31 December, 2008

Income tax in the pipeline?

The six Gulf nations have agreed in principle to implement corporate and individual income tax by 2012 and are now discussing ways to bring the deadline closer, people close to the matter told Emirates Business yesterday.

The oil- and gas-producing countries are grappling with the prospect of a significant contraction in energy income from oil and gas exports next year and the spectre of budgetary deficits.

People close to the action at the GCC summit in Muscat, Oman, that began yesterday said, however, that individual members of the Gulf group are unlikely to impose income tax unilaterally.

"However, the prospect of drastic reductions in oil revenues and the resultant fiscal deficits has forced the six countries to examine whether implementation can be done earlier than 2012," they said.

New Years...

2008 hasn't been the best year for many and 2009 does not seem very promising either. Here's hoping all of you are able to survive these difficult times irrespective of what religion or country you belong to.....

New Year's Celebrations cancelled

This from the Gulf News (also on page 2 of today's 7 Days)http://gulfnews.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

30 December, 2008

Please share your opinion on Emiratization

Can I please ask for your participation in a survey on Emiratization, which should not take longer than 5 - 10 minutes to complete.

The purpose of this survey is to better understand employers' and managers' perceptions of Emiratization and their experience with and perception of the people at the centre of this topic - UAE nationals in the workplace.

Click here to take the English language version of the survey

Click here to take the Arabic language version of the survey

A key issue a multitude of stakeholders, academics and practitioners alike simply don’t understand at this point is why exactly Emiratization is not working to the extent it should, while at the same time everybody is an expert in Emiratization and has an opinion, a story or a ready stereotype why it doesn’t work. The truth is more likely that we don’t really know why it isn’t working, and therefore we also don’t know where to start to make it work. This is an issue we are hoping to shed light on by putting this survey in front of a larger audience.

Should you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact the authors of the survey directly, the contact details of whom you can find on the welcome page of the survey.

Thank you !

New Year's Celebrations Cancelled

Just got a link to Gulfnews:

Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has ordered the cancellation of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has ordered the cancellation of all New Year celebrations on Wednesday as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

I don't know if it really is going to happen, there are so many things going on. But give people the head's up.

More here

28 December, 2008

"Dubai residents protest against air strikes"

Dubai: More than 500 residents demonstrated at the Palestinian consulate in Dubai against Israeli air strikes in Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Gazans were killed in the air strikes. The offensive began eight days after a six-month truce between Israel and the militants expired.

In the meantime an Israeli woman describes what's happening in Gaza as 'fantastic':

"Finally, a month and a half before the elections, Israel takes some action. I definitely see this as linked, but it's OK, better late than never. What's been happening in Gaza is fantastic. I feel very bad about the man killed in [the Israeli town of] Netivot. "

Art Auction houses, your partners in crime?

I still remember the news in October 2007, when Dubai Police arrested 48 persons which were all part of a huge money laundering ring.
In about 16 months they successfully laundered 18 billion AED. Yes..billion, not million. Well, the first question really is, how can one bring such amounts of cash in the country - but that's another issue.

Now ask yourself this: if you were one of them and you had to launder just the petty cash of 2 billion AED this year - where would you start?
There are not many business sectors where you can make a purchase in CASH and no questions asked. Until a few years ago you could pay your real estate purchase in cash (yes the full amount) - but this has been stopped. How about gold and diamonds? Well, I guess you could spend a few hundred thousands but it would be hard to spend lets say 30 million in a day at the Gold Souq without anybody becoming suspicious of you. Sure, there are also other places to put dirty money. But one of the best places to put it in Dubai are the auction houses for art.

For one thing, they take CASH. You can check out the companies and find out for yourself.
It's also totally anonymous, you can place your bid even on the phone.

Did you ever ask yourself how a painting or a photo of a totally unknown person could sell for 5 Million U$ or more at an auction? What's up with their record-breaking sale prices?
Laundering through Art is also very convenient. Once you buy the piece, keep it in a safe somewhere in a bank and sell it back and forward to your "money laundering buddies". A sells to B for 5 million. Then B sells back to A for 10 million - and so on, you get the "picture". Meanwhile, the object never changes hands physically.
Art Auctions in the UAE sold items worth several hundred Million U$ this year. That is huge, considering that there was no market for such items just over 5 years ago.

Who were the buyers?
Well, I guess you can answer this question now. As you might be aware the UAE has an Anti-Money-Laundering-Committee. I'm not sure where they are, but I think they should attend some auctions in the UAE.

27 December, 2008

Happy Islamic new year....

Hope you have a wonderful year ahead of you.....

24 December, 2008

open season!

AFP did a bitter sweet feature on Lebanon and the holiday season... 

As hordes of bachelors return home to Lebanon for the holiday season, young eligible women who far outnumber their male counterparts in this tradition-bound country are angling for the perfect catch.

Estimates are that for every eligible man there are five women available in this small country of four million people. That makes for tough competition among women as they try to find Prince Charming.

'The competition among the women is not on how to outwit each other but how to find that catch, or lakta as you say in Arabic,' Khalaf said. 'And that lakta is a guy who has studied and works abroad, has a good career and is unmarried.'

How many singles will be going from the UAE (and coming back as doubles)?

21 December, 2008

Ducati Model 271 flying off the shelves

New York Times
“We have been producing that specific style, which I personally designed, for 10 years, so I couldn’t have missed it, no way,” said Ramazan Baydan, a shoemaker in Istanbul. “As a shoemaker, you understand.”

Although his assertion has been impossible to verify — cobblers from Lebanon, China and Iraq have also staked claims to what is quickly becoming some of the most famous footwear in the world — orders for Mr. Baydan’s shoes, formerly known as Ducati Model 271 and since renamed “The Bush Shoe,” have poured in from around the world.

A new run of 15,000 pairs, destined for Iraq, went into production on Thursday, he said. A British distributor has asked to become the Baydan Shoe Company’s European sales representative, with a first order of 95,000 pairs, and an American company has placed an order for 18,000 pairs.
For now, Mr. Baydan’s customers will have to take his word for it. The journalist who launched the shoes at a news conference a week ago, Muntader al-Zaidi, 29, was wrestled to the ground by guards and has not been seen in public since. Explosives tests by investigators destroyed the offending footwear.

But Mr. Baydan insists he recognizes his shoes. Given their light weight, just under 11 ounces each, and clunky design, he said he was amazed by their aerodynamics.

20 December, 2008

Return of Security Deposit Question..

Dear UAEComm Bloggers

Quick question...... we moved from Dubai to Sharjah about a month ago. Despite several promises we still haven't got our last advance rent cheque and security deposit back from the Dubai landlord. Everything was in order when we left the flat so there are no outstanding issues.

We keep being told it isn't ready and they'll call us when it is etc etc. but of course we are always the ones who call them! Anyway... my question is how long on average should this take? So how much longer before I handcuff myself to the landlord's agent's chair and refuse to leave until I get the cheque!?

Any comments about other's experiences very much appreciated. Thanks.

18 December, 2008

Dubai regulator warns "illegal" online property forums

The National:
The Real Estate Regulatory Authority says “illegal groups” are trying to “hurt the sector” by sending mass e-mails to buyers advising them to stop paying financial instalments on certain real estate projects. They are targeting buyers through online property forums in an attempt to induce distressed sales, send property prices spiralling downwards and snap up cheap homes, the authority said in a statement yesterday.

Officials refused to identify which developers had been named and did not release examples of the e-mails.

The issue is complicated, however, by the fact that there appear to be two different types of groups sending the e-mails: speculators hoping to drive down prices and consumer advocates trying to protect property buyers from investing in projects that may never be completed.

The authority said groups were spreading “false information” through the real estate community and “misinterpreting property laws”. The implications of a mass cancellation of payments to the property market could be severe, said Marwan bin Ghalita, the regulator’s chief executive, warning that anyone who does stop payments could lose their whole investment.

