29 October, 2008

US elections

OK - a quick UAE bloggers poll.

Don't Care


I couldn't access google.com a while back and now I can't access google.com/ig either.....wonder what Etisalat is upto!!!

What's going on at Dubai Eye?

Apart from the excellent Business Breakfast and evening business show, every time I tune in to Dubai Eye radio they're playing repeats of old programmes.

Or "recaps" as they call them.

I've seen no news about it and the website gives no information. Not that that's unusual for Dubai, most websites are years out of date.

The site does say that they're in the process of improving transmission (long overdue in my opinion) and they're experiencing a few technical difficulties.

But that's quite different from programmes and presenters disappearing.

Anyone in the know who can enlighten us?

28 October, 2008

chiller again

Last August I blogged about the latest fashion of landlords, which is charging imaginary fees of all kinds - including chiller charges - in order to make up for the money they "lose" through the rent cap.

Well, since then, seems like the chiller thing has somewhat become of an epidemic. However, here is the good news for all of you. This issue has been raised to the rent committee and the landlords and real estate agents have LOST this case.
Basically the law says, that your tenancy agreement must be renewed exactly as it is. If it is not renewed as it is (except for the legal rent increase) - then it is not considered a renewal.
In my friend's case, Rocky Real Estate tried to play very smart. They issued a new tenancy contract - but besides that also issued a separate invoice to all tenants in those buildings worth in average 12000 AED per apartment. Here's the trick: Rocky refused to sign the tenancy contracts of anyone who did not pay them the "other fees", they also refused to accept the Cheques for the tenancy agreement renewal. By doing this, they could claim, that the tenants did not pay their rent and would hence try to kick them out the flats. RIDICULOUS.
Anyway, if any of you has to struggle with their landlord/real estate agent about such charges, please head straight to the rent committee. Rocky gave this statement: "If we invoice 100 apartments the extra fees, less than 10% will complain to the rent committee, so we still make our money".
Please pass on this info to your friends and blog readers.

27 October, 2008

Guess who's coming to town...

In case you didn't notice the bell logo at the bottom of the outdoor ad, I am talking about the one and only Taco bell.

26 October, 2008

Avoiding SALIK

Today as I headed home I tried avoiding SALIK by taking Business Bay Bridge. As I passed under it I decided to stop in the mud nearby and take this shot. It's one of the best shots I've taken. SALIK ain't that bad to think of it now!!! ;)Anyone else got any positive SALIK-related stories to share?

24 October, 2008

Calling Al Ain Bloggers

I have just set up a Blog List site for Al Ain bloggers. It (of course) includes a link to the UAE Community blog. As well as a link to recent stuff on Al Ain Expats Yahoo group.

You can access the list here


If you're a blogger in Al Ain and would like to have your blog listed, please post a comment there.


PS - Can it be added to the blogrolls here, please?

A fumble on the beach has given freedom a dirty name

From The Sunday Times

October 19, 2008
A fumble on the beach has given freedom a dirty name

Minette Marrin

‘Why don’t we do it in the road?” That was the question posed by the Beatles in 1968 in the song of that name. The expected answer, quite clearly, was: “Why not?” That year, 1968, was the dizziest moment of the era of letting everything hang out, so to speak. Doing it on the road was really the least one could contribute to the cause of liberation and universal love.

It wasn’t the aggressive John but the nicey nicey Paul who wrote the song. It seems that while with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India, he had seen two monkeys doing it in the road and thought what a good idea it was in all its natural simplicity.

“A male,” McCartney said later, “just hopped on the back of this female and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular. Within two or three seconds he hopped off again and looked around as if to say, ‘It wasn’t me’, and she looked around as if there’d been some mild disturbance . . . And I thought . . . that’s how simple the act of procreation is . . . We have horrendous problems with it and yet animals don’t.”

As a model for human sexual relations, I think there are a couple of things wrong with this vision, whether in the road or not. However, this song was hugely influential; you could almost cite 1968 as the end of sexual modesty in public. It might be unfair to hold the Beatles entirely responsible – there were plenty of much sexier bands. But this song did coincide with and express the beginning of a time of astonishingly flamboyant sexual exhibitionism. In answer to McCartney’s siren call, countless people have taken to doing it wherever they fancy and insisting on their human right to do so. Even tiny children dance to pop music, to adult encouragement, with all the bump and grind of a slaggy old stripper.

