30 September, 2008

Eid Mubarak


photo link here.

All respect, and thanks to our leaders.

Eid Mubarak.

29 September, 2008

Eid Mubarak

According to Gulf News tomorrow is the first day of Eid.

Eid Mubarak, drive safe, and have a relaxing few days off.

28 September, 2008

REWARD OFFERED


I know there are several readers who reside in the heart of Abu Dhabi city, as I do. Many know of both mine & my husbands love of our Harley Davidson bikes. We pay for underground parking at Madinat Zayed Municipal car park, as do many other residents of the area. Someone it seems, doesn't like our bikes as they caused malicious damage - by means of an intentionally inflicted scratch - on the petrol tank of my husband's Softail Custom, whilst it was parked in the above mentioned car park.

I know it doesn't look much or 'that big a deal' in the photos, but to see it on the tank is blatantly obvious that someone intended to leave their 'signature'.

I'll offer a four figure sum as a reward for anyone who can give me information that will lead to a successful prosecution.

Many thanks

Jayne

Problems with Publishing Blogs

Do you guys face a problem when trying to publish a blog? It takes a few days to get an article published sometimes and others its on the spot. The only way to check if the blog is not erased / lost is to go the Dashboard area and look for it in the edit section. How do you fix this problem?

27 September, 2008

newsflash: fish eat other fish

"More than ten percent of the sharks in Dubai Aquarium's 10 million-litre aquarium have been killed in attacks that have marred the build-up to its grand opening on Oct 30.

Sand Tiger sharks have killed at least 40 smaller reef sharks and been aggressive towards divers working on final preparations in the giant tank.

The aquarium features the world's single largest school of sharks and the world's largest viewing platform. It is the centrepiece of the new 12 million sq ft Burj Dubai Mall.

Built to showcase one of the world's most diverse and exotic collections of marine animals, the aquarium is home to more than 33,000 living specimens.

A total of 85 species is represented, with over 400 sharks and rays considered the main attraction.

But the concentration of such a large number of sharks in a relatively small space has led to what some might have considered predictable problems for the Dubai Mall's management.

General manager Yousuf Al Ali admitted the world's most feared ocean predator had caused teething problems.

"It is inevitable that aquatic species die – sometimes out of natural causes or out of injuries inflicted by bigger fish species," he said.

"Sand Tiger sharks, by nature, are fish-eating. However, all sharks and other animals in the Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre at The Dubai Mall are currently on a monitored feeding schedule in order to subdue their naturally opportunistic behaviour and appetite."


more here

26 September, 2008

Dubai explosion

Quite a few people seem to have heard or felt the explosion in Dubai this morning.

It was nothing to worry about, I was caught up in the traffic closures around the event - a controlled explosion to demolish the towers that are making way for Dubai Pearl by the entrance to Palm Jumeirah.

They're now lying flat on the ground.

25 September, 2008

Atlantis - the Opulent


i love how the world cant get over the glitter that is Dubai.

here's a great story from The Daily Mail, titled "Inside the £800m Dubai hotel boasting a £13,000-a-night suite and dolphins flown in from the South Pacific".

you COULD just say "inside the Atlantis", but somehow i dont think that would hold as much weight. 

the story says:

It's the latest word in Gulf excess - a sprawling £800million resort boasting a £13,000-a-night suite and dolphins flown in from the South Pacific, all atop a palm tree-shaped island...

With its own oil reserves running dry, Dubai hopes to woo those eager to make money and those who know how to spend it - even as much of the global economy sours.

For years, the emirate - one of seven semi-independent states that make up the United Arab Emirates - has been feverishly building skyscrapers and luxury hotels.

A key piece of the strategy has been to cultivate an image in the West as a sun-kissed tourist destination despite its soaring summer heat, conservative Muslim society and relative dearth of historic sites.

if nothing else, the pictures are worth taking a look at.

