30 October, 2007

To switch or not to switch?

Whoah! Hold your horses, mine is a post of constructive criticism looking for answers/solutions compared to those sprung up just below.

I've just about had it with this major telecoms company. It seems no coincidence that every time I've enrolled for a service, there has been some issue or other to resolve, and thus, it wouldn't be an inaccurate guess that the majority are facing a growing dissatisfaction with this telecoms co.

When Du came into operation as the sole competitor, I saw no need to switch: and rightly so, given the nature of complaints that followed in the first month (hence the "apology" by Du by way of "free credit" to new customers).

Now, I am seriously comtemplating a switch to Du based on repeat occurences of the following:

1)Very poor customer service - Emails of mine to the customer service department and to the helpdesk have gone unanswered, with no follow-up
2)It is not possible to resolve issues by telephone - one must visit a branch in person

The straw that broke the camel's back: there is now a new rule in which you can only buy a replacement SIM card in the emirate you bought it in. That means if you were making a day trip to another emirate and thought "Hey, why don't I pop in here and buy my SIM card" - well, you have to go back there to apply for your replacement. You cannot just visit any branch like before (the good old days).

Firstly, I don't see the logic in sending bulk SMSs to customers promoting your services and when this service is amended, the same means (SMS) cannot be used to notify them. Secondly, I was told the reason for this change was an amendment to the "system". A telecommunications company should have the technological means to issue replacement SIM cards from any branch throughout the UAE - after all, it is a national company, and technology is meant to make our lives easier, and aid companies specialising in technology to make "systems" more advanced, not take a step backward.

Make a complaint, and your emails go unanswered. Ask to speak to a manager in this telecoms company? The manager has no telephone number. They simply do not care.

I would like to know if anyone of you has made a switch to Du; what your experience has been so far, and if it was worth the change.

Star Article

Sadly another star article from the last few days got less attention from bloggers than the Washingtonpost's extravaganza:

Dubai Strike Threatens Building Boom
Associated Press

Complimented by Rupee gives expats sleepless nights & UAE threatens deportation after violent protest it could compete with The Arabian Heights.

Personal opinion: the salaries of the construction workers should be doubled as a first step.

29 October, 2007

So Long And Thanks For All The Fils

... but when did it happen that this blog community reached apathy saturation point?

There was a time there was righteous debate, brazen hatred, open racism, political engagement, media savvy conjecture and now it seems to be sliding into the slop of indifference.

Maybe that's just my take...

In the last couple of days there has been riots - which was not only an example of unbelievable greed - 600dhs a month pay FFS... plus media protection of the company - NAME AND SHAME PEOPLE, please let them be "listed" - and finally an example in exactly how Dubai Dream Inc TM does not understand how to manage a crisis or communicate their message of "Dubai Cares"...

And then the caring and sharing nature of a prank which was a tragic joke gone wrong... you try to kill yourself, but we'll deport your ass anyway...

These are just 2 of many things that are recently getting me really, extremely frustrated with the Dubai Dream Experience TM

don't even get me started on the f-ing dolphins...

Your's angryly,


PS I reserve the right to leave if I don't like it.

India needs to Ask for Help: Planet of the Apes ???

Forget being sensitive. India cannot manage itself. Sure the economy is up but so is poverty, HIV, and environmental damage. If these were the only problems making the news, then maybe I could look passed them. But the fact is, if you cannot manage the wild life in a major urban area, then you probably cannot manage anything.

I saw this story and follow-ups in the news papers in Dubai and then online: http://www.rationalreview.com/content/37290 .
India: Monkeys attack, kill Delhi politician .

Seriously? They say in Delhi that they have no solution and are at the end of their ability to deal with the problem. I read a larger article in Gulf News last week which had actual local leaders admitting that they cannot manage monkeys. They blame religious beliefs for their failure. However, I simply cannot believe that is the only reason, but it is very convenient.

I think India needs to hire someone to start managing their cities. Maybe Singapore? Singapore seems pretty well run. The Japanese might be good at it, but from my experiences there the police are very lazy. They are good at finding evidence but not actually preventing anything.

Countries outsource services all the time, why not city management? I mean city managers in many cities are not elected officials, yet they have power. So that way India can keep its( fairly corrupt??) political system and still be able to improve its cities.

Being serious for one minute: who is helping Delhi and is it really a bad idea to outsource management when MONKEYS have CONQUERED your CITY!

D. Blogger

28 October, 2007

HHIE Survey #2

Following on from the last season, I say to all second generation HHIE Survey participants: let the reworded text messages ring no alarm bells.

"Income and expenditure" levels are always of an evolutionary nature, as you can see with the longer-substituted words within your SMS.

Any concerns regarding the terminology of your text message should be directed to your nearest free-of-cost dictionary, preferably in full view of your accountant.

The idea is that your "income and expenditure" should satisfy the "annual analysis".

27 October, 2007

Dubai's architecture

The Washington Post has a long essay on Dubai's architecture, and the contrast with Abu Dhabi. I won't attempt to summarize. Read the whole thing here.

26 October, 2007

When are these coming to Dubai?

