30 March, 2009

DEWA - Consumer Award

In an unusual turn of events, DEWA chose my father to be one of its 'Best Consumers'.

Along with a lot of goodies like power saving bulbs, water filters, t-shirts, chocolates, stress balls, soft toys and calenders, he was awarded with this :

and this :

and this :

It was totally random, he got a call a month or 2 ago informing him he had 'won'. No one really paid attention, until he got an sms last week asking to appear at the DWTC with a recent DEWA Bill. I also recall someone from DEWA stopping by once asking a lot of questions like, when was the last time we were on vacation, size of the apartment, number of people staying and the relations between them.

Basically, they were keeping a watch on a number of customers whose electricity and water consumption has been decreasing over the past few years and we turned out to be one of them!

A very surprising gesture from the government of Dubai! Although I somehow feel they went a little overboard with the 'prize' and freebies, I have noticed DEWA making a lot of efforts on creating awareness. Sometime last year they were handing out pamphlets on ways and means to minimise unnecessary water and electricity usage.

Are you doing your share at home and work?

Ozzy man dash

I met a realtor from a new land
Who said: Two thousand vast and windowless lumps of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visa card lies, whose front
And wrinkled strip sneers of cold payment demand
Tell that its sucker well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless bills,
That hand that shopped them and the bank that fed.
And on the windscreen those words appear:
“my name is Ozzy Man me arse, kingpin of booms:
Look at my books, ye Investors, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundary wall-less and bare,
The lone already levelled sands stretch far away.

Grace period for cancelled visa holders may be extended

According to an Emirates Business report, people made redundant during the current crisis can get more time to stay and look for another job:

"The new policy, which may be announced in the first half of this year, is expected to address the potential cases of job cuts due to the financial crisis. Currently, the UAE labour and immigration laws require expats who have lost their jobs to find work within a month – or leave."

29 March, 2009

Idiot Hour

'Seven Days' or is it 'Five Days' now?) reports -

“[Dubai], Abu Dhabi and Sharjah were plunged into darkness yesterday as the UAE showed its commitment to fighting climate change by joining cities across the globe to observe Earth Hour. More buildings and homes than ever before marked the hour in Dubai by switching off non-essential lighting to make a stand on reducing global warming and carbon emissions.Lights were switched off or dimmed at landmarks across the emirate between 8.30pm and 9.30pm including the Burj Al Arab, Emirates Towers and Madinat Jumeirah, and at The Walk in Jumeirah Beach Residence hundreds of people gathered to stage a candlelit vigil.[…]"

Between 8:30 and 9:30pm on Saturday night another commitment was made over at Nad Al Sheba racecourse: the extraordinary commitment to illuminate the World’s richest horse race with an approximate 5 to 10million of Watts producing some 600milllion + lumens from sodium vapour floodlights above the race track. Now here is what I call commitment to “Earth Hour”!

The race meet started in the late afternoon and lasted well into the night. The same night hundreds of well meaning morons gathered at Jumeirah Beach Residence to hold candles into the rainy night with self-congratulatory grins on their faces. This warm feeling of being amongst like-minded folk in sandals….Doesn’t it always feel so…, like, right, to remonstrate with those who agree with you?

There is nothing wrong with the intention of saving energy, nor with actually doing it. Turn out the lights when you leave a room (unless there is someone else still in it). Don’t waste electricity, or water, or fuel - or anything, for that matter. But do not, please, pretend that your little futile gesture once a year at 8pm makes even a iota of a difference.

The CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is quoted in the article as saying that he “hoped that this year’s event would double the amount of energy saved last year”.
Mind you, that’s double of a relative saving made during one hour of 1/364th part of a year. If we measure success in millimetres then we are indeed making giant leaps!

