30 May, 2007

"Islamist" and "Islamism"


letters to the Editor
May 30, 2007
Tired of ignorant labelling
Repeated and blatant use of the words "Islamist" and "Islamism" in all forms of international media is making me sick. I decided to find out exactly what they meant. An Islamist is a person who is technically orthodox and a fundamentalist. So anyone who follows the fundamentals or guidelines of Islam is an Islamist. Islamism is the ideology that Islam is not only a religion but also a system that governs legal, economic and social structures. Well, Islam is, indeed, a way of life with guidelines for the way we should live and conduct ourselves. So that makes me an "Islamist" ideologist. Arrest me, now!
Ms Tahseen Khateeb

The Abaya Redefined, Again

Washington Post:
Until recently, the abaya was a plain black robe that women kept by the door and wore like a coat over their clothes when they left the house.

Today, abayas are often stylish, personalized wraps that women enjoy being seen in, said Thana Addas, an abaya designer. Addas's creations, many made with material from international fashion houses such as Roberto Cavalli, Burberry and Fendi and decorated with Swarovski crystals, can sell for more than $1,000.
When Fageeh, a health industry executive, appeared at a recent business conference in a floor-length white abaya made of light cotton and monogrammed with an M, some of the attendees were shocked, she said. But others were inspired.

"When I saw her, I said to myself, 'Yes! This is right,' " said Manal al-Sharif, an editor at al-Madina, a Jiddah-based newspaper. "Nothing in Islam imposes black on us. And I decided to make a brown abaya for myself."

Saudi women have long been known in the West for their all-enveloping black attire, widely considered a mark of their oppression. But Sharif and Fageeh are among a growing number of women and girls here who are rethinking and reinventing the abaya to more closely reflect their personalities and religious beliefs.
The black abaya came to Saudi Arabia from Iraq or Syria more than 75 years ago, as did most textiles and goods at the time, said Leila al-Bassam, a professor of traditional clothing and textiles at Riyadh University. The robes caught on in the kingdom after King Abdul-Aziz, who conquered the country's disparate regions and formed a state in 1932, distributed them as presents to various tribal leaders, said Mussaed, the geography professor.

Before that, women wore modest but often colorful regional costumes, and in the more conservative areas did not leave the house until they were married, Bassam said.

As the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice started enforcing the dress code across the country, the abaya slowly supplanted the traditional regional costumes and became the national dress.
I've seen more and more abayas in the UAE with black on black detailing and even colorful appliques on black. But I've not seen any on Emirati women that are not basically black.

Do I just not get out much? What have you seen?

And isn't it interesting that black only became the style in recent times. An early effect of globalization, I guess.

Share Everything In Life: Link Exchange

Share Everything In Life: Link Exchange

is my blog's link . :-D

28 May, 2007

The GCC is renamed!

It appears the Gulf Cooperative Council, or GCC, now has a new name.

Introducing the PGCC or Persian Gulf Cooperative Council.

I trust you will all update your address lists and fact books appropriately, and make all suitable corrections on your blogs.

Say NO to the RTA

When the RTA came up with the Metro, I was ecstatic. Finally, a way to rid myself of driving all over the city. Then the plans for the toll came along and it hit me! The RTA are going to charge me when I park my car and are going to charge me when I drive it. This is fine, but here is the problem. The RTA is unable to provide me with adequate parking space. They are also unable to provide me with adequate driving space. Unbelievable! So they want to charge me when they are unable to provide me with a service! That's new to me.

All this got me into thinking: how do I get my point to the RTA – charging me for services not rendered is not acceptable? I came up with what I believe is a brilliant idea. I would like to organize a “Say NO to the RTA” campaign that begins by attacking the unjust parking meters in residential areas. If we can get people to mobilize to ensure that not a single car gets a parking ticket (this obviously requires volunteering time and money), then we would surely inflict some serious losses on the RTA. This is simply done by buying parking tickets for any car that doesn't have one (or has an expired ticket). If this is done across all of Dubai, it should hurt RTA's swelling purse. Maybe this would get part of the point across.

Maybe not. Is it worth pursuing? Is it even legal? Or can the RTA take a hint?

Dubai photos from 1975-1980

An anonymous commenter linked to this site (www.anitavanderkrol.com); It is worth checking it out for some brilliant photographs of old Dubai.

