29 February, 2008

Proxy unbloxy

Anyone finding that the proxy is down?

There seem to be certain areas of the sandlands where the proxy is down since yesterday, and the entire internet is available.

Long may it last ;)

27 February, 2008

it could be you....

Jailed blogger in solitary confinement, family says

Is the Arab world's motto not "let writer beware"?

The New Middle East

A short overview of the situation in the Middle East by the Carnegie Endowment. (PDF file)

[.....In the end, U.S. pressure on Egypt and other countries was short- lived. By mid-2006, with the situation in Iraq deteriorating and concern about Iran mounting, the administration forgot its previous criticism of friendly autocratic regimes, redefined them as moderates, and sought to forge an anti- Iranian alliance with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, plus Egypt and Jordan. The failing attempts to promote reform from the top were abandoned in the name of security.
Well aware of the United States’ troubles in the region and the strategic leverage it gives them, rulers such as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Mubarak of Egypt have pushed for nothing less than a return to pre-9/11 American policies, i.e., ignoring the domestic behavior of Arab allies and concentrating on their regional and international actions.
One indicator of the success of Arab pressure against democracy promotion has been the remarkable decrease since 2006 of critical statements by the Bush administration about domestic politics in Arab moderate states, despite clear signs of backsliding, particularly in Egypt and Jordan. Repressive measures against opposition movements, predominantly the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Jordanian Islamic Action Front, as well as undemocratic constitutional changes have been publicly ignored by the Bush administration....]

26 February, 2008

Truely a hidden gem

I stumbled across this website a few days back and I thought that I should share it with you all.


This is for all those people who truly understand the what we localexpats mean when we say Dubai is nothing like it used to be. It is by far one of the most nostalgic website I have ever come across.

Dubai pardons Briton 'with cannabis on shoe'

"DUBAI (AFP) — A British man sentenced to four years in jail in the Gulf emirate of Dubai for having a tiny amount of cannabis stuck to his shoe has been pardoned, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Andrew Brown was released early from prison in the Western-orientated emirate which is a popular destination for British tourists, the English language 7Days reported, without stating how much of the jail term he served.

The 43-year-old was arrested in September at Dubai International Airport after customs officers found 0.003 grams (0.0001 ounces) of cannabis on the sole of one his shoes."

--more here

Raising funds for charity

A friend and I have decided to walk up to Everest Base Camp as a way of keeping fit. We have now decided that we will use this opportunity to raise some money for Nepalese charities. We will still pay for our own trip but are recruiting volunteers to help raise some money for orphanages.

All our activities will be in Fujeirah/East Coast area. We are planning a "country fair", a mad hatters ball. We have a lot of volunteers to help with putting these together so that we save as much money for the charities.

Does anyone know what the procedure is for volunteers to raise money for a charity outside the UAE?

What's Happening to my Favourite Camping Spot?

We camped last weekend in an area NW of Dhaid near Falaj al Moalla in Umm al Quwain. Driving across the desert we came across a bunch of site offices and a huge pile of rebar in the middle of nowhere. In the morning we spotted a group of surveyors with their theodolites on the crest of one of the nearby dunes.

Looks like another beautiful part of the wilderness is about to be dug up to make way for yet another development that no one wants or needs. *sigh*.

Any one here know what is happening out there?


25 February, 2008

The trains have arrived...

The first of the Metro trains have arrived - here's what they look like...

24 February, 2008

Mile High Tower to Surpass the Deathspire?

Maybe, if Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gets his way:
Kingdom Holding Company, controlled by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, plans to invite contractors to submit bids before July to build the world's tallest tower in Saudi Arabia, reported our sister publication Meed. The Mile High Tower, which could reach 1,600 metres in height, is to be built in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and may cost up to $10bn. The Mile High tower could be twice as tall as the Burj Dubai, Meed said.

22 February, 2008

"Tobacco law may stub out shisha"

Dubai: The Ministry of Health plans to institute a complete ban on shisha and midwakh once the UAE introduces the federal anti-tobacco law, expected to come in by June.

Smoking shisha, or the water pipe, is a popular pastime among Middle Easterners and others who associate the activity with Middle Eastern culture. Midwakh, or the Arabic pipe, is popular among teenagers who have said it gives a more intense high.

The UAE has been working on a federal law regulating tobacco and its uses, content and sale, in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Dr. Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the National Tobacco Control Committee, told Gulf News among other things, the law forbids tobacco use in enclosed areas and public places, without specifying the type of tobacco.

Rest of article to be found here

Perhaps our ME-based, outdoor tobacco fans may not celebrate this new announcement.

