28 October, 2005

A Trip Through the Time Machine

A Trip Through the Time Machine, originally uploaded by UAE style.

A city that knows how to deliver. A remarkable growth for a 30 year old emirate. (edit: my reference is to the overall development of the emirate since independence)

Visiting Dubai in Summer

Visiting Dubai in Summer, originally uploaded by !efatima.

Some interesting exchange of views on this one (please click on the photo to read comments). It's sad to note that only few understand. Before we start to educate others, our own people need a lot of education on what tourism really means to Dubai and what Dubai means by "Open Doors - Open Minds".

FOXNews.com - Business - The Hippest City in the World

FOXNews.com - Business - The Hippest City in the World
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
By Michael Y. Park

Dubai On the Rise

It's the latest hot spot for the rich and famous, and it doesn't have a Park Avenue address or a Los Angeles ZIP code.

In fact, it's a place many Americans can't find on a map.

Dubai — a seaside city in the confederacy of sheikhdoms known as the United Arab Emirates — has gone from being a sleepy desert town to the destination of some of the highest-profile names in the United States and Europe, and the fastest-growing city in the world."

Don't you feel hip now???

Headline: Europeans in city earn three times more than Emarati

Dear Khaleej Times:

What am I missing in your provocatively-titled article?

Is the key word "earned"? Or is the key word "families" missing?

Are you calculating your averages over the number in the group (European, Emarati) of all ages, whether in or out of the workforce? Or is it per worker?

I am your faithful reader,

27 October, 2005

Business school flap a 'breakout moment' for Indian blogosphere

Link: USC Annenberg's Online Journalism Review


Bloggers + MSM = better media?

The story of IIPM and its battle with JAM and Indian bloggers follows a familiar trajectory here in the U.S.: There's a story in a smallish magazine, picked up and magnified by bloggers, then picked up and magnified by the mainstream media (MSM). This snowball effect has bloggers exulting, and the MSM taking bloggers much more seriously.
Meanwhile, in the UAE we're still waiting for this moment. I guess it could be that there's nothing to pick up and magnify. Possibly, but not necessarily.

This goes for bloggers too...

From Emirates Today:

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Inaccuracy and plagiarism are serious offences for bloggers too. Always remember to attribute anything you quote, if you post anything controversial be very meticulous with your cites and sources, and bear in mind that you can always be sued by a private individual or company if you defame them, or they think you have.

26 October, 2005

Politics aside, Arab TV laps up US pop culture

Arab TV laps up US pop culture :: Reuters

Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcasting Center has expanded from its main Arabic news and entertainment channel, MBC 1, to include a channel dedicated to Hollywood movies, MBC 2, and another showing U.S. sitcoms and talk shows, MBC 4.
In Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, One TV was launched in late 2004 and offers the same mix of American fare. Like the other stations, it does not disclose how much the channel costs.

The three channels have become hugely popular across the Arab world and advertisers are chomping at the bit to buy air-time because of their growing audience in affluent Gulf Arab countries, media analysts say.
. . .
On Dubai's One TV, video montages between programs show presenters gushing in Arabic over Hollywood stars who are depicted against a Dubai skyline made to look like New York.

"We researched what our viewers would like to see and what would attract more commercial activity," said Rashid Murooshid, the channel's manager.

"We have to admit that Hollywood is one of the biggest and best producers of movies, sitcoms and popular shows. Their standard is high and can be easily accepted in this part of the world, since it's in English."
. . .
"People appreciate American culture, entertainment and to some extent their values, concerning democracy," said Jihad Fakhreddine of the Pan-Arab Research Center in Dubai.
. . .
Fakhreddine said the Arab world's binge on U.S. entertainment was another example of the intellectual crisis outlined in recent U.N. Arab Human Development Reports.

"It shows the total bankruptcy of the Arab entertainment industry. It's cheaper for them to buy ready-made products, be it cars, fridges, or entertainment," he said, adding not enough money was being put into Arabic television production.

Point Counterpoint

New Economist: Why feminists should support sweatshops

Professor Naila Kabeer from the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, has visited garment workers in Bangladesh and written about their experience in a DFID-funded research paper Globalisation, labour standards and women’s rights: dilemmas of collective action in an interdependent world (PDF). There are, as expected, some negatives. But overall, these garments workers have benefited:
...problems notwithstanding, my own research in the Bangladesh context suggests that the majority of women workers rated their access to employment in the garment factories in positive terms because of its improvements on what life had been like before (Kabeer,2000). They valued the satisfaction of a ‘proper’ job and the opportunity to earn a regular wage compared to the casualised and poorly paid forms of employment that had previously been their only options.
Some of the women in my study had used their newly-found earning power to renegotiate their relations within marriage, others to leave abusive marriages. Women who had previously not been able to help out their ageing parents once they got married now insisted on their right to do so. Yet others used their earnings to postpone early marriage and to challenge the practice of dowry.
About Naila Kabeer: "Naila Kabeer is a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, England. She works primarily on poverty, gender, and social policy issues. She is the author of Reversed Realities: gender hierarchies in development thought (Verso, 1994) and The Power to Choose: Bangladeshi women and labour market decisions in London and Dhaka."

