30 November, 2007

First UAE Made Car Starts From (Dhs 36,000)

A 150-horsepower, double cabin pick-up, produced in the UAE, has been introduced in the market by Gulf Automobile Industry Corp priced between Dh36,000 and Dh60,000, its chairman said on Wednesday.

"We have sourced the parts from Japan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, South Africa, China and Thailand. The 2,400cc engine of the pick-up is from Mitsubishi," Engineer Nasser Hamad Al Hajeri told Gulf News in an interview.

"The vehicle is made to international standards and meets all the specifications of GCC countries."

Al Hajeri said the vehicle has about 40 per cent local component, sourced from GCC and Arab countries and is being manufactured in a factory in Abu Dhabi.

Fun way to end world hunger

I was sent this link and think it is a clever, but addictive, way to end world hunger

End world hunger

If you are a word and game addict, do not log on, you may never get off!

29 November, 2007

Why only 40 lashes!

I probably shouldn't bring this up, but I'll try to be non-inflammatory. By this I mean the Sudan trial of a British teacher accused of allowing a Teddy-bear to be named Mohammed. The fact that any follower of Islam would dare to make a case out of something like this just adds one more big black mark on this religion. I think it unconscionable that anyone would defend the action of those who have brought such a matter to court.

More air-conditioned bus stops, new luxury bus terminals

Commenters in recent posts noted some of the problems with road tolls and with a rail system. Both require an entensive bus system to provide alternatives to the automobile in the case of tolls, and, in the case of rail, to get you to and from home/work and the rail station.

Today's Gulf News happens to hit on this theme as well:
The ambitious air-conditioned bus shelter project has started taking shape in Dubai, but commuters say they are too small to accommodate the increasing numbers of commuters.

Each bus station is 2.5 metres wide and six metres long and has a capacity for 14 people. Eight people can sit while six can stand inside the shelter.
Dubai is the first city in the world to offer the luxury of air-conditioned bus shelters for passengers. The aim is to lure people into using public transport, and ease the pressure on its crowded roads.

There's more:
A total of 971 air-conditioned bus shelters will be built in the city. The new bus shelters will have an array of amenities for commuters.
The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) plans to have nine air-conditioned luxury bus terminals to replace the existing bus stations in Dubai, Gulf News has learnt.

The multi-storey terminals will have comfortable seating, restaurants, cafeterias and shopping areas. A parking area will also be provided. The new terminals will cater to the increasing demand for bus services.

28 November, 2007

Long lines at Adnoc stations

Has anyone else noticed lines at Adnoc that stretch into the street while the competitor just down the road doesn't have a queue? I've noticed it several times lately. My conjecture is that it's because Adnoc still accepts credit cards.

Whatever the reason, it's adding to traffic congestion.

It's not wise to keep savings in US Dollars right now

"A senior official at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), said that the UAE dirham is undervalued. Nazim Fawaz Al Qudsi, Head of the NBAD's Investment Section, predicted in an interview with the Emirates News Agency that the UAE Central Bank will announce revaluation of the UAE dirham against the US dollar, to which it is pegged......."

Speculation over huge Salik expansion

A UAE Arabic newspaper reported earlier this week that the RTA is "conducting a study to put toll gates on other new roads in Dubai".

The article also states that toll gates could be placed on Maktoum Bridge, Shindagha Tunnel, Business Bay Bridge and the Floating Bridge.

It is not the first time reports of an expansion of the Salik scheme have surfaced.

In August Saudi daily Arab News reported that the RTA had started work on new toll gates at eight locations in Dubai, including Shindagha Tunnel, Maktoum Bridge, Floating Bridge, Emirates Road, Al-Khail Road, Nad Al-Hamar Road and Business Bay Bridge.

Related, I've heard that Sheik Mo took a look the blueprints for rail system stations, and rejected them. He wants them to be 5 star stations. Perhaps he's serious about the rail system being attractive to all walks of life. That might be what it takes to make it a success. Another example of thinking big being thinking right?

New Dubai Documentary

A new Dubai Documentary has just aired in the US; "Dubai: Miracle or mirage" is produced by CBC and is available on a few p2p networks

KT headlines

Does anyone know of any other newspapers that abbreviate "psychological assessment" to "psycho test"?

"Court permits psycho test of rape accused
By a staff reporter

28 November 2007

DUBAI — A juvenile court in Dubai yesterday permitted an Emirati minor accused, along with two other nationals of raping a 15-year-old French boy, to take a psychological test."

Read more here

26 November, 2007

DIFC third anniversary celebration with Il Divo

I've made a short video with my mobile from last Friday's party at DIFC featuring "Il Divo". You can see it on my blog.