As explained on the site itself...
"Between 1975 and 1980 Anita van der Krol-van Hasselt (1946) from the Netherlands took hundreds of black and white photographs of everyday life in the Dubai area.
Living as an expat in Jumeirah, she became one of the first inhabitants of Jebel Ali village. The wife of a Dutch dredging engineer who worked on the Creek, Port Rashid and Mina(harbour)Jebel Ali, Anita was in a unique position to shoot intimate pictures of Arab men, women and children. She managed to win their confidence and respect and their permission to be photographed.

Since its date of origin Anita's B&W photographs have rapidly become part of Dubai's national history, because of the country's sweepingly fast development over the last decades. These selected photographs offer a rare insight into the inherent culture of Dubai just before the town started changing into the shiny metropolis we see emerging today.

The Bedouin photographs from the desert must have been among the last taken, before this entire population group gave up their nomadic existence and settled down near the town."

25 May, 2007

Gulf News chooses my blog, www.coloman.blogspot.com as one of the BEST IN THE WORLD

What a surprise I didn’t even know that my blog was chosen as one of the best blogs in the UAE/Region/The World until 4 days later when I am checking my web statistic and how do people visit my blog when I notice that I am getting several hits being directed from Gulf News.

Interestingly, they edited some of my blog…. But it’s OK since they made my day voting my blog one of the BEST IN THE WORLD.

Blogosphere: May 21, 2007
05/21/2007 06:52 PM Gulf News web report

The Gulf News Web team delve daily into the blogosphere to bring you the best of blogging in the UAE, the region and even the world
Why don’t you… So here I am in Dubai airport heading to Oman on Friday and I suddenly pass by a man and woman who are walking while I use the automatic walk way. I look back again and tell myself, that’s ‘Jermaine Jackson” so I take few seconds to stare and then build up the courage to ask and he reply’s “yes’ with a smile. Wow, this man used to be in one of the biggest selling and best known bands in the world, The Jackson Five. Women used to go crazy over him. His brother Michael Jackson is the best selling artist of all times while his sister Janet Jackson is also one of the best selling female artists in the music industry. Here he is walking in major international airport and not a single person recognizes him, except me. He seemed happy that a fans still remembered him. http://www.coloman.blogspot.com/

24 May, 2007

Mysterious Lebanese fruit

Does anyone know anything about what this strange fruit is? I bought it in Geant, it comes from Lebanon and is called "akka dhuniya", but a Google search doesn't come up with much.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

It tastes a bit like a sour plum, but instead of a stone there is a big multi-segment seed thing.

Drive to save six-year-old boy with leukaemia

Every day, six-year old Erriszel Cortez prays that he can go to Italy and be healed, something that seems out of reach due to the financial cost.

But this Friday, that prayer comes closer to becoming a reality with a charity motorcade organised by a Filipino motorsports club, along with the support of the Filipino community and Philippine Consulate General.

read more at Gulfnews By Nina Muslim, Staff Reporter

For more information regarding the Motor parade on friday click here

or To register and for more details please call 050-2599579

22 May, 2007

This won't help Brand Dubai

In the Travel section of the UK's Guardian newspaper there's a report on Dubai - but not one the people who brought Leo Hickman, the writer, here will thank him for. He says he was a guest of Burj Al Arab.

There's the usual beautiful photograph of the hotel...but it's under the headline "Sun, sand and slavery."

About half the report talks about Dubailand, the offshore developments and the hotel, the rest is on his visit to our largest labour camp and how the labourers live, plus a condemnation of tourism operators generally.

The story is here.

A Dearth of Politics in Booming Dubai

Courtesy of an anonymous commenter...
"Mohammed al-Roken, a leading human rights activist in Dubai, has been arrested twice, forced out of his job as a professor and barred from traveling abroad. (By Anthony Shadid -- The Washington Post)

"There is hardly anybody in the city who doesn't feel a bit of fear inside him, a fear of losing it all at a time when we have it all," he said. "Do you call it alienation? It's much beyond that. We live in the best of times and, in some ways, the worst of times."

For Roken, the challenge of alienation is an unusual one. He wants to embolden citizens -- a distinct minority -- to raise their voices against an authoritarian government he says caters to expatriates, the majority. The government provides Emiratis with generous housing loans, pays for schooling and ensures free health care. But Roken is more unsettled by the intangibles: entering a mall where virtually everyone is a foreigner, beaches populated by swimmers in dress he considers immodest, and wine-tasting parties at luxury hotels. Only a more democratic polity, albeit entrusted to a minority, can stanch what he sees as Dubai's more flagrant excesses."

Read more of the article here (to read the first page you must register with the site)

ET and TRA confusion

I think my head is in the clouds again. Can someone tell me what they exactly mean by this (taken from Emirates Today):

Mobile users will soon be able to switch between service providers without having to change their numbers – including the dial code.