Spotted in Ajman, these countdown boards give a good idea of how much time is left before the next signal changes. If installed in Dubai, it would definitely make a difference in reducing the number of signal jumpers. It is easier to understand than the blinking light system on certain Dubai roads before the signal changes.

It is about time RTA got some of these timers on Dubai signals. This system is nothing new and is in use by many cities around the world. Way to go Ajman, for taking the lead in installing a device which helps motorists rather than a 'fine' camera.

25 October, 2007

Why Justin WHY! ;-) lol

A bit on the trivial side... have any of you wondered what made the organisors of Justin Timberlake's concert select Abu Dhabi over Dubai as a venue to host one of the biggest selling artist of the year?

hmmm.. something smells fishy....

Orphaned Cars--Why?

Have you ever noticed all the cars sitting around covered in dust? I notice them all the time. When I see one on one of my common routes I make note of how long it sits.

I have witnessed a car not moving for over two years in Bur Dubai and Al Barsha. As an American I am use to having community laws that would impound such a vehicle. So I started trying to find out why these vehicles are just left.

I had a few hypothesis to start with:
1. The owner was a holiday resident and did not have proper parking.
2. The owner was in jail.
3. The owner owed a loan and skipped town.

But in these cases more researched uncovered more facts. First if the person were a holiday visitor, it would seem that they would pay someone to wash it once a week. I found in my building that the holiday visitors have their cars done once a month at least. Now if they did not have parking then scenario 1 is plausible. BUT most people who can afford to live in Dubai 1/2 the year or a few months a year, should be able to acquire parking.

Numbers 2 and 3 are actually situations where the state will repossess or impound the car. I found that out when I went to the auto auction last year.

So what else could be contributing to these orphaned cars? The answer: a bad registration scheme.

My friend bought a car from someone who was leaving Dubai. They gave my friend the registration card, a copy of their passport and visa, and a letter stating that a transaction had been made.

My friend did not take the time to research the law, as the seller confirmed that they had called the registration office and were following the correct procedure.

The seller leaves the country and cancels their visa.

My friend goes to register the car. She finds out that it is impossible without the owner. She explains the owner is out of the country, and is not coming back. And that the owner no longer has a visa. The registration office says that if the seller has canceled their visa, then they cannot even return to Dubai and transfer the car over.

Basically, without the seller present or a certified bill of sale from a used car dealership, the transaction can not be made legally. Ironically enough, if there are any tickets, the seller still gets fined. The fines accrue even after they cancel their visa.

I was standing next to my friend during this encounter and she looked at me and said, "I am just going to leave this car in the desert and rent something."

I thought that was a bad move. I took another angle. I asked, "Who in Dubai can take care of this situation? " The registrar said, "There is a man in the head office in Deira if you find him he can make an exception." One guy. THE HEAD of DUBAI registrars with access to the immigration records.

My friend still wanted to dump the car because she refused to drive in Deira. She said Deira is too hard to drive in and she would end up wrecking her car before she could register it.

The point of this story is that Dubai seems to be to often managed through rumors and conjecture. Get the information for yourself and in-person. Ask a few people the same question(s). If not you might find yourself in Deira trying to find some government building, dodging the ubiquitous Nissan Sunny, and fighting to eventually cross a crowded bridge in rush hour traffic.


Tell me...

Who do you go to when you want to bare your soul, speak of your weaknesses and show the most vulnerable part of you; without fear of criticism or remorse, without judgment or hurt?

you can respond by commenting on the same on my blog

Thank you

24 October, 2007

The world's largest poster revealed by Sorouh Real Estate in Dubai, UAE

Sorouh Real Estate unveiled the biggest poster in the world on Monday in Dubai.

The poster covers an area of 20,000 sq metres and is as big as three football pitches put together.

It's part of the 'Sorouh Faces' campaign conceptualised by Sorouh's advertising agency, TBWA\RAAD Abu Dhabi. The campaign aims to collect and place 1 million faces on the record-breaking site, donating $1 to UAE Red Crescent for every face received - to a total of US$ 1,000,000 for charity.

Anyone can place their face free on the world-record breaking site by uploading it on the dedicated website of the campaign.

A breathtaking picture of the GIGANTIC poster and details on how one can put one's face on it are Farrukh Naeem's Advertising in the UAE blog

23 October, 2007

There's a New Blog in Town!


The Fat Expat is a new Blog dedicated to broadcasting the lunatic babbling of not one but two blogging types to the world. Yes, Alexander and HalfManHalfBeer are collaborating on a new Blog designed to indulge our shared unhealthy and obsessive interest in all things food-related.. We’ll be blogging about food, restaurants, recipes, ingredients. Anything that you can pop into the old bouche, in fact. We’ll be arguing with each other (including a planned series of ‘head to head’ recipe wars) and possibly with some of the restaurants and hotels we’ve been reviewing, too! And we’ll be bringing you a passion for food that we hope you enjoy reading and interacting with. With a little luck this project will grow with time and become smarter and more sophisticated.

The Fat Expat will contain regularly posted recipes, articles about food, restaurant reviews and more. More? Yes! More!

