31 January, 2007

Do bloggers get the same protections as print journalists? :: AHN

"Santa Clara, CA (AHN)-In a landmark ruling in favor of bloggers and cyber journalists, a Santa Clara County Court defended the First Amendment rights of online journalists to protect their confidential sources, effectively giving web journalists the same protections afforded to traditional print journalists."

Key quote:
Apple claimed the journalists were not entitled to First Amendment protections similar to those afforded to their print counterparts.

However, a California court disagreed, ruling against Apple and in favor of the defendants, who were represented by legal counsel from The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Apple was ordered to pay all legal costs associated with the defense, including a 2.2 times multiplier of the actual fees, bringing the total to about $700,000.
Read the whole thing.

Questions to consider:

1. Are all bloggers considered cyber journalists?

2. What are the protections for cyber journalists and bloggers in other parts of the world?

State lawmaker questions UConn's Dubai plan

I hadn't heard that the University of Connecticut was planning on opening a Dubai campus, but this plan isn't getting a warm reception from Rep. Andrew M. Fleischmann, the co-chair of the state General Assembly's Education Committee:

"[I]t's always important to understand whom you are partnering with...

"There are major questions that have been raised about human rights in Dubai... [A] critical first step would be for Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates to agree to start living by certain basic standards of human rights and worker rights that appear to be neglected there now.

"There are people living in Dubai right now ... who are, functionally, little more than indentured servants."

The story also sites the Human Rights Watch report from last December.

30 January, 2007

UAE Wins Arabian Gulf Cup for the First Time

18th Arabian Gulf Cup

Finally UAE Made it! It took the UAE Football Team 35 years to finally win the Arabian Gulf Cup after defeating the Omani Team (1-0).

Read the UAE Football Team history with Gulf Cup.

Congratulations UAE ... It's a dream finally came true :)

Labourer care packs

Here is a brilliant idea - food and care packs for needy labourers.

I only just found out about this or I would have posted it here earlier. Click the link for details of the packs. There are only two collections left:

Wednesday 31st: ~ 08:00 to 10:00 at Town Centre (Spinneys) Mirdiff.
Thursday 1st: ~ 08:00 to 10.00 at Ibn Battuta Geant end, upper level carpark.

Hopefully the organisers will repeat the scheme as this may be too short notice for many people.

du tell

Gulf News yesterday:
Dubai: From next month internet users in Dubai's free zones will be barred from calling phone lines from their PCs using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in an apparent change of heart by the UAE's telecom regulator.

An announcement banning use of VoIP in Dubai Internet City was made to customers by du-owned DIC Telecom, the telecommunications provider for the free zone, in compliance with instructions issued by the UAE Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA).
. . .
TRA general director Mohammad Al Ganem, said the development is not new.

"This is a clear policy of the TRA and is country-wide, including all free zones. This has been made clear for some time," he said.
From a GN report in November:
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said yesterday it would allow internet telephony, or Voice over Internet Protocol technology, but only for local calls within the UAE.
The news comes as a half-reversal of its announcement in October, when it said it would allow VoIP from the two licensed operators, etisalat and du.

"We are taking it step by step," he said. "At some point VoIP will be liberalised. As for when, I cannot give you a date. We do not want the quality of service to be lacking or the revenues of the operators to be hurt."

The TRA believes 60 per cent of the telecom revenues in the UAE come from international calls, and that allowing VoIP calls could severely hamper the financial performance of operators.
I wonder what the stor is here. It seems that either du saw some glimmer of possibility that it could gain share in the free zones by allowing VoIP and has been reigned in, or TRA expressly allowed it and then had a "change of heart."

Secret Dubai nominated


Congratulations to Secret Dubai Diary for being nominated as a finalist in the Best African or Middle Eastern weblog category!

Click here to view all categories and finalists, and don't forget to vote while you're there!

Vote for Secret Dubai Diary

Etisalat reports 38% increase in earnings

Emirates Today reports that for 2006, Etisalat's net income was Dh5.86 billion, up from Dh4.25bn the year before. Etisalat's revenue went up by almost 27% to Dh16.29bn and Q4 profit increased 44% to Dh1.47bn compared to Q4 2005.

Pardon Me?

Mariam Shafeek, 21, was arrested at Dubai Airport last Thursday after being found with 0.2g of marijuana in her purse.

The penalty for marijuana possession in the United Arab Emirates is four years jail, regardless of the amount.

Detective Sergeant Greg Murton, of the Christchurch police drug squad, said even 0.5g of marijuana was a "tiny amount".

He said it would be about the size of a 5c piece and would be enough for only "half a marijuana cigarette".
-- more here

It’d be great to see a pardon on this case.

29 January, 2007

The Top 5 UAE Bloggers - Emirates Evening Post

1 - Secret Dubai
2 - Dubai Daily Photo
3 - Dubai Consumer Mirror
4 - Grapeshisha
5 - UAE Community

Some notable omissions there perhaps... quite shocked frankly at being included...!

What's your top 5 UAE blogs?

Family blog

Prompted by a Gulf News story, both Secret Dubai and Emirates Economist (shameless plug) have posted today on a subject that belongs here, except that we try to keep this blog G-rated.

28 January, 2007

Invest in UAE

You don't have to be a millionaire
You don't have to put in a fils...
You don't have to move your self...
Just click here!

Save the Ghaf Tree

Invest two minutes of your time for a valuable cause...
Invest two minutes of your time to plant a tree in the UAE...
Invest two minutes of your time...NOW...

[The Ghaf tree, a cultural emblem of the UAE, is threatened due to overgrazing by the ever growing population of the UAE and animals. It is a slow regenerating tree albeit a powerful one, one that can withstand adverse and harsh environment, drinking little water. It is deeply embeded in the Emirati culture with stories woven around it....for more information]

For every 10 virtual sapling planted online, one REAL ghaf tree will be planted in the UAE
Contribute in planting one tenth of a plant
or invite 9 other friends, relatives, anyone you know to plant ONE ghaf tree:)

It's time you contributed in something worthwhile

and a million mabrooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooook to the UAE for making it to the finals:) at last

27 January, 2007

The Big Switch

We're switching over. It seems to have already happened, though I haven't had the confirmation email yet. I just put our first tags in ;)

We might look at a volunteer plan to devise some useful tags - such as "media" "blogging" "banking" "construction" and have a team of people go through the archives to tag everything. With nearly 2,000 posts I'm not sure it's a job for just one person.

Do people here generally think tags would be useful?

26 January, 2007


I am always fascinated by the unintended juxtapositions. Take two stories about the experiences of two very different foreigners, newly arrived to Dubai, seeking to make money, in today's Gulf News. In the online version, they are listed one after the other (in the Society section):

[Australian] Supermodel 'blown away' by Dubai
[Bangladeshi] Newcomer to Dubai has his hopes dashed

25 January, 2007


Will our very own brn receive an Instalanche as a result of this link? The UAE Community blog is proud of you, brn.