A system called mobile portability is to be introduced by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. This will enable customers to choose between etisalat or du – the UAE’s two telecommunication service providers – and retain their numbers and the dial code of 050 or 055.

The mobile code for etisalat subscribers is 050 and for du it is 055. Du had an offer where people could opt for its network, retaining their etisalat number, but under that deal the code would change from 050 to 055.

So what happens to those people who booked du numbers that have a different Etisalat owner?

Rem Koolhaas's Dubai Deathstar

Rem Koolhaas's Dubai Deathstar

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 05.21.07


We show a lot of proposals for buildings in Dubai, often draped in photovoltaics and covered in propellers, or twisting and turning, it is a Disneyland of architecture. Sometimes we think they are going a bit overboard, as they evolve from Disney to Lucas with buildings like OMA's Ras al Khaimah Convention and Exhibition Centre. We have used Picasso's bon mot, updated by Le Corbusier before: "Good architects borrow but great architects steal" but never was the homage so obvious. Architectspeak below the fold....

rest of story

Source: Digg.com

21 May, 2007

Changing culture :: BBC

Changing culture: The temptresses drawing Arab youth to a pop revolution
"If you look at 10, 20 years ago, the Middle East was one of those few places where parents and children enjoyed the same music - and today there is that generation gap that is forming for the first time in the Middle East"
I read the article. You might, too.

Help in resisting the sweet songs of the sirens is available.

Another pearl from the RTA

Eng. Maitha Obaid Bin Udai is at it again, insisting that Salik will not cause congestion. Quoted in Gulf News, she states that the scheme will reduce congestion by 25% "on the toll road", and goes on to suggest that the toll will persuade people to use public transport and 'other alternatives' instead.

Which is arrant nonsense, of course. There are no alternatives, and will not be for years yet. So the 25% reduction in traffic will be achieved by displacing it to other nearby, less suitable roads, and lead to substantially greater levels of congestion there.

If you're going to reduce congestion, it must be by reducing the number of cars. Get creative! Allow car pooling. Impose tolls at specific times in order to manage traffic volumes. Invest in driver training. Educate. Build a railway. Anything but SALIK...

20 May, 2007

Dubai Road Traffic and Accident a Big Chaos

Already posted this in my blog dubaibase but I want to share it in UAE community blog.
This was all about an Illustration of dubai road from where all the traffic jam got started every day.
This is only my interpretations on how they constructed all the connecting roads tunnel and bridges here in Dubai.
Since as of today they are now doing something to elliminates all this Bottle Neck Road.

My first Illustration from Shindagha Tunnel

As illustrated all lanes going to the tunnel are from 4 lanes decreasing into 2 lanes so the result of this traffic...

Frugal Dubai :: New York Times

Shakespeare and Company’s stood out — because it was cheap. My friend Samira Mesbahi, a curly-haired actress from Paris, and I had spent just 113.12 dirhams, or $30.82 at a fixed exchange rate of 3.67 dirhams to the dollar.
The typical Dubai brunch, by contrast, is an affair of ritualistic excess, held in the restaurant of a five-star hotel, with an all-you-can-eat buffet of gravlax, coddled eggs, a foie gras bar, and tuna belly sliced by an eighth-generation sushi chef from Osaka.
Searching the Web, I found a fabulous deal: Villa 08. Owned by a pair of European expatriates, the three-bedroom house is in Arabian Ranches, a gated community on the distant southern edge of Dubai. On one side of the fence are swimming pools, a supermarket, a country club and rows of nearly identical villas in the style of Arabian forts. On the other side, the vast desert and burgeoning dust storm.

Villa 08’s cheapest room was $60 a night, but since there were no other guests, I was given the master suite and the run of the house.
What I wanted from Dubai was not preconceived amusements but the accidental by-products of globalization — like Club Africana, or the happy clash of cultures at a house party. Not only were they cheaper, they felt more truly Dubai than the multimillion-dollar attractions, and I counted myself fortunate my low budget had driven me to seek them out.

19 May, 2007

Al Maktoum launches largest education foundation with $10b endowment

His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, today launched the 'Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation', a major initiative to promote human development and provide hope and opportunity by investing in education and knowledge-development in the region. His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed, made the announcement in a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum for the Middle East being held in Jordan.

