30 June, 2009

KT: Online Forums a Risk for Website Owners

"DUBAI — Online forums catering for Dubai residents are gaining in popularity, but many run the risk of being closed down. Strict rules on defamation in the UAE mean that moderators of online forums are constantly wary about giving users free rein.
Jane Drury, editor of the immensely popular forum ExpatWoman.com, 
said that it was the responsibility of 
site owners to ensure that content 
was appropriate.

“It is undoubtedly the responsibility of site owners to do their best to ensure that content is appropriate,” she said. “But it is very difficult — well, impossible — given forums are in a live environment, for webmasters to maintain exactly the tone or content that they might wish.”

more here

28 June, 2009

Camp Champ...

A heartwarming, slightly quirky story:

Sweet melodies are soaring above the usual banging and crashing at building sites around Dubai as labourers prepare their vocal chords for their own version of "Pop Idol".

The singing contest for the thousands of people living in workers' camps in the Gulf emirate will stage its first auditions on July 3, local media reported on Sunday.

Workers from five companies and living in more than 50 camps will take part in auditions for the third edition of Western Union Camp Ka Champ, whose title means "Champ from the Camp", according to the reports.

"The contest was developed to give labour camp residents an opportunity to discover their singing talent," the paper said, citing organisers.

More here.

No Pakis or Bongs allowed here....

A Pakistani colleague of mine recently wanted to bring his brother over for Eid - so off he goes to get the visit visa sorted out.

Only to be told that no visit or residence UAE visas will be issued to Pakistani or Bangladeshi passport holders. No reasons as to why or how long - just said no.

Is it true, or was my colleague on the unlucky end of a rather lazy and cruel person? If it is true, can anyone say why and for how long?

IMHO, I truly think it is ridiculous to stop issuing visas like that (any country for that matter). Especially as there has been no political disagreements as such, and the fact that many people from those countries (I'm talking about middle-class income earners) would like to have family visit during Ramadan and Eid.

Dubai 2020?

This is so cool if it is successful:

"Dubai has set up a committee to investigate launching a bid to host both the 2020 Olympics and the 2020 World Expo.

If successful, it would be the first time both events were staged in the Middle East, and in the one country."

More here.

What do you think? And will we be able to pull it off?

Feed changes

I have placed the RSS/atom feed for this blog through feedburner, hopefully everything is ok, if anyone has any problems with the feed let me know via comments.
Also if you'd like any services etc added to the feed feel free to comment.

If you don't use feeds for blogs then everything should remain the same.

24 June, 2009

Poster boy no more...

This just in - and it sounds mighty interesting:

"Nasser Al Sheikh has been deposed from all his positions - even as assistant director general of Dubai Ruler's Court for Foreign Affairs - the Media Office of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has announced."

The link to it can be found here.

That's all that's being said now, but the big guy of Amlak not only getting the pink slip from the mortgage house, but losing all his titles? Wow, he must have really pissed off some big people.

Let's see what happens next...

23 June, 2009

Naughty Paris

Saucy minx PARIS Hilton has been given a major dressing down for, er, dressing down.

TV producers had banned the airhead heiress from wearing a bikini while she is in Dubai shooting the third series of My New BFF.

But within hours she was posing for photos in a skimpy twopiece.

Read it here.

22 June, 2009

Video from very top of Burj Dubai

Stumbled upon a really great video on YouTube, taken from the very very very very top of the Burj Dubai. Simply Breathtaking...

Iran engages in packet inspection

Wall Street Journal:
The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world's most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.

Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.

Instead, in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.

One presumes other governments bought the capability.

Metro fares announced

I've just seen on the Gulf News website that the Metro fares have been announced.

We'll be able to buy prepaid cards which give a discount or we can buy the tickets individually for each journey.

The maximum fare for a single journey will be Dh6.5 using a standard ticket and Dh5.8 on a prepaid card.

There's a minimum fare of Dh2, or Dh1.8 with the prepaid card for a trip of up to three kilometres.

If we use the Metro we can apparently travel free on the buses using the same ticket, although the story doesn't say whether that means any bus or just getting to or from a Metro station.

There's a daily pass for Dh14 for unlimited trips on the Metro and public buses.