Pigs get the ax in China

In China it's the Year of the ____ reports the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):
SHANGHAI -- Next month, China will ring in the Year of the Pig. Nestlé SA planned to celebrate with TV ads featuring a smiling cartoon pig. "Happy new pig year," the ads said.

This week, China Central Television, the national state-run TV network, banned Nestlé's ad -- and all images and spoken references to the animal in commercials, including those tied to the Lunar New Year, China's biggest holiday.

The intent: to avoid offending Muslims, who consider pigs unclean.
The pig ban is a significant shift for a government that seldom puts the interests of minority groups ahead of those of the broader population. China has more than 20 million Muslims, but they constitute less than 2% of its population.

For most other Chinese, the pig has powerful and positive cultural associations as one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac. Year of the Pig decorations already festoon cities and villages all over China.

Pork is the meat most widely consumed by the country's Han Chinese majority. On average, Chinese annually eat more than 80 pounds of pork , according to United Nations statistics. At banquets in southern China, people often roast whole pigs, decorated with blinking red lights in their eye sockets.
The policy shift offers a window on the inner workings of China's governmental machinery, known for its surprise edicts and abrupt shifts in regulation. It wasn't immediately clear whether the ban applies just to ads or to all TV content. And some analysts said the government could still reverse itself, or offer exceptions to the ban.
Walt Disney Co., which is making a major push into China after opening a theme park in Hong Kong, is building its marketing efforts for the year around Piglet, Winnie the Pooh's cartoon sidekick. The company says that market research into Chinese culture and traditions led them to prioritize Piglet, who is a lesser character in other markets. "Piglet will be Disney's most eye-catching image throughout 2007 in China," said the company in a statement before the ban. China's postal service has also launched "Year of Piglet" stamps surrounded by images of the character. Disney had no comment on the ban.

Pigs have often been at the center of communal violence between China's Muslim minority and the Chinese majority. Protests ensued when a pig's head was nailed to the door of a mosque several years ago.

New BBC Poll on Perceptions of America

The BBC World Service surveyed people in 25 countries, including the UAE, on their view of America. The whole report is here (pdf, 1.7 MB), the summary is here (pdf, 220 KB).

Unsurprisingly, both the overall and the UAE view of the US was negative:

Mostly Mostly Depends Neither Don't Know
Positive Negative
Overall 31 50 9 4 6
UAE 25 57 16 2 1

They also asked about the US's handling of Iraq, Iran's nuclear program, North Korea's nuclear program, last summer's war in Lebanon, the treatment of detainees, global warming, and whether the US is a stabilizing or destabilizing force in the Middle East. It would have been interesting to have included the US handling of Darfur in the list too, but no such luck.

The BBC's analyst says that the message is "Listen more", so here is your chance to talk to at least one American who is listening.

Interesting Perspective by Najla Al Rostamani

"The snowballing reactions of Shilpa's close encounter with "racism" in the house of Celebrity Big Brother, the British reality television show, forced me to recollect the scenario of the unofficial poor mobile video footage of Saddam's hanging. So where is the connection between the two?"

In an age that is governed by the rules of an immediate, constant, instant, direct media, almost everything seems to have the tendency to become part of the public domain. Media in all shapes, forms, sizes, tastes and colours, is available for all to look at, form a perception on and act upon it or react numbly to it. Everything appears to be legitimate enough to go on display for public viewing.""

"If the world had not viewed Saddam's life ending while being taunted by his executioners, how would his execution have been imprinted in human memory? How different would our reactions be with and without the official and the unofficial versions?"

Read full article here

Dubai Terry Fox Run

It's a bit last minute, as it has been a busy week, but just a shameless plug for the Dubai Terry Fox Run to be held tomorrow, Friday, at Al Mamzar Park.

more here

23 January, 2007

Mabrook UAE :)

Update on the Khaleeji Cup:

It is of vital importance for the UAE players to do their best to beat Kuwait and or face being dumped from the tournament which they are hosting. (Gulf News)

UAE beat Kuwait 3-2 tonight :D The guys just went crazy and as usual, there were so many cars with UAE flags, crackers and celebration! It started soon after the match got over. Buhairah Corniche was overwhelmed with cars, with Anjad (Police) closing some of the U-turns and controlling the crowd. They weren't allowed to fine or stop the 'parades' this time. But I think it was fantastic how everyone came together to celebrate it. There were not only the guys and girls but families too...smiling and waving the flag.

Anybody saw any other celebrations on other Emirates' streets? Any photos?

Mabrook UAE!


"Dubai may be the boomtown of the Middle East, but is it being built on the backs of exploited foreign workers? Read Brian Ross' 20/20 script."

Does anyone have a copy of this documentary yet?

Presumably a complete copy of the video can be found here (hat tip: Emirates Economist)

Second Life

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) are nothing new, but have you ever wanted to see what would it be like if you picked another path in life? Or maybe actually know how it feels like to be a first rate reporter or journalist?

Well look no further, Second Life is exactly what you are looking for a huge population, a good commerce system and low (free) subscription fee to test out the game – ahem - new life.

The Rest Here....


Does anyone have any idea what happened to the 7days website (www.7days.ae), it seems to be outdated, and it appears as if a few articles with dozens of comments have disappeared.

Was there a paper edition of 7days today at all?

22 January, 2007

Water Water Everywhere...But Not a Drop to Drink...

63% of UAE national men favour traditional marriages.
71% of UAE national women prefer to choose their husbands themselves.

It also indicated that 63 % of Emirati women refuse to marry a man with a poorer education than them.

It's time to up the game boys.

21 January, 2007

Where were the local bloggers?

Gulf News reports that Dr Jeffrey Cole, from University of Southern California (it's not "Southern Carolina" Gulf News!), and Dr Duy Linh Tu, from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, was at Zayed University in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi blogging and the internet.

It's all well and good to invite some people who are supposedly experts at the field and that have studied it, but the article doesn't mention if there were any local bloggers at these events. Does anyone know whether any local talent was there to talk about blogging in the UAE? I know many prefer to stay anonymous for various reasons but surely they could have found someone willing to discuss this from a local/regional perspective. Or perhaps someone was there and the article just doesn't say.

Freedom House Report

Freedom House has released "Freedom in the World 2007", its annual report on political rights and civil liberties around the world. Charts and Graphs and an essay with explanations (both PDFs) are available at their site.

The UAE is rated "not free" (categories are "free", "partly free", and "not free"). The report lists two areas, civil liberties and political rights, both on a 1 (most free) to 7 (least free) scale. For the UAE it was 6 for political rights and a change from 6 last year to 5 this year for civil liberties. "Civil Liberties rating improved ... because of improvements in freedom of assembly."