The Foundation, which will be launched with an endowment of Dhs. 37 billion, aims to open doors for future generations of leaders of the region to shape their future by equipping them with world-class knowledge and education. more........
Well it will be interesting to see how this fund unfolds for the country and the region, weather the endowments carry "nationality" and "origin" as a prerequisite or not. Qatar Foundation which took a precedence in launching funds for knowledge based development has very liberal requirements and open doors to outside talent. If this fund also head that way we would witness the biggest inflow of talent in coming years.

Only in Dubai...

No, don't ask!

18 May, 2007

Any subliminal messages here?

Courtesy Gulf News.

17 May, 2007

Sanaiyia Fire in Al Ain

There's a large fire burning over in Sanaiya in Al Ain. Anyone have any more info or pictures?

UPDATE: More details here

Less CLEAR by the day?

Interesting comment in today's Gulf News, another in the ongoing and increasingly public spat between Dubai Police and the RTA. Brigadier Mohammad Saif Al Zafein states on the record what I and many others have thought and said privately, that any form of Toll is ineffective unless there is a credible alternative - public transport, metro, alternative untolled routes and so on, none of which presently exist. Buses are too few and overcrowded, the metro is some years from operation, and many of the necessary alternative roads are either pipe-dreams in the RTA or routed through residential areas - Shk Zayed Road traffic diverted to Al Wasl and Jumeirah Beach Roads, anyone?

This is the first time I have seen in print any suggestion that SALIK should be delayed. I wonder who's feifdom it is?

The full story can be read HERE

[Dubai] The Lighthouse: An Innovative Green Skyscraper


The Lighthouse is another innovative green skyscraper to be constructed in Dubai. For energy generation, it will have three enormous 225 kilowatt wind turbines (29 meters in diameter), and 4000 photovoltaic panels on the south facing façade. To optimize performance and operational periods, the turbines have windward directional wind vanes or limited yaw.

Eviction - no exception for single women!

According to Khaleej Times:

"Single women say they are hit equally hard by the Dubai Municipality's (DM) tough stance on bachelors. The DM has been strictly enforcing its decision to shift out bachelors from certain localities of the city. Housemaids and professional working women are all sailing in the same boat as landlords serve them with eviction notices."

"The rules now clearly say that no single men or women can live in residential areas like Jumeirah, Umm Suqueim or Barsha."

Read more at "Single women too face eviction threat"~ Khaleej Times

16 May, 2007

Dubai Exiles Club Exiled

Gulf News today reported that Dubai Exiles Rugby Club has been served an eviction notice from Dubai Municipality, effective July. Chairman Steve Blackburn talking about what options are available moving forward... “to close the club and distribute any money to all members; rebuild the club in the new plot; or simply close it down.”

What a shame for the Dubai sporting communities. This will not only affect the 3 rugby teams who call Exiles home, but also Dubai Netball League, Dubai Hurling & Gaelic Football, and Dubai Soccer. Not to mention the international Rugby events held at the site each year (the 7's being one of the highlights of Dubai's sporting & social calendars), as well as being a fantastic venue for concerts & events.

Abu Dhabi Mosques Go High Tech

Mosques in Abu Dhabi emirate will go high-tech with the introduction of an electronic network system, the National Consultative Council (NCC) was informed yesterday.

The implementation of the network system, which include electronic screens displaying prayer and prayer call (Azan) timings, titles of Friday sermons and Islamic lectures held at various places in the emirate, is currently under way, a NCC committee said in a report.

The report was prepared in consultation with the General Authority of Islamic and Awqaf Affairs.

The authority will also introduce MP3 devices for recording Friday sermons and lectures, as well as store them in electronic archives which will be available on the internet.

Read Also:
Mosques go high-tech (Gulf News)

15 May, 2007

Volatile Laws Cost Entrepreneur Millions - Saudi Arabia

A Saudi citizen who wanted to start a car hire business after taking advice from the Transport Department lost millions of riyals after he fell foul of "frequently changing" Saudi laws. More....

The 'Catch me if you Can' approach with laws is common to most of the GCC counteries. I wonder how many positive steps are being taken that local and non-local or non-arab entrepreneurs could benefit from to avoid the pitholes.

Please share your views and record your comments here for others to benefit from

Plastic Fantastic

A Lebanese bank is giving out loans for cosmetic procedures in this notoriously image-conscious Mediterranean country.

First National Bank's website dubs the "plastic surgery loans" as a way to "have the life you've always wanted."

Now no woman in Beirut will have an excuse to look anything less than perfect.That should up the ante on competition, given there's approximately 5 women to every man in Lebanon.

