28 December, 2007

Interesting stuff on Dubai

Internet Middle East Forum/News site Bitter Lemons has just published three articles in a special about Dubai. Links below (although separate article links may not work!)


The Dubai phenomenon
Talent, critical mass drive Dubai forward Afshin Molavi
Talk of a Dubai "model" enters shaky ground. Saudi Arabia cannot import thousands of bankers when so many Saudis need jobs.

Model unmatched in a volatile region Riad Kahwaji
It would be logical to assume that harming Dubai would not be in anybody's interest, including the bad guys.

The hidden costs of Dubai's post-oil diversification strategies Christopher Davidson
Dubai's recent reforms upset the cultural and religious resources of the "ruling bargain".

Benazir Bhutto 1953 - 2007

Benazir Bhutto was murdered today. Whether you liked her or hated her I wanted to publish a few words to remember her and to detest the cowardly act of murder.

No human has the right to decide when another human is to die.

May she be remembered for her good deeds.

Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji3oon

27 December, 2007

Are you 'Superior'?

As you may or may not know, Etisalat has come out with a 4mbps internet package. It is priced at the non-bargain price of 449 AED / month and is titled as the 'Superior User' package.

All previous packages are still priced the same.

(I read about it first on tbreak.com but their site is down so no link)

23 December, 2007

Extreme Inspiration - Adrian Hayes

I think a lot of you guys will be aware of this, however I really wanted to bring it to the fore again.

Right now, today, there is a team of people walking / skiing unaided to the South Pole. That's a huge task - less than 100 people have done this ever. One of the members of the team is Adrian Hayes. He's also walked to the North Pole and climbed Everest.

If they make it to the South Pole, sometime in the next 7 to 8 days (we hope) - he will be one of only 15 people ever to have managed to do the 3 (North, South and Everest) Poles.

Adrian lives in Dubai.

They are going through a tough time out there - you can send messages of support through their website.

I don't know Adrian, HalfManHalfBeer mentioned him at some point, but I've become obsessed with hoping they make it to the Pole. As he's a Dubai resident - hopefuly this community can help cheer them on....

Adrian Hayes

22 December, 2007

Some pics

Thought of adding some of my photography to this blog. I haven't put an update in a long day.
Eid Mubarak to every1, and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Burj Dubai District, Dubai

Koh Samui, Thailand.

Comments always appreciated...

21 December, 2007

50 Cent, Watch Yourself at the Airport

This post might come off as prejudicial, but I'm just hoping we don't have to read about another Western celebrity of dubious repute being accosted at the Dubai airport. I don't have a bleeding heart for these brat celebrities, but these zero tolerance drug policies are just way off the mark. There are much more serious things which really impact the lives of innocent people here, that ought to be prosecuted much more seriously than they are--like labor abuse issues, sex abuse crimes, road rage, etc. It's just plain stupid that they round up people at the airport for having microscopic traces of chemical substances either on or in their person. Those who promote such arrests may think they are upholding the highest standards of decency but they are just being hypocrites and going after easy targets. What about tackling the real crime and issues that take place on the home turf?

So, please be careful 50 Cent!

20 December, 2007

Eid Greetings to UAE Community

Eid greetings, prayers and best wishes to all UAE bloggers, readers and moderators of UAE Community.

Here's looking forward to another year full of excitement and achievement for all...

(Source: Advertising Marketing and Creativity in the UAE)

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Life In The Emirates

Just cross-posting about this wonderful classic song about the UAE by The Establishment, so as many people as possible get to enjoy it. The YouTube video is a quick slideshow I created to go with it:

19 December, 2007

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak to all readers!

Here's a funny video which may be the UAE's first example of viral media (except for that video where the wafi didn't get robbed)...

17 December, 2007


...enters the American lexicon via the U.S. military.

When I hear someone in Dubai say enshallah to a request, the response often is no enshallah.

And when someone says "after tomorrow" what do they mean?

15 December, 2007

WSJ: Dubai's Debt Cloud

Friday the Wall Street Journal ran an article about market concerns over the level of sovereign in Dubai. An ungated copy of the article is here. Among other things the article points out that big investors want more transparency such as access to Dubai government's books.

The UAE student blog Broadcasters of Tomorrow astutely observes: "In the end, if Dubai gets into financial trouble it would take its neighbours with it. Or perhaps they're counting on a regional bailout."