Other GCC country scores:
Bahrain 5 Political Rights, 5 Civil Liberties (partly free - ratings didn't change, but given a "Downward trend arrow due to new legal restrictions on freedom of assembly.")
Kuwait 4 PR, 4 CL (partly free - "Civil Liberties rating improved from 5 to 4 because of the removal of longstanding legal restrictions on freedom of assembly.")
Oman 6 PR, 5 CL (not free)
Qatar 6 PR, 5 CL (not free)
Saudi Arabia 7 PR, 6 CL (not free)

I don't know anything about Freedom House, so I am not vouching for the accuracy of the report, just providing the info.

20 January, 2007

AIESEC - Developing Leaders

AIESEC provides youth a platform to discover and develop their potential to have a positive impact on society. This platform includes exchange, leadership opportunities, conferences, and learning networks. AIESEC provides an integrated development experience which is a variety of forms of learning such as team experiences, mentorship, personal reflection, seminars and conferences, and other ways in which we can grow our own leadership and connect to a diverse array of partners.
Every year, AIESEC in the United Arab Emirates is organizing January National Leadership Conference in order to develop its membership and forge the strategic direction of the organization. This year AIESEC is having its National Leadership Conference between January 19-21, 2007 at Pearl Hotel in Umm Al Quwain. In addition, the biggest highlight of the event will be the elections for the National Committee President of AIESEC UAE for the term 2007-08. The conference theme is Live Your Adventure, where the key message is that each of us as individual is responsible for our own development, as AIESEC slogan says ‘It’s up to you’. With this conference AIESEC provides the tools for self development and organisational management for aligning global strategies to local realities. The objectives of the conference are enhance the knowledge of global strategies, develop skills needed for leaders and empower local youth to contribute to positive the impact in society.
As for bizzwhizzdubai.com, the network platform got a chance to participate by conducting entrepreneurship coaching session in the conference.

UAE Emaraat...UAE Emaraat...

Was it just us, or did our boys look exceptionally fit and fine on the field tonight!?

Well done to the National Team!

UAE Emaraat...UAE Emaraat...

Only 10 Posts

The current settings for this blog allow for only the 10 most recent posts to remain on the index page. My guess is that this was done to hinder the sometimes virulent string of comments that would form on some posts. But the limit to 10 posts seems to me to also hinder healthy or otherwise interesting discussion. I know I can click a link to get to the older post, but it is sort of counter-intuitive to do so. When I no longer see a post on the front page it seems like the discussion has already ended. I say, return to a longer posts list. How about letting at least the first week or two weeks of posts remain? What do others think?

كم هذا؟

Piece of totally irrelevant information:

This blog is worth $41,211.42.
How much is your blog worth?

Fire at JLT site

Hi Folks!

Any updates on the JLT fire incident?

Is it sex that's taboo or homophobia?

""The western media are widely advertising "homosexuality, which is influencing the youth," he said.

"She acknowledged that a lack of sex education in public and private schools may cause homosexuality and lesbianism"

"She said that few cases of homosexuality were taken to a "psychiatrist for treatment" and in "one case, a female student was placed at an Adult Education Centre for remaining that way.""

-- From an article about "sex education" in Gulf News.

In today's issue of Gulf News, there's an article about sex education here in the Emirates.

I have no problem, whatsoever, with any kind of education, whether it is about sex or not.. as long as it's education!

But a major part of this article talks about sex education as a means to eliminate homosexuality from among the Emarati youth.

A lack of sex education just means that you won't be that good in bed [at least the first time]. It does not cause homosexuality, as is stated by this misinformed lady who is quoted above. Cause homosexuality? Being the Deputy Director of Dubai's Education Zone, you should really read up on recent findings published in the news itself about how scientists are getting closer and closer to proving that homosexuality is innate, is an unchangeable biological reality, not a product of Western influence, not learnt behavior, not a psychological disorder for which you imprison a poor lesbian girl in an "education center".

I know Emarati culture is not open to homosexuality ["when they find out that their child is homosexual ... most are "ashamed and in denial""], but it doesn't justify lying about it in the paper in order to protect the Emarati youth which has "deviated" from the straight path [pun intended].

For all this imitation of Western cities that Dubai is doing, I think its officials should be a little more educated and civilized so as to not feel the need to eliminate homosexuality but to make its peace with this natural occurrence that they brand 'a psychological illness'.

This is a misleading article. People in the Emirates are generally not as homophobic as portrayed here and I say this from experience.

Totally unrelated to above post: Happy New Hijri Year! May 1428 be filled with love, life and laughter for all of us.. and maybe a little bit of education against homophobia.

Flickr Blocked .... Again?

Flickr Blocked Again

I just tried to access Flickr, but it looks like it has been blocked again!

What is going on?!

Anyway, there is still a way to access Flickr .... click here

If you wonder how I made the above logo, then click here

19 January, 2007

Off Umm Suqeim 2 this morning

Does anyone know what this gathering was about this morning?

A big group of surfers, in a circle and holding hands, was in the water at about 10:30am.

It looked like a memorial service of some kind - possibly for Stuart Vowles?

Stars upon thars

All those little stars* which have miraculously reappeared on the UAE Community blogroll remind me of one of my favourite Dr Seuss stories, The Sneetches.

Now the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.
But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.”

It’s a wonderfully appropriate story for Dubai, all about the folly of discrimination, snobbishness and pursuit of fashion.

more here

Later . . . the stars have gone again! Must be a cloudy night :(

More Muslim women running? :: Salon

Salon asks.

Islamic New Year

Today is the last day of the year 1427 & tomorrow marks the beginning of a brand new year. Unlike other new year celebrations elsewhere, there is no concept of "party till you drop dead" in the life of a true muslim. Instead, we are supposed to do a comprehensive self audit because one more year has decreased from our life. The question we should ask ourselves is whether we are leading our lives the way our Creator & His Messenger wanted? If not, then this is the right time to initiate changes in ourselves to help us become better human beings & better muslims.

I wish all of you a Happy New Year Inshallah :-)

18 January, 2007

The Best Little Whorehouse in Dubai...

SLATE Magazine has outed a Dubai bar as "essentially a whorehouse in disguise," frequented by "businessmen traveling thru," "a share of the ex-pat community" and "Gulfy Saudis in town as well..."

More HERE.

arab conversations..

last year i was approached by a journalist from ny writing for the columbia journalism review to discuss my experience with the arab blogosphere.. gal beckerman is a very thoughtful guy who has considered the topic at length.. read our blogs and paid attention to our discourse..

this week as i was lazily opening my work mail one morning i found a copy of the article..