Now, 40 years on, we have a couple of well-to-do British expatriates in Dubai shamelessly and drunkenly doing it on the beach. Thou hast conquered, / O pale Liverpudlian. Last week Michelle Palmer, 36, from Rutland, and Vince Acors, 34, of Bromley, southeast London, were sentenced to three months in prison in Dubai for having sex outside marriage on a public beach and offending public decency. They were also fined about £200 and will be deported when they have served their sentences. They were lucky: their punishment could have been much worse.

I have absolutely no sympathy for them but I do think that given the permissive culture of the country in which they grew up – they were born only a few years after 1968 – it is understandable, if depressing, that they themselves didn’t see much wrong with their behaviour.

From their perspective it is apparently quite normal for two strangers to meet at a hotel brunch, drink themselves silly and proceed to perform sex acts on each other in public. It is normal to insult a policeman who has the effrontery to caution them, regardless of the law, and to carry on. That is what Britons do at home and abroad. They belch, vomit, copulate, litter and barge their way through public spaces, dressed like hookers and louts, defying the police without shame or modesty. British expatriates are some of the worst: overpaid, oversexed and all over the place.

Palmer and Acors are appealing against their convictions. Yet by Palmer’s own admission, she was drunk and they were kissing and cuddling. “We didn’t have sex together,” she insisted. “I was lying on top of him.” This is rather to miss the point.

No one cares much whether DNA evidence proves that there was no exchange of bodily fluids. What went on was an affront to the standards and laws of Dubai, which all expatriates are well aware of. If you don’t like the law or the culture of another country, you should stay away. If you go there anyway, you should keep your views to yourself and when in Rome behave as the Romans.

That is not only common sense and a way of staying out of nasty foreign jails. It is more importantly an ancient moral obligation, which all healthy cultures have observed. As a guest, you must respect your host and his feelings. Everyone knows that Muslim cultures believe strongly in modesty and privacy; it is simply rude to go about half-naked or drunk and snogging and shagging in public in an Islamic country, an insult to the host culture as well as a disgrace to our own. I can’t help secretly sympathising with the senior prosecutor in Dubai who said he wished the couple had been given a longer sentence.

Is it surprising that so many Muslims around the world despise us for our decadence when we express our sympathy with British men and women who behave like this? There is something clearly despicable in the permissiveness and hyper-sexualisation of western culture; the result is broken families, unwanted children, sexual diseases and a state of agitation which drives the young into chaos and crime.

This might seem a long way from a fumble on a beach and certainly I would agree that many Muslim cultures take their modesty to extremes of repression. But the connection is there and Muslims, including British Muslims, are right to make it.

PC Plod in this country, however, does not make it. Last week a senior officer recommended that the police should turn a blind eye to sex in public, to avoid offending or distressing people seen doing so, and to protect the human rights of those who frequent open spaces to have sex, particularly those in pursuit of dogging and cottaging, who might easily be alienated or humiliated. His advice is contained in 21 pages of guidance on policing sex in public.

This is the kind of attitude that gives freedom a dirty name. No wonder so many Muslims here look down on the host culture and try to isolate their sons and daughters from its unthinking libertinism.

If we expect ethnic minorities here to respect the host culture, we should make sure it is worthy of respect. If we expect them to behave according to our standards (such as they are) when they are here, so should all British citizens respect their standards when over there.

The careless cultural imperialism of British expatriates abroad – their selfish, insensitive, sluttish behaviour – must be partly to blame for the cultural hostility and separatism that are growing among Muslim minorities at home here today. That is one good reason, among many, for not doing it in the road, either home or away.


23 October, 2008

National ID Card

News Title: "Card fees to generate Dh120m"

Dubai: The UAE government is spending $55 million on cutting-edge technology to implement the national ID system and is expected to generate an income of about Dh120 million from card fees by the end of this year, an official confirmed on Wednesday.

Business establishments in the UAE are highly encouraged to register their employees, as getting the all-in-one identity card, which will eventually work as a driving licence, passport and labour, residency, health and ATM card or e-wallet, will help them cut expenditures on acquiring staff's numerous IDs.