Speculating on the motivation behind the e-mails, Mr Ghalita, said: “They want to hurt the sector.”
My emphasis.

Shaikh Mohammad urged journalists to avoid negative reporting, pointing out that “if a journalist betrays his conscious he would be betraying his nation”.

16 December, 2008


A LUXURY hotel in Dubai is to create the first refrigerated beach so hotel guests can walk comfortably across the sand on scorching days.
The Palazzo Versace fashion house will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface.
The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.

"We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on," said Soheil Abedian, founder and president of Palazzo Versace.
"This is the kind of luxury that top people want."
Full story HERE
They've done a survey then have they, to find out what 'top people' want? For crying in a bucket, what is the UAE coming to?
I bet the skivvies that have to pick up the trash* will be applying in their droves.
*This could include the occasional WAG, wasted on all the over-priced Bacardi Breezers.

14 December, 2008

On coming full circle

In the middle of the news conference with Mr Maliki, a reporter stood up and hurled his shoes at Mr Bush, calling him "a dog" but narrowly missing the president.
"All I can report is a size 10," Mr Bush said according to the Associated Press news agency.
The shoe thrower was taken away by security guards and the news conference continued.
Correspondents called it a symbolic incident. Iraqis threw shoes and used them to beat Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad after his overthrow.

for video and full story, go here.

i wouldnt throw a shoe at Mr Bush. it would be waste of a perfectly good shoe. but it doesnt mean i cant laugh at a brilliant video and the audacity of the "reporter" (?!). his aim is commendable.
a perfect close to eight years of quality entertainment.

The life of an Emirates Air flight attendant

Wall Street Journal:
26-year-old Spaniard and Emirates airline flight attendant, reached into her pocket for a tube of bright red lipstick.

"I retouch it every 15 minutes," she said. "Otherwise, my supervisor will remind me."

The global economic slump is just now touching the glittering shores of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. But when it comes to the 10,000 flight attendants working for Emirates, the government-owned airline here, Dubai isn't cutting any corners.
The airline is a demanding employer, flight attendants say. Tough rules are enforced, including some that would be deemed discriminatory in the West, such as weight requirements and a no-pregnancy policy for unwed women.
Emirates' rules require attendants to politely accept a business card or phone number if it's proffered by a passenger. (The airline doesn't require the attendants to call or give out their own numbers, unless they want to.)
Ms. Masillamani recalled a recent party at a room in the 21st Century, on Dubai's neon-lighted main strip. Female crew members danced in bikinis while young men sprayed champagne.

At night, flight attendants flock to Zinc, a throbbing night club tucked into the ground floor of the Crowne Plaza hotel here. Male attendants, hair gelled in spikes and sporting tight-fitting designer shirts, earrings and leather necklaces, order pitchers of vodka mixes. The manager of the club estimates up to 70% of its revenue comes from Emirates' crew.

"It's so much fun, like being on a dreamy vacation. They take care of us here," said Jane Park, a 24-year-old from Korea, dressed in a tiny black dress and stiletto heels as she greeted her friends and colleagues.

There are limits. Despite its tolerant attitude toward foreigners, Dubai still harbors a conservative Muslim culture. If a single female attendant shows up pregnant, she's fired. Openly gay male attendants need not apply.
Read it all.

09 December, 2008

Rulers of the UAE, and the 7 emirates

Check it out.

From the mainsite, Rulers.org ::
This site contains lists of heads of state and heads of government (and, in certain cases, de facto leaders not occupying either of those formal positions) of all countries and territories, going back to about 1700 in most cases. Also included are the subdivisions of various countries (the links are at the bottom of the respective country entries).

08 December, 2008

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak to everyone...Hope you have a great time with your family and friends.[Note: I don't know why I'm using this picture with this post. Maybe I just like posting pictures I guess :D ]

Façade ?

Newsweek - "Dubai's glitzy façade shows some cracks." ::
The fireworks display was so enormous it could only truly be appreciated from the heavens (literally—it was visible from space). The occasion was the opening of the $1.5 billion Atlantis resort complex on an enormous artificial archipelago shaped like a palm tree. The point of the party, its promoters explained, was to show the world that Dubai is a land of fantasies come true, an over-the-top destination for good times. But among many of the guests, the mood was funereal. As the fireworks exploded, the global economy was imploding. Many of Dubai's overleveraged fortunes were crumbling, and no one was sure where to turn. The old buoys seemed to have been swept away.

"It's a tragedy in the making," said a senior executive with one of the city's biggest real-estate-development companies as he peered into his champagne. "A lot of people are going to get hurt. A lot of dreams are going to be shattered," he said, referring not only to the erstwhile rich and the speculators. Imported workers are already being exported, jobless, back to their homes. Skyscrapers are standing unfinished, baking in the sun. "Have you seen all those ships lined up on the horizon?" he said, gesturing toward the open gulf. "They're stuck out there full of steel and concrete nobody wants anymore."
Truth or fiction?

Read it all.

07 December, 2008

Dubai Rental Prices

Do you have any input/comments/real insight into the Dubai rental market at the moment?

Years ago, it was predicted there would be a form of 'bubble burst' in 2008. Today, some people call it a 'correction'. It's just difficult to believe what people are saying because either it's speculation, or tenants have 'heard something from someone else'.

"Hearing something from someone else" seems to be the norm, though. It adds to the speculative culture. Then, it could be true. Is the real market a combination of both?

RERA, upon formation, announced it would compile rental prices for specific areas around Dubai, which would, in effect, control market rates. Now, a one-bed flat in Dubai Marina is going for Dhs. 150k p.a. I called one of the better known R.E. agencies, and they verified today's trend is that once a prospective tenant views a flat and likes it, the rent is hiked.

This is a very real issue. Skilled professionals are being made redundant, and housing is hard to find. Whether a one-bed in "New Dubai" is Dhs. 100k or 150k, it's still not on par with the majority's salaries. Think about exchange rates, company allowances, and the prevalent "one cheque upfront" system. In the last week, nearly every individual I've met in a social setting has expressed they are looking for a job.

Will Dubai's rental prices be affected given the current crisis, or will the economic model sustain momentum despite the global downturn?

06 December, 2008

Rain Drops keep falling on my Head!!!

A wet winter. This is how I remember UAE from the 90's. I'm happy with this great beginning to this season, I hope it continues this way......my umbrella's have been in the closets tooo long....

05 December, 2008

Another Twitter feed!

This Twitter feed aims to tweet updates from all UAE blogs:


If you'd like to be included, just let me know. I'll add a few for starters: if yours gets added and you really object just let me know, and I'll remove it. Also bear in mind it can take a while for a new entry to get going on Twitterfeed, so if you post very soon after I add you, it might miss that first post.

The only requirement is that your blog publishes some kind of RSS feed. Often this can be enabled or disabled in your settings, so make sure it's enabled if you want your blog on it.

Basically it will tweet all new blog entries by any blog listed in it.

And as an experiment, I have put a Twitter widget in the sidebar. However I don't think it looks that great: what I think would work better would be a plainer one (no border) but I couldn't find one that seemed just right. Please do suggest alternatives.

Formula 1 Power Boat World Championship

This National Day there's so much happening , that I'm like a kid in a candy store. Tomorrow, 5th December 2.30 pm @ the Breakwater is the Formula 1 Power Boat World Championship. Abu Dhabi Round.
And for those of you who like Nancy Ajram, she will be singing and entertaining.

04 December, 2008

Dubai news Twitter feed

I have created a Twitter account that will publish Twitter searches on "Dubai" "Abu Dhabi" and "UAE". Basically what happen is if anyone anywhere mentions Dubai or the UAE in a tweet, it will be retweeted on dubaifeed.