I WARN YOU - it's looooooooong..

but i reckon any one of you who blogs regularly should give it a good solid read and consider what role they play in this emerging phenomenon..

you may think you are just killing some filler time between tasks at work or perhaps avoiding the tv cacophony early in the morning and getting some first hand news.. however.. to my mind you are representing to the world aspects of the arab civilisation that many do not otherwise see..

would love to hear your views..

belated happy new year to you all..


Dubai skyscraper fire update

At least one person is feared dead after being seen falling off a burning skyscraper, under construction at Dubai's Jumeirah Lake Towers, according to Gulf News.

The fire has made international headlines and there are fears of more fatalities:

Several dozen workers could be seen on the upper, unfinished floors of the building, trapped by the flames, some waving what appeared to be towels and holding onto the scaffolding. A helicopter has been unable to land on the roof to rescue the men.

UPDATE: Khaleej Times coverage here.

Is it true?

I just had reports from various people that an upcoming building under construction, opposite dubai marina has caught a fire and the labors are stuck on the top levels.... due to which the traffic on Shk Zayed road is all backedup to Jebel Ali.

Can someone please confirm.

Khaleeji 18 - today...

What a feeling... what is it with this powerful tug at our hearts and lungs called my country?

"Dulce e decorum est pro patria mori" a cynical poem by Wilfred Owen... It is sweet and fitting to die for ones country. Is it?

well there is so much gained by sport, like the game being played today, but death? Well people now are killing & being killed not for ones country but rather for someones belief (true or untrue that is debateable), someones thought.. and they think its for the motherland, they CLAIM it's for the motherland.

Today, Iraqi's from all across the UAE are showing the true mettle of our nation, all of us, Muslims (Sunnis, Shiites), Christians (Catholics, Chaldeans & Orthodox), Sabean Mandaen and people from all mixes of faiths, races and beliefs who are united by being Iraqi, are going to Abu Dhabi to support our team on their first match.

Buses are going out from Sharjah & Dubai which have been sponsored by generous Iraqi businessmen fighting to dissolve the divide created by malicious opportunistic fools.

We are hoping to have more financial support to have buses go out for each and every game our team plays to resist in our own peaceful way, as sport is, the rift created. To try, in someway, to show those who are causing this, that we as Iraqi's are united, even if they try to divide us, we will fight it peacefully, through sports, and other civil ways.

So for the sake of this unity and on this peaceful land of the UAE (May God almighty protect it and keep it thriving with success under its gracious leadership across the seven Emirates), may our teams play their best and may the best playing teams win.

***stars*** on the right ->->->->

Something funny going on here. We had no stars for ages, so could not see who had new posts on their blogs. Now the entire right hand side has stars, so I can assume they have all updated overnight. The left has none.

Having a slow day?

Gulf News:
Slow and inconsistent internet service experienced in many parts of the UAE this week drove down web traffic and hampered business productivity, according to firms affected by the problem.

The delays were caused by technical difficulties surrounding the web filter that blocks inappropriate content in the UAE, according to the government's telecom regulator.

17 January, 2007

Dubai court sentences human rights lawyer to jail for sex out of wedlock

“DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: A court on Wednesday sentenced an outspoken human rights lawyer to three months in jail for sex out of wedlock in a case that has been condemned by international rights groups.

Mohammed al-Roken was not present when the Dubai Court of First Instance delivered the sentence, nor was his co-defendant, a 40-year-old German woman, who received the same punishment.

The German woman, whose name was not disclosed, is believed to have left the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Roken, who pleaded innocent, said Wednesday he planned to appeal.

He declined to comment further. During the trial, which was conducted behind closed doors, al-Roken said he was being prosecuted as a bid to thwart his work as a rights lawyer.”
More here

Burj Dubai skyscraper under construction here reached its 100th story on Tuesday

Jim Krane of AP:
The Burj Dubai skyscraper under construction here reached its 100th story on Tuesday, nearly two-thirds of the way in its relentless climb to become the world's tallest building.

With 3,000 laborers adding a new floor nearly every three days, the $1 billion spire is days away from surpassing a neighboring skyscraper that is currently the tallest in the Middle East, Dubai-based developer Emaar Properties said.
. . .
The Middle East previously held the record of the earth's tallest structure for about 43 centuries. Built around 2500 B.C., Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza dwarfed the competition at about 481 feet until 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris at a height of 1,023 feet, including the flag pole.
Read the whole thing.

Read what Farkers have to say.

16 January, 2007

Today's posts are brought to you by the letter X, and the + sign

Youssef Ibrahim is a journalist. He has served as a reporter for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. For several years he wrote opinion pieces for Gulf News. More recently he has been writing for the New York Sun.

From his article today:
The letter "X" soon may be banned in Saudi Arabia because it resembles the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom: the cross.

The new development came with the issuing of another mind-bending fatwa, or religious edict, by the infamous Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — the group of senior Islamic clergy that reigns supreme on all legal, civil, and governance matters in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The commission's damning of the letter "X" came in response to a Ministry of Trade query about whether it should grant trademark protection to a Saudi businessman for a new service carrying the English name "Explorer."
. . .
Another bright light of the commission, Sheik Abdel-Aziz al-Sheikh, recently stopped a government reform proposal aimed at creating work for women by allowing them to replace male sales clerks in women's clothing stores. Sheik al-Sheikh damned the idea, saying it was a step "towards immorality and hellfire." The underlying logic is breathtaking: Women are more protected by buying their knickers from men!


Does anyone know why mafiwasta's website is down? I'm in nyc and I get "server not found" when I try to access it.

Wonder what to make of this--Gulf News' Orchestrations

A colleague of mine was happy to find an article about his father in the GN's Friday Magazine. It is a lovely article indeed, one that anyone should be proud to have done up about himself, EXCEPT... it apparently includes a substantial amount of fiction presented as quoted commentary. The subject of the article, a diving instructor, elaborates on the fiction on his own website.

This leaves me with the question of WHY. The story would have made perfectly good reading if represented truthfully. It was not a matter of serious importance one way or the other, so why would the editors have gone through the trouble (not to mention the question of ethics) of fabricating key portions of the story. What in the world is the point? And the larger question, what is to say they would not fabricate on stories of much more importance?

Etisalat Slow

Did anyone else experience painfully slow / inaccessible Internet today? It seems to have been fixed at 4pm, but before that it was agonising.

cute little stars ***

Where are those cute little stars which used to tell us that a blog has recently been updated??? Did i miss something lately? is there any other way to know about updated blogs?

WWF :: UAE beats USA

WWF is not, however, the World Wrestling Foundation, it is the World Wildlife Foundation. Dubai has lots of wildlife, especially after 2AM, but that's not the wildlife we're talking about either.