The technology being used to implement the identity cards will also offer other financial benefits, as it will plug the security loopholes in the banking system, which was recently plagued by fraudulent transactions, according to engineer Thamer Rashid Al Qasemi, planning director of the Emirates Identity Authority.


So far, the UAE has already registered 610,000 residents, 95 per cent of which are nationals. About 600,000 more, which include 350,000 expatriate professionals, are expected to enlist before the December 31, 2008 deadline.

The identity card costs Dh100 for nationals for five years, Dh100 for expatriates for one year and Dh50 for children under 15 years, regardless of nationality. In the case of expatriates, however, the fee has to be paid for the duration of the residence visa.

Given that 1.2 million residents are expected to register before this year's deadline, Al Qasemi said the issuance of cards will generate an income of about Dh120 million or more.

"Looking at the return, the income we get out of this registration process is really not comparable to the operational cost. The ID card itself costs about Dh35 to Dh45. This is the direct cost of the card. And we only give it to children for Dh50," Al Qasemi told Gulf News.

link to source Gulf News

News Title: "Identity cards needed by end of the year"

Professional expatriates who do not obtain the new identity card by the end of the year may face a suspension in transactions and dealing with governmental and semi-governmental bodies, said a senior official at the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA).

Darwish Ahmad Al Zarouni, Director General of EIDA, told Gulf News that the authority is under discussion with relevant government bodies to consider suspending some service to professional expatriates. "Services we are looking at suspending will include driving licence renewals and renewal of vehicle registration," said Al Zarouni.

The deadline to register for the card for professional expatriates and all nationals is December 31 2008.

The authority defines professionals as holders of bachelor degrees or higher qualifications. They also include: consultants, medical doctors, engineers, journalists, teachers, IT professionals and accountants. Blue collar workers will be given until the end of 2010 to register for the card.

However, the suspension of services by next January will be applied to all UAE nationals who have not obtained identity card. Bank transactions will also be suspended for Emiratis, according to Al Zarouni.

Earlier on Tuesday, Thamer Rashed Al Qasemi, Planning Director at the authority, said in a press gathering that expatriates will face a suspension in bank transactions and all governmental services if they do not obtain the cards by the end of the year.

"A circular has been sent two months ago from the UAE Central bank to banks informing them not to provide any services for Emiratis and professional expatriates who do not produce the card as identification," said Al Qasemi.

Applicants can fill in the registration form at www.emiratesid.ae and print it out to submit it at any of the 24 registration centres in the country. Customers without access to the internet can approach typing centres at the registration centres to prepare the application forms. To find out the locations and opening times of the centres and documents required visit the website or call the EIDA call centre at 600 523 432. – Gulf News '

link to source UAEinteract.com

I hope these articles serve as news/a reminder to those who qualify for the ID card.

I find it a bit confusing to see Gulf News be quoted by UAEinteract.com when GN titles their article on the same subject in a very different way than UAEinteract.com, known as "The Official Website", casts its news.

It's a case of "Card fees to generate Dh120m" vs. "Identity cards needed by end of the year"

22 October, 2008

Virgin Radio Dubai RJ fired

Arabian Business reports:
"Virgin Radio DJ Revin John has been fired from his Dubai breakfast radio show, after he outraged listeners by reading an offensive article on-air, it has emerged."
Click here to read full article

Camel milk chocolate anyone?

"Chocolate lovers could not get their hands off the trays filled with camel milk chocolates at the world launch that took place on Wednesday at the Madinat Al Saalam in Dubai on Wednesday" From here

Has anybody tried these yet? Thoughts?

"Woman helps boy pay blood money"

"Ajman: An Emirati woman from Al Ain had donated Dh70,000 as part of blood money in order to help end the ordeal of a Pakistani teenager who ran over his neighbour's child.

The toddler died and police told the teenager, who was driving his father's car at the time of the incident, that he had to pay the blood money.

Hussain, a 14-year-old Pakistani boy has been in Ajman Central Jail for around four months after his attempt to drive ended in tragedy with the death of the two-year-old Yemeni girl near the Al Shula Club in Ajman.

Police told Gulf News that the boy was released on bail but will be detained again if he did not pay the victim's family Dh200,000 as blood money.

The decision to impose the payment of blood money on the young offender was taken by the court, he said.