The public, three point "tuck, tuck, tuck" (sound emanating most likely from a 4wd) midwakh pipe-a-light may soon be outlawed, as might the hubblies & bubblies amongst us huffing & puffing sheesha-enthusiasts.

What's your favourite flavour?

A Strange Love Story

Today's Al Khaleej newspaper carried this strange story of a father who demanded memorization of the Holy Book Quran as a dowry for his daughter. Reading this story kind of made me happy after reading two depressing posts by A Lost Dot & i*maginate a couple of days ago.

The details of the story are that the guy who asked for the hand of the girl is 25 years old, an engineer by profession, wich means he is quite well off. Now this guy involved some elders to try to convince the girl's father & after the negotiations, the father reduced his asking price by two third & still insisted that the guy memorize at least 10 chapters of the Holy Book, which he has already started. Those who understand arabic can read it here.

What you guys think of this? Honestly, this made me happy that there are still people in this country who have not embraced money worship as their main religion. It is heartening to read such stories in an age where the average Emarati wedding costs 300k & which has led many couples to the debt trap. The end result is the 46% divorce rate we have today & I think one of the main reason behind this is the sizeable amount of people's salary going towards servicing their debt.

21 February, 2008

Weekend Weather Warning

I think that anyone planning to go boating this weekend would be well advised to stay ashore!

"Internet access to be liberalised"

That's what a headline in Emirates Business 24/7 says.

What the story really says is that instead of the blanket blocking of entire sites such as Facebook a new, far more sophisticated, system will be put in place by the TRA that will only block sections of sites.

The report says: "...sections of social networking websites such as Facebook that encouraged dating would be banned... but the rest of the site would be accessible.

The new system will apply throughout the UAE, including the free zones and will be announced, they say, by the end of the year.

Story is here.

"Watch what you wear"

"A range of popular T-shirts that sold out in Dubai could land you six months behind bars if you wear one, 7DAYS can reveal. The gents’ garment has an offensive four-letter word printed on the front, in bright yellow. The slogan reads: ‘**** fashion, go punk’ and was printed across T-shirts being sold by clothing store Vero Moda.

Police have warned people to be careful when buying clothes with images and slogans on, in case they cause offence to certain religions and cultures.

A CID officer with Dubai Police said anyone caught wearing such a T-shirt could be arrested and referred to court. He told 7DAYS: “It is an indecent act and we would warn the person who wears it and the shop which sells it. If the person is caught wearing it a second time we would punish them by referring them to the court to decide the penalty.”

(...)The men were riding a motorbike when they were involved in an accident and taken to Rashid Hospital in Dubai. Staff there noticed the offensive shirts - which displayed an obscene image - under the mens’ jackets and complained to the police. An investigation was carried out and the men were referred to public prosecution. They were eventually found guilty in court and jailed."

It's about time such an incident was reported - the full article can be viewed here.

20 February, 2008

Dubai's new record-breaking feat

Here we were thinking that Minnesota's next-gen St. Anthony Falls Bridge was kicking up the next generation of mega engineering a notch from even the quake-proof Bay Bridge Skyway. But leave it to Dubai to build it way harder, faster and stronger—or, at least in the case of this newly approved design from New York's Fxfowle architects, way cooler.

...this as-yet-unnamed span will be the world's largest arch bridge, with 2000 vehicles set to cross its 12 lanes—per hour, in each direction—when it's slated for completion in 2012. At 670 ft. tall, Dubai's next super structure will stand higher than the George Washington Bridge (604 ft.) but fall short of San Francisco's existing Golden Gate Bridge (746 ft.).


19 February, 2008

Most Anti-Dubai Article That I Have Seen

In Australia's The Age: Dubai's rags-to-riches miracle built on the toil of exploited foreign workers
[The laborers] live in a slum called Sonapur, hidden in the dunes between Dubai and Sharjah. Without Sonapur, Dubai's architectural bling, its spas and tax-free splendour probably wouldn't exist. It's a Middle Eastern Soweto, where as many as 500,000 foreign labourers — mostly illiterates from the impoverished rural villages of the subcontinent — that build Dubai are housed in some of the most depressing conditions I've witnessed. Its a Hogarthian dystopia that should shame Dubaians, if they knew much about it. Or cared...

Its wretched sprawl of workers' filthy dormitories is an anonymous slum hidden from the Dubaians whose apartments its residents built. The best way to find Sonapur is to follow one of the worker buses that shuttle between Dubai's many building sites. About 90 minutes later, you'll be deposited in a sand-swept plain of four-storey dormitories sprawled as far as the eye can see, punctuated by the occasional provisions store selling ghee, naan and curry powders. Dubai gleams with world-class infrastructure but Sonapur didn't get much of it. Many of its roads are gravel and sand with no kerbing and few footpaths. Open sewers are common...

