31 December, 2006

Happy New Year...

Happy New Year to all..I know a little early...but what the heck... :D :D
Hope you all have a wonderful year ahead of you

Silence at the UAECB

Dear all,

Why are people so quiet here (and on personal UAE blogs in general) with regards to the recent event of Saddam's execution?

I haven't had much time to browse extensively, but I would like to think that there would be more of a reaction to this important event.

Two wrongs don't make a right, but there's something to discuss!


30 December, 2006

Eid Mubarak

Sorry for this belated greeting, I was supposed to post this yesterday but as they say, it is never too late. The day of Eid is not over yet. Some people had their Eid today & some will celebrate tomorrow in some countries. But I guess that is not important as long as we have an Eid :-)

I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Eid. May Allah accept our good deeds, forgive our 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. Eid Mubarak :-)

By the way, here is your greeting card :-)


Comments HERE.

Whose idea was the grave of Sheikh Zayed?

The Grave of Sheikh Zayed

We all love Sheikh Zayed, but not to the level of committing sins and disobeying Almighty Allah & His prophet Mohammed, peace been upon him. I'm very certain that this is the advice of one of the advisers who claim to know Islam very well & love Sheikh Zayed more than the rest of us ... when he's far away from that ...

Read More ...

29 December, 2006

Jailed for blogging :: IHT

CAIRO: In a cramped jail cell in Alexandria, Egypt, sits a soft-spoken 22- year-old student. Kareem Amer was sent to prison for over a month for allegedly "defaming the president of Egypt" and "highlighting inappropriate aspects that harm the reputation of Egypt." Where did Amer commit these supposed felonies? On his weblog.
. . .
After 18 years inside the Al-Azhar system, Amer rebelled. Rather than embrace the religious establishment, he became a critic of discrimination against women and non-Muslims.

Blogging became Amer's outlet — and his downfall. When Al-Azhar officials discovered a blogpost criticizing extremist professors, Amer was expelled and his case referred to the public prosecutor.

Although a human-rights lawyer accompanied Amer to his interrogation, prosecutors made clear they were indicting Amer for his beliefs. "Do you fast on Ramadan?" they demanded. "Do you pray?" They even insisted he reveal his opinions on the Darfur crisis. Amer would not retract his blogposts, so prosecutors threw him in jail — and laughed at the human-rights attorney present, openly mocking the concept of standing up for individual rights.

Indeed, only a few years ago, the arrest of a student at Al-Azhar would have been met with silence and indifference from the outside world. But today, hundreds of fellow bloggers and readers from around the world have sounded the alarm.

Dubai's Top 3

You have a friend, relative, acquaintance coming to Dubai for a first time visit. They ask, "What should I see or do?" What are your top three must see/do's?

I'll start:
  1. Jumeirah Beach Park--invariably Dubai ought to mean a visit to a warm, sunny beach. JB Park combines that with very nice, grassy lawns and complete facilities.
  2. Dubai Marina's Marina Walk (on a weekend evening)--As the sun sets, the towers come alight, the crowds of people swarm and the $2 million performing fountain mesmerizes.
  3. Ibn Battuta Mall--a mixture of shopping and culture in a clean, colorful, uncrowded setting.

                 A December morning in the Dubai Marina.

what defines a local?

What would you say defines a Local? Or more specifically, What factors defines the Local identity?

Go on, I know you are answering the question as you read this. So write it down in the comments.

This is not a local bashing contest so any blatantly derogatory and/or racist comments will not be tolerated.

28 December, 2006

Eid Mubarak

Happy Birthday Sahar De, originally uploaded by !efatima.

From mine to yours - Happy Eid. May all your good deeds be accpeted and rewarded.


Over 2 million pilgrims from today, the 8th day of Islamic month of Dhul Hijja, started the 5 day spiritual experience known as Hajj. But what is Hajj? And why it is held every year? Why muslims from all over the world converge into the Holy city of Makkah every year, sacrificing their time, money & bearing patiently all the hardships of the journey, constantly chanting "Here I am Lord, at Your service, here I am. Here I am at Your service and You have no equal. Yours alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Yours alone is The Sovereignty. You have no partners".

Since I am not a good writer, I will quote Islamonline website which very beautifully describes the experience.
Hajj literally means "to continuously strive to reach one's goal." It is the last of the five pillars of Islam. The other four are a declaration of faith in one God and in Prophet Muhammad, the five daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting the month of Ramadan. Pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those who have the physical and financial ability to undertake the journey.

Hajj is essentially a reenactment of the rituals of the great prophets and teachers of faith. Pilgrims symbolically relive the experience of exile and atonement undergone by Adam and Eve after they were expelled from Heaven. They also retrace the footsteps of Hajar as she ran between the hills of Safa and Marwah, searching for water for her thirsty baby. Lastly, the pilgrims also commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for the sake of God. God later substituted a ram in place of Abraham's son.

Yet, Hajj is more than these rituals. The faithful hope that it will bring about a deep spiritual transformation, one that will make him or her a better person. The fact that millions of Muslims transcending geographical, linguistic, level of practice, cultural, ethnic, color, economic, and social barriers converge in unison on Makkah, attests to the universality of the Hajj. It plants the seed to celebrate the diversity of our common humanity. Pilgrims return home enriched by this more pluralistic and holistic outlook and with a new appreciation of their own origins.
The result of a successful Hajj is rich inner peace, which is manifested outwardly in the values of justice, honesty, respect, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, and empathy. And it is these values, all attributes of God almighty, that are indispensable to us all if we really want to get along in this world.

Technical Breakdown

Breaking News from DFM.AE

DFM announces postponing its pre-opening session today 28 December 2006 due to technical breakdown in Etisalats (sic) main telecommunications cable in the World Trade Centre area.

Happy Holidays!

UAE makes Wonkette


New Blogger & Gmail not working?