Humanitarian reasons

The fine was decided by the court for Dh100,000 because the victim is a female. "We bailed the boy for humanitarian reasons. He received aid from an Emirati well-wisher from Al Ain who donated Dh70,000 for him," police said. A police official said the boy came from a poor family and could not raise the needed money.

Police added that if the boy did not pay the rest of the amount - Dh30,000 - he will be put back in jail.

Police said the teenager drove away in his father's car when he (father) was sleeping. As he ventured onto a road in the locality the little girl happened to be playing outside her house in the same area, when the accident occurred. The toddler was killed instantly.

Hussain was bailed recently when he paid part of the blood money which he received as donation. "If a teenager drives a car without the knowledge of the owner, the responsibility will be on the youngster," said an official."

Police said if the teenager had been allowed to drive the car by the owner of the car, then both of them would be held equally liable."


20 October, 2008

Road rage humour

Something to make you smile tomorrow morning

Or alternatively you could take the bus.......

Overrated Tourist Destinations

most travelers end up thinking that Dubai is odd when they get there
one place over all the others, however, that wins the prize for being the most over-hyped city anywhere on the planet

What do you think...

19 October, 2008

Another fire in Satwa

Last night there was another fire in Satwa. Last week there was one which I saw from the balcony of the building where I was, Last night I saw another one from the parking. Last week there were sirens, last night there was silence.

'We need slaves to build monuments'

Don't know if this was already posted here, but...

It is already home to the world's glitziest buildings, man-made islands and mega-malls - now Dubai plans to build the tallest tower. But behind the dizzying construction boom is an army of migrant labourers lured into a life of squalor and exploitation.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports.

The sun is setting and its dying rays cast triangles of light on to the bodies of the Indian workers. Two are washing themselves, scooping water from tubs in a small yard next to the labour camp's toilets. Others queue for their turn. One man stands stamping his feet in a bucket, turned into a human washing machine. The heat is suffocating and the sandy wind whips our faces. The sprinkles of water from men drying their clothes fall like welcome summer rain.

All around, a city of labour camps stretches out in the middle of the Arabian desert, a jumble of low, concrete barracks, corrugated iron, chicken-mesh walls, barbed wire, scrap metal, empty paint cans, rusted machinery and thousands of men with tired and gloomy faces.

I have left Dubai's spiralling towers, man-made islands and mega-malls behind and driven through the desert to the outskirts of the neighbouring city of Abu Dhabi. Turn right before the Zaha Hadid bridge, and a few hundred metres takes you to the heart of Mousafah, a ghetto-like neighbourhood of camps hidden away from the eyes of tourists. It is just one of many areas around the Gulf set aside for an army of labourers building the icons of architecture that are mushrooming all over the region.

Read the whole article here:


17 October, 2008

Just WHO is threatening Emirati national identity?

I read in The National the other day that 'foreigners are the real threat to national identity' (letters page, Oct. 6). However, I believe we are looking at the symptom and not the real cause. The truth is that the Emiratis have thrown away their own national identity by using so much imported labour to do the jobs they are either unable or unwilling to do.

If they were prepared to do the really dirty jobs in construction, and handle the nitty gritty in commerce and retail, then they would have no need to import labour from Asia. Yet they look down on those jobs and the people that do them as unworthy. Equally, if they were ready to make the effort to get the qualifications to take on the jobs in business and education that they can not do, there would be no need for them to create 'desert islands' for Westerners here in the Gulf.

I have worked in higher education in this country for many years, and few of my students have ever displayed the resolve which is necessary for them to create what we would call a 'middle class' of professionals. Instead, many of them prefer to behave like middle-men, getting rich on the Westerners' efforts. Most of them want, in my students' own words, 'easy money for easy work' - i.e., shuffling papers around in a Ministry or a state oil company, but nothing too intellectually demanding or actually involving hard work.

If Emiratis could shake off their mental laziness, emerge from their slumbering mentality, and develop a capacity for hard work and some intellectual curiosity, they would have no need for us well-qualified and experienced Westerners. But I fear they have been let down by their leaders, who prefer to shower them with riches for little real effort. These are the people who have led the way in increasing the number of expats in this country, and who are causing such a large threat to Emirati identity.


