29 September, 2011

One Year In Wonderland: A True Tale of Expat Life in Dubai

Shameless pluggery, I know, but as they say in the North East of England, "Shy Bairns get nowt"...

Here is a link to the e-book I wrote about my time as an expat in Dubai between 2006 and 2007. It costs only 86p

One Year In Wonderland

It is also available on Amazon.com for 99c.


23 September, 2011

Bottled Water in the UAE

Hello! I've created a questionnaire regarding the environmental impact of bottled water for a university project. If you can, please take the time to read the following short summary of the impact of bottled water on the environment and click the provided link to answer the questionnaire.

Bottled water isn't simply water in a bottle. The process involved in its production and transportation consumes large amounts of fuel and water. It take 3 litres of water to create 1 litre of bottled water. Also 1 tonne of plastic bottles creates 3 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide. On average, each UAE resident throws out 350 to 450 bottles per year. This means that the UAE alone uses 1.2 million barrels of oil and produces at least 410,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year in the production of bottled water. In addition to this, each plastic bottle you throw out takes between 400 - 1000 years to decompose. This figure could be longer because plastic hasn't been around long enough for us to know how long it takes for it to decompose.

Please follow this link to answer the questionnaire.

Thank you!

22 September, 2011

GeekFest - Tonight

GeekFest's taking place tonight at at the New Improved Formula Shelter. Dubbed 'GeekaFest - One for the Girls', it includes all-girl geek talks and a showcase of woman-driven small businesses. BTW, the theme doesn't mean a women only event - those of the male persuasion are most welcome as, indeed, are those who remain uncertain...

Jacky's is offering cash for your junk, see below, so do bring old mobiles, MP3 players and the like to have them recycled to ISO standards and possibly even get yourself a Jacky's voucher in return!

Long post, sorry, but there's a lot happening. In no particular order then:
Please do bring any unwanted old books with you as @devinadivecha and @tdallonsy are collecting books for their fund raising drive for the Manzil special needs school in Sharjah. They’re targeting 10,000 books collected and they’re currently at 7,000 so you could really help with a box of those unwanted pot boilers!!!

The nice chaps at Stuff Magazine have arranged to have free copies for everyone at GeekaFest! Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy peach? Altogether now ahhhhh!

Once again powered by Bonkers Gamer Website Lochal Archade, GameFest will feature Team Fortress 2 and, for the gentler-spirited Geeka, Child of Eden. There's a really cool area upstairs at Shelter that's just perfect for the Gamers to do their thing, too!

New to GeekFest and made possible by the funky new layout, which includes a closed off meeting room upstairs, we're hosting a series of three workshops for the more serious minded geek - this time focused around starting up your own business - you can get inspiration from the women who make up the Geeka Showcase (see below) and then join in one of the three workshop events taking place. If you want to guarantee a seat at these (space is limited to an estimated 10-12 people), you should probably get in touch with one of the workshop leaders fast!

Public Relations for startups 
Mita Ray (Market Buzz Public Relations - @mita56)
Building public relations and communications into your startup plan is essential, but few startups feel they can afford professional communications. Mita has some solutions...

Human Resources - making those first hires
Ash Athawale (Senior Executive Consultant for IT, Reed Global)
From your first hire to world domination seems a long way, but how do you manage those first appointments and grow your team? Our team of HR specialists have some crucial answers to help you make probably some of the most crucial hiring decisions you'll ever face...
(Ash will be joined by Carolyn Bartz, Executive Consultant for HR at Reed Global. You can email Victoria.Wilcox(at)reedglobal (dot)com to ensure you're names on the door!)
So you think you want to start a company?
PK Gulati (Angel investor - @pkgulati)
Among other things the man behind The Indus Entrepeneurs in the UAE, angel investor and serial start-up fosterer PK Gulati looks at what you really, really need to know to make the decision to create a startup and then how to make it work. If think you've got an entrepeneurial bone in your body and want to do something about it, you'll need to be at this workshop.