We’re aiming to have a great deal of fun with the format, including special promotions, cook-offs, recipe competitions and, I hope, an increasingly off-the-wall selection of content. There are already over 100 recipes posted up there in the archive, more than yer average cook-book, and we’re hoping to add loads more, together with bringing more contributors to the Blog.

So if you like Arabic food, pies, barbecues, eating out around the world, reading cranky restaurant reviews or prefer to dabble in a delicious assortment of Asian splendours then drop on by to the The Fat Expat!


It seams the Government will strengthen the policies applying to Labour hiring:
My questions are:
What will happen to the Recruitment Agencies?
Will the MOL charge us fees for recruiting servants or professionals trough the labour offices?
Many thanks in advance

19 October, 2007

Dubai and the golden days

We are still in an era where small-talk governs a bygone Dubai: the time when Dubai was Dubai; when the old days were golden days.

What, may I ask, is less golden today than it was 2 decades ago? A society that enjoys economic prosperity is bound to enjoy social and cultural changes with time: and if time diversifies Dubai, the shift is for the better.

Relative to the growth of Dubai, we still enjoy the freedoms and fun of yesteryear, if not on a grander scale. All this nostalgia is just such: nostalgia, and a fear of letting go of the past, when today is much better.

Without the past, we have no future. And without the future, we have no tomorrow.

Dead dolphins found near Dubai-bound dolphins

A company in the Solomon Islands exported 28 live dolphins to the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, four years after the government halted the trade when such a shipment caused international outrage.

The dolphins were taken amid tight security to Honiara from their holding pens on an outlying island and then escorted by police to two cargo planes for the 30-hour journey to Dubai.
Lawrence Makili, a director of the San Francisco-based Earth Island Institute, said photos published this week showing dolphin carcasses on the side of a road leading to the pens were a sign the animals were under stress.
The Canadian Press:
The dolphins' new habitat on Dubai's palm tree-shaped island complex will be called the Dolphin Bay. It is still under construction and scheduled to be completed sometime next year.
7 Days (Zaywa)
Twenty-eight bottlenose dolphins destined for the Atlantis, The Palm on Palm Jumeirah arrived safely in Dubai yesterday. Kerzner Istithmar, which is developing a "dolphin programme" for Atlantis, said in a statement it had received the dolphins from a facility in the Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Education Centre where the mammals had lived for the past few months.

"We are proud to welcome all 28 of our Dolphin Bay family who arrived safely in the hands of an incredibly experienced and dedicated team," said Frank Murru, Chief Marine Officer for Kerzner International. "The dolphins are now eating, swimming and acclimatising in their seven million gallon habitat."

Murru added that a staff of more than 85 marine mammal specialists, veterinarians and professionals will be monitor the dolphins 24 hours a day to ensure their comfort, care and feeding and any unforeseen medical needs.
Islands Business:
A spokesperson from Kerzner International - the owners of Atlantis, said the resort will open in a year and will include a large marine mammal rescue centre and a conservation education centre.

“Atlantis, The Palm and Kerzner Istithmar are planning to include a world class dolphin interactive programme at Atlantis, The Palm ... we cannot disclose information about where we acquire our dolphins or details of the transport at this time as a matter of security,” said the spokesperson.

Dolphin Bay is planned to be a state-of-the-art, eleven-acre coastal facility with seven million gallons of salt water - one of the largest man-made coastal facilities in the world, it was stated.

18 October, 2007

Leopard Frightens Sharjah Residents

I haven't read anything about this in the English newspapers, so I guess it could be worth sharing.

Al Khaleej reports:

On Tuesday the 16th of October, the Sharjah Police successfully captured a leopard that had terrified residents in Sharjah near the Tasjeel Auto City.

Brigadier Saleh Al Mutawwa, Director General of Sharjah Police said that "the leopard was seen strolling the area when terrified passersby spotted the leopard and immediately reported it to us. An emergency unit was sent to carefully control the situation. The "trained unit" was able to temporarily paralyze the leopard and transfer him to the Environment and Natural Protectorate Committee".

Al Mutawwa noted that the price of a leopard can reach AED 85,000 and owners of these wild animals tend to smuggle these animals to keep them inside their homes.

School Bullies...

Today's Gulf News reports, "Bullies force traumatised pupil away from school."
A 12th grade pupil of an Abu Dhabi school said he has stopped attending classes after continuous mental and physical torture by a group of bullies.

His father said the boy has been traumatised for the past eight months after joining Sunrise English Private School in 11th grade and needed psychiatric treatment. "He was afraid to disclose the harassment he faced in the school." The boy has not attended school since September 3.

Sam said: "I did not disclose the torture because my class teacher warned that I will also be suspended if an incident was reported to the principal. She said so when I complained in the beginning of May against five boys who dragged me from the classroom holding my neck and slammed my head against the wall."

His father said he complained to the principal and later in writing mentioning the names of nine bullies as the principal told him to but no action was taken.

