31 October, 2006

Suicidal Tenancy

So, I'm sure all of you have read in today's news about a subcon man who killed his family and committed suicide in Sharjah. Suicides are on the rise in Dubai, especially among Asians. Meanwhile, there are raging debates (for the first time, some might say) among all kinds of residents about the politics of different nationalities, labor exploitation, gender issues, and Islamic culture all over the internet. For examples, take a look at this and this. Now, I have not been here that long but I see changes, and a paradox among the changes, just in the past year. Read more...

Is UAE promoting CSD?

Compulsive Shopping Disorder (CSD) is a psychological disorder which has gained increased attention in the West over the years.

Recent articles in Gulf News and Medical News Today quoting American Journal of Psychiatry indicated that there may be 10 million plus people in US alone, who shop compulsively, placing their work, families and their mental health in jeopardy! And in UAE, going by lower rates for personal loans, frequent launch of attractive credit card promotions (sometimes even by Finance houses), pushing loans to boost bank earnings, and high growth potential for credit cards in the region, we may expect to have our own share of compulsive shoppers soon! In a recent online poll by Gulf News indicated that 16% of respondents do shopping as a therapy – for 6% it’s an addiction, 8% do it to tackle boredom and 2% do it to socialize. (Read the full post here...)

Reuters Arabic: TRA to lift ban on VoIP in November

I tried to look for the story in English, but couldn't find it (sorry).

Arabic story is here.

دبي (رويترز) - قالت الهيئة المشرفة على مرفق الاتصالات في الامارات العربية المتحدة يوم الاثنين انها سترفع حظرا على الاتصال الهاتفي عبر شبكة الانترنت في نوفمبر تشرين الثاني وتسمح للجاليات الاجنبية الكبيرة في البلاد بالقيام بمكالمات هاتفية أرخص عبر الانترنت.
وقال محمد الغانم مدير عام هيئة تنظيم الاتصالات ان القواعد الجديدة ستسمح لمؤسسة الامارات للاتصالات (اتصالات) وشركة الامارات للاتصالات المتكاملة (دو) فقط بتقديم خدمات الاتصال الهاتفي عبر الانترنت.
وتمنع اتصالات معظم متصفحي الانترنت من الوصول الى مواقع انترنت مثل سكايبي SKYPE التي تسمح بإجراء مكالمات هاتفية مجانا أو بأسعار مخفضة.
وقال غانم ان تعريفات المكالمات الدولية في الامارات "شديدة الارتفاع" مرددا شكوى المقيمين الاجانب الذين يشكلون 80 بالمئة من السكان.
وقال أمام مؤتمر للاتصالات "سيسمح بالاتصال الهاتفي عبر الانترنت في البلاد بشكل تدريجي خلال العامين القادمين."
وقال "الاتصال الهاتفي عبر الانترنت سيقتصر على شركتي الاتصالات المرخص لهما.. اتصالات ودو. لن نسمح لاي شركة بالعمل دون ترخيص."
وقال الغانم لرويترز ان الهيئة المنظمة ستنشر على الارجح لائحة جديدة للاتصال الهاتفي عبر الانترنت خلال معرض الخليج لتكنولوجيا المعلومات في دبي الشهر القادم.
ويتوقع أن تطلق دو خدمات الهاتف المحمول في انحاء الدولة قبل نهاية العام.
Some of the main points mentioned in the story:

- Only Du and Etisalat will offer services that are similar to Skype
- With VoIP, international calls will be offered at lower prices
- Skype and other net-to-phone services will still be blocked, for 2 years at least
- TRA expects gradual, but full deregulation within 2 years
- More news/details about the unblock will be announced in GITEX
- Du is expected to launch its service before end of year

welcomed or shunned?

Well i just started a new blog and I am a virgin blogger as well.. I wonder if my knock on the door eventuates into a welcome or will I be pelted with stones???



Geography is History for Evening Post

Giving a headline 'Iran used Uranium on Lebanon' for an AFP report covering Israel's use of uranium-based weapons in Lebanon is not going to help Emirates Evening Post's credibility as a newspaper - or whatever remains of it.

Emirates Evening Post, Oct28, 2006.

Sheik Mo's Thoroughbred Kingdom in Kentucky :: New York Times

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Every hardboot here who makes a living breeding and selling horses knows that Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum is the ruler of Dubai, a desert kingdom on the Persian Gulf, which he has transformed into a tourist and business capital.
. . .
On Saturday at the Breeders’ Cup in Louisville, Ky., the Maktoums are expected to send out eight horses, all contenders, in four races. They are led by the 3-year-old sensation Bernardini, who has won six races in a row, including the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

They are as impressive a collection of horses as any owner has taken to the Breeders’ Cup in its 22-year history, and could help the Maktoums capture as many as five Eclipse Awards, the Oscars of horse racing. Sheik Mohammed is in the running for his first Eclipse as the country’s top horse owner.

30 October, 2006

Nanowrimo UAE blog

Nanowrimo UAE blog has been created for anyone in the UAE, formerly in the UAE, or UAE people's friends who are taking part in Nanowrimo 2006, or National Novel Writing Month.

The aim is to write a 50,000-word novel from scratch during November.

We are also welcoming "honorary" entrants. These include people that want to work on a novel they have already started, or those that can't commit to fifty thousands words but would like to writer a shorter novel, or novella.

Invitations have been sent out to some people who previously expressed interest, but if you didn't get yours, or you want one, then please post a request below or on Nanowrimo UAE blog.

And good luck!

The World Forum Launches Dubai Chapter

Dear All,

Came across this, and thought what a wonderful thing, as along with all the economics and money driven forums that we have had in this "Financial Hub" those of us who seek a bit of intellectual stimulation can no longer complain too...... The World Forum cometh to Dubai, what do bloggers think of this piece .......
The World Forum Launched in Dubai
The World Forum, the London based organization which is also regarded as a policy group/ think tank aimed at promoting World Peace through developing understanding and between the various cultures and civilizations based on mutual respect, tolerance, equality and justice, particularly between the Muslim World & the West, has launched its Middle East Chapter, and chosen none other than our Dubai as its base.

According to the The World Forum's website, The Mid-east Chapter has been organized The Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and the prominent names associated with The World Forum include, leading members of Britsh Parliament and shadow Ministers, Edward Garnier QC MP, Charles Hendry MP( Conservative), Colin Breed MP and Lord Thomas McNally, (Liberal Democrats) , as well as Robert Flynn MP and Lord Ahmed of Rotherham (Labour), additionally the council also includes the former acting Governor of Texas, state Senator Roger Ellis, and prominent UAE Businessman and chairman of Habtoor Group, Khalaf Al Habtoor.
The World Forum intends to organize various discussions, seminars, lectures and other activities aimed at promoting World Peace and intends to host a World Peace Summit in December 2006.

Medecines Sans Frontieres

MSF is an independent humanitarian aid agency committed to two objectives: providing medical aid wherever needed, regardless of race, religion, politics or sex and raising awareness of the plight of the people we help.

In the spirit of sharing, giving and remembering those who are dear, the MSF Greeting cards collection is now available for the incoming holiday season. The collection features various designs portraying the mystique and diversity of the region that would appeal to all nationalities.

With the festivities of Christmas, New Year and Eid Al Adha coming up, it’s an ideal way of expressing heartfelt messages to family and friends, or extending seasons greetings to colleagues and business associates. Send your good wishes to others and help make a difference!

Welcome the New Year with MSF’s 2007 Desk Calendars. The calendars have been produced for 5 consecutive years and are now on sale for Dhs 10 each. They are ideal for use in the office, at home and are suitable for students too.

Buy your 2007 calendars now!

Proceeds from the sales of the MSF merchandise will be used to assist MSF missions around the world.

For any information please contact MSF at:

Abu Dhabi - 02 631 7645 or Dubai – 04 345 8177

You have lived for a nation..