Grazr widget

I just found this Grazr widget and it's brilliant - a way you could embed multiple blogs on one website:

I can think of a lot of possibilities for it: for example an expandable archive posts list to put in your side column.

Dubai Unsung Heroes Honored by UAE Vice President

Dubai Unsung Heroes Recognized

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President & Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, holds the hand of Sayed Sulaiman Makdoom, a Dubai Municipality employee, who won an award in the Unsung Heroes category at the Dubai Government Excellence Programme Awards ceremony at Madinat Jumeirah yesterday.

On Digg - Dubai Skyscraper That Creates All Its Own Energy

Hope this hasn't been posted earlier...this article had made it to the top stories on Digg.

The Skyscraper That Creates All Its Own Energy

"This skyscraper, to be built in Dubai, is called the Burj al-Taqa ('Energy Tower'), and it will produce 100% of its own power. The tower will have a huge (197 foot diameter) wind turbine on its roof, and arrays of solar cells that will total 161,459 square feet in size." more

13 May, 2007

Dh25.2 Million For Abu Dhabi Car Number Plate "5"

Abu Dhabi Car Number Plates Auction

A UAE businessman yesterday paid Dh25.2 million ($6.86 million) for the car number plate “5” – a new world record price for a registration number. The proceeds will help traffic accident victims and people with special needs.

Continue reading story ...

11 May, 2007

Sex ed debated in the classroom

Video is available over at uaestudents.blogspot here.

10 May, 2007

Beach development is still happening...

I've been posting on my blog for a while about the beach development next to Burj Al Arab - the fence going up, then the press announcement of the development, then Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid's order for construction to stop.

I've also talked about the mysterious offshore work that didn't stop, as has NZM at M&J Adventures. She has some good photos of the work boats in action.
Yesterday morning an island had appeared out of the sea - this morning I took these photos from the sea wall around Umm Suqeim Fishing Port.

The fence has gone from around the beach sure enough, but the Boskalis dredging company's semi-permanent construction site offices are in place adjacent to the port, the dredgers are working and there is now an island which wasn't there three days ago.
I can't imagine that Sheikh Mohammed's order would not be obeyed, so what's going on?

09 May, 2007

Modern Wonder Bread

Let me share this wonder bread with the entire community.
An hour back, at about 9pm Dubai time, I bought a bread from Modern Bakery in Karama. The production date is 10th May 2007. Talk about Dubai being ahead of time.

'Moral Censorship' and More...

Hi All:
I came across this post today which I found interesting. It touches down on 'moral censorship' issues in the ME. Here is a quote from the post:

"But I would never give up my right of parenthood and ask the
government to take over the responsibility of raising up my kids. It is my duty
as a parent to supervise and guide them as far as what they watch, hear and
read. I do not need a public servant to decide for me which particular Internet
site is offensive and which one is acceptable. If I have succeeded in my role of
bringing them in touch with their own conscience then I have nothing to fear.
Let them surf and sail every which way their untethered minds take them. They
have nothing to fear."

I may disagree with the writer of this post on certain issues, but it is nevertheless a well-wroth read.


Rules to driving in dubai

1. If your road map is more than a few weeks old, throw it out and get a new one.

2. If you are in Rashidiya and your map is one day old, then it is already obsolete.

3. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Dubai has it's own version of traffic rules, which can be summarized as "Hold on and pray!"

4. If it is your priority to cross, forget it and wait.

5. There is no such thing as a dangerous high-speed chase in Dubai . Everyone drives like that.

6. When you plan to get a new car, ask first about its acceleration from 80 to 160 Km/h (recommended: 3 seconds). Very important if you frequently use the Emirates Road

7. All directions start with Sheikh Zayed Road , which has no beginning and no end.

8. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 AM to 1:00 PM, The evening rush hour is from 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM .

9. Thursday's rush hour starts Wednesday morning.

10. If you slow down at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended and then given a ticket by the Dubai Police.

11. If you are the first one at the intersection, when the light turns green ignore the car honking behind you and count to five to avoid crashing into one of the cars running the red light in cross-traffic.

12. Construction on all main roads is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment. (Sorry for the inconvenience)

13. All unfamiliar sights are explained by the phrase, "Oh, we must be in Sharjah!"

14. Car horns are actually toys for big boys.

15. Anyone in a Land Cruiser, Tuned Patrol, jeep or Mercedes with tinted windows has the right of way. Period!

16. If you are driving a Corolla, Sunny, or another small Japanese car, stay on the far right lane. No comment!

17. Most roads mysteriously change names as you cross intersections.

18. To ask directions, you must have good knowledge of Hindi/ Malayalam

19. A trip across town will take a minimum of four hours, although Sheikh Zayed Road has an unposted minimum speed of 150 Km/h.

