28 February, 2009

Existential Al Ain Goes to Dubai

EXCLUSIVE -- In this recording you'll hear Rajaa al-Sanea, author of Girls of Riyadh, speaking about women, literature, writing and more during the "Women's Writing from the Arab World: Mansoura Ez Eldin, Haifa Bitar, Sahar el-Mougy, Rajaa al-Sanea with Hani Nakshabandi" talk at Dubai Festival City...

27 February, 2009

UAE blocks Israeli cartoon from YouTube

"ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- United Arab Emirates officials blocked a YouTube cartoon from Israel, featuring two Muslim boys who deflect their father's efforts to make them suicide bombers.
Officials said the cartoon is anti-Islam and racist toward Arabs, al-Arabiya reported.

In one episode, the two boys, Salim and Ahmed make a detour to get ice cream on their way to place an explosive on an Israeli bus. Then they put the bomb on a UAE bus.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said it had gotten complaints about the cartoons, which are subtitled in Hebrew and English.

A spokesman for the TRA said the agency has resisted calls to block YouTube completely. Adult content on the site is automatically blocked, he said."

Original article here

Found via fark.com

26 February, 2009

3rd Bienniel Muslim - Christian Dialogue in Knowledge Village

Some of the students of UOWD are organizing the 3rd Muslim - Christian Dialogue this coming Monday night from 7pm to 10pm in the Knowledge Village Freezone Auditorium. Jumeira Islamic Learning Center sent an announcement recently as well. The topic is "Who is God and How are We Saved?".

Four years ago the group invited Thabiti Anyabwile and Sheikh Tahir Khalid to speak together. Two years ago they invited Pastor Anyabwile and Ahmed Hamed. This year Bassam Zawadi will speak from the Muslim perspective.

The purpose of the event is to foster friendly dialogue and peaceful understanding between Christians and Muslims. All are welcome but especially students. A 60 minute audience question and answer portion will be a part of the program.

Directions: Enter Knowledge Village from Al Sofouh Rd near the base of the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Media City. Parking is available adjacent to Al Sofouh Road. Auditorium is in Block 1 KV Conference Center near the central KV roundabout.

If approaching from Shaikh Zayed Rd, please take exits to KV and proceed to the parking area next to Al Sofouh Road.

25 February, 2009

Book Review

Emaar Properties is commissioning a book about the Burj Dubai. It will not just be any book. Oh no - this being Dubai, it will be of course the largest book in the world.

Someone ought to tell Emaar that it is usually not the size of the book that matters, but what’s in it. Quantity is very rarely preferable to quality. This holds true for property development even if there is severe shortage of housing, but especially when it comes to literature.
A large cover doesn’t make a book automatically interesting to people over the age of three. But then again, the mindset of many people in Dubai may be about that level. And to advertise this feat of Dubai’s intellectual prowess, the big book will be sent around the world. This gives a new meaning to the term ‘book tour’...

I am looking forward to the day when Dubai can send a national author on a worldwide book tour. Just one author of some standing, please. Just one teeny weeny cultural achievement, please. One little drama about foreign labourers and their shattered dreams perhaps? 'Sonapurdog millionaire'? Just one painting or sculpture of value, or, forcryingoutloud even a conceptual art installation to capture the country and times we are living in. Pickled Camel anyone?

I am not asking for Dubai to instantly produce the equivalent to Khalil Gibran or Naguib Mahfouz or Orhan Pamuk (who, through their writing, are directly responsible for interesting me and many other Westerners in the Oriental world, and indirectly for my ill-guided attempt to find it in Dubai).

Perhaps a society must travel through a thousand years to produce artists of this calibre. But, Dubai, why not make a start today? Why not foster culture and the arts instead of getting the 'largest book in the world' made - in England, by English craftsmen, about a building designed by Americans and built by Belgians and Koreans.

It seems Dubai cannot even physically make a book, let alone create literature...

24 February, 2009


What are people's thoughts on ATM's dispensing 50 dirham notes in the UAE?