Similarly, for the Emirates Economist (shameless plug) the money quote from the WSJ article is this one: "The assumption is that Sheikh Mohammed or his government will come to the rescue in a pinch. And if Dubai gets overextended, analysts expect the emirate's much-richer cousins in Abu Dhabi will lend a hand."

With that attitude you've got the same element that fueled the savings and loan real estate scandals in the US in the 1980s - removal of downside risk.

So what do you think? Would Abu Dhabi do a bailout? Are Dubai's investors counting on it? And if so, what can Abu Dhabi do about it now?

UPDATE - Marginal Revolution links here and writes "sell short."

Farrukh Ahmed's Blog

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13 December, 2007

D1 flood

"The construction site of Dubai’s luxury residential tower D1 flooded this week after a sea wall collapsed.

The construction is located in Dubai’s Creek cultural and artistic district, built directly at the waterfront.

An eyewitness said: “Looking at the crane it seems as though the site is about 30 feet under water”.

It is believed that nobody was hurt.

A similar incident took place in February this year when the site of the Infinity Tower in Dubai’s Marina was inundated. A burst wall was also cause of the incident then. Consequently, the project had to be put on hold.

The D1 Tower, designed by Holford & Associates, is a twin tower to the world’s tallest residential tower, Q1, in Australia."


12 December, 2007

Environmental issues

I had the most interesting call the other day at work.
I am calling from XXX (can't even remember the name) magazine and we are publishing a special publication on environmental issues and were wondering whether you would be interested in receiving this publication?
Are there any Brits in your organisation?
Any Australians, South Africans?
Nope - its a small organisation. Just me and a minion.
Would you like to receive the publication?
Of course.
Really? (he sounded so surprised - that I almost laughed out loud and felt the need to explain myself - don't know why)

What did he think- only Brits, Ozzies and South Africans understand environmental issues? Sounds like he had a very sheltered upbringing or was badly informed or... I dare not even speculate.

In his defense, once I had explained my association with environmental issues especially on a personal level, he was a bit embarrassed. But I bet I don't get that copy of the new publication. My name is wrong and so is my nationality, apparently!

Two men jailed for kidnap and rape of 15-year-old French boy

"Dubai: Two Emiratis were on Wednesday sentenced to 15 years in jail for kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old French boy.

The Dubai Court of First Instance handed down the verdict and referred the victim’s compensation claim of Dh15 million to a civil court.

The Public Prosecution had charged three UAE Nationals ­- a 35-year-old Aids patient, his 18-year-old unemployed compatriot and a 17-year-old teenager (prosecuted at Juvenile Court) - with deceiving and kidnapping the 15-year-old boy and his 16-year-old compatriot, who was kept inside the car.

The three were charged with forcefully undressing the 15-year-old boy, threatening him with a knife, before raping him.

More on Gulf News

RAF trio try to climb into Sheik's stretch after Justin concert

The Sun
The RAF Tornado crew went on a bender before attending a Justin Timberlake concert on a break from war game exercises.

But as they left the gig they “mistakenly” tried to get into a stretch limo belonging to the brother of the United Arab Emirates President, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Cops in the capital Abu Dhabi accused them of car theft and drink-driving and banged them up in jail for three days. They were released on Sunday.

Furious colleagues, who live in tents in Afghanistan and Iraq rather than staying in five-star hotels, said last night the trio should be left to “fester in jail”.

One pilot said: “Nice to know they have got the time to waste p***ing it up the wall whilst the rest of us are living in the desert.”

The trio have been ordered to remain in Abu Dhabi until facing trial next week.

The scandal has caused a diplomatic incident between Britain and the UAE.

Tollgates & traffic

As reported in the press, Salik revenues are estimated at Dhs. 600 mil p.a., meaning that the 2 existing Dubai tollgates are passed through at least ca. 411,000 times daily in total.

So many cars using Salik, and my guess is at least 1/4 of the above amount are "Salik-dodgers" - what other explanation is there for the excessive jams at the free exits at peak times?

I wonder what toll charges will be implemented at the 8 additional gates planned for 2010; how effective the Metro will be, and if traffic will indeed be "clearer" in due course.