20. It is sobering to realize that local Arabs are taught how to drive by Malyalyee.

21. 18 wheeler trucks are one of the fastest vehicles in Dubai ; they can do 120 Km/h on Hatta-Oman Road when fully loaded.

22. The minimum acceptable speed on the Emirates Road is 160 km/h. Anything less is considered downright sissy.

23. Al Khail Road is Dubai's daily version of NASCAR.

24. Dubai Autodrome has a new extension: The Emirates Road.


And the wheels of injustice roll on...

Four years in jail for 0.17 grams of marijuana

Three years in jail for sexually abusing a toddler

07 May, 2007

The Fate of Bachelorhood...

Watchmen make a killing out of bachelor tenants

Bachelors can live in Hor Al Anz, Satwa: DM official

In two separate articles the Khaleej Times highlights just some of the challenges being faced by bachelors in the newest form of discrimination being institutionalized in Dubai and Sharjah. I am very curious of what others make of this issue and the attempted erasure from public view of those who actually built this place. (Does my own bias show?) What’s going on? Is it fair? Are there more humane alternatives? Is it actually discrimination or is there something else going on here? Does the fact that the vast majority of bachelors are South Asian matter?

A largest pearl to be auctioned in Abu Dhabi

I'm not sure if this has been posted already

And some more information is here

Isn't she beautiful? I did not know that pearls can live THAT long.

Statutory Rape?

Youngster acquitted of raping schoolgirl for lack of evidence

I realize lawyers are universally scumbags, but it seems defense lawyers in the UAE are the cream of the crop. While the article doesn’t state it, how can “consensual” sex of a 22-year-old guy with an 11-year-old girl be consensual? Are there no laws on statutory rape and sex with minors in the UAE? If not, that’s scary.

Who cares if the girl lied, if the guy had sex with her, he is guilty! Period! And now, thanks to his astute legal team, he is out wandering the streets potentially picking-up other 11 year old girls….

UAE Bloggers to become radio stars?

Just a heads up to the community that myself (An Englishman in Dubai) and Chris Saul (Christopher Saul's Weblog) have been invited as guests to the lunchtime show on Eye on Dubai 103.8. The topic will about the blogging phenomenon with particularly reference to the UAE.

The show will be for an hour sometime between 12-2pm, Tuesday May 8th. It will be co-hosted by Paddy Smith (Editor of Stuff Middle East) and Siobhan Leyden (Eye on Dubai presenter) alongside Sim Whatley and JC Butler of Dubizzle and Gail Potter previously from the Bridgit Jones club.

I hope to provide some entertaining input into this show and I hope some of the community can tune in and provide input too via SMS and email during the show.

UConn-Dubai planned shelved

Following up on "State lawmaker questions UConn's Dubai plan" from January, today's Gulf News reports that UConn has now "shelved" its plan to open a campus in Dubai.

Interestingly, this newspaper in Connecticut reported that the plan was shelved back in February, so I'm not sure why it is being reported only now here. For that matter, a search of the Gulf News archives seems to indicate that it never reported on the original plan to open the campus either.

The article quotes some UAE academics who blame the move on ignorance and "double standards ... 'motivated by anti-Arab racism'". (Another Gulf News article today quotes James Zogby to similar effect.) The double standards charge seems fair to me. Whether racism is the motivation for it is a matter of opinion, but it may be so.

However, I don't understand the ignorance charge, since the objections that the opponents of the plan raised do not seem to be in dispute. (e.g. Israelis not being allowed to enter the UAE.)

06 May, 2007

Fire on the Palm Jumeriah

Not a nice present for those new residents on the Palm. The Gulf News is reporting it here and also a thread on the Skyscraper City forums here. I really hope there are no casualties.

EDIT: Pics from the skyscrapercity ones here:

But do go visit, those guys have heaps more.

A New Arrival to the Dubai Sky

Starting Next Month you will see a new Arrival to the Dubai Sky,

An 8 Seater Cessna Caravan Float Plane will be making Sightseeing tours basing itself from the Jebel Ali Hotel,

The 30 min tours will be taking in many sights including the Palms, Jumeirah and the Burj Al Arab


A friend of my told me of a serious problem the Marina area is facing. Something I have never heard of in my entire quarter of a century here: rats.

Just wanted to know from other marina residents if this is true?????