16 October, 2008

Sex on the beach jail

Dubai: Two Britons who were accused of having sex on a Dubai beach have been sentenced to a 3 month jail term the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours.

V.A., A British man who was visiting the emirate at the time of the incident and M.P., a British female resident of Dubai were also fined Dh1,000 and will be deported after serving their jail sentence.

M.P., a British resident of Dubai for the past three years and her alleged sex partner, V.A., both in their 30s, were charged with engaging in sexual activity in public, committing an indecent gesture in public and consuming alcohol after they were caught on a public beach in Jumeirah on July 5.

The pairs' lawyer, Hasan Mattar, had during the trial had in his argument said that "The Public Prosecution failed to produce corroborative evidence against my clients concerning having consensual sex and committing indecent gestures in public. The suspects tested positive for liquor, which appeared in their blood and urine tests." said that his clients would be appealing the verdict.

more here

15 October, 2008

Worst. Commercial. Ever.

Door creaking.
Woman’s voice: “Ahh, you must be the pizza delivery man. Let me get my wallet.”
Man’s voice: “Actually I’m here to deliver your AXA insurance courtesy car.”

This has to be one of the worst radio commercials ever. Ever. I don’t listen to radio much, and this commercial reminded me why. It’s not just unwitty and unprofessionally voiced-over by obnoxious dilettantes. No, the premise, if you can call it one, is mind bogglingly stupid in its complete and utter improbability.

I imagine the copywriter at work, racking his puny little brain for a plot (assuming the guys in Media City actually use plots):
You ordered pizza. The door bell rings. You open. Outside, a man in some sort of uniform. Let’s assume this is the pizza guy!! Harhar, but it’s really the car guy!! Funny twist, that!

Dammit, what about the pizza. Y’know, guy with imbecile smile holding a flat soggy carton in your face, grunting. Pizza guy with pizza. But it’s the car guy, he’s holding no pizza. What to do?Never mind, he could have lost the pizza, right?

Whoopsy, deadline’s here. Cut. Let’s flow with it. Job’s a goodn, off to Scarlett's for drinks!

The whole ‘skit’ hinges on the woman’s wrongful assumption. But that could only work if the man was at least holding a pizza carton. Or the woman was blind, in which case she wouldn’t need a car, not even for free. Without pizza, there’s not a chance in a million that The Most Stupid **** On Earth could mistake anyone for a pizza guy. So it’s not just any old assumption. It’s assuming that a totally unrealistic assumption can be made to work as radio commercial if you just try hard enough to ignore intelligence.

As my old risk management professor used to say: to ASSUME is to make an ‘ASS’ out of ‘U’ and ‘ME’.

In this case Mr. Copywriter in Dubai just makes an arse out of himself and his entire “profession” and insults our intellect.

A look at the new Terminal 3

Inside Terminal 3

Got this forwarded to me... its a look inside the new Terminal 3 building.

Has anybody flown through it yet? Think they'll avoid the recent fiasco at Heathrow's Terminal 5?

Dubai real estate market

Following on from the last post about the Dubai property market, I’ve found yet another very apt and informative thread on this site: click http://www.expatwoman.com/forum/messages.aspx?TopicID=43205&Page=2

photo taken from Gulf News Dubai

From the ‘bursting’ cliché many people seem to be hyperventilating on, there are many grammatical errors in the posts these ladies publish: you just have to wonder - can a bubble really burst when we have clowns in the economy?

Just read the whole thread! Most, if not all of the comments, reflect the real “what’s going on here” into what’s going on in the minds of real people today, and what the market is doing. It’s kind of worrying, in a way.

13 October, 2008

Dubai design, unveiled


Atkins have done it again. The (locally) famed designers of the Burj al Arab have revealed a new design for what is set to become the World's third tallest building.

The new tower design for Tameer, as featured in the news today brilliantly captures the essence of architecture in Dubai:

What looks like a giant wind turbine at the top of the tower, set to harness wind energy and create sustainable electricity, is really a restaurant ‘pod’ propped up by three support ‘spokes’.

An empty formal gesture that promises something and fails to deliver, and whose sole purpose is commercial gain. An aesthetic gimmick that looks like ecologically sustainable engineering but actually serves dry Martini and grilled hammour.

In the words of Shaun Killa, Atkins' chief architect: "Buildings need to interact with the people instead of being part of a photograph".