It is almost as if Dubai's employers have scanned the world and zeroed in on the poorest 20 nations to staff their projects. Promised riches but paid salaries well below the poverty line, they've been found jobs by unscrupulous middlemen charitably described as "employment agencies" who wouldn't have been out of place in 1780s Atlanta.

18 February, 2008

DEWA raises prices to encourage conservation... among expats only :(

More prices rising here.

Your water bill will go up if you use more than 6000 gallons per month. All water beyond 6000 is priced at 3.5 fils per rather than 3. And if you use more than 12,000 gallons you'll be charged 4 fils per gallon.

Also, all electricity beyond 2000 kilowatt hours will be charged 33 fils per rather than 20 fils per for the first 2000 kwh.

As an example, I live in a villa in Jumeirah and I have a family of six. We used about 20,000 gallons of water last month. There is no way we could make it down to the 6000 gallon level. We also used about 3400 kilowatt hours last month. I doubt we'll be able to make it down to the 2000 level as well. And I might add that we try to keep lights off when possible and not leave appliances on when no in use.

And all this new "conservation" encouragement is for expats only. Emiratis are exempt.

So why are only expats encouraged to conserve? This sounds more like a simple price hike rather than a conservation effort. Of course, we can all chant the expected response in unison... "It's their country, they can do what they want". But the question is SHOULD they do this? Is it good for Emiratis to not be encouraged to conserve?

I for one think it's bad for them. What do you think?

17 February, 2008


Rigged - a biography based on John D'Agostino who worked for the New York Mercantile Exchange (the Merc) which is the oil trading floor on Wall Street.

At the invitation of Sheikhs Maktoum and Mohammed, he flies to Dubai to initiate the plan to open up the Dubai Mercantile Exchange in partnership with the NY Merc.

Along the way there are the usual tales of Dubai as he is courted and feted as a visitor to the country, including visits to nightclubs, Emirates Airline crew parties and car races along Sh. Zayed Road.

Good read! More about it on our blog for those who are interested.

Coming soon to a bookshop in the UAE - but then again, maybe not!

Update: In the Comments, hallodubai has reported that the book is available at Dubai Duty Free.

good on Al jazeera

Arabic countries have adopted a charter to allow
censorship and punishment of satellite TV channels
which offend Arab leaders or religious symbols.
Except Qatar, home to al-Jazeera, who refused.



Underground Dubai

license plate record

"Abu Dhabi: Licence plate No 1 broke the world record as the most expensive, fetching a whopping Dh52.2 million in fierce bidding in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Saeed Al Khouri, 25, a businessman in Abu Dhabi, won the number plate after a furious contest in the final stages of the auction conducted at the Emirates Palace hotel.

He broke the record by paying more than double the previous record which went to plate No 5 that sold for Dh25.2 million and is owned by his cousin Talal Ali Mohammad Khouri, also a prominent businessman."

more HERE

"Dubai is the sizzle. Abu Dhabi is the steak."

Interesting travel article, originally from the Chicago Tribune, describing Abu Dhabi to would be American tourists:
If Dubai and Abu Dhabi were `50s film idols, Dubai would be Marilyn Monroe. Abu Dhabi would be Grace Kelly.

Dubai is the sizzle. Abu Dhabi is the steak. [brn - first thought when I read this: "Zing! Take that Dubai!"]

Dubai is the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates that gets all the attention. Some 60 miles away, the nation's political capital of Abu Dhabi has gone largely overlooked. But Abu Dhabi doesn't have to stand for that anymore, and it isn't going to.

And, just to pick up on Proud Emirati's post about tourists behaving badly, it gives helpful info about how to dress (nothing about not kissing though):
Dress code is on the side of modesty. Women should wear blouses with sleeves, calf-length pants or skirts (but no slits), and avoid exposing cleavage and midriff. There's no need to wear a scarf. Men should wear shirts with sleeves and long pants.

16 February, 2008

Ski Jebel Hafeet?

Has anyone heard anything about this?

Controversial plans to build an indoor ski slope on the highest peak in Abu Dhabi are being considered by local developer Tamouh Investments, as part of a major mixed-used development...

The project is controversial as it will radically alter the appearance of Jebel Hafeet...

Although the scheme will use the natural slope of the mountain, it will still require substantial work to alter the profile of the mountainside.

The developer hopes that the ski slope will meet criteria for Olympic events, creating a year-round training facility for top-class skiing.

The whole article is subscription only, but a copy of it can be found elsewhere.

