28 February, 2006

Dubai in the Press

If we are all so bothered by the negative Dubai press, then maybe action as a group is in order. We all have our issues with one thing or another here, but the US media, including bloggers is beyond over the top. I think a little group action is in order no matter what our individual opinions are...just state them, and make yourvoice. There has been no coverage from the UAE, be it citizens, or present or past westerner that resided here.

Thanks to grapeshisha for the headsup and anyone else who referenced this that I have forgotten (Chilton possibly). Anyway, there are many links on all of our sites to what has been going on. A dialog seems to be starting here: http://www.radioopensource.org/dubai/ . It may be worth joining in just to voice the sandlands view from the other side of the world.

Did you feel the earth move today?

Colleagues felt tremors at our Sheikh Zayed Road office today. Other offices in the building also felt it.

Please tell me it was only those construction guys drilling too hard.

Dead End Street: When Globalism Comes Home

What is all of this P&O-DPW stuff about? Globalism is supposed to make the world good for everyone. Winners take all and then split the booty right? Nah man! That's not it. Look at it this way. Dubai Ports World is a global player and that is well and good as long as they play on their side of the street. Just don't come over here, cause that when it's going to get down and dirty; which is why guys like Ridgeway gets away with smearing Dubai, UAE, and it's rulers. They outa be sued for slander.

"Hey but didn't the IMF tell us to diversify? To not depend on oil?" You got it, but if you are going to throw your chips in with the bulls and bears on Wall Street and try to play Ibn Arabi the navigator, let me tell you that the guys down on the Jersey Shore are not going to play that at all. So now plan B is to tax everybody out of here and make a financial fitnah so that in a little while Dubai will look like Loisaida or even worst my beloved Brick City .

In last week's Village Voice, writer James Ridgeway, stated that our own Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum spends time entertaining Osama in the desert. What about Bush and his buddy, Kenneth "Kennyboy" Lay? And his vice-prez Ka-ching Cheney? Clinton and Monica? Well, over there it's not the friends you keep it's the one that you make others forget.
And no one is going to forget Osama for a while and as long as he and everyone in the Gulf can trace their lineage to these hot sands and take the Kaaba as direction in which they prostrate, there will be a problem.

It was ok when everyone was belly dancing and flying around on carpets, but now that have traded in their rugs for Rovers the trouble has just begun.

Let me say again, you can’t be ‘em and you can’t join ‘em, so just forget ‘em.

This Weekend's A Must Go

Global Village is about to close. Better take this weekend's opportunity to bring your family and friends with you to this one kind of a place.

I have some pictures of the nice views you could find there.

a letter from America.....

Received this post on my blog page at http://dangerdxb.blogspot.com/ If anyone wants to get involved in this please feel free to respond as detailed below.

Be sure to click on the link, good reading from The Guardian a UK newspaper recent article on this fair city of ours....

"I'm writing from Open Source, an American public radio show based in Boston and distributed around the country (and the world) on Public Radio International. We're doing a show about Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates more generally, this coming Wednesday. We're hoping to move past the port security issue and talk about the larger issues of Arab development, globalization and seismic shifts in global capital, and new notions of a shining city on the hill. You can read about the show here:


I'd love to talk with you when you get a chance. You can reach me at: david (at) radioopensource (dot org).

Best regards,
David Miller
Senior Producer, Open Source
617.497.8096 "

The following article is from the website mentioned.



If CongressÂ’ reaction to the ports mess is any indication, weÂ’ve been blind-sided by Dubai. But while Congress tears their hair out over national security and xenophobia, the real story takes place on their shores, not ours.

Dubai is the fastest growing city on the planet. ItÂ’s not vast oil reserves that allows Dubai to bust out all over. Compared to brother-emirate Abu Dhabi, the oil reserves are actually running pretty low. The source is tourism and investment money that used to come to us.

Not finding the U.S. or our economy particularly inviting since the war on terror, many Arab investors have turned to Dubai, and the proof is in the skyline. The riviera is a cluster of cranes and scaffolding, punctuated by skyscrapers that cut impossible streaks into the sky. An indoor ski slope. An underwater hotel. The tallest building in the world, shaped like a giant lighting rod. No more room on the beachfront? No problem. They simply manufacture more.

The Guardian’s Adam Nicolson says Dubai is “Not the modern centre of the Arab world but, more than that, the Arab centre of the modern world.”

Is Dubai the next London, the next New York? Is this the face of the empire that will succeed us?"

Egggipshan anyone???

Fatafeet, the delicious and reasonably priced Egyptian restaurant on the Creek has been gone for many months now. It closed mysteriously and I really have no idea what happened to the place. Perhaps Creek developers are planning to do something there and they bought it out? Hopefully it wasn't shut down for health violations or something because I sure ate a lot there.

Anyhow, does anyone know another GOOD and family type Egyptian eatery? Details would be appreciated.

Answering the port whine

Mudville Gazette quotes the Financial Times - "the crisis creates a perfect opportunity for the president to educate the Congress and the public on what globalisation means in practice, how it generally benefits Americans and the world at large, and how wrong it is to lump all Arabs, Muslims and Middle Easterners into a scary, undifferentiated mass."

Globalization rules. (Shameless plug.)

Boing Boing Boinged

The number one blog in the world, Boing Boing as measured by Technorati has been banned in the UAE, Qatar and elsewhere. Here's what they say:
(sorry to paste the whole article - but you wouldnt be able to read it otherwise!)

Boing Boing to net-censors: Get bent!

We've decided not to rejig our editorial process to make it easier for a censorware company to block us for their customers. Instead, we're creating a clearinghouse of information on how to defeat censorware.

Last week, we reported that Boing Boing was blocked by entire countries including the United Arab Emirates, and by many library systems, schools, US government and military sites, and corporations.

Today, we've learned that Internet Qatar, the sole ISP in the State of Qatar, has also banned BoingBoing.

We've heard from librarians in Africa who want to watch the video of the American Register of Copyrights denouncing Congress, employees at the Australian Broadcasting Company, students, and workers around the world who can't gain access to our work.

At fault is a US-based censorware company called Secure Computing, which makes a web-rating product called SmartFilter. But SmartFilter isn't very smart. Secure Computing classifies any site with any nudity -- even Michaelangelo's David appearing on a single page out of thousands -- as a "nudity" site, which means that customers who block "nudity" can't get through.

Last week, Secure Computing updated their software to classify Boing Boing as a "nudity" site. Last month, we had two posts with nudity in them, out of 692 -- that's 0.29 percent of our posts, but SmartFilter blocks 100 percent of them. This month, there were four posts with nudity (including the Abu Ghraib photos), out of 618 -- 0.32 percent.

In fact, out of the 25,000+ Boing Boing posts classed as "nudity" by SmartFilter, more that 99.5 percent have no nudity at all. They're stories about Hurricane Katrina, kidnapped journalists in Iraq, book reviews, ukelele casemods, phonecam video of Bigfoot sightings (come to think of it, he doesn't wear clothes either), or pictures of astonishing Lego constructions.

Why is SmartFilter content to deliver a product with a 99.5 percent false-positive rate? Because it has promised its customers that it will stop their users from seeing nudity (fat chance -- it's a dead certainty that Smart Filter has failed to class innumerable sites containing nudity), and punishing 24,875 nudity-free posts to get at 125 that contain mild or "art" nudity is fine by them.

Secure Computing told us that their categorization system protects kindergartners from being exposed to porn. We argue that not only are products like SmartFilter incapable of blocking all potentially kid-inappropriate sites, but why treat entire countries, or entire corporate sites full of working adults, as kindergartners?

The question of keeping your child from viewing content you don't want them to see can be addressed more efficiently locally, with tech tools like the browser Bumpercar. As BoingBoing founder (and father of two) Mark Frauenfelder explains, "My daughter and I found a bunch of great kid-friendly sites and have added them to the 'white list.' As a parent, I have local control of the sites she visits instead of handing over control to a remote group of people that I don't trust to do my job of being a parent."