I still cannot understand why there is a bottleneck at peaktimes at the tollgates despite the introduction of Salik, and why traffic is chocka-block from 5-6.30pm on Shaikh Zayed Road heading towards Dubai.

It's really not too late to implement other "solutions" while the city is still relatively "young". All in all, I believe things will work out for the better.

11 December, 2007

Honesty Isn't the Best Policy

According to WAM...

"WAM WAM Dubai, Dec. 11th, 2007 (WAM) - Minister of Social Affairs Maryam Al Roumi has constituted a committee assigned with investigating local media reports claiming that a member of UAE Human Rights Association (HRA) wrote negative reports about the country and disseminated them to foreign organisation. The Committee is headed by the Ministry's Under Secretary Abdullah Rashid Al Suweidi.

The Minister asked the Committee to submit a detailed report of its findings no later than December 16th.

"The Social Affairs Ministry is keen on helping Non-Government Organisations in achieving their objectives of serving the community. At the same time, it is keen on preserving the social security enjoyed in the UAE, thanks to our wise leadership which seeks to provide justice to citizens and residents alike," Al Roumi said.


She added that the UAE leadership would not hesitate to take stringent measures against anyone attempting to tarnish the country's image.

"The law forbids NGOs from carrying out any activities other than those defined in their by-laws," said Al Roumi.

The Ministry summoned HRA Chairman Abdul Ghafar Hussein for discussion. His answers will be investigated by the committee.

Earlier, the Ministry informed the HRA Chairman that the Association's General Assembly was the only authority to decide on the resignation of its board members. It asked the board to call for an extraordinary meeting of the general assembly to decide on the resignation and to elect a new board within one month from the date of notification."


10 December, 2007

Commuting Issues

With the escalation of traffic at this time of the year, I am wondering what a properly conducted survey about average commuting time for Dubai residents would reveal.

Here's a survey I've found online for commuting times in the US (job category/minutes):
An article from a different resource reveals:
Marylanders spent an average 30.8 minutes getting to work, the survey found.
Only New Yorkers took more time in 2005, with a mean commute of 31.2 minutes.

If a survey based on job category is ever conducted in Dubai, it'd show a horrendous disparity. The poor construction laborer spends hours everyday traveling from his camp in Muhaisna to a construction site in the Marina (for instance). While a general manager may only need 10 minutes to get to his workplace.
My own commuting time hovers around 35 mintues. That is 25-30 minutes in the morning, and 40-45 minutes in the way back.
What about you guys?

09 December, 2007

...so you wanna meet Gloria Estefan?

If you would like to meet Gloria Estefan and her famous husband Emilio Estefan, come down to the Virgin Megastore at the Mall of the Emirates on December 12th at 5.30 pm.
We have organized an instore appearance of the two stars which is followed by an autograph session.

During the event you will also be able to obtain an exclusive release of her latest album "90 millas" (90 miles) which includes a DVD with excerpts of the documentary which is premiered at the Dubai Film Festival on December 13th.

Our company has organized the first ever visit of the Queen of Latin Pop to Dubai.

08 December, 2007

Protection against those rear bumper goons on the 311?

investorspot reports:
Toyota, no innovation wallflower, has come up with a safety feature that's sure to reduce whiplash injuries and maybe even save a few lives. It's called the Rear Pre-Crash Safety System. A radar system, installed in the rear bumper, comes into play within a millimeter of the car behind when it's within two seconds of rear-ending you. It sets off your warning lights, tightens your seatbelts, and activates the pictured headrest, moving it forward to prevent your head from snapping back after collision. Toyota received an R&D safety award for this device, which is installed in the 2008 Lexus LS. Let's spread the wealth of safety.
Man, I'm not sure I want this technology in my car. It would be engaging all the time. And, yes, I do go at least 120 KPH on the 311.

Weakened Dollar Slows Dubai Tower's Race to the Skies

The Washington Post
U.S. policymakers and consumers have committed one of the few unforgivable sins in this desert boom town: They've slowed the building down.

"We don't want the United States to fail, but we don't want to go under with them," said Yasar Narrar, a strategy adviser to the executive office of the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktum. Dubai is one of seven states in the United Arab Emirates.