22 September, 2008

AS/A Level tutor

If anyone has the contact information of a private tutor based in Dubai who can teach AS/A level psychology or media studies please give me an email on sam@samurai-sam.com

Young and Arab in Land of Mosques and Bars



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — In his old life in Cairo, Rami Galal knew his place and his fate: to become a maintenance man in a hotel, just like his father. But here, in glittering, manic Dubai, he is confronting the unsettling freedom to make his own choices.

Here Mr. Galal, 24, drinks beer almost every night and considers a young Russian prostitute his girlfriend. But he also makes it to work every morning, not something he could say when he lived back in Egypt. Everything is up to him, everything: what meals he eats, whether he goes to the mosque or a bar, who his friends are.

"I was more religious in Egypt," Mr. Galal said, taking a drag from yet another of his ever-burning Marlboros. "It is moving too fast here. In Egypt there is more time, they have more control over you. It's hard here. I hope to stop drinking beer; I know it's wrong. In Egypt, people keep you in check. Here, no one keeps you in check."

In Egypt, and across much of the Arab world, there is an Islamic revival being driven by young people, where faith and ritual are increasingly the cornerstone of identity. But that is not true amid the ethnic mix that is Dubai, where 80 percent of the people are expatriates, with 200 nationalities.
This economically vital, socially freewheeling yet unmistakably Muslim state has had a transforming effect on young men. Religion has become more of a personal choice and Islam less of a common bond than national identity.
Dubai is, in some ways, a vision of what the rest of the Arab world could become — if it offered comparable economic opportunity, insistence on following the law and tolerance for cultural diversity. In this environment, religion is not something young men turn to because it fills a void or because they are bowing to a collective demand. That, in turn, creates an atmosphere that is open not only to those inclined to a less observant way of life, but also to those who are more religious. In Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Algeria, a man with a long beard is often treated as an Islamist — and sometimes denied work. Not here in Dubai.

"Here, I can practice my religion in a natural and free way because it is a Muslim country and I can also achieve my ambition at work," said Ahmed Kassab, 30, an electrical engineer from Zagazig Egypt, who wears a long dark beard and has a prayer mark on his forehead. "People here judge the person based on productivity more than what he looks like. It's different in Egypt, of course."

To read the rest of the story, a blog on the subject and to view a slide show, go to:

20 September, 2008

What happens in Vegas

"What happens in Vegas" was quite an entertaining movie. But there's something equally entertaining as the movie and that is, what REALLY is happening in Vegas. This subject has already been talked about in this blog last year.
In the last 3 days, various international media such as Forbes, CNNmoney, Bloomberg and various Casino News-sites have posted updates on the Dubai investments in Vegas.

...sourced from onlinecasinoadvisory.com
Dubai has said that, in addition to their investment in MGM Mirage directly, they will also own 50 percent of the CityCenter condo/hotel casino and resort complex currently under construction.

Dubai World was given permission to raise its stake in MGM Mirage by various state gambling regulators, allowing the financial arm of the Dubai government to purchase up to 14.75 percent of the casino giant. Dubai World currently owns 9.4 percent of MGM.
New Jersey state regulators approved the possible transaction this week, following previous acceptance of the deal by officials in Michigan and Nevada. MGM Mirage stock rose almost 20 percent in response to the news, going from a price of $33.25 a share to $38.77.
Dubai may eventually increase its ownership of MGM to 20 percent, depending on further approval by Michigan regulators, who had ok'ed the move up to 14.75 percent in April.

..from AP
Steel work has been completed for the Aria Resort & Casino, the anchor property of its massive Citycenter development on the Las Vegas Strip. With 4,000 rooms in two 61-story towers, Aria is the largest of six towers that will hold the bulk of the 19 million-sf mini-city between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts, which is set to open all at once in late 2009 at a cost of more than $11 billion.
Citycenter is a 50-50 joint venture of MGM Mirage and Dubai World, a Dubai government conglomerate whose companies include Nakheel, developer of the man-made Palm and World islands off the coast of Dubai. The project’s opening is now less than 16 months away. When it was 20 months out, about half of the 2,700 residential units had been sold and the mix of buyers has been about one-third Nevada, one-third from Southern California and one third international. About 10% of sales have come from the Middle East, a percentage MGM Mirage and Dubai World hopes will grow this year now that a sales center in Dubai is up and running.