The fact is, there's no effective way to censor the Internet in broad strokes. Only dumb CIOs and totalitarian governments like the UAE believe that adding censorware to your network will prevent the naughty stuff from slopping in. Having a human being review a few pages on a site every couple months is a perfectly adequate classification system, in SmartFilter's lights -- which is convenient, since a genuinely thoroughgoing review would be ruinously expensive.

Secure Computing offered us a devil's bargain: if we'd change the URLs of images with "nudity" (which, they assured us, included photos of Michaelangelo's David) to something they could detect and block, they'd let the rest of the world see us again. That guy in the UAE who was worried he'd be imprisoned for trying to read BoingBoing would be OK again.

We considered their offer, and decided not to do it. What happens when the next censorware company comes along with another editorial process they want us to engage in to help them censor the site?

More importantly: why should we let a company that helps corrupt dictatorships oppress their citizen dictate morality to us?

So instead we've decided to help put Secure Computing out of business. We're doing this in three ways:

* First, we're publishing a guide to evading the SmartFilter censorware. There are hundreds of ways to defeat these censorware apps, and we're going to catalog as many of them as possible. Click here for the list.
* Next, we're compiling a list of SmartFilter's dumb classifications. Send us your misclassified SmartFilter sites so we can add them to the list.
* Finally, we're producing a guide to convincing your employer to ditch SmartFilter. It consists of parts one and two above: a list of bad SmartFilter classifications and a list of ways that SmartFilter can be shredded like wet kleenex. Why spend money on bad technology that doesn't work?

Signed, the BoingBoing editorial team:
- Cory Doctorow
- Mark Frauenfelder
- Xeni Jardin
- David Pescovitz

UAE Rental Range Spreadsheet 2006

For those of you that are considering moving to the UAE, you may find the rental range spreadsheet of some use. I have just put together a very rough overview of the rates available in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While this may not be useful to those already here, it could be useful to those moving here.

There's no real analysis, just some data to help out and make life a little easier.

Please feel free to share with anyone you feel may find the information useful. And also, if you have any corrections or ammendments, I would welcome those as well.

You can locate it from the home page of the grapeshisha website.

27 February, 2006

Just A Reminder

-We just had some rainfall a few days ago.

I should've posted this earlier. ;)


TKS on National Review Online

Jim Geraghty:

And long after I, and many others, pointed out that this deal is significantly different than what we were initially told, a particular group of people continue to dramatically misrepresent – aw, hell, let’s call it what it is – continue to lie about what it entails.

There are plenty of folks on the GOP side of the aisle repeating and spreading the lies. But check out the comments on the other side of the aisle.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton:
“Senator Menendez and I don’t think any foreign government company should be running our ports, managing, leasing, owning, operating. It just raises too many red flags. That is the nub of our complaints,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaking via teleconference in response to Bush’s announcement.
As reported in USA Today, 80 percent of the terminals in the Port of Los Angeles are run by foreign firms. And the U.S. Department of Transportation says the United Kingdom, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and Taiwan have interests in U.S. port terminals. The blogger Sweetness and Light observed that the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia, which is partially owned by the government of Saudi Arabia as well as Saudi individuals and establishments, operates berths in the ports of Baltimore, Newport News, Houston, New Orleans, Savannah, Wilmington, N.C., Port Newark, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York.
. . .
Sen. Dianne Feinstein:
Do we want our national security assets to be sold to foreign powers? … Do we want, let's say, American companies that own nuclear power plants to be bought out by foreign entities?
. . .
Among the reasons that [New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine [Democrat]] has concerns about the UAE is that, “eleven of the hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks traveled to the U.S. through the airport in Dubai.” Got that? A terrorist catching a connecting flight within your country signifies, in Corzine’s mind, a tie to terrorists. By that standard, Portland, Maine, Logan Airport in Boston, Newark International, Dulles International, and Fort Lauderdale in Florida have “ties to terrorists” – after all, the 9/11 hijackers passed through those airports as well.

Of course, New Jersey’s genius Senator, Frank Lautenberg, also thinks that a terrorist passing through an airport within your borders makes you an enemy in the war on terror:
“Dubai has allowed terrorists to pass freely through their own country,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., this week. “Why in the world should we let this rogue government control ports in the United States?”
I take it New Jersey’s state government would qualify as a “rogue government” as well? I eagerly await your call for sanctions against your home state, senator.

American Inventor: The True American Idol

American Inventor Show

The man behind American Idol, Simon Cowell, had came up with a very interesting idea for a reality show . The new show is American Inventor, the search for America's next big invention, and it is scheduled to premier Thursday March 16th on ABC.

Now the idea of this show is for sure much more meaningful and productive than American Idol. In fact, they should call this show (The True American Idol). I can't see how we call such loosers, idols! I wish that the Arab TV channels will adopt such an idea for a reality show to promote creativity and new inventions instead of this load of crappy shows such as (Star Academy) and the (Big Brother).

Contestants of the new show “American Inventor” have created a web site to chronicle their inventions, opinions, and experiences. The website is (www.inventorunderground.com). The site provides a listing for inventors who want to be seen by the public, business contacts, and other inventors. The motto is: "Network Shows are only interested in the top 10 inventors, Inventor Underground is interested in the other 10,000.” You can view a list of inventions in this site, so don't miss it! :)

Read Also:
American Inventor Official Site
American Inventor FAQ
ABC's American Inventor Contestants Create inventorunderground.com Web Site (PR Web)
Simon Cowell: From Idol to Inventor (Business Week)

Maria's back!

Everyone's favourite spoof provocative letter-writer, Maria Metcalf, has picked up her pen again:

During a ladies coffee morning session recently at a friend's house, we stared absolutely horrified as our host told of how she woke up one morning to find graffiti all over her outer garden wall.

We went to look at it, it was absolutely vile and blighted her wonderful villa. It is quite appalling in this day and age we have such creatures living amongst our midst that go around in the middle of the night, invading the lives of peace-loving families in such a violent way.

Now we just need the return of Penny Francis and the comedy homophobes, and we're all set for a great ride.

An American's Take on American Reaction to DP World

...The misfortune for Dubai regarding the DP World controversy is that such negative (and inaccurate) perceptions become reinforced. But there is an upside, one that brings to mind the common saying, "There's no such thing as negative publicity." In large part Dubai was simply an unknown quantity in distant America. DP World has changed this--faster than the Burj Dubai, the man-made Palm islands or any other of Dubai's imaginative new development projects ever could. Some will venture beyond the headlines to discover the jewel in the hat (of the Middle East) that Dubai more closely resembles. It is common to see in the local blogosphere the expat community rally around the cause of DP World--as at UAE Community Blog. It isn't simply a matter of cheering on the local team, but rather a reflection of the awareness gained from living in Dubai and experiencing it is a desireable place to live and invest one's assets in.

The above is an excerpt from a broader analysis which I present in American Interest in the Dubai Marina ...amid acromony over the Dubai Ports World deal.

American Johnny Rockets hamburger joint at Marina Walk.

26 February, 2006

Aftermath of Recent Rainfall Across UAE

The recent rainfalls reduced the temperature and created a superb weather for a couple of days. But it also had some negative impacts too, mainly traffic related. So here is a review of the aftermath of recent rainfall across U.A.E.

25 February, 2006

those ports or government infiltrations or whatever they're on about now.

Al Qaeda warned the government of the United Arab Emirates more than three years ago that it "infiltrated" key government agencies, according to a disturbing document released by the U.S. military. The warning was contained in a June 2002 message to UAE rulers, in which the terror network demanded the release of an unknown number of "mujahedeen detainees," who it said had been arrested during a government crackdown in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
more here

CineStar UAE, Lost in Translation

CineStar UAE: The Son Also Rises?

Very unpossessive, too.

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

BBC NEWS - Africa - Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case. "They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.
Secret Dubai covered a similar incident with a different outcome. Not sure what accounts for the difference in outcome, but one difference in circumstances is that a camel was involved, not a goat. Somehow I suspect that is not a difference that matters. My guess is that a difference in legal systems accounts for the difference in outcome.