23 November, 2007

Comment Spam

Is anyone else having a problem with spam comments from Property in Dubai? Maybe it's just me, but I think it is incredibly rude of them to add comments that always include a link to their website. If they want prominent links that will enhance their search engine rankings, the least they can do is pay for them!

Pay Hike

"All federal government employees, including civilians and security personnel of the interior ministry, will get 70 percent salary hike with effect from January 2008 salary. The salary increase was ordered today by the vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in line with the directives of President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan......"

"UAE's private sector has the ability to cope with the trend-setting 70 per cent salary hike declared by the Federal Government for its 60,000 employees, according to Dr Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash, Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs............."

"Contractors in Dubai have raised wages of labourers by up to 20% following strikes this month over salaries inked to the declining dollar, the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) reported on Friday...."

UAE COMMUNITY BLOG "Jumps the Shark"

Click on the picture to discover how it all went down.

22 November, 2007

DP World raises $4.96 Billion in IPO, 15x oversubscribed

Read the full story here.
Dubai Financial Market saw 30% growth in the last one year, and ADSM 41%.
With the stock markets across the world on the decline, how regulated and controlled are the UAE markets?
Are these growth rates sustainable or we headed towards a black day in UAE, similar to that of Saudi in February last year (2006), when the index went up to 19,000 points, only to wipe out SR 80 Billion?
Petrodollars, excessive liquidity in the market & not enough investment opportunities make for unrealistic growth figures, along with over-valuation of businesses. Or maybe i'm missing something here?!

21 November, 2007

Time Out Dubai

Hey everybody:

There is a really funny story in today's Time Out Dubai, check it out and see the underbelly of life in there here parts. The title is Flying Rickshaw. p.84

Fog glorious fog

So did anyone else enjoy navigating through the fog today at 5:30am? Honestly it was like driving through a cloud on most of SZR.

What I love the most about Dubai is the truly fascinating weather we have here. A year in Dubai is basically broken down into 338 days of sunshine, 10 days of cloudy/overcast skies, 5 days of rain, and 12 days of fog. So naturally today had to be a fog day...

Read complete post here.

19 November, 2007

Back to blogging and other stuff

It has been a long time since I have posted anything here, in fact, it has been a long time since I've blogged on my own site. For the longest time I really had nothing interesting to say, all I wanted to do is read, read and then read some more.

But after this hiatus, I'm glad to say that amiri.info is back online with hopefully a better structure and much better content. So who ever is handling the blogroll on the side of this page, please let me back in.

For those of you that are super-geeks, and I think I have said this here before, check out RubyOnRails. If there is anything that is going to revolutionize web development then it is frameworks like RoR; it is simply amazing.

I know that our overlords on this blog don't view shameless plugs favorably, but I wanted to share with you my little experiment in social networking, hub.ae. Give it a try and upload photos, videos and start some groups and let me know how it handles the pressure.

BTW, where did everyone go? I see some familiar names on the posts but where did the original members go?

18 November, 2007

United Arab Emirates Music

Anyone out there interested in UAE singers?

Nahian Al Katheeri (above) is the latest UAE singer to release an album, entitled "Nahian...2007"

My other favourite UAE singers are Aitha El Menhaly (below)

...Harbee Al Amry, Hamed Al Amry, Hussain Al Jasmi, Meehad Hamad, and the list goes on...

Personally, I cannot decide on a favourite: UAE Musicians strike such a special chord that differentiating becomes a challenge.

Most current local music is available at Virgin Music stores across the UAE.

17 November, 2007

Abu Apple Dubai?

Thanks to Maytha over at KABOBFest for alerting me to this gem.

Fox Business News' Apple-AMD flub

Click on the above link to listen and weep, people - for ignorance has a long way to go before it's wiped out.

Of course, someone had to use the old "petrodollar" quip as they dug a deeper hole in which to bury themselves!

Here's the Press Release from AMD.

The company investing into AMD, to a tune of US$622 million, is Mubadala Development from Abu Dhabi who list the Ferrari F1 team and Lockheed Martin among other interests.

UAE shuts down Pakistan's most popular TV channels

Pakistan’s premier Urdu news channels were shut down at 1 a.m. Pakistan time (12 midnight Dubai time) after Pakistani miltary dictator Pervez Musharraf put tremendous pressure on UAE to silence media outlets which had refused to bow down..!

Both GEO TV and ARY TV were stationed in Dubai Media City...

There is a big question mark on DMC's creditability!