..Ok then, I guess next will be the addition of direct flights from Dubai to Las Vegas on Emirates Airlines. And after that, we should soon see the announcement of the glamorous Dubai "Double Standard"-Awards which, because of popular demand, will be awarded twice yearly. The award will also see the creation of a special quality evalutation committee which will monitor and award new benchmarks for the industry, similar to the ISO.

19 September, 2008

Kalima Invites Americans to Nominate Literature for Translation into Arabic

Kalima has a great idea to "help build mutual understanding between the United States and the Arab World". It wants Americans to suggest "novels, poetry, and short stories" that "best capture American dreams, opportunities and challenges".

A similar question would be what Arabic novels, poetry and short stories should an American read?

Kalima is an initiative by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage that funds the translation of foreign writing into Arabic. The goal is to translate 100 titles per year.

The nomination form is here. Via Althouse.

18 September, 2008

Beggar caught trying to con top officer

Dubai: When a man approached Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Dubai Police Deputy Commandant General, in a parking lot and showed him an ultrasound scan saying that he was very ill and needed money, the top officer got suspicious.

"When I read the medical reports, I found it was an ultrasound scan of a pregnancy," Al Mazeina said in a radio report. He called a patrol car and got the man arrested.

"Such people take advantage of the public's lack of knowledge," said Al Mazeina, adding that police arrested 65 beggars during the first 10 days of Ramadan.

taken from article here

Are forum operators responsible for content?

Muscati writes:
Without knowing the details of Oman's laws, I knew that keeping the topic on the forum would probably expose me personally, as OmanForum's administrator, to responsibility for publishing the article since similar to the case of Ali Al Rasdhi a few years ago, people who were attacked on the Sabla complained to the Public Prosecutor and the PA held the site's owner responsible. I took a quick decision and deleted the article in full. By the morning of the 20th of July, the article had been copied on other forums, most importantly Sablat Oman (www.omania2.net).

Last night I read on the Sabla that the public prosecutor's office had called in Ali Al Zuwaidi (known online as Bin Daris), the moderator of the Sabla's politics and economy forum, for investigation charging him with responsibility under Article 61 of the Telecommunication law (
قانون الاتصالات) which makes website owners as well as moderators and administrators of forums responsible for the content published by their users.
Are there the same concerns for forum administrators in the UAE? What about, um, group blogs?

17 September, 2008

Facebook down?

Is Facebook down for anyone else today?

I checked at work, and it wasn't working. I thought they had blocked it at work again. But then I checked at home, and it's not working either. Anyone else having trouble?

Too Close for Comfort

The latest fire to make the news was in my building! This time in Abu Dhabi.

I arrived after the scene and describe what I witnessed, but full coverage is provided both in Gulf News and The National. The National's coverage, including video footage is quite amazing.

What is also amazing is how the emergency crews went into action--as the picture shows.

This probably would have been another tragedy with a body count had the emergency crews not been so well prepared.

Kudos to Abu Dhabi's emergency services.

Book not banned?

"ABU DHABI // The National Media Council denied last night that it had banned a study of Dubai written by a former professor at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed University and said approval for publication in the UAE had been granted.

There were claims in the British press that Dr Christopher Davidson’s book, Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success, had been banned due to its content.

But yesterday, the NMC confirmed it had already been approved for countrywide distribution, said Peter Hellyer, the council’s information adviser.

“The council felt the book should be taken seriously and so we’ve studied it carefully,” said Mr Hellyer. “The process takes time and Dr Davidson told the media the academic book had been banned before the National Media Council had even seen it.”


...

Mr Hellyer said that while there had never been a ban, the study contained “a plethora of errors”.

“There is a statement that there was no tarmac highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai until the mid-1990s, and no all-weather road between Dubai and Fujairah until 2006,” Mr Hellyer said. “These are clearly completely wrong and it makes one doubt the quality and depth of his research.”

He also took issue, he said, with a section regarding the discovery of Dubai’s oil fields.