Well, may I put forward a little suggestion here to the CEO of DEWA of how to save even more energy in a country that produces more carbon dioxide and uses more water per capita than any other country in the world:
Start by scrapping utility subsidies for the 10% of the population who consume nearly 40% of resources. Mr. DEWA, free water and discounted power for the local population is not likely to encourage conscientious use of energy. Duh. Imposing higher rates for everyone does. Levying a tax on fuel or simply increasing prices does. Fuel costs about 4 to 5 times less in the UAE than in Europe. People will drive smaller, more efficient cars if fuel prices go up.

There is scope to make a difference right HERE in front of our noses. And sorry Mr. DEWA, yes, you too might have to pay full price for your utilities. Then I shall talk to you about energy saving measures.

Let's recap: a minuscule energy saving made during one hour of one day of the year in the most consumerist and wasteful country on Earth (per capita) is being celebrated with candlelight vigils whilst at the same time an extra 5million plus Watts are spent on a nighttime race meet, which – let me stretch my perverted imagination here - couldn’t by any chance have been held during daytime hours? So as to, perhaps, make a difference?

As the saying goes. You can fool some people all the time and all people some time, but you can fool all those at Jumeirah Beach Residence holding candles all the time.

Now guys, stick your “Earth Hour” where it’s always dark and get down to saving energy proper.

28 March, 2009

ACQUITED on appeal

The story in the story is that Zawya would run this story.

Vertical Farming with Seawater


"The vertical farm features a soaring spire with pod-like ‘sky-gardens’ branching off to give it an organic feel in keeping with designers aims to create a clean, green, sustainable source of food for a more self-sufficient Dubai. The concept makes use of the Seawater Greenhouse process, which uses seawater to cool and humidify the air that ventilates the greenhouse and sunlight to distill fresh water from seawater to enable the year round cultivation of high value crops that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to grow in hot, arid regions such as Dubai. This is in stark contrast to costly and energy intensive desalination plants that rely on boiling and pumping to produce fresh water."

Only at concept stage right now, so in other words, the details of how the thing would actually work have yet to be thought through. I wonder if it also rotates?

Click the above link to read the whole article and see 7 drawings.

Sustainability. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Meh - get the solar power farms working first.

Etisalat Gone Haywire!

Was it just me?? At around 11 a.m. this morning when I was trying to routinely go online and check a few websites, everything was coming up blocked, blocked, blocked... everything! After a while of closing and reopening my browser, trying a different browser and rebooting the router, everything was still coming up with the blocked message.

After several minutes the Abu Dhabi Police website link worked, then the Etisalat link and more and more started to come back online. Did anyone else have this bizarre experience?

27 March, 2009

Dubai sets its own rules as foreigners flee hard times

AP Report:
"Dubai has been the poster boy for globalisation and the free flow of globalised capital," said Mahdi Mattar, author of the Shuaa Capital report. "It built a reputation as a city run like a company. You see what happens to companies when globalised capitalism begins to fall apart."
At least the article's not touted as being written by a so-called journalist who got to know Dubai by either spending 2 hours in transit at DXB or taking a big bus tour.

UAE citizen's family protects her rapist

Fatima contacted the BBC World Service citizen journalism project, Your Story, because she wanted to share her experiences of sexual abuse growing up within a strict Muslim family in Abu Dhabi.

She suffered many years of abuse before she finally told her mother what had been going on.

Fatima is now 26. She lives in the United States of America where she has just been given asylum and citizenship after establishing that she would be in danger if she returned to her home country.
She became a photographer. See an audio slideshow by following the link.

New site: The Substitute Cook©

Just a post about a new food site (done by me :p):

The Substitute Cook©

For more on concept, visit the site.

Enjoy :)

26 March, 2009

See the FIRST of the Electrical Storms

Electrical storms over the skies in Al Ain last night. And apparently, there will be more! (See video, via EAA)

25 March, 2009

UAE will not implement VAT for now

From what I'm reading in this report from Embiz 24/7, looks like the silver lining in the recession is no VAT in the UAE for now:

Hisham Abdullah Al Shirawi, Second Vice-Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he is not sure whether VAT will be implemented, adding that in times like these, the government is rather expected to lower its service fees[...]"I would expect the government to take certain actions to minimise governmental fees and the cost of operating business in the private sector so that it can be more competitive and much more active."