05 May, 2007

Craiglist ban

Why is Craiglist banned by Etisalat? :-(

The Metro Once Again.

Have anyone been to Bur Dubai recently?
The area around the Ramada signal has become a labyrinth. I am sure that those responsible for the construction of the underground Metro station there are doing their best to deal with the huge magnitude of pedestrian movement, at the same time sticking to their schedules.

Residents of that area are suffering. The RTA has urged people earlier to 'bear with them'. People are bearing (do they have a choice anyway?). Come what might, works on the Metro has to go on. This short term suffering will (inshallah) pay off once the Metro is ready to rock n' roll.

I have few suggestions to ease off the 'inconveniences'. Some of them might have been considered by the experts before….but let me put them on to you anyway:

- 10 feet wide unfettered pedestrian walkways in all directions should be
maintained, instead of the currently crammed 3 feet walkways.
- Provide
alternative parking lots to compensate for the ones that have been taken by the
porta cabins and the 4 silos of the patching plant (don't ask me where the
alternatives lots could be, I have no idea)…
- If the York and the Regal
Palace hotels are witnessing a drop in the occupancy rates because of these
works, the extra rooms could be used for lodging the Metro construction staff
(and maybe the labor?)

Finally, a request to create a section on this board, call it 'The Metro Watch' for instance, where people can share their stories and their inputs about the subject. The link could also be put forward to the RTA website, which apart from the FAQ section, doesn't have a public forum. This section can function as one…..


(P.S.: there used to be a live camera feed of the Ramada interesection on the DM website. It's no longer there)

04 May, 2007

what is the attraction of the UAE

I would like to ask any of you residents of the UAE, who recently arrived, what aspect of the UAE was attractive enough(excluding the tax free factor) for you to move out here?

lets here it from the horses mouth......

03 May, 2007

Blogger problem, or is it just me?

I write a new item, publish it to my blog but after several hours it's still not there.

Click on 'Search Blog' and it's there. Go to 'Edit Posts' and it shows up there too.

The only place it doesn't appear is on my blog.

Any ideas?

LATER EDIT: Exactly the same is happening with this posting.

Coming Soon - One movie for the price of two!

According to the coming soon page of TEN Movies, Grindhouse, the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez double-feature homage to 1970s exploitation movies, which was shown in the US as one movie, is going to be shown here as two separate movies, "Grind House:death Proof" and "Grind House 2: Planete Terror" (I'm guessing that the inventive spelling is TEN's). Does anyone know if the same thing is being done anywhere else?

Also, even with some fake trailers for non-existent upcoming movies, the movie as shown in the US is only a little more than three hours long, including scenes that will have to be cut to be shown here, so these will be two very short movies unless they are padding them out with some scenes that were not shown here.

Ibrahim Sharaf: First UAE National To Travel To Space

Virgin Galactic announced on Wednesday that Sharaf Group chairman, Ibrahim Sharaf, has signed up for the inaugural Virgin Galactic space flight, which could make him the very first Emirati to hit warp speed.

Sharaf Travel will be the UAE general sales agent for Virgin Galactic. Sharaf is paying $200,000, for the zero-gravity trip which will take place sometime in 2009.

The launch site will likely be in the southwestern United States, with each trip featuring three hours in space.

Read Also:
Ibrahim Sharaf to be first Emirati in space (Gulf News)

Cirque Du Soleil Coming to Dubai

and on a long term basis. As a fan of there productions I was pleased to see this this tie up:

"Nakheel and Cirque du Soleil will jointly design and build a 1,800-seat theatre on The Palm Jumeirah that will be home to the first ever Cirque resident show to be staged outside of the USA and Japan. The two companies have signed an initial 15-year deal with the new show expected to open during the last quarter of 2010."

Full press release here.

02 May, 2007

Don't enter your PIN number in an ATM machine or you'll get the HIV virus. Shshsh..

Are newspaper editors really any good? One expects them to have an advanced knowledge of the language of the newspaper, but the editors of Gulf News, the paper that I love to hate, don't seem to have that.

In an article on the reasons for decline of the Muslim world, the writer, Hussein Haqqani writes,
and the melons were contaminated with the HIV virus, which causes Aids. No one paid any attention to the fact that the HIV virus cannot be transmitted by eating melons.

What is it with people saying 'HIV virus'? Do they even know what the abbreviation 'HIV' stands for? It's Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Saying 'HIV virus' is redundant. In fact, it's saying 'Human Immunodeficiency Virus virus'.

Other examples that I've heard include ATM machine [Automated Teller Machine machine] and PIN number [Personal Identification Number number.]