(they only currently dispense 100, 500 and 1000 dirham notes; and even in the case of 100 dirhams, no, nobody has change.)

23 February, 2009

Statistics update

In January of this year this site passed 1 million page views and 600,000 unique visitors (compiled without any data from the first year because there is none)

(A view of traffic since August 2006 until today)

Here is an update of some statistics I last shared in April 2008 (unfortunately google analytics HTML code changed so there was a bit of information missing from those, in any case it should be pretty averaged out)

Blog creation date: 16th August, 2005 (running 1287 days as of the 23st of February 2009)
Blog members: 308 (up from 291)
Total number of published posts: 2838 (up from 2575)
Average number of posts per day: ~2.2 posts per day (down from ~2.6 posts per day)
Number of blogs linked to via blogrolls (according to blogrolling.com): 326

Total Page loads: 1,035,621 (up from 649,470) (source: statcounter)
Total Unique Visitors: 626,086 (up from 371,279) (source: statcounter)
Most visitors on one day: 31st December, 2008 (4,812 views, 3415 unique visitors according to statcounter) up from: (14th January, 2008 3532 views, 2082 unique visitors according to statcounter)

Technorati authority rating: 77 (up from 73); ranked 65,900 out of 133 million blogs (up from 123,627 out of 121 million blogs)
Number of blog reactions (according to technorati): 474 (up from 373)

Most popular page (is still): http://uaecommunity.blogspot.com/2005/10/dubai-then-and-now-1991-vs-2005.html (1.01%, down from 1.10% of page views) (source: google analytics)

Average time spent on this website: 2 minutes and 39 seconds (source: google analytics)

Highest traffic countries:

  • United Arab Emirates 60.30% (down from 60.58% of traffic)

  • United States 13.37% (down from 13.53% of traffic)

  • United Kingdom 5.39% (up from 5.26% of traffic)

Number of countries having accessed this site: 195 out of 195 countries (up from 183 out of 193 countries)

(This section takes only UAE-based visitors into account)

Most popular browsers:
  • Internet Explorer 65.01% (down from 65.53% of traffic)

  • Firefox 24.90% (down from 25.76% of traffic)

  • Safari 6.83% (up from 5.79% of traffic)

Most popular operating systems:
  • Windows 89.33% (down from 90.50% of traffic)

  • Macintosh 10.21% (up from 9.02% of traffic)

  • Linux (stayed at 0.31% of traffic)

Screen resolutions (never published this previously):
  • 1024x768 = 44.06% of visitors

  • 1280x800 = 21.26% of visitors

  • 1280x1024 = 9.43% of visitors

Random tidbits:
  • 35,823 or 7.74% of people have accessed this site more than 201 times (down from 8.52% of people)

  • 6 people people have accessed this site using a playstation portable (compared to 3 previously)

  • 0.05% of visits were from an iphone

Tons of Cash found in Dubai Laundry: Police Looking for the owner

Around 5 million dollars has been found in a Dubai laundry shop late last night. The police asked the customers at the laundry if it belonged to them but none of them claimed ownership, some even claimed that they didn’t even notice the money on the floor shop.  Police are still looking for the owner.

In an unrelated incident, an irate Russian man was escorted out of the shop for shouting obscenities for no apparent reason.

Dubai court sentences former minister and his managers to two years in jail

"Dubai: A former minister and two of his managers charged with deceiving a businesswoman have been sentenced to two years in jail on Monday.

The Emirati ex-minister, his 26-year-old businessman son, 44-year-old American general manager, and 48-year-old Indian financial manager were charged by Public Prosecution with deceiving the 36-year-old Lebanese businesswoman and alluring her (as a successor) to waive her brother's stake and partnership in the company.

According to the Public Prosecution's charges, the incident happened between May 2, 2005, and May 27, 2008.

A Dubai court acquitted the former minister's son due to lack of evidence and ordered the expatriate managers to be deported after serving the prison term.