Children under five travel free and there's a discount for students and seniors.

The Gulf News story is here.

21 June, 2009


Since Paris Hilton is in town, some people in the US want to know what she's up to. So I get contacted by this person who wants me to chase her around town and stake out at the Intercontinental hotel so that I can snap up some pictures. I'd like know, without trespassing, can I get into trouble for this? If so, is paparazzi work advisable…..


Note: This might not come under a topic for UAE community but I feel this is the best place to get advice for me….

20 June, 2009

TEDx Comes To Dubai

TED is an amazing initiative to share ideas globally.

I was very excited to get this email last night from James Piecowye of Zayed University (he also hosts Nightline on Dubai Eye):
The spirit of the TED is coming to Dubai for the first TEDx Dubai Conference, October 10th.

The official TED Event is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about.

“TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future.

To learn and experience TED , log on here .

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx.

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

TED has licensed Giorgio Ungania and me (James Piecowye) to run and organize the first TEDx event ever in the United Arab Emirates.

We are building the event as we speak and we are already talking with world renowned thinkers that have agreed to participate on October 10th.

If you like TED and want to be informed about TEDx Dubai please follow us here :

WEB - http://www.tedxdubai.com

Blog - http://tedxdubai.blogspot.com/

Twitter - @tedxdubai

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/event

LinkedIn - http://www.linkedin.com/groups
Anyone interested in broadening their horizons will find TED amazing. The Dubai event promises to be great too.

Brits don't do topless

First there was this: http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Society/10323472.html

Then in less than 24 hours, there was this: http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/General/10323797.html

This is about the warning by the British Government to British Citizens not to bare their tops when in the UAE. What I find rather weird is that the Brits quickly found a voice via Gulf News to complain about this (complaining is a national pastime in the UK) and the tone of the article implies that the Brits are angry at the gulfies for having this rather negative opinion that they tend to take off their clothes when in fact the finger should point to the Europeans (again they imply that Brits are not Europeans).. oh well..

I tend to agree that continental Europeans (e.g. French, Italians, Spaniards, etc) tend to have more relaxed rules about sunbathing, but I strongly believe this is another piece of rubbish journalism that should not exist. Instead perhaps Gulf News should forward the voices of these angry Brits towards the UK Embassy in Dubai or David Milliband himself at the FCO.

Honestly, it's a completely internal British matter.

18 June, 2009


Fellow blogger and Inginirr Dubai Jazz writes with barely concealed glee about building contractors in Bahrain protesting the new rule allowing workers to change sponsors (employers) freely. Builder Nick the Prick responds:

How original. One day it’s Dubai bashing, the next it’s contractor bashing. If I were English I’d actually enjoy all that spanking but I’m not (English).

I tell you all what. It's a f***ing stupid idea, this free labour thing and I hope it never comes to Dubai.

It's only going to hurt the workers. They'll be confused with all this freedom. You see, they are not used to this. Back home, as I remind them every so often, they are not allowed to even cross the shadow of a higher caste villager. Here, they can run around freely on the building sites, crossing their shadows as much as they like. And there’s lots of shadows because I let them always out in the sun! From their benchmark of absolute disenfranchisement this represents almost a 100% forward projected improvement on my progress chart. And we as company stakeholders are proud of this achievement. Even the guy with the red flag on his stake.

I even shook hands with one of them, once. The man smiled like he’d won a million dollars. I had to wash my hand afterwards but I did it discreetly, with Johnson’s Antibacterial Handwash. I don’t want to offend anyone’s feelings after all.

I'd actually think it's a good idea to shackle our labourers together like chain gangs with one end of the chain tied to the Tata coach. That way they don't get lost in the Dubai concrete jungle. You know, they are simple souls fresh down from the coconut trees. We are responsible for their welfare after all, but how are we supposed to do that if they nillywilly jump employers for a lousy 7 Dirhams more per month? What has the world come to when employee loyalty goes down the drain for 7 Dirhams?! And we haven’t even built that drain yet in their labour camp.

Anyone ever considers our feelings as builders? Huh? HUH?

