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!