I see. That must be the reason for constructing a 600m tall building. To enable 'interaction' between people whilst they wait twenty minutes in the lift lobbies at peaktimes. The "turbine" then is surely not a feature designed to attract attention to the building and be photographed. It further enables people to 'interact' by spending vast amounts of money in a restaurant at 600m height, whilst at Ground level the building 'interacts' with the streets around it by enabling a joyful merry-go-round of 1,000 + cars trying to access the podium car park.

Well done, Atkins.

11 October, 2008

Dubai set for ecological disaster

I told you so. Follow link to full article in "building design", the UK's foremost architecture weekly magazine.


"Dubai set for ‘ecological disaster’ "

[P] ritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne has predicted that Dubai will become an “ecological disaster” if development there continues in its current direction.

In a dramatic speech delivered on Tuesday to the World Architecture Congress’s Cityscape Dubai conference, the US architect said the private sector’s dominance in the Gulf state had led to a lack of joined-up planning and that this — combined with the immense speed of development — would lead to a major crisis in the future.

“It is not going to work on may levels, from social to infrastructure and ecological”

In his speech, Mayne compared Dubai’s public transport plans with the development of Los Angeles in the 1960s, claiming the “political class” had no control over the built environment.

“There is no connected tissue,” he said. “It might work today, but the prognosis is not good for the future.“It’s not going to work on many levels, from social to infrastructure and ecological. It’s going to be a disaster in ecological terms.“The political class is no longer in charge of cities… which means there is no planning.
Los Angeles is a prototype for that. The private sector rules. It takes hours to get downtown in LA as there is no public transport.”

Former RIBA president George Ferguson hailed Mayne’s intervention.“It’s a transport nightmare, it’s an energy nightmare. It is absolutely bloody terrifying.

Ramadhan photos

Yes, I know Ramadhan is over... But here are some excellent photos showing some of the worldwide traditions during this month.


10 October, 2008

Sammy the Shark

While I am still in Los Angeles, I have been reading the UAE news online.

I really think the current "Save Sammy" campaign is fantastic. The issue itself, keeping an endangered animal captive in violation of CITES, is a slap in the face to the UAE Federal Govt.

Yes it's true that there are certainly other important things to address in the UAE, like the rights of laborers. However, when a high profile establishment like Atlantis is allowed to openly defy an initiative that the Federal Govt. signed on with, the message it sends is not good. The whole idea of protecting endangered animals is so that we can keep them from becoming extinct. One could argue, "If Atlantis can do this, why can't I?" and before you know it people don't pay attention to what CITES initiative is working to accomplish.

However, I think the really fantastic bit of this is, that the public is getting involved with the campaign. Social conscience has long been a part of America's history. Americans have openly railed against our government, big business and other groups they felt were not leaving a positive contribution. This freedom of expression is protected by law. I won't deny that there have been abuses of this, but the concept of freedom of expression is a positive one. Taken to the extreme, California is one of the states that has something to say publicly about just about everything!

Even though the laws are different in the UAE, most Nationals I have met are just as vocal in what they believe and just as concerned about current issues. However, it appears that it is not their custom to voice these opinions openly (but that is changing with some of the talented Emirati bloggers) The people who are wearing the "Save Sammy" buttons are in reality, staging a polite protest and expressing their social conscience, and Gulf News posting their photos is giving this campaign legitimacy.

Hopefully, Atlantis decides to do something sooner than later because of the negative press and releases Sammy, or the Federal Govt. intervenes.

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.- Albert Einstein

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi Blogger's Meetup

Just elaborating on what Sam posted. I think that since a majority of our bloggers are in Dubai we could form a separate meet for Abu Dhabi and Dubai bloggers. This could also take place this month of October. Could you email me with your first name and the name of your blog.


(Please remove all instances of the number 8 from the email address, im just doing this so that spamming software doesnt flood my email)

Many thanks,


09 October, 2008

Cityscape revisited

A wee game of scrabble before we start?


Unless you live on Mars or in Umm Al Qwain you will have noticed the annual Hajj of the intrepid and gullible to the Dubai Word Trade Exhibition Centre this past week.

There is no other way to describe what is Cityscape. There are those who believe, those who believe what they are told and those who want to believe because everybody else does.