25 October, 2005

Something to think about

Importing our carers adds up to emotional imperialism

Young women from poor countries come to look after our young, sick and elderly - and their families pay the price

"The solution in the west is to outsource care - pay someone else to do it - and that is often provided by migrant female labour from the developing world. So the care gap of the west is resolved at the cost of exacerbating the care gap of the developing world. It's bad enough when a woman has to leave her children alone to go to work in a factory for 12 hours a day; it's even worse when she has to get on a plane and leave her children behind for years at a time, using some of her pay to cover the cost of a maid substitute."

Those of use lucky enough to be able to afford living with our families should think with compassion towards those who cannot: which in the UAE is around three million people.

24 October, 2005

Ski Dubai :: Snowboard Club UK

Photo and some words of enthusiasm.


Thanks for accepting me in the uaecommunity blog. I am just a plain journal writer :) much more a personal blogger,
Would love to share views here.. this is a great place.. and idea .. to share ..

so thnx again.. and c ya laterss..

Maabooch Kuwaiti

Maabooch Kuwaiti
Originally uploaded by Expat Wife.

This stuff has been in the shops since Ramadan started and its totally addictive. There's a firey hot red one with chilli and garlic and a milder green one with green chillis and I think, coriander. Does anyone know more about this wonderful foodstuff?

-Desert Mermaid AKA Expat Wife

From one side of reality...

In the UAE it seems as though we have two parallel worlds--one for Arab speakers and the other for speakers of English. And the twain seldom meet. From the English side I find it wonderful how one can function so well and be so connected locally and with the rest of the world. TV, newspapers, radio, the net, signs and billboards, or in the shops and on the streets--nearly everything seems to be accessible through the medium of English. But occasionally I flip on an Arabic channel or I see my Arabic speaking students using the net. It then seems that they are part of a totally different world even though we share a common physical realm.

For example, when I see a bit of local news on an Arabic channel all I see as the camera pans are people in dishdashas and abayas. Whether in a shopping mall, a hotel, on the streets or in an open space, the screen appears to be filled with images of locals. It doesn't look at all like the world I see every day. Then when I think about it a little more, I realize that the two language communities probably don't watch the same movies, read the same news, listen to the same music, attend the same events, etc. Although I've lived in other countries (2 to be exact), where there existed two or more different linguistic groups, there was not this degree of separateness. Eithier one or the other clearly set the tone of things, or the different linguistic communities at least shared common experiences. It never seemed like two separate realities, the way it does here in the UAE.

I share this observation because I feel there is something wrong in this regard with the way the two linguistic groups remain so distinct. That being said, I don't have any remedies to suggest. I think that the last thing that anyone should do is to try to impose or dictate on matters of cultural integration. Maybe one might endeavor to create an atmosphere where integration happens spontaneously. I suppose if there are any bi-lingual speakers who are part of this forum, they could act as a bridge to bring the two realities closer together.

Just call me Moaner

Hi all and thankyou for inviting me to this blog.
I write about anything that is good for a moan, so pls check out my blog.


23 October, 2005

Dubai :: Economist.com - Cities Guide

Link: Economist.com - Dubai Guide

Items covered this month:

1. Freedom of the press?
2. Trump goes Nakheel
3. ___ Gulf
4. An affair to remember
5. Corporate governance scandal at DIFX

Testing, testing...

Hello everybody

I am on board ... thank you SD for the invitation. Great to be part of the UAE community blog.


dubai consumer mirror

22 October, 2005

Secretarabian triumvirate revealed

Local Hero, one of the contributors at a secret blog from Arabia, has created this brilliant graphic to portray the three bloggers:

More here.

Hi All!

thanks for welcoming me to this community... :-) I have recently launched a new blog on Dubai in German language. http://hallodubai.blogspot.com I believe it is the first blog on Dubai in German.
It's thought as an addition to my website www.hallodubai.com which is quite famous among German speakers. On the blog I mainly publish articles about my life in Dubai although I also post my cross-cultural observations with regards to media coverage on the area and the German speaking community, either living in the country - or just visiting.
I've been living in Dubai for the past twelve years and I'm originally from Switzerland.
So if you know any German speakers please pass on the link to my blog.