Hat tip to EclectEcon.

Protests and more ports.

Members of the Teamsters and Longshoreman’s unions gathered in front of the Port of Wilmington today as part of a demonstration held in 20 cities to protest the sale of significant portions of six U.S. ports to a United Arab Emirates company.

About 15 protesters gathered in a parking lot in front of the port’s gates at noon, holding signs that read “Goodbye Dubai, secure American ports.” The protesters represented unions whose members work as security guards, truck drivers and dock workers at the port.
more on that here.

It isn't just 4 ports or whatever it was originally;
Nearly a week after sparking a political firestorm, the United Arab Emirates-owned management company bidding to take over operations of 21 U.S. ports offered to delay part of its $6.8 billion deal.
More here

Oh yeah, to anyone opposing the deal, screw you.

24 February, 2006

Analysing The Muslim Response To Controversy

The American University in Dubai's Islamic Awareness Club has organised a lecture by Dr. Abdelrahman Thakir discussing the Muslim reaction to the Danish controversy.

Lecture Title: 'Why do we act and react the way we do'
Date: Saturday, 25th of Feb. 2006
Venue: Auditorium of the American University in Dubai
Time: Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Entry free. All are welcome.

UAE gave $100m for Katrina relief

Weeks before one of its companies sought U.S. approval for its ports deal, the United Arab Emirates contributed $100 million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, officials confirmed Thursday.

The Bush administration said the money it received from the United Arab Emirates was nearly four times as much as it received from all other countries combined. Other countries, including some in the Middle East, also pledged large contributions but have not yet sent the money.

Rain causes "havac" with basic literacy

Oh dear...

23 February, 2006

Dramatic Weather Today

Jebel Ali, off Shiekh Zayed Road.

Anyone else with photos or links to share?

Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit and a man of honor


Glenn Reynolds:
I will admit that my knee jerked on hearing this story, and that I should have waited to learn more before offering an opinion. In my defense, I'll note that I gathered more information and changed my mind. Still, mea culpa.
Cross-posted at The Emirates Economist.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari Coming To Dubai

Robin Sharma, author of the bestseller "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari", will be in Dubai for the first time on 26 and 27 March. He's here to conduct The Elite Performers Series workshop for helping people become visionary leaders. If you're interested, you can register at www.mindparlour.com.

I have just finished reading his book "Who Will Cry When You Die?" and would have loved to meet him. But the USD 900+ fee is a bit steep. I can buy a closet-full of books wid that much cash.

There - my first post to the community. Now if only I could figure out the bolds, italics and href's on my Mac.

Amin Maalouf - Al 3amama

NOTE: Nothing like shamless advertising! Please find below a post originally posted at the Arabic UAE Community Blog. Enjoy!

Dear readers,

Whist reading Amin Maalouf's latest book "Bidayat" which translates to "Beginnings" I came across these very interesting poems, or lines. This book relates to the beginnings of Amin Maalouf's family and his ancestors. These lines were written in Arabic by his grandfather "Bu6rus" who lived in Ottoman-occupied Lebanon.

These few lines are about how Butrus detested the stagnant intellectual of his country. He's sad about how they were so great and now in 1907 they are nothing. He asks us to look forward and to...

بني وطني حان النهوض لنــــــــائم ^^ و للبالغ العشــــرين نزع التمائـــــم
و حان لمن ضلت ســــــــوائم فضله ^^ زمانا طويلا نشـــــده للسوائــــــــم
وحان لنا أن ندرك الغرب في العلـى ^^ ولو سامنا الإدراك فوت الجماجــم
بني وطني أنتم بنو المـــجد و العلى ^^ و أنتــــم أبناء الرجال الأعاظــــــم
و أنتم من أهدى إلى الغرب علــــمـــه ^^وسن له طرق السدى و المكــــارم

و أنتم من أعلى ممن الحكمة اللـــوا: ^^ وقال اتبعهــا يا مريد العظائــــــم
فمنكم موســى و المسيــــح و أحمــد ^^ و أتباعهم من كل مولى قماقــــــم
و من خلفكم خلق إبن سينا و صحبه ^^ و من خلفكم أخلاق معن و حاتـم
فــــقومو مع العصر البسو من لبوسه ^^ وقولوا مضت أيام لبس العمــائــم

The last line of the poem is a work of genius, and because of it I wanted to post this poem.

A few words about the author:

Amin Maalouf is a Lebanese/French author who writes primarily in French. His works are translated into many languages including Arabic and English. He was born in 1949 in Lebanon and has moved to France when he was about 25 and has lived there ever since. He mainly writes fiction (fused with historical figures) in books such as Samarkand, The Rock of Tanios, Leo the African to note a few. His main non-fictional works are The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (a very interesting book) and his latest "Beginnings" from which these lines in Arabic are from.

It's a bit ironic that an Arab has to leave his country to advance his career then his books ultimately get written in a different language then translated back to Arabic for his compatriots to read. I've only read his works in English and Arabic, never the original French, but all the translations are very well done and to an exceptionally high standard.

22 February, 2006

World's Largest Aluminum Plant To Be Built Near Abu Dhabi, UAE

Ariel View of DUBAL Aluminum Co.
Ariel View of DUBAL Aluminum Co.

Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Co. will partner Dubai Aluminium Co Ltd. to build the world's largest aluminum plant at a cost of $6 billion, as the Gulf state seeks to take advantage of cheap energy and labor costs in the region.

The plant, to be built near Abu Dhabi, the capital, would produce 1.2 million metric tons of aluminum a year. Compare this with the Russian Aluminium's Bratsk smelter in Siberia, the world's current largest plant, which processed 965,000 metric tons of aluminum in 2004.

The new plant would require the construction of a 2,600-megawatt power plant, Mubadala said Saturday.

Read Also:
World's largest aluminum plant to be built near Abu Dhabi (International Herald Tribune)
UAE to Build World's Largest Aluminum Plant for $6 Billion (Bloomberg)
Dubal signs $6b deals (Khaleej Times)

RAK Launches RAK Airways: 4th UAE Airline Carrier

RAK Airways Announcement Conference
Vice Chairman of RAK Airways making the announcement for the launch of RAK Airways

The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has announced Tuesday February 14 the creation of RAK Airways, the UAE's fourth national carrier which will start operations by the end of 2006.

Making the announcement at a press conference held at Hotel Al Hamra Fort, Sheikh Salem bin Sultan al Qasimi, Chairman of RAK Civil Aviation and Vice Chairman of the company, said that RAK Airways will be a private joint stock company incorporated in the RAK Free Zone at Jazirat Al Hamra with an authorized capital of AED 1.5 billion.

The airline would initially operate a fleet of 8 aircrafts and negotiations are going on with Airbus Industries and Boeing for acquiring the aircrafts. RAK Airways propose to undertake flights to India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon and GCC countries initially.

The Board of Directors of the company include Sheikh Omar bin Saqr Al Qasimi as Chairman and Sheikh Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi as Vice Chairman.

Alot of important business events are taking place in Ras Al Khaimah recently. It is about time that Ras Al Kahimah is following the footsteps of Dubai.

Read Also:
RAK Airways to fly from end-2006 (AME Info)
RAK announces launch of RAK Airways (AME Info)

Denmark charges four over T-shirts :: Yahoo!

Four charged over Fark FARC T-shirts - Yahoo!

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish police have charged four people selling T-shirts bearing the logos of Colombian and Palestinian guerrillas with supporting banned terrorist groups.

The four are connected to the Danish clothing company Fighters and Lovers, which sells T-shirts with logos of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP).
. . .
Police said they had seized about 24,000 Danish crowns ($3,833), computers and T-shirts from the company, which sells T-shirts over the Internet to customers all over the world. They have also closed down its Web site (www.fightersandlovers.com) and expect to charge another three people.

Colombia protested to Denmark last month about the T-shirts.