I'm already on record at my blog that Jebel Hafeet should be left alone, but this seems beyond belief.

When will my ISP ever give me this unique offer?

An extract of an article from the Gulf News dated February 15, 2008:

"Bahrain's leading telecom operator Batelco on Thursday said it will credit its customers' internet accounts with 50 per cent of their monthly rental broadband charge due to the recent undersea cable damage.

While Batelco is not obliged contractually to offer any reimbursement for such unforeseen incidents, the company believes that such an occurrence, where three international cables were almost simultaneously damaged, requires a unique response."

Batelco chief executive Peter Kaliaropoulos: "We understand that, while no fault of Batelco, our customers were severely inconvenienced. Consistent with our brand values and customer care principles, we are offering this once off payment recognising the unique circumstances," he stated.

Read the complete article at the Gulf News website.

I hope some one in the customer department of our Internet Provider is reading this and takes take a cue from Batelco by offering a similar deal to the UAE Internet Community.

15 February, 2008

Wedding in style

Dubai: Hamad Mohammad and Elyazia Al Mansoori are getting married on March 21.

While Hamad and his family are busy running around booking the ballroom, arranging the decorations, food and entertainment, Elyazia must not do anything other than shop and groom herself.

"I saw my future bride at an engagement party and before then, I wasn't really thinking of getting married. It wasn't planned; I just saw her and decided that I wanted to marry her," said Mohammad.

According to protocol, the future groom's mother has to speak to his beloved's mother to test the waters.

"I told my mother I wanted to marry Elyazia. Luckily she agreed. She spoke to Elyazia's mother and they arranged for the men of both families to meet." (...)

The wedding:

(...) My dress costs Dh40,000. I'm also buying creams, nightgowns, jalabiyas, abayas, bags and shoes."

A bride cannot take anything from her family's house and so has to have a new set of clothes and accessories.

Dh70,000 grant is not sufficient, Emiratis say.

Some people may think it is insane that the UAE gives nationals Dh70,000 to get married, but after they read how expensive it is to get married, they will change their mind.

The decision to establish the Fund came in 1992 by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to encourage and help nationals get married.

Although many nationals are grateful that such a fund exists, after the increase in prices and living expenses in the UAE, some nationals agree that Dh70,000 is not enough. (...)

Full article referenced to above here

14 February, 2008

Dubai Property Developers must be quaking in their boots

From the Best Syndication website, the following article written by Pankaj Mohan appeared yesterday. Although the grammar is not the best, the content will be of great interest to property owners in Dubai:

Dubai's buyers can finally decide to have a sigh of relief, since they can buy now properties insured against any structural damages. The buyers used to be left in lurch until today whenever any structural damage came to light after the properties were handover.

They couldn't ask for any legal proceeding or compensation due to the lack of proper laws they had. But, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) has finally decided to change this scenario, and introduced a new law which makes developers responsible for damages that might get noticed after the property had been handed over. The buyers will be free to approach the regulatory body whenever there seemed to be any breach of law taking place. Scores of Dubai apartments, furnished villas, hotels and Dubai hotel apartments will come under the purview of this new legislation....

Serious wall cracks appearing within 10 years of the property handover can be a case for compensation, and any electrical, mechanical and plumbing related faults can be challenged in the first year after handover.

Read the whole article

13 February, 2008

Gear up for more traffic

The Garhoud Bridge closure and the Al Nahda roundabout closure has led to increased traffic. According to an Arabian Business report, it's still not over.

Dubai motorists are in for further traffic chaos from Wednesday night with the closure of parts of Sheikh Zayed Road to allow for the construction of a pedestrian bridge.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said on Tuesday the closure would affect the fast lane in both directions of the road between Defence Interchange and the Trade Centre roundabout.

The lanes will be closed from Thursday at 1am to Sunday at 5am, the RTA said.

Maitha bin Adai, CEO of RTA Traffic and Roads, said the new pedestrian crossing was required to cut the number of pedestrian fatalities on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Posting Guidelines

I have updated the posting guidelines and created a link to them at the top of the page; if you plan on posting please take a look at them. If you have suggestions etc please leave them in the commenting section or email sam@samurai-sam.com

11 February, 2008

Hail the Emperor

Has the last post by UAE Alias disappeared by itself or what? Never expected this from you SamuraiSam since you & your co-admin Secret Dubai talk so much about freedom of speech. I think freedom of speech is a two way road. I am really disappointed.

By the way, if this post offends your highness, don't just remove it but also remove me as a member of this blog too.

