - the lights appeared as mere dots on a black background.

21 September, 2006

Road Show on Investments in Pakistan - updated

Hey folks up , just got back from the Road Show on Investments in Pakistan which wasn't on any road but Burj Al Arab. It was very informative and the speakers touched on topics such as the booming pakistani economy and the growing mutual fund and private equity business in Pakistan.
Today 21/09/06 I have posted some details on my blog.

Caveat Emptor : Buyer Beware

Friends, read this post carefully if you are planning to buy a car in the near future.

Our story started last year. The sole agent of one of the leading European car brand imported a shipment of new cars. During the off loading process, one of the cars fell down due to the carelessness of the off loading staff at the sea port. The car suffered serious damage especially in the chasis. The sole agent filed an insurance claim. The sole agent also removed the car from the system of the manufacturer since it was considered as salvage, or "scrap" as we call here in the UAE.

The insurance company paid the sole agent the money & took the possession of the car. They then sold this car to one of the garages in a neighboring emirate. The garage owner repaired the car & then sold it presumably as an "unwanted gift" & at a much lower price, to a buyer from a neighboring Gulf country. The new buyer cleared all the paper work with the concerned traffic department, got an export number & took the car to his home country.

When this buyer bought this car, he was told that the car was under the warranty from the manufacturer & therefore he should face no problems in his country as this was an international warranty. The first few months were okay. But then everything changed one fine day when the air bag activated itself during a normal driving trip, which is something unusual. Our friend took the car to the dealership in his country for repair, since his car was still supposed to be under the warranty.

Now here this gentleman got the shock of his life. He was told that his car had already been declared a salvage & therefore has been removed from the system of the manufacturer. This meant he has to pay for the repair.

This is a real story. The car was a BMW. The sole agent is based in Abu Dhabi. The final buyer was from Saudi Arabia, he bought this car from Sharjah. I heard this story on Emarat FM 97.1 live call in program. The story has been verified after the program presenters contacted live on air the representative of the sole agent in Abu Dhabi.

The moral of the story is that please do not buy any "unwanted gift" car. But if you think you cannot live without it, please verify the details with the local agent of that brand. I would even suggest that if possible, you should directly contact the manufacturer. Don't just depend on the clearance certificate issued by the police department.

Another insider information. Don't buy imported American Specification used cars unless you personally know the Car delaer & are 200% sure that he will not cheat you. Most of the new stock available these days is the result of last year's Hurricane Katrina. The cars were imported into UAE as scrap, then repaired here before being sold in the market as "Immaculate Condition Imported Car."

God save us from greedy & unethical businessmen.

Gulf News vs Khaleej Times


When will Mr. Al Tayer & Mr. Galadari grow up? I don't care who has the highest circulation, this is not my problem as a reader. What I care about is the quality. So stop this cat fight please, concentrate more on your real job. Instead of fighting about who is number one, I believe that both of you should complement each other to raise the standard of journalism in the UAE. Both of you, take a chill pill :-)

Melting Pot - the debate continues

After the Gulf News Article of 15th Sept., reported here and views expressed here, it seems the integration debate will continue for some more time.

In addition to timely post from DG, a lot of readers have expressed their latent frustrations about cultural isolation in Dubai and UAE. Read the readers' responses here.

(DG's views on serious efforts thru Ramadan - the "great leveller" - is extremely welcome!)

Dubai- 2 Emirates-1

Dubai found some unexpected publicity coming their way when Arsenal FC donned the 'Dubai jersey' in it's match against Hamburg.

Too bad, Thierry Henry missed out because of an injury. A 'Dubai' on his shirt would have done a world of good for Brand Dubai.

Remember Tiger Woods and the Agassi-Federer duel in the Burj Al Arab helipad?

Four Your Use






There are a lot of good blogs out there from and about Al Ain. Here are some I know about:

Al Ain Taxi, Am I really this crazy, Bss & Brn in Al Ain, C'est la Vie!, The Desert Mirage, your man in Al Ain

If there are some others I've missed, please include them in the comments section.