Mr Davidson “writes that in the mid-1960s, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, the Ruler of Dubai, created a company to operate Dubai’s on-shore oil fields,” Mr Hellyer said. “The only on-shore oil fields were not discovered until 1982.”


more here

15 September, 2008

entering the UAE

Recently the issue came up again, whether one can enter the UAE with an Israeli stamp in the passport. I know for a fact that this was not allowed previously. However, several clients in Europe have confirmed, that they have entered the UAE with Israeli stamps in their passports (repeatedly) and some even swear they entered with Israeli passports.

Of course I was surprised. Most travel guides will still carry a warning on entering the UAE with Israeli stamps in the passport.

So I checked some sources such as the Ministry of Interior and Immigration websites, the websites of various UAE embassies abroad - all of them have NO MENTION of any complications or laws concerning the Israeli stamp issue.
This morning I called the Immigration and checked with them and they confirmed, that it is no problem at all to enter the UAE if you have a stamp from Israel in the passport. When did this happen? I am sure I am not the only one who missed that Info!

On that note, did you know that there is a cash-limit of AED 40000 when entering the UAE? Any amount above that must be declared at Customs. (Never knew that one either)

14 September, 2008

Burj al Magnificent

According to zmescience, Burj al Arab is 4th on the list of 7 wonders of modern engineering... placed just below CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, The Hubble Telescope and China's Three Gorges dam.
The website says:
Not all magnificent buildings are used for industrial and research purposes. Dubai features some of the most impressive creations in the world, and many of them are not done yet. The largest building used as the hotel in the world, Burj Al Arab rises at 321 meters and is connected to the mainland by a private curved bridge. It’s design and features are just amazing, as it imitates a type of vessel, called dhow, featuring an 180 meter high atrium between the two sides. Also, it’s built on an artificial island.

Link.

10 September, 2008

Tremors?

Anybody felt any mild tremors today at around 3:05pm?

Update: Never mind, apparently it did happen.
Source Gulf News: http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Environment/10243956.html

uaetorture

Warning: this post links to websites which display violence.

along similar lines as sites like uaeprison.com, www.uaetorture.com is probably going to be blocked in the next 15 minutes or so.

From the site:
Sheikh Issa takes pleasure in torturing those who disagree with him. Sheikh Issa videotapes the torture sessions so he can enjoy watching them later. Sheikh Issa has been assisted in his torture sessions by the Abu Dhabi police. Issa has tortured people for up to forty five minutes at a time. This torture has included cattle prods, boards with nails, cigarette lighters, lighter fluid, and m-16s. At least three video tapes showing torture performed at the hands of Sheikh Issa, which were formerly in the possession of Sheikh Issa, are now in the United States. These videos, or clips of these videos, will periodically be released on this website in an effort to raise awareness about Sheikh Issa and the U.A.E., and the fact that his ruling brothers allow him to continue feeding his sickness by torturing the innocent and the helpless for his own pleasure.

09 September, 2008

The beach romp...

Two Britons charged with sexual activity on a Dubai beach had their hearing adjourned for a month on Tuesday because the policeman who caught them failed to appear in the witness stand.



Uhh?



If the defendant fails to appear, isn't an arrest warrent issued?



Here we have the prosecution's star, only, witness failing to appear and the case is adjourned. For one month?



That can't be right.



Gulf News report is here.

UPDATE

The story was updated overnight and now says that MP didn't turn up either, as she is 'fatigued'.

It's all a bit of a fiasco.

Skype access to return to the UAE?


It might be according to Arabian Business - but don't hold your breath, read the whole article.

Quote of the decade from Mohamed Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA:
Customers and even those (VoIP) companies think that we are blocking them, but we are not blocking them – we are putting a process together for those companies to be licenced and this will take some time. There are challenges associated with it.
Wait a minute - an online company with no physical presence in the U.A.E has to be licensed in the U.A.E.? Is this true with other companies such as Ebay?