Next time you see this dash of white on red, remember that you are looking at the 'sub-national flag' of Dubai.
Or Ajman for that matter.

Perhaps, it is time you had a look at all the other emirates 'sub-national flags' and listen to UAE's national anthem as well. Not easy to sing along for non-Arab speakers but here is a rough translation..

Live my country, the unity of our Emirates lives
You have lived for a nation
Whose religion is Islam and guide is the Qur'an
I made you stronger in God's name oh homeland
My country, My country, My country, My country
God has protected you from the evils of the time
We have sworn to build and work
Work sincerely, work sincerely
As long as we live, we'll be sincere sincere
The safety has lasted and the flag has lived oh our Emirates
The symbol of Arabism
We all sacrifice for you, we supply you with our blood
We sacrifice for you with our souls oh homeland.

Music Composed by Egyptian composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab
In 1996 words written by Aref Al Sheikh Abdullah Al Hassan were added before which it was only an Arab folklore.

Great timing

Aggregating blogs in Greece could get you arrested:
The administrator of Blogme.gr, a Greek blog aggregation website had his house raided, his hard drive seized and was himself arrested by the Greek cybercrime division last week, after having been served with a libel lawsuit without prior notice, because a public figure was offended by a satirical blog that was linked to by his site. The outraged response by Greek bloggers was immediate and unprecedented, reaching in the hundreds of posts within two days of the raid.

The developing story coincides with the Internet Governance Forum being hosted in Athens this week, to be attended by Internet luminaries, entrepreneurs and activists like Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn and Joi Ito and featuring panels on Openness and Freedom of Expression.
(Via Slashdot)

Could something like this happen in the UAE? I doubt it.

29 October, 2006

I am sick and tired ...

of stumbling upon websites and internet services that are blocked by Etisalat. Yes, today I found that they had blocked www.stumbleupon.com web site and service. This is last year's second most popular web service according to the BBC folks.
Not only do they rip each and every internet user in the country for a service that sucks, they also erected themselves as the guardians of the moral of the people. My personal website has been blocked twice in under six months and it took me tons of forms to have it unblocked again. It now feels like not a single day passes by without me having to face the @#$%^& "Site Blocked" web page, and every single time it is for a completely "innocent" content. ( no I don't gamble and I am not into watching adult stuff). Now they don't even bother to look at the complains I keep sending through that ridiculous web form on the Etisalat web site.
Somebody explain the rationale to me. Who are they protecting and from what?? Adults from Adult graphic stuff? it is available live and for free on almost every street of Dubai. Gambling? it concerns adults and most of them are grown up enough to decide for themselves. VoIP ? that one is clear and settled; Etisalat claimed their exclusive right to rip to death every expat that would dare and try to talk to his family back home. Copyrighted material protection? They don't even know what that really means. Hacking? it is 99.99% harmless content for kids to get excited and learn some stuff. What is it then they are protecting us against? who gave them that mandate anyway? As you must all suspect, they charge you and me for financing those elaborate and expansive "protection tools".
An idea for the Etisalat folks. There is a bunch of software out there, mostly for free, that can be installed on each computer to restrict access to selected content. Why don't they encourage their customers to use it, or even better, provide it to them. Or they could offer two types of access: censored and non censored. Let the parents be parents and the adults be responsible for themselves.

I am pissed. Big time. (I bet it shows..)

We are many. Let's do something about it.

Edit : My appologies for the double post.

Friedman why is he a Freed-MaN

While searching on details of the Dubai Port deal I found this statement by Thomas Friedman "Dubai is where we should want the Arab world to go. Unfortunately, we just told Dubai to go to hell." The full article is here.

Wondering why and how do countries cities or foreign offices tolerate such statements. Would anyone tolerate it, if its a comment passed by a passerby. No offence meant but Mr. Friedman has quite a reputation for creating such artworks.

28 October, 2006

Food for Thought

Few days ago, our peace activist friend Lirun from Israel posted a video about free hugs on the UAE Community Blog here. A google search for "Free Hugs Campaign" led me to this site & what touched me most was this sentence:

Four days ago, the band posted the clip on YouTube. By 3pm today, it had close to 700,000 hits and almost 6000 comments, most of them gushing.

Like this one: "Made me cry. I love you all!"

Now what does these figures tell us?

In my opinion, modern man's soul is unhappy & uncomfortable. Why is he unhappy when his life is much more comfortable than the life his ancestors lived? Is this sadness a result of shunning God & religion?

What is the aim of our lives? Why are we in this world? Are we here just to earn money. Families are breaking up, divorce rate is on the rise. All because of career or in other words because of money?

Can money buy happiness? If yes, then why every 40 seconds a person dies of suicide? Full article here:

In the year 2000, approximately one million people died from suicide: a "global" mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds.

In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years (both sexes); these figures do not include suicide attempts up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide.

Why the modern man needs organizations like International Association for Suicide Prevention?

By the way, those who think religion is dead, read this article titled "The Return of Religion" by Douglas S. Winnail.

Growing numbers of people around the globe are becoming disenchanted with the effect of secularism on our modern world—the fragmentation of society, the weakening of social cohesion, the absence of noble ideals worth pursuing, the lack of solid values, the social acceptance of what was formerly considered perversion, the spread of crime and the lack of effective punishment, the emptiness of consumerism and materialism, the breakdown of the "welfare state," the failure of communism, the chaos in schools and the breakdown of families.

SMEs - Face land challenge

Everyone of us has been hearing a lot about the Real Estate boom and all the upcoming residential projects. But I guess the dilemma is that the huge residential boom has led to an acute shortage of commercial land. Not so in terms of space for offices but more for warehouses, fabrication facilities and small manufacturing setups.
So lets take a look at industrial areas:
  • Ras-Al-Khor (Rashidiya) is set to be vacated asap with the upcoming festival city on one side the huge bridge complex on the other and the train station in between.
  • Al-Quoz - Most of the bigger setups have been given notices to relocate as ofcourse the land they are sitting on has become prime real esate.
  • Al-Awir where sq ft prices are already about dhs30+.
  • Jebel Ali Industrial Area - No space available from development authorities.
  • Dubai Industrial Park - No spaces available from development authorities.
  • Dubai Industrial City - Minimum Plot size 50,000 sq ft / 2 dhs per sq ft, but the tenants must setup manufacturing.
  • Techno Park - same conditions as Dubai Ind City.

I don't think there is any other industrial area in Dubai unless I am forgetting any. And look at the discrepancy in the rates, DIC and Tech Park leasing out at dh2/sq ft while in other areas already the rates are dh25+/sq ft. So where should the small businesses go who are engaged in logistical operations, general trading, small scale manufacturing, fabrication and other service related projects. These play a vital role in creating jobs and providing sustainablility to the economy. This has nothing to do with locals or expats owning the business but SMEs are no doubt a necessary ingredient of the society. A recent report by Gannett News Service that employment by SMEs has been increasing in the US economy steadily. So I wonder if they plan to alot land on the seabed or else Dubai feels it needs no SMEs around and wants Sharjah and Ras-ul-Khaimah to enjoy the pie.

Piczo blocked again... grrr...

Just when we thought Etisalat, or the TRA, were starting to unblock innocent sites, they've gone and blocked Piczo for the second time. Why don't they understand the simple fact that there was a huge protest last time and there will be this time as well? Is it so difficult to comprehend that every time they block a perfectly innocent site that thousands of people in the country use there WILL be a backlash? Why block it in the first place?


The following blogs have been removed from the community blog rolls due to a lack of recent updates…


It is inevitable that I’ve forgotten some or deleted some which didn’t need to be deleted; if your blog has been deleted please make a new posting on it, and comment here or email either myself or secretdubai to have it readded.