Provide your own caption...

REUTERS: "President Bush praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today for his efforts to form a national unity government."

If you were going to write the copy for this caption, what would it be?

20 September, 2006

Weyak is Weak.

Does anyone else find the design of Weyak and Blogspot a bit too similar?




(blogspot image scaled down and cut into two to fit on here properly; rest assured the height of the toolbar is just about exactly the same on both websites)

Equally interesting is Etisalat’s choice of categories…


I suggest the blogging community watch out, it looks like we’re in for some stern competition…

“I have very good experience in UAE, almost of them is good one, the liberty and freedom I didn’t enjoy in my native India I have experienced it here. Only some kind of mistreatment in workplace, was denied better salary and perks coz of my country of origin.

One best thing I have noticed is that in any office I mean government office, everybody are treated equally. Even a UAE National was waiting in queue, unlike in my country, where influential people get their work done without waiting.

Anyway do pen in your comments, this place is really great and the most secure place on earth. You don’t believe, then lets us know, pen it here.

And a big thanks for Etisalat to provide such a nice portal. I always thought Etisalat was behind money, and with this site they have changed that outlook. Even I placed a free advertisement in this site, its cool.” Link here (courtesy of the pickle in your shawarma)
Other interesting posts such as “life as an unemployed invalid” are worth reading.

There are already some other daring bloggers who’ve used their real names, and uploaded their photographs; it’ll be interesting to see how Etisalat/the TRA/Du/the government react to said blogs.

19 September, 2006

International Business Leaders Forum - IBLF


The Prince says and I quote , "In the Middle East and North Africa region for example, which faces many risks of conflict and extremism 60 percent of the population is under the age of 24 and faces bleak employment prospects. Some 100 million jobs have to be created in the next 20 years just to absorb new entrants to the job market and another 20 million to reduce the present level of unemployment." Check out details on the International Business Leaders Forum

Global Warming

I suppose it's far too cliche'd to note that global warming is here and that it will eventually affect our lives, but I wonder if anyone's seen this site, which graphically displays just what rising sea levels might look like for any part of the world...

...Like, perhaps, Dubai and Sharjah:


(Click on the image for a larger picture)



Sooo... the good news is: all those folks in Garhoud will have beachfront property at last!

Another website blocked!

Hi5 joins the dead. Today, Etisalat has finally blocked this site too...

A step in the right direction...

Cairo: The United Arab Emirates signed the Arab charter on human rights at the Arab league headquarters on Tuesday, becoming the thirteenth signatories of the blueprint.
...
The 53 article charter reaffirms the principles the Islamic Sharia and Arab values, the charter of the United Nations and the universal declaration of human rights, as well as the provisions of the United Nations international covenants on civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights and the Cairo declaration on human rights in Islam.

Article (2) of the charter reads: '' Each state party to the present charter undertakes to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the right to enjoy all the rights and freedoms recognised herein, without any distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and without any discrimination between men and women.

''The states parties shall protect every person in their territory from being subjected to physical or mental torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. They shall take effective measures to prevent such acts and shall regard the practice thereof, or participation therein, as a punishable offence," another article says.

The charters also covers rights of women, workers and people with special needs as well as their educational and cultural rights.


more here

Closer interaction between Locals & Expats

Samuraisam, this post is dedicated to you my brother :-)

In today's Al Bayan Newspaper, there was a column by Maisa Rashed Ghadayer about the Cultural Integration special report published by Gulf News a few days ago. I would like to share the last paragraph of this article with the fellow bloggers.
نحن في دبي خاصة والإمارات عامة نعيش مع الجنسيات المختلفة بسلام ولم يقع إلى الآن ما ينبئ بانشقاق في المجتمع، لكن ما نرجوه هو أن نسعى كمواطنين قبل الجميع، من أعلى المستويات وجميعها، بالإضافة إلى الوافدين باختلاف جنسياتهم للاتفاق على صيغ تقربنا من فهم بعضنا البعض وتدمجنا اجتماعيا وثقافيا بدل الاكتفاء بالاندماج الذي يفرضه علينا واقع المال والأعمال

