31 January, 2009

Thank you Fujairah

I want to post this for all the folks that visited Fujairah this Friday and came to our fundraiser - Fujairah Country Fair - at the Fujairah Tennis & Country Club. It is a slightly long post so please be patient.

Organising a fair first hand was a lot of hard work but the good folks up and down the East Coast of UAE were very supportive and I want to use this public forum to say thank you.

Let me start with the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club. They were generous to us from the start. They allowed us to use their facilities to hold meetings, promote our cause, donated prizes and last but not least allowed us to take over their lawns and car park to set up our stands for the Fair. We cannot thank you enough.

Next on my list has to be Patrick and his team at Le Meridien. Once again - he promised support and delivered in spades. Gave us wonderful prizes that helped us to draw in the funds through our raffles.

For the country fair - I want to also thank Pete Martin - who drove to Fujairah with 4 hours sleep - to DJ at the fair for free, 11th Hour - a group of young people trying to break into the entertainment scene, the fire department, and the volunteers that helped to man the stands and this included a whole host of people and some whose names I do not remember - but all of them baked, pickled, potted, painted, distributed flyers, carried, plied, cajoled, bullied, did whatever was necessary to bring it altogether.

And once again - thank you all for coming and spending your money. I trust you all had fun - I know we all did. This will make a great deal of difference to 49 orphans in Nepal, and at least one of the families in Welfare Association of Fujairah's Family Development project.

Cancellation of iqama call

The National
Things sounded different last week in Abu Dhabi. The iqama call, which plays over loudspeakers some 20 minutes after the call to prayer, signalling the beginning of the congregational prayer, was cancelled.

The General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowment (Awqaf) says the decision is intended to stop people running to the mosque at the last minute.
Although there is currently no indication of this ruling being enforced nationally, Awqaf is a federal organisation. So while the iqama broadcasts continue in the rest of the country, these too might soon be silenced. Almost certainly however, opinions about it will not.

26 January, 2009

As the one with the purchasing power, shouldnt my opinion count?

Is it just me or does anyone else feel they have absolutely no rights as consumers in the UAE? 

Not too long ago, I bought a car. When I gave it in for its first service, they asked me to go to a counter and pick up “taxi coupons”. I was pleasantly surprised. They were going above and beyond the call of duty and offering subsidized transportation. Every time you dropped your car there, you’d get 40 dirhams worth of taxi credit. Sweet. This was when the going was good. 

Then the world economies collapsed, US and the UK went into recession, and somewhere in all of this, I lost 20 dirhams. The company now only offers one coupon for dhs 20, as opposed to two, which was the established norm.  

In a purely financial sense, I can try understand their perspective that every penny counts. But does no one in the UAE know you cannot put a value to customer satisfaction? (Or dissatisfaction?) When companies the world over are/were implementing TQM and six-sigma, you go ahead and take apart a system that was functioning perfectly. Who does that? And why?

This isn’t about twenty dirhams. It’s about being offered something i never asked for. You offered. You knew what you were getting into. To differentiate yourself in the consumer's mind, and as a good-will gesture, you exceeded customer expectations and raised the bar for service delivery. 

Then, as soon as that courtesy became a hygiene factor, you pulled the plug. 

Must every strategy be developed for the short-term returns with no thought for consequences in the long-run?  If the coupon facility was not sustainable, should it have been put in place to begin with? And if it was there, did anyone consider how revoking it would impact the consumer’s attitude towards the brand? or was that not as important as the $ gain?

Absence of established and generally accepted consumer service levels in the UAE leave a bad taste in the mouth. The negativity gets compounded as there is nowhere to go and lodge a formal complaint (letters to the editor in gulf news are not the same thing). 

The only thing I can take home from this experience is that the automobile company needs dhs 20 more than I do. I cant help feel cheated of my rights though; I feel cheated of my dignity. When you give and take at will, you send a very clear signal of who the boss is; and clearly, in this case, it isnt the customer.  

Just for that then, all you car companies that make us buy service contracts that don't cover tires and battery replacements, be very, very afraid.

New media law would make blogger anonymity illegal?

As reported in the Khaleej Times
The law is not clear on blogging, said Gureni Lukwaro, a print media student. Though it does not ban blogging, the law stipulates that the blogger cannot remain anonymous. “Blogging could be regulated by this law. Blogs are free statements, something that cannot be backed by facts as they are only opinions. That is why it is done in anonymity. This law could curb that freedom,” Lukwaro said.
Is this a misreading of the proposed law?