27 October, 2006

Grand Cinemas or Grand Headache

To the point talk is that the grand cinemas staff is always very rude and it seems that if they are doing bonded labor. Secondly the most important as well today I went to watch a movie in Grand Ghurair cinemas with my 1 yr old baby. After buying tickets and about to enter theatre I was told that baby isnt allowed. I was told the same thing by Grand Wafi but they said that if I go to Ghurair they will allow baby so I came here and faced the same problem. Above all the Manager was threating and the staff was rude in the way they dealt with us. My questions are: Where is one supposed to leave his infant if he doesnt have someone to take care or as suggested by grand cinemas staff should all parent leave their children alone at home or on streets because their cinemas dont want us with babies? Secondly dont they have any training programmes for their staff to teach them manners to deal with customers? They started blaming us that our waif staff cannot say like this so you are not right? Etc etc

I hope there are some authorities to look into training and mannerism of such public places. The manager of this ghurair grand cinemas and his supervisor both need to be taught how to behave and talk with customers. I also hope that there is someone in the organisation who will also look into this matter.

Lastly I would say that we all need to bycott grand cinemas if this is the way they will continue dealing with us. It is not about being allowed to take children or not, customer always has a right to request and management has the right to refuse or accept but no one gives them the right to be rude. This is not acceptable.

What do you say?

Beautiful Coast

Aerial Photography by: www.choppershoot.com.

One more plug for Dubai Marina. The straight, barren Dubai coastline has been transformed with modern high-rise towers, water inlets and artificial islands. So, it isn't everyone's cup of tea. For those who like the totally unspoiled, there are several hundred kilometers of the Abu Dhabi coastline to enjoy--if it can be accessed.

For those who like the urban setting with an intersting mix of high-rise towers and high-end resort features, then the Dubai Marina is--or eventually will be--the best place to be.

(It's not just for the monied and well-heeled. Anyone can take a stroll along the Marina promenade while taking in the views of boats and towers and enjoying sea breezes.)

As can be seen in the image, more towers are set to rise. Will it spoil views? It sort of depends on one's perspective. Several of the new ones will be 90 and 100+ floors which will be spectacles in and of themselves.

26 October, 2006

Is UAE ready for the workforce/brain drain

Reverse Osmosis - remember that thing in biology where the particles who had traveled through osmosis to one side of a membrane would start traveling the other side - seems to be setting in for UAE and the rest of the Gulf states. MenaFN reported the rising of India as the 'Third Largest Economy' according to the World Bank. Talking about the projects initiate by WB and the government the WB spokesperson said,

"Over the past five years, these projects have supported more than half a million self-help groups and 910 federations, covering eight million households in over 29,000 villages. The coverage works out to 90 percent of all poor rural households in the state, Wheeler said and added that he was truly impressed with his first interaction with self-help groups." Which means a lot of opportunities are being created inside the country.

So lets see if UAE which is already pushing out intellectuals and the strong workforce with its rising inflation and expense cost is ready to handle a situation where they start to walk out by choice leaving the economic veins of Dubai dry.

DWTC Bollox

I got charged five bucks for TWO bludy minutes! Can you believe it!?!?!?!?

DWTC started paid parking today. So when I got the car out the time reads 1 hour 2 minutes. So what do they do? Charge me an extra bludy hour that's what!!!

I laughed first thinking he was joking but hell he wasn't. Wanks. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!!!!!

Vision Of Beauty

Via: VideoSift

free hugs a la telaviv style..

the movement apparently began in australia.. i think its pretty cool.. just randomly giving someone some warmth.. then again i recall reading about a hugging guru in india..

how would this fly in the uae? in any event.. how huggable does she look?!?! :D

Free hugs
Uploaded by Lisang

25 October, 2006

VoIP - Why to hope for it !!

When countries install more efficient technologies there aim is to save resources and provide peopel easy access to more efficient services, ofcourse at cheaper prices. But a closer look at Dubai and specially Etisalats tells me that it makes no sense if they stick to the same policy. Because most of the population here is expat. Now the bulk of these being from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh we see that a call to these countries is nearly twice as expensive as a call to UK or even USA. So why should TRA, Du or Etisalat support VoIP, its a business decision. So already the call tariff are not proportional to the cost incurred but to the population base of the country. Sam did a comparison of what Etisalat lost when Skype was in operation. Ofcourse these numbers would be more when the difference is taken over tariffs of the Asian countries and multiplied with the Asian population base.
Ofcourse they haven't overcome there ego to acquire any stand alone company to expand there services within UAE. So they just block the service and launch there own. And yes by the way Etisalat is launching VoIP as reported by Maktoob, "Etisalat, which has curbed the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, is likely to reverse its stand as the telecom sector liberalizes, the Gulf News reported. This will drastically reduce communication costs, as most middle-class consumers in the UAE suffer from high telephone bills. The company has commissioned a study on VoIP, an Etisalat official, who requested anonymity, told Gulf News yesterday." So hope not that cheaper communication days would dawn on us in UAE.

Aerial Photography

Aerial Photography by: www.choppershoot.com

Photos taken of the UAE from above seem to be becoming more and more popular--understandably so for all of the amazing developments coming up especially around Dubai.

The photo above is a recent shot over Dubai Marina. Notice even the smoke rising from the stacks of the Dubai Power Plant conveniently located at the edge of the Marina.

Chopper Shoot (Aerial Photography) has more Dubai Marina photos at its website. I have my own shots--mostly from ground level, at Dubai Marina Photos.

Noble Ambition

The aims of the Metro System are to provide an alternative mode of transport to ease congestion, save passengers traveling time, reduce traffic pollution thereby improving environmental quality, improve mobility within the City, provide connection to Dubai International Airport, and deliver modern, comfortable and reliable services to the Metro users. The Dubai Metro is intended to provide transport coverage and reach to all strategic areas of the City, and develop the network to branch out into the suburbs with future extensions.
These are all great objectives. One I really like is "...provide connection to Dubai International Airport." Whenever one visits a new city and discovers there's a train right at the airport to take you into the heart of the city, it adds a whole bunch of plus marks to the rating of that city. It's a great way to start your visit off, and you definitely want to come and visit that city again.

Then there's the reverse when you arrive in a city and the airport is a mess, and the first thing you wonder is "How the hell am I going to get to the city!"

The Great Dubai Novel

It's NaNoWriMo time again (National Novel Writing Month - when people try to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch) and there doesn't seem to be a regional forum for the UAE or the Gulf there.

I can't enter officially, because I'm already 10,000 words into my novel, which breaks the rules, but I think it would be good fun and discipline to join in the 50k effort anyway.

Is anyone else planning to enter NaNoWriMo and/or write a juicy and exciting thriller about the UAE? If so let's try and get a forum going for mutual support and late night writer's block remedies.

24 October, 2006

WWF and an island

Apparantly the UAE has placed top on a list it shouldn't be so proud of...
Oct 24 (Reuters) - Following is a ranking issued by the WWF conservation group on Tuesday of the 10 nations whose inhabitants place most demands per capita on the world's natural resources.

It said in a report that humans were stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and would need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends.

Nations with the biggest per capita "ecological footprints" were: 1. United Arab Emirates 2. United States 3. Finland 4. Canada 5. Kuwait 6. Australia 7. Estonia 8. Sweden 9. New Zealand 10. Norway

People in the United Arab Emirates, for instance, needed the equivalent of almost 12 hectares (29.65 acres) per person of productive land or seas in 2003 to provide natural resources they used and to re-absorb their waste.
--more HERE

and in other news Michael Schumacher has been gifted a part of the world...
"Michael Schumacher received an unique and unprecedented parting gift after his last grand prix in Brazil - an island.

Dubai's crown prince - Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum - reportedly decided to give the retiring German a piece of the man-made island paradise The World. located off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. "
--more HERE

23 October, 2006

Jewish Diamonds Find Favor in Dubai :: Washington Post

"Dubai is quickly growing to become a very important center for diamonds," Ernest Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, said by phone from Jerusalem.