Actually, the story is this:
When it comes to squandering the earth's natural resources, residents of this desert land of chilled swimming pools, monster 4x4s and air-conditioned malls are on a par with even the ravenous consumption of Americans, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The average person in the Emirates puts more demand on the global ecosystem than any other, giving the country the world's largest per-capita "ecological footprint," WWF data shows. The United States runs second.
UAE officials demure:
The federal environment agency is devising strategies to cut emissions, including a public campaign that may offer economic incentives to those who turn down their air conditioning, Saad al-Numairy, an adviser to agency, said Monday.

"We have an action plan," al-Numairy said. "But we are a multicultural country with 180 nationalities. It's not going to be easy."
If there are incentives I'm not aware of any. And I'm not sure what multicultural has to do with it. Indeed, with many nonnationals living in third-world conditions it is not they who contribute to the large per-capita footprint. It is partly the lifestyle of the rest of us:
Making matters worse are Dubai's audacious developments, including artificial resort islands that have destroyed coral reefs and an indoor ski slope that still creates snow when it is 120 degrees outside.

"Of all the places to make artificial snow, this has to be the most absurd," said Jonathan Loh, a British biologist who co-authored the WWF report.
Partly, too, it is because the environment does not support carbon absorbing greenbelts. Creating greenbelts here makes things worse in fact:
"It's a fact of life that the UAE will always have a large ecological footprint because of where we are," said Habiba al-Marashi, who chairs the Emirates Environmental Group. "But to be classified as the worst, that hurts. We don't think the report is on solid ground."
. . .
The country's landscape offers little help. Undulating sand dunes and jagged mountains of bare rock offer precious little greenery to soak up carbon emissions.
. . .
Longtime Emirates ruler Sheik Zayed oversaw the planting of a forestry belt kept alive by irrigation, which is now considered a waste of water. Parts of the forests are being allowed to slowly die off.
It's being allowed to die off because 98 percent of our water comes from desalination; created by burning hydrocarbons:
One focal point for Dubai's emissions is the red-and-white smokestacks jutting from gas-fired power plants and an aluminum smelter that line the beach on the city's outskirts. The plants do double duty distilling fresh water from Gulf seawater, an energy-intensive process that accounts for 98 percent of the fresh water in a country with no rivers and little usable groundwater.
Another quote from the article:
The Emirates, like the rest of the oil-producing Gulf states, was until the 1960s an impoverished desert country whose residents survived through subsistence fishing, farming and small-time trade.

Now, the government's energy subsidies give Emirates citizens free water and cheap electricity. Gasoline sells for around $1.70 per gallon.

"Really, we're happy to be rich now," said Majid al-Mansouri, who heads the environment agency serving Abu Dhabi.
Actually the price of gasoline is not particularly low -- possibly because it is not easy to subsidize it to nationals without doing so for nonnationals. Just before flying back to the UAE yesterday I paid $2.20/gallon for gas in the US, including federal and state taxes.

The UAE is Number One...

"[w]hen it comes to squandering the earth's natural resources" according to this AP article about a World Wildlife Fund report.

"The average person in the Emirates puts more demand on the global ecosystem than any other, giving the country the world's largest per-capita "ecological footprint," WWF data shows. The United States runs second.


[T]he Emirates government has been embarrassed by the WWF report, which it says is flawed...

"It's a fact of life that the UAE will always have a large ecological footprint because of where we are," said Habiba al-Marashi, who chairs the Emirates Environmental Group. "But to be classified as the worst, that hurts. We don't think the report is on solid ground."

I have no idea how accurate the report is. I know that the AP article itself makes a pretty big error, in oversimplification, if nothing else, when it states "The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001." (h/t Instapundit)

Why (almost) ignore local bloggers?

In Blogosphere in today's Gulf News Apple's recently announced iPhone seem to be the topic of the day. Keefieboy was chosen, which is all well and good since it was a funny post, but after that it was all non-Middle East bloggers. One post from a guy in Utah, then there's David Pogue with the New York Times, and John Naughton writes for The Guardian in the UK, as far as I know.

Now I'm not saying that Gulf News should necessarily only link to local/regional sites, but why pick so much non-local/regional material when there's plenty from right here that they could have picked up? Anyone know how we can ask Adam Flinter? Or is this not an issue for you?

[cross-posted to Emiratesmac.com]

Bob Dylan said it best

KUWAIT CITY - A court has convicted a member of Kuwait's ruling family for drug trafficking and it condemned him to death, according to a ruling obtained Monday.

Read it here

Makes one wonder and others shiver in their timbers.

15 January, 2007

The Gulf Cup

Is anyone here going to watch the best sporting event in the region, which is taking place in Abu Dhabi staring on the 17th?

Hard Luck everyone in the UAE as Oman is going to get the Gulf Cup.


I am not capable of resisting a sale. Well not any sale, I mean I can’t resist a clothing store that’s on sale. It’s not that I cannot afford to purchase outfits on normal price – actually if you look at it most of the stuff on sale hardly has any real reductions anyways. So it’s got nothing to do with the price. It’s just a psychological thing. When I go to a store that’s not on sale I somehow feel the prices are always preposterous, knowing that they really aren’t any different when on sales. Sale = MUST BUY. As simple as that. So it’s just me. I can’t resist clothes on sale. Period.

My parents sometimes – ok that’s an understatement – <>always – pester me about the amount of money I waste on (as if! Money is never wasted on apparel!! But whose to tell them!). My dad threatens to burn them all from time to time. So sales are just a way to do away with at least some of the guilt...I’m such a good daughter.

Whenever I go shopping – which mostly during sales – I will always be the one with the largest pile of purchases. It’s got everything to do with the fact that I do not venture in a store if I am not loaded. I hate window shopping. I would not be able to sleep if I saw something I really wanted and dint have the mulas to buy it. So I don’t torture myself by walking in a store without adequate funds.

Actually I was quite normal before Dahling. She’s to blame for my sale addiction. Life ruiner. Lol.
Must get the damn boots before the sale is over! Dan doesn’t seem to understand the importance of me acquiring these boots. Men are so thick. Dahling and I spent months looking for these babies!!! But will a man ever understand the importance!??!?!

High and low we searched!! Damn! MUST GET BOOTS. Any sponsors?

Metroblogging Dubai

The Dubai Metroblog is sadly somewhat inactive at the moment. Several of the authors have left Dubai and can no longer contribute.

As a result we are keen to get new authors. You can read more about Metroblogging on Wikipedia, but in brief it's an international network of over fifty city blogs. While the main focus is generally on daily life in each city, Metroblog has an impressive track record covering major events such as the Kashmir earthquake and London bombings.

Anyone who would like to become a member is very welcome.