We’re joined at GeekFest this week by two Technology Showcases, Pickapic and Jacky’s Electronics.

Pickapic is a Dubai-based startup with a smart service that lets you download their software and use it to create an album of your photography and then print it as a one-off, printing press quality, hardback book. You can take a look at their website linked here if you can’t wait for Thursday!

Jacky’s is using the opportunity to introduce people to its EcoExchange initiative. EcoExchange is a program that lets you take your old GeekJunk to Jacky’s, where they’ll offer you a price for it (where it’s worth anything!) and then either sell it on or dispose of it to ISO standards. There’s a good post on the program here on the Jacky’s Electronics blog. So you can bring any of your old gadgets (details of what they'll accept below) along to GeekFest at the New Shelter this Thursday and trade it in for Jacky's vouchers!

In possible order of appearance, starting at 8pm and kept to their 15 minute timeslots by the gentle ministrations of Monsignor Rupert Bumfrey, we have:
Amazing Women
Known to many as @amazingsusan, Susan Macaulay is a feminist, writer, speaker, coach, blogger, expatriate Canadian, citizen of the world, wannabe geek, humble traveler, sometimes rabble rouser, self-proclaimed amazing woman AND social mediapreneur.
From being a self-proclaimed ‘blog virgin’ in 2008, she now singlehandedly (virtually), runs AmazingWomenRock.com (55,000 unique visits/month), three Facebook pages (combined fanship: 26,000), and three twitter accounts (total following: 30,000). Find out how she did it, take a walk through the new amazingwomenrock.com and find out about @shequotes, her newest venture!
Film, culture and stuff
Nayla Al Khaja (@naylaalkhaja) possibly needs no introduction, but here we go anyway. Nayla Al Khaja is the first woman film producer in the United Arab Emirates. The CEO of D-SEVEN Motion Pictures and D-SEVEN FZ LLC, a marketing and design agency that offers full Media campaign and corporate branding services, Nayla has secured a reputation for creating films that explore topics that skate close to the comfort zones of Emirati culture – her latest award winning film, Malal (bored) looks at an Emirati woman whose honeymoon reveals the pressures of arranged marriages.
The state of autism in the UAE and fighting for change
A reporter working on Commercial Interior Design & Middle East Architect magazines, Devina Divecha (@devinadivecha) is a keen photographer, food blogger and sci-fi fan. She’s involved in driving a series of initiatives to help people with autism in the UAE – a personal project with her autistic brother, fund raising for special needs education and a project to help families with special needs children. And that’s precisely what she’ll be talking about!
Steppin' the Heels of an Emiratiya blogger
A journalism graduate, Aida Al Busaidy’s official career began in 2003. A well known figure, Aida (@AidaAlB) has worked in TV, newspapers and communications and currently is a columnist with The National, as well as blogging at aidaaalb.posterous.com. She’ll be looking at the challenges and successes of communications as an Emirati, as well as quite how your life is changed when you put it all online!

All well known online, these nine small businesses have one thing in common – the entrepreneurs behind them are all female. They’ll be available to talk about what they do, sell you stuff, give tips on starting your own small business and all sorts! More details with links and all that good stuff over at GeordieArmani’s Blog linked here – many thanks to her for co-ordinating this smashing collection of talented and interesting entrepreneurial types!
House of Colour Dubai 
Debbie and partner in colourful crime Janet Small will be available to answer all your questions related to colour and personal image.  We offer services for both the male and the females of the species so don't be shy, come along and have a chat.  We will also be showcasing our hand-made jewellery and a selection of fab hairslides and other bits and pieces.

Financial Planning in the UAE
Keren Bobker, the best Female Financial Advisor in the UAE, passionate about women's rights, writer of On Your Side Column in the National, regular contributor on the air with Dubai Today, Night Line, and various other written publications in the UAE.

Simply Irresistible
Mehnaz Anshah and her wonderful range of home made cakes, were they made with women in mind? Possibly but let's face it the men all love cake though some won't admit it, looking foward to seeing her range of delicious delicacies

Mahjabeen Umar, a Mommy by Day a designer by night, with her fabulous iron on transfers, a great way to transform a plain item of clothing.