Wall Street Journal :: Port Politics


So the same Democrats who lecture that the war on terror is really a battle for "hearts and minds" now apparently favor bald discrimination against even friendly Arabs investing in the U.S.?
. . .
Critics also forget, or conveniently ignore, that the UAE government has been among the most helpful Arab countries in the war on terror. It was one of the first countries to join the U.S. container security initiative, which seeks to inspect cargo in foreign ports. The UAE has assisted in training security forces in Iraq, and at home it has worked hard to stem terrorist financing and WMD proliferation. UAE leaders are as much an al Qaeda target as Tony Blair.

Dubai and Its Ambitions (ala Ports Controversy)

A well-written editorial in Finanvial Times, Paranoia about Dubai ports deal is needless, puts the whole story in perspective. What is interesting is the description it offers of Dubai as a successful, ambitious city-state, worthy of admiration not suspicion:

The bold move was very much in character with the vaulting ambition of Dubai - one of the seven emirates in the UAE federation led by Abu Dhabi - and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, its restless ruler.

Dubai is the most dynamic of the glittering city-states that run down the east of the Arabian peninsula. It long ago decided to invest its (relatively modest) endowment of oil in other ways of making a living. So far, it has done very well...

Those of us in Dubai who, of course, see nothing wrong with the deal--with regard to questions being raised about Dubai's intentions or character--needn't think there's any doubt this deal will remain in place. I think it is a fait accompli which no empty rhetoric can overturn. The hysteria that some in US politics are trying to raise may appear to have merit on the surface, but there seems no way such criticism can stand under scrutiny.

Instapundit roundup on Bush veto threat

Is the tide turning? Instapundit is giving the ports acquisition a second look.

Read every last word.

FT article about blogs

Worth checking out if you missed it. Nothing specific to the UAE, just interesting.

Bershka Blah Blah Blah...continues!

Originally posted in funky-ass randomness:

This one's getting funnier, honestly. Quote:

Well, I had to post this one because I got many overwhelming replies from a lot of people, especially in Spanish. And quasiantropòloga informed me that my blog has been published by some Spanish newspaper, suggesting I 'might be starting a campaign' against this group. LOL. Ok so for all you maniacs there, please listen.

I am not sure why I can't stop laughing. Are Spanish newspapers for real?

21 February, 2006

TigerHawk to port opponents: get a grip


Quote, addressing his post to Americans:
Point is, we need to be thoughtful about this decision and others like it. We cannot beat the jihadis without help from Muslims. While the developments of the last few weeks suggest that moderate Islam is not so prevalent in the world as we might have hoped, you are unlikely to find a hotter hotbed of anti-jihadi sentiment than in the luxurious halls of the Emirates.

In addition to knee-jerk irrationality, there is an ugly side to this debate, too. Regular readers know that I am far from politically correct, so I trust that they will not toss me overboard when I suggest that rank, irrational nativism is dangerously influencing the public discussion of this subject.

Strategy Page: UAE 4, USA 4


Most of the women appointed to cabinet posts have been members of the royal family. Sheikha Lubna, for example, is a princess of the Qasimi clan, one of the two royal houses of Sharjah, a constituent emirate of the UAE. In several of the Gulf states women have also begun finding positions in military service in this fashion. Such an approach prevents religious conservatives from being too outspoken against appointing women to "non-traditional" jobs, as they are less likely to criticize a woman if she's well-connected.

And just for the record, the scorecard on women in the cabinet now stands at UAE 4, USA 4.

Challenge to Classroom Materials or Incidents

Challenge to Classroom
Materials or Incidents

The University adheres to the United Nations Uni-
versal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19,
which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom
of opinion and expression; this right includes
freedom to hold opinions without interference
and to seek, receive, and impart information and
ideas through any media and regardless of fron-

In a university, the student may encounter ideas
or images that fall outside her personal value sys-
tem or frame of reference. The university's goal is
not to alter the student's beliefs or values but
rather to produce globally aware, responsible
graduates with the capacity for independent criti-
cal judgment, exhibiting respectful understand-
ing of diverse points of view and a tolerance for
perspectives that differ from her own, as Islam
promotes. Sensitivity to local culture is consid-

Source (pdf)

More Oppositions To UAE Takeover Of US Port Operations

Hong Kong Port Managed By DP World
Hong Kong Port Managed By DP World

Executives at Dubai Ports World are intensifying a public relations effort this week as lawmakers ratchet up protests against the Bush administration over allowing the United Arab Emirates-owned firm to run six U.S. ports (New York and New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Miami).

US Sens. Robert Menendez and Hillary Clinton announced Friday that they'll introduce legislation next month to bar companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from buying port operations in the United States.

"The administration should freeze the contract ... until a full and thorough investigation is carried out," Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee told Reuters.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, defending the deal, said the administration approved it after a classified review and included provisions to protect national security.

"You can be assured that before a deal is approved we put safeguards in place, assurances in place, that make everybody comfortable that we are where we need to be from a national security viewpoint," Chertoff said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"It's unbelievably tone deaf politically at this point in our history, four years after 9/11, to entertain the idea of turning port security over to a company based in the UAE who avows to destroy Israel," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said on "Fox News Sunday."

"A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism." said an article published in WashingtonPost.com

Read Also:
Congressman says US should freeze Dubai port deal (Reuters)
House GOP Leaders Line Up Against UAE Port Deal (Fox News)
UAE Firm Struggles to Run Ports Against U.S. Opposition (Fox News)
Menendez, Clinton seek to stop UAE port deal (North Jersey Media Group)
Lawmakers Assail UAE Takeover Of Port Operations (NBC4i)
Concern grows for Arabs running U.S. Ports (MSNBC)
Inside the port deal that's giving Bush headaches (CNN Anderson Coper 360 Blog)
United Arab Emirates Firm May Oversee 6 U.S. Ports (Washington Post)

20 February, 2006

Dubai Launches Dubai Aerspace Enterprise (DAE) & Invests $15 billion In Aerospace Sector

Dubai Aerspace Enterprise (DAE)

An agreement was signed Sunday to form Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), which would merge investments worth USD 15 billion into creating a global aerospace manufacturing and services corporation and the formation of the first global aerospace corporation in the Middle East.

"Within 10 years, DAE will become an integral part of the global aerospace industry and a leading player," said Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai's ruling family who heads Dubai's civil aviation department.

Not Only That! Dubai Aerspace Enterprise (DAE) website is currently working on establishing an Aviation University. An aviation campus for all levels of education, attracting both national and international students. The campus will include PhD programs in aviation engineering and business engineering, research facilities, aviation specialists, master apprenticeships, and advanced aviation careers, directly answering the call for highly skilled professionals to supply a growing, qualified work force.

Read Also:
Dubai launches $15b aerospace enterprise (Khaleej Times)
Dubai invests $15 billion in aerospace sector (MSNBC)
Dubai forms Aerospace Enterprise with investments of USD 15 billion - UAE (MENAFN)

Ports, Prejudice & Cartoons :: 'Aquol

On Hypocrisy, Xenophobia and Dange: Ports, Prejudice & Cartoons

Lounsbury at 'Aquol delivers an excellent post. So does The Glittering Eye, which led me to the 'Aquol post.

Read them both. Especially if you need a diversion from whinging about traffic jams and high rent.

19 February, 2006

Kofi Annan takes $500,000 er, prize!

Interesting reading:

The U.N. secretary-general wins a half-million dollar prize in Dubai.

US firm sues to block foreign port takeover

Firm sues to block foreign port takeover


WASHINGTON -- A company at the Port of Miami has sued to block the takeover of shipping operations there by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. It is the first American courtroom effort to capsize a $6.8 billion sale already embroiled in a national debate over security risks at six major U.S. ports affected by the deal.
. . .
The Miami subsidiary, Continental Stevedoring & Terminals Inc., said the sale to Dubai was prohibited under its partnership agreement with the British firm and "may endanger the national security of the United States." It asked a judge to block the takeover and said it does not believe the company, Florida or the U.S. government can ensure Dubai Ports World's compliance with American security rules.
. . .
The lawsuit represents the earliest skirmish over lucrative contracts among the six major American ports where Peninsular and Oriental runs major commercial operations: New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
. . .
The sale, already approved by the Bush administration, has drawn escalating criticism by lawmakers in Washington who maintain the United Arab Emirates is not consistent in its support of U.S. terrorism-fighting efforts.
. . .
Caught by surprise over the breadth of concerns expressed in the United States, Dubai is cautiously organizing its response. The company quietly dispatched advisers to reassure port officials along the East Coast, and its chief operating officer - internationally respected American shipping executive Edward "Ted" H. Bilkey - is expected to travel to Washington this week for meetings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

The Bush administration in recent days has defended its approval of the sale, and has resisted demands by Congress to reconsider.