If you want to Follow the feed, it's Twitter.com/dubaifeed

Also, if you have an interesting Twitter account yourself, feel free to mention it below. I'm publishing my blog to Twitter - #secretdubai - as well as UAE Community blog - #uaecommunity

It should actually be possible to feed everyone's blogs into a single Twitter account, it would be an interesting and useful alternative to a regular RSS reader to keep up to date with everything. Anyone can set this up via Twitterfeed.

***EDIT*** #dubaifeed no longer loops back its own tweets. The search code in the RSS that feeds it is now fixed.

02 December, 2008

George Michael rocks AbuDhabi

The George Michael concert last night at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium was ''amazing".
Alicia keys kicked off the concert, and not being a huge fan, it got monotonous and irritating. And she came back and sang again and again.
Finally when George Michael came on stage, the crowd just went wild. The energy was palpable, and he put on an awesome show. His voice was in full form, and he moved like the old days.
It was endearing also to see that Andrew Ridgely was in one of the videos that played as he sang a track from his Wham days.
For me the culmination was of my all time favourite track which ended the concert, FREEDOM 90.
The venue was huge, and the event well organised. 30 minutes to leave venue, get out of parking and get on the main road, is fantastic.

Happy National Day

To a country that keeps alive the romance and magic of Arabian Nights - may you continue to prosper and flourish in times to come.

01 December, 2008

Mumbai Massacre- A Tribute to the Lives lost in the senseless Killing

30 November, 2008

No driving license for 100 categories!

Dubai: Authorities have decided to stop issuing driving licences to certain categories of residents to curb the sharp rise in the number of vehicles, Gulf News has learnt.

Residents belonging to up to 100 categories will not be given licences. These include nurses, cooks, carpenters, housemaids, watchmen, tailors, cafeteria waiters, unskilled labourers, gardeners and bakers. People belonging to other categories, which do not require a university degree, will not be able to open a driving licence file at traffic police departments all over UAE.

A Sharjah Police official told Gulf News that the interior ministry has instructed traffic departments last week to stop opening driving licence files for people belonging to about 100 categories as mentioned in their residence visa.

Not a new legislation

"The move is meant to reduce the huge number of vehicles by limiting the number of professionals allowed to obtain driving licences," the official said.

The official said the decision was implemented last week and many applications from these categories were turned down.

The police official said that this was not a new law as there used to be restrictions on issuing driving licences.

"The law was then relaxed by the ministry and everyone was allowed to obtain driving licences. But due to a massive increase in the number of vehicles, the ministry has decided to restrict issuing driving licences," he said.

The official said that those whose residence visa shows that they fall under these categories will not be able to open a driving licence file.

A driving school instructor said the school received the decision last week. She said this would affect the schools as many applications will be rejected.

Akmal, an Indian domestic helper who works for a family in Sharjah, said a driving school and the Sharjah traffic department turned down his application.

Akmal's sponsor told Gulf News that he tried to open a driving licence file for his domestic help, but it was rejected. "I was told that if the profession in the residence visa is driver and that he came to work as a driver then he can obtain a licence, otherwise there is no way for him," he said.



29 November, 2008

Dubai: Has the bubble burst?

Nov 27th 2008 | DUBAI
From The Economist print edition

As the sheen comes off glitzy Dubai, the other Gulf states are getting nervous too

Full article here

“THEY said you couldn’t create islands in the middle of a city,” shouts a property advertisement over a jammed Dubai motorway. “We said, what’s next?” The range of answers has become gloomier by the week, as the debate moves from whether the Dubai property bubble will burst to just how bad it is going to get. Some nervous bankers think property prices could fall by 80% or so in the next year or so. A few months ago, rich foreigners who had bought villas in Dubai were complaining about the quality of the sand on their artificial beaches or the difficulty of getting water to circulate around the twiddly fronds of the man-made island shaped like a palm. Now prices for some smart developments have been cut by 40% since September, shares in property firms have lost 80% of their value since June, and big developers are laying people off.

The region’s banks will suffer too. Gulf policymakers are still making cheery statements about the region’s limited exposure to subprime loans but are quieter about heavy investments in inflated local property markets by regional banks, particularly Islamic ones. But worried banks are sharply reining in their mortgage lending. A series of arrests of senior businessmen as part of a fraud investigation is also making people twitchy. There is even talk of a coming “Gulf Enron”.

While the stunning opacity of government economic data is increasing the air of uncertainty, Muhammad Alabbar, who heads Emaar, a giant state-controlled property developer, took the rare step of telling people how indebted the country is. Together, the government and state-owned enterprises owe $80 billion—148% of GDP. Dubai still has a far larger stock of assets, at least some of which are likely to be sold, to cover the debts, to Abu Dhabi or the federal sovereign-wealth fund of the seven-state United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the two richest.

The rest of the Gulf has met Dubai’s phenomenal boom with a mixture of envy and emulation. Now there are hints of pleasure at the idea that the epicentre of bullishness may be humbled. But there are worrying questions for the others, too. Could the Dubai property slump prove contagious? Will the Gulf Co-operation Council pull together to protect the region’s economy? Should its planned monetary union be set aside as governments focus on protecting their own currency?

Who do we listen to now?

Since everyone else has been trying to copy Dubai, it is unclear how economic policy should be reshaped if the model has to be rescued. Advisers who have been preaching free markets and foreign investment will have a tougher time as economic power shifts back to the more conservative, oil-rich governments such as Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Political stability may be affected too. A worsening economy may encourage political reform, on the assumption that people can be more easily bought off in times of plenty. At a recent BBC debate in Doha, Qatar’s capital, on whether Gulf Arabs value profit over people, young Qataris said critics of their countries’ poor treatment of foreign workers should look on the bright side; local citizens benefit from large gifts of land and free university education. Since the oil boom began in 2003, mega-rich Qatar has ramped up public spending by an average of 28% per year; the less well-endowed states have had to make do with annual rises of some 15-20%.

Several GCC economies will go into budget deficits next year for the first time since at least 2002, including Saudi Arabia, whose budget is based on oil at around $50 a barrel but excludes the cost of Saudi Aramco’s massive programme of capacity expansion. Unemployment will rise as thousands more young people, many of them graduates with high expectations, enter the job market. Social unrest is likely to brew. The question is whether governments will meet it with repression or political concessions.

28 November, 2008


According to Gulf News, More than 10,000 taxis face ban by end of 2009; at least 3600 of those removed will be in Dubai.

Compare that to the number of vehicles in Dubai Taxi's fleet:
3000(or at least that's what it says on their website).

Impending taxi-booking disaster anyone? Oh wait, we're already there.

26 November, 2008

Property forums buzz

Dubai dominates property forums for the wrong reasons:
The Dubai property market is hot right now, but not because it is booming. It is exercising a great deal of space in the property forums this week for all the wrong reasons. It is going downhill fast. One particularly worrying aspect is the number of developers who are now admitting publicly that they do not have the finance to continue. The banks won't lend anymore to developers or buyers.
A second thread on the same forum gives the full text of a letter sent by London and Dubai-based property wealth manager MiNC, developer of Prodigy 1 in Jumeirah Village South to investors asking for extra payments for apartments to enable it to carry on with the project after two banks withdrew funding.

The letter states that if investors don't pay up then the project will stop. Despite rules to protect investors it would appear that if the investors don't agree to pay more for apartments they have already bought they could be regarded as cancelling their contract and the developer could be entitled to 30% of what has been paid so far.
Does that capture the mood?

25 November, 2008

And they're off

The appeal resulted in a suspended sentence. Predictably they get deported.

Financial crisis - 101

If you are struggling to understand what exactly caused the current global financial crisis, you should watch this video by the IMD in Lausanne / Switzerland.

It's a 15 minute presentation by finance professor Arturo Bris.
After you watch the video, I am sure you will have a lot of questions pertaining to the transparency and financing model of Tamweel and Amlak.

23 November, 2008

no more salik for taxis

According to Gulf News...

"Dubai: Taxi passengers in Dubai will no longer have to pay the Salik road toll, it has been announced.