Thousands of starry-eyed “property professionals”, Saudi geezers and Russian biznezmen with suitcases full of cash descend onto the “World’s largest property fair” for their yearly fix of hyperbolic announcements of new outlandish developments, and to ogle scantily clad Lebanese hostesses. Aspirational newcomers can be identified by the cabin trolleys full of glossy pamphlets they drag behind them and the awed expressions on their faces and the drool down their cheeks.

This is not so much a trade exhibition as it is a cattle market: the biggest udder gets the most attention; This is real estate porn, marginally more salubrious than a car show (and the hostesses certainly look the part).
Subcontinental hustlers in mustard yellow shirts and ill fitting coats enquire with Uzbek girls about squarefoot rates, and barefoot rates. Others stop at every stall shrieking with childlike excitement and gorge themselves at glitzy blinking scale models. They are instantly pounced upon by sales agents with standard issue gelled hair and pungent aftershave, sweepingly pointing out this signature tower and that amazing water feature, Karama Rolexes dangling from their wrists, liberally spewing senseless superlatives about “perfect community living” among “brilliant verdant oases” of ubiquitous Greg Norman designed golf courses.

My enquiry at the ‘Dubai Properties’ stall about solutions to the apparent power shortage in Business Bay which forces completed buildings in this ‘elite new CBD’ to run on diesel generators for the next three years, or the absence of a functioning sewage network, is met with a blank stare by Ahmed from Alexandria, who arrived six months ago in Dubai and now offers his expert knowledge of the real estate market to prospective buyers.
I ask about sales rates at ‘Mudon’, a new sand-coloured faux Arabesque Lala land somewhere in the sticks behind Arabian Ranches. My joke about the colours of the buildings looking like they had ‘mud on’ them is lost in translation. Ahmed informs me that without problem he can fix me up with a Dhs 5 million mortgage in no time and that the project would definitely be completed on schedule. According to my bank manager I can’t even afford to borrow two million, but for a brief moment I am tempted to suspend reason altogether and give into the dream of certainty and security: The fata morgana of a project in Dubai being within affordable reach and completed on target.

Even if everything that was launched at past Cityscapes and half of everything on this year’s show got built in the next ten years, I promise you that Dubai is going to become one uninhabitable behemoth of a town, or rather a conglomerate of utterly disjointed “communities” for rich people – each one with its own “water feature”, “amazing” signature building, idiotic joy ride monorail and amazing traffic jams at the access points.

One example: This year’s biggest and bestest announcement, “Jumeirah Gardens” by ‘Meraas Development’: In their own words a mega projects with a twelve year program - read 19 years with neither power nor sewage network in the end.
Three mega towers for good measure and dozens of 20- 50 storey towers. And of course, the “water feature” “defining” the “community”.
This is madness on a megalomaniac scale flying in the face of any single principle of responsible farsighted urban planning. At one side the development is hemmed in by the back road of SZR (access to the parking lots of the entire stretch of buildings from Fairmont hotel to the ShangriLa), on the other sides by Safa park, Al Wasl road and Diyafa street. Imagine the construction access alone for this mammoth building site. Not only will this create absolute traffic mayhem on these roads for the next decade, the construction of several bridges to be built on Wasl road and Beach road to link ‘Jumeirah Gardens’ with a large offshore island development (The ‘Universe’) will choke quality of life in Jumeirah for good.

Has anyone questioned the wisdom of redeveloping an already congested area with twenty-fold density, thus adding a population of circa 300-400,000 people between Satwa and Safa with no physical possibility of creating a multi-lane road network without serious bottlenecks? The slip road behind SZR works for now until it feeds into World Trade Centre roundabout at one end and Interchange 1 at the other.
Bottleneck today, give me the bottle tomorrow! Al Wasl road has already reached breaking point from Emirates Bank all the way to Port Rashid because of Salik dodgers who cause misery for people actually still living in the area.
With appropriate hyperbolic exaggeration I propose a wager: ‘Jumeirah Gardens’ will be the ruin of Dubai. If I’m wrong I’ll go shopping at Union Co-op on Friday evening.