I tried to translate it word by word, but at the end I myself was confused, I am sure fellow bloggers would have felt even more confused than me after reading the translation ;-)
Well, the main theme of the last paragraph is that UAE nationals & Expats of different nationalites have so far managed to live in harmony. But the need of the hour is that both nationals & expats of all nationalities should make serious effort to come closer to each other, to understand each other. She insisted that locals should make more effort than the expats in trying to bridge the gaps. People should interact more on social & cultural level instead of the interaction just limited to money & work.
I hope people from both sides start making serious effort to achieve the above mentioned goal. Friends, we have a very good excuse to make a start, Ramadan is almost here, make the full use of it in knowing each other better & try to remove misconceptions from each other's minds. Good Luck & Ramadan Kareem :-)

Dubai ranks no:4 Man Made Wonders

Dubai Ranked no: 4 amongst the Man Made Wonders , check it out at msn. Ok good job but I wonder if they will ever publish how it was built over sweat and blood of poor workers using tactics of modern age slavery.

Not to forget the young entrepreneurs for which it is becoming a non-inviting entity. Got ideas about that drop in to the other blog.

"Etisalat is best firm in the UAE"

Ah...theoretically speaking, I guess:

Etisalat has been ranked by Forbes Arabia magazine as the 6th Best Arab Company in the region and first in the UAE.

From a survey of more than 1,060 companies, the report includes 11 UAE companies in the Top 50 Arab companies. The report evaluated companies based on financial performance, operating competence and successful market performance among others.

Taken from Emirates Today, Business Section

18 September, 2006

Cyber Crimes - Watch Out...

Grapeshisha has an extremely interesting translation of the UAE Cyber Crimes Law - I don't know if this is a draft or if it is actually in effect. I also don't know how reliable this translation is, but if it's remotely accurate, we all need to watch our steps.

Dubabes

Walking around Mall of the Emirates today, I noticed an interesting and relatively new phenomenon- the sight of young, sexy Emirati ladies wearing the latest in international fashions (usually consisting of tight tight jeans or mini miniskirts) and a barely-there abaya. They stood out to me much more than just the average Western girl simply because they wore this one extra item of clothing. Some may call this controversial and hypocritical because an abaya is supposed to exist to deflect male attention, but I simply call it the new Dubabes phenomenon. They're hot!

Not in God's name...

Many people have, in the course of history, committed heinous crimes in God's name and continue to do so - most of us are just too lazy or ignorant to challenge their distortions and lies.

Does any religion teach imperialism, greed and aggression? Or are the teachings of religions being twisted by the power hungry for material gains?

Jesus (peace be upon him) taught that you should turn the other cheek when someone hits you, and that you should love your enemies. Why don't the war-mongers draw inspiration from this? Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught that killing one innocent human being is like killing all humanity. He prayed for those who stoned him till he bled from head to toe. Why don't the terrorists emulate this? I am sure Buddha, Sri Rama, Zarasthura must have taught tolerance and forgiveness too. Why aren't these teachings ever quoted by politicians and terrorists and war-mongers and the hate brigade? Because it does not profit their own selfish agendas.

Do religions support imperialism and political conquests? Should we take our modern day conquerors, politicians and terrorists as God's spokespersons or should we go back to words and examples of those who taught by example?

Jesus (peace be upon him) did not have a roof over his head when he walked on this earth. Moses (peace be upon him) wandered homeless with his people for ages. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) left Makkah, his home city, fleeing the persecution of polytheists. His household used to starve for months on end, and they did not even have enough means to light a lamp the day he passed away. Sri Rama from India lived for 14 years in a forest, giving up his kingdom for his principles. Buddha was a prosperous prince who renounced his riches in search of the truth.