Anyone else experiencing problems? I have not been able to log in to either--the login pages don't even load--since Wednesday (27 Dec) afternoon. Tried it at different computers and on different networks.

27 December, 2006

Dubai gets digged...


Worth Reading

Worth reading...

'181' calls now going to be more expensive

New Year's gift from Etisalat:

Etisalat has defended plans to triple the cost of its 181 directory enquiries service, saying it’s needed to improve service and insisting that anyone given an incorrect number will not be charged. Etisalat has announced its 181 service will now cost dhs1 for the first minute followed by 50 fils per 30 seconds, up from 30 fils per minute previously.

Another alternative is dialing 7000-1-7000 and I think these are charged at Dhs1.20 per minute.

26 December, 2006

4 Gulf states to spend $150bn on infrastructure

The UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, are expected to spend about $150 billion on infrastructure over the next three years, according to Merrill Lynch.

Merrill Lynch said in its In its recent Global Research Highlights that infrastructure spending in emerging markets could exceed $1 trillion in the next three years. rest here
I understand that infrastructure spending is a progressive step and the wise always decide to make bold strides in such areas. But the twist for the Gulf States would be in striking the balance between, bearing the costs of such development or transferring them onto the bulk expat population. Ofcourse countries bear a lot of such costs themselves and levy taxes on the residents, but with no loyalties being extended to the expats it would be hard to have them stick around to pay for infrastructure costs. Already we are seeing the burnt of such by things like "airport expansion taxes" , road tolls, etc etc.

24 December, 2006

Ho ho ho!

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
A hoopoe beneath a palm tree.

Merry Christmas everyone!


I wondered if this would happen after all the rains, and indeed it has. Parts of the desert are turning green. This snap is from a side road off Emirates Highway in Ras Al Khamaih. It was a Friday (22 Dec), and later on in the afternoon SUV's could be seen dotting the greens as people picnicked. Unfortunately, they often left tracks across the virgin grass and litter here and there.

Nice Spectacle

The sky over the Global Village on Friday morning was dotted with balloons. As I approached Emirates Rd. from the road coming up from Mall of the Emirates it looked like little puffs of smoke were rising above the horizon. As I got closer I could see the balloon shapes against the rising sun. Does anyone know what the balloon show was all about?

23 December, 2006

Dubai Investment Group - on the RUN

The Dubai Investment Group has become the biggest shareholder in a bank with assets worth $29bn following Cypriot lender Marfin Popular Bank's acquisition of Greece's Marfin Financial Group and Egnatia Bank, reported Emirates Today. The DIG bought 31.5% of Marfin Financial in May and also owns 5% of Marfin Popular. The new, enlarged Marfin Popular aims to list on the Athens bourse and in Dubai (ameinfo.com)

Dubai Investment and Dubai Holdings seem to be working aggressively to diversify and woe international interests to not only diversify the Dubai Market but also create more sustainability for it.

Season’s Greetings

Child jockeys and sovereign immunity

United Arab Emirates rulers asked a federal judge on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit seeking damages for thousands of children who were forced to become racing camel jockeys, arguing that the issue is being fully addressed and that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction.

The Emirates, in conjunction with UNICEF, in May 2005 established a program to compensate, provide services for and repatriate young camel jockeys to their home countries, primarily Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania, the court papers said.

A UNICEF report this month said that 1,077 young camel jockeys have been returned home and provided with other assistance, including education. The Emirates on Dec. 11 announced it would set aside a minimum of $9 million (€6.82 million) to expand and extend the program through 2009.

The Emirates banned use of underage camel jockeys in July 2005.
. . .
Federal court in Miami is a proper legal venue, the lawsuit contends, because Emirates royal family members own hundreds of horses at farms upstate in Ocala and because no other court in the world could fairly address the claims.

The Emirates rulers, however, say there is no connection between anyone involved in the camel jockey issue and the U.S. court in Florida and that the country's rulers have immunity as heads of state.


I just got back from shopping for some clothes for myself and I have always noticed something strange about a few designer shops in Dubai. Daniel Hechter, Ted Lapidus, Pierre Cardin and Guy Laroche are all very famous designer labels that have retail outlets all over Dubai. Let me just explain why it all seems so fishy!

1) I noticed that they ALWAYS ( and i mean 365 days a year) have some sort of sale going on. Their prices are ASTONISHINGLY low for a top end designer label. Ever heard of AED 60 Pierre Cardin business shirt or AED 500 Laroche Business Suit?

2) Their quality is ridiculously poor. Massimo Dutti and Zara shops have better quality clothing and they are not considered designer clothing lines.

3) They have shops every where! how can this be? in almost every shopping mall?!? EVEN IN SATWA! I saw a Pierre Cardin shop in satwa! that like expecting rolex watches sold in the street stalls of shanghai to be original!

4) I have found out that all these brands are operated by the same agent. Lets just say that I know this for a fact!

5) I had a look at their websites and guess what, NO MENTION OF OUTLETS IN DUBAI! Guy Laroche and Daniel Hechter website are the ones i check out and no word at all
have a look yourself

So now tell me is this not a scam? isn't something strange? or is it just me?

I'm expecting Luis Vuitton shops to be opening up with AED 100 handbags and AED 200 Suitcases!

22 December, 2006

iPad residential tower

I wish I was kidding...
Dubai's new luxury tower to resemble an iPod

American pastor denies flashing on the Dubai-Al Ain highway

Gulf News:
Flashing denied

The suspect refused to yield to the plaintiff even though he gave him the high beam to do so. H.A. told the police that J.H. flashed his middle finger as soon as his car came near the suspect's vehicle.

The victim then reported the incident to the police after taking down the car plate number. Later the police summoned the suspect who denied the charge. He said he did not flash his finger. The court acquitted him for lack of strong evidence. The plaintiff may still appeal this verdict.
Reaction to the use of the middle finger varies by region.