What do you think about VAT in the UAE?

24 March, 2009

A person of interest moves from US to UAE

Washington Post
In August 2006, Hamdan moved the family to Dubai. At the Los Angeles airport, he was questioned for so long that he missed his flight. When he returned in 2007 for a visit, the FBI surveillance was continuous, associates said.

Things were not going smoothly abroad, either. In early 2008, while waiting for a flight in Beirut, Hamdan was arrested and interrogated for four days by Lebanese authorities. Hamden said a lawyer the family later hired to examine the court file said his detention was at the request of "outside influences."

Last July, FBI agents passed a request to Hamdan to report to the embassy in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, then flew there to question him. "What did they want?" his brother recalled asking Hamdan, who he said replied: " 'Whatever they ask at the airport, same thing. You can't imagine how much they know about us. If you ever forget something in your life, a certain spot, call them. They'll tell you.' "

Six weeks later, the security police took him away, then returned to carry away all things electronic.
One day last July, Naji Hamdan was summoned to the U.S. Embassy in the United Arab Emirates. He drove two hours through the desert heat from Dubai to answer questions from FBI agents who had arrived from Los Angeles, where Hamdan had gone to school, started a family, built a successful auto-parts business and become a U.S. citizen.

At his apartment six weeks later, he was awakened from a nap by men who bundled him into a black Chevrolet Suburban with tinted windows. Hamdan was told he was a prisoner of the UAE and was held in a cell painted glossy white to reflect the lights that burned round the clock, according to a note he wrote from prison. Between interrogations, he wrote, he was confined in a frigid room overnight, strapped into "an electric chair" and punched in the head until he lost consciousness.

In one session, the blindfolded prisoner recalled hearing a voice that sounded American. The voice said, "Do what they want or these people will [expletive] you up," Hamdan wrote.

The prisoner obliged, signing a confession that he later said meant only that he would do anything to make the pain stop. The case might have ended there but for Hamdan's U.S. citizenship and his American attorney's assertion that he was tortured "at the behest" of his own government.

"This is torture by proxy," said Ahilan Arulanantham, an American Civil Liberties Union staff lawyer representing Hamdan through his brother and wife. Noting that the UAE had shown no interest in Hamdan before arresting him, Arulanantham filed a habeas corpus petition in November in U.S. District Court in Washington. The petition alleges that the federal government used its influence to have Hamdan arrested and insists that it should use that influence to free him.
The torture accusations are from Hamdan's accounts to relatives and a handwritten eight-page note carried out of Abu Dhabi's Al Wathba prison by a U.S. diplomat required to check on the suspect's welfare.

After being beaten on the soles of his feet and kicked in the liver, Hamdan said, "I admitted to whatever they asked."

"Sometimes when he talks to me, he's crying," said Mona Mallouk, his wife, by phone from Beirut, where she went after the arrest with their two children, born in Los Angeles.

"When they beat him hard . . . his voice changed. I said 'Naji? Are you okay?' He said, 'No, I'm not okay. They hit me, badly. I don't know why, Mona.' "

23 March, 2009

R.I.P. - Sheikh Ahmed bin Juma Al Maktoum

Here's the news in Arabic:WAM

And in English: Emirates Business 24/7

flickr block feedback

"DUBAI - A censorship watchdog is encouraging the public to give feedback over the blocking of photo-sharing web site Flickr.
Last week Internet provider du joined rival Etisalat in blocking the web site to thousands of homes across the UAE. A statement by the Telecommunications and Regulatory Authority (TRA) said that “technical difficulties” had prevented du from following the ban two years before.

“Flickr breaches the prohibited content categories of the Internet Access Management (IAM) policy regarding sexual nudity,” the statement said.

“It does not have the technical facility of blocking prohibited contents, and it cannot be partially blocked; where such facility is available on YouTube, Facebook and other similar sites.”