If we lived like these people, taking little, giving much, would we dropping bombs on each other, occupying foreign lands for greed, destroying each other? I don't think so.

To people who say that religion is a cause of conflict, I say it is not. The ignorance of religion is.

farrukh
Who Wrote That

Here comes the Real Blogger

If you have been looking out for an 'avid' blogger in UAE, Etisalat seems to have spotted him. At Madinat Jumeirah of all places.

This dude called 'Mohammad' with photoshopped blue eyes to match his blue rings reckons that etisalat 'activates his life'.

Too etisalat(cool) man.

Weyak advert in Gulf News dated September 18, 2006.

‘Que Sera Sera…What will be will be’

.......................I was working from 1.30pm to 10.00pm with a break of 1 hour at a salary of AED 1200.........I should have quit, I had nothing to lose, but I was scared ..... Read more

first class tourism

Here is an entertaining video of Emirates first class;

"if you have to spend 14 hours on a plane, this is the way to do it. Luxury ‘cubicles’, an entire … all » hollywood and music back catalogue with noise-cancelling headphones and an a la carte menu - not to mention a proper vintage wine selection. "

17 September, 2006

Qatar Science and Technology Park -Updated-


So the businessinnovationinsider.com is being amazed that Arabs are embracing innovation. Well I think QSTP is a great step and the way the authorities are tieing it up with academia and funding sources it might just be the next silicon valley of techie startups from the region.

I got a statement from QSTP management:
"There is a strong spirit of entrepreneurship in the Gulf region, which has traditionally been focused in areas such as construction andtrading. What Qatar Science & Technology Park is trying to do is broaden that out to include technology entrepreneurship - taking new technologies from the lab and building them into profitable businesses.We are building a business incubator now which will open mid 2007, and this will be supported by programs such as seed funding,entrepreneurship training and mentoring. This is an exciting time forthe Gulf's entrepreneurs and we look forward to building relationships as we near our opening."

Looks promising, already they have tied up with Carnegie Mellon,Weill Cornell, Georgetown and Texas A&M, which is no doubt a good step forward

Read on and please enlighten us with your views

Quirkiness of a decidedly funky kind

Not content with always having the biggest or most expensive of something, Dubai can now proudly announce that it is home to one of the "quirkiest" hotels in the world

According to TravelAdvisor, The Al Maha Desert Resort comes in at 6th place in the Funky Hotels race, snuggled between a treetop hotel in Brazil and a Wigwam motel in Arizona.

1. Ice Hotel Quebec, Canada (ice everything; near Quebec City)
2. Malmaison Oxford Castle, Oxford, England (old jailhouse)
3. Imperial Boat House, Koh Samui, Thailand (converted rice barges)
4. Fantasyland Hotel & Resort, Edmonton, Alberta (indoor park)
5. Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel, Manaus, Brazil (70 feet high up in treetops)
6. Al Maha Desert Resort, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (“Bedouin” oasis)
7. Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Ariz. (teepee-style concrete tents)
8. Yunak Evleri, Urgup, Turkey (cave rooms)
9. Quinta Real Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico (built around defunct bull-ring)
10. Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, Calif. (Barbie moves in with Barney Rubble)

Number 10 sounds kind of interesting

PLEASE READ!

I came across uae alias's latest post. She has really written this, I would call it a letter to Allah, with all honesty and goodness of heart. I was touched by it and I'm sure you will too. Spare a few minutes and read it! :)

ice cream

An interesting yet mostly-cliché article about Dubai over here; except for this little paragraph….

"Life is sweet here. New arrivals at the spotless Dubai International Airport are sometimes greeted with free tubs of Baskin-Robbins ice cream to soften the shock of the sweltering heat."