21 October, 2005

Hi to all UAE Bloggers

First of all, "thanks" secretdubai for the invite. I've been blogging over the past few months about the Dubai Marina--specifically about one of those new high-rise towers. Here's my plug... MAG 218 Community. It's a site for anyone who's already bought or interested in getting a flat in that tower. But it isn't just about that. There's a lot of info relevant to the Dubai Marina and property ownership in Dubai in general. So, I hope any property buyers or those interested in the subject check it out.

Dubai is so much in the news these days, and deservedly so. Here's a great link to a special feature about Dubai in the New Yorker Magazine. (You'll need a Flash player plug-in in your brower to view it.) Check it out.

BTW... my Webmaster moniker is the ID I use with the MAG 218 site. I'm not the master of this website! Cheers.

Memo to UAE bloggers out there

If any UAE bloggers would like an invitation to UAE community blog, please drop a line below. If you have friends or family in the UAE who are blogging, do pass this on to them.

Here's one blog just added to the links: Sinkingsands. Described as "insights into the Dubai property market", entries include analysis, links to articles on Dubai property, and a lot of futuristic skyscraper photos.

Unfortunately the blog owner hasn't put up an email address, and doesn't even allow comments, so unless he/she reads this, it's hard to get an invitation to them!

Your Friday Blog Bites from Emirates Today

This week's bloggers quoted in Emirates Today:

Adventures In Dubai
Arabian Adventures
Secret Dubai diary
Emirati's Thoughts/Emirates Memoirs
Desert Idleness
Secret Arabia.

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Iraq-Egypt flights resume after 15 years :: China Daily

Link: Iraq-Egypt flights resume after 15 years

Quote: "Iraq's national carrier is now flying to Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Turkey, and plans service to Lebanon and Iran."

20 October, 2005

"City of Gold" Dubai Stands like Oasis in Desert :: Seoul Times



Like, for instance, the beautiful Arab women who have no qualms about walking with their faces exposed. What is more, they may wear the traditional veil that cover their bodies, but beneath it lies a fascinating lesson in fashion, a sure indication of a splendid butterfly trying to wriggle out of the ugly pupa.

It is in this context that the recent Dubai International Film Festival was a first and novel attempt at giving cinema more respectability than what Islam would want to. An Egyptian movie, part of the Arab cinema that the Festival showcased, "I Love Cinema," deals with this conflict, told through a father and his little son.

In an endless debate of right and wrong, the father admonishes his child, who is crazy about watching motion pictures. His wife has a different passion: painting nudes, and the man of the house is shown fighting a losing battle.

In some ways, the Arabs in Dubai probably face such dilemma: the moment a strikingly good looking woman in a dull black veil begins talking into a fancy mobile phone in a clipped British accent, there is no mistaking the fact that here is a race that is struggling to emerge out of the shadows of religious autocracy.

19 October, 2005

The swarm - Glenn Reynolds - MSNBC.com

The Insta-guy explains why Secret Dubia maybe shouldn't be too concerned about being blocked in the UAE or blocked from entering. Didn't local bloggers swarm to her defense?

18 October, 2005

Anyone for skiing?

Pics of the new snow slope at Mall of the Emirates:

Click to view large

Click to view large

17 October, 2005

Naturalization :: Emirates Memoirs

Emirates Memoirs (AKA, An Emirati's Thoughts) has a post proposing a system for granting naturalized citizenship in the UAE. Take a look. It's generated many comments.

16 October, 2005

Blog Bites again

in Emirates Today. This week, Dubai's Drama Queen, Dubai to the Americas, Dubai Blog, oasis dubai, Secret Dubai diary and The Emirates Economist.

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15 October, 2005

D'oh! Arabized Simpsons Aren't Getting Many Laughs :: WSJ

WSJ.com - D'oh! Al Shamsoons. Omar, Badr, and the rest of the dysfunctional family

UPDATE: Angry Arab is not happy and says that Tony Danza or even Dick Cheney would be better. (Links via Marginal Revolution.)

14 October, 2005

Appeal for help from Dubai Aid City :: WAM

[ link ] Quote:

WHO representative based in Karachi said, "WHO is appealing that efforts in the health sector are being coordinated, for that purpose WHO has organised an operational cell that can be contacted at: help@whopak.org" Items needed urgently (updated daily) " Tents " Hospital and surgical equipment " Surgical tents " Medical and surgical kits " Micronutrients " Water Purification Tablets Collection Center (only above mentioned items will be accepted) Tel number: 050 - 502 3201 " Location: Al Attar Business Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road, Mezzanine Floor, opening times: starting from Saturday 15th October, 11 am - 4 pm (Friday closed) Money donation-please send to: " Dubai Islamic Bank: A/C #: 01-520-9452052-02 (Earthquake Relief Action Fund administered by DAC - DHC, donations will be evenly distributed amongst above organisations and will be used for items mentioned in the above list)

13 October, 2005

Autumn Leaves

Just got back from vacation in Quebec, where we had the good luck of seeing the leaves change colours.