16 November, 2007


I've noticed that there's been a lot of debate and hatred recently between the members here on the UAE community blog. As localexpat mentioned; there has been a lot of friction between (mainly, in my point of view) expats and locals.

I think a huge problem that characterizes the UAE is the fact that there is so little dialog between locals and non-locals who live in the Emirates. There is so much misunderstanding, hatred and racism. From what I've seen here, many people don't understand the other person's point of view.

Freedom of speech and expression caused a massive debate on the blog as you can from this post. I for one (although I'm a minority among my own people) believe that freedom of speech and even democracy are essential and important institutions for any country. It is a basic human right to be able to say, think and believe in what you want. However, these ideas are going to take a long time to be implemented in the UAE or even any country in the region.

Because of recent events such as the war in Iraq, many Arabs have a negative view of things like democracy. These ideas are tied to 'evil' America. So, whenever anyone speaks of it, it is met with hostility, anger and perhaps fear. The problem is, freedom of speech is not dangerous. Things are well and fine as they are, but what if a ruler at some point in time starts abusing his power? Yes, Bush was elected through democratic means (if that's what you believe). But he isn't going to be in power any longer. Democracy allows for this. Americans can voice their choice of who is to rule by voting and protesting. There is a problem where enough people aren't voting, but apart from that the system is there. There exists a way to escape. How effective it is is debatable, but my point is that there is a way. That's a problem with autocratic or non-democratic rule, you have no say. You have to accept whatever the one in charge says.

When people are happy and content, they do not see a need for change. My family live comfortably and many people in the UAE do, so not many people see a need for political change. Once you feel how little rights you have, that's when you're going to cry for change.

Many people just don't understand the importance of having a voice. I spoke to Sharla Musabih and interviewed her for an essay and I learned about so much that happens behind closed doors that I would have never imagined to happen in my own country. There is a major problem of domestic abuse that gets almost no coverage. Until I met a few women from the shelter and spoke to Sharla, I had no idea what was going on. To make a long story short, it turns out to be a lot. This problem could actively be fought and put under control if the press was free and could discuss these serious issues. By talking about it in the news and press and approaching the authorities, the government will be pressured to issue new legislation and protect women and others from abuse. It is difficult at the moment for a woman to get help when she has been abused by a husband. According to the US State Department Report on the UAE, "male guardians within the family have a positive legal right, in the Penal Code, to discipline women and children family members at their discretion, including use of physical violence."

Don't you think that needs to change?

What I'm trying to say is that freedom of speech is not a bad thing at all, but a very important right that every person should have.

But another major issue is that many expats don't understand the mentality of people in the country. We (that is Gulf Arabs, Middle Easterners, most people of the region) are used to despotism and monarchy. We don't know what it is to have a choice of government. The whole region, I argue, is still not ready for democracy. If Pakistan were to have completely free elections now, echoing the sentiments of a Democratic presidential candidate and a close Pakistani friend of mine; the radical Islamist party would probably get 85% of the votes. Iraq and many other countries are not prepared to follow this system. The population has to be educated first so that the application of the system can be effective.

Apparently elections went on in Oman and very few people even blogged about it. Much less voted. Free elections, freedom of speech, etc don't mean much to many people in the region. This is a major point that many many people (Americans to say the least) do not understand.

Also, there has been so much harsh criticism of the UAE. People going so far as to accuse others of being 'Jihadist' or the country being totalitarian. Seriously, there are places that are so much worse. The UAE is very young and has to go through many changes before it reaches an ideal state. America, the ideal democratic naion, suffered McCarthyism and the Red Scare in the '40s and '50s which led to many innocent people accused of being Communist and thrown into jail. Minorities such as African Americans and women only got their rights recently although the country was established for a good few centuries.

Whatever time, whatever place.. change is gradual. The UAE we live in now is definitely not the UAE we lived in 10 years ago. Although quieter and more peaceful in those days, there are so many more opportunities now. The UAE has really stepped up and stands out among the whole region. Just give it some time. Things are not going to keep going the way are at the moment.

What I really hope is that this gap that exists between locals and expats will be bridged. There is too big a divide at the moment, and both sides need to understand more about each other. We are after all, living in the same country! It's great that we can have debates like this on the blog and I hope it continues and improves.

(Sorry for the long post though..)

15 November, 2007

Idiotic behaviour!

It seems that every time someone writes about a topic that is even remotely related to the UAE's ethnicity, culture and politics it has to end up in a bickering tit-for-tat war between the :-

"Western infidels" VS "Islamic jihadis"
Local VS expatriates
Arabs VS Europeans
The 'morals' of the East VS the 'decadence' of the West
Bigotry VS idiocy


Have a look the comments in my previous post below and you will see what I mean. We seem to have lost the ability to debate and instead we resort to arguing and bitch fighting.

