27 July, 2009

Breaking News in the Marina

Bomb blast at parking lot of Marina Walk near Spinneys... this is the report I'm getting right now from a friend in the vicinity--but not at the scene. Can anyone corroborate?

I think I need Twitter : ).

EDIT by samuraisam: No bomb blast. Was just a rumor.


There are occasional outbreaks of "let's have a bloggers get-together" on the community blog, although they don't appear to result in actual get-togethers. So here's your chance, people.

The nice people at Uber-funky Dubai hangout The Shelter are hosting GeekFest on Wednesday the 29th July. It should be interesting - billed as an offline social for online socialisers, the get together is resolutely un-organised, has absolutely no objectives whatsoever and features no sponsors, PowerPoint presentations, speeches or other form of corporatised torture.

The gathering will start at 5pm, although if anyone's early it will start earlier. If everyone's late, it'll start later. If nobody turns up, it won't start at all. But then it won't end, either.

The Shelter has a nice More cafe for refreshments and funky music.

The idea was born out of a meeting that took place some time ago between The Shelter's Saadia Zahid, Simone 'DiscoBallBreaker' Sebastian and yours truly. We've taken ages to get around to not organising it.

If you don't know how to get to The Shelter, this Google Map Link should help.

You can follow @geekfestdubai on Twitter if you like. If this one is fun, we'll do more of them and maybe even include some more 'organised' elements. Or maybe not.

Anyway, do feel free to toddle along to The Shelter on Wednesday afternoon!

26 July, 2009

PSA: Emirati blogroll thoughts?

Would be interested to hear people's opinions about the addition of an 'Emirati blogs' blogroll. It is very disappointing to only be able to name a handful of blogs written by locals that cover local news/politics/opinion and the list would be open to both English and Arabic language blogs. Hopefully it might provide an easier way for local bloggers to stand out and get some readers.

(blogrolls are the lists to the left of the page <<<)


does anyone know of a decent tattoo place in dubai? 

23 July, 2009

RAK officials toss shoes

Why do these kinds of things only seems to happen in Ras Al Khaimah:
The Inspection and Customer Protection Section at the emirate's Department of Economic Development seized on Wednesday a huge quantity of women's shoes with the name of God (Allah) printed on them.

Njoud Ahmad Al Mutawa, the section's acting head, said that the shop, one of the emirate's biggest showrooms, specialises in selling various types of shoes.
Read it all in Gulf News.

Actually, it's not just RAK that's susceptible to these kinds of events. Back in 2006 John 3:16 should up in an odd place in Sharjah.

22 July, 2009

Malls to charge for parking in Dubai

"Two malls in Dubai have revealed their plan to introduce charges for people that leave their vehicles in the car parks for more than three hours.

The parking management system that is to be introduced at the Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Centre is an attempt to put off drivers who may want to leave their cars in the mall car parks then catch the Metro to another destination.

On weekdays the first three hours are free, with four at weekends. On weekdays each extra hour will be charged at Dh20 while at weekends the additional first and second hours will be charged at Dh40 and Dh60 respectively. An additional hour of free parking is available for those watching films at the malls’ cinemas.

The new system will have a trial run from Aug 9 with the introduction of entry and exit barriers, ticket collection points and instructions."

More here: Malls confirm car parking charges (The National)

GN: Sharjah police enforce old law against men wearing accessories

According to Gulf News, CID and police in Sharjah are having a field day confiscating people's silver necklaces, earrings and bracelets.

"Sharjah: Thirteen-year-old Mohammad was with a group of friends in Al Qasba area when he was reportedly approached by a police officer and taken to the police headquarters. His silver necklace had to go.

Another resident, Jeril Jaison Varghese, says he was in front of the Multiplex in Mega Mall to watch a movie when a CID officer asked him for his identification.

"I was taken to the Sharjah Police office inside the mall by a security guy from the mall. My silver bracelet was confiscated by the CID," he said.

When Varghese asked why his bracelet was being taken away, he says, police said men are not allowed to wear bracelets or any fashion accessories in Sharjah malls even if it is silver and not gold."

More here: Sharjah police enforce old law against men wearing accessories (Gulf News)

Thanks to mr. f for the link

21 July, 2009

UAE Blackberry story reaches BBC

It's not news, but the BBC seems to have a comprehensive report.

The update was prompted by a text from UAE telecoms firm Etisalat, suggesting it would improve performance.

Instead, the update resulted in crashes or drastically reduced battery life.

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) said in a statement the update was not authorised, developed, or tested by RIM.
In the statement, RIM told customers that "Etisalat appears to have distributed a telecommunications surveillance application... independent sources have concluded that it is possible that the installed software could then enable unauthorised access to private or confidential information stored on the user's smartphone".

It adds that "independent sources have concluded that the Etisalat update is not designed to improve performance of your BlackBerry Handheld, but rather to send received messages back to a central server".
RIM has now issued its own update allowing users to remove the application.