25 January, 2009

Snowfall stuns Ras Al Khaimah residents

Temperature reached freezing point as snow covered a 5 km area in Ras Al Khaimah yesterday. It was the first snowfall of its kind ever in remembered history.
Most local newspapers have it on the front page. This is what the snow in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE looked like, as featured on the cover page of The National newspaper:
More pics and video here: Snow covers Ras Al Khaimah mountains in the UAE

24 January, 2009

Blogg Rolling

Guys, I need some help. I have updated my site and lost my blog roll list. The Blog Roll site has been hacked and its not possible to use their services any more, do you know of any other similar facilities like blog roll?

Fujairah Country Fair

As one of the fundraisers for Fujairah Welfare Association and New Youth Orphanage in Nepal, a few of us (most in Fujairah) are holding a Country Fair - UAE style - at the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club on 30th January (this friday) from 2 - 7pm. Its a family day out with clowns, face painting, henna, coconut shy, hoopla, ugly mug competition and loads more. There are lots of stuff on sale from home-made jams to books and jewellery. There is a flea market and a white elephant stall too.

We also have a stand for Red Crescent who are on a drive to collect clothes, food and medicine for Gaza.

Every little bit helps. So if you are in Fujairah do join us. If you are anywhere else and want something fun to do - join us. You have fun and we raise funds to help a few families get a future.

For more information on our project, visit www.trekkingfornepal.com

22 January, 2009

Caring for Dubai's race camels

Dr Akbar's patient refuses to enter the surgery room. She kicks and growls. But Dr Akbar is used to dealing with stubborn customers as he treats Dubai's racing nd breeding camels.
Today's patient is not eating, and suffering from gastric problems. She is a valuable race camel (Camelus dromedarius) and her owner is concerned.
"He was offered 3 million dirhams (£550,000) for her, but he did not want to sell. She is a speedy racer", says Dr Akbar, director of the Dubai Camel Hospital, UAE.
He continues: "I am going to perform an endoscopy to see if she has ulcerations in her stomach."


Full article here. (check out the cool video too)

21 January, 2009

English newspapers in the United Arab Emirates: Navigating the crowded market

That's the title of a research article in Arab Media & Society by Peyman Pejman an associate professor of journalism and communication at Zayed University in Dubai. In addition to interviews with editors of all six daily English newspapers he also conducted content analysis of the papers. He concludes:
While English papers in the UAE might be dealing a bit more seriously with old or emerging social issues – not political and not much in the financial realm– but their treatment of those issues still resembles, to borrow a term from Pintak, “behavior of a lapdog and not a watchdog.” But will the performance of English newspapers improve? Absolutely; it already has with the debut of The National and reorganization of the Khaleej Times. At the same time, that improvement so far has been in layout and design, not necessarily the content. The National’s editor said he had hoped the launching of his paper “would be a bomb under the journalism market” that could shake up the industry. “When I [launched] the National Post in Canada, it created a market for journalism. Suddenly journalism was valued. Suddenly journalists were valued. That did not happen here.”
That's interesting in light of reports of the consideration of a new gag law prohibiting publication of information that damages "the country's reputation or harms its economy" (shameless plug to my own blog).

20 January, 2009

Journalists' body stands by bloggers

Interesting read:Journalists' body stands by bloggers

19 January, 2009

Deviant Art Blocked in the UAE

Etisalat has et again blocked another harmless site - Deviant Art.com

Many of my friends who are graphic designers use the site to showcase their artwork and portfolios. No idea why they blocked it, but it would be a good idea to petition Etisalat to unblock it.

You can join the Facebook group as well.

Any du users having the same issue?

18 January, 2009

In The Shadow of a Monster

The mushroom clouds are fading from the Gaza skies today, and the phosphor gels no longer shower the women and children tonight, and the people of Gaza have stood tall against a vile and demented monster. A monster that robbed children from their parents, parents from their children and now it returns home. Home to this monster is a parasite nation made up of parasites.


Many will cry for this monster and the parasites, many of them are vampires that shed tears of blood tonight crying for the villages of Sderot, Ashqelon and Beersheba. None of them will cry for the ruins of the villages that were there before the parasites. None of them will cry for the refugees that have been evicted from their lands for no other reason than being an Arab and Muslim. But these vampires are crying tonight.


