30 November, 2006

'Fair Housing' coming to Dubai

Justice is coming to Dubai's pricey housing market.

USA Today:
The tower, announced Wednesday, will use the Persian Gulf's abundant sunshine to power the building's slow rotation that brings it full circle once a week, said Nick Cooper, a British engineer designing the rotation mechanism.

"This will be a fair building," said Cooper, of M.G. Bennett and Associates Ltd. of Rotherham, England. "Everybody will have the same views for the same amount of time, so you won't have certain rooms with the best view."

The 80,000-ton building with 200 apartments will sit on a giant bearing 30 yards in diameter, coated with a nearly frictionless polymer, Cooper said. Twenty small electric engines will turn the building a few degrees each hour, Cooper said.
This isn't the only rotating building to discussed for the Emirates. Here's one that would revolve 8 times a day. Here's one designed for Dubai by Koolhaas. (Koolhaas is also doing an ec-friendly design for RAK which he says is now "'at the moment just an airstrip for Russian prostitutes." Did he get the project?) Then there's the rotating bed.

There are probably other examples.

29 November, 2006

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre

JILC invite you to attend a talk at our premises in Um Suqeim1.
Date : Thursday 30/11/06
Time : 8.00pm
Title: Social Aspects of Islam

Tel & Fax : 04 394 94 61
SMS: 050 6326937

Off topic

I've been reading Thomas C. Wolfe's "GOVERNING SOVIET JOURNALISM" -- it's a fascinating take on the history of the press during the Stalin/post-Stalin era. Check it out if you get a chance.

Comments are welcome over at BOBO OF ARABIA

28 November, 2006

Dubai covets Airbus stake

AN investment arm of the Dubai government confirmed yesterday it may sell part of its holding in Daimler Chrysler, fuelling speculation that the Arab state is poised to buy a stake in EADS, parent company of troubled plane maker Airbus.

Would make perfect sense for Emirates,"fly'em fly'em on our own flying carpets" and hey why not. But I wonder if it would strike some anti-trust controversies


Kinda boring round here ain't it?

Dubai's Tunnel of Death

If you think there are some bad drivers in Dubai, take a look at what is happening inside the Dubai Airport Tunnel.

The video is is not getting embedded here for some reason. Here is the direct You Tube link.

27 November, 2006

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre is introducing a series of new classes for Spoken Arabic and Qur'an Reading.

Qur'an class for children
Days : Wednesday and Sunday
Timings: 4:00p.m.-5:00p.m.

Qur'an and Islamic Studies club for children
Day : Saturday
Timings : 10:00a.m-12:00p.m.

LEVEL(I) Spoken Arabic for adults
Days : Wednesday and Sunday
Duration: 6th January 2007-28th February 2007
Timings : 7:00p.m.-9:00p.m.

LEVEL(II) Spoken Arabic for adults
Days : Wednesday and Sunday
Duration: 6th January 2007-28th February 2007
Timings : 5:00p.m.-7:00p.m.

Other similar

More details:
Um Suqeim 1
Tel/Fax: 04 394 94 61
Email : sara_ina@yahoo.com
SMS : 050 632 69 37

26 November, 2006

Going "One" Better

ONE TV, or rather "Dubai ONE TV" recently changed their look. They re-did their adverts, their teasers, their logo and added more style to the rapidly improving channel. I am downright proud to say that the new look is funky and very, very professional. Gone are the Ch. 33 days that concentrated more on horse-racing and 'The Bold & The Beautiful', than good entertainment.

The whole 'red comma' effect is brilliant. The 'Matrix' hit-off of using the 'comma' as bullets is, more than anything, very professionally done, and downright cool. The whole trampoline and ribbon effect with the comma's and the 3-note ONE TV tune is quite awesome too, both looks-wise and brain-wise. Don't know what I am talking about? Check out the 'One TV' fillers - "ongoing entertainment" indeed.

And the channel is not just superficially efficient. They've bought rights for 'Desperate Housewives' and air a brilliant plethora of fascinating programs. Even though the addition of 'Desperate Housewives' was done a year later here than in the rest of the world, ONE TV succeeds in giving a holistic combination of entertainment to satisfy all needs, and what's even more worthy of a mention is that, these guys at ONE seem desperate to do better, and that's always good sign, ain't it?

The reason for this post - I was highly impressed by ONE, and maybe I really enjoyed today's 'Friends' episode aired on it. But none the less, ONE TV kicks MBC 4's ass, right now at least. As for the other Middle East channels, they are pretty poor in comparison, and have a lot to catch up on. Learn from the 'one' and the only pride-earner!

P.S. I am in no way affiliated to ONE TV, and in no way is this some publicity effort for them. My appreciation is genuine. And to add, even their website is brilliant.

Road Safety

In an attempt to lighten things up a bit . . . . I just saw this link to the BBC posted on a local chatboard. I don't think we'll be seeing a road safety campaign like this JUST yet in the UAE!

The Most Glorious Sons and Daughters of a Blog

The recent intrigue and suspense worthy of a James Bond flick has lead me to post here. I wish all the best to those facing the firing line, prison, torture and other mysterious happenings as a result of writing in this blog.

25 November, 2006

UAE credit bureau opens

"The UAE’s first credit bureau was officially launched today. Emcredit - the first independent credit information company in the UAE, opened its doors to offer technology-driven, credit reporting solutions that provide accurate credit information to lenders about borrowers.

Emcredit, a project initiated by the Department of Economic Development, Government of Dubai (DED) in 2003, was incorporated earlier this year as an independent enterprise, under the direction of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. "

Well no doubt it is a timely move, but I wonder what will be its implications in a consumer hungry economy where the bulk of revenue is from tourism and tourists.

7DAYS Editorial

From 7DAYS -- Saturday, November 25th:
We take great offence at these allegations because we have the utmost respect for the President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and everything that he does and represents.
To read the editorial, go HERE

To comment, go HERE

New policy

For the foreseeable future, we would like UAE community members to avoid posting topics likely to generate heated debate here at UAE community blog. The reason for this is the current shitstorm taking place at 7Days, which is putting news and community sites in general in the spotlight.

We unfortunately don't have time to moderate all your comments, and even if we could, it creates a very patchy and incoherent experience when some have to be deleted and others approved.

So as of now, if people could keep more controversial topics to their own blogs, it would be highly appreciated. What we will allow (a reversal of our normal policy) is for people to post a link to such an entry here, and turn the comments off here. It's then your responsibility who then visits your blog and what they comment here.

As many of you know, I loathe and despise censorship in all its forms. I believe it stifles debate and progress, and is one of the greatest evils of our time. But I also feel a duty towards the safety of moderators, members and anonymous commenters here, and that is why - for now - this decision has been taken.

Thank you all in advance for your observance.

The UAE could use...

... some smog-eating cement.

Via Fark.

Toll roads, Dubai

One of the topics at UAE community blog that generates lots of comments is on the subject of toll roads. Among the concerns raised is that it would be logistical nightmare if toll booths are installed. And if some roads are tolled and others are not congestion will shift to the "free" roads (if your time has value they ain't free). Dubai has been considering tolls for the last year or so.

As it happens, lots of other cities besides Dubai are considering road pricing at this time.

Yes, there are multiple shameless links to the Emirates Economist above.