Doctor's certificate demanded

Principal C. Impanathan told Gulf News that it was difficult to take action against nine pupils on a complaint. "I came to know the complaints two weeks ago only when the parent approached me." About the alleged warning by the class teacher to take action against both complainant and accused, the principal said that the teacher explained to him that she did not use the word "suspension" but warned strong action against creating problems in school. He said he would consider taking further action, including suspension or dismissal of nine accused pupils, if the parent produces a certificate from the doctor mentioning the names of the accused.
This is a serious matter; bullying in school, physical abuse - are all crimes that should never be tolerated. Strict action has to be taken against the bullies. If teachers and principals who have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for children to learn - failed in their duties - they should be punished and banned from working in schools.

He said he would consider taking further action, including suspension or dismissal of nine accused pupils, if the parent produces a certificate from the doctor mentioning the names of the accused.

How on earth can any doctor give a certificate mentioning the names of the accused? Would the bruises bear the names of the accused? This is not news reporting by Gulf News, this is something else.

Whether the principal said something so stupid and outrageous to Gulf News can only be verified from the 'audio recording' - if they have any.

17 October, 2007

French President's wife files for divorce

Before you rally up the troops to shoot me down for contributing an irrelevant post, hold your mighty horses and hear me out ...

Cecilia Sarkozy, French President's wife, is filing for divorce months only after her notorious and powerful husband has been elected by the French people. Whatever the reasons behind the move, what a formidable woman she is to shun the status of president's wife - that so many would covet no matter what!

My (irrelevant?) question is: how many Dubai-based chicks do you know who would dump a rich and famous guy if she either stops loving him (but was love ever part of the equation to start with..!) or if he lets her down (either does not live up to her values, cheats on her, whatever) as opposed to how many would put up with any shit he dishes out as long as he is the cash-cow who buys her armani handbags and cartier jewellery?

And what do you think of the materialistic mindset which is in overdrive mode in Dubai? Please no hypocrisy, go anonymous if you have to, but say the truth! Preferably though, do post in your blog name thanks :)

Irrelevant responses would include : (1) Delusional characters with a misplaced feeling of superioiry telling us how divorce does not happen in their part of the world, wherever that is, (2) indignant lil ladies claiming that Dubai is a holier-than-thou place where no one is materialistic. Just move on to the next post, thank you very much!

We all more or less have something to tell about the material mindset in our blogs (we're possibly one of those chicks ourselves, or amongst the guys who love the type!), let's drag the dirty linen in public and have a field day ha! ;)

16 October, 2007

Dubai on 60 Minutes

Dubai got covered on CBS' 60 minutes program. (Oct. 14th 07)
You can view some video excerpts here.

15 October, 2007

Rise in ticket prices :D

I didn't notice this until today. I finally managed to persuade my Mum to watch this movie (late I know, I know) and while one ticket gives the regular Dhs 30/- price, I just saw that the other one says Dhs 330/-

Most expensive movie ticket I've ever seen...

Smoking in Dubai

I am sure there is someone out there who can tell me what are the actual laws are now on smoking inside in Dubai because I am really confused. As I udnerstood it smoking in all malls is now banned and smoking in restaurants and / or bars (only in malls?) is restricted to those outlets with their own air-conditioning systems.

Is this correct? If so does anyone know why the Agency Wine Bar in Emirates Towers still allows smoking in their 'outside' area?

What are the laws of smoking in bars / restaurants not in malls?
What about hotels?

Does anyone know of what further amendments in the law are in the pipeline?

Answers on a postcard please.



Seems like the bitch fighting petrol companies had with the credit card firms about charges levied on credit purchases has escalated. So they have decided to transfer all the costs involved in facilitating credit card purchases onto the customer. Initially credit card purchases incur a 1.6% levy.

But now the have decided to take it one step further:-

"Motorists will not be able to pay for a tank of petrol by credit card at most petrol stations from Saturday."


Women of Dubai

Mrs. Salma Hareb, CEO Jafza & Economic Zones World at award ceremony along with HE Sultan Bin Sulayem - Chairman of Dubai World and Mr. Ibrahim Janahi, EVP Sales.

14 October, 2007

The Executive Council Meeting at The Executive Office

Voting now open in Hayah Film Competition

You may be interested to know that voting for the People's Choice Award is now open in the Hayah Film Competition. Go to www.hayahfilm.com to cast your vote.

The Hayah Film Festival is presented by Abu Dhabi Women's College and EmiratesMac Apple User Group. It's a section within the Middle East International Film Festival.

You can go see movies in the main festival at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Tickets are free and available through the festival web site.

13 October, 2007

ATMs, Chaos, and my Granny

I don't like to write about current news and events. These things are important to know, but we cannot change most of the things we dislike in the near future. We have to accept them, work with them, raise our voices, and wait. But there are topics and issues that everyone reading this blog can deal with as an individual everyday. There are things we can do to improve life, with very little effort. And this Daily Volition can can cause a chain reaction if we do it right. Let's start with the situation involving: ATM Spackers.

A spacker is a spastic person, and in this case it is referring to a person who cannot manage to interface with an ATM- A machine designed for the lowest common user.