At The Emirates Economist I have more to say here and here. The scope of the blogosphere's attention is shown in this graphic.

My prediction: If nothing else, the attention the deal is receiving in the US will greatly increase what people there know about the UAE. It is common for American to confuse the UAE with the UAR, or to assume it's part of the KSA. The present kerfuffle may reduce those misconceptions, but at the same time create a distorted understanding. There is a world-stage public-relations silverlining if and only the UAE is proactive and forthcoming.

Dubai is also receiving attention at The National Standard in relation to a financial prize to Kofi Annan.

UPDATE: Starling Hunter provides a fair and balanced roundup of the ports story. He concludes
My other hunch is that someone is going to explain it all to the lawmakers pretty soon and that this story will blow over rather quickly. This is not the stuff of which a "gritty film-noir" or even a Michael Moore documentary is made.

Uae Web of Life - Issue 2

Hi All,

The next issue of my newsletter is out....


The Internet Magazine on what's happening in the local UAE Internet community.

Issue 2

Get a newspaper style PDF version file by email that you can print and read.
Join the mailing list at orbuae@gmail.com.



2. REGULARS - Cub & Bug

3. INTERVIEW - Founders of Creative Majlis - UAE Ad Professionals Online Forum

Get it all here: UAE Web of Life http://uaeweboflife.blogspot.com

18 February, 2006

Global Spaceport Project In Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

Space Adventures Flight Concept

Space Adventures, Ltd., the world's leading space experiences company, announced yesterday its plans to develop a commercial spaceport in Ras Al-Khaimah (the UAE), with plans to expand globally. Other potential spaceport locations include Asia, specifically Singapore, and North America. The total estimated cost of the global spaceport development project is at least $265 million (USD) and will be funded by various parties, along with shared investments by Space Adventures and the government of Ras Al-Khaimah.

Read Also:
Space Adventures Announces $265 Million Global Spaceport Development Project (Space Advetures Press Release)
Space travel firm plans $265m RAK venture (Trade Arabia)

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iranians rename Danish pastries

BBC NEWS Middle East Iranians rename Danish pastries

BBC Persian

All well and good until something like this happens.

The Inshallah Factor

For those of you not signed up for the Grapeshisha Newsletter and are interested, I have just sent out the latest newsletter on Arabic Catchphrases, that you hear regularly in the UAE and the Middle East. Enjoy! You can sign up for the newsletters which are sent out monthly at the web site.

17 February, 2006

Items from last week that I missed

Gulfnews: Blogs come of age - Which raises the question, when will GN have in-house bloggers, when will it have an open comment section to those blogs, and when will it provide hot links to blogs that might have something useful to say?

A senior official at the University said: "Whatever you read was wrong." - The Zayed University official clarified that Hirst will be allowed to complete the current academic year to prevent further disruption of student interests. The official said: "All links with him will be severed after June 14."

Companies mull change of 'Made in Denmark' tag - Not sure how many people this would fool. Are there many products that we don't know are Danish? For those that we don't associate with Denmark because they are essentially generic, I'd guess the economic consequence of the boycott is small because consumers view the Danish and non-Danish brands as interchangeable. If one group of consumers boycotts the Danish brand then other consumers will see more of the Danish brand on their shelves, but prices and aggregate sales levels of each brand will remain the same.

Many of the Uzbek women detained were from Samarkand and said they were going to Dubai to take up "an invitation from a sister living there" - "We feel good that we managed to save a large group of desperate girls from a disgraceful experience abroad. Who knows what fate would befall them there? We do hope that they will return to their homes and reconsider," one NSS official who coordinated the operation, said.

Update: Bershka apologizes

Originally posted in funky-ass randomness:

Just saw this update. Bershka has apologized in Al Bayan newspaper saying they weren't aware of the picture and didn't intentionally want to offend anyone. The tags have been withdrawn and in some branches, they have been covered with some 'sticker'.


برشكا» الإسبانية تعتذر عبر البيان عن رسوم مسيئة للإسلام

اعتذرت شركة برشكا المملوكة لمجموعة انديكس الإسبانية للمسلمين عبر «البيان» عن وجود مجموعة بطاقات مسيئة للإسلام على الملبوسات والأحذية المعروضة للبيع في محالها المنتشرة في الإمارات وعبر العالم.

RAK to tap space tourism: Gulf News

RAK to tap space tourism (link fixed):

Quote: "Ras Al Khaimah: The only company to have sent tourists into space has announced plans to develop a commercial spaceport in Ras Al Khaimah, from where it will operate suborbital flights."

Comments section is open.

The picture is worth a thousand words. The vehicle has more glass than a glass bottomed boat. Or that just a cutaway to show what the inside of the vehicle looks like?

16 February, 2006

Burj Al Aeroplane

Eat Jumeirah Style in the sky with Emirates Airline from 1st March.

15 February, 2006

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Today's Most E-Mailed

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Today's Most E-Mailed

Here are today's top 20 e-mailed articles from The Chronicle.

1. Study of Predictors of Success in College Finds Students Taking Increasingly Complex Paths to Degrees

2. American Professor Is Fired at University in United Arab Emirates for Using Controversial Cartoons in Class.
This should help faculty recruiting. Somewhere.

Interesting that the first of the two says "the rigor of a student's high-school curriculum is the strongest indicator of whether he or she will earn a college degree, regardless of major. The "academic intensity" of students' high-school courses played a larger role than did their grades and standardized test scores, according to the report, "The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion From High School Through College." "

Gulfnews: Online Polls

Gulfnews: Polls

Click above. At the time of this posting there has still time to skew the results of the latest online polls.

1. Should a VAT be introduced in the UAE?

2. Is it time to call off the boycott of Danish products?

Is there time to call off that poll if the results do not turn out right?

50-50 chance of being understood

Link: Wired News. "I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time. . . The reason for this is egocentrism, or the difficulty some people have detaching themselves from their own perspective."

The same probably applies to blog comments.

The comments section is open for discussion of this topic. Just remember whatever you say has a 50-50 chance of being taken to mean the opposite. Understand?

Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the link.

Blogs to Riches

The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom.


Read some of the other articles on WIRED.

Beyond the Beyond
Tuesday, 14 February 2006
As a very young medium, Blogs are a God-Awful Mess
Mood: incredulous
Now Playing: an incomprehensible tangled farrago of Chinese teens and tech fetishists

14 February, 2006

Heart's Day

Check this out. Or just try more absurd stuffs, just for fun. *haha*

Happy Valentines Day to everyone who accepts my greeting. :)

Boycott Bershka?!

Originally posted in funky-ass randomness:

I don't know why people can't help bringing religion into focus. Unwanted focus. First, it was the Danish cartoons and now, is this another brewing issue?

Azza notified me of this one. Her friend shopped at Bershka few days back and the picture shown above is the tag of their new collection. What's with the arrow marking 'we slept here'. For God's sake. Draw a hotel. Draw some haunted house. Draw a boat. Draw a cave. Why on earth a mosque?

From what I know, Dubai Municipality will be notified of it. I only hope this teaches a lesson on sensitivity; respect the rules and values of the country you're in. Or pack your bags and go to Denmark.

PS: The picture in question is posted on the blog (link provided above)


A university lecturer sacked last week after students were shown the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) has been reinstated. Briton Anrew Hirst was fired from Zayed University along with an American colleague who had distributed copies of the cartoons to students.