Are the editors of Gulf News way too busy munching on bakhlaweh and gahwah to actually do their job and edit out the mistakes of the writers?

01 May, 2007

GULF NEWS and “Occupied Jerusalem”

An interesting editorial shift appears to have occurred at GULF NEWS – as of approximately April 1, 2007, the UAE’s paper of record appears to have created a new geographic location in the world, to wit:
Occupied Jerusalem: Israel's Lebanon war commission levelled scathing criticism against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in an interim report on Monday that cast doubt on the unpopular leader's political future.
This piqued my interest so I did a google news search -- and aside from a single byline in the KUWAIT TIMES (as well as two somewhat specious publications named “Journal of Turkish Weekly” and “Arab Monitor”) there is no publication of record that uses “Occupied Jerusalem” as a location. As it occasionally has in the past, GN appears to have messed with the attribution (I’m reasonably sure that the wire “AGENCIES” did not label the story as coming from “Occupied Jerusalem.”)

Now, there are probably many writers in this part of the world that would consider the city to be “occupied” -- but has the GULF NEWS editorial board consciously (or unconsciously, for that matter) stepped over the line that delineates opinion from journalism? Does this indicate a new period where publications in the UAE will be given license to become more politically active, and if so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Universal Studios To Land In Dubai

Read all about it on Emirates Today...

UAE Pros and Cons

I came across this link somewhere (can't recall the original reference): The UAE Report. It is mostly on the critical side regarding life in the UAE, written according to accounts of some Westerners who have lived here. Whether one agrees with the conclusions or suggestions, each point made is linked to news articles and other references which add credibility to their argument. I think it is an excellent piece of critical reporting. Not sure if it is a blog or not as there is no option for commenting or contacting anyone. I think it would be good if more people chronicled their views (backed up with references) on life in the UAE, in a manner similar to this.

One very intriguing reference is to the notion of boating in the UAE. You know we have all these marinas coming up all over, heralding the life of leisure and luxury. The way things are moving it won't be just for the rich as almost anyone could book a cruise for a few hours. But the report highlights the very troubling notion that just 30 km offshore one my get picked up by Iranian partrol and jailed for months! Food for thought--excellent website.

My overall take on the report, however, is that it could have a lot more positive things to say. Even with the backed up opinions, I don't see life in the UAE nearly as negative as portrayed.

...and by the way, anyone interested had better check out the link before it gets blocked!

18th Fattest Nation

Rank Country %
1. Nauru 94.5
2. Micronesia, Federated States of 91.1
3. Cook Islands 90.9
4. Tonga 90.8
5. Niue 81.7
6. Samoa 80.4
7. Palau 78.4
8. Kuwait 74.2
9. United States 74.1
10. Kiribati 73.6
11. Dominica 71.0
12. Barbados 69.7
13. Argentina 69.4
14. Egypt 69.4
15. Malta 68.7
16. Greece 68.5
17. New Zealand 68.4
18. United Arab Emirates 68.3
19. Mexico 68.1
20. Trinidad and Tobago 67.9
21. Australia 67.4
22. Belarus 66.8
23. Chile 65.3
24. Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 65.2
25. Seychelles 64.6

Source Article

Credit note: Thanks to Proud Pali that found this article...


From Mahmood's Den...
"I loved what the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs in the UAE, Dr. Anwar Gergash said in response to a question by the moderator which he laid out how blogs should be regarded as far as laws are concerned and that is the traditional press should use the strictest rules of journalistic ethics, a little bit more leeway should be given to TV and radio, while blogs should be the least controlled, and their owners most certainly should not be chased with libel lawsuits.

Why? He explained that theory specifically well which demonstrates his deep understanding of new media in general and his preparedness to accept criticism. He said that there should be a separation between news and opinions; news must be reported with full journalist ethics as the cascading effects of reporting incorrect news might have some adverse reactions; while in the case of opinions and comments, those should be regarded as the essence of freedom of expression and their instigators should be left alone. I suspect he also holds the opinion that if someone takes umbrage with those opinions, then they should be resolved by posting a response to that opinion or comment, or even creating a blog and posting their competing thoughts on that.

Dr. Gergash says that he follows blogs as he gets the raw information from them, rather than the editor doctored content from the traditional main stream media. He says that if there are 4 television stations in a country and maybe 30 newspapers, there are more than 500 blogs in that country possibly and if those 500 bloggers are talking about a unique particular subject then that has weight and indicates the unadulterated feeling on the street. Something that you cannot get from traditional media."
-- from here