The good Arab-Jewish vibes extend across the Atlantic. In June, the largely Jewish New York Diamond Dealers Club on Manhattan's 47th Street feted Ahmed bin Sulayem, deputy chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, for his contribution to the industry.
. . .
As Israelis and Arabs emerge from the war in Lebanon, a booming diamond exchange in this Arab country 1,300 miles away is hard proof that some Arab-Israeli ties have survived despite the region's tensions.

The two-year-old Dubai Diamond Exchange has put the Gulf emirate squarely inside a global business dominated by Jewish traders. And that, inevitably, means trade ties with Israel, another world diamond hub.
. . .
Israeli Diamond Exchange president Avi Paz says diamonds and hospitality flow freely between Israel and Dubai.

"We came there, they came here. There is no problem at all," Paz said in Tel Aviv. "I wish that wherever I go, they'll host me like they hosted me in Dubai."

Officially at least, the Emirates still enforces some aspects of the Arab League's boycott with Israel, although a government official said most restrictions were dropped long ago. There are no direct flights to Israel and visitors traveling on Israeli passports are rarely allowed to enter.
. . .
The 34-day summer war in Lebanon, between Hezbollah and Israel, dulled sales in Dubai's diamond markets but only temporarily, industry officials say.

"People don't mix conflict with business. The war will not affect the diamond trade in any lasting way," said Abboud.

The relationship was highlighted in March, when controversy arose over Dubai Ports World assuming the management of U.S. ports. At the time the chairman of Israel's merchant fleet told U.S. senators that his ships called often at DP World-owned ports in Dubai and worldwide, and faced no problems.

Full article here.

Reinforcing the Great Divide

The following news item (copied below in full) illustrates what I see as UAE governmental authorities exasperating the divide between locals and expats:

Aldar Properties will develop a community for middle income UAE nationals, according to WAM. Al Falah city will comprise several villages based around a town centre with shops and civic buildings. The development is expected to have more than 5,000 residential villas of varying size.

Such projects seem to come up in all emirates, but especially Abu Dhabi. Grant it, the government is concerned about the livelihood of nationals. But creating more segregated districts does not seem to be the answer. It suggests that many nationals themselves prefer to live separately from the large numbers of expats or at least this is the wish of the government. Why not introduce mixed developments, even if grants are provided for local residents (including UAE born expats), while non-residents and other expats purchase theirs in full?

Whiter shade of pale bonus :: Washington Post

Vanderbilt University economist Joni Hersch found that legal immigrants to the United States who had darker complexions or were shorter earned less money than their fair-skinned or taller counterparts with similar jobs, training and backgrounds. Even swarthy whites from abroad earned less than those with lighter skin.

Immigrants with the lightest complexions earned, on average, about 8 to 15 percent more than those with the darkest skin tone after controlling for race and country of origin as well as for other factors related to earnings, including occupation, education, language skills, work history, type of visa and whether they were married to a U.S. citizen.

In fact, Hersch estimated that the negative impact of skin tone on earnings was equal to the benefit of education, with a particularly dark complexion virtually wiping out the advantage of education on earnings.
Via Crooked Timber.

UPDATE: Creams to lighten the skin sell well in the UAE. 7Days raises the issue. Other local papers frequently have stories about the health issues associated with some of these creams. Thanks to commenters for suggesting I connect the dots. It's not just ads that make these creams popular. People think lighter skin will make themselves more popular. Are they correct in that belief -- in the UAE, not just the US?

Urgent request for blood donors

I spotted this urgent appeal on a Dubai forum:

My husbands colleague has just been told that he requires an urgent triple bypass. Unfortunately he is ABNegative and the hospital will not release the blood until suitable replacement donors are found.

If you have this blood group and are able to donate please could you call Ms. Vidya on 050 3460435 or 04 3590514 who will give further details.

The gentleman's name is VKL and this operation is critical

Apparently this blood group is quite rare, so I am sure any help would be appreciated, if anyone knows any suitable donors. Giving blood really doesn't hurt (I've done it - sadly I'm the wrong blood type for this) and has negative effects on the donor.

22 October, 2006

Eid Mubarak

I wish you ALL a very happy and peaceful Eid. May Allah accept your good deeds, forgive your transgressions and ease the suffering of all people around the globe. May the blessings of Allah fill your life with happiness and open all the doors of success now and always.

I am extremely sorry if anyone felt offended by my previous posts or comments. I hope you will forgive me in the true spirit of Eid. God bless you all :-)

Want a greeting card? Click here.

Eid Mubarak :-)

60 workers live in a 17 by 11-metre room

The room has 30 bunk beds and eight air-conditioners of which just three work. Sixty workers use three toilets.

With no bathroom facilities, the workers take a shower in the open using a hose that is fitted to a tap located outside a toilet. Food is prepared individually in a common kitchen.

The workers said they could not bear these conditions anymore. They are also afraid that management of the accommodation will be upset if workers are caught telling their stories.

"Our labour card will be confiscated if our camp boss catches anyone of us talking about the matter," said one worker. "We tried to live in that room, but we cannot take it any longer. We feel cramped," said one worker.
Excerpt from Gulf News article.

This problem is so reflective of certain attitudes in Dubai, the UAE and the Gulf at large. There is sort of the caste mentality that certain people can be allowed to/forced to live this way. You know, it's part of their karma, right?

There is also the "if you don't like it you can leave attitude." I'm so sick of this one. Why is Dubai building homes for hundreds of thousands, many presumably to come from abroad, if this is supposed to be an "if you don't like it you can leave it" sort of place. No matter that people come here by choice and for many it is a place to reside in temporarily; it is never a simple matter of like it or leave it.

Whether here for a week, a month, a year or a lifetime, everyone, especially workers, deserve humane treatment. Why should they be expected to leave if conditions turn out bad? Why not punish those (like these shameful companies) who are treating others inhumanely?

The next time

A recent post on Secret Dubai's Diary regarding the date upon which Eid this year would fall caused a whirlwind in commentary; sensible and not sensible; with various name calling and incredibly ridiculous arguments.

First off let me start by saying Eid Mubarak, Kil Sine wo Into Taybeen, Season's Greetings, and Happy Holidays to all. It is that time of the year.

If the US Postal office can find it in themselves (even if there is some huge conspiracey theory behind it) to print a stamp acknowledging all 3 major religions to mark this time of the year, wouldn't it be logical to assume that we as individuals can at least acknowledge each other with respect and admissions to the awful truth that life is unfair because we have made it unfair for ourselves?

The commentary on Secret Dubai's blog has proved that we cannot do so.

I feel the need to address a few things that came up in this blog though. Despite all the ramblings that took the form of sensible debating, I still can't put my finger on one person that was able to stay objective during all of it.

It's troublesome. Not because there has been so much time wasted away from regular mundane tasks and errands we are all burdened with but because there are so many people out there unable to recognize that we have the power to change the status quo if we really want to and yet they continue to attack the wrong people or the wrong behaviour.

And no I'm not talking about making the world a better place and feeding the orphans. I'm talking about simple exchanges of respect between people whether or not there are miles of cabling and monitors at each end to hide behind.

First things first:

The deliberation of Eid.

Fortunately for muslims in a way there is a regulating authority for judgements and fatwas that is based out of KSA. Unfortunately for muslims we can't agree on anything.

Fortunately, the prophet left behind him teachings on how to determine the start and end of Ramadan. Unfortunately, everybody wants to be boss.

And yet, millions of muslims look towards Saudi's regulating body to tell them that Ramadan is upon us and that Eid is tomorrow.

It's a societal dynamic. If I follow Saudi and I fast on the day they tell me to, then I am not making a mistake because I followed a higher authority appointed by God, the prophet, and the people.

If I don't follow Saudi, and I fast a day after or a day before, God isn't going to smite me. The point is, that this is a celebration for all and by default, the saudi authorities determine it and the remaining GCC countries follow as many other sinne muslim countries. The point is and remains, the joyous, feel-good time, follow your fast with good deeds time is upon us.