Never heard of that happening before; but it’s definitely a positive thing.

Aside from double chocolate chip ice cream; some people may find this report, entitled “United Arab Emirates: International Religious Freedom Report 2006” interesting

mad

The Pope is quoted as saying that a certain religious figure encouraged people to

"......spread the faith by the sword......"

The response from a certain religious leader as quoted in today's newspaper is to "“hunt down" and kill the Catholic leader.

Now that's going to help us on the road to world peace.

16 September, 2006

Anonymous said...
"Innovation" is the dirtiest word in the world to a Moslem.
16 September, 2006 12:52

Taking this comment from uaecommunityblog posted in responce to my post on Qatar Science and Tech Park I want to enlighten readers about some historical facts. A few very good sites that would provide more insight than my words are MuslimHertiage.com and 1001Inventions.com. A quick scroll through these websites would show how the Muslims scholars contributed to human civilization and its advancement.



"It is highly probable that but for the Arabs modern European civilization would never have arisen at all; it is absolutely certain that but for them, it would have not assumed that character which has enabled it to trascend all previous phases of evolution. For although theres not a single aspect of European growth in which the decisive influence of Islamic culture is not traceable, nowhere is it so clear and momentous as in the genesis of that power which constitutes the permanent distinctive force of the modern world and supreme source of its victory--natural science and the scientific spirit".[R. Briffault: The Making of Humanity ]

It is a brain stimulating debate. Please read on and give thought provoking, heart warming and spiritual comments.

Who needs cartoons when we've got the Pope?

I'm particularly intrigued by the "JIHAD IS HUMP OF ISLAM" placard in the upper right.

Ian Fisher of the NEW YORK TIMES reporting on the latest perceived insult to Islam:
Pope Benedict XVI drew rising anger on Friday over comments he made Tuesday about Islam, as Muslim leaders around the world accused him of dividing religions and demanded an apology.

In Britain, Gaza, Iraq, Syria and Indonesia, Muslim leaders registered their protest. The Parliament in Pakistan passed a resolution against the pope’s statements, and the government later summoned the Vatican envoy to express official displeasure. In Lebanon, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the most senior Shiite cleric, demanded “a personal apology — not through his envoys.”
Full story is HERE.

I'm not usually one to prognosticate, but let me give it a shot here:

The Pope -- all Germanic and much more hardcore than John Paul -- will probably not offer a personal apology. Equally hardcore Islamists will begin screaming for a boycott of something, let's say for the sake of argument it's Italian olive oil -- because as we have all recently discovered -- most hardcore Islamists are unable to differentiate between NEWSPAPER CARTOONS and CHEESE.

Even after this, the Pope will probably still not apologize.

Then someone somewhere -- probably Pakistan -- will start a riot and burn down a KFC. Hundreds of people will perish in the ensuing rampage and Italian olive oil (or whatever) sales will plummet.

It is at this point that the Pope will issue a clarification which will be interpreted as a complete and total victory over Crusaders and Zionists -- sort of like the way having most of Southern Lebanon destroyed is defined as victory.

It sounds crazy, but it's true. Every time a bunch of religious fanatics in this part of the world gets a hair up their collective ass, a Pakistani KFC gets burned to the ground -- which, by the way is usually owned by a local Pakistani merchant and not some greedy American imperialist.

For more on the Global War On Chicken, go HERE.

Wanna comment? Click HERE.

Don't wanna comment? Then try the HAMSTERDANCE.

Papa Don’t Preach


For a guy that has been silent so long, he has really exploded on the scene with force! As the “papa” of an institution that has launched the inquisition to cleanse souls, burned scientists to keep thoughts pure, lynched progressive woman to prevent witchery and slaughtered millions in pointless crusades, you would think that he would confine himself to debates about the currently fashionable form of papa-approved ™ contraceptives.

