31 December, 2008

Income tax in the pipeline?

The six Gulf nations have agreed in principle to implement corporate and individual income tax by 2012 and are now discussing ways to bring the deadline closer, people close to the matter told Emirates Business yesterday.

The oil- and gas-producing countries are grappling with the prospect of a significant contraction in energy income from oil and gas exports next year and the spectre of budgetary deficits.

People close to the action at the GCC summit in Muscat, Oman, that began yesterday said, however, that individual members of the Gulf group are unlikely to impose income tax unilaterally.

"However, the prospect of drastic reductions in oil revenues and the resultant fiscal deficits has forced the six countries to examine whether implementation can be done earlier than 2012," they said.

New Years...

2008 hasn't been the best year for many and 2009 does not seem very promising either. Here's hoping all of you are able to survive these difficult times irrespective of what religion or country you belong to.....

New Year's Celebrations cancelled

This from the Gulf News (also on page 2 of today's 7 Days)http://gulfnews.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

30 December, 2008

Please share your opinion on Emiratization

Can I please ask for your participation in a survey on Emiratization, which should not take longer than 5 - 10 minutes to complete.

The purpose of this survey is to better understand employers' and managers' perceptions of Emiratization and their experience with and perception of the people at the centre of this topic - UAE nationals in the workplace.

Click here to take the English language version of the survey

Click here to take the Arabic language version of the survey

A key issue a multitude of stakeholders, academics and practitioners alike simply don’t understand at this point is why exactly Emiratization is not working to the extent it should, while at the same time everybody is an expert in Emiratization and has an opinion, a story or a ready stereotype why it doesn’t work. The truth is more likely that we don’t really know why it isn’t working, and therefore we also don’t know where to start to make it work. This is an issue we are hoping to shed light on by putting this survey in front of a larger audience.

Should you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact the authors of the survey directly, the contact details of whom you can find on the welcome page of the survey.

Thank you !

New Year's Celebrations Cancelled

Just got a link to Gulfnews:

Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has ordered the cancellation of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has ordered the cancellation of all New Year celebrations on Wednesday as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

I don't know if it really is going to happen, there are so many things going on. But give people the head's up.

More here

28 December, 2008

"Dubai residents protest against air strikes"

Dubai: More than 500 residents demonstrated at the Palestinian consulate in Dubai against Israeli air strikes in Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Gazans were killed in the air strikes. The offensive began eight days after a six-month truce between Israel and the militants expired.

In the meantime an Israeli woman describes what's happening in Gaza as 'fantastic':

"Finally, a month and a half before the elections, Israel takes some action. I definitely see this as linked, but it's OK, better late than never. What's been happening in Gaza is fantastic. I feel very bad about the man killed in [the Israeli town of] Netivot. "

Art Auction houses, your partners in crime?

I still remember the news in October 2007, when Dubai Police arrested 48 persons which were all part of a huge money laundering ring.
In about 16 months they successfully laundered 18 billion AED. Yes..billion, not million. Well, the first question really is, how can one bring such amounts of cash in the country - but that's another issue.

Now ask yourself this: if you were one of them and you had to launder just the petty cash of 2 billion AED this year - where would you start?
There are not many business sectors where you can make a purchase in CASH and no questions asked. Until a few years ago you could pay your real estate purchase in cash (yes the full amount) - but this has been stopped. How about gold and diamonds? Well, I guess you could spend a few hundred thousands but it would be hard to spend lets say 30 million in a day at the Gold Souq without anybody becoming suspicious of you. Sure, there are also other places to put dirty money. But one of the best places to put it in Dubai are the auction houses for art.

For one thing, they take CASH. You can check out the companies and find out for yourself.
It's also totally anonymous, you can place your bid even on the phone.

Did you ever ask yourself how a painting or a photo of a totally unknown person could sell for 5 Million U$ or more at an auction? What's up with their record-breaking sale prices?
Laundering through Art is also very convenient. Once you buy the piece, keep it in a safe somewhere in a bank and sell it back and forward to your "money laundering buddies". A sells to B for 5 million. Then B sells back to A for 10 million - and so on, you get the "picture". Meanwhile, the object never changes hands physically.
Art Auctions in the UAE sold items worth several hundred Million U$ this year. That is huge, considering that there was no market for such items just over 5 years ago.