Hirst, who has taught at the college of art and science for almost eight years, confirmed last night that he had been reinstated, but declined to comment further.
Last night, sources at the university told 7DAYS Kiburz will not be reinstated.

full article here


I've had a quick look at the news reports covering the whole oasis centre fire saga;
Take a look here, please leave comments if you want to.

13 February, 2006

Will this be the end of Depression?

Depressed loner mice get more sociable when researchers delete a memory molecule from their brains, a finding that might help treat human ills like social phobia and post-traumatic stress.

Erasing problems from the root? Entire article on my blog

Anger at boycott call

AMEinfo.com :: Anger at boycott call
Google falls behind on history

A Dubai-based business web site has hit out at an email being circulated calling for it to be boycotted. “We are not Danish,” said Klaus Lovgreen, CEO of AMEinfo.com. “We are registered with Dubai Media City.

Absolutely true. But do some compare and contrast:

Compare: "Klaus Lovgreen moved to the United Arab Emirates in 1992." Source: zu.ac.ae IT-Forum
Contrast: "Klaus Lovgreen was born and educated in Denmark and moved to the United Arab Emirates in 1992." Source: "G o o g l e's cache of [the page] as retrieved on 31 Jan 2006 06:47:46 GMT.
G o o g l e's cache is the snapshot that we took of the page as we crawled the web. The page may have changed since that time."

It may have.

In a similar vein:

Compare: http://www.zu.ac.ae/clgartsc/html/elc/elc_ClaudiaKiburz.html
Contrast: G o o g l e's cache of http://www.zu.ac.ae/clgartsc/html/elc/elc_ClaudiaKiburz.html as retrieved on 1 Feb 2006 02:40:08 GMT. G o o g l e's cache is the snapshot that we took of the page as we crawled the web.

UAE Cost of Living Spreadsheet 2006

I'm not sure if this is relevant here, but thought I would share it anyway. I have compiled some general data to produce a cost of living spreadsheet to assist those moving to the UAE. Data consists of groceries, services, entertainment etc., amongst others. This will hopefully help the large number of expats who move to Dubai and Abu Dhabi every year. You can locate it from the home page of the grapeshisha website.

It is not meant to be a work of genius, just something useful to make transitions to this country that much easier. I remember when first came over to the UAE, and the Economist didn't cover Dubai as part of their Big Mac Index.

Please feel free to share with anyone you feel may find the information useful. And also, if you have any corrections or ammendments, I would welcome those as well.

Fired On the Spot-Check It Out

Thursday Feb 9th-7Days stated that American Professor Claudia Kiburz was fired on the orders of Zayed University President Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan who also orded the firing of her supervisor a Briton, Andrew Hirst after eight years of service to the institution. Ms. Kiburz had distributed copies of the Danish Cartoons which have caused the Danes more damage and trouble than they ever had dreamed of. Mr. Hirst whose name was used in text messages concerning the cartoons, said that he had no knowledge of Ms. Kiburz's actions.

Shame, you would think that they would know better. What have we learned boys and girls? That being here does not mean really being here. As we have learned that they could care less about hurting their students and fellow Muslim staff and faculty meembers. Freedom does come at a price and they have paid it.

It really comes down to self respect. Having talked to both students and faculty from various universities here and have learned that there is a very subtle and sneaky disrespect that some of the faculty have for the local and Arab expat students.

Things like men teachers trying to shake girls hands, questions about abayyah and the color black, and now this.

So now the university are calling for sensitivity training, for everyone. Get this- if they didn't get when they first got here or like some who are married to locals and have been here since colonial times, and still regard Muslims with disdain then, how will the get it now?

To the Emiratis/Muslims et al, all I have to say is that you have to earn respect and you can't do that unless you respect yourself. So when these expats come to you with any kind disrespect give them no slack. Let them know simply, this kind of behavior is not appropriate.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

'Gay wedding' ends up in cells

'Gay wedding' ends up in cells

Dubai - A United Arab Emirates court has jailed 12 men who were arrested after being discovered preparing for a gay wedding, but acquitted another 14 defendants, an official said on Sunday.

Eleven men have confessed to practising homsexuality.
. . .
Emirates Today had reported that the Abu Dhabi court had sentenced all 26 men to five years in jail. It said the men were busted in a hotel "dressed in women's clothes and makeup in preparation for a gay wedding".
The group defended themselves in court "saying they were proud of their act and were keen to practice it."

12 February, 2006

Bridge the Gap :: Volkskrant Weblog

Volkskrant Weblog :: Bridge the Gap
A better tradition in blogging - cross-border and cross-cultural understanding

An initiative of a Dutch (Holland) and a Syrian blogger brought together in blogspace in the aftermath of the cartoon crisis.

TigerHawk explains:
Dozens of bloggers, including Glenn Reynolds, linked yesterday to Paul Reynolds' article, "Bloggers: an army of irregulars." One of them was Palestinian blogger Haitham Sabbah, who observes that the bridging of cultures is one of blogging's great promises and possibilities (and it is something Haitham works at every day).* Haitham links to a joint project between a Syrian and a Dutch blogger (started yesterday -- the army of irregulars moves quickly) to "bridge the gap" between Muslim and Western perceptions, particularly as it relates to the cartoon intifada (a phrase which I admit does not sound very gap-bridging).

The posts at Bridge the Gap are in English. Although the navigational instructions are in Dutch if you know your way around a blog you can figure out the links.

Much has been said about the power of the Internet to accelerate crises. . . . Bridge the Gap is a new example of a better tradition in blogging: cross-border and cross-cultural communication between individuals who want to do some good in the world.

quit blogger

I don't know if any of you read todays gulf news article on new computer laws...
I'm not sure if it is just Gulf News wording that makes these appear... just read them...

Article No 14 states that anyone found logging onto a website with the intent to change the designs of the site will be jailed and fined.

I suppose that makes logging onto blogger, and any website like wikipedia or any personal websites that allow you to change designs illegal.

"Anyone found logging into an information website or system shall be punished with jail term or fine, or both."

I don't understand what they mean by an "information website or system", but in reality every website provides information. So that is illegal.

You can read the entire article here

Etisalat's competitor is here?

I thought Vodafone was coming, so what is ECIT? Or have I skipped some news pieces in between?


Emirates Company for Integrated Telecommunications (ECIT), the UAE's new telecommunications operator, will compete with Etisalat on all fields including pricing, according to CEO Osman Sultan.

Sultan remained realistic about the task of breaking the monopoly of incumbent operator Etisalat. He said: "It will not be a cut-throat price war, because we will not strongly attack one of the strongest financial operators in this part of the world.

So basically...nothing much will change?

11 February, 2006

News from the Middle East

Thought I would share this resource, in case you don't already know of it:

Mosaic as part of Link TV gives a summary of the Middle East News from a number of Arabic sources, translates, and even gets round to providing a summary. Ingenious.

Excellent in case the extent of your Arabic is limited to "Maafi Mushkil"

(Beware, though with the curent speed, or lack of it, this might be a little heavy on your connection.)

Dani in dxb

Hi all, I'm a new member of this community, I'm also new to blogging and stuffs... feel free to criticize my page. :)

Ah, before anything else, yes, I'm just a 'kid' so please don't go hard on me. *grin* :P

AUS Students Blog on the Danish Boycott :: Wizbang


Starling Hunter, professor of strategic management at American University of Sharjah, does a roundup of the posts his students have done on the Danish boycott.

Google Fight :: Dubai VS Abu Dhabi


Creative Majlis©

Hi All,

2 of my friends have started Creative Majlis - a Ryze group focused on Ad Creatives and Media industry professionals in the UAE. I am posting the introduction below:


Creative Majlis©

Welcome to Creative Majlis, the meeting point for progressive copywriters and creative people from the UAE. You know what's creative. But what in Uncle Ogilvys name is a 'majlis'? Its an Arabic word for a gathering, when a group of people come together, connect and make things happen.

What brings us together?

A common urge. The heartfelt wish and ambition to pool our talents and make a positive difference in our communities.

What have we set out to achieve?

To do more than push products and recycle special offers as creative people. To propel our power of persuasion as writers and seasoned marcom professionals towards making a positive difference to the world around us.