Oil billions pumped into Stockholm property

Sturegallerian, Stockholm's most glamorous shopping mall, has been sold to the United Arab Emirates for 4 billion kronor.
. . .
The official buyer is Tamweelview European Holdings, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi Government Investment Authority. The latter is one of the world's biggest investors and is controlled by the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Tamweelview's offer was too good for Diligentia to refuse, according to manging director Per Uhlén.

"We had very high price expectations - and they have been exceeded," he told Metro.

Know your rights @ Time Out Dubai

By Matt Slater, November 2006

It seems everyone in Dubai has a nightmare story about how a friend of a friend has been sent to jail for doing very little wrong. With the vast majority of people having little or no knowledge of UAE law it is easy to believe these tales and they soon become part of city folklore. With that in mind, Time Out presents Know Your Rights – a guide to the laws that affect our everyday lives.


When people first move to Dubai one of the major questions they’re likely to ask regards the law about drinking and purchasing alcohol. A raft of new laws are set to make the way alcohol is consumed and purchased clearer, but for now, the golden rule remains that an individual must have a valid liquor license if they ever want to buy, transport or consume alcohol in the UAE. Dubai Police CID – who are in charge of controlling the situation – told Time Out they operate a zero tolerance policy. Any individual without a license caught with alcohol in their car or at home will have it confiscated and, depending on the amount they have, could face a prison sentence of up to five years. Drinking alcohol in an unlicensed place, such as in a public park or a beach, is a criminal offence whether someone has a liquor license or not. Attempting to sell beer, wine or spirits in the city is a serious offence which carries with it automatic deportation after a spell behind bars.

In the last six months getting a liquor license has become simpler as application forms – available at registered traders MMI and African and Eastern – are now also processed by the two firms rather than the individual having to take it to the police themselves. Once an individual has a license they must have it with them if they are travelling with alcohol in their vehicle and they also need the receipt of purchase. Failure to do so is, technically, a criminal matter. ‘Having the license and the receipt is essential,’ says MMI general manager Clive Rogerson. ‘At present the written rules on the license are not all in both English and Arabic but this will change. It will take away a lot of the confusion. It will also mean people cannot have excuses for being in the wrong.’

At present it is an offence for tourists to buy alcohol at Dubai Duty Free and take it to where they are staying – although it has to be said prosecutions are virtually non-existent. The same applies for expats who have just arrived and have yet to get a liquor license. ‘There are plans for people to be able to get temporary licenses which would make the situation a lot more practical,’ adds Rogerson.

When legally buying alcohol in other emirates, such as Umm Al Quwaim, a Dubai liquor license only offers protection from prosecution once a person’s vehicle is back in the city. It is a very serious offence to be carrying any amount of alcohol in Sharjah and last year more than 20 Dubai residents were jailed there after being prosecuted. Dubai Police would also like Time Out to point out alcohol-related offences are treated more harshly than equivalent offences which are not fuelled by alcohol. Also, many foreign embassies refuse to help people caught drink driving.

Public decency & living together

Non-married expatriate couples that live together are very unlikely to end up in court facing charges. But it is still an offence in Dubai and is something that is handled in co-operation between the municipality and the police. In practice it is only when the behaviour of an unmarried couple living together causes offence to a neighbour that eviction and criminal proceedings become likely. ‘The way it works is that if people are not upset or offended by something then there is no need to take strong action,’ said an officer at Bur Dubai police station. It is not an offence for groups of single men or women to live together so long as they are not doing so in an area designated for families only. The behaviour of couples – either married or unmarried – outside of the home is more of a concern to the police. Physical contact, such as holding hands, in public is not tolerated and is deemed to be insensitive. A stern warning from the police is the punishment. Anything more than holding hands crosses the threshold into a criminal matter and jail terms are handed out to people who break the boundaries of public decency. Anyone – whether you are married or unmarried – caught having sex in a public place or in a car can expect to be put in jail with deportation to follow. Homosexual acts are illegal in the UAE.

The way women dress in Dubai hit the headlines during Ramadan with wild claims expatriates were offending Muslims by wearing next to nothing. However, according to the police the number of complaints was minimal. Police say the only real problem they have during the peak tourist season is both men and women wearing trunks and bikinis when they are not at the beach or by the pool. Females going topless are not tolerated anywhere in the city and property firms such as Emaar say they have had to issue warnings about the problem as some women think it is acceptable to take off their tops if by private pools.

The remaining

23 November, 2006

Local Newspapers Upset About "7Days" Article

Looks like the article published in 7Days titled (Redressing The Balance) had made alot of UAE locals angry. Some readers went to the extend of demanding the shut down of the newspaper. If you can read Arabic, then you can read what has been said about the article in Albayan, Alittihad, & Alemarat Alyoum newspapers.

Apparently 7Days misquoted the words of the president H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to (Al Sharq Alawsat) newspaper. The president talked to the newspaper about placing qualified national workers in the place of temporary workers who are only in the country for a limited number of years. 7Days reacted in its article as if the president was talking about replacing migrating workers when he was talking about temporary workers.

UPDATE (11/24/06): Alemarat Alyoum published an article in its first page titled (Journalism when it breaks human rights). It's in Arabic. 7Days is really in deep trouble!

Albayan Newspaper Article (Arabic)
Alittihad Newspaper Article (Arabic)
Alemarat Alyoum Newspaper (Arabic)

NOTE: Commenting has become a legal liability and has been disabled until further notice.

outside perspective..

ok - so granted this is coming from someone whose only genuine exposure to the UAE is this blog.. but it would seem to me that the lebanese share a comparable passion for modernity with many of the inhabitants of the UAE..

wondering how much the events in lebanon hit the UAE dinner table and what sort of views are floating around the place..

image taken from smh


Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm off to a turkey dinner this evening - yum yum! Looking forward to it.

Finally an 'exception'

So Emirates Today has finally managed to correct the spelling of 'exception' and has now even tried to live up to it by publishing an overspeeding Range Rover with black tinted glass.

No, I am not signing up with the Emirates Today fan club yet.

(I've been busy slamming the Evening Post in the past that lead to the mix up. Thanks for pointing it out, Sam)

22 November, 2006

Abu Dhabi - Poising to Steal the Light

Expatriates living in Abu Dhabi might be provided with free primary education, according to a senior government official quoted in Gulf News. Khaldoun Bin Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, told delegates at a leadership summit that the government is seriously considering the introduction of a free public education system for non-UAE nationals.(ameinfo.com)

So cheap fuel, a 7% rent cap and serious thought to free education. I see signs of healthy competition round the corner.

Leadership summit and hypocrisy

No, by hypocrisy, I don't mean Daddy Bush talking about values, that was to be expected. "Hardtalker" Tim Sebastian, moderator the Abu Dhabi Leadership Summit is the one who deserves special mention for being a self-righteous hypocrite. After grilling both Emirati speakers, Khaldoon al Mubarak as well as Sheikha Lubna on the discrimination against women topic, he turned out to be the most discriminative guy in the room.

There were plenty of young Emirati women raising their hands and wanting to ask questions to the presenters and ONE, I repeat ONE WOMAN, was actually chosen to talk by Tim Sebastian. And she was great, telling Bush how little respect she has for his son, under intense applause from the audience. After that, no more questions from the ladies, but only from a few other guys who told Bush how great he is. Looked a bit like a well prescreened Q&A session...


Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre invite you to attend a talk at our premises in Um Suqeim1.

Date - Thurs: 23/11/06
Title - The Importance of Tawheed
Speaker - Uthman Barry
Time - 8.00pm

Tel & Fax : 04 394 94 61
Mail: sara_ina@yahoo.com
SMS: 050 6326937

The Driving Pandemic in the UAE

Just posted some thoughts and observations on the current state of traffic in the UAE and the new actions supposedly to be taken to help curb insanity on our roads.

That and more social commentary at The UAE Chronicles

Please join in discussing!

21 November, 2006

100 foot deep pool

Dubai needs one. Here's the website of the one in Belgium, Nemo 33.

Image hosted by Webshots.com
by pavamo67
Image hosted by Webshots.com
by pavamo67

And then what?

The chart below is a graphical representation of the official death toll in Iraq. It is hard to find a positive perspective given the available data, and with obvious increasing trend of violence, there won’t be any reason to be positive in the foreseeable future.

The Rest Here....

Didn't See That Coming - Stock Two-Year Low

Around $1.8bn was wiped from UAE stocks on Monday, leaving market indices at a two-year low. The DFM index fell 1.56%, while ADSM lost 1.59%. In Dubai, Emaar shares closed 2% lower, while telecoms firm Du lost 2.33%. Other Gulf bourses also sufferd losses, with Kuwait down 3.05%, Doha 0.99%, Oman 0.16% and Bahrain 0.59%. Elsewhere in the region, the Amman exchange lost 2.55%, and Lebanon's BLOM index fell 0.82% (ameinfo.com reported)
Wonder why I didn't put my money there. would have got a valid reason to go insane after Monday!!! Don't they do a stock crash ranking, we'd score high, I bet.

19 November, 2006

Skating through the Traffic!

The new road toll to be implemented on Dubai roads, have people worried and thinking about alternative modes of transport. Here is one guy who perhaps decided to do something about it by taking a test run on the main road with his skateboard!

With no exemption for cars, taxis, motor cycles, buses, vans, trucks - I guess skateboarders will be the only ones going over the Al Garhoud bridge for free! Sorry for the bad quality of picture, but this guy was zipping way too fast too click. A quick and sure way to zip through the endless and unmoving traffic.

This guy is crazy and a clear danger to himself and others on the roads! There is enough of people becoming victims of car accidents everyday and the last thing we need is a crazy skateboarder on the crowded roads.

Only in Dubai! I wonder if he has a driving permit for the skateboard on the road?

GCC Ever Complex Comparison Matrix

With so many Ranking pouring here and there it gets complex to compare and decide, be it any country but specially the GCC creed. Here is a comparison of four of the recent ones that I saw:

Interesting isn't it. Although some of the ratings dazzle me too. Like the Global competitiveness Report. It ranked four GCC countries in top 50 but also had insightful analysis like this line, "However, in many of the resource-rich countries, the availability of public finance appears - at least for now - not to have translated into improvements in human capital, which would play an important role in helping these economies that are highly dependent on oil and vulnerable to external shocks to diversify their economic base."

Well maybe cause most of the 'human capital' is a precious import instead of being an in-house production.

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre invite all ladies to attend a talk at our premises in Um Suqeim1.

Date - Monday 20/11/06
Speaker - Sister from America
Venue - Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre
Time - 7.30pm

Only Ladies are invited. Thanks.

For Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre (JILC)
Tel & Fax : 04 394 94 61
Mail: sara_ina@yahoo.com
SMS: 050 6326937

Secret Arabian not blocked.

I dont really like posting on the Community Blog, but I just want to say that we have changed the url of our blog too http://secretarabianjournal.blogspot.com/

None of us could have been bothered to send a million and one emails back and forth with blogger.com technicians before this problem of our hyjacked URL by that creepy cherry porno site was resoved, so Ali just made a new address.

All those who were kind enough to link to it before, please update your links. Thnx

One Proxy to Block Them All

TRA will censor the internet connections in the free zones from next year. Emirates Today has this article:
Internet access will be censored in Dubai’s Internet and Media cities from early next year, the director general of the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) has announced. These zones, together with certain Emaar developments such as The Greens, are currently provided with internet services through Tecom, which has a stake in new telecom operator du. Unlike etisalat, this company does not use a proxy server that can prohibit access to undesirable sites such as those featuring pornography. However, as part of the process to allow du to provide internet services beyond these zones, the TRA will introduce a uniform proxy server across the UAE. TRA Director General Mohamed Al Ghanim said: “There will be a unified policy for both etisalat and du. “We will be taking a lighter approach regarding censorship,” said Al Ghanim, adding that the new proxy was likely to be introduced in early 2007.

Finally thats going to end the special treatment to some of the users. Welcome to the blocked bandwagon ;-)

Omair on the Do Buy! Documentary

"As for contradictions there are people who think Dubai exploits workers, but then some workers love it there. Some think it is the perfect city, and others who think it is a shallow place. "
See what film maker Omair Barkatullah has to say about the making of the Do Buy! documentary.

18 November, 2006

Sin from my lips? O, trespass sweetly urged!

Dubai Drama Group will be holding auditions for Romeo and Juliet at the new, and very nice, Dubai Community Theater and Arts Centre (DUCTAC).

They are on Friday the 24th from 7pm - 10.30.

All the details are available at our site: www.dubaidramagroup.org

17 November, 2006

So whats make dubai so special?

Just started another discussion...Any interesting answers to that question can be posted on my blog :-)


Adobe User Group being organized

In conjunction with GITEX that starts tomorrow, it will be announced that an Adobe User Group is being organized in the Emirates. It's called Digital Media ME and you can see their web site at www.digitalmediame.com. There is nothing much on the web site yet but a contact form for anyone interested in eventually joining the user group. I guess this may be of interest to anyone using Adobe software professionally or privately, which would mean a lot of Community Blog readers and contributors.

2006 Human Development Report

The UN has recently released it 2006 Human Development report (you can download the entire report here - 8MB pdf file). It is more than 400 pages, but the two things that seem to be getting most of the media attention are the focus on global water shortages (UN urges end to 'water apartheid') and the report I saw this morning, its Human Development Index, or as the media puts it, ranking the best and worst places to live (Norway ranked as best country to live in).

The ten highest rated countries:

1. Norway
2. Iceland
3. Australia
4. Ireland
5. Sweden
6. Canada
7. Japan
8. United States
9. Switzerland
10. Netherlands

The ranks for GCC countries:

33. Kuwait
39. Bahrain
46. Qatar
49. UAE
56. Oman
76. Saudi Arabia

Saudi is the only one not in the High Human Development section. Yemen is ranked 150.

16 November, 2006

SecretArabian blocked?

Tried accessing Yahya/Jassim/Ali's blog but it gets forwarded to some porn (?) site..? Anybody else having the same trouble? I asked a friend to check and it shows the same 'Blocked' page for her as well. This is the link it shows.

Loreal E-Strat Challenge

Loreal e-strat challenge is the world’s biggest online business simulation. Six challenges have been done up till now since it started and it has brought together 132,000 students representing 125 countries. So how does it actually work?A group of three will play as a team in this simulation challenge. The team will manage a portfolio of beauty brands and will compete with another 4 virtual teams. There are in total six rounds that will be played. Details here.