Fortunately for all muslims; innama al a3malo bil niyyat wa li kol imri'in ma nawa.

"Actions are determined by their intentions, and you are owed what you intended"

So if you want to fast and you have intended to do so whether or not you start or stop a day earlier or later than the rest, you're still good and god's going to credit you for whatever days you fasted.

Whether or not people choose to believe there is a government party tallying up how many days the public sector should get as eid holidays does it matter? I doubt there is but a society built on a shaky foundation such as this one with many cultures being forced into cramped quarters where tolerance is truely tested needs regulation. Hence the issuing of holidays to public sector as such and private sector following suit if they choose too. According to religious teachings Eid holidays are to be no more than 3 days upon which everyone returns to normal activities.

A simple blog entry and everyone was up in arms.

The whole point of having a Eid has been distorted over a ridiculous argument.

In any case, had the sky been cloudy last night or not, with the advancement of technology, those issuing the command on whether or not Ramadan this year is 29 or 30 days are required to use those technological advancements to determine such otherwise we could have had a 3 day sandstorm and the moon was never to be seen. Should we just keep fasting even after the 30 days?

Point is, conspiracey theory has no place in an issue such as this one.

Moving on to the expat vs local and expact vs arab and everyone vs the subcons debate that keeps coming up and up again.

It is true; the locals are paid more money for the same job. In the past little or no work was done to justify those salaries from non-local point of view. However, the alternative of having the freshly graduated locals with no experience sitting at home with nothing to do and their minds rotting is not a good one. It is the duty of those that run this country to their people to invest in their minds and talents however slowly the results come by. It is out duty to question unfairness but to also respect that when coming here we knew full well what the deal was. It is also our duty to do what we deem necessary in order to survive within reason. The argument that if you don't like it here means nothing simply because if you are already complaining and you had any other alternative you wouldn't be here.

Lets face it for alot of people this is a cushy life with over the top adventures and we're here because of that.

I for one could not bear the sub zero weather in Canada nor did I find it fair that no matter how hard I worked the slice of tax to the government just got bigger and bigger. Yes medical care is free but its well on its way to privatization and if I lived another year in below 0 weather I would have surely needed it.

As for expats: The majority of you get better jobs than your arab and subcon counterparts whether or not you agree based on the assumption you will be smarter, brighter, more efficient, more professional, and bring more money into the company because you are the embodiment of the blonde and blue. If you're from the west you must be better at doing the job than the arab I know will sit drinking coffee all day with his paper. A stereotype. Very wrong one. The thing is the cushy packages the expats were getting a few years ago are dwindling and fast. The other thing is its because the arab, local, subcon, talent came back educated from the west and the advantage the expats had has begun to fade. After all, we've all worked and succeeded in the same place you came from so why should the packages you get be exclusive to you alone. There are still some out there that enjoy it but they've been here so long whose got the energy to argue it. And just as there are many arabs and subcons that fake the working and spend lots of time chatting, blogging, and just reading the paper in their comfortable jobs, expats, rule the game too. I've seen it with my own eyes.

I won't begin to address the subcon issue with anything other than it is a landmine field riddled with every social stigma there is. The bottom line the treatment they receive is unfair and we all help it along.

As for arabs, well, there is no need for us to get hot headed about issues such as this. The same goes for muslims all over the world. No need whatsoever, you're only playing into the sentiment and stigma that muslims are terrorists by default.

You're doing fine as you are, we're not the only ones threatened by hungry Bush we're just on the top of the list right now. It's the oil and the economic value of the middle eastern region that makes us so important. Its the fierce unity we display when we all cry for the sake of our religion that scares Bush and his little helpers. It's the willingness to die for a religion and the commitment we have to it that offends them. This is not wrong in principle however it is powerful and can be a negative propegator. Bush had to come up with the fight for freedom and democracy to give the entire Iraq campaign a valid emotional cause that people could relate to and want to die for because we rule in that department. But if we are so proud and so closely tied to the religion emotionally wouldn't it be better if we tried to spread the word of our religion with positive messages?

I mean I don't practice but I do believe in the fundamental message that is Islam. I would die defending it but I wouldn't provoke an argument or use anything other than peaceful means no matter how futile or bleak the outlook is.

The issue that is lost on many expats or westerners is that we are not raised to do whatever makes you happy or comfortable in the confines of our homes. We are not brought up to think that our sole individualistic needs are the only ones that matter when our emotional or physical well-being is threatened. We are not brought up in small tight family cells or units with the focus on moving out at 18 and finding our own way.

We are raised that the group needs always prevail. We are raised that family comes first and that everything we do is to be in line with an expectation or expectations dictated to us about how or what we do with our lives since we are children.

We are raised to be proud not as individuals but as a part of a family that extends beyond the immediate. We don't have family reunions because we are continuously in touch. An aunt in Canada or a cousin in France or a great uncle in Brazil or a family home in a small tiny village somewhere are all weaved into the fabric of our lives since the day we are born no matter where we are born.

This includes christians and muslims alike in this region but to be truthful the unifying feelings among the muslims are much stronger than the ties purely built on arabism.

Some if not most expats fail to see that. They fail to realize that an attack verbal or more on a muslim value can and will cause uprise and uproar from the people.

Don't expect those that govern us to be a fair representation of who we are however. Democracy is lacking in our side of the world however that in our defense, the defense of the people that live under the rule, was aided and helped along by super powers that claim they are now bringing it to us, when they are the reason we have been deprived of it for so long.

That is besides the point however. What I aim or want or wish for is for people to stop being so judgemental and willing to label other people terrorists for simply getting angry over something that is considered offensive in our culture. I also want those that got angry over SD's post to see the humor in it no matter what the intentions of SD were.

SD's post although funny was meant to cause a debate. I don't know SD therefore I can't determine what her intentions are. I believe that yes maybe she does bring up sensitive topics in order to garner some kind of attention maybe not personally maybe to bring about change? maybe because she expresses herself this way? Does she get a kick out of it? Why doesn't someone just ask her that? I think I will. Why do you post such things without putting forward a solid opinion of your own? Why do you focus on highlighting the cons before the pros of this society and without an opinion that can be attributed to you? Why do you continue to do so even though you are fully aware of the fire you could be fueling? Do you get a kick out of it? Mind you SD, I'm not accusing you of anything I just want to know what has motivated you to keep this blog going for so long as is even after it was temporarily blocked? What makes you do it?

However, no matter what her intentions are it does not justify that the debate on her blog took the nasty turn that it did and revealed the awful feelings we all have for one another. We are all educated people with open minds - in theory -. Therefore it stands that this debate shouldn't have gone as far as it did.

Dubai and the UAE, has brought in so many cultures and so many types of people that the only unifying force amongst us all is that we all seem to be really good at complaining and questioning without much decisive action. This place will never be a melting pot because the dominant powers do not want that.

Remember, you agreed to all the crap you were going to get when you got here. No you don't have to put up with it or take it but you do have to form a comprimise between you and yourself and those around you in order to move forward with your life.

The next time you see a sub-con worker tirelessly toiling in the sun and you feel outrage for the way they are being treated give him a hundred dirhams and walk on. Don't even wait for the thanks.

The next time Etisalat and Dewa overcharge and underserve you, deal with it quietly and patiently and move on to the next set of problems.

The next time you work overtime for a week or 6 months maybe and you feel underpaid, find another job that pays you more if you can and if you can't invest in your skills and then find another job that pays you more.

The next time the Pope says something offensive and then apologizes for it, accept the apology and move on.

The next time SD posts a blog that you find offensive, express your opinion clearly if you feel the need to do so without resorting to name calling and if you're faced with a person that is not respecting you state how you feel without degredation to your ownself and move on. I've made the mistake of arguing with a blogger on my blog before and on his. I look back at it now and I regret I let my anger get the best of me no matter how justified I felt. It just wasn't worth it.