The Roads and Transport Authority said the move was part of a series of initiatives aimed at improving taxi services."

more here

21 November, 2008

Why UAE?

Before anyone start exclaiming about how long I have been away, (or more probably start wondering who the hell I am and what ego allows me to assume that people will even miss me), let me say that I have missed you too, and honestly I have been up to no good.

Before indulging in that, more appropriately on my own blog where something like that belongs, I have a major question (actually two questions, but you answer one or the other, not both) to ask everyone here (and yes, there's a point and it will come):

a) As a professional expat, imagining that you are NOT already here, would you be now attracted to come into Dubai to look for employment? If you were in Dubai, would you now stay, or would you leave under certain circumstances?

b) As an investor/enterpreneur, would you now make an investment or open a business or project in Dubai? If you already invested in Dubai (property purchase doesn't count, investing in a business) or setup a business, would you stay, or are you now looking for a way to leave?

Really looking forward to some answers here, It'll help YOU more than me.

Good to speak to everyone again,

Dubai Warrior

"Emirates See Fiscal Crisis as Chance to Save Culture"

"“This is a blessing; we needed it,” Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a political science professor at United Arab Emirates University, said of the fiscal crisis. “The city needs to slow down and relax. It’s good for the identity of our country."


“I hear this complaint over and over, but what is the solution?” said Abdul Ghaffar Hussain, a businessman and writer. “What should I do, go to the street with a stick and chase people out? You have to be reasonable.”"


I wonder, do all Emaratis feel this way?

burj dubai base jump video

248am.com has posted a video of the base jump by a Brtish man off the Burj Dubai which lead to him being fined.

Direct link to video: http://current.com/items/89546563/world_record_base_jump.htm

20 November, 2008

The Atlantis Party.

Several times more fire works than the Beijing summer Olympics.
One hotel staffer in jail for leaking guests' list to the press.
Shortage of Champagne supply in the world.
Police, civil defence and emergency services on alert.

It’s the grand launch of Atlantis hotel.

One would wonder who’s in his right mind would spend 30 million dollars in the midst of a global recession just to inaugurate a hotel?

Go figure.

Some guests (expected):

Robert De Niro
Michael Jordan
Oprah Winfrey
Janet Jackson
Lindsay Lohan
Kylie Minogue
Tom Cruise
Ben Afflek
Denzil Washington
Richard Branson

Multi-national Dubai police

Does anyone have an idea as to whether the 50% or so of the latest Dubai police academy graduates (see Gulf News story link below) who are NOT Emirati will be serving in Dubai? Or whether the Yemenis, Palestinians, Omanis and others are just getting the police training here, and then heading back home?


Dubai Nikolai

18 November, 2008

Dubai Clock Tower

Am I being weird or is my annoyance justified cause after seeing the new clock/s on Dubai clock tower I am not too happy. They replaced a clock that had Arabic numbers on it with a Roman numbered clock. Why couldn't they keep it Arabic??? Roman numbers are easier to read for most people (read: new expatriates) but I still feel Arabic was the way to go....though there is this hope that the Clock Tower will not be torn down/replaced any time soon like many other old things in Dubai (Omega has a three year contract with them)....
The OldThe replacement

17 November, 2008

Dumb question...?

Hi - dumb question time.

We Brits are currently feeling pretty smug at the collapse of the pound against the once useless US dollar and by extension the AED. Here is the dumb question,(I'm in AL Ain remember) well two of them - what is maintaining the dollar and what is to stop it, and the AED from heading south again?

14 November, 2008

GN or the National?

You decide,
Accused had no intention to kill victim
and, and... so, so... It just leaves you wondering.

Motorist who reversed over woman ‘only meant to scare her’
Thank you. Now I can go on to the next story.

I have to admit I was skeptical on hearing that a new national newspaper was coming out of Abu Dhabi when The National was announced at the start of 2008. Abu Dhabi is hardly known for being informative or transparent when it comes to reporting what happens. Remember the March FOG crashes? Separate from Ghantoot was another 80-car crash near Shahama. There was no news coverage!

I've heard the complaint, "The National articles are too long." I won't dispute that. They are long, and who has time--we're all busy with school, work, family, etc. But I much prefer the option of choosing to stop reading rather than being left hanging by incomplete reporting. If it is a really tantalizing story, then I have to waste more time searching the Internet for the rest of the story.

It isn't even just that The National goes more in depth. The articles are also much, much better written. Compare just the opening lines of the two articles linked to. The National very clearly sets the stage, while the GN starts out and continues with a series of teaser lines.

13 November, 2008

The big gamble

Because of the recent economic developments, we see a lot of questionable practices by banks coming to light. Maybe you came to know, that if you had a bank account in the USA (with an insured bank that is) - the maximum amount you could recover per account, in case that bank busted, is U$ 100000. Check this document.If you deposited more...well, that would be your loss.
In Europe, that amount is even substantially smaller in many countries.
Let's assume for the sake of it, that tomorrow a big bank in the UAE will run into major trouble because of the current credit crunch and maybe, just maybe, because they finance 100's of real estate projects that will most probably default. The bank may get subsidies from the government to save themselves- but what about the money of the account holder?
So obviously, the question is, what's the law on this in the UAE? Anybody knows?

12 November, 2008


"Al Ain: The civic administration here has waved gardens and parks entry fee for women and children.

"The measure has been taken to persuade Emiratis and expatriate residents to experience the benefit of lush green parks in different areas of city," said an official of Al Ain Municipality.

"Al Ain, which is known as the Oasis city, has around 70 parks and gardens that are the attractive centres for picnics and outdoor parties for Emiratis, expatriates, and tourists from the neighbouring GCC countries. Many of the gardens are free for the public access, while some of them have the nominal entry fee of just Dh1. (...) "

(Outdoor parties in the park? haha!)

"Dubai: A Gulf diplomat’s son is being questioned for the premeditated murder of a 20-year-old Emirati, Dubai Public Prosecution sources said on Wednesday.

The diplomat’s son was stabbed by the suspect, who is facing premeditated murder charges, the sources told Gulf News. (...)"

I was trying to comprehend article 2) but you can see the utter confusion due to the second paragraph!

Number 1) is just terrible English. I can't stand it when the word "the" is omitted when it shouldn't be, but this is the first time I am seeing it used where it shouldn't!

It seems standard of English in Dubai is having direct correlation with the driving.

11 November, 2008

Dubai And The Music Industry

I've been noticing that Dubai is becoming a hot spot for the music industry. Many famous artists from all around the world come here to perform whether it is exclusively for Dubai or making Dubai part of their tour destination.
Many Arab artists are even starting out in Dubai and are being promoted on the Radio.

Take Radio One (104.1) for example. They have a weekly session just to promote the local talents and that builds up to them becoming world famous.

This thought has crossed my mind and I just wanted to find out what others think about it. Do you think that Dubai is becoming a hot spot for the music industry? Will Dubai become like L.A in terms of people coming here to get their big break?

10 November, 2008

UAE Community blog on Twitter

I have set up a Twitter feed of UAE Community blog, so it's one more way to get alerted of new posts here.

Twitter users can just start following Twitter.com/uaecommunity:

You can also get Secret Dubai diary via Twitter.com/secretdubai

08 November, 2008

A research request...

Hi expats - Thailand's Masterpiece below posted a request on my humble Al Ain based blog. I think he or she may get a far more satisfying response from the broader community.


Blogger Thailand's masterpiece said...

I am a student in the university in al ain. I will do a presentation about a multicultural UAE. I chose this topic because I want to make people here especially locals aware of the multicultural society they are living in and I want all of us to respect others more so that we can live here, in the UAE happier.

It would be great if you can give me some ideas to do this presentation. I also have some questions for you.
-What do you like about local people?
-What don’t you understand about them?
-Do you have any problems with people from different cultures that arise from language, cultural and religious differences?
-Do you have any funny situations created from the difference in cultures or languages?
Please mail me your answers to reefuns@hotmail.com
Thank you in advance

Anusorn 

04 November, 2008

Historic vote: Obama vs. McCain?