Another gem:
When we licence a company in the UAE, we make sure they have a presence, so if you pay your bill and the company does not provide you with a service, there is a way to recover your money. Customers need to be protected.
Yah - tell that to the people who have lost their money to U.A.E. licensed companies such as property developers who have over-hyped and under-delivered, or to telecom companies who charge people for a fast internet speed but deliver such a slow speed that a snail would be ashamed of it.

Why can't the TRA just come out and say, "We're banning Skype because it would cut into our already humungous profits."?

We could live with that!

Salik Sequel



Hello!

I'm writing this to judge what people think about the Sequel to the amazing movie called Salik (first released last year sometime?). We all know we have a bit transport problem in Dubai and the nearby Emirates. However I don't think more Salik gates is the answer.

To avoid this being called a tax-for-nothing, why not phase it in after the metro is running? This will give people a real choice to use Salik or another mode of transport. Why not charge people for journeys during peak times only? Honestly, if I'm driving at 2am, why should I pay when the road is salik anyway!

I've raised this before, but it seems that the RTA is very slowly moving in the right direction. Apparently you'll only be charged for using the Maktoum Bridge toll if the floating bridge is open. This makes sense. Yuppie!

Also let's hope we get more transparent charing, as well as easy access to stickers and top up services etc. All sounds very simple, but the reality is usually far from it.

I wonder, do motorcyclists have to pay? Where do they install the sticker? Surely they cause congestion too in the eyes of the RTA...

Anyway, the floor is yours people...

Maktoum Toll Gate - Day 1

Had to go from Murraqabat to Festival City. Got stuck in a huge traffic jam at the Dnata/City Centre interchange due to people avoiding Salik and using the alternative route.

On the way back from Bur Dubai, decided to use the Maktoum toll gate. Just like any other non Salik day got stuck in the traffic jam headed towards the right tunnel headed to Muraqqabat. So I wasted AED4 to get stuck in a traffic jam.

Yes I know it's the first day and stuff but I can already see what a big mess this is going to create for people living just off Maktoum bridge on the Deira side. Way to go RTA!!!!

look ma, no hands!

contrary to popular opinion, im not sure if ramadan brings out the best in people. at least, you cannot say that by the looks of traffic on dubai roads. in the last 24 hours, i have seen 4 pile ups, with my friend being involved in the fifth. and seeing shiny brand new cars lying in heaps by the side of the roads is really disturbing. 

on thrusday, i accepted an iftar invitation to umm ul quwain, and the 67 km journey took me two and a half hours. to be honest, that didnt bother me much. there was plenty of time to iftar (two and a half hours to be precise) and we got there just in time. that said, what really bothered me were people who decided they were above the law, and used the hard shoulder as the seventh lane.

video

that, when on the very same journey, there were three seperate accidents on the left hard shoulder, and one major pile-up (involving 4-5 smashed up vehicles) on the right shoulder.  

in a short span of 25 seconds, you will see 10 cars whizz by in these videos. the videos themselves were prompted after another 15 cars had passed by and it had stopped being amusing. 

video

when cars are going bumper to bumper, i often break to the shoulder to allow my car room to stop without rear-ending the vehicle in front. the assumption is, no one would be flying by on the breakdown lane.

am i missing something here? are you allowed to use the hard shoulder as a road when it's close to iftar time? with the opening of salik II, things are only going to get worse. does that give people the license to mock traffic laws, and thousands of people who ARE decent enough to not create chaos on the roads? i want to know what the people in this community think.

would you drive on the hard shoulder... to shave 15 minutes off of your commute? do you hold up traffic while you drive in the fast lane talking on your mobile phone? is this behaviour acceptable? if not, how do you deal with these people?

04 September, 2008

book banned

"A UK academic's analysis of Dubai's rise to prominence in the Gulf has been banned from being sold in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Christopher Davidson, author of Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success, said the ban was an own goal by a country that is at pains to present itself as an open society with aspirations for its higher education sector.

Dr Davidson, a lecturer at Durham University's School of Government and International Affairs, has previously worked in the UAE at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. He has also acted as a consultant to the Dubai Government.

...

Dr Davidson said: "This is an academic book published by Columbia University Press, so it went through a rigorous peer-review process.