Let's Remember Our Common Bond

Some if not most of the most bitter and violent arguments take place between people who for all intents and purposes share a common bond--husband and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, etc. Those who each claim to be adherents to the same faith or creed, say Shiite or Sunni or in days gone by Catholics and Protestants, have waged the cruelist of battles against each other.

The point I'm trying to make is that people, regardless of how related or unrelated they are, share differences of opinion, beliefs, lifestyles, etc. Success in any community, society, organization, nation, etc. depends on people remaining civil and accepting one another despite these differences.

Recently, there has been a spate of hate-mongering among comments to this blog, where some would denegrate others just because they are not of a particular nationality, for example, or not of the speaker's faith, beliefs, etc. Are we not all human beings, who belong to a common family? It would be nice, decent and civil if those who post such comments, whatever their pet peave with any other nationality, creed or lifestyle would remember this.

Everyone, whatever plot of land he happens to occupy on the earth, has a postive contribution to make to those around him or her. If anyone thinks their religion, for example, teaches otherwise than that religion serves to denegrate humanity more than foster the respect and love it ought to. Love and respect or not Western, Hindu, Christian or Muslim principles. They are universals.

The best days in the World

Friends, we have entered the month of Dhul Hijjah from today. The first ten days of this sacred month have a great signifcance in the life of a Muslim.
Narrated Ibn Abbas:

The Prophet peace be upon him said, "No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhul Hijja)." Then some companions of the Prophet said, "Not even Jihad?" He replied, "Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger (for Allah's sake) and does not return with any of those things." Source
According to another hadith
Narrated Abu Hurayrah:

The Prophet peace be upon him said, "There are no days more loved to Allaah for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijja. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year and to offer salatul tahajjud (late-night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power. [i.e., Lailatul Qadr]. Source
Yet another hadith
Narrated Ibn Umar:

The Prophet peace be upon him said: There is no day more honorable in Allaah's sight and no acts more beloved therein to Allaah than those in these ten days. So say tahlil (There is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah : Laa ilaaha illallaah), takbir (Allaah is the greatest : Allaahu Akbar) and tahmid (All praise is due to Allaah : alhumdulillaah) a lot [on those days]. Source
There is much to be gained, we should make the most of the opportunity afforded by these invaluable and irreplaceable ten days. We should hasten to do good works, before death strikes, before one can regret one’s negligence and failure to act, before one is asked to return to a place where no prayers will be answered, before death intervenes between the hopeful one and the things he hopes for, before we are trapped with our deeds in the grave.

May Allah guide all of us to His right path.

21 December, 2006

Stupid statement from Robert Fisk

This was a week or so back in Gulf News, but I only just spotted it:

Has the proliferation of the alternative media – particularly online – helped present truer pictures?

Blogs are not a useful alternative press. I don't use the internet much, as I don't have time and there's no system of accountability. I know many journalists and writers now read everything online and then use it to write pieces, but that's just mirror journalism.
Well Robert, if you "don't use the internet much", how in God's name are you placed to comment on whether blogs are a useful alternative press or not? Given the immense censorship in certain countries, it is only via the internet - and these days, usually in the form of blogging - that citizen journalists and actual journalists are able to get stories out. Making a broad and dismissive statement from a platform of self-confessed ignorance is hardly the behaviour of someone worth heeding, is it?

MKD Piano Album 9

A bit of shameless advertising... why not turn here for some original piano compositions?


Guess who?!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

20 December, 2006

Just Do It!

Reality check: 95 percent of Americans have premarital sex

At the rate things are going in Dubai, the UAE is not too far behind.

19 December, 2006

No more Google cache for you.

It appears Etisalat have now decided to begin blocking Google cache.

Google cache takes a simple (no images are stored) copy of a website which is stored on Google and allows internet users to access websites which are experiencing downtime, have been deleted and/or changed. It also allowed UAE internet users to access websites which were proxied for text-only information.

First it was DeviantART, then it was Google cache; what next?

Unity in Nativity

It's the festive season and (although some assure me that it is a pagan festival), I wish to extend the spirit of peace and good will to all.

Muslims revere Jesus (may peace be upon him) as one of the holiest personalities who ever lived. The miraculous story of his birth is mentioned in Surah Maryam, a chapter of the Quran named in honour of his mother, Mary.

The season also coincides this year with the Hajj pilgrimage. This includes recollections of the actions of Abraham (may peace be upon him) and his family.

So, season's greetings to all.

American InterContinental University probation extended

Insider Higher Ed reports:
American InterContinental University has had its probation extended for a second year by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Career Education Corp., which operates American InterContinental, announced Tuesday. The Southern accreditor had placed the university on a 12-month probation last December, for falling short of a wide range of the group’s standards, including among other things the “integrity of student academic records and accuracy in recruiting and admission practices.” Under the regional accreditor’s bylaws, an institution may remain on probation for only two years, after which it can either regain its accreditation or lose it. American InterContinental remains accredited in the interim. Career Education also announced Tuesday that American InterContinental and seven of its other campuses had received word last month that the Education Department plans to conduct program reviews to examine their compliance with federal rules.

American University in Dubai webpage:
Accreditation and Licensure Summary

c The American University in Dubai is a branch campus of American InterContinental University, Atlanta, Georgia. American InterContinental University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award Associate, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees. This umbrella accreditation includes all approved branch campuses of the University, including AUD operating in Dubai*.
* AUD no longer offers Associate degrees (as of Oct, 2004)

c AUD is officially licensed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the United Arab Emirates and the DC Education Licensure Commission. The Ministry has accredited the University's programs in Business Administration, Engineering, Information Technology, Interior Design and Visual Communication.

c AUD is approved to operate by the State of Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (NPEC). ...

Emirates Today, December 2005 (when AIU's probation was announced):
“Whatever is taking place in the United States with the AIU has nothing to do with Dubai,” said Elias Bousaab, executive vice-president of AUD.