Do a quick poll in the last-minute run-up.

Who does your vote stand by?

Obama or McCain?

01 November, 2008

Facebook to be financed by Dubai?

According to this report, Facebook CFO Gideon Yu is in Dubai attempting to find more backers to fund the enterprise.

It seems that they have already burned through a large proportion of the US$500 million they have already raised.

Being funded by Dubai may not be a bad thing for U.A.E. Facebook users. The powers that be would find it difficult to justify banning a social network that has local connections, wouldn't they?

UPDATE: This article sheds light on Facebook's expenses and shows how easy it is to spend $500 million!

29 October, 2008

US elections

OK - a quick UAE bloggers poll.

Don't Care


I couldn't access google.com a while back and now I can't access google.com/ig either.....wonder what Etisalat is upto!!!

What's going on at Dubai Eye?

Apart from the excellent Business Breakfast and evening business show, every time I tune in to Dubai Eye radio they're playing repeats of old programmes.

Or "recaps" as they call them.

I've seen no news about it and the website gives no information. Not that that's unusual for Dubai, most websites are years out of date.

The site does say that they're in the process of improving transmission (long overdue in my opinion) and they're experiencing a few technical difficulties.

But that's quite different from programmes and presenters disappearing.

Anyone in the know who can enlighten us?

28 October, 2008

chiller again

Last August I blogged about the latest fashion of landlords, which is charging imaginary fees of all kinds - including chiller charges - in order to make up for the money they "lose" through the rent cap.

Well, since then, seems like the chiller thing has somewhat become of an epidemic. However, here is the good news for all of you. This issue has been raised to the rent committee and the landlords and real estate agents have LOST this case.
Basically the law says, that your tenancy agreement must be renewed exactly as it is. If it is not renewed as it is (except for the legal rent increase) - then it is not considered a renewal.
In my friend's case, Rocky Real Estate tried to play very smart. They issued a new tenancy contract - but besides that also issued a separate invoice to all tenants in those buildings worth in average 12000 AED per apartment. Here's the trick: Rocky refused to sign the tenancy contracts of anyone who did not pay them the "other fees", they also refused to accept the Cheques for the tenancy agreement renewal. By doing this, they could claim, that the tenants did not pay their rent and would hence try to kick them out the flats. RIDICULOUS.
Anyway, if any of you has to struggle with their landlord/real estate agent about such charges, please head straight to the rent committee. Rocky gave this statement: "If we invoice 100 apartments the extra fees, less than 10% will complain to the rent committee, so we still make our money".
Please pass on this info to your friends and blog readers.

27 October, 2008

Guess who's coming to town...

In case you didn't notice the bell logo at the bottom of the outdoor ad, I am talking about the one and only Taco bell.

26 October, 2008

Avoiding SALIK

Today as I headed home I tried avoiding SALIK by taking Business Bay Bridge. As I passed under it I decided to stop in the mud nearby and take this shot. It's one of the best shots I've taken. SALIK ain't that bad to think of it now!!! ;)Anyone else got any positive SALIK-related stories to share?

24 October, 2008

Calling Al Ain Bloggers

I have just set up a Blog List site for Al Ain bloggers. It (of course) includes a link to the UAE Community blog. As well as a link to recent stuff on Al Ain Expats Yahoo group.

You can access the list here


If you're a blogger in Al Ain and would like to have your blog listed, please post a comment there.


PS - Can it be added to the blogrolls here, please?

A fumble on the beach has given freedom a dirty name

From The Sunday Times

October 19, 2008
A fumble on the beach has given freedom a dirty name

Minette Marrin

‘Why don’t we do it in the road?” That was the question posed by the Beatles in 1968 in the song of that name. The expected answer, quite clearly, was: “Why not?” That year, 1968, was the dizziest moment of the era of letting everything hang out, so to speak. Doing it on the road was really the least one could contribute to the cause of liberation and universal love.

It wasn’t the aggressive John but the nicey nicey Paul who wrote the song. It seems that while with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India, he had seen two monkeys doing it in the road and thought what a good idea it was in all its natural simplicity.

“A male,” McCartney said later, “just hopped on the back of this female and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular. Within two or three seconds he hopped off again and looked around as if to say, ‘It wasn’t me’, and she looked around as if there’d been some mild disturbance . . . And I thought . . . that’s how simple the act of procreation is . . . We have horrendous problems with it and yet animals don’t.”

As a model for human sexual relations, I think there are a couple of things wrong with this vision, whether in the road or not. However, this song was hugely influential; you could almost cite 1968 as the end of sexual modesty in public. It might be unfair to hold the Beatles entirely responsible – there were plenty of much sexier bands. But this song did coincide with and express the beginning of a time of astonishingly flamboyant sexual exhibitionism. In answer to McCartney’s siren call, countless people have taken to doing it wherever they fancy and insisting on their human right to do so. Even tiny children dance to pop music, to adult encouragement, with all the bump and grind of a slaggy old stripper.

Now, 40 years on, we have a couple of well-to-do British expatriates in Dubai shamelessly and drunkenly doing it on the beach. Thou hast conquered, / O pale Liverpudlian. Last week Michelle Palmer, 36, from Rutland, and Vince Acors, 34, of Bromley, southeast London, were sentenced to three months in prison in Dubai for having sex outside marriage on a public beach and offending public decency. They were also fined about £200 and will be deported when they have served their sentences. They were lucky: their punishment could have been much worse.

I have absolutely no sympathy for them but I do think that given the permissive culture of the country in which they grew up – they were born only a few years after 1968 – it is understandable, if depressing, that they themselves didn’t see much wrong with their behaviour.

From their perspective it is apparently quite normal for two strangers to meet at a hotel brunch, drink themselves silly and proceed to perform sex acts on each other in public. It is normal to insult a policeman who has the effrontery to caution them, regardless of the law, and to carry on. That is what Britons do at home and abroad. They belch, vomit, copulate, litter and barge their way through public spaces, dressed like hookers and louts, defying the police without shame or modesty. British expatriates are some of the worst: overpaid, oversexed and all over the place.

Palmer and Acors are appealing against their convictions. Yet by Palmer’s own admission, she was drunk and they were kissing and cuddling. “We didn’t have sex together,” she insisted. “I was lying on top of him.” This is rather to miss the point.

No one cares much whether DNA evidence proves that there was no exchange of bodily fluids. What went on was an affront to the standards and laws of Dubai, which all expatriates are well aware of. If you don’t like the law or the culture of another country, you should stay away. If you go there anyway, you should keep your views to yourself and when in Rome behave as the Romans.

That is not only common sense and a way of staying out of nasty foreign jails. It is more importantly an ancient moral obligation, which all healthy cultures have observed. As a guest, you must respect your host and his feelings. Everyone knows that Muslim cultures believe strongly in modesty and privacy; it is simply rude to go about half-naked or drunk and snogging and shagging in public in an Islamic country, an insult to the host culture as well as a disgrace to our own. I can’t help secretly sympathising with the senior prosecutor in Dubai who said he wished the couple had been given a longer sentence.

Is it surprising that so many Muslims around the world despise us for our decadence when we express our sympathy with British men and women who behave like this? There is something clearly despicable in the permissiveness and hyper-sexualisation of western culture; the result is broken families, unwanted children, sexual diseases and a state of agitation which drives the young into chaos and crime.

This might seem a long way from a fumble on a beach and certainly I would agree that many Muslim cultures take their modesty to extremes of repression. But the connection is there and Muslims, including British Muslims, are right to make it.

PC Plod in this country, however, does not make it. Last week a senior officer recommended that the police should turn a blind eye to sex in public, to avoid offending or distressing people seen doing so, and to protect the human rights of those who frequent open spaces to have sex, particularly those in pursuit of dogging and cottaging, who might easily be alienated or humiliated. His advice is contained in 21 pages of guidance on policing sex in public.

