23 April, 2008
73 cases have received approval from the U.A.E. Interior Ministry to receive $1000 each. The money, called a "rehabilitation fund", will be put into a Punjab Bank trust account. The Rs600 ($15) interest per month will be sent to the parents with the proviso that their child (the former child jockey) is "regularly" sent to school.
Back in 2006, a BBC report stated that the U.A.E. government would give $9,000,000 to approx. 1,000 former child jockeys who had been repatriated to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania. Working in co-operation with UNICEF, the money would "ensure they receive the salaries owed to them and compensation for losing their income. It will also go towards education."
By my calculations, that means that each child should receive approx. $9000. There appears to be an anomaly between what was promised and what's been delivered.
More info sites, although I can't vouch that all of them can be accessed by everyone in the U.A.E.:
~ Commission on Human Rights Report on Anti-Slavery.org
~ "UAE: Talks on compensation for child camel jockeys" (held at Emirates Towers in June 2007) on Child Rights Information Network.com
~ Dubai Government's Dubaicameljockeys.org website
~ Camel jockeys return home on UNICEF.org
What's UNICEF's role in this? The organisation seems to have played no part in the recent allocation of the funds, nor in the June 2007 meeting as the report states:
Each Board may designate one or more NGOs or similar entities like UNICEF or the Red Crescent Society, chosen for their expertise in working with children formerly involved in camel racing. These NGOs/entities will help publicise the Claim Facility and provide legal and other assistance to children who are considering or have filed claims.
It appears that UNICEF has been removed from the insider loop - although, if not legally, then morally and ethically they must uphold their side of the agreement between them and the U.A.E. to ensure that the children are properly cared for and that the promises of adequate compensation and education are being upheld.
Also, in a brilliant piece of deduction, Dubai Police has stated that there is no organised trafficking in human beings in the U.A.E. because "no U.A.E. National has been involved in any kind of human trafficking case till date."
According to Major General Khamis Matar Al Mazina, deputy commander general of Dubai Police, this "proves that our country is free from such illegal practice."
Others would say otherwise, and if this lawsuit is ever brought to trial and the defendants proven guilty, the muppets in Dubai Police may have to rethink their beliefs.
Then, tomorrow, this. ("Fire, croc and mermaid latest e-mail spoofs")
Why report on something that might be a spoof when known the day before? Is this what modern-day reporting has come to in a restricted UAE media scene?
22 April, 2008
21 April, 2008
Answer: Sheikh Mohammed's poetry.
The Marrakesh connection
Filmed in Syria, Morocco and the U.A.E., an epic TV serial has been made using Sheikh Mohammed's poems.
Called Siraa Ala Al Rimal (Struggle on the Sands), the $6million production is due to be shown during Ramadan this year.
It's touted to be the biggest-ever Arabic drama and the classic Arabic in which the poetry was written was translated into Arabic Bedouin dialect for the series.
More on the Khaleej Times website.
The Floating Islands
Dutch Docklands has just been commissioned to construct the string of floating islands off Dubai, each of which will each be shaped as an Arabic character or word to quote lines of a Sheikh Mohammed verse.
Announced a few years back, this project is part of the Jebel Ali Palm development, and the verse will read:
Take wisdom from the wise, It takes a man of vision to write on water. Not everyone who rides a horse is a jockey. Great men rise to greater challenges.
According to their website, Dutch Docklands also has plans for floating hotels, cruise ship terminals and beaches - as well as a rotating tower.
Dutch Docklands' article here - watch the embedded video for more on the Dubai plans - including possible floating mosques!
20 April, 2008
Blog creation date: 16th August, 2005 (running 979 days as of the 21st of April 2008)
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3 people have accessed this site using a playstation portable.
by Wissam Keyrouz
ABU DHABI, April 17, 2008 (AFP) - The growing concern of Emiratis about their status as a minority on their own land came out in the open again this week, with a senior official warning that it could lead to the collapse of the regime.
"I'm afraid we are building towers but losing the Emirates," Dubai's outspoken police chief General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim told a conference on Tuesday, referring to the construction boom fueled by foreigners' acquisition of property under legislation allowing foreign ownership in certain zones.
Dubai is one of the seven members of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, whose nationals dwindled to just 15.4 percent of a population of 5.6 million at the end of 2006, according to a recent study by the Federal National Council, an assembly that advises the government.
The "demographic imbalance," as it is euphemistically called in the UAE, also plagues Qatar and Kuwait, two other energy-rich Gulf Arab monarchies that rely heavily on cheap imported Asian labour for their economic development.