A look at the 6th challanges' winner shows that none were from U.A.E. We've got enough talent around here so lets come together and make our mark. Deadline to register is 28th Nov. bwD is trying to facilitate team making, so aspiring participants are welcome to sign up.

Alcohol, and drinking it.

Since 'a British manager' was accused of drinking beer in a pub there’ve been questions raised about the legality of alcohol consumption in Dubai.

While I'm sure we don't know all the facts surrounding that story, confusion seems to be the order of the day – 'alcohol is freely available but it’s an offence to drink it' seems to be the thrust of the confusion.

7Days has an article that tries to explain the situation.

A key statement is that “According to the law it is legal for a non-Muslim to drink in a hotel without a licence as long as the bar has a licence.”

However, for drinking at home, including duty-free brought in from the airport, you need a Liquor Licence.

On the Job Training

Two recent articles in the Dubai press stress the importance of job training at both ends of the labor pool. Regarding the shallow end we have this Gulf News story, "Dubai Central Jail inmates learn how to repair vehicles"
Inmates at Dubai Central jail learn how to repair vehicles as part of the jail's rehabilitation programme, a senior police official said. Brigadier Khamis Saeed Al Suwaidi, Acting Director of Dubai Police's Punitive and Correctional Establishments, said the department is keen on rehabilitation programmes that will help inmates after they are freed. He said the education and training department at the jail organised the vocational course in cooperation with the Al Futtaim training centre. The course targeted 14 UAE national inmates. All passed the course and six were released from jail. The inmates have secured jobs as helpers at Al Futtaim as soon as they had taken the course and received the certificates. Lieutenant Colonel Tariq Kalentar, Director of Dubai Central Jail, said many inmates showed interest in taking the course. However, the 14 were selected based on interviews, their behaviour and their English language proficiency.
And in the deep end of the talent pool we have AMEInfo reporting on the launch of Standard Charter's Graduate Career Development Program:
Standard Chartered, one of the leading international banks in the UAE, has launched two new development programmes to attract high-level graduates to careers within the Bank. 'The Al Tahadi Educational Support Programme provides a monthly financial support to selected UAE national students until they graduate,' explains Aida Hamza, Standard Chartered Head of Emiratisation, UAE. The International Graduate Programme is a two-year development programme that has been active globally and only set to launch in this region at the end of October, specifically designed to develop a robust pipeline of diverse, potential future leaders for the Bank. ... (the IGP) provides graduates of all nationalities with an opportunity to train in a specific function department (wholesale banking or consumer banking) at the Bank after graduation, fast-tracking them for success on an international career path.'

Though the education and skills, the nature of the work, and the height of the career ladder of these two groups couldn't be more different, there are a few common themes.

Read the rest here

What is yor country's brand value?

UAE is ranked #3 in the 'Rising star' category in the 2006 Country Brand Index report released by Futurebrand. It is also featured in the top 10 among countries for shopping, conferences and resort/lodging options.

Australia is #1 in overall rankings while UAE loses out in terms of Authenticity, Art & Culture, Natural beauty, value for money and several other factors.

The Download the full report (pdf - 3.65 mb) here.

Any similarities

Ring any bells?

Astrology, fortune-telling and magic

I have posted an entry earlier this year about the "Wellbeing Show" which featured, among others; magicians, tarot readers, Seminars on how to know your future, and a whole lot of other nonsense.

Remember it's the "wellbeing" show. Not sure how magic comes under that umbrella.

Seems like there are a lot of people in Dubai who are needy enough to search for comfort and advice with such scams. In preparation of the upcoming Wellbeing Show, an astrology dinner was held...

To all of you who are familiar with islamic laws, you know what kind of offence that is. And if you care, please help spread the word and stop this nonsense.

15 November, 2006

Etisalat responds to 'customer demands'

"Internet users across the country starting November 16,2006 can use the affordable alternative for high speed Internet browsing and e-mailing, based on a 15-hour surfing limit. Customers can also subscribe to a one-year contract option whereby they will benefit from free installation and free usage for one month (15 hours).

With the time-based Al Shamil 256K package, customers will have access to an online facility to monitor their usage levels. Customers will also receive e-mail alerts on reaching 80 %,, 90 % and 100 % of their consumption limit.

Abdulla Hashim, Assistant General Manager, Marketing, Etisalat, said the new package was crafted in response to customer demand."
from here

According to another article it will cost 100 dirhams per 15 hours.


"The response so far to Etisalat's own survey (survey is no longer active) showed a majority of subscribers (75% as on 23/Jan/00) favour a flat charge.
The solution is without a doubt the speedy implementation of an Unlimited Rate Plan while keeping the toll free access number intact."
from here
That was written back in 2000, 6 years ago; Etisalat still hasn't responded to that demand yet they're willing to offer an overpriced time-based broadband solution.

returned to sender

"DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: An Israeli delegation was blocked from attending a United Nations-affiliated postal conference here this week, sparking protests from the U.N. and an American delegation.

The four-member Israeli delegation, headed by the country's postal director, was turned back by immigration officials at Dubai International Airport on Monday because they lacked visas, said officials here, including Juliana Nel, spokeswoman for the Bern, Switzerland-based Universal Postal Union.
The Israeli officials lacked entry visas and had not made an advance application to enter the country to attend the conference, said an Emirates government official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, the Emirates authorities invited the Israeli delegation to return, but Nel said it was unclear whether they would, since the conference would finish Thursday."
-- from here

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre invite you to attend a talk at their premises in Um Suqeim1.

Date - Thursday 16 November 06
Title - Islam's Cure for Procrastination
Venue - Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre
Time - 8.00pm

For Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre (JILC)
Tel & Fax : 04 394 94 61
Mail: sara_ina@yahoo.com
SMS: 050 6326937

Trashing the UAE

As I were going from Dubai to Fujairah for a beach clean up last weekend I was amazed to see at least 4 different cars throwing rubbish out of their window. Not to say that most people who were having a Picnic along the beautiful Dibba road were any better as they were throwing all kinds of trash around them.

Its sad but you would think that its common sense not to dirty your country of residents but when you talk to people, they get offended, ‘how dare you tell me not to dirty this country’

Saddly UAE locals, Arabs and Asians are the worse culprits. I hope a law is put in place and enforced for all those why dirty this country.

Gulf News local blogosphere coverage, November 15, 2006


14 November, 2006

Remember DP World?

It's time again for Dubai on center stage, Round 2. Dubai will be featured on the US ABC networks 20/20 program:
In an exclusive 20/20 story to air this Friday, Nov. 17, the ABC News investigative team went inside Dubai to learn how the emirate has grown so far so fast.
No doubt the Human Rights Watch report on the question of exploitation of laborers will come up. Read more about that issue at In Support of UAE Laborers.

Dubai Toll Roads Announced

A toll will be levied on cars using Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Garhoud Road in Dubai as part of government plans to ease traffic congestion in the city. Emirates Today reported the following citing a senior official.

Vehicles will be charged Dhs4 each time they use the roads, up to a maximum Dhs24 a day. 24/ day and roughly 600/month, Wow isnt it same as an installment one would pay for a Lancer or a Yaris. Talk about old days when people used to be robbed when passing through certain areas of the country. Although they got robbed most of the times but the they still had to use the same roads as there were no alternatives. Lucky us, we don't have to worry like that. Ofcourse we have so many alternatives while living in a growing city. We have the municipality bus system, and the Light Rail and not to forget our feet to go around. But ofcourse the rail comes in 2009 and the toll starts July 2007@!@!@!