Actually. Someone did question it. The original Masterplan by a well-known international firm indeed proposed low to medium rise housing, not mega structures landed in the middle of town like a UFO. Luckily the developers then came to their senses. What the hell did they think they were doing?! Giving away land to the great unwashed? Building a sustainable society? The heck; a 600m high mega tower was needed! That would look good, with the water feature!!

I searched Cityscape from end to end and I assure you: No sign of lower or middle income housing. Dispersed across town, joined up, public transport connected housing. Not anywhere. Zilch. Not only no private developments - which is understandably with land prices what they are - but no sign of any comprehensive public, Municipality initiated Development Plan to link and inter-weave those private Master developments to retain, allow and create space for “normal” residential areas – like the Satwa that will be no more.

It all started so well. Now it is going horribly wrong.

What we see at Cityscape is not natural and necessary growth.What we see is greed and forced, contrived, and purely speculative wishful thinking at work. You can’t run before you’ve learnt to walk. What Dubai needed now more than anything was a moratorium on construction, completion of the utterly lacking infrastructure and consolidation of growth. There IS such a thing as over-development.

If you built because they would come you’ll have to keep building because they are coming indeed . And then they'll stop coming.

Property in Dubai is an artificially created vicious circle - not dissimilar to the past madness of the financial markets. Like derivatives, securitized by farts of hot air from Abominable Insurance Goons et al., sold over and over again just because somebody somewhere always bought policies or obligations without understanding the risks or even thinking about the day when the chickens would be coming home to roost.

New Salik Gate...

Everybody's favorite scapegoat (or pet peeve) in Dubai seems to be the RTA, as well as one of their pet projects, SALIK. The following image was received as a forward and I thought it might amuse many:


08 October, 2008

blogger meet

Would anyone be interested in meeting up before the end of the month for coffee/discussion?

Post your thoughts.

(have also posted this on the uae bloggers facebook group, join if you can)

05 October, 2008

Eviction and Dubai Rent

A lot of expats rent properties, and these days, the situation can get quite confusing.

Look at this link, (enter in 'search for' "rent committee", and perhaps if any of you are looking for answers to your questions - about renting in Dubai - it might help.

Do any of our readers have notable experiences with landlords?

What is your experience with the Rent Committee?

What is the actual rent for your studio/1 bed/2 bed/3 bed+ versus advertised rates?

The Dark Side?

'We've made a pact with the devil to be here. But if you're a silly girl who gets into trouble, forget it' As two Britons face a six-year sentence for indecent behaviour on a beach Carole Cadwalladr explores the dark side of Dubai....

Full story here:

04 October, 2008

Dubai Atlantis is overbooked and has no water, beer or wine....

I know, I know, it is seriously not funny at all.

No water, read it here

No Rooms, read it here

Dubai to export oil east of Hormuz

This story (not wholly original) made me wonder what oil Dubai would be sending out via Fujairah. I also wondered whether ADNOC would be signing up to this particular plan given that Abu Dhabi has announced its own ambitions to do this and would not need to go via Dubai to circumnavigate the Iranian choke point.


DUBAI (Dow Jones)--Arab policy makers in the Persian Gulf are turning to eccentric plans in their quest for an alternative shipping route for about a fifth of the world's oil transported through the Strait of Hormuz.
Dubai, home of the Middle East's largest-container port within the Gulf, is the latest Arab sheikdom to study projects to bypass the Hormuz shipping lane that's vulnerable to Iranian attack.
According to a senior Dubai government official, planners have proposed building a giant canal across the desert that could handle the huge oil tankers and freight ships that currntly sail through Hormuz.

original article here

02 October, 2008

The taxi/sex on the beach connection

According to an article in Xpress the whole sex on the beach issue was the fault of a taxi driver...

"They ended up on the beach that night by mistake. These guys were part of a group in a hotel having drinks and celebrating [on July 4]. They left the hotel and were bar hopping from 2pm and finally boarded a taxi and told the driver to take them to the Oasis Beach Hotel where Acors was staying. The driver dropped them at Jumeirah beach by mistake, since he did not understand them. They ended up at the Jumeirah beach at around 1.30am where the girl [Palmer] passed out from exhaustion and intoxication. They then lay down on the beach.

If the driver understood the instructions correctly, this whole incident would not have happened and Palmer would not have lost her job and Acors would have not been stuck in Dubai like a prisoner," Mattar said."

Damn RTA...

more here