More pictures, and a brief explanation here.

More Money Than Brains

I'm so impressed you spent more than Dhs 60,000 for a number plate. You must be so cool! So... can I call you some time? Can I ... be your friend? Everyone's looking up to you. Really. Everyone. No, I mean it. Everyone.

12 October, 2005

More blogging support from EmToday

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Ramadan Ritual: Fast Daily, Pray, Head to the Mall - New York Times

Link: Ramadan Ritual - NYT (reg. req.)

Some quotes:

Here in Dubai, the region's supermall, commercialism has taken on a life of its own as almost everything has been dressed in the cloak of Ramadan, from consumer goods to cars. Malls are open till the early morning, and the nights rock away at dinner parties in desert tents.
. . .
Sheik Ahmed Abdelaziz Haddad, the grand mufti of the Islamic Affairs Department in Dubai, puts it even more succinctly. "The problem isn't that people are trading and doing business," he said. "It's that people have taken this month to be a month of shopping."
. . .
A shopping mall here even features a Ramadan display with an uncanny resemblance to a Nativity scene, complete with moving camels, a village elder reading stories and a desert scene.
. . .
For advertisers Ramadan is like a 30-day Super Bowl weekend, when TV channels broadcast their best programming and competitors jostle for market share. Some brands spend as much as half of their advertising budget in this month alone.
Is it inevitable that major religious seasons become secularized/commercialized - whatever the religion? The dates of many Christian holiday were chosen with the intention of displacing pagan celebrations on those dates. Now, without anyone's concious intention secular culture is overlaying religious seasons like the pre-Christmas season of Advent of the Christian faith, and Ramadan of the Muslim faith. These religious seasons create the focal points which seed their own displacement.

UPDATE: More evidence that consumption goes up during Ramadan rather than down.

JBC: http://emirateseconomist.blogspot.com
“It takes a village to raise a child.” This African proverb became a metaphor for creative problem solving. This phrase was quite often used by America’s favorite president since FDR (and creator of the WTO’s), Bill Clinton.
With the Internet, stretching it’s web around the world, and the corporations becoming multinational, the ruthless jinn of free trade had to be hidden in something warm and fuzzy (global village) in order to convince all of those who knew "it wasn't right from the start," that it was really a win-win opportunity and not a winners-take-all scam.
If you still are confused, remember Baghdad and that havoc being wrecked up north.
It’s shame how many of us are willing to accept ideas without seriously thinking about them. The metaphor, global village leads us to believe that we are all one community. One in which everyone’s concerns, hopes, desires, and needs are addressed. But have we ever taken the time to think about the social structure of the village?

11 October, 2005

Dubai then and now: 1991 vs 2005

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For the sake of better comparison, here is a re-coloured (not very well!) version of the 1991 pic:
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Ways to help quake victims

A commenter asked for a posting on the quake.

The Gulf News has a good roundup of the UAE's response thus far, both governmental and nongovernmental.

I know that where I work several groups are making it easy to make financial contributions to well-respected relief agencies.

Chan’ad Bahraini offers suggestions here on how to help. California Yankee has suggestions here.

10 October, 2005

I live in Jumeira, and drive a Pajeira, but what is so glam about it?

A letter written in to Emirates Today last Thursday asking what was so glam about living it up in Jumeirah. There were not any responses to it. Pity, I was expecting an influx of irate Janes raining spells on him for saying such a thing!

As a relative newcomer to Dubai, it always surprises me when I hear that the Jumeirah area of the city is the most desirable district to live in. Can someone please tell me why? The roads are constantly full with choking traffic, massive construction holes and blue-suited labourers.The air is thick with dust, squalid heat and petrol fumes. The much-touted houses are nothing more than oversized villas with garish ornaments straddling the roofs, gates and walls.

Yet the smug look that follows anyone declaring they live in the area is a sight to see.Yes, I live in Jumeirah. I live near third-rate Italian restaurants, Starbucks, over-priced beach resorts I will never use and low-grade beauty parlours. Big deal. Is this really the best area of Dubai? Does it compare to Mayfair in London? The upper East Side of Manhattan? The Left Bank in Paris?