Posting Guidelines

In an effort to make the posts on this blog a bit more streamlined, I have come up with the following guidelines. If anyone is unsure of how to implement anything I’ve suggested please feel free to contact me on sam (at) samurai-sam.com.

Posting Guidelines
  • Please do not make posts entirely in bold/italics/underline

  • Please do not make posts in another color (using color/styling to highlight is ok)

  • Please attribute all quotes made by either linking or mentioning which publication/website they came from; please place them within blockquote tags, and please make them in italics.

  • Please do not directly embed videos or flash players (the reason is it slows down a lot of people’s computers), linking is of course absolutely fine; provided the video is highly interesting, an admin can adjust the post to embed the video, but having 8 videos on the screen at a time can be difficult.

  • Please make an effort to cut down quoted articles to a bare minimum

  • Please only use images if they’re actually showing something, and just not for decoration; also please keep images under 450 pixels wide.

  • If you have adjusted the align value of text, please ensure you close your post with a /font tag so it doesn’t affect other posts on the webpage

  • If you have linked to a large file, or in particular a PDF file it is considered courteous to place a small warning and preferably a file size.

  • Please try to keep language to a G-rating on posts here.

If posts are made outside these guidelines they will be edited by an admin.

The last thing wanted from these guidelines is to dissuade people from posting items of interest; but hopefully everyone can work together and make sure we can keep the community blog an interesting site for people to visit.

If anyone has any suggestions or criticism, please feel free to post in the commenting section.

New Google Based Site Launched!

With mashups being the hottest thing on the net these days, I have launched this humble little site that is based on Google maps and some nifty Ajax related effects.

In essence, this is just another little step with experimenting wit all the cool APIs that are available these days on the net. With Google, Newsvine, Diggit and Amazon APIs available, among others, the possibilities are endless.

The mandatory web 2.0 beta badge is in effect here as well, but unlike most, this site is truly still in beta, and I would like to invite all of you to register and start adding some interesting markers and give me feedback on what you like and what you don’t….

Edit: image edit to reduce size

Throw away your IP Phones!

Your favorite No. 1 Khaleej Times has reported that
"The ban on the use of Internet telephony or Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will continue in the UAE, said Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansour, Minister for Government Sector Development."
Now this is great cause for all of us to rejoice because we all know that using the internet to place long distance phone calls will make you lazy and addicted to phone-chats. The affordability and the ease with which you can call your friends and family abroad will only go towards turning you into a slave of this modern evil - Telephone. Besides what are you gonna do with all the money you save? Spend it on fuel to run your car on these dangerous roads? HA! You are better off broke and at home... safe and sound.

13 November, 2006

Sensible Driving

Drive sensibly everyone must. Aida Al Busaidy, EMirtates
Today's news reporter has much to say on this topic in her column on 10 Nov 06. Lots of good sensible stuff, but what beats me is this stinger at the end of the article..
"The police force is obviously outnumbered by the congested places where people try to cut through traffic and I think that they need a little bit of help.

So I’ve resorted to carrying a camera and snapping anyone who darts through traffic just so they can get to their destination faster. At the rate I’m going I’ll have a folder full of offenders in less than three days."

I wonder how much of safe and sensible driving practice it is when you carry a camera and start taking pictures while letting the car/truck/suv drive by itself?


Sheikha Lubna in NY Times

Our favourite Minister of Economy and Planning was featured in an article in the New York Times. Click here to check it out. It's a very interesting read actually. Is it just me or does the New York Times seem to be paying the UAE, and Dubai in particular, quite a lot of attention recently? The same article was also published in the IHT and various others.

No ex(c)eptions!

Emirates Today has decided to do something worthwhile for a change - like publishing pictures of motorists jumping the red signal.
And the additional note says ' There are no exeptions'.

Not even black-tinted Landcruisers, I suppose.

Dubai, the Retail Mecca

As anyone who lives in the UAE knows, Dubai is well on its way to becoming a retail and shopping mecca. As MENA Report noted last month:
By 2009, Dubai is expected to have the highest retail spend in the GCC, higher than Saudi Arabia and despite having a population one-twentieth the size. Most of this spend will be generated from the expected 15 million tourists. ... At the helm of its long list of projects that incorporate malls of various sizes, shapes and themes is the Dubai Mall, which will be constructed close to the Burj Dubai Tower, and will be the largest mall in the world. The mall is being pegged to be larger than the gigantic West Edmonton Mall in Canada and the Mall of America in Minneapolis, USA.
Fifteen million tourists may seem like a lot of people until you realize that there is both a great deal of wealth and great number of people within a two-hour flight of here, particularly in oil rich central and southwest Asia:
Dubai has been targeting a market of 1.5 billion people with a GDP of US$1.1 trillion from the Middle East, South Asia and the entire Caspian region. "While for 300 million people in the US, there are a number of hubs, for 300 million people in the Middle East, there is only one hub ~ Dubai," he said. "Moreover, Dubai caters to over 1.5 billion people who are less than two hours flying time away. So, as a hub, as we gear up to serve a wider number of consumers in and beyond the region, we will need more malls."... Analysing some of its surveys, Retail International's principal Simon Thomson says: "Dubai is on course to become possibly the most densely shopped city on the planet.
The numbers sound so good that it is easy to understand why reports like this one from AME-Info are now so commonplace:
Dunhill, the maker of luxury goods for men, is opening two new boutiques in the UAE before the end of March 2007, and will then expand into other GCC countries, the company said. It has four stores in the UAE at present.
On the other hand, if everything is so rosy, why in the same week would we see news articles like this about Harrod's, the upscale British retailer owned by Saudi financier Mohammad al-Fayed:

read the rest here

The Whole World is Watching -

- as is the WTO, I would imagine.

The good folks over at HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH have released a report titled "Building Towers, Cheating Workers," much to the discomfort of the Ministry of Labor. The 71 page report outlines a pattern and abuse and deceit, especially by (but not limited to) the construction industry. Some observations from various media outlets -

None of us wants to be here. The work is too hard and there's not enough money," said 23-year old Biswas, who makes about $180 a month.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says hundreds die in unreported accidents on dangerous job sites. The Emirates, the watchdog said, "has abdicated almost entirely from its responsibility to protect workers' rights."

From the BBC:

Hundreds of thousands of mainly foreign labourers are employed in construction booms in Dubai and elsewhere.

But according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), they are often poorly paid and made to work in dangerous conditions.

Labour reforms unveiled last week by the government were welcome but more must be done to enforce them, HRW said.


Entitled 'Building Towers, Cheating Workers', the rights group report identifies abuses ranging from illegal recruitment practices in the UAE and in source countries, to low wages, the withholding of employees' passports, and hazardous working conditions.