Users of Flickr said the site contained images of ‘artistic nudity’ which could have been construed as pornography. du and Etisalat have been asked by the TRA to allow customers to give their thoughts on whether the level of censorship is appropriate."

more here

22 March, 2009

“Dubai Culture” unveiled as the new brand identity of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority

Join the Facebook group of Dubai Culture

Dubai Culture and Arts Authority announced today that it has been transformed into - Dubai Culture -, a new brand identity that will elevate and project the cultural scene of Dubai.

This announcement has coincided with the transfer of all the Dubai heritage sites such as the Dubai Museum, the Shindaga Heritage Area, the Union House, Al Bastakiya, the old souks, Hatta Heritage Village and many others, under the umbrella of Dubai Culture. This reinforces the Authority’s role to promote and preserve the rich culture and heritage of Dubai as well as educate the Emiratis, residents and visitors on the boundless creativity of this city.

Dubai Culture will continue to operate as an Authority with the strategic vision to position Dubai as an Arabian, vibrant and global city that shapes 21st century culture and arts in the region and the world, and the mission to actively support and drive Dubai's development as a dynamic culture, heritage and arts centre by creating an environment that facilitates and inspires cultural activity. The Authority’s mandates are in line with the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 which makes it responsible for enriching Dubai’s cultural environment by:

•Improving the governance of the cultural sector
•Upgrading the regulatory framework for cultural organizations
•Developing the physical infrastructure to promote cultural activities
•Increasing awareness and interest in cultural activities
•Identifying and nurturing talent, and
•Focusing on availability of quality cultural activities

“It was exactly one year ago when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, instructed the creation of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. It was established to fulfill His Highness’s vision, set out in the Dubai Strategy 2015, to build upon Dubai’s status as a world-renowned multicultural city and contribute to culture and arts renaissance in the region and the world,” stated Dr. Omar bin Sulaiman, Managing Director of Dubai Culture .

He pointed that “Since then, our initiatives have successfully achieved several milestones in terms of increasing substantially of the artistic and cultural activities and environment in Dubai. But most importantly, we have been able to enhance the culture of arts and expand awareness – this has been our most critical achievement in the past one year.”

“Now, as we are poised to embark upon the future, we need to transform ourselves with the changing demands of the times and become even more dynamic, synergetic and versatile. We believe that our new identity – Dubai Culture – will express our progressive strategy, expanded responsibilities, and vision which is imbued with the Dubai Spirit. The Arab World is witnessing a renaissance and I am sure that Dubai will continue to play a pivotal role in not only prolonging, but leading and sustaining, this rebirth,” Dr. Omar added.Dr. Omar bin Sulaiman pointed out that the Authority, under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture, will build on the city’s rich culture and vibrant arts scene and simultaneously strive to promote and nurture Emirati talent to drive the Arab cultural renaissance and position Dubai amongst the leading cultural cities of the globe.

“Armed with our new identity and our strategic direction, Dubai Culture will create an ideal environment – physically, culturally while continuously increasing awareness of Dubai’s thriving cultural scene, wherein we are sure to achieve the expectations of our leadership, ” Dr. Omar added.

21 March, 2009

Scare for Emirates passengers

There's a story in the Melbourne Age this morning that : A Dubai-bound Emirates Airline flight has been forced to make an emergency landing at Melbourne Airport after its tail scraped the tarmac during take-off.

Flight EK407 reportedly dumped fuel as it circled the airport for 30 minutes before landing safely.

No one was injured but passengers described the incident as "terrifying'' and "scary''.

Here's the link.

20 March, 2009

google earth question

Does anyone know what these are?

They're in the middle of the desert in the UAE.

(in case link isn't being co-operative the coordinates are lat=24.6970268 & lon=55.0149286)

Dubai Hero Protestor let Down by Twitter Users

Activist and Hero Dubai Protestor Jean Von Blanc arrived at the Workers Rights protest in Dubai only to find known else bothered to show up. 