Tamim, who was addressing a "national identity conference" attended by senior officials in the capital Abu Dhabi, hailed UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan's decision to declare 2008 "national identity year," but said Emiratis have been late in tackling the demographic problem.
"If the children of incumbent crown princes (of the seven emirates) manage to rule the Emirates, we should be thankful for that," he said.
The veteran police commander warned that unless the problem is resolved, the UAE's hereditary monarchy will not survive and this will lead to the collapse of Emirati society.
A "disaster" will befall the UAE if the government does not take measures to redress the "demographic imbalance," Tamim said.
He proposed what he called "strategic" solutions, including the establishment of a union of Gulf Arab states that would grant a common citizenship, putting a ceiling on the size of expatriate communities and restricting foreign ownership of property.
He also urged Emiratis to have more children.
But UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, while acknowledging that the demographic imbalance is dangerous, said that the UAE is "a tolerant, open and wealthy country" which should not shut out foreigners.
Emiratis cannot live in "isolated islands" under the banner of "preserving their national identity," he told the gathering.
To drive home his point, Dubai's police chief accompanied his address by video footage of cars torched and shops damaged during recent riots by foreign workers, as well as clips of streets in Dubai packed with Asian expatriates.
"They (foreign workers) blocked roads and destroyed facilities, and (human rights groups) speak of workers' rights," the general said.
He was referring to reports by rights groups, including New York-based Human Rights Watch, critical of the working and living conditions of hundreds of thousands of mostly Asian labourers in the country, which also has sizeable Arab, Iranian and Western communities.
Ahmad al-Tayer, a former education minister, said the UAE's national identity was under threat not only from the demographic imbalance, but also from the declining use of the Arabic language due to the massive presence of foreigners.
"What fate awaits our children and yours?" he asked officials.
Mohammad al-Bawardi, secretary general of Abu Dhabi's Executive Council, or local government, called for giving nationals the proper education and training to enable them to "hold all the leading positions" in the country.
The FNC study said that expatriates from the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia make up around 75 percent of the workforce, with Indian citizens counting for 42.5 percent of all foreigners.
Foreign residents of the UAE range from low-paid construction workers to hard-partying professionals.
It looks like last week Dubai authorities impounded two ships who were spotted in satellite photos near the damaged cables around the time that they were cut. The ships were identified by Reliance Globalcom, whose FLAG Telecom unit maintains the cables, and which in turn notified the Dubai Port Authority.
Officially, the two ships, the MV Hounslow and MT Ann improperly dropped anchor near the cables and accidentally severed them. When they arrived in Dubai on February 19, the Iraqi and Korean ships were seized. Reportedly, the Korean ship paid 60,000 USD in compensation to FLAG Telecom for repair costs while the Iraqi ship is sitll being held.
Whether other ships accidentally cut the other three cables serving the Middle East and caused a loss of power to a sixth is yet ot be determined. ;).
This photo comes from the FLAG website, two of FLAG's cables being among those damaged.
19 April, 2008
17 April, 2008
Oman did an amzaing job by not allowing any distractions and having the Olympic Torch go smoothly unlike the USA, France, Argentina...... etc.
16 April, 2008
A du official said yesterday, “With immediate effect, all pornographic web sites will be blocked as per the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) requirements.”
"“du has blocked pornographic sites only, a move we are sure all parents will welcome. Content blocking guidelines are provided by the TRA and we abide by these,” he explained."
He also clarified that business will remain largely unaffected. “Normally business should not be affected because du has only blocked pornographic sites and sites that contain material that is offensive to the moral, cultural and social values of the UAE.
Despite claiming three times that only pornographic websites will be blocked (and also claiming only once that websites 'offensive' will be blocked) I find it interesting that on the 14th of April the following websites were blocked...
arabtimes.com = blocked
secretdubai.blogspot.com = blocked
wikipedia article on 'fitna' = blocked
"Abu Dhabi: Motorists in Abu Dhabi, using self-service pumps at Adnoc petrol stations will get rewards of 20 points worth 20 fils per gallon.
Customers will have the option to redeem the points to purchase certain Adnoc products or services except petroleum or donate the money to charity, said a statement issued by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) on Monday.
The company officially launched the self-service on Monday, the first of its kind in the UAE. A few pumps in 15 petrol stations across Abu Dhabi provide the self service, in addition to the regular service.
The Self-Service option will be applicable to 'EPLUS' 91 and Special 95 petroleum and Super 98, and exclude Green Diesel."
No matter what the incentive, I'm not going to be one of the DIY pump customers: at least not in the immediate future.
full article here
14 April, 2008
Abu Dhabi: A permanent national authority to implement and follow up on the demographic structure dossier has been set up in the UAE. The newly-established authority will be responsible for monitoring the completion and implementation of demographic policies.