"It is the employers who are violating the laws and it is the government's responsibility to enforce the laws," said Hadi Ghaemi, a researcher for HRW and author of the report. He added that most of the UAE's existing laws already protect migrant workers from exploitation and abuse but that the problem was a lack of implementation and enforcement.
HRW also highlighted the burden of debt incurred by workers because of fees they pay recruitment agencies inside or outside the UAE when the country's law expects employers to meet these costs. "Recruiting agencies unlawfully force workers, rather than their employers, to pay 2,000-3,000 (dollars) for travel, visas, government fees and the recruiters' own services," it said.
Deaths in construction accidents or by heatstroke are thought to be rife in the Gulf, but few are ever made public. In 2004, the Dubai recorded 34 deaths in construction accidents. But Human Rights Watch learned that embassies of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh shipped home corpses of 880 construction workers.
Even the usually spineless lackeys over at GULF NEWS appeared to have grown a backbone (albeit in a rather roundabout fashion). While they start out with their standard parroting of the government's position:
The report drew strong criticism from lawyers and members of non-governmental organisations in the country for what they said as "imbalanced recommendations" and "sensational arguments" based on poor investigation.

Interviews with just 60 workers will not give anybody a real picture of the situation, one critic said.
But to GN's credit, the middle third of the article manages to get some information out under the guise of a government response to the allegations:
Titled "Building Towers, Cheating Workers", the 71-page report distributed here yesterday focused on issues ranging from forcing workers seeking employment in the UAE to pay illegal sum to get working permits, to delayed payment of salaries, lack of proper safety measures in construction sites and poor living conditions in accommodation facilities.

The rights body said it based its report on interviews with workers and people related to the business in February this year.

Hadi Ghaemi who managed and conducted the survey, blamed the UAE Government for "not aggressively prosecuting" companies violating labourers' rights and recommended an 11-point action plan to curb abuse of workers rights in construction sector.
The official response appears to be some type of strange counter-propaganda campaign to denigrate HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH's attempts to work with the Ministry of Labor in the preparation of the report. Which is bizarre -- if there wasn't a problem, then why have several sub-ministerial types spent the last week running around talking about how labor problems will be solved?

12 November, 2006

Unloved and unwanted and merely existing

In today's Gulf News there was this article on the Edit page which was close to the truth when it talks about life in the UAE - "Unloved and unwanted and merely existing" By Nicholas Coates, Associate Editor.

It is worth a read!

However there is only one thing I do not completely agree with him, 10 thousand is still a dream salary for a huge percentage if not majority of people living in the UAE! To go by the current salary rates, people working in the service industry or other likewise industries - the average salary is 5000 Dhs.

I think he needs to go out and really find out what the salaries in Dubai are! And how it is really really tough! But other than that "Kudos" for stating the truth. It maybe the obvious but only wish something happens about it!

Washington Post on Arab bloggers

"You can't write whatever you want in the newspaper here [Saudi Arabia]; you can't even lift up a poster in protest," said Farhan, 31, a computer programmer who attended Eastern Washington University in Spokane. "On the blog, it's a different world. It was the only way to express myself the way I wanted."

Farhan is part of a growing wave of young Arabs who have turned to blogging to bypass the restrictions on free expression in a predominantly authoritarian, conservative and Muslim region. Blogging is so novel here that the equivalent term in Arabic, tadween, to chronicle, was coined only this year. But it has spread rapidly among the increasingly urban youth and in the process has loosened the limits of what's open for discussion.

Activists have used their blogs to organize demonstrations and boycotts, and to criticize corruption and government policies. The less politically inclined have turned them into forums for heated debates on religion and a place to share personal stories and sexual fantasies.
Read the whole thing.

"Dickensian Ogling", another view

Here's how economists describe the term pent-up demand:
When demand for a product is exceptionally strong, perhaps because the demand built up during a recession when people could not afford to buy the product or because the product was temporarily not available to be sold.
Here's a more general, non-economic definition based upon the one above:
When demand for something is exceptionally strong, perhaps because the demand is built up because of repression or because the demanded something is otherwise unavailable:
And here's an example, courtesy of the New York Times, of pent-up demand in Dubai:
Temperatures have dropped from blazing hot to balmy, the turquoise waters now have a refreshing chill and the sand is just about bearable to walk on. As winter arrives in this Persian Gulf city, the masses are thronging by the tens of thousands to its white sandy beaches, wearing, in an unlikely exercise in maritime coexistence, everything from black flowing abayas to slinky bikinis. Thronging right alongside them are Dubai’s “beach pests,” the gangs of men who trudge through the sand, fully dressed, to ogle the women.

Mostly laborers at the front lines of Dubai’s building boom — toiling on manmade islands, innumerable high-rises, even a dome in the desert for the world’s largest indoor snow park — they flood the beaches every weekend to leer at women, photograph them and occasionally try to grope them in the water.

“They pretend to take pictures of their friends, but they are really taking pictures of you,” said Anika Graichen, 23, a German hotel receptionist who has lived here for three years. She lay on the beach last week trying to ignore various groups of men who passed by with their eyes locked on her. She is almost used to them now, she said. “I think I can understand it,” she said. “It’s the only place they can have a look at women.”
I don't condone how these men behave, but like Anika, I think I can understand why they do. These men live a life of extreme deprivation during the years they spend here:
Indeed, for the estimated 500,000 foreign workers here, most from the Indian subcontinent, the chance to spot a woman in a bikini may be hard to pass up. They typically live in a Dickensian world of squalor, working 12-hour shifts six days a week, often denied their wages of about $150 per month for months at a time. Most of them secure work by taking out loans from recruiting agencies at home to get here, forcing most to stay on for years without seeing their families and loved ones.
One result of this deprivation is behavior like this:
They tend to beachcomb in groups, their camera-equipped cellphones always at the ready. Many do not know how to swim; some enter the water wearing their traditional robes, made of thin white cloth that becomes transparent when wet — and reveals far more of their anatomy than most beachgoers want to see. Incidents of physical harm to women are rare, though the police have arrested flashers and men committing lewd acts in public.
I leave it to the reader's imagination to figure out the other behaviors to which all of that pent-up energy is ultimately directed. I also leave it to the read to figure what, if anything, ought to be done about both the behavior and its root causes- both social and economic.


A final thought... I find it quite surprising that the standard-bearer of politically-correctness, the NY Times, would use the word "pests" to describe human beings.

Starling teaches at the American University of Sharjah and blogs at The Business of America is Business

Roads to Compulsive Shopping

Further to my previous post on this blog, there’s additional evidence that UAE indeed encourages binge shopping.

An in-depth report in Gulf News today, quotes AC Nielsen that:
  1. UAE boasts the 2nd highest number of per-capita recreational shoppers in the world: 30% of the consumers in UAE go shopping “at least once a week” (compared to 36% in Hong Kong)
  2. 49% of UAE consumers regard clothes shopping as a necessity chore – the highest in the world! - 13% find it therapeutic to shop for clothes
  3. An average UAE shopper takes 4 shopping trips every week, making a purchase on 7 out of 10 visits to the mall
  4. An average UAE consumer spends 127 hours per year in supermarkets alone!

As mentioned earlier, there's an increasing trend towards recreational shopping in UAE. Within the recreational shoppers, chances are great that there are many for whom shopping is an obsession / compulsion.

Currently, per capita shopping area in Dubai is 4 times that of USA! With the new malls in place, when the overall retail space in UAE quadruples by 2010, there will be even more chances that more and more people in UAE would be induced to shopping as a recreation than a necessity – hence again contributing stimulus for “Compulsive Shopping”.

Apart from some ideas proposed before, what else can we do to avoid the disorder taking over?