Last month, the Emirates became one of the first Arab countries in the Persian Gulf to declare the dollar's fall a crisis. Local currencies' peg to the dollar was hindering growth and squandering the opportunities presented by $99-a-barrel oil, said Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi, the governor of the Emirates' central bank.
As recently as last month, some construction workers on the Burj Dubai and other projects made the equivalent of as little as $109 a month. Back home in India, where the dollar has fallen 14 percent against the rupee in the past 18 months, remittances that workers here sent to their families steadily lost value.

"I work here, and I can't save anything. I'll ruin my family," said Ram Chandra, 33, a mason from the north Indian state of Rajasthan.
"Every time I telephone my family, they say, 'Cancel your visa and come home,' " Chandra said. All the workers in the room said they planned to do so.
"It's far more attractive for them . . . to be living in their home country and making the same wages and living far more cheaply," said Tom Barry, general manager for Arabtec, one of the lead construction contractors for the Burj Dubai.
Emphasis added. Hmmm. Is the pressure for revaluation that the Central Bank is feeling political pressure from Dubai?

The article doesn't mention that Dubai Inc. holds large dollar-denominated investments in the US.

05 December, 2007

Polo tournament - Ghantoot

Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club will kick off its polo season with the‘’Emirates Open Polo Championship. ". 6 polo professionals from Argentina will compete. The matches will start at 4:00 p.m on 6th, 8th and 10th of December except the final match will start at 6:00 p.m. on 12th December 2007. General Public is welcome to come and watch the polo matches as there are no charges! For anyone who doesn't know Ghantoot, it's a private property by Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and located on Shk Zayed Road approx. 15 mins drive after Jebel Ali Freezone.
Enjoy it!

Moreon Grooverider

The Times of London picks up the story
Although Grooverider is known primarily as a DJ and presenter, he is also a recording artist under his artist name and the “Codename John” moniker. He also runs one of the most prestigious drum-and-bass imprints: Prototype Recordings. Local legal experts said that the high profile of Grooverider made the issue an important test case for local authorities.

Ram Nath, the music promoter who organised the show, said that he warned Mr Bingham of the strict laws of the country before his departure from London. “I sent a fax to him explaining all of our laws, including what he could and could not bring into the country. Unfortunately, he was booked by police before he got out of the airport,” Mr Nath said.

More than a thousand fans were left disappointed after paying £25 for a ticket to the show, according to Mr Nath. He plans to sue Mr Bingham’s London management company for losses. The BBC has declined to comment on the case.

04 December, 2007

Accident -Qusais just 10 min ago

I hope the person survived. The police were quick to come and assist.

Why are there so many trucks on the road?

A 42% price differential for diesel could be one explanation.
"The price difference is so big that it is cheaper for us to send our vehicles to Abu Dhabi for diesel," said a manager of a Dubai transport company. Diesel prices have been going up in Dubai for several months.
Please. It's time to rationalize policy by eliminating the artificial differential. Otherwise already congested roads are made worse.

The Adnoc stations in Dubai and Sharjah also continue to have long queues because Adnoc's price is lower. Those queues spill out onto the street adding to congestion.

Quiz Time

I'm thinking of running a competition; how long will DJ Grooverider spend in jail?

Will he do a 'Dallas Austin' and be out within hours or will they throw the book at him?

Answers on a postcard please.

03 December, 2007

Is it 60, 80 or 100?

Haven't been on SZR for a while but on the way back from Grand Hyatt - just as you come out of the tunnel, I saw a speed limit sign for 60. 20 meters (maybe slightly more), another sign said 80 and a little further down the road was one of these new-fangled signs with 100 and 60 in blue. I hasten to add that both the 60 and 80 limit signs were both the temporary yellow signs.

If anyone can mind read the RTA, please let me know what this means?

Gulfnews: Shaikh Mohammad and Princess Haya blessed with a baby girl

According to Gulf News...

"Dubai: Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and his wife Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain have been blessed with a baby girl.

The new baby was born on Sunday morning.

Her birth coincides with the auspicious National Day anniversary."

02 December, 2007

Disrespecting the National Flag

Did anyone notice the torn/shredded version of the UAE National Flag stuck to the trees all over Dubai(not sure if its in the other emirates or not) in celebration for the National Day. I wasn't able to click a picture but might do so today. Isn't it disrespectful to do that to the Flag and a violation. Correct me if I'm wrong......