"Crucially, it is independent research, written by someone whose salary is not paid in the UAE, so there's none of the self-censorship that often prevents people who live there discussing anything beyond the bland and banal about the ruling families."

The result, he said, is that the National Media Council - which rules on censorship - had no leverage over the book's content and had made a "kneejerk" reaction.

"It's rare that a peer-reviewed academic book from an esteemed press is banned - it just makes them look as though they've got something to hide, and of course in the internet age with online booksellers it is also rather pointless."


more here

03 September, 2008

Master plan for Manchester City's new Middle East owners


Very interesting, not quite accurate, far fetching article : Arabian might at Eastlands.

Sound bite:

"My only goal was to put on the red shirt...... I am happy that everything ended in the best possible way and that my dream to play in such a classy team came true"!

Manchester United new boy Dimitar Berbatov insists trophies mean more to him than money. United smashed their transfer record to sign the 27-year-old, with the £30.75million deal finally being announced at 12.40am on Tuesday morning, 40 minutes after the transfer deadline expired and after Manchester City looked to hijack the deal.

Source

02 September, 2008

Hello From Muscat

Hello People,

This is my first post on this Blog and I would like to take this opportunity to say hi to all of you and to express how happy I am to be here.

My name is... well, you can call me Al-Maawali and I am an Omani. I came to Dubai about 2 - 3 weeks ago for study purposes. I am planning to stay here during my bachelors which is about 4 years. And because I am a huge Blogger and I really love Blogging, I thought I would Blog on this community Blog from time to time along with the Blog that I am currently maintaining at www.MuscatxDubai.com which talks about the whole transition process from a small city like Muscat to a major one like Dubai from a student's and a, soon to be, employee's point of view.

To be honest, since I am already Blogging about Dubai on my Blog, I am not sure exactly what I will be Blogging about here but I am sure something will come up soon.

I hope I didn't over advertise my self here or even spam. I just wanted to say hello and let you guys know that there is a new dude in the UAE Blogging scene.

Ramadhan Kareem!

Comment moderation

Starting today, all posts more than 30 days old will be subject to comment moderation; this is being used to curb the increasing amount of spam (i.e. stock market spam, world of warcraft gold spam, viral video spam, proxy-bypass spam, prescription medicine spam, new-fancy-social-networking-site-about-dubai spam etc) that is finding its way onto older posts on this blog.

Sorry for the inconvenience it may cause.

01 September, 2008

Ramadan Kareem ;)

When I was too young to fast my mother/aunt/grandmother would prepare my meals for me and chase me around the house in an attempt to make me eat my lunch/breakfast etc. But once we were outside before iftar I was continuously reminded that I should not eat in public for my actions will insult others who are fasting. If this confuses a child then you can imagine how as an adult I am still perplexed!

Why is it illegal to eat in public during Ramadan? More importantly, is there any mention in the Holy Scriptures regarding this restriction? I have been through the Quran and the Hadith ( sahih bukhari) but I still haven't found any references to this. If I have missed something PLEASE do refer me to the right sections/paragraph/text/book.

Are peoples faith so brittle that they will be tempted to break their fast just because someone else is eating in front of them? Is the mother that prepares lunch and breakfast for her children tempted to break her fast? Definitely not.

Will fasting be an impossible feat to achieve if people ate in public? Then the millions of Muslims in India, Europe, North America who do not have this luxury must have thrown in the towel.

Is the act of consuming food during daylight hours really an attempt to mock a Muslim's efforts and entice them to succumb to their basic instinct to eat?

Or is it a way to control the masses and ensure that Islamic principles are adhered to and that deviance from it does not manifest itself on a macro level?

I am still confused!

Strange Greetings

May Allah bless all of us with peace & happiness in our life through the blessings of this hold month of RAMADA(AMEEN). Waseem, Salman & Chi@the Lodge Team.

I couldn't stop laughing my ass off when one of my friends showed me this sms they got. For all those that are wondering what so strange about Ramadan greetings, Chi@ the Lodge is a popular night club in Dubai .