Lets us not forget though, and I call on each one of you to take part in documenting this aggression against a civilian population that has legitimate right to exist, on its own land, under its own law. I have created this page on my blog that I will use to document this genocide and I would like your help with:


  • ·         The write up of the document
  • ·         Research specific items as needed
  • ·         Submit online media and photos for proof
  • ·         Help raise the awareness of this initiative


Many of you have participated in various activities during the assault to help Gaza, and I ask you to take one more step and help bring justice to these embattled people, and let the world see the abomination of this cancerous state.

The Phaedrus - Gaza Assault Page

Residence Visa

I've looked online but can't find anything on this issue. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place..I don't know. So I thought I'll bring my query over here so that someone could show me where to look exactly or better tell me about it. I basically want to know if a father or a sibling can fund his unemployed son/brother who is above 18 years of age a 1 year residence visa through ANY possible legal way.

Thanks in advance!!!

15 January, 2009

Arrest bad news prognosticators?

Los Angeles Times
He foretold the collapse of Lehman Bros., the U.S. investment bank, and anticipated the resulting plunge of the South Korea currency, the won, all the while castigating policymakers for their blunders.

But prosecutors say Minerva crossed the line.

In a Dec. 29 posting, the online commentator wrote that the South Korean government had ordered financial institutions to stop buying dollars in order to curb the won's fall against the greenback.

The posting devastated the local foreign exchange market, forcing the nation's financial authority to spend $2 billion of its reserves as the demand for dollars surged wildly, prosecutors claim.

To Supplement the Lightning in Dubai

I got the full recording of the lightning/rain/thunder "sound effects" -- 26 minutes MP3 of the rain/thunder/lightning for relaxing and other psychogeographic purposes (e.g. listening to it with headphones while walking in a desert area on a sunny day.)

If anyone is interested in aquiring a copy (for free, of course) of this 26-minute "Rain in Al Ain relaxation tape [MP3]", please email me and I'll send it to you.


14 January, 2009

Do I really need to say anything!!! :D

Note: for those who can't make it out...the lightning has hit Burj Dubai!!! I saw it hit the building atleast a dozen times!!!

Rain in Al Ain

Maybe you would like to hear some of the thunder and rain we had in Al Ain early this morning. (via existential al ain) [Yes, this link is to my blog, sorry, but you may not have been able to hear otherwise.]

Islamic Events and Talks in Dubai

The Facebook Group 'Islamic Info in Dubai' gives information on the different talks, events and general Islamic resources available in Dubai including books, literature, DVDs on Islam available in Dubai.

This group also lists the different Islamic talks happening at the various Islamic centers and Universities in Dubai.

JOIN 'Islamic Info in Dubai' on Facebook

Click Here to Join

Wagyu anyone?

I was really surprised when restaurants in the UAE started to offer Wagyu and other Japanese beef variations on their menu plans.
Today, the National even covered this Japanese delicacy.
What I am wondering about, is how this meat can be labelled as "Halal" on the menus, because as you may or may not know, these animals are being fed Beer and Sake. There are now many farmers in Europe which have switched to breeding Japanese cattle because they can make more money with it.

10 January, 2009

A New Day in Gaza

They are those who would you like you to believe that there is justification for this brutal onslaught. Some would site defense, others would refer to the fight of terrorism and some would even blame the victim. None would ever mention that this is an occupation, and occupation that is merciless, and an occupation that has lasted more than any other in modern history.

Many have preached the virtues of freedom, democracy and understanding, most of them now either are quiet, and the disgusting ones try to force their sick rationalizing down our throats. They want us to see why our children, women and men need to be killed. They want us to stand up applaud every time a young freedom fighter is blown to pieces and call it progress towards peace. A new middle east, they say.

To them I say that the children in Gaza are our children, their families are our own families, and the freedom fighters are our hope for a new tomorrow. We will not let them suffer no more; we will not stand by and let vampires have their way. Palestine for us is all of Palestine, and we will send our ghetto visitors to their ghetto homes sooner or later.

Today all across the Middle East people protested, and many in Dubai and the rest of the Emirates did the same, and today the resistance, in the embargo ridden land, is still standing tall. Today, 6 toddlers where found alive next the bodies of their mothers, scared and hungry in their home in Gaza.