10 February, 2008

You know you lived in the UAElong enough when

I had a lot of positive feedback about this post and I thought by reposting on the UAE Community blog I might be able to put a smile on a few more faces. :-)

You know you have been here for a while:-

  1. You remember playing games at Sindbad
  2. Dixie Cola was a rival to Pepsi. In fact coke wasn't around when I was a kid.
  3. You remember Al Ghurari Centre and how it was the only shopping mall around
  4. You remember the opening of the first McDonalds at Al Ghurari Centre and the crowds that flocked to it
  5. You remember Naif as a residential area and not a 'Meat Market'
  6. Trade Centre was a TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALL building and could be seen from miles around
  7. Chicago Beach!! And there was a stretch of open beach right next to it. Now its Jumierah Beach Hotel and the Madinat Jumeirah complex
  8. The Shindagha Tunnel would often leak and they would regularly close it down for repairs
  9. When you'd travel abroad NO ONE knew where Dubai was and you would always have to say things like: " Its next to Saudi or Iran"
  10. Sharjah was the happening city and families would go there for their parks
  11. Sharjah had that flyover right at the beginning of the city onto wahda street which would make me and my friends 'stomachs tickle' every time you would cross it. We nicknamed it 'tickle bridge'.
  12. Dubai Sharjah highway had a very famous and popular site now dwarfed by all the construction. The KFC and Hardees restaurants which became a family hangout spot.
  13. You know you are a kid from Dubai if you remember the biggest toy store back then: Dhadabai ( dunno if i got the spelling right) . There was a huge store located opposite present day Hamarain Centre/ JW Marriott.
  14. Channel 33 used to air an Indian movie at 10:30 on Thursday nights
  15. There was a falcon roundabout just as you came out of Shindagha tunnel and a flame roundabout near present Danata
  16. The expo centre in Sharjah was the most happening place in the late 70's and 80's. Everyone would come from all over to watch the circus, shop, eat the ice creams etc
  17. All the local TV channels would have "prayer intermission". A notice which would appear for a few minutes on the screen before the daily prayers.
  18. The cartoons, remember Grundaizer & Jungar and Captain Majid
  19. Sharjah fish and vegetable market pretty much remains unchanged through the decades.
  20. Al Ain fun city was Disney land! Al Nasr Leisureland ( and you could ice skate) was next, followed by Al Jazeera Park in SHJ.
  21. Gulf News back in late 70's was in the format of today's tabloid section.
  22. Junior news and Young times? I used to love Young times!
  23. Hardrock cafe was the first and ONLY 'sky scraper' on SZR you saw when coming from Abu Dhabi
  24. The road to Abu Dhabi was two-lane and had speed humps
  25. Desert Springs Village was in the desert and had a licensed bar
  26. It took 15mins. from Deira to Safestway via Shindaga
  27. Safestway was originally called Safeway but had to change its name
  28. You remember Dubai as just Bur Dubai and Deira
  29. you remember the old Emirates petrol pumps( not Emarat) and that they did not sell anything other than car oil and petrol (no drinks/snacks etc)
  30. You remember Al Nasr cinema, the first cinema to show English movies. It was then followed by Galleria Cinema in Hyatt Regency
  31. The first escalators, in the Al Ghurair Centre, being an attraction to people who'd never seen a moving staircase.
  32. Lamcy was originally just simple department story before it got burned to the ground.
  33. Hyatt Regency was the only place for Ice skating (waaay before Lesiureland)
  34. You remembern SunTop Juice!! and used to collect it stickers
  35. Safa Park looked so big and on the way to Safa Park the Big Chinese Villa could be seen.
  36. When camels were a hazard on the highway.
  37. You remember a time when there were only taxis in dubai when dubai buses were launched
  38. Cabs did not have a meter in then until the mid 90's. Prior to that you would stop a cab, tell them your destination and bargain over the price before you got in. The first Dubai Tranport cabs were Merc e-class
  39. The police used to place radars on the road with a policeman standing close by it. If you exceeded the speed limit the policeman would radio in your plate number to a patrol car a few kilometres down the road who would pull you over and issue you a fine on the spot
  40. You've seen the etisalat building being built and always wondered why on earth they placed a massive golf ball on the top
  41. The Bank of Baroda building in bur dubai as the biggest building in that area..
  42. You could buy ice cream from those ice cream trucks near the Khalid lagoon (yuummmm!!!)
  43. The Galadari roundabout being one of the most beautiful and biggest one of them all..
  44. Trade centre roundabout as just a roundabout with fountains

Continue the list people... i will add them from the comments

Mall of the emirates: No kissing please, you are at a mall

Published: February 07, 2008, 08:59

By Mohammed N. Al Khan, Staff Reporter

Heed these signs

The blue sign placed on the sliding glass doors advises visitors to:

  • "Please wear respectful clothing"
  • "No kissing or overt displays of affection"
  • "No smoking in the mall"
  • "No consumption of alcohol in the mall"
  • "No dangerous activities, ie sport games, rollerblading or skateboarding"



09 February, 2008

We are with Gaza #2

Why on earth is it so much on the real owners of the land to fight back? How the real owners are are terrorists for not accepting the injustice? Why is it ok for the owner’s women and kids to be killed on their land? In what logic a person isn’t supposed to hate who is responsible for him being homeless and hurt? Is it ok for someone to come kick you out of your house and torture your family? What if that person did that to your whole country??
It is funny when I see these radical opinions about Palestinians and I’m sure the owners of these opinions didn’t really think of these questions, but if they really asked themselves these questions and still came up with the same conclusion then wow.
I value the real men of Gaza and I pay them my respects, not only me but all the Arabs and Muslims I know share this opinion with me. Being neutral about our brothers and sisters being slaughtered on their own land isn’t an option for us.

Videos of Today:

Palestinian Refugee Testimony of what actually happened

How legal is the occupation?

The Killing Zone - the reality of Palestinian suffering:
About this video,
"A clip from "Dispatches: The Killing Zone" (Channel 4 UK, 2003, director Rodrigo Vazquez), showing perhaps one of the most tragic of several documented cases of Palestinian civilian casualties of Israel's 'war on terror' - even though this victim, a schoolgirl shot through the head while sitting in class in a UN-run school in Gaza, survives her injuries. When she awakes from coma she and her family find out the brain injury she suffers has made her blind."
Click here to watch.

Gaza: The Killing Zone - Israel/Palestine:
About this video,
"A hard-hitting expose of life in the Occupied territories. We speak to the children caught in the crossfire and find out the true cost of Israel's targeted assassinations policy."
Click here to watch.

The Cable-Cutter Mystery: Spies, lies, and "conspiracy theories" – what's behind the Middle East internet outage.

By Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com

[...Yet theories that this incident prefigures a US attack on Iran don't comport with the facts: Iran, far from being isolated by the cuts, may have enjoyed better connectivity as a result of the events. The areas hardest hit were Kuwait, Egypt, and especially Pakistan – this last being a likelier target for isolation than Iran, and certainly more current ....
Another, and far more plausible, theory is that the seemingly coordinated cuts resulted from efforts to tap into the cables – a spying operation. Go here for an exhaustive and very convincing case for viewing this as "special warfare.".........]

More here.

Another interesting post from the Galloping Beaver blog:
[....What does this have to do with anything? Well, first of all, the sheets and pages of information on USS Jimmy Carter's multi-mission capabilities have all disappeared off the US Navy's sites. Even the commissioning announcement at
Commander Submarine Group Two is gone.

So, at the risk of perpetrating a conspiracy theory, I will state that I am highly suspicious and until someone can point at USS Jimmy Carter snuggly alongside at its berth in Bangor, Washington, the Bush administration becomes as strong a suspect as any other possible perpetrator. There is also the fact that USS Jimmy Carter was due to become operational this year....]

More here.

I don't personally subscribe to conspiracy theories. But it's always interesting to analyze and speculate over this stuff. : )

08 February, 2008

A Snapshot of Dubai, Arab Melting Pot

"My friend Puneh from Tehran loved it, but Nazir couldn't stand it. She lived in a house in Dubai complete with lilac bushes and European aspens in the front yard, gardeners who kept the lawn manicured and neighbors from Europe, the Middle East and North America, who drove Volvos, Porsches and Jeeps.

"So many interesting people," says Puneh, an art dealer. "I felt so free, as a person, as a woman and as an individual."

"This pompousness, this manufactured perfection. There is nothing real about this city," says her friend Nazir, an artist. "I could hardly breathe anymore. I wouldn't have been able to paint a single painting there."

Nazir lasted in Dubai for eight days, precisely the duration of his first show, before fleeing back to Tehran. After that he would spend long hours talking to Puneh on the phone, begging her to come home. She did—and regretted it. What she gave up was a life in the most modern, fast-paced, flashy and superficial city in the Middle East."

more HERE


Briton jailed for 4 years in Dubai after customs find cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar under his shoe
"Earlier this week, Keith Andrew Brown, a 43-year-old from Middlesex was imprisoned for four years after 0.003g cannabis was found in the tread of his shoe.

Brown was stopped in transit from Ethiopia to London last September.

The amount of the drug found on his shoe would not be visible to the naked eye and weighs less than a single grain of sugar.