14 January, 2007

MapOcitAe Version 1.30

It has been almost 6 weeks since I updated my pet project site MapOcitae, last week I decided to redesign the site from the ground up and this time to utilize some of the better practices in developing Ruby on Rails (RoR) applications.

Having tackled the tougher issues in the previous release (which weren’t a lot anyway), this redesign took me about a week worth of effort thanks to the very effective RoR framework.

Here is a breakdown of major changes in this release:

  • A simpler design that looks presentable on almost any resolution regardless of the user has an HD screen or not

  • All the fancy AJAX stuff has been removed (for now) in favor of a more streamlined interface

  • Once all issues in this release are ironed out, I will introduce the AJAX stuff again but the web app this time will degrade gracefully when users have JavaScript turned off

  • Though not included in this release, MapOcitae now integrates with del.icio.us and flickr nicely. This will open other areas to explore in this site

  • Unfortunately due to changes in the database structure, all member information (about 28) and all markers (about 54) have not been ported to the new site. The markers might still make it, but as for members they will have to re-register again

If type writers could type...

The following text appears at the bottom of the Import Goods Declaration form provided by JAFZA for clearing import shipments:

"This form must be submitted typed by a type writer"

Huh?! :-)

Burj Al Arabi - Taking the piss!

If you haven't been there already, then this post is worth visiting. The words and graphics are just hilarious!!!




Many people in the UAE are reporting problems connecting to www.livejournal.com, www.myspace.com, www.youtube.com etc.

When connecting to the internet through broadband in the UAE you either use the transparent proxy or you set a proxy, there are subtle differences between both of these, such as when www.playboy.com was unblocked on the transparent proxy but not on the direct proxy.

To use the transparent proxy your internet settings must not classify any proxy to use.
To use the normal proxy, you must go to (on Internet Explorer 7) Tools>internet options>connections>LAN settings and input proxy1.emirates.net.ae with port 8080.

Using the transparent proxy, you will experience problems (for whatever reasons) connecting to those sites. Using the normal proxy it works fine.

If you have any problems setting the normal proxy, please contact me and I’d be glad to help.

Blocked again?

Anyone else getting DNS errors for You Tube and My Space this morning? It doesnt look good...

13 January, 2007

A Sad & Bizarre Story (for all involved)

...death, injury, wild behavior, fame and misfortune, a young "podigy golfer" is arrested for drunkenness in Dubai Marina and later ends up dead while causing injury to others. Read the story. Khaleej Times is given as the source but no sign of this news in the Khaleej Times online. Could it be a hoax or is it just hot off the press?

Whew! Vista is now verrrry secure

US National Security Agency, the gang that is better known for eavesdropping on telephone calls has helped make Windows VISTA more secure. Should we be scared?

And it pleases me no end to see that good ole MS couldnt hack it on its own and had to get outside help :)

Dubai the 'Sudden City'

Looks like Jan is the month for Dubtown to dance across global headlines, the City that Scares has hit the mark once again. The National Geographic story shows Dubai in a positive light, but some of the related photos do paint a rather nasty picture - Look at this one Photo - 17

This is all rather too sudden for me though :D

12 January, 2007

"Looking for Mammon in the Muslim World"

Interesting reading in Slate magazine. It's a reporter going walk-about in Dubai and other places in the UAE.

10 January, 2007

Cartman wants an iPhone

In tribute to all Mac users in the UAE who are probably going insane with desire for Apple's new iPhone:

(Click here to watch it on the actual YouTube site).

blogger issues for your tissues

It appears blogger has been having a few issues related to an extended downtime yesterday, various people are reporting that when they leave comments they get a bounce back message in their inbox. For now it’d be best to just ignore it while I try to figure out what is going on.

PS: when blogger begins acting up, you should head over to http://status.blogger.com. As you can see the downtime was planned over 4 days ago, I’ll try to keep a closer eye on the status blog and try to post any planned maintenance timings over here so people aren’t left in the dark.

Was blogger.com down?

Last two days as I tried to reply to some of the entries, the blogger page quit on me. I could open and read the UAE community blog etc, but commenting was not an option.

Did this happen to anyone else?

Burj Al Arabi

Did you catch that? Its Arabi not Arab, a new tower for Dubai in the shape of a man. Gulf News reports,
The structure will in fact be a 35-storey tower designed to resemble a man dressed in traditional Gulf Arab dress yet another remarkable landmark set to hit Dubai's skyline... Mohammad Al Syoufi, chairman of Dubai-based project developers AAA Group, said he wanted to create an icon which would rival the famous Burj Al Arab.

Won't the Burj Dubai satisfy that quest? I thought I'd reserve judgment until I saw the render, which I have found posted at Skyscrapercity.com.

click to enlarge

Hmm, not bad... at least it looks more like a building than a man, and the resemblance is clever. How many of you were imagining the Pillsbury Dough Boy in a gown? Waiting now for Burj Al Abaya.

Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre

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

Date: Thurs 11/01/2007

Title: "Contribution of Islam to Humanity"

Speaker: Professor Saif Al Islam Abdul Ahad
- an American revert and historian, teaching at Florida University

Venue : Jumeira Islamic Learning Centre.

Time : 8.00pm

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

Article About Dubai

A very promising looking article (which intends to explore Dubai in 5 days) with some interesting points is two days through…

“I realize I'm late to the party: Dubai is long past its media moment. The flurry of breathless write-ups—in Sunday travel sections and glossy lifestyle magazines—has come and gone. We're on to the next destination already. (Laos. Yemen. Low-altitude space orbit.)
The clichés begin springing to life the moment I arrive in Dubai's gleaming airport. Whirring along on the people-mover, I pass an endless stretch of ads for high-rise condos and high-tech office parks. Each promises greater swank than the last. None has been fully built yet. The ads are conceptual drawings: crosshatching sketches in the outlines of 70-story towers, newly dug harbors, bustling helipads …”
—more here

(Definitely worth reading, I’d have to say this is one of the best articles about Dubai yet)

There may be a reunion in the works...

Hopefully, they'll play Dubai. More HERE.

To the good people in UAE Community

I need your help please...

09 January, 2007

Quality of work more important than life!

A construction site motto...

Not in Dubai, thankfully, but in Beijing, China, where workers are urged to sacrifice their lives to produce good and timely work for the 2008 Olympics.

Why not just pay them more? Why not just pay them at all? BBC, in a TV report this week entitled Inside China, reports that migrant Chinese workers at some Beijing construction sites are not paid until the project is complete.

So, Dubai's isn't the world's hardest slave market for migrant laborers. A silver lining?

More on China's workers' plight which offers food for thought regarding Dubai's issues.

Ridesharing with a friend haram in Dubai?

In an earlier post below, samuraisam brought to our attention ridesharing.ae.