Hardly. Yet to hear the smug, sunglasses-onhead wearing, hire-purchase Porsche driving “media types” that rave about the place, you would be forgiven for thinking that the area was the most desirable place to live in the world.
Please take off your Gucci shades, wind down your blacked-out windows and take a good look around. Jumeirah ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.


Court sides with press :: Khaleej Times

Khaleej Times reports:
Commenting on the judgment, the attorney for the two defendants, Salim Sha'ali, said the verdict was "a big victory for freedom of expression which the constitution guarantees to all." "It also comes as a boost for the local Press which has been striving to play it's role in nation-building exercise and the overall development of the country," he said.

“I was so pleased by the court decision which is considered as the victory for local journalism. It represents an honorable position for the local media in the face of corruption and administrative bureaucracy or any unjustice practices against society rights."
. . .
The two journalists were charged with libel for publishing reports which the Sharjah Municipality claimed had tarnished it's reputation, and for publishing reports without cross-checking facts. Fareed published the "suffocation" report in Al Ittihad on December 18, 1999.
. . .
Sharjah Municipality responded to the report by denying any role and responsibility on the issue. It put the blame on the Sharjah International Airport authorities, the Al Dhaid farm owner and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Sharjah Municipality argued that the Sharjah Airport authorities were the supervisors of the fowl storage facilities.
. . .
The Primary Court found the two defendants guilty of the charges and sentenced them to pay a fine of Dh200 each. The verdict was earlier upheld by the Sharjah Appeals Court but the Federal High Court quashed the judgments of the lower courts and ordered a retrial of the case by the Sharjah Appeals Court, which, this time, acquitted and discharged the defendants from the charges.

Photos of Dubai :: Expat Monkey

An ex ex-pat commenter asked for some recent photos of Dubai. These are rather good.

07 October, 2005

One brave blogger

Gulf News has done another feature on bloggers, including Syrian economist Ayman Abdul Nour who has fought the government after they tried to block him for criticising Ba'ath officials:

Abdul Nour fought the crackdown. When his website was blocked, he copied his daily bulletin and e-mailed it to every reader registered on his site.

He sat down at his computer to do the same thing the next day, only to discover that his e-mail address had been blocked.

Undaunted, Abdul Nour gave himself a fresh address, and the bulletin went whizzing off. Come the next day, that address, too, had been disabled. So he created another.

The cyber-jousting went on, day after day, for a month and a half. At last, the security services gave up. “Finally,” Abdul Nour said, “they surrendered because they realised they can’t control it.”

Smoking survey

Here is a UAE smoking survey that someone posted as a comment in my blog, if anyone would like to fill it out.

The Stuff people come up with

Just read this in 7 days:

Where do people find the time to argue over stuff like this?!

5,000 visitor to UAE community blog :: Site Meter

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Another instalment of Blog Bites

in Emirates Today. This week, oasis dubai, The Desert Weasel, Emirati's thoughts, Secret Dubai diary and Desert Idleness.

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06 October, 2005

Bloggers are a bunch of whingeing gits

The title is a quote from Adventures in Dubai.

Here's my whinge of the day.

The nightmare of the National Paints Roundabout in Sharjah is no more.

It's been replaced with a marvelous flyover interchange. Only problem is that chaotic clusters of vehicles are parked on the exit and on ramps where, barring an accident, traffic flies by - or could, were it not for the congestion created.

Why are they parked there? Because the new interchange provided no way to access existing retailers located by the ramps. And, besides, the retailers themselves provide no parking.

Those who park in the roadway inconvenience and endanger their fellow human beings - all for the convenience of popping into a shop for cigarettes and a Red Bull.

UPDATE: A Gulf News reporter sacrifices 1 hour and 40 minutes in traffic to bring us this report from the new Sharjah interchange.

USATODAY.com - Trump, Nakheel to make tulip-shaped hotel


Quote: "The Trump Organization is not required to invest any money, but is providing its brand to projects that could be entirely financed and built by Nakheel, Bin Sulayem told Dow Jones Newswires.'We're tapping into his knowledge and ability in the high-end sector,' Nakheel Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said of Trump."

05 October, 2005

Cyborg Writes to Paper

Over the "bangladeshi mounted a camel" saga, someone started cussing at secretdubai for not mentioning his nationality, as it somehow is important, and the "relegen" of the UAE prohibits beastiality, and somehow that means no one from the UAE could ever possibly do it...

well, it seems they were not the only "cyborgs" (i am calling these people this from now on) in the UAE;
Stop attacking a decent expat over homosexuals
Thursday, 06 October 2005

To all those people who attacked a decent expat (Penny Francis):

not a decent person would attack Penny for what she wrote, stop hiding you are all nothing but what you support.