13 November, 2007

Bloggers take note!

I think the experience of our fellow blogger bklyn_in_dubai is something we all have to be wary of:-

"Syed Ali was in Dubai interviewing expatriate workers for a book. The day before he was due to leave, six strangers arrived at his flat and took him to the police compound. A 13-hour interrogation lay ahead "

Its not that every blogger is likely to be interrogated and deported by the authorities. Just that the safety shield of anonymity that the internet provides you might not necessarily be as bulletproof you thought it might be.

11 November, 2007

Anonymous commenting disabled

As of yesterday I have deactivated anonymous commenting; I realise many people using the anonymous feature leave valid contributions and I am sorry to have disabled it, but recently there have been far too many people leaving comments under 100 characters which make no valid contribution and simply annoy the crap out of me (and hopefully/not everyone else here too)

I hope it is agreed that comments like these (as just a few examples) are better off being left out of discussions for a few weeks...

"& my dog's name is brenda!"
"i'm debbie menon!"

Dubai Media Blah

Ajman - Croc shock

Lighthearted report about a crocodile spotted in Ajman


Seven die as partially completed bridge collapses

Report on the death of 6 workman in Dubai Marina

As Editor, what story would you put on your front page?

7 Days plumped for the croc.

Enough said.

Underground Dubai

10 November, 2007

Christianity in the Gulf

The UAE has recently exchanged ambassadors with Vatican City.

An estimated 35% of the population of the UAE is Christian.

Read it here.

09 November, 2007

Happy Diwali

Wishing all bloggers of the UAE community a Happy Diwali.

A note below for all those not familiar with what Diwali is:

Diwali is a major Indian and Nepalese festive holiday. Today it is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs across the globe as the "Festival of Light," where the lights or lamps signify victory of good over the evil within every human being.

The aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.

To read more: Diwali (wikipedia.org)

UAE Compensation Trends 2007

The UAE saw a slight rise in its annual rate of salary increase to 10.7%, up from 10.3% last year, reflecting continued and in some cases increasing staff shortages.

Full Article includes:

  • Inflation
  • NOC Requirements
  • Public Sector Pay Rise
  • Labour Law
  • Amnesty

For additional information on all the GCC countries Gulf Compensation Trends by GulfTalent.com.

dubai rape case

CNN has a front page link to a video report on the rape case of a 15 year-old French boy; it includes an interview with the mother.

Seven people killed in construction accident at Dubai Marina

News courtesy of Gulf News

"Dubai: Seven people have been killed in a construction accident in Dubai Marina.

20 people have been injured in the accident, which happened at 6.20pm on Thursday evening.

It is believed the accident happened when scaffolding on a bridge under construction on the Al Suffouh Road collapsed.

Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of the board of the Roads and Transport Authority told Dubai TV the accident was caused by human error when steel rods were wrongly loaded.

Jamal Al Merri, deputy commandant of Dubai Police told Gulf News: "The accident happened at 6.20pm. The pillar collapsed killing seven people instantly and injuring 24, according to preliminary information.

"There are no workers under the rubble. All other workers have been accounted for."

08 November, 2007

Time for War?

I dedicate this poem to the honourable democratic leadership of United States of America who are planning yet another war in the Middle East.

The leaders are hated,
Aloof and remote:
Time for a vote?
Time for a war!

The people are hungry
Begging for bread,
Feed them? Instead
Give them a war!

The markets are failing,
Enraging the mob.
Give them a job,
Send them to war!

The sick wait untended
Like never before.
Hire more doctors? No,
Go off to war!

The bogeyman’s waiting,
Coming for you!
You have to start hating,
Go and make war!

War has now started:
Thousands are dying:
The leaders keep lying.
This war is you!

The bombs have stopped falling,
The shelling has ceased.
A treaty is called,
Time now for peace!

Rumours are flying,
Men keep on dying:
The leaders are crying,
Let’s start a war!

A Poem by Rose Moss

07 November, 2007

Dubai Metro faces delays

Found in last week's Middle East Economic Digest, dated 19-25 October 2007. The on-line version is available on a subscription-only basis, so I've typed it in here as an article of general interest.

Contractors ask for more time to complete urban rail network

The $4,600 million project to build the red and green lines on the Dubai Metro scheme could be facing delays of up to one year after contractors on the scheme indicated to the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) that they need more time to complete work on the project.

According to several senior sources on the scheme, the JT Metro joint venture executing the civil engineering and construction works is seeking an extension to complete the project. “The amount of time being discussed is changing, but it is several hundred days,” says a consultant working on the project.