Everyday I notice people at ATMs. People act funny with their confidential cards and passwords. However, this city is full of people who cannot withdrawal money in under 60 seconds. I am not referring to those making deposits. I am talking about the people
who keep removing and reinserting their cards, miss typing their PIN numbers, and simply do not read the screen when it asks them questions.

If you cannot withdrawal money in 60 seconds or less, then you are an ATM Spacker, and you need to admit it. You need to start working on it because you are causing chaos on a city wide level. Let me explain how this happens and what you can do to fix it.

Scenario: ATM Spacker goes to the ATM and there are 3 people behind them. They waste 3 or 4 minutes on the only machine in a 5 minute drive. As time goes on the line grows to 6 people. The 5th person in line is late for another pointless meeting at a coffee shop 30 minutes away.


The 5th person is now in their car and feeling late and frustrated. Not only that, they are filled with hate for the ATM Spacker. Visions or confrontation passing before them so fast they cannot visually process the road.

As they rush to their meeting with all this anger and anxiety they stop caring about road safety and manners. They justify all their actions off of this single event. And while they are driving this dark path, they stop paying attention to things like pedestrian crossings. Before you know it they slam into a shopping cart(trolley) being pushed by a little old lady and her housemaid.

Why? All because of the ATM Spacker. So ATM Spackers what can you do to prevent such events?

First, admit you have a problem. Second, go to some ATMs in places where there are not many people,or where there are many ATMs, and practice. And don't just go to your bank's ATM! Try out a few. Read. Learn. Evolve. Don't fall into a category of user that statistically has an IQ score of less than 50.

And if you are too old to care, make some one get money for you. My grandmother can't use ATMs or gas pumps at the self-serve(that means pumping your own gas). So she doesn't waste anyone's time. She just calls me when I am around to go do it for her. And if not me, then someone else she knows. She knows if she hits the road she will cause chaos.

I hope this has been helpful an insightful. The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. ATM Spackers, you know who you are.

D. Blogger

Al Faker?

As I admired my small collection of shisha flavours I noticed that the packaging was different between some of the products despite bearing the same name; both bear the same brand name ("Al Fakher") yet one uses the website http://www.alfakher.com and one uses the website http://www.alfakhir.com. The former company/website seems more legit to me and seems to be the company that launched a campaign against fake products by introducting security seals on it's products. Both compaies have different contact numbers yet have the same brand name.

Does anyone have any information on this?

11 October, 2007

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak to all the UAE Community Blog readers in the UAE and worldwide.
Eid has been confirmed tomorrow 12 October 2007.
I'll leave you with some artwork from the USA postal authorities :)

The simple guide to dealing with unwanted SMSs

Every few days over the last month, I have been receiving unsolicited text messages about promotions - and other cryptic messages - which are getting rather annoying.

Here is an example (atrocious spelling included):
"Tomorrow!CLEARANCE, Top Fation of famous brands,Men?s Dress Formal casual, Lady?s Bags,Perfumer & Shoes" (etc.)

I braved the 101 call (helpline), and luckily had to endure no more than a one minute wait to get through.

So, for anyone who doesn't want to receive unsolicited text messages in future, here are, according to the 101 operator, the instructions on how to block incoming texts coming in from the same organisation:

Press "b / then a space / then type the name or code of the sender organisation / then 1011"

The interesting part is you have to send a text message (with the above instructions) to block the sender, meaning there is a cost of blocking spam, which is absorbed by you.

Incidentally, I also asked if it would be possible to block Etisalat's own promotional messages. "Yes", she said. I asked, "Are you sure?" 4 times, assuming she might have some information to add after the 5th time. After the 4th time, she added, "Listen, if you want to block Etisalat messages, you have to come to the Business Centre".

Thank you, Operator, for making me ask you a simple question 4 times before getting a full, comprehensive response.

Now, one should not only pay for the petrol to get down to whichever business centre this is, but presumably pass through Salik as well, to reach there - and take time out of one's schedule - all to block a message that comes from Etisalat themselves.

To round this all up, I would propose that a telecommunications company be able to deal with basic customer issues over modern technology, and that includes the telephone.

Is there a Rent Cap?

On the first day of 2007, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued a decree which gave some "hope" tenants paying exorbitant rents in Dubai.

"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."

Despite my landlord raising my rent in 2006 with the 7% rent cap supposedly in effect - this year my landlord has increased the rent this year by more than 12% to renew the contract for the flat I have been staying for more than 5 years.

When I raised this issue with the owner, he laughed and said "nothing is going to change - pay the rent or get out!."

I just wanted to know if I missed reading a "by-law" some where along the course of the year which nullifies Sheikh Mohammed's decree or should I just swallow the fact some decrees have no weight and pay another rent increase which would be funding his family skiing trip in all probability.

Can anyone on UAE Community please clarify the rules? Thank You!

This rent increase notice has really made my Eid fun!

Link: New Rent Cap Ruling - 1 Jan, 2007

10 October, 2007

Shocking Saudis!