Alas, what did the world expect of an institution that has approved ignorance when it was to its advantage, condoned Nazi and Fascist believes when it was fashionable, Refuses to apologize for the massacres against humanity during – but not limited to – the crusades and has turned a blind eye to the atrocities that have happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

My advice to the papa-papa-pacy is to have a long, frank and self revealing conversation with Michael Jackson about their mutual interests and other initiatives to save little boys from around the world.

As for Kofi Anan, well…in the last war in the Middle East the enemy openly declares its use of at least 1,000,000 cluster bombs, numerous phosphorous shells and their dependence on targeting civilians as strategy. Not only Annan has been silent over these issues and the fact that some of the U.N troops where annihilated by “Surgical-Smart-Missiles”, he has played the role of a top diplomat well. That is if you consider playing dumb and ultra-objective as being diplomatic.

Roll Over and have a biscuit.

VatiCan: Clash of Civilizations!

The recent accusations of that thing in the Vatican will surely lash out much more anger despite all the efforts to quench the rising tension.

"He began his speech by quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, in a conversation with a "learned Persian" on Christianity and Islam -"and the truth of both."

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," the pope quoted the emperor."


It's worth mentioning that the Indian and Pakistani authorities seized all newspapers that printed the Vatican thing's allegations towards Islam for fear of retaliation. This has enraged me even further, so you people, who've been feverently attacking Etisalat's censorship, I hope you will find this humoring too.

Shaikh Khalid Al Jindi has just been interviewed on the MBC1, and said about this Vatican thing: it is one of two things, either this thing doesn't read, in which case it's a disastour, or he does read, in which case it's malicious. He thinks it is the latter. A very precise accusation wrapped in the gentle folds of quoting someone else.

Another source says: As the criticisms gathered force, the Vatican worked quickly to quell a potentially damaging confrontation with Muslims. It issued a statement saying that the church seeks to “cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue toward other religions and cultures and obviously also toward Islam.”

So much for respect for other religions. Tell you what, when you starpracticingng what you preach, go on the limb and accuse someone else. Furthemore, if Islam has really spread by the sword, how come there were only 63 wars and the totally number ofatalitieses on BOTH sides was 386, all in the 23 years in which the PropheMuhammaded spread the word of Islam? I bring to your mind the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the VaticanÂ’s relations with Nazi Germany, all attesting to the Vatican's BLOODY HISTORY.

He and his Vaticancan can scramble all they want for excuses, thank you: point taken. Hatred just spilled!
more:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/13/news/web.0913pope.php
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/14/world/europe/15papalcnd.html?hp&ex=1158292800&en=9744049177c86564&ei=5094&partner=homepage
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5346480.stm

15 September, 2006

A Tribute to the Father of Nation

A touching poem by Saudi poet Hamed Zaid. The video clip contains some rare footage of the Leader. No doubt, leaders like him are born in centuries. May his soul rest in peace.

"Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return."

Dubai – A Fusion Spot or a Melting Pot?


Often Dubai is marketed particularly to the Western World as an “international City” where societies “integrate” and cultures assimilate. But how far Dubai has progressed on this front? Or does Dubai at all have the chance of truly assimilating various cultures? Does Dubai, or the UAE offer enough opportunities and avenues to make it so?

Despite my otherwise positive views on Dubai on numerous aspects, I tend to agree with this long interview based article in Gulf News today, that it is still a “Fusion Spot”:

"Dubai is being perceived as a fusion city, where Middle Eastern values mix with those of the rest of the world"

I feel that progressing towards a melting pot will take a long time... (read further).

14 September, 2006

O' MARG!

MARG has written a touching piece on the deja vu that overwhelms him in every single day of his life.
Dear readers, anyone familiar with the day-to-day functioning of media organisations — be it newspapers, 24/7 news channels or news agencies — would know what these unrealistic, unreasonable and completely illogical restrictions mean for the journalists and media professionals. The business of news being what it is just cannot be controlled, monitored and censored the way the Chinese authorities want it.
.:read more:.