This is the kind of attitude that gives freedom a dirty name. No wonder so many Muslims here look down on the host culture and try to isolate their sons and daughters from its unthinking libertinism.

If we expect ethnic minorities here to respect the host culture, we should make sure it is worthy of respect. If we expect them to behave according to our standards (such as they are) when they are here, so should all British citizens respect their standards when over there.

The careless cultural imperialism of British expatriates abroad – their selfish, insensitive, sluttish behaviour – must be partly to blame for the cultural hostility and separatism that are growing among Muslim minorities at home here today. That is one good reason, among many, for not doing it in the road, either home or away.


23 October, 2008

National ID Card

News Title: "Card fees to generate Dh120m"

Dubai: The UAE government is spending $55 million on cutting-edge technology to implement the national ID system and is expected to generate an income of about Dh120 million from card fees by the end of this year, an official confirmed on Wednesday.

Business establishments in the UAE are highly encouraged to register their employees, as getting the all-in-one identity card, which will eventually work as a driving licence, passport and labour, residency, health and ATM card or e-wallet, will help them cut expenditures on acquiring staff's numerous IDs.

The technology being used to implement the identity cards will also offer other financial benefits, as it will plug the security loopholes in the banking system, which was recently plagued by fraudulent transactions, according to engineer Thamer Rashid Al Qasemi, planning director of the Emirates Identity Authority.


So far, the UAE has already registered 610,000 residents, 95 per cent of which are nationals. About 600,000 more, which include 350,000 expatriate professionals, are expected to enlist before the December 31, 2008 deadline.

The identity card costs Dh100 for nationals for five years, Dh100 for expatriates for one year and Dh50 for children under 15 years, regardless of nationality. In the case of expatriates, however, the fee has to be paid for the duration of the residence visa.

Given that 1.2 million residents are expected to register before this year's deadline, Al Qasemi said the issuance of cards will generate an income of about Dh120 million or more.

"Looking at the return, the income we get out of this registration process is really not comparable to the operational cost. The ID card itself costs about Dh35 to Dh45. This is the direct cost of the card. And we only give it to children for Dh50," Al Qasemi told Gulf News.

link to source Gulf News

News Title: "Identity cards needed by end of the year"

Professional expatriates who do not obtain the new identity card by the end of the year may face a suspension in transactions and dealing with governmental and semi-governmental bodies, said a senior official at the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA).

Darwish Ahmad Al Zarouni, Director General of EIDA, told Gulf News that the authority is under discussion with relevant government bodies to consider suspending some service to professional expatriates. "Services we are looking at suspending will include driving licence renewals and renewal of vehicle registration," said Al Zarouni.

The deadline to register for the card for professional expatriates and all nationals is December 31 2008.

The authority defines professionals as holders of bachelor degrees or higher qualifications. They also include: consultants, medical doctors, engineers, journalists, teachers, IT professionals and accountants. Blue collar workers will be given until the end of 2010 to register for the card.

However, the suspension of services by next January will be applied to all UAE nationals who have not obtained identity card. Bank transactions will also be suspended for Emiratis, according to Al Zarouni.

Earlier on Tuesday, Thamer Rashed Al Qasemi, Planning Director at the authority, said in a press gathering that expatriates will face a suspension in bank transactions and all governmental services if they do not obtain the cards by the end of the year.

"A circular has been sent two months ago from the UAE Central bank to banks informing them not to provide any services for Emiratis and professional expatriates who do not produce the card as identification," said Al Qasemi.

Applicants can fill in the registration form at www.emiratesid.ae and print it out to submit it at any of the 24 registration centres in the country. Customers without access to the internet can approach typing centres at the registration centres to prepare the application forms. To find out the locations and opening times of the centres and documents required visit the website or call the EIDA call centre at 600 523 432. – Gulf News '

link to source UAEinteract.com

I hope these articles serve as news/a reminder to those who qualify for the ID card.

I find it a bit confusing to see Gulf News be quoted by UAEinteract.com when GN titles their article on the same subject in a very different way than UAEinteract.com, known as "The Official Website", casts its news.

It's a case of "Card fees to generate Dh120m" vs. "Identity cards needed by end of the year"

22 October, 2008

Virgin Radio Dubai RJ fired

Arabian Business reports:
"Virgin Radio DJ Revin John has been fired from his Dubai breakfast radio show, after he outraged listeners by reading an offensive article on-air, it has emerged."
Click here to read full article

Camel milk chocolate anyone?

"Chocolate lovers could not get their hands off the trays filled with camel milk chocolates at the world launch that took place on Wednesday at the Madinat Al Saalam in Dubai on Wednesday" From here

Has anybody tried these yet? Thoughts?

"Woman helps boy pay blood money"

"Ajman: An Emirati woman from Al Ain had donated Dh70,000 as part of blood money in order to help end the ordeal of a Pakistani teenager who ran over his neighbour's child.

The toddler died and police told the teenager, who was driving his father's car at the time of the incident, that he had to pay the blood money.

Hussain, a 14-year-old Pakistani boy has been in Ajman Central Jail for around four months after his attempt to drive ended in tragedy with the death of the two-year-old Yemeni girl near the Al Shula Club in Ajman.

Police told Gulf News that the boy was released on bail but will be detained again if he did not pay the victim's family Dh200,000 as blood money.

The decision to impose the payment of blood money on the young offender was taken by the court, he said.

Humanitarian reasons

The fine was decided by the court for Dh100,000 because the victim is a female. "We bailed the boy for humanitarian reasons. He received aid from an Emirati well-wisher from Al Ain who donated Dh70,000 for him," police said. A police official said the boy came from a poor family and could not raise the needed money.

Police added that if the boy did not pay the rest of the amount - Dh30,000 - he will be put back in jail.

Police said the teenager drove away in his father's car when he (father) was sleeping. As he ventured onto a road in the locality the little girl happened to be playing outside her house in the same area, when the accident occurred. The toddler was killed instantly.

Hussain was bailed recently when he paid part of the blood money which he received as donation. "If a teenager drives a car without the knowledge of the owner, the responsibility will be on the youngster," said an official."

Police said if the teenager had been allowed to drive the car by the owner of the car, then both of them would be held equally liable."


20 October, 2008

Road rage humour

Something to make you smile tomorrow morning

Or alternatively you could take the bus.......

Overrated Tourist Destinations

most travelers end up thinking that Dubai is odd when they get there
one place over all the others, however, that wins the prize for being the most over-hyped city anywhere on the planet

What do you think...

19 October, 2008

Another fire in Satwa

Last night there was another fire in Satwa. Last week there was one which I saw from the balcony of the building where I was, Last night I saw another one from the parking. Last week there were sirens, last night there was silence.

'We need slaves to build monuments'

Don't know if this was already posted here, but...

It is already home to the world's glitziest buildings, man-made islands and mega-malls - now Dubai plans to build the tallest tower. But behind the dizzying construction boom is an army of migrant labourers lured into a life of squalor and exploitation.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports.

The sun is setting and its dying rays cast triangles of light on to the bodies of the Indian workers. Two are washing themselves, scooping water from tubs in a small yard next to the labour camp's toilets. Others queue for their turn. One man stands stamping his feet in a bucket, turned into a human washing machine. The heat is suffocating and the sandy wind whips our faces. The sprinkles of water from men drying their clothes fall like welcome summer rain.

All around, a city of labour camps stretches out in the middle of the Arabian desert, a jumble of low, concrete barracks, corrugated iron, chicken-mesh walls, barbed wire, scrap metal, empty paint cans, rusted machinery and thousands of men with tired and gloomy faces.