On February 2 a German citizen was detained for an alleged drugs offence when entering Dubai.

Cat Le-Huy, 31, an employee of the production company that makes Big Brother who was living in London, was found carrying melatonin pills to help with jetlag and sleeping problems.

Authorities also claim they discovered fragments in one of his bags which they believe to be hashish.

Le-Huy, head of technical at Endemol UK, maintains the fragments are dirt and has since been held in a detention centre while the fragments, melatonin and his urine are tested. He is expected to be transferred to a prison today.

More than 2,000 people have now signed a petition asking for the British-based technical expert to be released.
"We even have reports of the imprisonment of a Swiss man for 'possession' of three poppy seeds on his clothing after he ate a bread roll at Heathrow."

In reply to the arrest of Le-Huy, 2 websites (http://thetruthaboutdubai.com and http://freediz.com/), a facebook group with 500 members, and a petition containing over 3000 signatures have popped up

06 February, 2008

"Conspiracy theories emerge after internet cables cut"

"Is information warfare to blame for the damage to underwater internet cables that has interrupted internet service to millions of people in India and Egypt, or is it just a series of accidents?

When two cables in the Mediterranean were severed last week, it was put down to a mishap with a stray anchor.

Now a third cable has been cut, this time near Dubai. That, along with new evidence that ships' anchors are not to blame, has sparked theories about more sinister forces that could be at work.

For all the power of modern computing and satellites, most of the world's communications still rely on submarine cables to cross oceans.

When two cables were cut off the Egyptian port city of Alexandria last week, about a 100 million internet users were affected, mainly in India and Egypt.

The cables remain broken and internet services are still compromised.

Telecommunications analyst Paul Budde says the situation demonstrates how interconnected the world is."

more here

05 February, 2008


On the occasion of the events in Gaza I in the name of my UAE local friends, the Arab Muslim brothers /sisters and anybody who is in the side of Gaza would love to start a week of support Gaza on UAE community blog. This blog represents the UAE community and my local community of mine has 100% compassion with Gaza.

The reality in Gaza:

Kids of Palestine:

Israel busted by CNN:

ِFor Israel I say: Over the history the real owners of the land always what is theirs back. You don’t take over someone’s land and treat them like that and expect them not to fight back!

04 February, 2008

Must be them pesky whales again

No ships were present when two marine cables carrying much of the Middle East's internet traffic were severed, Egypt's Ministry of Communications has said, contrary to earlier speculation about the causes of the cut.

The ministry had originally stated that a ship dropping its anchor on the two key cables was most likely responsible for Wednesday's cut in service that robbed Egypt, Saudi Arabia and India of most of their internet connections.

"A marine transport committee investigated the traffic of ships in the area, 12 hours before and after the malfunction, where the cables are located to figure out the possibility of being cut by a passing vessel and found out there were no passing ships at that time," said the statement.

Read the rest of this report

Similar Reports:
ABC News Australia

Khaleej Times

Go figure. I wonder if they checked for submarines?

Update - sexual assault case

"The acquittal of a defendant (who has hepatitis and Aids) of having forceful sex with a 15-year-old boy prevailed after the victim's examination proved he didn't contract any disease, a lawyer told a court on Sunday."

More here

Having unprotected sex with an HIV infected person does not necessarily mean an individual shall be infected - it's a high risk, but not a guaranteed infection.

It is unclear if the defendant was in fact acquitted?

03 February, 2008

By Amira Al Hussaini

Exclusive! - Middle East. "Internet Outage Enrages Bloggers" ;-)

" UAE: Syrian blogger Dubai Jazz, who lives in Dubai, is also angry with an Egyptian fisherman for the breakdown of Internet communications in the region. He writes: I couldn't do anything significant during the slow down. I couldn't even post comments on my own blog let alone others. Gmail was also down. Youtube? … forget about it. All this was because some extra-witty Egyptian fisherman has decided to drop his anchor deep in the Mediterranean. Not only he'd dropped the anchor so deep and hurt one of the cables supplying bites to the Middle East and India, he had also dragged his anchor for 400 meters and cut another main cable in the process. We could live with one cable cut, but two? That, in my standard, is unprecedented. And the fisherman is certainly demented. "

Arabica Report Middle East

Facebook blocked?


Ok someone beat me to the post. So if you want to find a way around it, Google 'circumventor.' I will not say more.

Sam feel free to delete this post whenever you want ;-)

Don't shoot the messenger

Finally the anticipation, the uncertainity, the drama is over. Facebook stands blocked.