Who were the buyers?
Well, I guess you can answer this question now. As you might be aware the UAE has an Anti-Money-Laundering-Committee. I'm not sure where they are, but I think they should attend some auctions in the UAE.

27 December, 2008

Happy Islamic new year....

Hope you have a wonderful year ahead of you.....

24 December, 2008

open season!

AFP did a bitter sweet feature on Lebanon and the holiday season... 

As hordes of bachelors return home to Lebanon for the holiday season, young eligible women who far outnumber their male counterparts in this tradition-bound country are angling for the perfect catch.

Estimates are that for every eligible man there are five women available in this small country of four million people. That makes for tough competition among women as they try to find Prince Charming.

'The competition among the women is not on how to outwit each other but how to find that catch, or lakta as you say in Arabic,' Khalaf said. 'And that lakta is a guy who has studied and works abroad, has a good career and is unmarried.'

How many singles will be going from the UAE (and coming back as doubles)?

21 December, 2008

Ducati Model 271 flying off the shelves

New York Times
“We have been producing that specific style, which I personally designed, for 10 years, so I couldn’t have missed it, no way,” said Ramazan Baydan, a shoemaker in Istanbul. “As a shoemaker, you understand.”

Although his assertion has been impossible to verify — cobblers from Lebanon, China and Iraq have also staked claims to what is quickly becoming some of the most famous footwear in the world — orders for Mr. Baydan’s shoes, formerly known as Ducati Model 271 and since renamed “The Bush Shoe,” have poured in from around the world.

A new run of 15,000 pairs, destined for Iraq, went into production on Thursday, he said. A British distributor has asked to become the Baydan Shoe Company’s European sales representative, with a first order of 95,000 pairs, and an American company has placed an order for 18,000 pairs.
For now, Mr. Baydan’s customers will have to take his word for it. The journalist who launched the shoes at a news conference a week ago, Muntader al-Zaidi, 29, was wrestled to the ground by guards and has not been seen in public since. Explosives tests by investigators destroyed the offending footwear.

But Mr. Baydan insists he recognizes his shoes. Given their light weight, just under 11 ounces each, and clunky design, he said he was amazed by their aerodynamics.

20 December, 2008

Return of Security Deposit Question..

Dear UAEComm Bloggers

Quick question...... we moved from Dubai to Sharjah about a month ago. Despite several promises we still haven't got our last advance rent cheque and security deposit back from the Dubai landlord. Everything was in order when we left the flat so there are no outstanding issues.

We keep being told it isn't ready and they'll call us when it is etc etc. but of course we are always the ones who call them! Anyway... my question is how long on average should this take? So how much longer before I handcuff myself to the landlord's agent's chair and refuse to leave until I get the cheque!?

Any comments about other's experiences very much appreciated. Thanks.

18 December, 2008

Dubai regulator warns "illegal" online property forums

The National:
The Real Estate Regulatory Authority says “illegal groups” are trying to “hurt the sector” by sending mass e-mails to buyers advising them to stop paying financial instalments on certain real estate projects. They are targeting buyers through online property forums in an attempt to induce distressed sales, send property prices spiralling downwards and snap up cheap homes, the authority said in a statement yesterday.

Officials refused to identify which developers had been named and did not release examples of the e-mails.

The issue is complicated, however, by the fact that there appear to be two different types of groups sending the e-mails: speculators hoping to drive down prices and consumer advocates trying to protect property buyers from investing in projects that may never be completed.

The authority said groups were spreading “false information” through the real estate community and “misinterpreting property laws”. The implications of a mass cancellation of payments to the property market could be severe, said Marwan bin Ghalita, the regulator’s chief executive, warning that anyone who does stop payments could lose their whole investment.

Speculating on the motivation behind the e-mails, Mr Ghalita, said: “They want to hurt the sector.”
My emphasis.

Shaikh Mohammad urged journalists to avoid negative reporting, pointing out that “if a journalist betrays his conscious he would be betraying his nation”.

16 December, 2008


A LUXURY hotel in Dubai is to create the first refrigerated beach so hotel guests can walk comfortably across the sand on scorching days.
The Palazzo Versace fashion house will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface.
The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.