Who moderates this group?

The founding members of the group, Farrukh & Mayura, both advertising copywriters based in the UAE.

Who owns it?

Every creative professional, from advertising copywriters like us to art directors, artists and journalists who want to contribute socially with their talents - as members of this Creative Majlis.

Is it going to be you?

The Islands

Just a short notice to remind you that the Arabic UAE Community Blog exists and welcomes your visit, for my latest post on the issue of the islands please click here
(There's no shame!)

Khalifa issues IT law :: Gulf Today

Khalifa issues IT law :: The Gulf Today

Abu dhabi: President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued Federal Law No. (2) of 2006 with respect to fighting Information Technology (IT) crimes, according to which transgressing the principles and values of Islam on the Internet or by using any means of IT will carry a fine of not less than Dhs50,000 and jail for one year.

Publishing news or pictures of private or family life on the Internet or any means of IT that offend family values, even if such news or pictures are true, is also similarly punishable.

The law also stipulates jail term of not more than seven years to those charged with opposing Islamic religion and harming the principles of Islam.

Dubai Press Club Issues Report on Press Freedom

Dubai Press Club Issues Report on Press Freedom - UAE The Official Web Site

A Dubai-based civic body has called for instituting international legislations to protect Islamic sanctities and urged Arab leaders to engage in constructive dialogue with the West. A report titled "The Concept of Press Freedom", issued by Dubai Press Club, underscored the need for a set of internal political and economic reforms in the Arab and Islamic world, including institutionalization of freedom of the press and expression. "Freedom of opinion can not be boundless, however, It should not infringe on personal liberties or offend religious beliefs or national feelings", said the report. . . .

One of the main objectives of the report, according to the Club's Executive Director, Mohammed Al Mansouri, is to address the ambiguity shrouding the concept of press freedom from Arab and Western perspectives, and the need to set limits for freedom of expression so that it should not infringe on other human rights.
. . .
The report said the spontaneous reaction of the Arab and Moslem masses had demonstrated that the boycott weapon remained an effective means for recovering legitimate rights. The best way to contain the sentimental reaction of the masses, suggests the report, is through democratization and a structural reform of the education system. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)

Pool closure petition

A new petition has been set up to demand the re-opening of the pools on properties managed by Emaar.

Emaar decided last week to close all pools until the end of March in order to make them safer, following the drowning of a 5 year old girl around 3 months ago. If you have a minute, take the time to sign this petition at www.petitiononline.com/Dubai. Even if it doesn't really change anything, it can't hurt!

10 February, 2006

Time Out's "adventurous" valentine

What exactly is Time Out trying to recommend in its latest Valentine edition?!

Still, for "Lonely In Ras Al Khaimah" it's better than nothing.

The Power of Bloggers

BBC NEWS In Depth Bloggers: an army of irregulars

I regard the blogosphere as a source of criticism that must be listened to and as a source of information that can be used.
. . .
Most big organisations, whether in news or in business, . . . have nobody monitoring the main blogs and have little idea how to respond to any criticism on them.
. . .
bloggers have, for me, become a useful source.

Only this week, they tracked down the origin of a fake cartoon which has been fuelling the furore over the characterisation of Muhammad in a Danish paper.

One of the pictures being circulated, a very fuzzy, grey photocopy, apparently showed the prophet Muhammad with the face of a pig.

It was quickly pointed out, by bloggers and others, that this was not one of the 12 Danish cartoons. Nobody however knew the origin of this portrayal.

Then I received an e-mail from a reader passing on a link to a blog called neandernews.

And there it was.

The picture had nothing to do with the prophet. It was a photo of the winner of a "pig-squealing" competition held last summer in the French Pyrenees. It had first been published on the MSNBC website in August.
I wonder if other big organizations, like countries, monitor blogs.

09 February, 2006

Welcome Baby Moryarti

Welcome to THIS world.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Zayed University, candidate for accreditation by Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Here's what MSCHE has to say (PDF) about academic freedom:
The interdependence of educational institutions and their academic freedom are essential to the quality and integrity of all education. Teaching and learning require free and full exposure to information and ideas, the right to question or dissent, and opportunities to study, research, and debate, free of political pressure. The academy requires that inquiry and analysis must be guided by evidence and ethics, unfettered by political intervention.

A college or university must be sensitive to the conditions of the society in which it exists, but it must also be free to determine how to be most responsive and responsible. Political interference in the affairs of an educational institution presents a threat to its freedom and effectiveness. Direct intervention by elected or appointed officials, political parties, or pressure groups in the selection of faculty, the determination of curricula, textbooks, course content, or in admissions or retention policies, injects factors which are often inimical to the fulfillment of an institution’s mission.
MSCHE also states (PDF):
Academic and intellectual freedom gives one the right and obligation as a scholar to examine data and to question assumptions. It also obliges instructors to present all information objectively because it asserts the student’s right to know all pertinent facts and information. A particular point of view may be advanced, based upon complete access to the facts or opinions that underlie the argument, as long as the right to further inquiry and consideration remains unabridged.

To restrict the availability or to limit unreasonably the presentation of data or opinions is to deny academic freedom. The effective institution addresses diversity of opinion with openness and balance.

Brokeback Mountain banned

Khaleej Times reports:
The Ministry of Culture and Information will not allow the screening of the Hollywood film Brokeback Mountain in the UAE because of scenes involving homosexuals.

Brokeback Mountain is a film which has nothing positive about it. The portrayal of the sexual behaviour of its main character is offensive to eastern societies, particularly Muslims and the Arabs since Islam forbids abnormal behaviors like homosexuality, said Dr Abdullah Al Amiri, Chairman of the Committee of Financial, Economical and Industrial Affairs of Sharjah Consultative Council yesterday.

“The film will upset the people of this culture and tradition,” he said, explaining that there were scenes showing two men romantically inclined to each other.

Of Radars and fines

Here's Comment Of The Day:

Twenty-nine-year-old Ali Obaid, a UAE national businessman, paid Dh3,000 in fines last year, and is certain he will not change his driving habits because of radars. "I don't care about radars, and I'll continue to speed anyway," he said.

The purpose of radars is to make people drive slow but there are many ways to fool the system. "I see people drive very fast, and slow down when they see a radar. But when they pass it, they speed again," said Obaid.

Then of course, there's always good ol' Wasta =)

08 February, 2006

London eye is now Dubai eye?

Amusement ride aficionados may scoff at the fact that a spin in one of the world's largest Ferris wheels does not require both a stomach and nerves of steel--the London Eye's viewing pods, which move at a snail's pace, are intended to insight gasps of awe as opposed to screams of terror. Fortunately for the debt-laden ride itself, the future could be less wobbly altogether thanks to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Passage to India, via Sharjah

BBC News In pictures India Then Airplane: "The Imperial Airways 'Hanno' Hadley Page passenger airplane carries the England to India air mail, stopping in Sharjah to refuel."

Very cool image.


Can anyone tell me that orkut, the online community website by google is blocked in UAE? Because the last time I checked, it was blocked and wasn't able to keep in touch with my friends.
Please check

SZR lane lines to be used for ads?

It could happen: Tampa Bay Times

Professor sacked for displaying blasphemous drawings in class

Khaleej Times Online

The reason for the termination of Prof Claudia Keyboars was that she displayed the blasphemous cartoons before female students during a class lecture.

07 February, 2006

Slug-slow surfing

Has anyone else's internet (ADSL specifically) been absolutely fking dead-snail-slow for the past few days?

I can barely even POP email. It is literally unuseable (I had to try four times just to load this blog entry page).

Of course there is never any reduction in fees in the rare instances that Etisalat does admit that there is a fault - god forbid they display any such alien trait as "accountability".

Dubai Media City and Internet City people: if this is what you guys have to look forward to when the TRA proxy arrives, I suggest you start learning Morse Code now. Because it will be a damn sight quicker than sending an email via Etisalat/E2salat.

new blog - grapeshisha

Just some self promotion. I have joined the UAE blogosphere in earnest.