Bousaab said even if the umbrella institute should fail to meet those conditions, certification for the Dubai franchise came from the UAE’s Ministry of Education and would not be affected.

My opinion is if you claim US accreditation through a US instituion, and that institution loses accreditation, then it you can not logically or ethically claim US accreditation if the US institution loses accreditation. AIU has one more year to get off probation, or lose its accreditation. AUD has an interest in the outcome.

18 December, 2006

If we did it, this is how we would have done it

With apologies to the president of Iran, OJ Simpson and Jon Stewart.

CBS News 60 Minutes:
As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, the documents were taken to a town in the middle of Germany, called Bad Arolsen, where they were sorted, filed and locked way, never to be seen by the public until now.

The storerooms are immense: 16 miles of shelves holding the stories of 17 million victims – not only Jews, but slave laborers, political prisoners and homosexuals.
The story is in the next episode of 60 Minutes which is available on cable in the UAE.

In the meantime, places like FrontPage continue to harp - way out of proportion to the truth about the UAE - on the story of Harvard and the UAE.

17 December, 2006

Al Jazeera English had a makeover

I just watched TheDaily Show on CNN, and they had this hilarious skit by Samantha Bee where she is suggesting changes so that Al Jazeera English would click with the Americans.

I searched YouTube and you can watch the video here.

Jockey Payout

"The United Arab Emirates says it will give $9m (£4.6m) to former child camel jockeys employed in the country.
The UAE says the money will ensure they receive the salaries owed to them and compensation for losing their income. It will also go towards education.

The move is part of a joint programme with the UN children's agency Unicef.

The initiative has seen more than 1,000 former jockeys, from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania repatriated to their countries."

more here

I <3

The Emirates Eveningpost's unique way of conveying 'the message' (well it seems that every newspaper is concerned at warning us now) is highly amusing. A must see:

Inside EMS 2006

I have visited Emirates Millionaire Show 2006 in Emirates Palace and it was simply amazing and I have enjoyed it very much ... Some of the amazing things I have seen there are ...

I just wanted to share what I saw with those who didn't get the chance to attend the show ...

FNC Election winners

The first round winners of the UAE elections are announced. These are from Abu Dhabi and Fujairah; I'm looking forward to Sharjah and Dubai winners :)


1. Amal Abdullah Juma Karam Al Qubaisi (265 votes)
2. Mohammed Mohd Ali Fadhil Al Hameli (304 votes)
3. Ahmed Shabib Mohammed Al Dhaheri (302 votes)
4. Rashid Musabah Al Knidi Al Marrar (194 votes)


1. Sultan Ahmed Danakhani (122 votes)
2. Ahmed Saeed Al Danakhani (94 votes)

The brisk voting process began simultaneously at 8am in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah — two of the country’s seven emirates that had the distinction of being the first to go to the polls. While Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah will witness voting tomorrow, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain will go to the polls on Wednesday.

16 December, 2006

DeviantArt blocked

Ughhhhh. So Etisalat has now blocked DeviantArt, an online community for artists and surely, a more 'serious' place than Flickr.

Mobile Scam?

There's an SMS message doing the rounds that says if you forward it to 10 other people you will get 25 dirhams credit added to your balance:

"Congratulation! 2 day is anniversary of Etisalat. So forward this sms to 10 other people u will get free balance of AED 25/"

In a moment of stupidity I forwarded it on and realised, after an hour of no extra credit, that I'd been scammed. Sorry to the 10 people I forwarded it to, I hope you're not as stupid as me...

Wealth, profusion and splendor take on elegance, magnificence and beauty

Teach us that wealth is not elegance, that profusion is not magnificence, that splendor is not beauty.
Benjamin Disraeli said it. Does anyone know the context?


15 December, 2006

Dubai Land of Slavery

A very interesting video on youtube.

Link courtesy of click.

Emirates Millionaire Show: For 59,000 UAE Millionaires Owning 1,500 Billion Dirhams

Emirates Palace
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

H.H. Sheikh Suroor Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, the Chamberlain of the Presidential Court opened yesterday the first Emirates Millionaire Show (EMS 2006) during an exceptionally alluring ceremony held at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, also the venue for the three-day show (December 14th - December 16th).

H.H. Sheikh Suroor Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan said that that there are 59,000 UAE millionaires who own 1,500 billion dirhams (US $408 billion) and the number of UAE millionaires is growing %5 each year because of the rapid growth of UAE economy according to Emirates Today Arabic newspaper. He also added that %60 of those millionaires (35,400) are women.

Read More ...

Do you have enough money to "qualify" to attend this show? I know I don't.

Read Also:
Emirates Millionaire Show 2006
Glitter, glamour and fashion's most luxurious product lines unveiled at Emirates Millionaire Show 2006 (AME Info)

Time Travel Forbidden?

The Wayback Machine is this cool non-profit project to archive webpages. Unlike a search engine, The Wayback Machine takes 'snapshots' of pages over time. Thus, one could go look at how a particular site looked a few years ago. Interesting, that.

For some reason, the Great Golf Ball, Itisalot, finds the Wayback Machine is not consistent with their values. Anyone have a theory better than 'Oh they're just being their crappy old selves'?

14 December, 2006

Elections, the Emirates Way

The announcement of the names of the nominees for the FNC elections in December has raised questions and created a feeling of bitterness and mistrust. In the past, such reactions did not come to the fore because selecting and ignoring FNC members was not the concern of the ordinary people. But the advertisement for the upcoming elections, and the accompanying media coverage, has been a negative factor. It has increased ambiguities instead of clarifying the issues. It succeeded in motivating people to participate in the elections, which everyone thought they were somehow a part of, till they realized that it was the privilege of only 6,689 people, representing 0.08 percent of the total UAE citizens. The remaining citizens have been offered seats reserved for spectators, without knowing why they have been excluded.