There, I got myself an idea. We’ll just deduct the 7 Dirhams from their pay in advance in case they jump ship.
That’ll teach them ingrate, smiling, shadow crossing, employer jumping ba$*&%$***ds.


16 June, 2009

Today: Silent Vigil For Iran

Today Tuesday 16th 18:00 - 20:00 Dubai Knowledge Village grassy area. Please share.

15 June, 2009

Our trailers are not trash

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the border problem we have with Saudi Arabia so I have decided to open the topic. I find it hypocritical to offer aid to the Palestinians shackled by occupation and to aid the poor Muslims all over the world, and to even distribute luxurious copies of the Holy Quran to all over the world and yet be so cruel to the men that work so hard for so little. Ok, so the UAE has some border issues that need resolving, and we pulled out of the monetary union, but it's silly to take it out on the economy and on defenseless drivers. This is cowardly, immature and shows extreme short-sightedness. In the name of every sweaty driver, I demand an apology from those responsible.

14 June, 2009

Who's been drinking in my bar?

Something strange is happening in Doha. And while that in itself is quite normal, this is a new kind of strange. The Qatar Tourism and Exhibition Authority and Ministry of the Interior (!) requires that access to any bar shall be on production of a valid ID or Passport. Originals only, no copies. But it is not enough just to flash the card. The details, name, ID number, date and time, are to be manually entered into a log-book. But what is the permanent record for?
Not to keep out illegals, because that can be done without the log-book.
Not to identify illegals, because by definition only legals are recorded.
Not to find who is drinking alcohol because no record is kept of what customers drink.
Not to discourage national dress in the bar, because no record is kept of what guests are wearing.
Not even as a security check of who is present, because no record is made of when guests leave.
Then there are the usual anomalies: what is the difference between a bar that serves food and a restaurant that serves alcohol?
Because there was no explanation accompanying the ruling, rumours are rife. Some say it is a 'record of shame' to discourage nationals from frequenting the bars. But then why register the expats? Others that it is to help police track offenders who commit crimes shortly after leaving the bar. That makes no sense, so it's probably true. Or can any readers here offer a better theory? My money is on pointless prurience.

11 June, 2009

Arte Souq

10 June, 2009

Spiky Penguin Says It Has New Dubai Art Community

Just got an email today from a new site called Spiky Penguin. Might be of interest to some in the community. Here's what the email said:
Please let me take this opportunity to introduce you to Spiky Penguin, the UAE's leading art community.

Spiky Penguin provides members with the opportunity to speak directly to their target audience by means of uploading their personal portfolios onto the site. Visitors can view news, benefit from resources ranging from useful links to plugins, view directory listings for locations of art galleries, multimedia companies and more, or search through job listings.

Most recently Spiky Penguin announced its online advertising capabilities, enabling us to offer more visibility to clients. As such, we are offering introductory discounts on all advertisements booked during the months of June.
No idea if they're legit....

The Urgent Need for Therapy

These days, it's a common thread of discussion among most of the Expats - regardless of the direction they come from, to UAE. It could be any one of these threads:
- Did you hear "so and so" are leaving the country for good?
- You know i heard that there has bee 26000 one way departures in one week alone thru Emirates Airlines?
- I heard that your good friend and his wife lost their jobs together? What are they doing now?
- Hey, I heard that you still have not been able to get something to pull along... so what have you decided?
- Are you going to make a decision within the next 2 months? Let me know, I can get you a good price for your car...
- etc. etc.
I find that the most common undercurrent that flows among these discussions, is something to do with "How best we can capitalize on the exodus" - whether it's your friend, neighbour, sworn enemies, colleagues, professional friends, or just anybody. And more often than not, the questioner / initiator is also under some kind of pressure - either money, job, pressures etc. related to this recession.

However, it's rare to find someone who's putting in efforts in a small or big way to make a difference to the lives of the affected souls! (I'm not talking of an exceptional few who have been helping even before the crises began!).

No wonder then, that we hear of many people who have been badly shocked by the crises - some of these have been made redundant after 5-10 years of dedicated service to their companies! A few of them are so shattered that they're unable to decide whether and how to return to their respective countries. Fear, loss of confidence, depression, inferiority complex, etc. type of psychological problems haunt them every hour of their waking life.