The court referred the businesswoman's compensation claim to a civil court."

more here

22 February, 2009

UAE not so expat-friendly?

According to the HSBC Bank International's Expat Exploreer Survey, published at Forbes on the World's Friendliest Countries, the UAE ranked least friendly.
The United Arab Emirates was found to be the most difficult for expats; only 54% of those surveyed said they'd made friends with locals.
Maybe because locals are a really small minority? That's kind of an unfair survey, but this is what happens when you become the world's favorite place to hate.

21 February, 2009

Roddick pulls out of Dubai tournament

Andy Roddick won’t defend his title in Dubai next week because he doesn’t agree with the decision to deny Israeli Shahar Peer a visa to play in a women’s tournament.

“There were a lot of factors why I should probably go, and obviously having played well there doesn’t make it any easier,” Roddick said ....

The mixing of politics and sports was a big part of Roddick’s decision to pull out of Dubai where he won his second of three titles in 2008. Roddick said he has enjoyed himself when visiting the United Arab Emirates but was disappointed to see the government make a decision that reflects poorly on a great tournament.

“I don’t think you make political statements through sports,” Roddick said.

WTA fines Dubai organizers $300,000

"The WTA has fined Dubai Tennis Championships organizers a record $300,000 after Israeli player Shahar Peer was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates.

The Women’s Tennis Association also took steps Friday to compensate Peer and ensure she and other Israeli players won’t be shut out of future tournaments in the federation.

Organizers said at the time that they feared fan anger over Israel’s recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip would spill into riots in the Persian Gulf country if Peer were to play.

Part of the fine will go to Peer and doubles partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany to make up for the prize money they could have won at the lucrative tournament."

more here

20 February, 2009

Emaar-owned John Laing Homes files for Chapter 11

Story here

19 February, 2009

Congressman Says Dubai Will Give Visa to Israeli Man

"The United Arab Emirates will issue an entry visa to Andy Ram of Israel for next week’s Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Representative Anthony D. Weiner said Wednesday.

“I’ve gotten the assurance from the ambassador,” Weiner, Democrat from New York, said by telephone, referring to Yousef Al Otaiba, the U.A.E.’s ambassador to the United States.

The decision to grant Ram a visa to enter Dubai, one of the Emirates, comes after the government’s denial of a visa to another Israeli, Shahar Peer, the 48th-ranked women’s player in the world. She was to play in this week’s tournament in Dubai. The WTA Tour did not cancel the women’s tournament, but the Tennis Channel dropped its weekend coverage."

more here

18 February, 2009

Leading novelist pulls out of Dubai book festival in protest at gay censorship

"Novelist Margaret Atwood has announced she will not attend the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature in Dubai after organisers decided to ban the launch of a book with a gay character.

The author of The Handmaid's Tale will not be among the more than 60 top authors who are attending the cultural event.

In a letter to organisers she wrote:

"I know you have put an enormous amount of work into it, I can imagine how many difficulties have had to be overcome, and I am very sad about the regrettable turn of events surrounding The Gulf Between Us.

"I was greatly looking forward to the Festival, and to the chance to meet readers there; but, as an International Vice President of PEN — an organisation concerned with the censorship of writers — I cannot be part of the Festival this year.""

more here

WSJ pulls Dubai sponsorship over Pe'er

"The Wall Street Journal Europe announced Tuesday that it had revoked its sponsorship of a Dubai women's tennis tournament, due to the United Arab Emirates' refusal to issue an entry visa for Israel's Shahar Pe'er.

"The Wall Street Journal's editorial philosophy is free markets and free people, and this action runs counter to the Journal's editorial direction," the Journal Europe said in a statement.

It added that it was also withdrawing its sponsorship of the men's tournament beginning next week.

In the US, the Tennis Channel has said it won't broadcast the event."

More here

Dubai vs Germaine Greer

If you haven't read about it already Germaine Greer, from the Guardian UK, wrote a one sided slam article about her 4 hour stop in Dubai.