Instead of establishing a political consciousness that reflects the content of Article 25 of Chapter III of the UAE Constitution -- which addresses public rights and duties and stipulates that "all individuals are equal before the law, and there is no distinction between the citizens of the Federation on the basis of origin, creed, or social position" -- distinction has been made and inequality consolidated in a manner that has made the coming electoral process something of a Spartan Paradigm.
This from Dr Ebtisam Al-Kitbi, Assistant professor of political science, UAE University.

Reuters finds analysts who are more positive:
Christian Koch, Director of International Studies at the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai, welcomed the "step by step" development of political institutions in the UAE.

"The government of the UAE enjoys a high level of legitimacy among its population and doesn't see an urgent need to take broad steps towards overall democracy," said Koch.
. . .
There are no general elections in the UAE, but citizens may express their concerns directly to their leaders through traditional consultative mechanisms, such as the open majlis, or council.

The decision to elect 50 per cent of the members of the FNC was announced by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan in December 2005.

This decision was just the first phase of a three-stage process of transforming the political system in the UAE. Sheikh Khalifa also created a 12-member National Electoral Committee in August this year to oversee the electoral process.

In addition, Sheikh Khalifa outlined two other stages to be introduced in 2007 and beyond.

Stage two is the expansion of the FNC to include a greater number of members to reflect the growth of the country's population. This stage would also include a re-evaluation of the role of the FNC with a view to strengthening its role.

Once the FNC has been expanded and empowered, stage three of the political reform process would allow all nationals in the country to vote for half the FNC's candidates.
The Reuters article puts this gradual approach in the context of the "rise of Islamists across the Gulf":

Some analysts set the tentative first steps towards greater democracy in the UAE, a country in which there are no democratically elected institutions or political parties, against the rise of Islamists across the Gulf.

"The leaders may feel that for now this is the only right way to proceed with elections," said analyst al-Hassan. "Muslim extremists, whether in Iraq or Iran or al-Qaeda elements in the Gulf, are now very influential in the region and there are fears that they would dominate such councils if moderates were not guaranteed a place."
Here's an article on some of the women running for office, giving good examples of the kind of feistiness I've observed in Emirati women.

Arrgh! We're dying out

Blogging 'set to peak next year'

The blogging phenomenon is set to peak in 2007, according to technology predictions by analysts Gartner.

The analysts said that during the middle of next year the number of blogs will level out at about 100 million.

The firm has said that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs.

I actually believe what we'll get is:

1. Less rubbish blogs - the quality ones will stay

2. More collaborative blogs

3. More conventional websites turning into blogs, or incorporating blog software

4. More syndication/integration and use of RSS, which current comment software will have to evolve for

Accident on SZR

I read about this just now. Apparently, it happened this morning around 7:30 a.m.? Anybody witnessed it? This is so sad...

At least eight labourers have been killed and 45 injured, 15 them of them seriously, in a ghastly accident on Shaikh Zayed Road in the wee hours on Thursday, when the bus in which they were travelling rammed into another van.

The accident occurred near Mall of Emirates on Shaikh Zayed Road. The dead are six Chinese, one Indian and one Pakistani.

The driver of the bus lost control and rammed into the van resulting the ghastly accident. Driver of the van also died.

A new blog with a Global Theme

Global Themes Blog is launching this week.

Contributors from all over the world - starting with Abu Dhabi, Boston, Dubai, Stockholm and Tel Aviv - will post images each week which address a particular theme. Some are already members of the UAE Blogging Community too, as this is the forum in which we all came together and got to know each other's blogs!

This week, the theme is Water.

This is a chance to see the world from different eyes and camera angles, and different issues from diverse perspectives while global music plays in the background, such as "The Gypsy Girl" by Nikos Kypourgos.

Come on over to Global Themes, and if you want to join in the fun, click on the email link at the top of the right-hand column on the GT blogsite and request membership.

Thanks to the UAE Community Blog moderators for suggesting that we post this here as a shameless self-promotional plug for some light-hearted blogging fun!

You think so...?

Terrence Howard, telling us at the L.A. premiere of The Pursuit of Happyness that he's going to Dubai with his kids for the holidays. "It's an amazing place. I want my children to see a place where people of color have made great strides and really have a chance."

13 December, 2006


Any idea why it is blocked, and why it is not "officially" blocked? Is everyone else getting a "network busy" error message?

The imams, preflight behavior, postflight limelight

M. Zuhdi Jasser is a Phoenix physician and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy writes:
Our predicament is unique, fragile and precarious. We Muslims are a relatively new minority in a nation that gives us freedoms that no other Muslim nation would allow.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, a radical subset of our faith community is seeking to destroy the basis for this liberty.
. . .
As a devout Muslim, I have watched this painfully protracted saga unravel, fearing what comes next. The media, especially print media, have bent over backward to hear minorities' fears. Yet public opinion has not seemed to budge in favor of the imams. The lesson here lies in why. It has to do with credibility.

We are all creatures of passion. This fiasco has stirred the passionate cry of victimization from the Muslim activist community and imam community. But where were the news conferences, the rallies to protest the endless litany of atrocities performed by people who act supposedly in my religion's name? Where are the denunciations, not against terrorism in the abstract, but clear denunciations of al-Qaida or Hamas, of Wahhabism or militant Islamism, of Darfurian genocide or misogyny and honor killings, to name a few? There is no cry, there is no rage. At best, there is the most tepid of disclaimers. In short, there is no passion. But for victimization, always.

Only when Americans see that animating passion will they believe that we Muslims are totally against the fascists that have hijacked our religion. There is only so much bandwidth in the American culture to focus upon Islam and Muslims. If we fill it with our shouts of victimization, then the real problems from within and outside our faith community will never be heard.

12 December, 2006

Pro-Palestine Jews

Why are Jews at the 'Holocaust denial' conference?

Some of them belong to Neturei Karta (Guardians of the City), a group of a few thousand people which views Zionism - the movement to establish a Jewish national home or state in what was Palestine - as a "poison" threatening "true Jews".