GCC Ginar

GCC moving to a GINAR (GCC Dinar) . I aint sure unless this is being backed by a complete homogenous economic agenda it will such a good idea. Although IMF has blessed the descision years ago, so Uncle Sam has to be kept happy and oil will probably still trade in Dollar.

Lets see what happens we have got four more years ago.

lawsuit

"A lawsuit accusing rulers of the United Arab Emirates of enslaving and forcing tens of thousands of young boys to work under brutal conditions as camel jockeys over the past three decades, has been filed in the US."


Read more here, here and here

By the looks of things it's on the AP wire or somesuch; it will be interesting to see if any media in Dubai mentions it...

Please keep commenting sensible or I'll disable it.

13 September, 2006

Etisalat Launches (weyak.ae): UAE's First Virtual Community



Etisalat has announced yesterday the launch of Weyak, the country’s first comprehensive and bilingual portal fully accessible over Internet and mobile devices, exclusively for its customers.

Weyak, which means ‘With You’ in Arabic, is designed to offer the best and most relevant community content to people living in the UAE, along with services that are highly personalized and secure. It can be reached on www.weyak.ae for Internet and “mobile.weyak.ae” for mobile devices.

The fully customizable content and services portal includes the latest entertainment services and news from around the nation and around the world, Islamic content, and community resources ranging from e-mail, blogs and discussion forums to shared photo albums, downloadable content and gaming.

Etisalat customers using conventional Internet connections or GPRS-enabled mobile phones will be able to subscribe to the Weyak portal for free through their existing user IDs and prepaid or post-paid mobile numbers. Customers seeking premium content to download can pay for it securely over their existing connections.

To access Weyak from a mobile phone, consumers can send an SMS with the message ‘a weyak’ to 1010, and will immediately receive setup instructions.

Read Also:
Etisalat unveils Weyak, UAE's first virtual community (AME Info)

Rising to be the Most Expensive City

The Mercer HR consulting report has released Dubai's new ranking in the Most Expensive Cities to Live and yes it has done well. Very well for itself and killing for the expat workforce. Dubai rose from 73rd rank last year to 25th this year.


See more of my view in the original post on bizzwhizzdubai.

WorldLingo blocked

Don't know if anyone's noticed, but the translation links on this site now bring up the infamous Etisalat 'we don't like this very much' page.

Anybody have the slightest clue as to why Etisalat would block WorldLingo.com?

From a Barren Land to Charming Oasis


Last friday, Al Khaleej had an article about Delma Island. Fortunately, WAM translated it into english & posted it on its website here.
The island, which is located at about 160 kilometres west of the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, is about 10 kilometre long from north to south and 5 kilometre long from east to west.

Being a volcanic island, Delma's terrain is a combination of mountains hills, valleys and plains. It is home to about 6000 people.

The island has been inhabited for the past thousands of years, thanks to the numerous water wells and springs which provide fresh water for the inhabitants and enabled them to lead stable life.

Like pearl diving and fishing in the Gulf waters, selling of fresh water also provided a source of income for the people who used to transport fresh water from the island to other parts of the emirate to earn a living.
I searched google & found this interesting site by one of the residents of the island. It was a pleasant surprise for me to read this:
Delma Island does not look like a desert strip. Rather, it is as if a giant farm has been torn out of a fertile European country and transferred to Abu Dhabi. Visitors to the island are surprised to see cabbage, cauliflower, onion, cucumber, tomato, melon, pepper, parsley, banana and mango growing here. They are even more surprised to see such trees that are alien to the area as apple, pear, strawberry, fig, almond, grape, orange, lemon, olive, kiwi and cedar.
Archaeological discoveries made on the island, showed its civilisation dated back to seven thousand years. People with interest in archaelogy will be interested to read this information about the island.

Moral of the Story: UAE is not just "Sandland" :-)