We are all Gaza today, and are all Palestinians. To the rest of the world, take your hypocrisy elsewhere.

Repost from The Phaedrus

06 January, 2009

Freej Folklore

Just to let you all know that Freej Folklore, the major Arab theatrical production that's running at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena from the 8th-17th January, is offering two tickets for the price of one up until Thursday. We're blogging the run-up to the event here and the official website's here.

04 January, 2009

Gold-diggers and speculators cut journey times on Dubai roads

The situation in the world is pretty crazy these days. The situation here in the UAE is no less special. We've opened up our doors, e-gates, airports and hotels; embracing capitalism with open arms and welcoming everyone and anyone with a passport by "adding value" via the pink stickers you can get at your nearest Immigration and Naturalisation branch, typically valid for 3-years.

Now you can really reap the benefits (and drawbacks) to such a model. Ok there is a liquidity problem in the UAE and the world, but on the flip side I can safely say that traffic in the UAE and especially Dubai has become better. I think I can even call it "manageable". This is a great thing and a time for us to rejoice. We can spend less time on the road and more time with those we love.

Last thoughts: Where have all the gold-diggers and speculators gone to? Where is their next Dubai? Maybe they have gone to volunteer in Gaza?

02 January, 2009

H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al-Mualla

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan mourns the death of Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Umm Al-Qaiwain, H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al-Mualla, who passed away Friday morning in London.

A week state of mourning has been declared during which flag will fly at half mast, while all ministries and other government departments and institutions will close for three days beginning from today, Friday.

May Allah the Almighty grant the soul of the deceased perfect peace and his family and the UAE people the patience to bear the great loss.

Aid Points for Gaza in UAE

I was looking for concrete charitable organisations within UAE to whom I could donate to for Gaza.

I came across Aramex, and I thought I'd let everyone know they have a Gaza Campaign going on in UAE and will be collecting donations in:

  • Mall of the Emirates
  • Deira City Centre
  • Sharjah City Centre
  • Ajman City Centre.
  • Carrefour, Airport Road - Abu Dhabi
  • Al Ain Mall, Al Ain - Abu Dhabi

  • They require:

First Aid kits, medical emergency supplies, chronic illness medication, Personal hygiene products, Non-perishable foods, New clothes, Tents and Blankets.

Some things which Israel is NOT allowing through:

  • Salt
  • Whole Dates (only seedless dates are allowed)
  • Used/old clothes (only NEW clothes are allowed)

Please ensure the validity date is at least 6 months for food and at least 1 year for medicine.

Donations are accepted from 1st of January till the 11th of January.

Please pass on the word and if you know of any other organisations who are sending aid to Gaza and need donations within UAE, please post them here including their locations. The death toll has gone past 400 and there are thousands injured and in need.


You can also donate through [Funds & might be out of the Country]:

Dubai Cares Campaign: From Jan 14th to Jan 20th.

Dear Friends,

Dubai Cares is joining a united front of UAE-based relief and charitable organizations to pledge humanitarian assistance and mobilize the UAE community to help alleviate the suffering of children in Gaza. There are approximately 275,000 students of primary school age in Gaza and Dubai Cares is asking for your help to support them in this time of need.

Here's how you can help. Dubai Cares is currently recruiting volunteers to help package 50,000 basic school kits and 50,000 hygiene kits for the Children of Gaza. Approximately 150 participants are needed each day for this event as we are aiming to assemble approximately 10,000 kits a day. We would be honored if you could join us.

Dubai Cares will supply all of the items required for the kits and we need your help to pack and prepare them for shipping to the children of Gaza.

Date: Wednesday, January 14 through January 20, 2009
Venue: DIFC (Emperor Hall)
• Weekdays: 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
• Friday January 16, 2009: 2:00 -6:00 p.m.
• Saturday January 17, 2009: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

You are welcome to join us anytime. Please bring your friends and family to the venue during our working hours and we will put you to work. You can also help us spread the word by forwarding this email to others who you believe may want to help. We will have snacks and beverages available.

Should you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at Gaza@dubaicares.ae .

We hope you will be able to join with us to show solidarity for the children of Gaza.

Kawthar Bin Sulayem

Also, please, keep any political talk about Israel/Palestine out of this. You all can argue about it somewhere else. This post is about sending aid and helping people. Thank-you.