"Our future and national identity are strongly connected to the demographic structure issue, which requires collaborative efforts and teamwork," Shaikh Mohammad said.
The main aspects of the committee's work include demographic indicators and details, other strategies related to the job market as well as the relationship between demographic structure and national identity.
Sheikh mohammed to open national identity conference
The demographic imbalance have always been seen by the government and citizens a like as a threat to the country so those steps shouldn't be surprising. The only reason why Emiratis accepted the imbalance was because they believed that it is temporary. I don't think that expatriates should feel threatened because they should have expected something like that coming.
I don't know exactly what they have in their mind but what every Emirati would expect is an authority that would put regulations to increase the number of Emiratis, either by encouraging marriage and having children or by naturalizing limited selected number of people. Their objective should be to increase the number of Arab speakers by importing Arab laborers, restricting the number of other nationalities and forcing the Arabic language.
Alexander McNabb (whose opinions I rarely agree with) wrote a piece that I wholeheartedly endorse. The problem is that it isn't the government and regulators at fault here. It is the minority of the population we call 'locals'/'citizens'.
This reminds me of when I was in college (US) and wanted to start an Arab students' group. We got together and started filing the necessary paperwork, gathered the students together and got endorsed by several faculty members. The effort was spearheaded by a friend of mine (political scientist) and myself. My friend's only fault is that she was a she. This didn't go too well with the 'community' we wanted to help and be a part of. The whole thing went out the window after the members of the community decided that it was insulting to have a woman run as president.
secretdubai talks about a "village green" mentality when it comes to media censorship and blames government officials for it. I think it is far worse than that. It is the people who don't seem to know what's good for them.
I have come to the conclusion that you can't help those who don't want to be helped. However, we should clearly identify who is responsible for the current state of access to information. In this case, it is the community that is backward. The situation is beyond help.
-http://220.127.116.11/index.html = blocked
-0330.0243.0211.0003 = blocked
-0xd8.0xa3.0x89.0x03 = blocked
arabtimes.com = blocked
-http://18.104.22.168/ = unblocked
secretdubai.blogspot.com = blocked
wikipedia article on 'fitna' = blocked
uaeprison.com = unblocked
skype.com = unblocked
blogger.com = unblocked
wikipedia = unblocked
benkerishan.blogspot.com = unblocked
flickr.com = unblocked
youtube.com = unblocked
digg = unblocked
vimeo.com = unblocked
hi5 = unblocked
much.net = unblocked
etisalat.tk = unblocked
onebigconstructionsite.blogspot.com = unblocked
uaecommunity.blogspot.com = unblocked
google search for 'fuck'= unblocked
"It is our constant endeavour to maintain the perfect balance between ensuring that all our customers' requirements are met, and that we comply with all the guidelines of the TRA, including those on internet content filtering.
The World Wide Web offers us great opportunities to get and share information and to communicate. However, it is imperative that when making use of this technology for its enormous benefits, we respect the moral, social and cultural values of the United Arab Emirates.
du will be blocking all content that is not in line with these values, effective from 14 April 2008. Due to the nature of the content filtering process, some harmless sites may also inadvertently be blocked. We request our customers' assistance in informing us when a site that they consider harmless has been blocked, by writing to email@example.com so we can look into the matter."
Du censorship first began on the 23rd of March with the blocking of the Secret Dubai Diary website
According to the following Khaleej Times article, the proxy on Du is a result of a new "Internet Penetration Policy" (which as far as I'm aware hasn't been published publicly by the TRA yet);
"In a Press statement yesterday, Mohammed Al Ghanim, Board Member and Director-General of TRA, said, “Since du is a new company that has just started to implement the concept of monitoring in the best possible way, it has to comply with the policy within a month from the date it is announced.”
However, a TRA spokesperson clarified, “The policy actually means proxy. It will regulate the web content allowed in the UAE. Since du is new, it has to wait for the policy before it can buy the software to regulate its web content. Etisalat is already following the policy. Both telecom operators have to abide by the TRA regulations.”
13 April, 2008
I'd better start saving the contact info of all my facebook pals!
Du has just sent out this text message:
"Dear valued customer, we wish to inform you that from 14 April 2008 we will be blocking sites with content that do not conform to the moral, social and cultural values of the UAE. Thank you."
This is really strange. If a warning is given, at least it could be mentioned which popular sites will be blocked. I know facebook is among the top 20 most accessed sites in the UAE, and so is blogger.com
Fellow blogger alexander has written an excellent piece featured in arabianbusiness.com entitled "Internet censorship is bad for progress" found here
Have a good day everyone!