Several commenters remembered reading a recent story in the Gulf News that suggested this practice was illegal in Dubai, but could not find the article. I also looked via a search of the Gulf News archives and via Google (which often works better in searching for Gulf News articles), and was unsuccessful.

I did, however, find this at The Dubai Life blog. An extract:
A Driver in Dubai who gave his friend a lift was fined Dhs 2000 ($544) for running an illegal taxi service, reports the Gulf News today.

Thomas Mathew who gave his friend a lift to the post office from his home and was subsequently handed this stupid fine by the Roads Traffic Authority (RTA) commented:

"I was going to the post office and he asked whether I could drop him at his workplace. We live across the street and I thought it would not be out of my way," said the Indian accountant, who refuses to pay the fine.

Thomas even has photos to prove that he is DOES actually know his friend and not as a passenger, not sure why he would need to provide photos just to justify giving a lift to someone.
. . .
With Dubai's roads as they are in permanent jam and chaos I welcome people car sharing as it will help save the planet, stop the smog and reduce the number of cars on the roads, this is a view shared by Thani Saeed Al Falasi, Director of the Licensing and Quality Control Department at the Roads and Transport Authority who said:

"There are no restrictions on friends sharing a car without paying any money,"

But how often have you shared your car for a week going to and from work with colleagues and payed your share for the petrol is he now saying this is illegal?

Posted by Waseem Aslam on 12/01 at 11:01 PM
If you manage to find the Gulf News article archived or cached please provide the link in the comments. UPDATE: In the comments poo provides the Gulf News link. Thank you.

A similar earlier article was linked to by samuraisam over at his blog onebigconstructionsite. An extract of that Gulf News article (my emphasis):
Al Falasi said that illegal taxis are popular because they are cheaper. "There are two kinds of illegal taxis. Some people drive around the city in their private cars and provide illegal taxi service while some people offer organised car-lifts or car-pooling services taking passengers from their homes to work on a regular basis. They charge passengers on weekly or monthly basis," he said. He clarified that both types of service are illegal.

"There are no restrictions on friends sharing a car without paying any money," he said.

He said that the department's inspectors were experienced enough to know whether passengers are using car-lift or just sharing with a friend.

For illegal taxi operators, he said, the inspectors stop such cars while picking a passenger.

Illegal taxis or car-lifts are more popular with passengers coming from Sharjah to Dubai. "We don't have any problem if they bring passengers from Sharjah but we do not allow an illegal taxi to pick up passengers in Dubai," Al Falasi clarified.
Blocking entry into the taxi market protects the profits of authorized taxi companies. The pretense of public safety is only partially plausible.

Sharjah and Dubai, of course, both have their own authorized taxi companies. That neither permits the other to pick up passengers in their emirate is a continued sign of a lack of cooperation between them. And it contributes directly to the congestion problem because taxis are forced to return empty after driving a passenger to the other emirate. It's not too surprising either that drivers can be surly about taking you from one emirate to the other. They get compensated according the number of paying rides they complete. Come to think of it the restrictions that force returning empty only push the drivers to work more hours to stay ahead. And overworked drivers are a safety issue.

No more 'maids' in Dubai

What a great example of the pretentiousness of so many expats in Dubai.

From today's front page 'story' in 7Days, a family refers to their maid as..."our lovely Filipino resident house assistant."

I fell off my chair when I read it.

Protests and the Louvre

"a civil liberty group Sunday demonstrated against the visit of Dubai World chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem whose firm is planning a port development project in West Bengal.

Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity (PBKMS) members led by its president Anuradha Talwar protested at the gate of the at Taj Bengal hotel where the Dubai World chairman had put up.
-- more here

"PARIS (Reuters) - Plans to export a version of France's most famous museum, the Louvre, to a resort in the oil-rich city of Abu Dhabi have sparked accusations the government is sacrificing cultural standards for profit.

The plan, backed by the Ministry of Culture, is part of a drive by the United Arab Emirates to create a luxury tourist destination and the contract to bring the Louvre to the Gulf is reported by French newspapers to be worth over 500 million euros ($655.2 million)."
-- more here

08 January, 2007

Macworld Expo meetup in Dubai

For anyone interested in what Apple CEO Steve Jobs is going to reveal at his keynote tomorrow at Macworld Expo, EmiratesMac User Group is arranging a meetup at the Crown Plaza on SZR at 7pm (keynote starts at 9pm). Among the more frequent rumors is that Apple will launch some kind of combined mobile phone and iPod device. This is definitely something that even non Apple-fanatics will want to follow.

More information here.

ARRGH! I Got me a deal!

-- begin rant ---

You have heard of the AIDS victims, now hear about an ADS victim. Yes, I fell victim to the DSF mania when I went ahead and bought something I totally did not need and will not use! :)

The advertisements screaming out the once-in-a-lifetime deals made me feel sick with worry that if I dont take advantage of one of these 'great deals' now, I will have to wait One Whole Year before the next DSF is here.

-- End rant ---

Now I wonder about the wisdom of the old saying: "A fool and his money...." LOL

Famous Last Words

"I couldn't believe it. I said, what's he going to do? Air-condition the beach to make it cooler in the summer? I didn't take him seriously."
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World on Sheikh Mohammed's vision of making Dubai a leading tourist destination back in 1987.

Around 6.6 million tourists visited UAE last year and an estimated 3 million tourists are expected during DSF alone this year.

07 January, 2007

Ashtray pram

Last weekend in TFI Fridays at Mall of the Emirates, I saw a woman sit down at a table with a pram, light up a cigarette, then look over into her pram and blow her smoke into it.

Now am I missing an exciting new hot fashion trend for portable pram-shaped ashtrays, or was this foul woman actually wilfully poisoning her infant's lungs?

Either way, why in hell doesn't this place ban public smoking like Europe and the US are doing? Given how anal they are about medicine like panadeine, you would think protecting little children from tar and nicotine might be slightly more prominent in their Vision.


"ridesharing.ae hopes to let people traveling the same route everyday to find each other. Those who offer a ride or looking for rides post their information to the site, where it becomes easily searchable by other visitors. You provide as much information as you want and your privacy is protected."

--more here

Thanks to mr. click for the link

06 January, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Hey guys! Want some free publicity and the chance to win $20.07? Sure you do. So nominate some UAE blogs for the 2007 Bloggies! Go to 2007.bloggies.com, scroll down to the section for Middle East & Africa. Important: you must follow the next step exactly or it won't work. In the first box (labelled 'nominee'), type in 'Adventures in Dubai', and in the box beside it (labelled 'URL'), type in 'http://webmasterdubai.blogspot.com'. Once you've done that you can anything you want in the other boxes. Cool eh?

But you need to do it right now - nominations close on the 10th of January. Good luck!