Greer article

What followed was a torrent of comments (which you can read in the article) and a great counter article from a writer and editor with Explorer Publishing.

Counter article

16 February, 2009

Information needed abt employment contracts

Sorry if this sounds a bit stupid, but I'd like to be clear on the legality of things, if anyone has an answer.

Say you signed a contract with someone, wherein you're the employee, and the contract states X amount of salary. Employer one day says he/she has no more money with which to pay you. You still help out as you have personal reasons for doing so, but with no monetary compensation. Under these circumstances, is the person still legally your employer? Can the employee look for and take up another job, should he/she find one?

Of realty ties undone

Read in the pages of Wall Street Journal:

A Dubai deal called into question as boom ends:

Mr. Zadeh's experience, compiled though court and company documents, offers a rare window into the murky business world that helped transform this city from an empty coastline into a metropolis. It also may offer a cautionary tale for investors lured to the city, which bills itself as the modern face of a new Middle East.

…the judicial system in the U.A.E (has long been criticized) for a lack of independence and oversight. In the good times, investors didn't fret much about these shortcomings. Now, some of the same deals that helped build Dubai are coming undone -- in particular, a tradition of off-the-book business partnerships between Emirati citizens and elite expatriates…

Mr. Zadeh has not been charged with a crime. But for the past year, authorities have held onto his passport, making it impossible for him to travel or find work. "I used to believe in the miracle of Dubai. But now I see it all as a mirage," said Mr. Zadeh, 37.

And then in the Financial Times:

The executive at the centre of $100m fraud allegations rocking Dubai’s property sector has hit back with a counterclaim that his accusers have defaulted on more than $18m of debts owed to his company. Kabir Mulchandani, chairman of Dynasty Zarooni, claimed that a series of cheques written by investors had bounced as the real estate industry’s fortunes plunged late last year.

In an interview at Dubai’s Port Rashid police station, where he has been held since last month, Mr Mulchandani told the Financial Times he was pursuing cheques totalling Dh68m ($18.5m, €14.5m, £13m) that were written by Dynasty investors to pay for property. He claimed they bounced in late December as the international financial crisis hit the emirate’s business community.

“This is a wonderful country,” he said, “but ... it is still gearing up to deal with these complaints, because this is the first time they have had a property meltdown.” The case – involving one of Dubai’s largest private real estate companies – highlights concerns that the emirate’s legal system is poorly equipped to cope with the slew of disputes arising as the sector turns sour.

Dubai denies visa for Israeli tennis player

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)— The top official in women’s tennis reprimanded the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for blocking an Israeli player from a premier Dubai tournament, calling the decision to deny her a visa "regrettable"

"All the players support Shahar. We are all athletes and we stand for tennis," said Venus Williams. Reigning French Open champion Ana Ivanovic said: "I really don’t like sports to be mixed with politics."

More here

It may well be insignificant - however, for sake of fair & full disclosure, the fact Peer works for Israeli military should be disclosed in news coverage, I think.

The New York Times had it's "say", as well.

15 February, 2009

JBR Photography

Some snaps from Jumeira Beach Residence...

Also check my Blog

14 February, 2009

Pod cars over Abu Dhabi?

Can anyone verify this?

"A Jetsons-style transit system is set to roll out around Masdar City - electric, elevated podcars that can carry a few passengers at a time around the city, between several customizable destinations."
"Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is a system that has been used at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown for over 30 years (it was invented by a professor there), and now a super-duper version of it is being planned for Abu Dhabi. It runs on an elevated grid, on wheels rather than on a monorail, and each podcar operates independently, taking passengers directly to their destination, bypassing other stops."

Source, and here.

(It would be kinda cool if it were for real.)

13 February, 2009

Most viewed article in the New York Times today

NYT: Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down
“I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia, who asked that her last name be withheld because she is still hunting for a new job. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.”

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.

The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town.