Agence France Presse:

An advertising agency in Saudi Arabia plans to air public service commercials to promote kinder treatment of domestic helpers in a country where reports of abuse of foreign workers abound. The ads will air on Arab satellite television stations after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, expected to end on October 12, said Kaswara al-Khatib, founder and chief creative director of Full Stop Advertising.

[...] "We deal with helpers as if they are not humans and have no feelings," (quote from Kaswara al-Khatib, founder and chief creative director of Full Stop Advertising).

[...] Reports of exploitation ranging from the withholding of salaries and passports to physical assault and sexual abuse are increasingly appearing in the local press.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) charged in August that the beating to death of two Indonesian female workers by a Saudi family highlighted the "atmosphere of impunity fostered by government inaction" toward abusive employers.

In July 2004, HRW was accused by Riyadh of exaggerating the incidence of foreign labor abuse in Saudi Arabia after it released a report alleging that foreign workers were systematically exploited, some of them living in slave-like conditions.

Riyadh police teamed up with the Sri Lankan Embassy in September to rescue a Sri Lankan maid who had telephoned the Arab News newspaper to say she had been imprisoned, abused and unpaid by her woman employer for at least seven years. [...]


I find it shocking and revolting that such practices happen in Saudi. Islam is not about covering your hair and acting prude or not speaking to ghair-mahram men while you starve your domestic help at home, it starts with treating your fellow human being with dignity, respect and mercy, especially when you are in a position of power over them!.

Indeed, as the ad campaign features, "He who has no mercy will not receive mercy,"(Hadeeth quote) Certainly in this case that's how it should be!

09 October, 2007

Wow...I found something that Dubai does not have the biggest of!!!!

Who needs the ocean anyway? This artificial lagoon and swimming pool in the San Alfonso del Mar resort in Chile is eight hectares in size and contains 250,000 cubic meters of water, equivalent in size to 6,000 standard domestic pools

But is it Art?

Paraglider is pleased to announce that several excerpts from his Paranormal Hotel blog have been republished in the inaugural issue of the literary e-zine The Chimaera. Thank you to all visitors from the UAE Community who have encouraged my ramblings.

How many people here are on Facebook?

Just wanted to know who is on facebook? It seems like the whole world is a memeber? even when I walk in cafe's I see people on facebook. Nearly everyone at work is on facebook and there are 2500 staff at my compnay.

07 October, 2007

Dubai does not Care

I'm so mad that I have to let off some steam here. The reason is this. So my school handed out these little booklets of vouchers that we have to sell for the Dubai Cares charity drive ( [link] ). Each voucher costs Dhs. 20. A bit much, but an amount a lot of people can do just fine without. My friend and I decided to go door to door and sell them.

I thought we could sell quite a few this way. Here are a few of the responses we got:

1. "This really isn't a good time."

2. "My son/daughter has one of those booklets." So you won't buy a voucher from us, but you expect people to buy one from your kid?

3. One guy opened his door a fraction of an inch and all we could see was an eye and his dog's nose. Before we could finish what we wanted to say, he just closed the door in our faces, at the risk of slicing his dog's nose off.

4. "I'm new to this area, so please, ok, hmm?" That isn't even a sentence! And how is that a valid reason?!

5. "No thank you."

6. "No."

The only people who bought vouchers from us were friends of my mother. And there was one other nice man as well who said he had bought a few the previous day, but didn't mind buying one more. After the door-to-door session we ended up with 4 sold vouchers between ourselves.

After this we went to a mall, thinking we'd be more successful there. We started asking random people. It wasn't as easy as we thought it would be, but we got used to it after a while. Here are some more responses:

1. "Oh, I can't hear you. I've got my music on." She keeps walking on after this, Starbucks coffee in one hand, and the other hand not bothering to yank out the earphones. I wish I had done it for her. "Yes, so what do you need?" We went through our routine sentence. "No, not interested, sorry." Aargh! If she can spend 20 bucks on coffee, why can't she do the same for charity?

2. "Sorry, maybe next time." Did they think we were regular fixtures in the mall?

3. "I can't understand what you're saying." I just think the words 'Dhs. 20' rang warning bells in their heads.

4. "Maybe next time."

5. "Can you wait till our manager comes back?"

6. "Maybe next time."

7. "My dear, I am looking for someone to donate some money to me." This came from a girl who was probably my age.

8. Two separate couples didn't turn back and just walked ahead when we tried to get their attention. We said "Excuse me" at least four times!

I don't remember the others, these are a few of the choicest examples. It was so infuriating how all these people, toting their Charles and Keith bags, were so stingy with their money when it came to donating just a tiny fraction of what they paid for those shoes, or bags, or whatever it is Mr. Charles and Mr. Keith sell, to uneducated, homeless little children! At the end we sold another 4 vouchers between ourselves.

Another thing. I think it's just hypocritical of schools to make their kids sell these vouchers when they themselves pay a pittance to the teachers they employ. Doesn't charity start at home?

However, I will say this. The people who did donate to the cause were extremely nice about it. One of them asked us if his name would appear in big letters on a donors list. He was joking, of course.

It is extremely saddening to think that people think twice before donating a small amount of money to a very worthy cause.