I have left Dubai's spiralling towers, man-made islands and mega-malls behind and driven through the desert to the outskirts of the neighbouring city of Abu Dhabi. Turn right before the Zaha Hadid bridge, and a few hundred metres takes you to the heart of Mousafah, a ghetto-like neighbourhood of camps hidden away from the eyes of tourists. It is just one of many areas around the Gulf set aside for an army of labourers building the icons of architecture that are mushrooming all over the region.

Read the whole article here:


17 October, 2008

Just WHO is threatening Emirati national identity?

I read in The National the other day that 'foreigners are the real threat to national identity' (letters page, Oct. 6). However, I believe we are looking at the symptom and not the real cause. The truth is that the Emiratis have thrown away their own national identity by using so much imported labour to do the jobs they are either unable or unwilling to do.

If they were prepared to do the really dirty jobs in construction, and handle the nitty gritty in commerce and retail, then they would have no need to import labour from Asia. Yet they look down on those jobs and the people that do them as unworthy. Equally, if they were ready to make the effort to get the qualifications to take on the jobs in business and education that they can not do, there would be no need for them to create 'desert islands' for Westerners here in the Gulf.

I have worked in higher education in this country for many years, and few of my students have ever displayed the resolve which is necessary for them to create what we would call a 'middle class' of professionals. Instead, many of them prefer to behave like middle-men, getting rich on the Westerners' efforts. Most of them want, in my students' own words, 'easy money for easy work' - i.e., shuffling papers around in a Ministry or a state oil company, but nothing too intellectually demanding or actually involving hard work.

If Emiratis could shake off their mental laziness, emerge from their slumbering mentality, and develop a capacity for hard work and some intellectual curiosity, they would have no need for us well-qualified and experienced Westerners. But I fear they have been let down by their leaders, who prefer to shower them with riches for little real effort. These are the people who have led the way in increasing the number of expats in this country, and who are causing such a large threat to Emirati identity.


16 October, 2008

Sex on the beach jail

Dubai: Two Britons who were accused of having sex on a Dubai beach have been sentenced to a 3 month jail term the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours.

V.A., A British man who was visiting the emirate at the time of the incident and M.P., a British female resident of Dubai were also fined Dh1,000 and will be deported after serving their jail sentence.

M.P., a British resident of Dubai for the past three years and her alleged sex partner, V.A., both in their 30s, were charged with engaging in sexual activity in public, committing an indecent gesture in public and consuming alcohol after they were caught on a public beach in Jumeirah on July 5.

The pairs' lawyer, Hasan Mattar, had during the trial had in his argument said that "The Public Prosecution failed to produce corroborative evidence against my clients concerning having consensual sex and committing indecent gestures in public. The suspects tested positive for liquor, which appeared in their blood and urine tests." said that his clients would be appealing the verdict.

more here

15 October, 2008

Worst. Commercial. Ever.

Door creaking.
Woman’s voice: “Ahh, you must be the pizza delivery man. Let me get my wallet.”
Man’s voice: “Actually I’m here to deliver your AXA insurance courtesy car.”

This has to be one of the worst radio commercials ever. Ever. I don’t listen to radio much, and this commercial reminded me why. It’s not just unwitty and unprofessionally voiced-over by obnoxious dilettantes. No, the premise, if you can call it one, is mind bogglingly stupid in its complete and utter improbability.

I imagine the copywriter at work, racking his puny little brain for a plot (assuming the guys in Media City actually use plots):
You ordered pizza. The door bell rings. You open. Outside, a man in some sort of uniform. Let’s assume this is the pizza guy!! Harhar, but it’s really the car guy!! Funny twist, that!

Dammit, what about the pizza. Y’know, guy with imbecile smile holding a flat soggy carton in your face, grunting. Pizza guy with pizza. But it’s the car guy, he’s holding no pizza. What to do?Never mind, he could have lost the pizza, right?

Whoopsy, deadline’s here. Cut. Let’s flow with it. Job’s a goodn, off to Scarlett's for drinks!

The whole ‘skit’ hinges on the woman’s wrongful assumption. But that could only work if the man was at least holding a pizza carton. Or the woman was blind, in which case she wouldn’t need a car, not even for free. Without pizza, there’s not a chance in a million that The Most Stupid **** On Earth could mistake anyone for a pizza guy. So it’s not just any old assumption. It’s assuming that a totally unrealistic assumption can be made to work as radio commercial if you just try hard enough to ignore intelligence.

As my old risk management professor used to say: to ASSUME is to make an ‘ASS’ out of ‘U’ and ‘ME’.

In this case Mr. Copywriter in Dubai just makes an arse out of himself and his entire “profession” and insults our intellect.

A look at the new Terminal 3

Inside Terminal 3

Got this forwarded to me... its a look inside the new Terminal 3 building.

Has anybody flown through it yet? Think they'll avoid the recent fiasco at Heathrow's Terminal 5?

Dubai real estate market

Following on from the last post about the Dubai property market, I’ve found yet another very apt and informative thread on this site: click http://www.expatwoman.com/forum/messages.aspx?TopicID=43205&Page=2

photo taken from Gulf News Dubai

From the ‘bursting’ cliché many people seem to be hyperventilating on, there are many grammatical errors in the posts these ladies publish: you just have to wonder - can a bubble really burst when we have clowns in the economy?

Just read the whole thread! Most, if not all of the comments, reflect the real “what’s going on here” into what’s going on in the minds of real people today, and what the market is doing. It’s kind of worrying, in a way.

13 October, 2008

Dubai design, unveiled


Atkins have done it again. The (locally) famed designers of the Burj al Arab have revealed a new design for what is set to become the World's third tallest building.

The new tower design for Tameer, as featured in the news today brilliantly captures the essence of architecture in Dubai:

What looks like a giant wind turbine at the top of the tower, set to harness wind energy and create sustainable electricity, is really a restaurant ‘pod’ propped up by three support ‘spokes’.

An empty formal gesture that promises something and fails to deliver, and whose sole purpose is commercial gain. An aesthetic gimmick that looks like ecologically sustainable engineering but actually serves dry Martini and grilled hammour.

In the words of Shaun Killa, Atkins' chief architect: "Buildings need to interact with the people instead of being part of a photograph".

I see. That must be the reason for constructing a 600m tall building. To enable 'interaction' between people whilst they wait twenty minutes in the lift lobbies at peaktimes. The "turbine" then is surely not a feature designed to attract attention to the building and be photographed. It further enables people to 'interact' by spending vast amounts of money in a restaurant at 600m height, whilst at Ground level the building 'interacts' with the streets around it by enabling a joyful merry-go-round of 1,000 + cars trying to access the podium car park.

Well done, Atkins.

11 October, 2008

Dubai set for ecological disaster

I told you so. Follow link to full article in "building design", the UK's foremost architecture weekly magazine.


"Dubai set for ‘ecological disaster’ "

[P] ritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne has predicted that Dubai will become an “ecological disaster” if development there continues in its current direction.

In a dramatic speech delivered on Tuesday to the World Architecture Congress’s Cityscape Dubai conference, the US architect said the private sector’s dominance in the Gulf state had led to a lack of joined-up planning and that this — combined with the immense speed of development — would lead to a major crisis in the future.

“It is not going to work on may levels, from social to infrastructure and ecological”

In his speech, Mayne compared Dubai’s public transport plans with the development of Los Angeles in the 1960s, claiming the “political class” had no control over the built environment.

“There is no connected tissue,” he said. “It might work today, but the prognosis is not good for the future.“It’s not going to work on many levels, from social to infrastructure and ecological. It’s going to be a disaster in ecological terms.“The political class is no longer in charge of cities… which means there is no planning.
Los Angeles is a prototype for that. The private sector rules. It takes hours to get downtown in LA as there is no public transport.”

Former RIBA president George Ferguson hailed Mayne’s intervention.“It’s a transport nightmare, it’s an energy nightmare. It is absolutely bloody terrifying.

Ramadhan photos

Yes, I know Ramadhan is over... But here are some excellent photos showing some of the worldwide traditions during this month.