When asked about the reasons Jean replied “It is really disappointing, after months and months of preparation and coordination the whole thing ends with a whimper”, he added “I blame twitter and twitter users for the low – Non Existent – turnout, laborers and workers that want to improve their living and working conditions in Dubai should take their tweets and retweets seriously before expecting me, or other human rights organizations to take them seriously again.”

19 March, 2009

Meteorite/Shooting Star

Did anyone notice a meteorite/shooting star or any other burning object/matter in the sky yesterday between 6.30pm and 6.50pm??

There were a bunch of us outside ACE Hardware (DFC) yesterday who were looking up at this object/matter burn in a distance for while and just disappeared! It wasn't a fuel trail left by an aircraft for sure!

Anyone notice any such thing..??

18 March, 2009

PSA: Blog redesign

Starting tomorrow anywhere from 8 AM-2 PM I will be ditching the current design of this blog and moving to something that will look more like this (finally found a template that looks as similar as possible from here)

This design change has been on the tables for a long time (since the new blogger design platform was introduced) and is finally going to be implemented. Although I will try to move all the old design elements to the new design, some things will be left behind until a later date.

During this time the blogrolls will be inaccessible until they are manually copied over to the new blogger format.

Posts and comments will remain accessible during this time and shouldn't be affected; in any case all posts have been backed up along with the old design.

The advantages of the new design are as follows:
  • what will hopefully be a clearer, faster loading webpage
  • cropped blogrolls that only highlight the 5-10 most recently updated blogs (this means more page views for you)
  • much easier blogroll management (this means faster blogroll additions/editing)
  • easier integration with web 2.0/3.0 content (twitter, youtube, facebook, etc etc etc
  • more of a compact/streamlined design that means no more scrolling down 4 pages all through the blogrolls
  • faster loading, easier navigation and better everything (hopefully) for mobile/blackberry etc users.
  • blogrolls will no longer serve advertisements when used
What will be different:
  • stricter no-advertising/SEO due to the high-traffic nature of the blogrolls
NOTE: Due to electricity outages in my area the upgrade is a little behind schedule

15 March, 2009

More art than U can shake a stick at ... whatever that means..

Some of you out there will definitely be interested in some of this here which all kicks off this week...

Bastakiya Art Fair (opens tonight (15th) - on until March 22nd) Bastakiya's Funky Fringe Fair

Art Dubai (18th - 21st) Madinat Jumeirah - International galleries/talks/films and more.

Sharjah Biennial (officially opens 19th but really starts tmrw - some v. interesting plays and performance projects in the first week as well as loads of visuals / installations - mostly in and around the Arts and Heritage area in Sharjah)

Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival (from March 21st - April 4th) various places around AD


14 March, 2009

Dubai issues list of prohibitted public behavior

Is holding hands in Dubai really illegal? apparently that question has finally been answered, yes it is illegal.

"Playing loud music, dancing, nudity, kissing and even holding hands in public is considered inappropriate behavior under new guidelines laid down by the authorities of Dubai, according to a press report on Saturday.

Dubai Executive Council issued a list of public behaviors that requires Dubai residents and visitors to respect the customs of the Muslim country and avoid what the council considers inappropriate behavior, according to the Arabic-language daily Al Emarat Al-Youm.

The rules, which apply to all public places, include a ban on all forms of nudity, playing music loudly and dancing, exchange of kisses between men and women—and even on unmarried couples holding hands.

Any breach of the guidelines, by nationals or expatriates, carries a possible prison penalty, the paper wrote.

The order also requires all visitors of public places, such as government buildings, shopping malls, streets and restaurants to dress in “appropriate” clothing, otherwise they would be denied entrance to those areas.

“Pants and skirts have to be of appropriate length, and outside clothing should not expose body parts indecently and should not be transparent,” the guidelines stipulate under section “public behavior,” Al Emarat Al-Youm wrote.

more here:http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/03/14/68405.html

Thanks to anonymous for link.