A representative, UK-based Rabbi Aharon Cohen, told the conference he prayed "that the underlying cause of strife and bloodshed in the Middle East, namely the state known as Israel, be totally and peacefully dissolved".

In its place, Rabbi Cohen said, should be "a regime fully in accordance with the aspirations of the Palestinians when Arab and Jew will be able to live peacefully together as they did for centuries".

Be corrupt? No thanks.

NYT Magazine:
In an ingenious study published in June, however, the Columbia University economist Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel of the University of California at Berkeley argued that culture plays a powerful role. The two scholars studied parking tickets that were racked up in Manhattan by diplomats from 146 countries who were posted to the United Nations. In a situation in which every diplomat essentially received an invitation to be corrupt, diplomats from nations with “clean” governments said, “No, thanks.”
. . .
If incentives trumped culture, you would suppose that diplomats from every nation would cheat. But in fact, attachés from Canada, Ireland, Scandinavian nations and Japan evidently drove around the block till they found a spot. (Diplomats with few or no unpaid tickets also tended to get few tickets, period.) The worst offenders, meanwhile, came from Kuwait (246 unpaid tickets per diplomat), Egypt, Chad, Sudan, Bulgaria, Mozambique, Albania, Angola and Senegal. This behavior correlated strongly with the scores of diplomats’ home countries on a measure of public corruption compiled by World Bank researchers.

Of course, legal incentives were hardly irrelevant: over time, individual diplomats from “clean” countries did cheat more, as they learned how the system worked. But the initial scofflaws’ cheating grew even faster.

The UAE ranked 127 with 3 unpaid tickets per diplomat.

Blogger beta issues

It appears that being a member of UAE community may screw up your ability to switch to Blogger beta/new Blogger, because Blogger hasn't yet implemented support for blogs of more than 1,000 posts. (We have 1,600+).

They say they will eventually implement it, so you have the choice of

(1) waiting until whenever to migrate your personal blog(s), or

(2) being deleted from UAE community blog and rejoining when the issue is finally resolved.

I will keep a list of anyone who requests removal, and send you all invites as soon as UAE community is able to make the switch. To this end can anyone wanting temporary deletion please email me - secretdubai at gmail - and put "deletion" in the subject header? This will help me organise things if there are a lot of requests.

Unfortunately it is apparently no longer possible to set up new old-style Blogger accounts. This means that (unless you already have an existing separate old-style Blogger account) once you get yourself deleted and migrate, you won't be able to re-join until Blogger resolves the "big blog" issue. Previously we had suggested that people set up temporary accounts. This also presumably means that new bloggers won't be able to join yet (as their Blogger accounts will all be new-style and incompatible). If you decide on deletion, but still desperately want to post something, do feel free to email me with it and I will post it on your behalf.

11 December, 2006

Condoms 'too big' for Indian men

A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.

READ MORE.......

10 December, 2006

Tehran Times renames GCC

TT calls it the PGCC. That's a petty.

Interview With Al-Jazeera Editor-in-Chief Ahmed Sheikh

Ahmed Sheikh was interviewed by the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche. An English translation is available here. It covers a lot of territory, including the founding of Al Jazeera English, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and his view of the future of the region (in a word, "dark").

Campaign to get City 7 TV a new table

Has anyone watched the latest addition to the plethora of TV channels on offer? Yes, City 7 TV launched a few days ago and promises to bring a mix of local and international programming to Dubai in english.

This is Dubai, the city with all that money sloshing about and yet they can't afford a decent coffee table on their one and only sea view set. It looks like one of those horrible chipboard ones that collapse if you put anything heavier than a coffee cup on it.

Come on City 7, lets see a bit of money spent on your set. Maybe The One might give you a few bits if you give them a plug in return. In the meantime, Al Ain Taxi is open for offers on 'That Taxi Show' live from a Nissan Sunny.

DED's SME Workshops

Dubai's Department of Economic Development has launched a series of workshops for UAE national entrepreneurs that specifically address the prospects for small and medium enterprises in the UAE. Entitled the UAE Investor Project, the workshops will be held from December 10-14 at the City Season Hotel. Over 300 UAE nationals have already registered for the five day event. (ameinfo.com)
If any of the readers participated please do enlighten us with your comments. 'Click to Comment'

Gmail users, read this!

Google’s Gmail: Still far from perfect by ZDNet's Donna Bogatin -- Does Google’s new “Mail Fetcher” signify that Gmail just “became perfect,” as Michael Arrington gushes? NO. Why not? Because nothing has changed in Google’s fundamental “your data is Google’s data” philosophy, which I put forth in “Free Google Gmail: The high price you pay”: Do you believe the contents of every personal and business email you ever [...]

Proxy Watch

I'm starting a new blog called Proxy Watch and I'd really like to get some contributors.

If you’d like to join on, please email sam (at) samurai-sam.com

Camel Racing on American News

ABC news in the US ran a story on both Nightline and World News Tonight (its national evening news show) about camel racing and the changeover to robot jockeys. If you are interested in seeing it, it is available online here.

09 December, 2006

100 photos in 100 days

As it's a little quiet, just little post to thank those of you that visit my little blog.

Dubai Daily Photo has now hit 100 photos in exactly 100 days. Here's the 100th photo:

Drop by if you get a second, there is a few shots to look at. Not the usual Dubai shots...

Hope to keep posting for a long time to come...


Dubai Daily Photo

Contact details?

Who do I contact to find out why a post I put on the community blog has since been removed?

UAE wins first Gold at Asian Games

Mabrook UAE!

Doha: The UAE made history at the Asian Games yesterday when they claimed their first gold medal and narrowly missed winning another.

Fujairah's Mohammad Salem Abdullah Zahmi won that elusive gold medal when he pulled off a shock victory in the 65kg category at the men's bodybuilding competition.