(cross-posted here)

Dickensian Ogling

Hassan Fattah of the NEW YORK TIMES reporting on "beach pests" in Dubai:
As winter arrives in this Persian Gulf city, the masses are thronging by the tens of thousands to its white sandy beaches, wearing, in an unlikely exercise in maritime coexistence, everything from black flowing abayas to slinky bikinis.

Thronging right alongside them are Dubai’s “beach pests,” the gangs of men who trudge through the sand, fully dressed, to ogle the women.

Mostly laborers at the front lines of Dubai’s building boom — toiling on manmade islands, innumerable high-rises, even a dome in the desert for the world’s largest indoor snow park — they flood the beaches every weekend to leer at women, photograph them and occasionally try to grope them in the water.

“They pretend to take pictures of their friends, but they are really taking pictures of you,” said Anika Graichen, 23, a German hotel receptionist who has lived here for three years. She lay on the beach last week trying to ignore various groups of men who passed by with their eyes locked on her.

She is almost used to them now, she said. “I think I can understand it,” she said. “It’s the only place they can have a look at women.”

Indeed, for the estimated 500,000 foreign workers here, most from the Indian subcontinent, the chance to spot a woman in a bikini may be hard to pass up.

They typically live in a Dickensian world of squalor, working 12-hour shifts six days a week, often denied their wages of about $150 per month for months at a time. Most of them secure work by taking out loans from recruiting agencies at home to get here, forcing most to stay on for years without seeing their families and loved ones. The workmen have become prevalent in Dubai’s public parks and beaches as their numbers have swelled, and because of the lechery-on-the-beach factor, they are especially noticeable at this time of year.
Full story is HERE.

Bachelors crowd together not only in Dubai, but in DC also

Washington Post.

What's the future of "Family"?

To be or not to be” - Hamlet’s famous dilemma could perhaps be well applied to the question of marriage and family today. With life becoming faster, and relationships more volatile, the dilemma of whether to have an arranged marriage or whether to sustain live-in relationships, is increasingly attracting more debate.

A recent report by Gulf News discussed the issue Pre-Marital relationship from the perspectives of various readers. As expected, it generated strong but mixed reaction. You can read them all here.

Why do people get into pre-marital relationships?
A Gulf News online poll indicated “loneliness” was the top reason (continue reading here...).

Price of Life!

Recently an Ajman court ruling on “sufficient compensation” for the death of a 5 year old schoolgirl immensely disturbed me. The court had refused the Indian parent’s claim of Dhs 3 million blood money, and thus ruled that Dhs 100,000 was a sufficient compensation.

The news started me thinking on some basic moral, judicial and human issues:

  1. How does one decide the price of a life? Especially a 5 year-old school girl?
  2. What would have been the case if the schoolgirl was a national? Definitely it would have been more?
  3. Is Dhs 100,000 enough? Or for that matter is even a Dhs 3 million enough?
  4. Can money really replace the life of a child?
  5. Or is the driver really punished if he pays a blood money, sent to jail and his licence revoked for a month?

Personally I feel that the price of life can never be equated against blood money. How can one really decide the price for a life on which rested the dreams of the parents, the years of emotional journeys of giving birth and seeing a life grow up? With all due respects for the judicial system of this country, while the law of paying blood money is definitely well respected, I do not think any jury (or any person) can decide the value of this.

While the final verdict is still subject to appeal to Supreme Court, what do you think of this? Let’s hear it…

(cross-posted here)

11 November, 2006

UAE blog and web site search engine

To try to make web searching a bit easier for anyone looking for information about the UAE, we've set up EmiratesBlogs.com. It uses Google's search engine technology and database so we're dependent on how Google indexes sites but if you search, you only search through a certain set of sites.

We started by adding all blogs and sites listed here on the Community Blog. Anyone can contribute sites that they think should be included.

We hope you want to help out and add sites and we hope that EmiratesBlogs.com can become an good compliment to the UAE Community Blog.

Girls go veiled :: Newsweek

Nov. 13, 2006 issue - There's a new fashion on college campuses, but it's not one you'll find at Abercrombie any time soon. It's the higab, the traditional Muslim headscarf that denotes modesty and reverence to God, and it's being worn by increasing numbers of young Muslim American women. By most accounts, they are the American-born children of the estimated 4 million Muslims who immigrated to the United States over the last 40 years. The irony: many of those parents abandoned their Islamic cultural identities to assimilate into American society. "We're seeing more young women wearing the higab whose mothers don't wear it," says Hadia Mubarak, former president of the Muslim Students Association. Mubarak says that young Muslim Americans who grew up here are not facing the kinds of identity crises their parents did. "These kids are comfortable in their American identity because that's the only culture they've known, so it's easier for them to embrace the outward manifestations of Islam."
Read the whole thing.

6069 SMS Spam Scam

6069 SMS Spam
Picture from Arabic Emirates Today

"Congratulations ... you won today a valuable instant reward. Send a message to 6069 to find out about your reward"

This is the translation for the message shown in the picture above. I received this kind of a message at least twice from 6069 .... it's only a spam scam SMS ... so if you happen to receive such SMS from 6069, then just delete it!

How many of you have received such annoying messages?

The etiquette of receiving visitors

What do you do when five guys in white come to your door? Well, I'll tell you.

Action should be preceded by knowledge...

Recently, Sheikh Mohammed announced a directive calling for drastic changes in labor policy and the activities of companies to protect the rights and improve condtions for laborers. With regard to that, I have created a new blog to focus on such issues. It is intended as an information site, not a call for action. What readers do with the information is up to them.

Many, including myself, see the problems and don't really know how to respond. Also, it has become common to read of this or that initiative on the part of government to improve the situation, but one never knows what really comes of them. This blog, In Support of UAE Laborers, aims to address these concerns.

10 November, 2006

Iraqi millions go missing

An audit of contracts signed in Iraq and paid for with Iraqi oil money has found evidence of corruption and mismanagement by the US government, according to Al Jazeera. The KPMG audit of 15 non-competitive contracts awarded by US agencies was unable to account for $22.5m in funds, according to the UN-sponsored International Advisory and Monitoring Board. ameinfo.com reported

I wonder how did a small discrepancy of $22.5m made a news while all the actual awarded amount of the contracts neither did make news nor did become counted as insider trading. 'Non-competitive contracts' never heard of that category, and even the competing contracts most went to us companies. Most of the companies, I know, from Dubai left Iraq long back due to the state of affairs. But it didn't change for American companies ofcourse they get military cover and safe access to all grounds.

Julia Boutros to Perform in Dubai

The renowned Lebanese singer Julia Boutros will be performing in Dubai on Tuesday 14 November 2006. The concert will take place in the AUD Auditorium.
Julia best known for her patriotic songs supporting the Arab resistance will be conducting a tour to raise funds for the Lebanese Martyrs Families of July 2006 War.

This tour titled "Ahibaii" (My Beloveds) will include Lebanon, Dubai, Syria, Qatar & Kuwait.

Here is her latest video "Ahibaii"


I would like to share with you guys a story I heard in an Islamic talk show. This show is aired live every Friday night at 10:00 pm on both Sharjah TV & on 94.4 Sharjah FM. Last Friday, the guest Dr. Omar Abdel Kafy narrated a "strange" story from the early 1940s when Sheikh Abul Hasan Nadwi travelled to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. He is the same Sheikh Abul Hasan Nadwi who was declared the Islamic Personality of the Year in the Second Session of Dubai International Holy Quran Award.