"We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on," said Soheil Abedian, founder and president of Palazzo Versace.
"This is the kind of luxury that top people want."
Full story HERE
They've done a survey then have they, to find out what 'top people' want? For crying in a bucket, what is the UAE coming to?
I bet the skivvies that have to pick up the trash* will be applying in their droves.
*This could include the occasional WAG, wasted on all the over-priced Bacardi Breezers.

14 December, 2008

On coming full circle

In the middle of the news conference with Mr Maliki, a reporter stood up and hurled his shoes at Mr Bush, calling him "a dog" but narrowly missing the president.
"All I can report is a size 10," Mr Bush said according to the Associated Press news agency.
The shoe thrower was taken away by security guards and the news conference continued.
Correspondents called it a symbolic incident. Iraqis threw shoes and used them to beat Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad after his overthrow.

for video and full story, go here.

i wouldnt throw a shoe at Mr Bush. it would be waste of a perfectly good shoe. but it doesnt mean i cant laugh at a brilliant video and the audacity of the "reporter" (?!). his aim is commendable.
a perfect close to eight years of quality entertainment.

The life of an Emirates Air flight attendant

Wall Street Journal:
26-year-old Spaniard and Emirates airline flight attendant, reached into her pocket for a tube of bright red lipstick.

"I retouch it every 15 minutes," she said. "Otherwise, my supervisor will remind me."

The global economic slump is just now touching the glittering shores of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. But when it comes to the 10,000 flight attendants working for Emirates, the government-owned airline here, Dubai isn't cutting any corners.
The airline is a demanding employer, flight attendants say. Tough rules are enforced, including some that would be deemed discriminatory in the West, such as weight requirements and a no-pregnancy policy for unwed women.
Emirates' rules require attendants to politely accept a business card or phone number if it's proffered by a passenger. (The airline doesn't require the attendants to call or give out their own numbers, unless they want to.)
Ms. Masillamani recalled a recent party at a room in the 21st Century, on Dubai's neon-lighted main strip. Female crew members danced in bikinis while young men sprayed champagne.

At night, flight attendants flock to Zinc, a throbbing night club tucked into the ground floor of the Crowne Plaza hotel here. Male attendants, hair gelled in spikes and sporting tight-fitting designer shirts, earrings and leather necklaces, order pitchers of vodka mixes. The manager of the club estimates up to 70% of its revenue comes from Emirates' crew.

"It's so much fun, like being on a dreamy vacation. They take care of us here," said Jane Park, a 24-year-old from Korea, dressed in a tiny black dress and stiletto heels as she greeted her friends and colleagues.

There are limits. Despite its tolerant attitude toward foreigners, Dubai still harbors a conservative Muslim culture. If a single female attendant shows up pregnant, she's fired. Openly gay male attendants need not apply.
Read it all.

09 December, 2008

Rulers of the UAE, and the 7 emirates

Check it out.

From the mainsite, Rulers.org ::
This site contains lists of heads of state and heads of government (and, in certain cases, de facto leaders not occupying either of those formal positions) of all countries and territories, going back to about 1700 in most cases. Also included are the subdivisions of various countries (the links are at the bottom of the respective country entries).

08 December, 2008

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak to everyone...Hope you have a great time with your family and friends.[Note: I don't know why I'm using this picture with this post. Maybe I just like posting pictures I guess :D ]

Façade ?

Newsweek - "Dubai's glitzy façade shows some cracks." ::
The fireworks display was so enormous it could only truly be appreciated from the heavens (literally—it was visible from space). The occasion was the opening of the $1.5 billion Atlantis resort complex on an enormous artificial archipelago shaped like a palm tree. The point of the party, its promoters explained, was to show the world that Dubai is a land of fantasies come true, an over-the-top destination for good times. But among many of the guests, the mood was funereal. As the fireworks exploded, the global economy was imploding. Many of Dubai's overleveraged fortunes were crumbling, and no one was sure where to turn. The old buoys seemed to have been swept away.

"It's a tragedy in the making," said a senior executive with one of the city's biggest real-estate-development companies as he peered into his champagne. "A lot of people are going to get hurt. A lot of dreams are going to be shattered," he said, referring not only to the erstwhile rich and the speculators. Imported workers are already being exported, jobless, back to their homes. Skyscrapers are standing unfinished, baking in the sun. "Have you seen all those ships lined up on the horizon?" he said, gesturing toward the open gulf. "They're stuck out there full of steel and concrete nobody wants anymore."
Truth or fiction?