Moments earlier in the shooting competition, Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum narrowly missed winning the gold in the men's skeet individual competition.


Real estate agents steal photos

If true I guess it shows what some are prepared to do to make a quick dirham:
For every building in Dubai there is about 10 agents trying to flog apartments to people , and they all want cool pictures of construction progression to show clients especially those abroad, I mean i wouldn't make a payment on my property if i thought the construction had stopped. So what do the bigger estate agents do? Yes you guessed it they STEAL the photos from this forum [Skycityscraper.com] and post them on their own site without any credit to the original photographers who are just normal "little" people taking photos for the love of it and not for commercial gain.

08 December, 2006

Information equals Prevention

For more -- go HERE

When it comes to newspapers "back home", ignorance is bliss...

Am I alone in getting angry about the ignorance of the media back home? It is not only the news on what is happening in our fake democracies in Europe that annoy me but most of all the ignorance towards anything related to Islam. Have you tried following the debates on hijab, integration of muslims and whatever else in your newspapers from home? The worst part I usually consider those papers where readers are allowed to post their own comments, they just make me really angry...

However, I now managed to avoid anger by simply stopping to read these papers, which means I now successfully apply my own double standards on ignorance: As much as I dread the ignorance of people in Europe, who are under constant bombardment of the islamophobe media, I decided for my own sake that ignorance is bliss, I simply ignore it from now on...

07 December, 2006

The beauty of the Emirates

What I love about this time of year is that you can fall in love with all the good things in the Emirates.
Drive out into the desert and look at the dunes, see the way they are shaped and watch the shadows of the clouds move across the sands - it's so beautiful. The different colours of sand and the way it feels when you let it trickle through your fingers.
Liwa makes me wish I was free enough so that I could ride through the villages on a camel and hunt like they used to do (not likely since I am a female). The beauty of the dunes makes my heart cry with joy.
The jagged rocks of the East coast make me feel content and protected. I dream of paddling in the sea every morning at dawn and then walking back to my bayt that has a beautiful coloured gate built between the mountains but with a view of the sea from the roof.
In Dubai I love the Creek in winter when you can ride on the abra and feel the spray from the sea on your face - it's cold and energising and the smell of the Creek along it's banks reminds me of when I was young.
And then there is the streets full of trees in Abu Dhabi that are full of new growth - almost like a new beginning.
I love the winter it is the season of renewal and rediscovery.

Free Falling into the brave new world of Democracy 2.0

No More Victims - click to watch the videoJesus and the Statue of Liberty *see notes below.

An Aside: In support of free speech and freedom, none of the US cable companies are willing to carry the English broadcast by Al Jazeera.

It seems wherever we look there is some unfortunate soul preaching the tireless evangelical gospel of freedom and democracy while standing on the broken bones of children that will never see the merrier aspects of this life.

Read The Rest

Do you like adventure stories?

Ever dreamed of being a PIRATE?

Do you enjoy being part of the action?

If the answer is yes....come JOIN US!

Treasure Island,

the pantomime, is here!!

On the 15th and 16th of December at Dubai Women's College

Matinee and Evening performances are available

15:00hrs in the afternoon and 19:00hrs in the evening

Tickets: 75 dh for adults, 50 dh for children

Reserve online at www.dubaidramagroup.org under Ticket Reservation

Or better still book on-line at


There will be face painting!

A costume contest for the kids!

Singing and Sweets!

A fun experience for all ages!

06 December, 2006

Polonium found ....

... at Emirates Stadium.

Women's volleyball attracts a crowd in Qatar

Pictures here.

Laborers in Dubai brace for more rain

Story here.

05 December, 2006

Movie idea: Flatulence on a Plane

Don't strike a match to cover one up on a plane. At least not post 9/11.

What is Trump saying about investment in Dubai, in action and in word?

Item - Today's Gulf News:
Headline: Trump dismisses talk of realty bubble
. . .
Speaking with Gulf News on the sidelines of Dubai's Cityscape property exhibition, Trump [Jr.] said a cyclical lull will hit the market where the velocity of sales drops and weak developers are weeded out.

But he said Dubai's tax free status, its political stability and the freedom given to developers to design innovative projects will sustain investor interest.

"If you say there will be a correction long enough, eventually you'll be right because everything is cyclical. Dubai will never always grow at 25 per cent per year," he said.

"I'm expecting the market to re-centre, which will probably happen in two or three years, but it will affect different properties in different ways."

"The nature of real estate is that people who were able to weather the bad times will always do well."

Hmmm. I love how real estate folks talk - velocity, re-centre, weeded, weather.

Item - USA Today October 5, 2005:
The Trump Organization is not required to invest any money, but is providing its brand to projects that could be entirely financed and built by Nakheel, Bin Sulayem told Dow Jones Newswires.'We're tapping into his knowledge and ability in the high-end sector,' Nakheel Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said of Trump.

Finally, via a comment at UCB this item also dated October 5, 2005 at AMEInfo. Extract:
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman, Nakheel, commented, 'The Trump signature brand is synonymous with the most prestigious properties in the world, and we embrace his interest in working together. This is the first time that The Trump Organization has invested in real estate development in the Middle East. This illustrates the present level of confidence in both Dubai and Nakheel's developments. We look forward to working with The Trump Organization - a world class operation who shares our commitment to excellence."

Questions: Has The Trump Organization invested money in Dubai? In 2005? In 2006?

Is 7DAYS still around?

"7DAYS? I'd much rather read PRAVDA"

Does anyone know if 7DAYS is still publishing an actual newspaper? Because while I enjoy reading it online, I can't seem to find a hard copy anywhere.

Comments are welcome HERE


Big report, but worth the read. SERIOUSLY!( 800kb)

Human Rights Watch report on human rights violations in Dubai (mainly among the working class labourers).

L'il Bush ...

... serves falafel.