Simply the best Spa deals in town!

Public events news views and competitions for women and families

Elan Interiors LLC 
Ratna Dutta will be showcasing her design studio and fit out business with the ability to create and implement entire concepts for Interiors. 

My Exwardrobe 
A fabulous new initiative for selling on your good quality 'pre loved' clothes

The English Tea Party 
Original vintage crockery available for hire for tea parties, established in the UK in 2006 and now available in the UAE.

We’ll also have a surprise announcement or two to make on the day!!!

As usual, The Limetree will be doing 'the business'!

GeekaFest takes place Thursday, the 22nd September, from around 7.30pm onwards. You can get more information on Facebook (linked here) or Twitter (@GeekFestDubai). There's a Facebook event page, too, linked here.

21 September, 2011

Al Ain Photographia Award

Capture Al Ain

This is what Al Ain wants from you. We want you to see the city's beauty through your eyes, to capture it and share it's amazing secrets with others. We want you to express the city’s authenticity and civilization, the calming abundance of its nature, the kindness of its people, the uniqueness of it's spirit.

Test your talent as a photographer, journey to the oasis city and Capture Al Ain

Website: http://www.alainphotographiaaward.ae/en/

20 September, 2011

What Does It Feel Like to Fly Over Planet Earth?

Is anybody here fascinated by what's out there? Well, now's your chance to experience it in this slightly 1 minute Youtube video.

Enjoy the trip.

A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line), a satellite (55sec) and the stars of our galaxy.

For more images and videos please visit Infinity Imagined.

19 September, 2011


They're here! At last... as of today. Still can't believe it!

11 September, 2011

Rains and Storms of UAE 10/9/2011


Yesterday we had a heavy rain in alain and here is some pictures of the rain and storm we had

Enjoy the pictures


04 September, 2011

Alert! SMS alert

"SMS [this code] to [this number]", they say. What they don't often say is how much that SMS is going to cost.

One of my friends has recently discovered a potentially rather expensive yet legal scam in the UAE. Quoting him:

    "...take care with those 'Stop receiving SMS by texting (a 4 digit number)' messages - Etisalat will charge you up to 30dhs for the privilege! Most orchestrated by a 'ghost' company in DIC (Cellhub Ltd) whose number doesn't work and whose web presence is empty - the word 'collusion' comes to mind...

    "...and to find out who owns any of these mysterious 4 digit numbers you have to call another Etisalat number - charged at 3dhs a minute - they'll initially hang straight up (to bank 3dhs) and if you're daft (or annoyed) enough to call back, they'll keep you on for an average of 8 mins (yes, tried it!) and then tell you they can't help and you should call 101 (the guys who told you to call them originally!) - geez - and all this is legal!"
I've not been able to verify the above claims independently, but please beware.

All services offering SMS communications that cost the user a premium (radio stations, advertisers, etc) should be required to state every time precisely how much the message is going to cost.


03 September, 2011

Human bondage disguised as freedom of opportunity - The National

Human bondage disguised as freedom of opportunity - The National

Some Critical and indepth analysis by Maryam Ismail

02 September, 2011

UN Report on the Mavi Marmara Out Tomorrow

BuJ posted about this when it happened (and no post since then has gotten as many comments as that post), and now, more than a year later, the UN is releasing its official report on the incident. The whole report can be found here at the New York Times, and a summary story here from the same source.

Among the findings:

  • "Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is both legal and appropriate" and "in keeping with international law and that its forces have the right to stop Gaza-bound ships in international waters"

  • "The way Israeli forces boarded the vessels ... was excessive and unreasonable."

  • "When Israeli commandos boarded the main ship, they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force for their own protection"

  • Recommends that "Israel make 'an appropriate statement of regret' and pay compensation"

(All quotes from NYT article, not UN report).

As I noted, there were a lot of very strong opinions about the legality of the interception and blockade at that time. Just curious if this info changes anyone's mind.