Would UAE support a GCC residency cap?

Gulf News
"To enforce a residency cap on unskilled workers of a maximum of six years will contribute to solving the problems associated with the influx of foreign workers and protect our identity," said Al Ka'abi, adding that he is hopeful that the proposal will be approved at the meeting.
I'm not sure what problem is being solved if the number of unskilled workers is not decreased through immigration controls. How is that the less transient you are the more you encroach on the identity of nationals?

Are truck drivers and cab drivers considered unskilled? If not, aren't we creating another problem? Would you think the longer you're here the better you know the road system and how to behave on the roads? Gulf News:
"Drivers' behaviour is a big problem. They come from different nationalities and different backgrounds and behave differently on the road. Campaigns for their education and awareness about traffic laws have also not been a big success because most of them neither read the newspaper nor watch television. Also, they speak different languages," said Al Siri.
"Some drivers on Dubai roads drive as if they are driving in the desert. We need to stop this practice. I have said many times that the RTA cannot make roads for 'drunk' drivers. Respect for traffic laws and good behaviour is important for road safety and the decrease in the number of accidents."
Or is this the problem: The longer we're here, the worse our driving becomes.

05 October, 2007

Apple has no plans to stop unofficial iPhone sales

An article in Emirates Today says that "Computer and music giant Apple has said it is powerless to prevent the unauthorised sale of its revolutionary iPhone in the UAE." The article continues, a spokesperson for Apple Europe says they are "aware of imported sales of the iPhone in countries other than the US but did not have plans to stop it."

It should be pointed out that any iPhone sold in the UAE is unofficial (gray market) and there is no service and support available. Since it has to be unlocked to be used as a phone here, the unlocking will void the warranty, Apple has confirmed.

That strange thing on Business Bay Crossing

Have any of your noticed this strange object placed on the side of the road as you come off Business Bay Bridge and on to Jadaff? It is a beige box that looks like a rubbish bin but position in a such a way as to seem that it is a radar.

Does anyone know if it is a functioning radar or not?

04 October, 2007

Headline: U.A.E.'s Drive for Emirati-Run Economy Is Thwarted by Handouts

Bloomberg.com: Europe
The handouts, based on traditions of royal patronage dating back centuries to Bedouin society, now discourage citizens from working, academics say. Expatriates outnumber Emiratis and dominate fields such as banking, law and technology. The quandary for Sheikh Mohammed is how to reduce the culture of dependence without alienating his people.

``The relationship between work and income is broken,'' says Kenneth Wilson, Dubai-based director of the Economic and Policy Research Unit at Zayed University, a school for Emirati women that opened in 1998. ``That's unlikely to change until the government starts trying to give incentives to work in the private or corporate sector.''

Thanks largely to the country's oil-fueled economic boom, the average male Emirati receives benefits worth about 204,000 dirhams ($55,500) a year, according to the university's research.
More significant steps to reduce privileges for Emiratis may be met with resistance, says Anthony Harris, a former U.K. ambassador to the U.A.E. who lives in Dubai.

``I'm sure there would be a call from within the royal family to change the sheikh to one that provided the benefits if there was a move to remove them,'' Harris says. ``The social contract is that you get given things by the sheikh and in return you give the sheikh your allegiance.''

Do you agree that the prevailing attitude is that allegiance is paid for, and that this gets in the way of reforming the system such that greater incentives to work in the private sector are created?

Facebook - Graffiti wall application

Question: Did anyone notice the graffiti wall application on facebook is blocked by etisalat? I can see the wall but I can't draw anything. Is anyone else facing this problem?

03 October, 2007

Hep C - The Silent Killer

The situation is grave... 350-400 million people worldwide are infected with Hepatitis C (that's 1 in every 15 persons). The Hep C Virus (HCV) is the biggest challenge to human life.

There are no vaccines to protect us from HCV. The treatment available, at present, which is very expensive, doesn't guarantee 100% cure.

Most governments have turned to the private sector to find effective treatment/ drugs - which is a worrying development. Instead of declaring war against the virus, HCV is seen as the biggest commercial opportunities. With 7% of the world population helpless against the virus... the shylocks are rubbing their palms in glee. The situation cannot be termed unfortunate, it is a disaster.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc are ahead of the race for developing an effective treatment. It might be heartening to a few people, but the horror of profiteering cannot be brushed aside: in April 2005 - they were trading at $9.20 a share at the NASDAQ. Today it is trading at $39.00

I believe we should all ask this question, how did we defeat the smallpox virus? Smallpox virus killed almost half a billion people in the 20th century. Every government/ state contributed in defeating smallpox virus; the job was not outsourced to private companies like Halliburton or Blackwater.

HCV victims are a captive market for private pharma companies - a giant money-spinning wheel. Why would they ever want to eradicate HCV? There has to be a partnership between Governments and NGOs to win this battle.

Dubai Government's initiative, Dubai Cares, is a wonderful programme to help the needy. I can see hope in what His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum says:

"If we want to champion prosperity and progress, we cannot ignore poverty. We should therefore emphasize the role of education as the most powerful weapon in breaking the vicious circle of poverty."