CEA Co-Produces International CES at Hometech Middle East 2007 in Dubai

The 2007 International CES returns to Las Vegas, January 8-11, to celebrate the show's 40th anniversary. The 2007 show will feature the hottest products in consumer technology from 2,700 exhibitors from more than 135 countries, covering more than 30 product categories including the latest in wireless, digital imaging, mobile electronics, home networking and more.

Now I don't have to feel sorry for myself not being able to attend CES in Las Vegas ... cause soon it will be held here in Dubai! The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), producer of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), announced in November 8, 2006 in New York a partnership with Epoc Messe Frankfurt, producer of Hometech Middle East, the leading consumer technology event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Read More ...

Shooting low-income expats

Indian movie on low-income expats to be shot in Dubai

I read this headline, and for a moment I actually thought it was some kind of Final Solution to deal with bachelor overcrowding.

"Make her to stop!"

"“You!” he hollered, wagging his accusing finger in my face. “You are driving. You are not having the licence. Maybe you are going for jail.”

My daughter, then five years old, began crying for fear her mother would be incarcerated, only making the officer angrier.

“Why she is crying? Make her to stop!” he hissed."

more here

05 January, 2007

Wikipedia blocks the entire nation of Qatar

Gerard said routing an entire country's traffic _ even that of a tiny nation like Qatar _ through a single IP address is unusual. He said Wikipedia is looking for a way to refine its capabilities to block problem individual users in the Gulf state without hamstringing the entire country.
. . .
Administrators reversed the block once they discovered the scope.

"Our apologies to the people of Qatar," Gerard said on Wednesday. "It was a mistake. We won't do it again _ unless somebody slips up, in which case it will be remedied quickly."
. . .
Wikipedia administrators had responded to an unusually high level of spam and fraudulent posts by blocking contributions from the numeric Internet address tied to those posts.

But that resulted in the accidental blocking of the entire nation because Qatar's sole telecom, Q-Tel, funnels all Internet traffic through that single address, a practice that allows the country to monitor and censor its users, said David Gerard, Wikipedia's London-based spokesman.
None of that could occur here of course.

One-Man Star Wars at Madinat Jumeirah

Today's the last day for the show, there's only 2 shows today. A matinee and an evening show at the Madinat Theatre. (T in Madinat is silent.)

So don't miss it! I know I enjoyed the show last night.

Iran's Supreme Mullah dead?


04 January, 2007

Gulf News Ethics

Gulf News carries an article in which it outlines its Ethics Policy aimed at its editorial, reporting and photography staff members.

Of interest to bloggers, some of whom have had posts appear in the media as if written by the journalists:

Plagiarism: Plagiarism exists in many forms, from the wholesale lifting of someone else’s writing to the publication of a press release as news without attribution. Staff writers’ work should be an original work. Do not borrow someone else’s words without attribution.

Sadly, the Ethics Policy does not extend to the Advertising and Classified Ads Departments to recommend that they only accept impartial Situations Vacant advertisements, but the reporting staff is bound by:
In its reporting, Gulf News will strive to ensure there is no discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, ethnic group or any physical attribute.

Read the whole thing here.

American Muslim Congressman to be sworn in

... on Thomas Jefferson's Koran.

Thomas Jefferson, though, did have some issues with Arab corsairs on the Barbary coast.

Ironically, Morocco was the first country to officially recognize the independence of the United States of America.

03 January, 2007

Wall Street Journal: Massive Projects Attempt To Lure Business, Tourists; Can Demand Meet Supply?

Link ($):
"It boggles the mind how many Lagoons-style projects are under way in Dubai," says Bill Kistler, president of Urban Land Institute in Europe, a nonprofit real-estate research institute based in Washington, D.C. "Dubai wants to become the Singapore of the region and they're well on the way to doing that."

Other projects include Dubai Waterfront, a beachfront project larger than Manhattan being developed by local developer Nakheel LLC which is partially state-owned. Nearby is Dubailand, a three billion square-foot entertainment and leisure project being managed by the government's Dubai Development & Investment Authority. Many of the attractions are expected to open in 2008.

Instability elsewhere in the Middle East has helped attract businesses and tourists to Dubai, says Mr. Kistler. If the Middle East stabilizes, Dubai could lose business to other fast-growing emirates, such as Abu Dhabi, he says. The United Arab Emirates has grown to become a significant international business center in recent years due to its reputation for being one of the most successful and stable nations in the Arab world, as well as one of the most liberal. (Each emirate is controlled by a ruling family.) However, says Mr. Kistler, "whether there is an appetite to fill all of these new offices and apartments remains to be proved."

"You have to look at Dubai with different optics because of the sheer scale of development. They're building for the next generation," says Urban Land Institute's Mr. Kistler. "I went to visit one Dubai developer recently and it was like a Harrods' sale, there were so many people. I thought perhaps that a tour bus had just come in, but apparently this was just a typical day in their sales office."
The Emirates Economist has more on Dubai from Mr. Kistler.

UPDATE - A project that "represents the desire of General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prince of Dubai." This Hydropolis project has been long dead hasn't it?

02 January, 2007

DOZ to start operations

The Dubai Outsource Zone has so far registered about 72 companies and is likely to be operational next month, reported the Khaleej Times. DOZ expects up to 400 companies to commence operations at the zone within the next five years. Over 85% of land and office space has now been sold in phase one, while phases two should be up and running at some point in Q1(ameinfo.com)

Well it does make sense for a strategically placed regional hub like Dubai. But it will take more than just land and offices to make DOZ work. Alongwith imported cheep labor local talent would also have to make itself available at reasonable rates to compete with outsourcing hubs like India or China.

Americans have mixed emotions for 2007

Many on the internet have noticed,

Yahoo News: Americans optimistic

Yahooo News: Americans full of gloom and doom

Gulf News look at the ME blogosphere reaction to Saddam execution


01 January, 2007

new rent cap ruling

"H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, has issued a decree on rent allowance in the Emirate of Dubai.

The new rent allowance was decided after taking into consideration Decree no. 2 of 1993 and its amendments, which set up a special committee to look into and settle disputes between landlords and tenants, and Decree no. 14 of 2005 which set a ceiling for any rent increase in the emirate.

According to the new decree, rent allowance shall not exceed 7% of the annual rent charge of the property. This shall apply to all rent contracts that are to be renewed in 2007 on condition that no rent increment was made on that property in 2006.

No rent allowance increment shall be made in 2007 on properties whose contract had already been signed in 2006, Article 2 of the new decree said.

The decree tasked the special judiciary committee in charge of settling disputes between landlords and tenants to come up with the appropriate measures for the implementation of the new decree, which takes effect from the date of its issuance, January 1, 2007 and is to be published in the official gazette."

more here and here