No one knows how bad things have become, though it is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled. But with the government unwilling to provide data, rumors are bound to flourish, damaging confidence and further undermining the economy.
Is it that bad? Wasn't that story about abandoned cars refuted -- no larger than at any other time in the recent past?

UPDATE: The Guardian says,
At the airport, hundreds of cars have apparently been abandoned in recent weeks. Keys are left in the ignition and maxed out credit cards and apology letters in the glove box.

Officials put the number of vehicles at 11. "No one believes that. There are 11 cars abandoned just on my street," said Anne, 26, a fashion editor from London.
The Guardian story discusses the plight not just of the Westerners, but of the expats from the subcontinent:
unlike their British counterparts, construction workers from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan cannot abandon lives in the glove compartment of a 4x4. Most took loans to pay agent fees to come to Dubai, and their debts will follow them home. "I sold our land and took loans in the village to come here," said Imran Hassan, a 20-year-old Bangladeshi farmer. "I paid the agent £2,000 to bring me. He said I would earn 1,500 dirham [£287] a month, but we are paid 572 dirham. When I return people in the village will want their money but I have none."

A Welsh construction site manager said he had protested to his boss about the treatment of labourers. "We tell them to bring their clothes to work one day and then we send them home. It makes me feel sick. I asked why it had to be done so quickly and I was told a lot of them commit suicide and we don't want that on our hands."

10 February, 2009

Fire off Dubai Port

A fire broke out off Dubai Port:
"Local authorities have extinguished the fire that damaged an oil tanker after it collided with a container vessel off the coast of Jebel Ali Port, according to Sarah Lockie, the spokesperson for DP World.

The oil tanker, called Kashmir, was carrying around 30,000 tonnes of petroleum products worth $9 million (Dh33.12 million) from Iran to the Jebel Ali Port when it collided with a mid-sized container feeder vessel around 12:20pm on Tuesday. The incident occurred five miles out in the sea.

Authorities did not mention the cause of the incident.

The entire article on Emirates Business 24/7 can be read here.

Dubai Businessmen: All is good

Three prominent Dubai businessmen confessed.. err.. confirmed that the market situation in Dubai is extremely positive and all rumors about a weak economy and a weaker outlook are just propaganda. The Chinese, British and Indian businessmen affirmed their enthusiasm for the opportunities in Dubai while a friendly government official hovered around to ensure their safety.

08 February, 2009

Watch out !!

Am going to return to UAE after a gap of ten years. I did schooling in AUH and absolutely loved the place. Now that I am coming back to work, life is not going to be as comfortable as it used to be

Now let me be a little pessimistic here; what's that one thing I have to watch out for?


Is it just me or is anybody else having internet problems today?

It's slower than it was when the three cables were broken in the Med. I'm sitting here watching nothing happening for minutes on end and more often than not eventually get the 'couldn't open the web page' message.

I've tried the usual, in the usual order. Shouted at the computer, switched it off and restarted it, shouted at it again, hit it. Nothing works.

Another cable gone maybe?

02 February, 2009

No 'one villa, one family' rule!

What a turn-around!

Dubai: There is no "one villa, one family" rule in Dubai and the campaign against overcrowded villas has been misunderstood, a top civil official said on Sunday.

The municipality has started a campaign against overcrowding in villas to ensure the safety and security of residents," clarified Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of the Dubai Municipality.

He said the campaign was targeted against high numbers of people living in villas meant for smaller numbers.

He said the municipality did not have any problem with more than one family living in a villa, provided it was big enough.

"Families sharing a villa have to seek permission from the municipality to know whether a villa is big enough to accommodate a certain number of people," he added.

So, go the RTA way! Register cars for car-pooling/sharing service and do the same with housing.


This is a genuine request. Is there a fellow blogger residing in the city of Abu Dhabi who can recommend a good doctor (GP)? I really would like to see someone who not only understands English the first time it's spoken, but has a professional manner & is prepared to explain exactly what is going on. Am I asking the impossible?

I can be contacted via the email address on my profile.

Many thanks