I hope, Dubai will also take the leadership in the war against the Hepatitis C Virus. This is a battle we cannot ignore or afford to lose. We need to educate people and also find a cure for this dreadful disease.

I have been blogging http://www.hcvnews.blogspot.com/ - putting together news reports and other content since May 2006.

There has to be a major drive to educate people about Hepatitis C, especially in a country like UAE. If anyone from the UAE Blogging Community would like to participate as a volunteer blogger - in the HCV News blog

02 October, 2007

"Millions of expats could be kicked out of Gulf"

In this Arabian Business article (Oct 1, 2007), Bahrain mentions its new plans. Hopefully it won't be approved in the GCC Summit and hopefully, it won't be adopted by other GCC countries. Seriously, how do they come up with these 'solutions' to the culture erosion?

Millions of expatriate workers could face being kicked out of the Gulf if plans proposed by Bahrain are passed at the next GCC summit in December.

The kingdom will put forward a motion...to place a six-year residency cap on all expatriates working in the region in an effort to stop what it sees as the erosion of local culture and to stem soaring unemployment among nationals.

The cap could force many of the 13 million or so expatriates currently living in the GCC to return home, a significant proportion of whom have brought up families in the Gulf and now consider the region their home.

“In some areas of the Gulf, you can’t tell whether you are in an Arab Muslim country or in an Asian district. We can’t call this diversity and no nation on earth could accept the erosion of its culture on its own land,” [said said Bahrain Labour Minister Majeed Al-Alawi].

Director of "The Kingdom" talks about the UAE

Peter Berg, director of the new movie "The Kingdom" (partial filmed here in the UAE), which is due to open on the 11th, was interviewed on Hardball last Friday, and had a few comments about his experiences interacting with people in the UAE and Saudi Arabia:

I have met very few Saudis that have anything nice to say about any Iraqis. I haven‘t met anyone—there‘s so much competition in the Middle East...

The Kuwaitis don‘t like the Iraqis. The Saudis don‘t like the Iraqis. The UAE doesn‘t like anyone. Everyone hates Iran.

...people ask me, coming back from the Middle East, what—you know, what I observed and what—what my takeaway is, in terms of what—what can help. And—and the only thing that I consistently go back to is, by far, the—the country in the Middle East that seems to be functioning as peacefully as—as possible is the UAE.

It‘s cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where capitalism has taken ahold, and there‘s such investment and growth going on in those cities, that they police themselves. And I had dinner with Sheikh Mohammed of—of Dubai. And I asked him, you know, why there had been no attacks in his country, a country which has alcohol, which has a—women are allowed to wear bikinis, and there‘s a much more Western lifestyle.

And he just, quite simply, pointed to the Burj Hotel and said, we won‘t let it happen.

The whole transcript is here (you have to scroll down to after the commercial break) and the video is here.

01 October, 2007

UAE MoL to Issue Temporary Work Permits

"All companies in the country can now seek temporary work permits to facilitate the process of recruiting foreign manpower, said Assistant Under-secretary in the Ministry of Labour Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi.

He said the Work Permit Department in the MoL will today begin issuing temporary work permits to companies in different fields to give them an opportunity to place the new workers in a probation period. In the past, such permits were issued only to oil and energy companies. More.. "

This permit was also announced a couple of months earlier but then nothing happened. Now after the amnesty and the crackdown on illegal workforce most of the businesses are suffering. If such a step is implemented it will ease out the building HR pressure but I am pretty sure the unskilled and semi-skilled workforce won't qualify for these permits. Maybe somebody here can enlighten us.

facebook is not blocked

Facebook is not blocked at the moment, nor has it been for the past 24 hours.

There are several people consistently commenting on here claiming it is blocked; do you see a block screen? No. Therefore it isn't blocked (this isn't skype we're talking about).

It has been working perfectly fine on my setup and all I can do is suggest you check your settings...

If in Internet Explorer click Tools>internet options and then click the 'connections' tab, and the click the 'lan settings' button.

If "use a proxy server" is enabled, ensure it is proxy1.emirates.net.ae with the port being 8080; if it already is enabled and correctly entered, try disabling the proxy (though some sites may not work properly with it enabled or disabled, etisalat sucks)

Facebook, oh Facebook

Well well, facebook was working fine yesterday morning, but when I tried again at 5:00pm, connections to facebook were timing out.

At first I thought facebook's servers were down. But it was working fine in other parts of the world, and I could view http://static.facebook.com (but not login from there).

Does this mean it is blocked ? This is not the first time a site would be without the standard 'Site Is blocked' message. If you remember, skype.com used to be blocked like this a few years ago.

On the other hand, it could also mean that facebook's servers that serve the middle east are down - but that is unlikely ...

A little bird I know tells me an anti-islamic group on facebook has caused the offence - but this is strictly a _rumor_

I look forward to more news about this... Hopefully, Etisalat and the TRA will shed more light on this ...

EDIT: It's up ! It's up ! It's up now ....
EDIT: It's down ! Its down ! Its down again ... but at least we know it can't have been blocked.