12 March, 2009

How much nudity is acceptable while promoting "Health" or "Lifestyle"?

Particularly in Dubai, often you'll see that esp. the so called "health" or "lifestyle" magazines are sprinkled with abundant dose of nudity in different forms, denoting "life" or "health" or "fitness".

I've been tracking one of these magazines in UAE from the stable of a respectable largest English daily, for the last 6 months, which adds to the numerous others available here.

Examples: An article on Running shows 3 ladies in sleeveless running suit, but sharp focussed on one who's bust peeks out most; a self promoting ad on "Dental Health" shows a nicely dentured woman in her sleeveless deep necked top; an article reviewing a spa shows two bikini clad ladies sitting face to face, smiling; etc. etc. see here!!!

Is it really an acceptable way to promote health and lifestyle? Or am I too prudish by culture standards? Aren't there better ways promote health and lifestyle - stylishly? Or is it the norm of the industry? I'm sure this type of display is neither necessary nor acceptable in any part of the world??I'm more interested in how much skin-show will be and is acceptable TO PROMOTE HEALTH / LIFESTYLE in this country?

Comments added on 8th Apr'09: I had always wondered why no one talks about this subject, despite having a Shariah law here. But I'm overwhelmed now by the discussions which ensued on this post. Thanks to all of you who put their hearts in this discussion.

The Pearl Needs Some Help

Hi UAE bloggers...it has been a while that I have been away from Dubai but I love keeping up with things through the Community Blog. I find myself now preparing a presentation for my graduate work related to the interaction of government and economic development in the UAE. Specifically, I am really interested about how power has migrated or shifted between Dubai and Abu Dhabi throughout this financial crisis? What has been the impact on expat communities in terms of their benefits from government, incentives to stay or go etc? What about laborers? How are Emiratis reacting to the crisis and how are the affected? In short, I am really in need of some local input on these questions as being in the USA and having only the media to rely upon doesn't always produce the most forthright and probing insights. So, I would love to hear from anyone that has the time to share the perspective on these questions. This US graduate student would be most appreciative. Thank you!

11 March, 2009

Facebook in Arabic

Facebook have announced that their interface is now available in Arabic. Bring on another 250m people, unless it is banned by the relevant authorities again!

Why is this important? Well, with such little Arabic content available online, this gives Arabic speakers the opportunity to converse in their own language. With all the media planned, Facebook has been smart in bringing this to market. Arabic speakers are increasingly more educated, tech savvy and forward thinking, and should be given the opportunity that other native tongues already have. Our world is already anglicised enough as it is.

Although Facebook has been accessible in English across the Middle East since it opened beyond the US college network in September 2006, its Arabic language version puts in in more direct competition with popular regional sites including Jeeran, Maktoob, ArabFriendz and Kalam Arab.

Facebook launches Arabic version

10 March, 2009


The Fat Expat got hit by a comment spammer today - www.dubaipropertiesportal.com is the outfit, offering stunning services just to readers of a food blog that are interested in fillet steak: "Dubai Properties Portal its one of the best property portal in Dubai. With us you can list your property for FREE in a few minutes."

Interestingly, I'm in a bad mood and the jerk behind the site has left his contact details all over WHOIS. So for anyone else (I've already had a go) who feels strongly about spam and particularly comment spam on their blogs (it REALLY ticks me off), you can take it all out on Florin by mobile, mail or email. I recommend mobile - it really is MOST satisfying.


Registration Service Provided By: Supreme Center
Visit: http://www.propersupport.com/

Domain name: dubaipropertiesportal.com

Registrant Contact:

Florin Campulungeanu ()

Al Barsha
Dubai, 29948

Administrative Contact:

Florin Campulungeanu ()
Al Barsha
Dubai, 29948

Technical Contact:

Florin Campulungeanu ()
Al Barsha
Dubai, 29948

Status: Locked

Name Servers:

Creation date: 09 Sep 2008 05:30:10
Expiration date: 09 Sep 2009 05:30:10

Good Morning America Goes Big

ABC's title, not mine.