Read it all.

07 December, 2008

Dubai Rental Prices

Do you have any input/comments/real insight into the Dubai rental market at the moment?

Years ago, it was predicted there would be a form of 'bubble burst' in 2008. Today, some people call it a 'correction'. It's just difficult to believe what people are saying because either it's speculation, or tenants have 'heard something from someone else'.

"Hearing something from someone else" seems to be the norm, though. It adds to the speculative culture. Then, it could be true. Is the real market a combination of both?

RERA, upon formation, announced it would compile rental prices for specific areas around Dubai, which would, in effect, control market rates. Now, a one-bed flat in Dubai Marina is going for Dhs. 150k p.a. I called one of the better known R.E. agencies, and they verified today's trend is that once a prospective tenant views a flat and likes it, the rent is hiked.

This is a very real issue. Skilled professionals are being made redundant, and housing is hard to find. Whether a one-bed in "New Dubai" is Dhs. 100k or 150k, it's still not on par with the majority's salaries. Think about exchange rates, company allowances, and the prevalent "one cheque upfront" system. In the last week, nearly every individual I've met in a social setting has expressed they are looking for a job.

Will Dubai's rental prices be affected given the current crisis, or will the economic model sustain momentum despite the global downturn?

06 December, 2008

Rain Drops keep falling on my Head!!!

A wet winter. This is how I remember UAE from the 90's. I'm happy with this great beginning to this season, I hope it continues this way......my umbrella's have been in the closets tooo long....

05 December, 2008

Another Twitter feed!

This Twitter feed aims to tweet updates from all UAE blogs:


If you'd like to be included, just let me know. I'll add a few for starters: if yours gets added and you really object just let me know, and I'll remove it. Also bear in mind it can take a while for a new entry to get going on Twitterfeed, so if you post very soon after I add you, it might miss that first post.

The only requirement is that your blog publishes some kind of RSS feed. Often this can be enabled or disabled in your settings, so make sure it's enabled if you want your blog on it.

Basically it will tweet all new blog entries by any blog listed in it.

And as an experiment, I have put a Twitter widget in the sidebar. However I don't think it looks that great: what I think would work better would be a plainer one (no border) but I couldn't find one that seemed just right. Please do suggest alternatives.

Formula 1 Power Boat World Championship

This National Day there's so much happening , that I'm like a kid in a candy store. Tomorrow, 5th December 2.30 pm @ the Breakwater is the Formula 1 Power Boat World Championship. Abu Dhabi Round.
And for those of you who like Nancy Ajram, she will be singing and entertaining.

04 December, 2008

Dubai news Twitter feed

I have created a Twitter account that will publish Twitter searches on "Dubai" "Abu Dhabi" and "UAE". Basically what happen is if anyone anywhere mentions Dubai or the UAE in a tweet, it will be retweeted on dubaifeed.

If you want to Follow the feed, it's Twitter.com/dubaifeed

Also, if you have an interesting Twitter account yourself, feel free to mention it below. I'm publishing my blog to Twitter - #secretdubai - as well as UAE Community blog - #uaecommunity

It should actually be possible to feed everyone's blogs into a single Twitter account, it would be an interesting and useful alternative to a regular RSS reader to keep up to date with everything. Anyone can set this up via Twitterfeed.

***EDIT*** #dubaifeed no longer loops back its own tweets. The search code in the RSS that feeds it is now fixed.

02 December, 2008

George Michael rocks AbuDhabi

The George Michael concert last night at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium was ''amazing".
Alicia keys kicked off the concert, and not being a huge fan, it got monotonous and irritating. And she came back and sang again and again.
Finally when George Michael came on stage, the crowd just went wild. The energy was palpable, and he put on an awesome show. His voice was in full form, and he moved like the old days.
It was endearing also to see that Andrew Ridgely was in one of the videos that played as he sang a track from his Wham days.
For me the culmination was of my all time favourite track which ended the concert, FREEDOM 90.
The venue was huge, and the event well organised. 30 minutes to leave venue, get out of parking and get on the main road, is fantastic.

Happy National Day

To a country that keeps alive the romance and magic of Arabian Nights - may you continue to prosper and flourish in times to come.