Therefore, when one of my friends lost his job, and faced the same situation, I thought of trying to help him, and had some consoling sessions with him, his wife and children. With my limited knowledge, I could understand that this person (probably one of many others in UAE) has a terrible loss of confidence and self-respect, and needs some affordable means of urgent therapy, to even get ready for a final departure for his home country.

I'm sure there are many like him, and as such I feel majority among these Expat communities - especially from developing nations who managed /are forced to stay for a while in this country - need some kind of Psychotherapy or Psychiatric or friendly help, to cope up with the troubled times.

I'd like to invite all the readers to come up with their experiences on this forum / platform, so that we can offer similar help to the affected ones!

(By the way, I checked for some good institutions / clinics for this friend of mine; but probably regardless of their goodness they would not be able to help, since he's an Indian, and language or at least culture would matter in a big way to calm him down!
Hence would anyone of you have any suggestions for an Indian Psychiatrist / Clinical Psychologist who can help? You can write to me, replying thru this column)

06 June, 2009

Thought I'd compliment the post below with a good picture. Even though this is a month old picture, but it shows the height of the Burj Dubai. :)

Burj Dubai Sweepstakes

Couple of years ago Secret Dubai made a blog where people were asked to give their guesses for the height of the Burj. I am not sure if this is final, but according to Wikipedia the Burj is now topped out at 818 Meter.

Nobody wins.

P.S. I'm a loser for remembering this.

Emirati Fashion Photographer Holds Second Solo Exhibition

Ironically, fashion photography is an industry primarily dominated by men, so it's particularly interesting that a young Emirati woman has successfully entered the field...
Emirati fashion photographer Fatma Abdullah’s second solo exhibition opens Sunday June 7 and runs until the end of the month at Wafi’s Khan Murjan Gallery in Dubai.

Ms Abdullah, who has been fascinated by photography since early childhood, obtained a Higher Diploma in Communication Art from Higher Colleges of Technology in 2001 and, in 2003, established her own photography company, Lady Design.

"I've always felt my camera can speak on my behalf ­- it interprets my feelings effortlessly and delivers my messages accurately."
Anyone interested in attending the exhibition openning can RSVP on th Lady Design facebook page.

Click here to read a Gulf News profile by Fatma Salem

Related links:

05 June, 2009

Full Text of Obama's Speech -- Middle East

Read it here (via The National)
or Listen to it (via Talkislam/WNYC)

03 June, 2009

Views on potential sponsorship reforms

"The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries are allegedly divided over whether to include Bahrain's decision to scrap the sponsorship system in the alliance's address to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 98th conference in Geneva."

More here, and here.

Found in my inbox today...

In a poor zoo in India, a lion was frustrated as he was offered not More than 1 kg of meat a day.

The lion thought its prayers were answered, when one day, a Saudi Zoo Manager visited the zoo and requested the zoo management to shift the lion to Dubai Zoo.

The lion was so happy and started thinking of a central A/C environment, a goat or two every day.

On its first day after arrival, the lion was offered a big bag, sealed very nicely for breakfast. The lion opened it quickly but was shocked to see that it contained few bananas. The lion thought, may be, they cared too much for him as they were worried about his stomach as he had recently been shifted from

The next day the same thing happened. On the third day, again the same food bag of bananas was delivered.

The lion was so furious; it stopped the delivery boy and blasted at him, 'don't you know I am the lion...king of the Jungle..., what's wrong with your management? What nonsense is this? Why are you delivering bananas to me?

The delivery boy politely said, 'Sir, I know you are the king of the jungle ... but... you have been brought here on a monkey's visa !!!

Moral of the Story....

Better, be a Lion in your own country than a Monkey elsewhere!

01 June, 2009

Coming soon: PSP Go

Good news for fans of the PSP:

Japan's Sony Corp plans to sell a smaller and lighter PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld game machine later this year, according to video game web sites...The new device, dubbed the PSP Go, is 43 per cent lighter than the current model and comes with a 3.8-inch display, compared with a 4.3 inch screen now, according to the video clip on YouTube...the PSP Go will go on sale this autumn, although the current model, the PSP 3000 will remain in the market.

More on the new model here.

Any takers?