Pretending that you are only standing up against discrimination or anybody who takes away the poor gays' rights; it is sickening to see what kind of people are allowed to not only enter and leave within our decent communities, but also to stand up and feel no shame whatever to support homosexuality.

What is really sad is that I have been reading these shameful articles attacking a person who stood up and talked against it, over and over. Very few articles from my fellow locals to say anything about it.

Is this what has become of our beloved country? A place to support gays? I wonder what will our brothers and sisters from the Gulf would say reading these articles?

What will our Muslim brothers and sisters all over the world say? But above all, what will we say in front of Allah allowing filth to be promoted in our Muslim country?

It is forbidden in our religion and our society. It is against the laws of this country too.

7days seems to be touching on quite a risque subject by even considering letters with "gay" in the title.
This will probably turn into a flamefest, and if so i will delete.

accident at 4pm

maybe just another accident along sheikh zayed road... see the actual footage from an office window.

The Quiet Religious Policeman

The RP has given up allowing comments on his marvellous blog. I can understand why. Some of his posts were getting several dozen comments and some of these things were turning into regular flame-fests. But it made for fascinating, if sometimes uncomfortable reading.

I hope he feels able to turn them back on sometime soon though.


By Labiba Laith (10-10-2004)

The days go by, I await impatiently as any lover does, to the sleepless nights and drowsy days of Ramadan. Anticipation makes my heart throb from the tips of my fingers to the ends of my curls, round and round till it vibrates energy, carrying me higher to unknown levels mystique.

I look deep into my closed eyelids and recall those days from childhood when we looked forward to Ramadan, when we were forbidden to let our tiny minds wander to foods and little white lies! As it waited at our doorsteps the eve of the lunar month, we gathered to feast for suhoor (the last meal at night prior to holding the fast) to prepare for the day ahead.

I lay me down on my magical carpet that takes me across my memories on a mystical ride from Baghdad to Casablanca…

Casa (as it is fondly known by all who’ve been charmed by it); the tense buzz of the fasting day can only mean exciting nights of times of yore. We stroll through the souk amongst the little shops displaying their wares of Jilbabs and fine cloths and we hear the muezzin’s (the mosques caller) sweet voice beckoning the faithful to Maghreb (Sunset) prayer and breaking the fast. The shop owner pleads with us to share his glass of milk and his neighbour offers us his Harira (a fragrant Moroccan soup), another brings a boiled egg whilst a fourth one offers a shabbakkia (a potently sweet mesh of honeyed dough) their Iftar (break of fast) is light lest they hesitate to lift their observing bodies to prayer, the dinner follows much later, a gentle coaxing for the system to slowly awaken itself to the feasts ahead.

I close my eyes and smile, I am back to that life that I’ve only read about in long told tales, of nights and days, perhaps a thousand, maybe more by one, the spirit of humanity lives on in that little street down the old souk of Casablanca.

At home we prepare the foods and drinks that will take us through this month of twenty nine odd days, and I prepare, my mind, body and soul to reflect and in this pensive state to discover, yet another dimension in its infinite capacity to surprise me of its tolerance.

It is not a mere cleansing process, rather, a purification of the psyche, the id, the spirit, the essence, call it what you may, the nether part of ones being that wakes us up of our somnambulist reverie when we forget for a moment who we are.

I dream of Palm trees and their beckoning fronds swaying to the mystical words whispered by dwellers of the night, of the crescent moon bowing its head in reverence of the day ahead, of the waters edge curling its grasp on the banks that it embraces. I dream of Iraq.

Body and mind abstain.

The days were long and hot, the nights short and sweet, as sweet as the multitudes of sugary delights displayed on everyone’s table. We gather across a long table cloth placed on the ground, hands aloft as eager as falcons who pounce on their prey. A cool yoghurt drink and a thick apricot sherbet sit side by side whilst the fragrant lentil soup teases the slivers of crispy onions atop it. The long plate of teshreeb (a.k.a. Thereed, a.k.a. Fereed in Emirati; cut up squares of bread covered with a meaty vegetable stew) with boiled eggs crowns the centre. From the side, the simmering plate of Hareess (a porridge concoction of grain cooked with finely shredded lamb) drenched with melted butter, ground cinnamon & sugar reaches out to the finest of senses without hesitation.

We roll away reaching out to fragrant, tangy dried lemon teas.

As the second third of the month folds away, us children prepare our sacks (or even old pillow cases) to go out for Gergeeaan (in the UAE it’s called Hag il Layla; for this eve, and it’s usually in the middle of the previous lunar month of Shaaban) the arabic manner for trick or treating. All across the world, whether its October or Shaaban or Ramadan, kids become supremely excited at the prospect of sacks full of candy, sweets and nuts, maybe even if we’re really lucky, some coins are dropped in to add to the excitement. And we as children of the world become one.