02 February, 2008

The Consequences of Fame

"Architecture follows money.......but is it only the architecture?
Over the last 40 years Dubai has transformed from a quiet trading town to a thriving international metropolis. The relative speed with which the emirate has reinvented itself is a testament to its liberal business and neutral political philosophies. Expatriate workers make up an estimated 90% of the population as the figure is expected to reach 5m, lowering the amount of UAE nationals to 1% by 2020.
During the last few years the relations between the UAE and the West, in particular the USA are growing, based on strong and deep historic background as the US was one of the first countries that recognised the UAE federation when launched in 1971 and UAE is a major trade partner to US in the Middle East.

The influence of Western civilization is felt on all aspects of life........"

Khaleej Times Headline Writer is Busted

Read the headline here.

Dubai popular on US Bankers' Wish Lists

Readers polled by Trader Monthly picked a stay at the Raffles Dubai hotel, where the cheapest room will set a guest back $1,600 a night, as their top getaway spot.

"Dubai as a destination has become so alluring. It has that mystical, anything is possible, Disneyland-for-the-rich feel to it," Wenger (Editor of Trader Monthly) said.

Strange the things that get into print.

Why Raffles instead of the Burj Al Arab?

The whole report smacks of advertising for all the mentioned brands.

"US developer in $1bn Dubai property test case"

"A US real estate developer is suing a quasi-governmental Dubai firm for $1bn in damages, claiming its investment in a project in the emirate’s property boom was unjustly cancelled amid a contractual dispute.

The developer, Capital Partners, had in July 2005 made what was planned to be one of the largest foreign investments in the region’s business hub, when it announced plans for River Walk, a mixed-use $1bn project in the busy internet business park located on prime land near the trunk of the reclaimed Palm Island."
The dispute revolves around the existence of a protected archaeological site owned by the emirate’s tourism department within the 1.7m sq ft plot. In October 2005, Capital Partners says it refused to make a second scheduled payment as its partner, Dubai’s Technology, Electronic Commerce & Media Free Zone, or Tecom, had illegally sold it land that belonged to another government entity.

“Tecom misrepresented what they own,” said Jonathan Wride, managing director of Capital Partners. “I am very confident we will receive a judgment in our favour.” Capital Partners, which filed in August, hopes to receive a result in the summer.

Tecom, however, says it had every right to cancel the contract because of the non-payment. The media and internet business cluster owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, claims the archaeological site was never brought up by the US investors before they failed to meet the tight payment schedules. Tecom, in any case, owned the archaeological site, an official said.

--more over there

Vanity Plates Sell For Millions: CNN Video About Abu Dhabi Car Plates Auctions

Car Plate Number 1

CNN's Wilf Dinnick reports on the high price for vanity license plates in Abu Dhabi. Notice that Talal Khouri is willing to pay no more than 15-20 million Dirhams for number (1) plate in the auction on February 16.


01 February, 2008

Taking the Internet Seriously

For the past few years, we have grown accustomed to the annual month of Internet service disruption. Once it was the tsunami, then the earthquake in Taiwan and then a ship's anchor near Alexandria, Egypt. I don't recall hearing of New York suffering from Internet disruption as a result of a submarine cable being damaged or severed. No, I don't recall the UK or anywhere in Europe facing this problem.

So, what is it? They never have extreme weather conditions? Do they bury their cables deep enough that an anchor won't reach it? Or did they happen to invest in enough cables with redundancy in mind?

No one in the Middle East seems to be taking this seriously enough. You would think the first time it happens, people would realize this and start investing money on it. No, sir! It's just the Internet. Who cares? A country like Egypt has 3 cables connecting it to the world. Imagine that! Two of them damaged and now they are telling their citizens to ration their Internet usage.

So, aside from the fact that businesses are being extorted by telco's for Internet services (we are paying 10 times what we would have paid anywhere in Europe or the US for hosting services), they are unable to provide reliable connectivity. It is obviously not their fault alone. It is the entire region that doesn't care.

With the region being drunk with cash and an insatiable appetite for investments, may I suggest this: More fiber-optic cables to ensure we NEVER EVER have such a problem again?

I know we are suffering some major losses as a result of the current situation. Our business model relies on the Internet. Perhaps this region (including the UAE) is not ready for Internet-based businesses just yet. Time to relocate and maybe come back in a decade or so?

Sheikh Hamdan named crown prince of Dubai

According to WAM...

"Dubai, Feb. 1st, 2008 (WAM) - Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has issued a decree in his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, appointing Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Crown Prince of Dubai.

The decree shall go into effect as of today, Friday February 1st, 2008. It shall be published in the official gazette.

Sheikh Mohammed also issued a decree, naming Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Deputy Rulers of Dubai, as of today."

--more here