Significant changes in the design of the system are understood to be the reason for discussion. The client, the RTA, has revised the design of the project since the contract was awarded to the Dubai Urban Rail Link (Durl) consortium in 2005, and the contractors are now seeking more time to accommodate these changes.

“Almost everything has changed except the tunnel diameters and the viaducts,” says a source on the project. “It is very different to the specifications provided in the tender documents.”

However, it is unclear whether an extension will be granted by the RTA. The project is one of the most critical in Dubai as it is required to alleviate the chronic congestion currently experienced on the emirate’s roads.

“The RTA is adamant that the red line will open on 9 September 2009,” says the source. “So the consortium may be compensated to get it finished on time.”

The RTA denies that there has been a request for more time to complete the project. “The RTA is not aware of any such request,” says a spokeswoman.

02 November, 2007

3rd Death Anniversary - Shaikh Zayed in our hearts

Millions of eyes cried
When on this day you went away

Your legend will last for eternity
O, Father of the UAE

Shaikh Zayed in our hearts
Forever and always

May your soul rest in heavenly peace.

Special coverage: Zayed Remembered (Gulf News)
Shaikh Zayed: A special tribute (uaeinteract.com)

Prince of sadism

Is there any truth to this news article? Does anyone know about this?

A quarter-hour later, Orsi alleged, the man suddenly came up behind him, jostled his glasses, sat in his lap and tried to kiss and fondle him. When Orsi protested, he maintained the man became violently angry, threw him to the floor, punched and stomped him, smashed his glasses underfoot, then removed his belt and whipped him with the metal buckle.


Apparently the fellow who assaulted "Orsi" is Sheikh Khalifa's brother. I didn't even know about this 'til an American friend of mine sent me the link. Secret Dubai.. did YOU know about this? I'm curious.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

01 November, 2007

note to self # 2

Sorry people, this was not meant to be blogged here. My sincere apologies.

What can you say?

An unsettling story from the front page of today's NEW YORK TIMES:
"Just after sunset, Alex says he was rushing to meet his father for dinner when he bumped into an acquaintance, a 17-year-old native-born student at the American school, who said he and his cousin could drop Alex off at home.

There were, in fact, three Emirati men in the car, including a pair of former convicts aged 35 and 18, according to Alex. He says they drove him past his house and into a dark patch of desert, between a row of new villas and a power plant, took away his cell phone, threatened him with a knife and a club, and told him they would kill his family if he ever reported them."
The article goes on:
"Alex and his parents say they chose to go public with his case in the hope that it would pressure the authorities to prosecute the men.

United Arab Emirates law does not recognize rape of males, only a crime called “forced homosexuality.” The two adult men charged with sexually assaulting Alex have pleaded not guilty although sperm from all three were found in Alex. The two adults appeared in court on Wednesday and were appointed a lawyer. They face trial before a three-judge panel on Nov. 7. The third, a minor, will be tried in juvenile court. Legal experts here say that men convicted of sexually assaulting other men usually serve sentences ranging from a few months to two years.

Dubai is a bustling financial and tourist center, one of seven statelets that form the United Arab Emirates. At least 90 percent of the residents of Dubai are not Emirati citizens and many say that Alex’s Kafkaesque legal journey brings into sharp relief questions about unequal treatment of foreigners here that have long been quietly raised among the expatriate majority. The case is getting coverage in the local press.

It also highlights the taboos surrounding H.I.V. and homosexuality that Dubai residents say have allowed rampant harassment of gays and have encouraged the health system to treat H.I.V. virtually in secret. (Under Emirates law, foreigners with H.I.V., or those convicted of homosexual activity, are deported.)

Prosecutors here reject such accusations. “The legal and judicial system in the United Arab Emirates makes no distinction between nationals and non-nationals,” said Khalifa Rashid Bin Demas, head of the Dubai Attorney General’s technical office, in an interview. “All residents are treated equally.”

Dubai’s economic miracle — decades of double-digit growth spurred by investors, foreign companies, and workers drawn to the tax-free Emirates — depends on millions of foreigners, working jobs from construction to senior financial executives. Even many of the criminal court lawyers are foreigners.

Alex’s case has raised diplomatic tensions between the Emirates and France, which has lodged official complaints about the apparent cover-up of one assailant’s H.I.V.-status and other irregularities. The tension, along with growing publicity for the case, seem to have spurred the authorities into action."
"Although rape victims here generally keep quiet, some who have been raped in Dubai have shared testimonials in recent days on boycottdubai.com, a Web site started by Alex’s mother, Véronique Robert."