12 April, 2008
My friend, Carol and I have been joined by several other UAE residents in the East Coast of Fujairah on a trek of a lifetime – to Everest Base Camp - to save a few destitute children in Nepal and several disadvantaged women in Fujairah to give them a new lease in life. We are looking for a lot of support over the next year until our trek to Everest Base Camp in April 2009.
Please join us in our first general meeting when we plan to announce several fundraising projects and our search for trekkers and volunteers to make these projects a success.
Join us, sponsor us – or help us! Trekking for Nepal is looking for trekkers, volunteers, organisers, sponsors, venues, and fund raisers to make this project a success.
Meeting for volunteers:
13 April 2008, 7pm
Fujairah Tennis & Country Club
""I have been an etisalat customer for long and recently happened to use the du Internet. I was surprised to find that a site which was inaccessible in the etisalat network was available in du," claimed a user.
Another user who did not wish to be identified questioned whether regulations for both operators were different. “I have also stumbled across web sites on the du Net that are inappropriate. As far as I know, such web sites are blocked automatically in the country. However, it means that we have to be extra careful when children are around as they might be able to access content that we do not want them to see,” he said. In a statement to Khaleej Times, du said, "As a licensed operator, du complies with all the regulations, directions and policies, including Net censorship imposed by the TRA. We receive direct instructions from them on blocking web sites and filtering Internet content, and implement them within 24 hours as we have already invested in the infrastructure that enables us to censor the content of the World Wide Web. If any consumer has any specific issues relating to a particular web site, they can communicate it directly to the TRA and we will take the necessary measures."
""Currently, TRA is in the process of putting together a law to govern Internet proxy in the country which may allow the service provider to point out sites that need not be blocked by TRA. However, any such web site that is not in accordance to the UAE's religious and cultural values or is outright pornographic material, will remain blocked," he said.
This law would also give the freedom to service providers and customers to choose web sites that may be educational, scientific or medical content and are currently being blocked in the country by the TRA due to their generic nature.
The TRA official also said that whoever comes across a web site that does not conform to UAE laws should report it to TRA so that immediate action can be taken."
10 April, 2008
"The main difference between the site and other competing video sharing services such as YouTube is that Vimeo allows only user-created videos, of a "friends and family" nature. No pornography, TV shows, music videos, movies or anything not created by the user can be uploaded."
09 April, 2008
08 April, 2008
"Two ships have been impounded by Dubai authorities in relation to a series of submarine cable cuts which wreaked havoc on Indian and Middle Eastern service earlier this year.
It was confirmed yesterday that the Dubai Port Trust has impounded the MV Hounslow and MT Ann on suspicion of causing breakages to the Reliance Globalcom Flag Europe-Asia cable, which was damaged along with the SEA-ME-WE 4 and Falcon cables in early February.
An official from Reliance Globalcom said the company had given the details of the two ships to Dubai authorities after studying satellite imagery of ship movements around the breakage area, according to Indian newspaper The Hindu. “The matter has been brought to the notice of appropriate authorities which are taking necessary action,” the official said.
The owners and captains of the two ships are set to be questioned in Dubai over the incident.
07 April, 2008
Nakheel’s Al Burj will reach a height of 1,200 metres on Limitless’ Arabian Canal development, according to media reports citing project consultants Woods Bagot. The new tower will be around 300 metres taller than Emaar’s Burj Dubai project, which will set a new world record on completion. “We are still finalising the design concept of a new project involving an iconic structure,”
"Some foreign media have the habit of taking up trivial issues and blowing them up which raises the question of objectivity, said a senior official.
Ebrahim Al Abed, Director General of the National Media Council, was reacting to a foreign website which describes Sharla Musabah, owner of a villa called City of Hope, as "Mother Teresa of Dubai".
Al Abed told Gulf News nobody can put restrictions on foreign media as such but what has been published on the website is not objective. "If we pay too much attention to them we are falling into their trap and that means we are considering them important, which is not true," he said."
"The Indian community members said they cannot accept the fact that Sharla is being described as 'Mother Teresa of Dubai'. Y.A. Rahim, President of the Sharjah Indian Association, said no one can be Mother Teresa and nobody can reach her noble status.
"The Indian community in the UAE and in the world denies this rubbish," he said. "If Sharla is claiming that she is doing social work, she cannot even reach one per cent of Mother Teresa. We are not accepting that at all."
"Mother Teresa was a great woman who dedicated her life to serve poor people and the community. No one can reach mother Teresa, she is a woman who cannot be compared to anyone," he said."