The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens part 1 and 2 with 3 to follow:



03 December, 2006


looking at a regional map today i noticed that between saudi arabia and the UAE the border was noted as undefined..

i was wondering how an undefined border is administered and how such status impacts daily life and local administration..

wishing you all a great week..

Shh its haram!

Is it just me or is there a burgeoning gay community in this land?

The Rain Effect

I've heard quite a few crazy stories about flooded streets[by flooded I mean 3-5ft of water] all over UAE...Quoting one of my friends,"UAE has opened the world's first under water city on its national day........ its commonly known as Sharjah..........", so I was wondering if these stories were true & if anyone had any photo's to show cause the news papers seem to have skipped the part where it would it say how the drainage system in many areas sucked, that the authorities were late to react etc.....

Monopoly Special Dubai Edition

I am working on a 'Print and Play' version of the Monopoly Dubai special edition. You can download the high resolution pdf of the board as of now and the cards and currency will follow soon.

I would appreciate some creative input for the 'Chance' and 'Community Cards' to complete the package.

You may remember the Ras Al Khaimah version and the Dubai beta version.

The Problem with Bankers

They're just plain deceiptful. They steal money from customers through cunning little ruses and hidden charges. Of course, it isn't just banks, it's insurance companies, investment houses and all the other wonderful capital institutions. Just thought I'd blog about a simple case in point which I discovered today.
  • Bank: HSBC.
  • Issue: Cash withdrawal from credit card.
  • Ruse: They charge interest from the moment of withdrawal, no grace period (everybody knows this). What most of us don't know is that they waive (thank you very much) the grace period on the entire outstanding balance of the card. So, instead of a little interest on the say Dhs 200 you decided to withdraw, you're suddenly charged 2% monthly interest on your entire outstanding balance. So tricky!
  • Bank's explanation: It's hard to segregate the cash withdrawal from the rest of the balance and charge on that separately.
  • Last word: Give me a break!

Christie's and the Rush to "Discover" the Arab World :: counterpunch

The May 2006 opening of Christie's Dubai marked a new era for modern and contemporary Arab art. Establishing record prices for several pioneering artists, the inaugural auction affirmed the growing popularity of art from the region. With sales reaching well over $8.4 million, many observers of the field predict the auction could generate a greater place for Arab art in the international market. Some have even gone as far to claim that the record prices will serve to further legitimize Arab artists in the global art scene. Since market values do often dictate the momentum of the international art world, there may be some truth in these remarks. Given the social history of art however, the introduction of the major international auction house to the Arab world should be measured with caution.

The expansion of the Christie's conglomerate to include the Middle East is a prime example of globalization, a logical step in the latest campaign to assert American and European political and economic dominance.
. . .
The current construction of expansive arts facilities in cities such as Doha, Dubai, Sharjah and Muscat will lure generations of young Arab artists into art scenes unlike those that exist elsewhere in the Arab world today, the greatest emphasis will be on market value, the potential death of future revolutionary art movements.
. . .
Notwithstanding the space Arab art has been given in major American and European museums and institutions, an examination of curatorial statements and exhibition catalog essays provides clues into some of the ideological frameworks from which this rush to "discover" Arab art originates. With statements such as:

We [Europeans] do not understand that you can go directly from a tent to a skyscraper, from a camel to a six-cylinder. And yet for artists of the Arab world this process is a matter of course, and this concept is important in the way the cultural side effects illuminate it.
the Arab world is reduced to an "archaic" (a term used to describe the region earlier in the catalog by a different curator) land that is just emerging into modern times. These blatantly racist projections of Arabs not only maintain notions of Western superiority and Middle Eastern inferiority, they work to reduce the importance of the art exhibited and silence the creative voices of those represented. In the end the presenting of Arab art only serves to reinforce the exact stereotypes that have been used to justify the exploitation of the region for political and economic gains by several Western governments.
I don't know. Is it blatantly racist? Or is the author looking to be offended? The pace of change in the UAE at least has been virtually "from a tent to a skyscraper, from a camel to a six-cylinder." Both are heritages of which to be proud. To take that pace of change into account helps to understand the strains placed on society and culture and institutions and to appreciate how much they have adapted. And to say that not long ago most people lived in tents and had camels is to make a statement not about race but about the hostile physical environment. The discovery of oil, of course, has made that environment more tolerable.

02 December, 2006

Good Showing

Opening for Asian Games pretty impressive--at least what I saw of it.

So, will Qatar have a shot at the 2016 Olympics? They plan to bid, but I say no way. Dubai in 2020? Yes, they've got a shot. Better yet, they ought to all go for it as the Gulf Olympics 2020.

UAE celebrates 35th National Day today!

The UAE is celebrating its 35th National Day today. Our prayers and best wishes to a country that is home to more than a 100 nationalities. A country that welcomes people from all cultures and communities. A country where people come to make their dreams come true, and do.

As the UAE prepares to move further with its electoral process and a million other progressive things, we wish the best for its people, both local and expats, and hope to see things getting better and better for everybody in the time to come.

It's great to be in the UAE!

Farrukh Naeem
Copywriter, journalist and advertising blogger in the UAE

[Crossposted on: Farrukh Naeem's writing blog]

Technorati Tags:, , , , , , ,

Rainy National Day

It's a bit ironic that National Day comes with rain across the country--hardly typical UAE fare. How many times have you heard (or thought today) it's like Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines... in my case Louisiana? It is nice for a change, unless you're on the road. The two or three times a year that it rains are plenty enough for me. I'm sure residents of New Dubai recall the rains of last February with crossed fingers, hoping that it doesn't happen again! Anyone with photos of today's spectacle? Or a rain report from where you are?

150 km west of Abu Dhabi city on the great Habshan/Bab gas reservoir it has been intermittent rain all day, some heavy showers.

Threatening clouds above Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina

01 December, 2006


Comments about the GULF NEWS story are HERE.

To learn more about FREEDOM OF THE PRESS worldwide go HERE.