10 October, 2008

Sammy the Shark

While I am still in Los Angeles, I have been reading the UAE news online.

I really think the current "Save Sammy" campaign is fantastic. The issue itself, keeping an endangered animal captive in violation of CITES, is a slap in the face to the UAE Federal Govt.

Yes it's true that there are certainly other important things to address in the UAE, like the rights of laborers. However, when a high profile establishment like Atlantis is allowed to openly defy an initiative that the Federal Govt. signed on with, the message it sends is not good. The whole idea of protecting endangered animals is so that we can keep them from becoming extinct. One could argue, "If Atlantis can do this, why can't I?" and before you know it people don't pay attention to what CITES initiative is working to accomplish.

However, I think the really fantastic bit of this is, that the public is getting involved with the campaign. Social conscience has long been a part of America's history. Americans have openly railed against our government, big business and other groups they felt were not leaving a positive contribution. This freedom of expression is protected by law. I won't deny that there have been abuses of this, but the concept of freedom of expression is a positive one. Taken to the extreme, California is one of the states that has something to say publicly about just about everything!

Even though the laws are different in the UAE, most Nationals I have met are just as vocal in what they believe and just as concerned about current issues. However, it appears that it is not their custom to voice these opinions openly (but that is changing with some of the talented Emirati bloggers) The people who are wearing the "Save Sammy" buttons are in reality, staging a polite protest and expressing their social conscience, and Gulf News posting their photos is giving this campaign legitimacy.

Hopefully, Atlantis decides to do something sooner than later because of the negative press and releases Sammy, or the Federal Govt. intervenes.

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.- Albert Einstein

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi Blogger's Meetup

Just elaborating on what Sam posted. I think that since a majority of our bloggers are in Dubai we could form a separate meet for Abu Dhabi and Dubai bloggers. This could also take place this month of October. Could you email me with your first name and the name of your blog.


(Please remove all instances of the number 8 from the email address, im just doing this so that spamming software doesnt flood my email)

Many thanks,


09 October, 2008

Cityscape revisited

A wee game of scrabble before we start?


Unless you live on Mars or in Umm Al Qwain you will have noticed the annual Hajj of the intrepid and gullible to the Dubai Word Trade Exhibition Centre this past week.

There is no other way to describe what is Cityscape. There are those who believe, those who believe what they are told and those who want to believe because everybody else does.

Thousands of starry-eyed “property professionals”, Saudi geezers and Russian biznezmen with suitcases full of cash descend onto the “World’s largest property fair” for their yearly fix of hyperbolic announcements of new outlandish developments, and to ogle scantily clad Lebanese hostesses. Aspirational newcomers can be identified by the cabin trolleys full of glossy pamphlets they drag behind them and the awed expressions on their faces and the drool down their cheeks.

This is not so much a trade exhibition as it is a cattle market: the biggest udder gets the most attention; This is real estate porn, marginally more salubrious than a car show (and the hostesses certainly look the part).
Subcontinental hustlers in mustard yellow shirts and ill fitting coats enquire with Uzbek girls about squarefoot rates, and barefoot rates. Others stop at every stall shrieking with childlike excitement and gorge themselves at glitzy blinking scale models. They are instantly pounced upon by sales agents with standard issue gelled hair and pungent aftershave, sweepingly pointing out this signature tower and that amazing water feature, Karama Rolexes dangling from their wrists, liberally spewing senseless superlatives about “perfect community living” among “brilliant verdant oases” of ubiquitous Greg Norman designed golf courses.

My enquiry at the ‘Dubai Properties’ stall about solutions to the apparent power shortage in Business Bay which forces completed buildings in this ‘elite new CBD’ to run on diesel generators for the next three years, or the absence of a functioning sewage network, is met with a blank stare by Ahmed from Alexandria, who arrived six months ago in Dubai and now offers his expert knowledge of the real estate market to prospective buyers.
I ask about sales rates at ‘Mudon’, a new sand-coloured faux Arabesque Lala land somewhere in the sticks behind Arabian Ranches. My joke about the colours of the buildings looking like they had ‘mud on’ them is lost in translation. Ahmed informs me that without problem he can fix me up with a Dhs 5 million mortgage in no time and that the project would definitely be completed on schedule. According to my bank manager I can’t even afford to borrow two million, but for a brief moment I am tempted to suspend reason altogether and give into the dream of certainty and security: The fata morgana of a project in Dubai being within affordable reach and completed on target.

Even if everything that was launched at past Cityscapes and half of everything on this year’s show got built in the next ten years, I promise you that Dubai is going to become one uninhabitable behemoth of a town, or rather a conglomerate of utterly disjointed “communities” for rich people – each one with its own “water feature”, “amazing” signature building, idiotic joy ride monorail and amazing traffic jams at the access points.

One example: This year’s biggest and bestest announcement, “Jumeirah Gardens” by ‘Meraas Development’: In their own words a mega projects with a twelve year program - read 19 years with neither power nor sewage network in the end.
Three mega towers for good measure and dozens of 20- 50 storey towers. And of course, the “water feature” “defining” the “community”.
This is madness on a megalomaniac scale flying in the face of any single principle of responsible farsighted urban planning. At one side the development is hemmed in by the back road of SZR (access to the parking lots of the entire stretch of buildings from Fairmont hotel to the ShangriLa), on the other sides by Safa park, Al Wasl road and Diyafa street. Imagine the construction access alone for this mammoth building site. Not only will this create absolute traffic mayhem on these roads for the next decade, the construction of several bridges to be built on Wasl road and Beach road to link ‘Jumeirah Gardens’ with a large offshore island development (The ‘Universe’) will choke quality of life in Jumeirah for good.

Has anyone questioned the wisdom of redeveloping an already congested area with twenty-fold density, thus adding a population of circa 300-400,000 people between Satwa and Safa with no physical possibility of creating a multi-lane road network without serious bottlenecks? The slip road behind SZR works for now until it feeds into World Trade Centre roundabout at one end and Interchange 1 at the other.
Bottleneck today, give me the bottle tomorrow! Al Wasl road has already reached breaking point from Emirates Bank all the way to Port Rashid because of Salik dodgers who cause misery for people actually still living in the area.
With appropriate hyperbolic exaggeration I propose a wager: ‘Jumeirah Gardens’ will be the ruin of Dubai. If I’m wrong I’ll go shopping at Union Co-op on Friday evening.

Actually. Someone did question it. The original Masterplan by a well-known international firm indeed proposed low to medium rise housing, not mega structures landed in the middle of town like a UFO. Luckily the developers then came to their senses. What the hell did they think they were doing?! Giving away land to the great unwashed? Building a sustainable society? The heck; a 600m high mega tower was needed! That would look good, with the water feature!!

I searched Cityscape from end to end and I assure you: No sign of lower or middle income housing. Dispersed across town, joined up, public transport connected housing. Not anywhere. Zilch. Not only no private developments - which is understandably with land prices what they are - but no sign of any comprehensive public, Municipality initiated Development Plan to link and inter-weave those private Master developments to retain, allow and create space for “normal” residential areas – like the Satwa that will be no more.

It all started so well. Now it is going horribly wrong.

What we see at Cityscape is not natural and necessary growth.What we see is greed and forced, contrived, and purely speculative wishful thinking at work. You can’t run before you’ve learnt to walk. What Dubai needed now more than anything was a moratorium on construction, completion of the utterly lacking infrastructure and consolidation of growth. There IS such a thing as over-development.

If you built because they would come you’ll have to keep building because they are coming indeed . And then they'll stop coming.

Property in Dubai is an artificially created vicious circle - not dissimilar to the past madness of the financial markets. Like derivatives, securitized by farts of hot air from Abominable Insurance Goons et al., sold over and over again just because somebody somewhere always bought policies or obligations without understanding the risks or even thinking about the day when the chickens would be coming home to roost.