You may also note the 'important correction' added to the NY Times article about Mrs. Musabih:
Correction: March 30, 2008http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/23/world/middleeast/23dubai.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&oref=slogin
An article last Sunday about Sharla Musabih and her efforts to protect battered wives and victims of human trafficking in Dubai paraphrased incorrectly from her comment about the need to take strong action to protect women. She said she was fighting any attitudes that made domestic abuse possible; she did not say that she was fighting patriarchal Arab traditions.
04 April, 2008
03 April, 2008
The patrol car got angry that it caused an accident, and fined many vehicles parked around the area just because it felt that 'it was their fault' for making the patrol car cause an accident. And the fined vehicles (who had nothing to do with the accident) lived grumpily ever after.
For a detailed story, click here
"I couldn't have done a 10th of what I've done if it hadn't been for Dubai,'' says Naqvi, 47, who moved to Dubai in 1994 with $50,000 of savings and now runs buyout firm Abraaj Capital Ltd. His $5 billion of assets include stakes in Turkish hospitals, Saudi Arabian pharmacies and a Jordanian aircraft repair company. Successful investments include Dubai's Arabtec Holdings PJSC, which is building the world's tallest skyscraper, Burj Dubai, on a $20 billion construction site not far from Naqvi's office.
In a ditch near the Giorgio Armani-designed hotel on the tower's lower floors, construction worker Omkar Singh leans on a shovel and wipes sweat from his brow. Singh, 24, went into debt to pay 60,000 rupees ($1,500) -- more than six months of earnings, including overtime -- to an agent to get to Dubai from India. The agent promised eight-hour workdays. Singh says he works at least 10-hour shifts, six days a week. "I was taken for a ride,'' he says.
this is by far one of the most comprehensive and balanced pieces done on dubai. talking about human rights, the piece adds:
Sheikh Mohammed declined to comment for this story through Mona al-Marri, a spokeswoman at Dubai-based public relations firm Jiwin.
it goes on to say:
Everyone who ever set foot on arabland, knew the ways of the government. those in power were not voted in, they inherited it. when we stepped on these sands, we also gave up the right to express our opinions in the way we knew back home. and the trade-off was made in return for security, a better quality of life, and yes, monetary benefits. why then, do we come to foreign lands and demand the luxuries we grew up with? why did we willingly give them up, if they were so important to us to begin with?
French-born Denis Ravizza says he's so comfortable in Dubai he doesn't worry about any loss of political freedom. "I don't care about living in a place where I don't vote and I don't decide,'' says Ravizza, 44, the associate dean of Dubai's French Fashion University. "What they decide for the country is good for me.''
Others say that freedom matters. "If we are talking about making Dubai the finest city in the world, it needs to be more transparent,'' says Maitri Somaia, 20, an Indian media and communications student. "I definitely don't feel oppressed, but whatever I say, I frame my sentences very carefully. I have to.''
02 April, 2008
(Seems to me that putting a gate on a "temporary" bridge doesn't make much sense, but what do I know? It sounded plausible, which is why I ask.)
What has lift of it !!!
Am not a conspiracist but does anyone think that there is a relation with this?
01 April, 2008
So here goes another good projects with a creative name, NOT !!
This picture only show the area that will be affected, the project boundaries and not how the project will look like. It cover the areas of Satwa, Al Wasl, Jumeira 1 and Jumeira 2. You can see Safa park on the furthest left, the old prison with some facilities in the middle and Dhiyafa road on the right side.
You can see islands above too
Again Emiratis will be treated like bing balls and will be kicked from their houses with a pathetic compensation.
has anyone been there recently? what's this about? is this the only solution to the acute housing shortage in Dubai (building sea-front villas that will sell for over AED 30M each)?
i want my beaches back! last year, any turn you took towards the sea (on beach road) led you right to the sands, and you could drive next to the sea. this is so disappointing. were these developments ever announced?
"Yes, we have also come across cases when some motorists complain about being fined wrongly by the inspectors. Car-pooling is something which we are encouraging at the moment in a bid to reduce the traffic bottlenecks in the emirate. We plan to set up a link on the RTA web site or create a fully new web site just for registering their names for car pooling," he said."
I have a question... If a person buys a car with 4 seats and they're only legally allowed to use 1 of those seats, is the RTA going to begin paying a share of the car's value for the other seats which are pretty much illegal to use?
""Right now there is no definite legislation in this connection. We are sure that this new service would solve this problem once and for all. The investigations would be done intensively to ensure that people engaged in the practice of illegally lifting passengers do not take advantage," he pointed out."
Yes, because heaven-forbid anyone 'take advantage' of people waiting several eternities for the RTA to summon taxies