Sheikh Abul Hasan wrote in his biography that one day just before sunset, he saw a person entering a clothes shop. The merchant declined to sell anything & instead directed the buyer to the next shop. The reason he gave for this was that he has had enough sales for the day but his neighbor did not had a single buyer since morning.
The above story is strange because today it is very rare, if not impossible, to find such merchants. Our Business graduates are taught the skills to maximize profits only. Our business schools preach the "survival of the fittest" theory. I think our "illiterate & uneducated" ancestors were far more ethical than the "cultured" businessmen of 21st Century.

People have more money & supposedly live a far more luxurious life than their forefathers. But one thing is missing. It is called "inner peace". Almost every second person you meet either suffers from blood pressure, diabetes or stress. From the moment a child is born, it is put in his mind that the purpose of our lives is to earn money. If this is so, then why all the people who died left behind all their wealth?

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet peace be upon him said, "Riches does not mean, having a great amount of property, but riches is self-contentment."

May Allah guide all of us to His right path.

09 November, 2006

Al Habtoor Interiors and Index 2006 together to encourage local young talent and Reward Design excellence

Ameinfo.com had a press release on the collaboration of Al-Habtoor Interiors and Index 2006 on support of Local Young Talent. Well do not be demotivated by the 'Local' part. It was open to university students from around UAE. AHI supported and made possible the 'AHI Young Designer's Award', the winners receiving a prize of Dhs. 10,000 and the unique privilege of having their model built and exhibited at Index.
I find it very encouraging and a true step towards industry academia tie up. Such are very essential for a health sustainable talent development. It even adds a new dimension, usually during internships students gets exposure to a single company's environment, but with such collaborations in an international exhibition the exposure is of multitudes.
If anyone saw the stalls, participated or knew any of the participants please do share your thoughts to better educate the rest of us.

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre invite you to attend a talk at our premises in Um Suqeim1.

Date: Thurs 9 November 06
Time: 8.00pm
Title: Searching for God – From a Muslim and Non-Muslim Perspective

Venue: Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre.

For Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre (JILC)
Tel & Fax : 04 394 94 61
Mail: sara_ina@yahoo.com
SMS: 050 6326937

Campa Cabanah

This news item just missed my Democracy 2.0 post but it’s newsworthy never the less. For those not familiar with the issue, a documentary featuring this ‘Jesus Camp’ hit the theaters early this summer that created a lot of debate on what exactly is the purpose of these camps and what effect do they have on society.

The issue was also magnified after the leading pastor in the organization was disgraced for the usual reasons pastors are disgraced these days.

It seems Pakistan has an answer for the problem, and then investigate….

Soliciting the underaged

Gulf News:
Dubai: The trial of a policeman who reportedly met a 12-year-old girl on the internet before asking her out and molesting her in his car started yesterday.

The Public Prosecution charged the 27-year-old Omani suspect, H.H., with molesting the 12-year-old UAE national victim, M.B., after she agreed to go out with him in his car.
What would happen if he had diplomatic immunity?

Rape victim to receive 90 lashes in KSA

Gulf Times:
RIYADH: A Saudi court has sentenced a gang rape victim to 90 lashes of the whip because she was alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married.

The sentence was passed at the end of a trial in which the Al Qateef high criminal court convicted four Saudis convicted of the rape, sentencing them to prison terms and a total of 2,230 lashes.

The four, all married, were sentenced respectively to five years and 1,000 lashes, four years and 800 lashes, four years and 350 lashes, and one year and 80 lashes.

A fifth, married, man who was stated to have filmed the rape on his mobile phone still faces investigation.

Two others alleged to have taken part in the rape evaded capture.

I figure the rapists thought the victim would not turn them in since "she was alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married."

Democracy 2.0 – The shape of things to come…

1. Deliver democracy through cluster bombs, phosphorus bombs and uranium enriched shells to make sure that the targeted barbarians are drenched to their bones in democracy.

2. Shell innocent civilians, and then announce to the world that a large number of barbarians have been eliminated and as usual they have used their women and children as shields.

3. Send out a hush-hush press release a few days later stating that the actual causalities where in fact mere civilians after all.

4. This is how you win the hearts and minds of the barbarians, and have everybody join in the group hug.

5. Setup an electoral system with one electoral area to keep things simple, have everybody represent everybody in secret elections lists that will enforce sectarian strife.

The rest here...

08 November, 2006


In response to the overwhelming Republican defeat in yesterday's midterm elections, United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has resigned (or been dumped) from office.

Former CIA Director Robert Gates has been nominated to replace him.

Which raises any number of questions:

Does this indicate a shift in US policy in Iraq?

Does this mean the insurgency is winning?

In the long run will this matter?

No Dubai reduced rent cap

"Dubai is unlikely to follow Abu Dhabi's lead and reduce its rental increase cap below 15%, according to the chairman of Dubai Rent Committee quoted by 7Days. Abu Dhabi is capping increases at 7% a year. Dubai's rent cap expires at the end of 2006, but reports suggest rents and property prices will soften by 5% in late 2007." -ameinfo.com reported.

Yes Dubai Rents won't be capped down, and why should they be capped yet? The higher the rent the more it makes sense to buy an apartment. Not only that, the high rents also make it easy for developers to show that an investment in dubai means higher returns. The part where ameinfo reports the prices will soften by 2007 is also debatable. I think rents will dip alongwith prices by 2008 once most of the properties are handed over. But for now the higher the rents are kept the more promising Dubai real estate market becomes.
However I doubt the same would be true for commercial as in a previous post on uaec, it was discussed that commercial lands are and will continue to be in shortage. If anyone has insight on either please share.

The Cyclone Experience

Yahoo Traveler does some snooping around to show you what the exotic cyclone experience in Dubai is all about.

Surprise speedbump video

It's the first time I've seen any UAE-related story hit the front page of Digg. It's about this video on YouTube purportedly showing a new speedbump installed in Dubai and cars flying over it because it's a complete surprise to them that it was installed.

07 November, 2006

"A story to make your blood boil"

"Imagine this scenario. A patient is critical and in need of a rare blood type. The family is told to either provide for, or make arrangements to replace the blood before the surgery can proceed. Now imagine if this family knew that the hospital's demand is against the UAE law..."

Interesting feature at Emirates Evening Post today, 'It's illegal to ask for blood donations'.

"...An urgent plea was posted on an online community portal as the patient who was admitted to a private hospital, could not find a donor with the same blood type. Help poured in, but it took the family three days to arrange for donors and procure the blood required for an operation. ...the demand made by the patient was a clear violation of UAE law."

I've seen some posts in the UAE community blog asking for blood donations before. Didn't know it was illegal.

On the side note, I've only read two issues of Emirates Evening Post, and it's great. There are copies left to be taken in our flat's lobby, the watchman told me it's free so I took one copy the other day and today, but I think it's 1 dirham per issue..

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre are pleased to announce a new class in spoken Arabic.
The class will be held every Sunday and Wednesday. Timings will be from 5pm to 7pm.

For Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre (JILC)
Tel & Fax : 04 394 94 61
Mail: sara_ina@yahoo.com
SMS: 050 6326937