The Blog The Website The Newsletter

Smoke you later,

Information and Insight on the UAE



freedom fries is to french fries
Damask rose pastry is to danish pastry?

Freedom fries were ridiculed. By Americans.

UPDATE: AP says the new name for a Danish in Iran is Rose of Muhammad.

06 February, 2006


Dubailand has been scaled down.

Read about it here.

Danish issue: Editor's words

I came across an interview published in Newsweek of Flemming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten editor who made the original decision to publish the cartoons.

What was your thinking behind the decision to publish the Muhammad cartoons back in September?

ROSE: I was concerned about a tendency toward self-censorship among people in artistic and cultural circles in Europe. That's why I commissioned these cartoons, to test this tendency and to start a debate about it.

But you depicted Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, armed with a knife and with a broken halo that resembled satanic horns.

ROSE: The cartoon with horns didn't arouse special criticism; it was the other two. The one with the bomb in his turban doesn't say, "All Muslims are terrorists," but says, "Some people have taken Islam hostage to permit terrorist and extremist acts."

Didn't your newspaper commit blasphemy by depicting Muhammad?

ROSE: Danish prosecutors determined around a month ago that the cartoons were not blasphemous.

Will Jyllands-Posten apologize?

ROSE: For what?

In the course of the interview, he also says that "We do have laws against racism and blasphemy"; which contradicts an earlier statement that was making the rounds, about 'freedom of speech' including the 'right to blasphemy'.

Apologize for what? After all this. Can someone draw a window out to this four-walled office. Let some reality in.

Psychological problems for Saudi man. Courtesy: four (forced) wives

Originally posted at More Pepper:

A Saudi man is in hospital after his divorced parents forced him to marry four times within six months.

The battle began when the father insisted the boy should marry a girl from his side of the family. The mother retaliated by ordering him to wed a girl from her side. But the father wasn't happy with the balance of power and insisted on a third wife from his side, to show who was boss. The mother, not to be outdone, then demanded that her son include another wife from her side of the family.

The son (may God give him courage) has now been admitted to a hospital for psychological treatment. He is refusing to see his parents or his wives.

Poor son. So many insane women and such intelligent parents. What a combination =)

05 February, 2006

Blog pets

If anyone is feeling lonely on their blog, why not get a free blog pet?

Sadly there's nothing specifically Arabian available (camel, oryx, cheetah) but they do have llamas and fish.

adopt your own virtual pet!


I regularly visit www.maxima.org as I am a Nissan Maxima enthusiast and own one as well. However, Etisalat has blocked the member pages maxima.cardomain.com for some reason. Since I cannot bypass the proxy, can someone please check if there is anything objectionable on those pages? It's a site for car enthusiasts for God's sake!!

EDIT by secretdubai (since Blogger doesn't allow pics in comments) - here's a screenshot. Click to get the full-size version:

Tiger recovers to seal a tie :: Gulf News

Tiger recovers to seal a tie :: Gulf News

Dubai: A gripping conclusion to the 2006 Dubai Desert Classic is guaranteed after a compelling day's play on Saturday saw world number one Tiger Woods stage a spectacular recovery to tie Denmark's Anders Hansen for the lead at the $2.4 million event.
Who will you be cheering for? I think I know who the Danish community in Dubai is pulling for.

Blogger.com issues?

UPDATE: John Chilton provided this link which indicates that it is a Blogger.com issue affecting a lot of bloggers.

I've now contacted Blogger.com through their support pages and, bless their little cotton socks, they sent me an immediate email with lots of links for me to click - none of which helped to explain any of the problems!

Will update further with any news that I receive - or feel free to comment on whatever you learn about the issues in the meantime.

BLOGGER STATUS has an update now that this page is also back online.


This is not a UAE-related post per se, but one that has relevance to all Blogger.com users.

Has anyone been experiencing problems with their service in the past few weeks?

Things that I've noticed:
- posts disappearing
- comments disappearing (although the Comment count seems to register them)
- error messages saying that Blogger is unable to complete my request
- images not able to be uploaded to their server
- Blogs not able to be found - server error messages (and I know that these blogs should still be accessible)

Just wondering if anyone else has noticed these issues - or others?

Please list what you're experiencing, and I'll write to Blogger tonight to log the issues with them - bearing in mind that some of the issues may not be of their doing!

04 February, 2006

Fortune Tellers?

I just had a s h o c k when I browsed through today's Tabloids of Gulf News and saw an article about a Tarot Card Reader at the Wellbeing Show.
What's happening to the people in this country? Don't they know that fortune tellers are as forbidden in Islam as let's say gambling?? How can they pull this off?
Which organizer would not know that? Honestly, what's gonna be next.....
This makes me very sad.

03 February, 2006

Cairo, Sharjah, Tirana, Taipei, Moscow, Prague, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Lyon, Valencia, Yokohama, Dakar and Vilnius

Sharjah?, you say. So called "sleepy" Sharjah?

Yep. Don't miss it - next year.

Breaking Media's Monopoly

Originally posted on Arab Community Blog:

Media (esp TV) isnt the only way to get information now. Blogging is here and it's the REAL people who live through the circumstances, are now blogging the truth away.

This article talks about a few [Syrian] bloggers; some blog to discuss political happenings in Syria, while some blog to show the historic aspect of this country.

Moral of the story: Every human and (even) a country has many faces, don't let the media decide which one you should see. Be open-minded. We're in a world where we can no longer trust one source.

Do you smell Danish?

Now that BD mentioned it, I have written a small post about the Muslim Cartoon Fiasco on BuJ Al-Arab. I have cross-posted it below.

What's exactly happening between the Muslims and the Danes? It's not right to disrespect anyone else's religion even if they have received quite a bad press in the recent years. Afterall not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Jews settlers, and not all Christians crusaders.

Having said that, is it right that we overkill the objective of this so called embargo? Is there an objective or are Muslims worldwide venting their anger and frustration at their lack of power on a worldly scale even though we're 20% of the world population on the tiny country of Denmark instead of say the USA or perhaps Israel?

Perhaps we need to take two steps back and look at things with some perspective. There's no need to punish a country for the sake of one newspaper.

I guess if Hamas could convince the Muslim world that Israel is their Yllands-Posten perhaps the middle east problem would be solved for good.

Your thoughts?

Blog Bites for Friday 3 Feb :: Emirates Today

Click link and go to page 4.

From this sample one might get the impression that UAE bloggers are not following the news of the day.

02 February, 2006

Shying Away From Controversy

Nothing at UAE Community Blog about the cartoon controversy. We do shy away from controversial issues, don't we? Of course, the reasons for this are known. But it is regrettable. Some might think, "Why fan the flames of controversy anyway? Why not let things remain quiet and peaceful?" Well, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with discussing controversial issues, as long as people are disciplined and mature enough to limit their activities to discussion. The danger comes in when people start to advocate behavior that could harm people. So, can we in the UAE discuss controversial issues in a disciplined and mature manner?

By overly self-censoring ourselves, we risk losing out on the benefits that arise from mature debate. Those benefits include broadening our understanding of people and viewpoints that are different from our own. The truth is we live in a very multi-cultural environment in the UAE. It cannot be simply described, for example, as a Muslim culture with Muslim values. Although this may define segments of the population it doesn't in any sense describe the total picture.

Well, I myself am not prepared anyway to "throw the first stone," and I'm not trying to prompt anyone else to do so. But I am saying that it would be nice if the winds of "freedom of expression" blew a little more strongly across these emirates.

Bird Flu control method...

This morgen I saw this notice in the newspapers. I have published it on my blog.

If you can't read the text, just click on the photograph.

What do you all think about this?

01 February, 2006

Häagen-Dazs cafe opens at Mall of the Emirates | NTDE

Annals of Marketing

Link: Häagen-Dazs cafe opens at Mall of the Emirates

I thought, good grief, bad timing. But it turns out Häagen-Dazs is just a name made up to sound Scandinavian to Americans.

Did you know one of the best selling beers in Canada is called Export? It's made in Canada.