And the next time you feel the need to attack SD, don't attack her person, attack the behaviour and question it calmly.

After the Palm, the Burj, the World, etc. What Next?

Try Abu Dhabi. Reuters reports that Abu Dhabi developer Aldar--third largest Gulf Arab real-estate developer (after Emaar and Nakheel?)--will announce later this year a Dh85 billion (US$23 billion) leisure project.

If Dubai's mantra is "build it and they will come," Abu Dhabi's mantra is "if Dubai can do it, so can we."

But wait a minute, Abu Dhabi is 150 km or little over a one-hour drive from Dubai. By the time Abu Dhabi's proposed projects come on line, Dubai's will already have been established.

Instead of trying to capitalize on its established reputation as a reliable energy provider, Abu Dhabi wants to go head to head against Dubai in a game that, frankly, Dubai has created the rule book for. I think Abu Dhabi should chart its own course and not just try to play catch up with Dubai.

The Burj Dubai at about 80 floors, half its eventual height.

Diamond trade

There is an interesting read on the diamond trade over here...

"The two-year-old Dubai Diamond Exchange has put the Gulf emirate squarely inside a global business dominated by Jewish traders. And that, inevitably, means trade ties with Israel, another world diamond hub.

"There has been no visible platform for Arab-Jewish cooperation since the 1960s," said Chantal Abboud, Beirut-based representative of Antwerp's diamond industry in the Middle East. "Now, Dubai has created it."

Interesting career read from UNESCO

I found this intereting link from UNESCO (Unites Nations Education Scientific and Cultrual Organisation) on how they look at the world education with focus towards careers and so thought of sharing it will all of you. Infact if you guys know more such useful resources lets bring them to table as well becuase I cannot be a master of all careers and thus need continuous help and support from all out there so that this effort can be of use to our fellow collegues and their children in the UAE. Careermentoring is needed by most of us most of the time. So lets join hands together in this.


Have a look at the careers handbook. Its an intersrting read as well.

21 October, 2006

It's 11.30 at night, and I seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time for the latest news: can anyone tell me if Eid is tomorrow or Monday? Thank you!

cusp of conflict..

i'm guessing that the uae mainstream media has paid attention to aisha azmi's issues with the anglican school where she is a teaching assistant for minorty children - kids with english as a second language..

for those who havent - the short of it is.. ms azmi was born and raised in the UK.. she attended the school as a child for several years.. she interviewed for the job without head cover and since working has decided to wear a burqa.. its caused some discomfort for others.. and various reasons have been cited ranging from the words not being clear.. the facial expressions being absent.. children struggilng to understand.. embarrassment etc etc.. she was requested to remove the burqa while teaching and refused.. she was then asked to take leave without pay and is now pursuing the matter through the courts..

i believe that the matter is soon to go before a pan european jurisdiction.. keeping in mind that only two years ago that forum ruled that turkey was legally able to legislate against hijabs..

i have just finished posting some fragments about integration of muslims into israeli society and have raised this issue on my other blog.. was keen to hear some opinions from this forum where we enjoy a fantastic mixture of opinions and backgrounds..

shabbat shalom to you all


Where Have All The Radar's Gone?

I'm singing in tune to Where Have All The Cowboys Gone btw.

I was driving by Emirates Road on the way to work today and being Saturday there wasn't much traffic (hence I was driving at above 130 instead of under 40!!) and hence I was on the look out for them radar's.

Well guess what: there weren't any. From interchange 1 heading from Sharjah to interchange 4 where I take the exit everyday after the ENOC petrol pump I know where all the radar's are and hence instinctively slow down. But today that wasn't required!! None of them were there!!!

Now where have they gone? Do you think there was some sort of alien invasion and they were sucked into their UFOs? Just from interchange 1-4?

Hail the International Monetary Fiddlers (IMF)

Finally the IMF has given UAE Gov. one good sugesstion, and that is setting up of a statistics bureau. Gulf News reported the development of the National Bureau of Statistics, subject to cabinet approval (ofcourse), which will act as a centralized database. This will not only come handy to Researchers but also to Analysts, Consultants and above all to my dearest 'young entrepreneurs'. Often when I did research for my blog I ended up using the CIA fact book as I failed to find detail statistics on UAE anywhere.

Now lets see how much of these official statistics by NBS would show the true picture.

Blogosphere Manners

This post is in response to the foul language contest going on in the Secret Dubai's blog.

Let me clarify something, I am not a big fan of Secret Dubai. I don't agree with her point of view on many things, but I still respect her as a human being & cannot even think about using bad language against her. I really admire her effort in trying to unite UAE bloggers through the UAE Community Blog. Thank You Secret Dubai for that :-)

Let us come back to the main point. Lately, I have noticed an increase in the use of foul language by fellow bloggers, irrespective of their nationality or religion, especially in the comments sections of various blogs. This post is a reminder to fellow muslim bloggers about the good manners which our religion teaches us. Non-muslim bloggers don't need a reminder because they are supposedly more "cultured" than us.

I will quote two ahadith from the Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him.

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: Allah's Apostle said. "It is one of the greatest sins that a man should curse his parents." It was asked (by the people), "O Allah's Apostle! How does a man curse his parents?" The Prophet said, "'The man abuses the father of another man and the latter abuses the father of the former and abuses his mother." (Sahih Al Bukhari Book #73, Hadith#4)
Narrated Masruq: Abdullah bin 'Amr mentioned Allah's Apostle saying that he was neither a Fahish nor a Mutafahish (one who would abuse others or say obscene words). Abdullah bin 'Amr added, Allah's Apostle said, 'The best among you are those who have the best manners and character.' (Sahih Al Bukhari Book #73, Hadith #56)

20 October, 2006

Careers in UAE for fresh graduates

For long this has been an issue in the UAE that if you are a fresh graduate in UAE what will you do? You are undoubtedly at an advantage if you are a local but what are other graduates supposed to rely on? Its a million dollar question and specially when UAE is pushing towards all these Knowledge villages, healthcare cities with teaching hospitals and medical colleges, engineering schools and growing number of educational institutions all around the cities. Students often approach me for help in this regard and I am only able to help a very few through my contacts. But the majority has to either get frustrated, choose odd jobs or change their careers to atleast get their first jobs. I know a lot of fresh engineering and business graduates who end up in real estate or call centers because they cannot wait too long for a job in their fields.

Being an engineer myself I cannot emphasise more on the importance of internships and ongoing student industry partnerships that actually make wonders happen in the US and UK job and technology markets but here in UAE I think no one cares less about it. Students enrolled in prestigious universities in UAE are just theoretical students. I know a lot of parents who end up sending their children to home countries because of these issues. To me this is not only a flaw in the educational industry in UAE but also will hinder in its future growth.

I wish authorities in education do look into this matter and make an independent panel of experts to look into the matter for making education less commercial and more practical.

Drawing a Mosque on a Starry Sky Scene in Photoshop

Learn how to draw a pretty nice mosque scene using Photoshop from this tutorial.

This may not be of interest to that many of this blog's readers, but I thought it would make for an interesting contribution that some may find useful.

Event Clutter

Is it me or there is a growing clutter of events in Dubai and, now after Abu Dhabi joined the race, in the whole of UAE. Just a look at the exclusive events targeted towards leaders and entrepreneurs I came across these five:
  • International Entrepreneurship Forum & Exhibition
    DUBAI TO HOST WORLD'S BIGGEST GATHERING OF ENTREPRENEURS AND BUSINESS LEADERS. (which had claims to become an annual event but I think never did.)
  • Abu Dhabi World Leadership Summit
  • Leaders in Dubai Business Forum
  • Entrepreneurship 2010
    Creating a Dynamic, Vibrant and Competitive Economy
  • Emirates Millionaire Show

So what exactly happened at Abu Dhabi Leadership Summit that was so different from Leaders in Dubai except probably the speakers got a good payday due to parallel bidding. I wonder even if participants from countries other than UAE get value for money in such events. Although no doubt it is a good business model, infrastructure is already at place, as long as the speakers price is paid they'll be more then happy to lecture. And then charge corporate clients a hell lot of money to attend.