As in Dubai big. Story (and link to 3 min. video) here.

Sheikha Lubna profiled by Huffpo

An excerpt:
I first heard about Sheikha Lubna during the Dubai Ports Crisis in February of 2006. The issue was over the sale of port management businesses in six major U.S. seaports to a company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There was concern of whether this sale would compromise port security. I remember how American citizens became very vocal raising serious concerns about how and why the United States would do such a thing since Americans were still suffering from the sting and psychological impact of 9/11 and were also very confused and frankly racist about Arab people. While then President George W. Bush fought hard to keep the sale alive, he did not have the political capital to stop Congress from ultimately delaying the sale.

During the crisis in came IT specialist Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, then Minister of Economy. One of Forbes' 100 most powerful women, she was the first woman to be appointed cabinet Minister for the UAE in 2004, this petite woman with expressive eyes and proudly wearing her signature designer silk scarves, intimidated CNN's Wolf Blitzer during his visit to Dubai to see what he could sniff out about this controversy. Blitzer under estimated her, and he immediately discovered that the Sheikha was nothing to shake -- with quick responses, wit and perfect elocution she was a force to be reckoned with.

Read it all.

Exit where??

I posted this picture on my blog but thought I'd share it here also...Just reminds me of the confusion that recession has brought into people lives....

09 March, 2009

What really happened in Vegas

Last September I already commented on the MGM Mirage - Dubai deal in Las Vegas. Seems that this project is in deep trouble. For starters, check the share price of MGM, which as I type, stands at u$ 1.99! Share price is hence at its lowest in over 19 years.

Quote from International Herald Tribune dated 22-Aug-07: "Dubai World will also buy 14 million shares from MGM Mirage at a price of US$84 per share."

MGM Mirage and Dubai World have recently failed to get a loan by Deutsche Bank worth 1.2 billion U$ which is required to complete the CityCenter project.

Considering that these are the losses of just ONE single project, is there any wonder that Dubai's investments are in dire straits? Personally I find it ironic that especially this project went down the drain. Dubai should not invest in the gambling industry. Ever. It's a shame that this investment ever took place.

06 March, 2009

Watchmen: The mysterious case of the missing blue penis

Moviegoers are advised to save 30 dhs that they might be planning to spend on watching "Watchmen" in the UAE as censorship has now reached a new height of absurdity.

The majority of the movie remains intact and without any obvious cutting of the following:
-A rape scene
-Gratuitous violence
-A man getting his arms cut off in plain view by an angle grinder

However in the last 20 minutes of the film someone has seen fit to cut the movie like a 4 year old on a sugar-rush-- The problem? A giant glowing blue penis of a certain character (who just happens to be a main character); this means that any full-body shots of him are cut (along with any narrative/audio) which in turn leads to a highly confusing last 20 minutes.

And the good question of the hour: Who is it that decides to bother importing and showing a movie in which the main character is going to repeatedly be cut from the final 20 minutes? It's probably the same person/people that decided getting Bruce Almighty was a good idea.

Inquiring minds want to know

Gulf News:
Ras Al Khaimah: An American journalist working for an English daily from Abu Dhabi has run over an Egyptian security guard at the entrance of a university here because the guard denied him access to the campus.

The security guard did not allow entry to the journalist identified as "J." because he did not have an "entrance permission" which is a must for visitors as per the university regulations.
Inquiring minds want to know:
  • Which RAK university?
  • Which English language daily from Abu Dhabi?
  • Who is "J." the American journalist?

05 March, 2009

Davidson says don't blame Abu Dhabi

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Abu Dhabi has been blamed for most of these contentious issues. Am I wrong? If not, who gets credit for these decisions below: Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The decision was the personal initiative of a low-ranking immigration officer in Dubai, according to two Dubai government officials who refused to be identified because they aren’t authorized to publicly comment on the incident.

Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department director Mohammed Al-Marri, a federal official who has the final say on issuing all visas to Dubai, declined to comment
The Peer controversy is one in a series of incidents that have tarnished Dubai’s reputation as a more relaxed sheikhdom where decisions are driven by money, not ideology.

A book depicting a gay sheikh was banned Feb. 16 at a literary festival staged by government-owned carrier, Emirates. A law that will impose fines of up to a million dirhams ($272,000) on local journalists who harm the U.A.E. rulers’ reputation is planned. The government has made it illegal to fire an Emirati employee if a foreigner is doing the same job.

Dubai was behind the media law and the firing restrictions, which apply to the whole U.A.E., said Christopher Davidson, author of the 2008 book “Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success.”

“Dubai’s success has been based on being open,” Davidson said. “These are really bad steps that turn the clock back.”
Is Davidson correct?

Burj Al Arab PC case

Engadget shares this:

That's right. A Burj Al Arab computer case (price is ~400$ US)

More here and here

Also find a review of sorts here

Calling all shutterbugs...

Since there is such a massive interest in photography, I thought I'd let you guys know about this upcoming event.

Gulf Photo Plus (GPP), the region’s only dedicated Photography Event, will be held from March 30 to April 4, and features workshops and seminars from 13 of the world's best photographers.

Beginner to professional photographers can participate in a host of related activities, to be held at the Dubai Knowledge Village Conference Center.

Learn from the likes of Joe McNally, Cliff Mautner, Chase Jarvis and David Hobby; or just pick the brains and steal the secrets of David Nightingale, Bobbi Lane or Asim Rafiqui.

In addition, the popular ‘Photo Friday’ event on 3rd April will include tips and techniques from a choice of lectures, mini-workshops and live demonstrations from world-class photographers and brand experts.

For more information, please visit http://www.gulfphotoplus.com/gpp2009/

Join the Facebook group!


Like any god fearing unemployed expat on visit visa, I put an ad in GNads4u.com looking for a suitable vacancy.

In two days I have received no less than 20 resumes in my mail inbox :( I did make clear that I am LOOKING for a job and not APPLICATIONS for one... How disappointing!!

GNads should mention 'Jobs Available' instead of 'Available'

03 March, 2009

A rant that keeps surfacing on the web

Around the web I keep encountering this rant about Dubai. It's over the top, but people seem to want to believe it and to engage in a bit of schadenfreude.

Some of the rhetoric:
Short of opening a Radio Shack in an Amish town, Dubai is the world’s worst business idea, and there isn’t even any oil. Imagine proposing to build Vegas in a place where sex and drugs and rock and roll are an anathema. This is effectively the proposition that created Dubai - it was a stupid idea before the crash, and now it is dangerous.
Drugs may be an anathema, but what about sex and rock and roll?

Dubai is a place for the shallow and fickle. Tabloid celebrities and worn out sports stars are sponsored by swollen faced, botox injected, perma-tanned European property developers to encourage the type of people who are impressed by fame itself, rather than what originated it, to inhabit pastiche Mediterranean villas on fake islands. It's a grotesquely leveraged version of time-share where people are sold a life in the same way as being peddled a set of steak knives. Funny shaped towers smatter empty neighborhoods, based on designs with unsubtle, eye-catching envelopes but bland floor plans and churned out by the dozen by anonymous minions in brand name architects offices and signed by the boss, unseen, as they fly through the door. This architecture, a three dimensional solidified version of a synthesized musical jingle, consists of ever more preposterous gimmickry - an underwater, revolving, white leather fuck pad or a marina skyscraper with a product placement name that would normally only appeal to teenage boys....

01 March, 2009

Public holiday for UAE private sector changed

Abu Dhabi: Saturday, March 7 will be a public holiday for private sector instead of Monday. In a circular issued by the Minister of Labour Saqr Gobash Saturday 10 of Rabbi Al Awwal (March 7) will be public holiday for all employees in the private sector in the UAE instead of Monday 12 of Rabbi Al Awwal (March 9).