January 1998, Ramadan in Dubai, My father hurries me and I stall… I am mesmerized b the echoing of prayer calls, and a spell is cast, I fall and tumble hopelessly in love with the melodious resonance across the twilight air, a rosy glow covers the shadows and for once it has a myriad of colours unlike any other.

As we prepare to set the table for Iftar, it should have been only natural to hear a soft knock on the front door; I peek through the curtains and see a little boy carrying two plates. As I open the door and greet him, he bows his head with a shy smile, passes me the plate and rushes away before I have a chance to thank him and his mom for their kindness, asking God to bless him & his family.
I turn back inside and look at my parents with dewy eyes and awe transcribed poetically on my face. I had just been hit by the sweetest and oldest of customs; share your blessings and delights with your neighbours. I felt lucky to have experienced this tradition, that may only have existed in the countryside of anywhere in the world. It reached out its hand and held me in Dubai, it may have been sixteen years since Casablanca, but humanity still thrives over here.

With age comes maturity, and a forlorn longing to the simpler past that we hurried at so we may grow up faster. Ramadan seems to bring back many of those times. It is not only a time for fasting and feasting, but a time for some spring cleaning of the soul. After satiating our earthly appetites, a need comes calling deep into the last third of the night to satisfy a never ending hunger for blessings & forgiveness. The spirit convenes in a multitude of ways with its creator and in those deepest and darkest of hours one finds solace from the scorching noonday heat of thought; revelation. A shroud of patience descends to envelope us, help us understand our fellow man, ourselves, our misgivings, our short-sightedness at a life we think of as eternal, and one lets go of worldly delights, of all that binds us from absolution. We thank the Almighty for being able to observe this holy month, for being capable of doing the good deeds to fellow humans as we must, for blessing us with life to see it for another year, It is then that we wish that all our days were Ramadan…

Saudis block blogger.com? :: TigerHawk

Link. Quoting TigerHawk:

Reporters without Borders reports that Saudi Arabia's national ISP is blocking the blogger.com domain:
Reporters Without Borders today called on the Internet Services Unit (ISU), the agency that manages Web filtering in Saudi Arabia, to explain why the weblog creation and hosting service blogger.com has been made inaccessible since 3 October, preventing Saudi bloggers from updating their blogs.
Let's note that blogger.com itself was down for maintenance on October 2, so at this point there's some fog of doubt around this story.

04 October, 2005

Bloggers, journalists, and freedom of speech and of the press

Yesterday Khaleej Times and Gulf News reported on a meeting of the UAE Journalists Association.

Where do bloggers fit in? Do they have adequate protection? Should they seek to be treated like journalists? Is blogging from the UAE comparable to blogging in other parts of the world?

The Right of Return

The following paragraphs are extracted from an article in today's Gulf News:
[Fouad Siniora, Lebanese Premier] added that Lebanon would not sign any peace deal with Israel unless Palestinians return to their homes.

Lebanon is hosting 400,000 Palestinian refugees in designated camps.

They moved to Lebanon in the exodus after the 1948 and 1967 wars with Israel.

Some Lebanese sects have rejected any attempt to settle Palestinian refugees in the country because such a move, they claim, would affect the demographic balance of society.

The Arab League also had called on host countries not to give Palestinian refugees full citizenship as this encourages Israel to deny their rights to return to their homes in Palestine.
The position of the Lebanese Premier and the Arab League as described above is that the Palestinians must sacrifice citizenship and full rights in what is for many the country of their birth in exchange for harbouring a dream that one day they will be allowed to return to the lands they lost in 1948. Whatever the injustices or practicalities surrounding the right of return, it is true to say that this issue may not be resolved for another 100 years, if ever. After 50 years, are the Palestinians still putting the right of return at a higher premium than full citizenship in their country of residence, and are prepared to do so indefinitely? Are they having this premium imposed on them against their will? Or are they divided on the subject?

Any Palestinians out there, I'd be interested to hear your views.

02 October, 2005

Khaleej Times makes news : Albany Democrat-Herald


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A Dubai-based newspaper said Sunday it stands by a story in which it quoted Iran's president as saying he might curtail oil sales if his nation is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program.
. . .
After the story quoting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared Saturday, the president's office issued a statement saying he 'never had an interview, either oral or written' with the newspaper.

On Sunday, the Khaleej Times acknowledged that the confusion might have arisen because the reporter, a freelance journalist, told the president she was working for another paper.