Don't have to be proud of your nationality, but at least don't hide it.

Here in Dubai we all know that some nationalities are not popular at all ( One of them very unpopular and we don't want to point it out, every body knows). These people cannot hide their accent, their look and lack of table manner, and no body likes them, but it seems like they are facing it quite easily. I am surprised of other people who are for instance from East Europe and they just cannot stop hiding their nationality. You hear this a lot 'My parents are from Romania, but I was born and grown up in UK, and the truth is that he has had a 6 month unsuccessful career in Scoltand! Many other are German, but end up being from Austria, Poland, etc.
As a very proud of her nationality young lady, my advice to this people is looking at our friends from that very unpopular nationality and see how they face it and deal with it. Be your self guys! You are not that unpopular, are you?

New York Times on Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 18 — South Asians call it “the best run Indian city,” Arabs celebrate it as a model of Arab accomplishment, and Westerners embrace it for its endless sunshine and luxury lifestyle.

With more than 150 nationalities and almost as many expressions of culture, Dubai is one of the most diverse cities in the Middle East.

But after decades of selling dreams to foreigners, this Persian Gulf emirate has begun debating the limits of multiculturalism.

Tensions burst into the open in early October when an English-language newspaper published an article protesting the growing disrespect for Muslim customs here during Ramadan, setting off a rare public debate about Dubai’s cultural identity.

“Too much flesh on show is wrong in a Muslim country at any time — but offense is being felt especially during Ramadan,” said the front-page editorial in 7Days, a free daily tabloid.

Continue reading the NYT article.

Top 10 Guidelines for Any Government that wants to become Civilized:

1. A Government should vehemently condemn any atrocities committed by other nations while totally ignoring its own substantial contribution to human suffering and misery over the course of a few centuries.

2. A Government should accept freedom of press as one of its pillars and those that work within the field as a corner stone of any civilized society. This acceptance should end – of course -when the members of the press start staying stuff that the general populace needs not to hear, and –naturally- it would be totally acceptable to ‘neutralize’ these elements.

3. A Government will ensure a fair and transparent election process to select the ‘top official’, and will continue to support this elected official even though he or she might later on prove to be no more than a happy-puppy, roll-over-and-get-me-the-ball type of person that doubles as a PA for some other nations top dog.

4. A Government will enforce the separation of state and religion in all aspects, except – of course – when it comes to a state based on their favorite pet religion.

Read The Rest.

19 October, 2006

Sleeper cells in Kuwait? :: Strategy Page

October 18, 2006: Kuwait announced that its police and intelligence services had discovered an Iran espionage and sabotage organization within Kuwait. The Iranian agents, recruited from among the Shia (who are half the population) in Kuwait, were often trained in Iran. The Iranian network consisted mainly of "sleeper cells" (agents who were inactive, and went about their normal lives until activated by their Iranian bosses.) Kuwait is still trying to discover the extent of the Iranian networks, but fears that it may be a large one (several thousand members).

This is the future

I know the guy who is responsible for this project in person, it doesnt seem that it got that attention in the media

He told me that this method has been applied to a german student, he is aged 16 now and proved the falseness of two theories. He said that the student will have the knowledge of a PhD students.

He is really excited about the project. He told me also that they want to make new curriculum for all the subjects from grades 1 to 12 and that they wanted to distance themselves from the ministry of education

The talents will be on 7 subjects. I remember 5 of them only which are Math, Engineer, Science, Islamic studies and Leadership

Check gulf news


Spirit of Zakat !!!!!!???

We talked about crazy layouts on this board before too.

Apart from "Death" wrap posted by Free Mind below, there's another weird front page headline put into a shameful layout / connection.

The main headline + image headline together gave me the impression that:

"Blair warns Pakistan against hanging Briton... (in the) Spirit of zakat"

While these days KT is rebuked regularly for all the bad journalism that one can write volumes on, GN - known for it's better layouts should not be goofing up with these kinds of communication.

Scandalous Skype

HERE is a pretty in-depth associated press article on the Skype/VoIP block in the UAE.

Worth reading, in particular for this quote...
"People don't understand the harm of a provider that has no obligations to this country," said Mohammed Ghuaith, director of technology for the Emirates Telecommunication Regulatory Authority. "Are the conversations secure? Are they being recorded? Will they steal information? Will they sell it? These are the things we need to look at."

18 October, 2006

Death of whom?

Today's Gulf News really did catch my attention! For an instant, I wondered if it had to do with the news item on our telecom provider making lots and lots of profit - posted on top and that it spelled death for me!

So much for great advertising! Thank you Gulf News for giving me an optimistic start to my morning!

Can't wait for my paper tomorrow - with the words "You are in Deep S#@!"

technical difficulties

sorry i'm posting this here, but i need to know if my page is loading for other people...it won't load properly for me, all i get is a blank page with the blogger bar on top with some html script...what do i do??? i would really appreciate any feed back about whether the page is loading for others...
my page is at: http://ergo-urbanite82.blogspot.com

Go get a biscuit for my dog, dear editor

Close on the heels of the Mediawatch post that 'Our Favourite No:1 newspaper' might be shutdown and merged with Emirates Today soon, there is more interesting news.

Pranay Gupte, ex-Sun Columnist and recently appointed executive editor of KT of has written a 'bizarre, completely unedited, unfactchecked' email to FishBowlNY after his quick exit from KT.

Here are some excerpts.
  • "The Sheikh's government dismissed the chairman of the Galadari Group, Mohammed Galadari, and also the group's entire board of directors."

  • "Khaleej Times, long a relatively independent voice in Middle East journalism, immediately becomes a government organ."
    KT - the independent voice of journalism. Yeah right.

  • Mr. Galadari made editors in KT fetch dog biscuits for his dog and used 'verbal and physical abuse of editors and top management, often in public and using ethnic scatology'.
    Now we know the reason why KT reporting was always so inspiring.

  • Sheikh Mohammed was very upset with Galadari policies of using the newspaper for his personal vendettas and for being hostile to some countries like India according to his own interests.

  • Squabbles inside the Galadari family also lead to these events which has resulted in Mr. Galadari's arch enemies including his aunt being in the board at present.

  • He calls his 'unusual time' in Dubai as 'a refresher course in petty politics and high intrigue' and 'an utter waste of time and energy' and reckons that this is a win for the Government control over the media.
What next?
I received this email today. When you have a moment, watch the film. I certainly makes one feel fortunate and thankful and restores one's faith in the goodness of people. Eid Mubarak.

Dear Friends,

This is a story of hope and change. It is a story about what to do when you can't sit still. It is about how we all do make a difference.

To see the documentary go to: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6334133046104750860&q=rebuilding

After the horrific earthquake almost a year ago in Pakistan, a group of determined individuals spearheaded by this documentary maker ( Nasir Aziz ) raised millions of dollars and donations securing 600 homes, a hospital (1st for this community) and 3 schools all delivered & built before the winter months. That means in a matter of 6 to 8 weeks!

All contributions went directly to the efforts. People mobilized & the results are astounding. The six villages - the mountainside - is now a sister city of Seattle . The schools have funding for TWO years for uniforms, food, salaries, ...and people lived – they survived…they did not perish from the cold…their broken lives were given hope!

It is an incredible story. It is a model of how to mobilize and make a difference after such a tragedy. It is a particularly important story today of East & West, of people coming together from different religious, social, economic, & political worlds.

Should any of you wish to get a press kit or assist in getting this story out, we welcome it!

Nasir welcomes showing the documentary and Q&A. If you wish to use it in a classroom, school presentation or media, please contact Nasir so he can arrange a copy to be sent to you as needed.

Please share - it's a lovely story of what a difference we all can make; a story of hope...of the West and East coming together.