The newspaper said the reporter on several occasions 'presented herself (to Ahmadinejad) as a reporter with the American-based Arabic News, and not as a Khaleej Times reporter, though she has given this report exclusively to Khaleej Times.'

The paper's editor, Prem Chandran, told The Associated Press: 'We support what we published.'

Watch the skies - Nasa's keeping tabs on the Palm

From Nasa: Palm Island Resort, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is featured in this image photographed by Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao from the International Space Station. The resort is under construction on reclaimed land silhouetted against the dark waters of Dubai’s Persian Gulf coast. Advertised as "being visible from the Moon," this man-made palm-shaped structure displays 17 huge fronds framed by a 12-kilometer protective barrier. When completed, the resort will sport 2,000 villas, 40 luxury hotels, shopping centers, cinemas, and other facilities. When completed, the resort is expected to support a population of approximately 500,000 people.

Image Credit: NASA

See those quote marks in Advertised as "being visible from the Moon"? Nasa sarcasm, cool!

Just to clarify, this whole "visible from space/the Moon" is largely a load of rubbish and/or marketing hype - click here for more on this.

But you can try to spot Beckham's villa on this high-res version. WARNING! That's a 6.2Mb file, so don't click it unless you've got speedy net access, which technically rules out all Etisalat subscribers.

Invest Dubai

As of last week, I am an investor at the Dubai Financial Market (DFM). It's not much but I have decided to put away a certain percentage into the markets here. Last year the DFM grew by 118%, I think this year it will continue to grow at this pace due to the high oil prices. The UAE is expecting close to $300 billion in oil revenues this year, eventually this capital will flow iinto other sectors including the stock market.

I have invested in two companies, Shuaa Capital and Amlak Finance. Shuaa being the major investment and Amlak smaller in number.

Reasons why I got in now,

1. Ramadan period has traditional been a low activity period, so the prices are low and you can get stocks at fairly decent prices.

2. The Dana Gas IPO meant that a lot of money was sucked out of the market, this forced the index to come down and it will remain at this level till the end of Ramadan.

I have played the markets before in India, thanks to ShareKhan and made a modest profit mainly on Tata Power. The stock trippled in a year and for a few weeks I was a very rich 22 year old :-)

Things you never knew about Dubai, #4764

The police play bagpipes:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

01 October, 2005

Promoting your blog

Lots of people are clearly putting a lot of effort into their blogs, so here are some (legitimate/non-spam) ways to promote your online journal:

1. Settings
For Blogger.com users (LJ and other blogs have similar options) go into your settings (via the Dashboard) and make sure the following options are enabled:
- Add your blog to our listings: YES
- Notify weblogs.com: YES
- Enable post pages: YES
- Publish site feed: YES

2. Interaction
Posting on other people's blogs is a way to alert people to your own blog, because your username (and signature) often includes a link to it. Many of the members here were "discovered" after they posted to someone else's already known UAE blog.

3. Linking
Linking to your favourite blogs on your own blog, and getting links to your blog in return, is a great way of promoting yourself to people in your target interest group.

4. Blog guides
If you Google, there are a lot of blog sites around that allow you to submit yours for listing, such as GlobeofBlogs.

5. Wider online participation
Joining relevant online communities, such as UAE forums or Middle East travel forums, and posting helpful advice is also a way to promote yourself, as you are usually allowed to have a signature where you can link to your blog. Interesting UAE-relevant forums include BritishExpat.com: Middle East and DubaiForums.com.

If you find blog guides where UAE community blog isn't listed, do feel free to submit it yourself - this is everyone's blog. As users such as The Emirates Economist have noticed, many referrals to UAE blogs actually come from UAE community blog.

Anyone with other ideas, do post them!

Missing Children.....

I was sad after reading about that the 3 yr old missing girl's body was found.

Also read in KT abt the children going missing at the malls. I have often seen this scenario at the malls. Children are often seen roaming unaccompanied as their parents are busy with shopping.

I just pray & hope that no parent should ever undergo the pain of losing a child.


To boldly go despite adversity :: Gulf News

Gulf News editorializes today about press freedom, the public's expectations, and government officials.

Here are some key quotes:

the public has demanded greater disclosure, less toeing of the party line, more investigative reporting and "telling it like it is". That call also comes from government officials who claim any story can be told as long as it is accurate and truthful. . . .

it is noticeable that when we ask for comment, many people who requested greater press freedoms decline to reply or subsequently condemn us for publishing the story.
This is a nonsensical position in which to put the media. . . .

Gulf News will continue to publish fearlessly, accepting that there will always be so-called spokesmen who, in fact, prefer instead to remain silent.