Dubai under the X-Ray

The latest edition of the online diving magazine X-Ray Mag has a couple of UAE-related articles.

On Page 9, there’s a short article about coral regeneration in the Arabian Gulf including Abu Dhabi, and on Page 14, there’s a full-page spread on Fraser Bathgate who has become the first wheelchair-bound person to gain a Course Director qualification with NAUI. Fraser started his diving in Dubai in 1992.

On Pages 5 & 6, there’s an excellent article on diving in Lebanon, and how the oil spill is being cleaned up. Fortunately for the diving operators it's had little impact on them, although overall they're badly hurting from the lack of patronage. Read the article and then go to Lebanon for some excellent underwater experiences.

One of the great aspects of the X-Ray website is that it allows you to download the magazine as a beefy pdf or as a view online magazine with several different options to choose from depending on the speed of your internet connection.

It's an info-packed read for all diving enthusiasts. The articles are well written, the images are fantastic and even the advertisements are educational - and it's FREE!

Check out X-Ray Mag - a premium read for scuba divers.

Richest People of the Middle East

HERE is an interesting video (google video) made by discovery channel entitled "Richest People of the Middle East". Most of them are in Dubai. Worth watching.

Link courtesy of anonymous.

17 October, 2006

Dubai not Afghanistan

Read this article 'Find my Fiancee' in 7days, where the US national claims his fiancee has been lured to Dubai and might be in danger. Andapparentlyy he has been so convincing that 7days is making appeals to readers about it. I meanC'monn its Dubai not Afghanistan, the dude can walk right into immigration or police or CID and get her presence verified, everything is computerized and systematic. Ofcourse he would need to have proper evidence to make claims first. Most of us who have been in dubai for a couple of decades know, one thing that stands out is our safety.

An essential guide for bloggers

" Blogging is beginning to take off in the Middle East. Hundreds of online users in the region are getting involved every week and recent figures from Arabic portals such as Al Bawaba and Maktoob show that blog traffic is increasing rapidly across the region."

" Probably some of the main potential risk areas from a legal liability point of view include:"



Evil Paradises: The Dreamworlds of Neo-Liberalism

Chapter One: Dubai, as published this month in the New Left Review.

16 October, 2006

Speediest way to trace someone...

I have been following this story of “missing brother" for some time, and am quite amused by the fact that the search should have culminated in jail!

Consider these:

3rd Oct – The “mentally retarted brother” Mahesh Samal went missing after 3 am.

10th Oct – Filed missing report with Al Gharb police

12th Oct (GN) – An official in Al Gharb police station confirmed to have circulated name and report to police deptts. and CIDs. “Until now we have not received anything…”

16th Oct (GN) – Ramillo…found out that his brother was in Sharjah Central Jail, as his mother called him from India and told him that Mahesh had sent her a letter from jail. "Police arrested Mahesh one hour after he left the apartment at 3am, as they could not find any identification papers on him”

Isn't it strange that:
a) Police didn't have the faintest clues of their arrests even after 9 days of doing so?
b) It was probably a snail mail that was faster than the police in this case, to have informed the mother of his arrests!

Any ideas from the community?

(cross-posted here)

Seven Local Airlines?

This should be read with the story posted by dubai42 about the growth of Emirates below. It’s not only the competition from Abu Dhabi that will affect the future of Emirates, but also an emerging fleet of baby carriers from the other five emirates intent on joining the ranks. At this rate we’ll soon have seven UAE airlines! It’s already four out of seven (I think), with
Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, and
most recently the new rising star RAK Airways.

BTW they're still hiring, if you’re interested.

Probably no chnace of being a manager as the seven top positions are filled; but you can always try to be an agent, since apparently they have
no agents yet!

RAK Airways: It may not be as big as Emirates, or as rich as Etihad, but it's another baby airline with a great potential to shape the future of the industry in this country.

P.S. You’re thinking I forgot Fujairah? Well, I searched for Fujairah Airlines and this is what I found! Do they still fly these beauties?

What a way to report!!

I have been pretty often clean-bowled by the ways of layout designs in Gulf News. I'm sure many of the fellow bloggers/ friends in media / advertising / communications must have felt the same too! An example appears in today's Page 2 reproduced here.

On first glance I got the topline spooky feelings that:
1) "The woman was stabbed repeatedly" while (or because of) "Appreciating Art"
2) The woman who was stabbed repeatedly and dumped by her husband... is seen here appreciating art with her husband

It is true that to a large extent news reporting / layout is about catching attention, making the report look "newsy" and this is what communication is all about.

However, I guess sometimes improper connection may take the communication to negative levels - eg. the report unknowingly connects the art exhibition to murder - Christie's style!!

And just for the record, this method has often been repeated - even on front-page main headlines!

Am I too critical? I'd love to know how the community feels about it... Sam? SD? Woke? ...

Legal Jockeying

Dubai's ruling family says a legal case filed against it in the United States for allegedly enslaving thousands of young camel jockeys is baseless.

I wonder if the "heritage sport" argument will work here...

My question is: when will we ever see these stories in the local press?

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse . . .

As if the construction of the Metro and reconstruction of Interchange 1 aren't going to cause enough problems on Sheikh Zayed Road, here comes the latest news . . . they will soon be bridging the highway over the new Creek extension somewhere between Interchanges 1 and 2.

What is truly amazing is the fact that they are only now considering how to do this.

“Crossing the Sheikh Zayed Road wasn’t considered in the early design stage – it wasn’t something they could decide early on, as it could only be done after extensive consultation with the various parties involved as to what the best solution would be – and even that hasn’t been communicated down to site level yet,” said Shreedhar Natarajan, resident engineer, Halcrow.

Seabee has blogged in the past about the (lack of) planning process in Dubai. Seems like this is another example of "build now, plan later".

I wonder if the guys who bid the Metro project were told?

Emirates will be World's Biggest Airline

Emirates Airline Logo

Last month, German Wirtschaftswoche featured a very good analysis
about the prospects of Emirates Airline. For all non-German-speaking readers, I've picked the highlights for you:

Gary Chapman, director of finances and human resources at Emirates Group:
"We will grow both our total revenue and the number of our passengers at 20 percent annually for the next 10 years."

Let's do the math: (1.2)^10 = 6.19: By 2016, Emirates will be more than six times as big as it is now - provided Chapman is right, of course. But, you may ask, how big is Emirates now? Because, well, six times nothing is still nothing, right? Not so fast: With total revenues at 6.3 billion US-dollars, Emirates already ranks 19th worldwide. Compared to 26 billion dollars of Air France-KLM, currently the world's biggest airline (in terms of total revenues), this doesn't look bad at all. Especially when you consider that Emirates grows at a much faster rate than the biggies - while beeing much more profitable, too. The article quotes analysts from Swiss-based bank USB:
in 2010 Emirates will be the biggest long-distance airline in the world and in 2015 the biggest airline overall.

More interesting stuff from the article:

  • Emirates won't go public any time soon. It's CEO, Tim Clark, proudly declares that their cash reserves are so high that they could even fly for half a year without charging a single passenger.

  • The airline won't join a flight alliance like Star Alliance - because they think this would hinder their growth.

  • Over the next five years, Emirates will invest more than 500 million euros in sports sponsoring.

  • Within ten years, Emirates will connect its homebase Dubai with every major city in the world.

  • Unlike its competitors, Emirates only uses big airlines, which translates into better comfort.

  • Their cost-structure is similar to low-cost airlines: flat hierarchies, relatively low salaries (at least when compared to their European and American competitors).

  • Last, but not least, they are located in Dubai, which means low or non-existent taxes and cheap kerosene.

All in all: Tough times are coming for Emirates' competitors! And golden times for Dubai: Some of the passengers that are routed through the city by Emirates will always stay in the City, contributing to it's meteoric rise. By the way: Dubai is currently constructing the biggest airport in the world.