Yet Another Dubai Article

Yet another article about Dubai has been published;
Times Online: Sordid reality behind Dubai's gilded facade


Dubai Clock Tower

So after a little over 8 months the flashy Omega clock is off the clock tower and is being replaced by the one it had replaced. Omega had a three year contract, and quoting Gulf news:

"We have entered into a contract with a local agent for three years. He will be making a payment of Dh750,000 to the municipality [in lieu of publicity] and will be responsible for the maintenance of the clocks over the three-year period. One advantage of linking the clocks to GPS is that it does away with the need to manually adjust the hands," said Al Fuqae."

So I suppose recession strikes again, but for once I feel good about it!! :D
Sorry for the crappy image, but it's difficult trying to take a picture while driving especially with a really slow focusing mobile camera... :|

14 July, 2009

Chef fined 92,000 AED for 1 day expired yoghurt

"A British chef at a restaurant in the Emirates Palace hotel is appealing his sentence for storing a container of expired yoghurt: a Dh92,000 (US$27,000) fine.

Inspectors from Abu Dhabi Municipality found the yoghurt during a routine visit to the kitchen of the Etoiles restaurant and lounge about a month ago.


His attorney said the food was only one day past its use-by date; court documents do not specify when the food expired. Yesterday PH pleaded with the judge to have the fine overturned."

Article here (thenational.ae)

05 July, 2009

Recession proof water bottles

Yesterday's National reports:

Bling H20, according to an emphatic Mr Boyd, is a “must-have” for everyone, and the fact that the bottles are reusable means they are affordable, even in the recession.

“You don’t throw them away once you finish, you just refill them,” he said. “There is a financial crisis and you can feel it, but the fact that these bottles can be refilled makes them affordable.”

As befits the aspirations of the product, the bottles are being sold exclusively at Harvey Nichols in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. Naturally.

Prices range from Dh180 to Dh15,000.

How people spend their money is their personal choice. I don't care who buys this stuff. Or the gold plated SLR or the diamond encrusted Vertu...

but when someone tells me a 'bottle' of water is a 'must have' because 'it can be refilled' (and that alone makes it recession friendly), it makes me want to bang my head in the nearest wall. are you serious?! and more importantly, what chemicals are you on?

The same story continues with:

The charity Global Water attempted to appeal to the consumer conscience, saying the price of the Dh250 bottle could supply a child in Africa with water for life. 

That, in my opinion, is a low blow. Just because someone can afford umm... crystal encrusted water bottles, they shouldn't be forced to think about... you know, reality.

The crazy quilt that is the UAE

Check out this map.

For one thing, did you know you could drive from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah without passing through Sharjah? That's because Dubai is not a connected set. Neither is Sharjah, Ajman, RAK, or Fujairah. You can even drive straight from Ajman to Fujairah.

I recall reading that the British deployed the Trucial Scouts to determine the present day borders of the seven emirates. And that they did it by surveying locals to determine their allegiances. I suppose the idea was to set borders that would be politically stable.

02 July, 2009

Al-Maktoum-owned paper لامارات اليوم suspended over article that charge al-Nahyan-owned horses were doped

A UAE court ordered the suspension of a local newspaper after it published an article claiming horses owned by the Abu Dhabi ruling family were doped, a local daily said on Thursday.

The ruling, which was issued on Wednesday and can not be overturned, stipulates that Arabic-language Al-Emarat Al-Youm halt publication for 20 days, a verdict effective "within a few days," said the Abu Dhabi-based Al-Ittihad.

Al-Emarat Al-Youm, run by a media company under Dubai Holding, owned by Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum, in October 2006 published a front-page story accusing the Warsan Stables of using dope on horses.

Warsan Stables is owned by members of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, while Al-Emarat Al-Youm is one of the most widely read publications in the country.
Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal upheld a defamation conviction against Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm, suspending the newspaper for 20 days and fining Editor-in-Chief Sami Al Reyami Dh20,000 in a defamation case raised by Warsan Stables' owners.

The case stemmed from an October 2006 article that accused Warsan Stables of giving steroids to horses in an Abu Dhabi race.
[Mohammad Yousuf, Chairman of the UAE Journalists' Association] noted that suspending a newspaper will cause damage to the UAE's reputation at international freedom and human rights organisations, which will take advantage of this ruling to accuse the UAE.

Yousuf expressed hope that the ruling would be suspended and that the newspaper would continue to come out so as to preserve the UAE reputation.

However, there are consultations with supreme bodies to find a solution to this case.
Some interesting ironies in this April 2009 story:
The ruler of Dubai is being investigated by equestrian authorities after a horse he owns and rides failed doping tests after two races.

Sheik Mohammed said he was unaware of the doping but accepts full responsibility. The drug use came to light following testing by his staff after endurance races this year in Bahrain and Dubai.

The International Equestrian Federation said Tuesday it is investigating. The federation's president is Princess Haya of Jordan, who is married to Sheik Mohammed. She has led a campaign for a drug-free sport and will step aside from her official duties when the governing body considers the case. ...
There is also a case touching Sheik Hamdan. The FEI's rules hold the rider responsible.

‘You’re American? I Should Kill You!’

An American interns as a reporter in Dubai and lives in a Sharjah apartment with 9 other men who are from Palestine, Lebanon or Iraq.

Cory Eldridge's story

Internet Guru Leo Laporte To Talk At Tedx Dubai

TEDx Dubai 2009 announced yesterday that internet legend Leo Laporte will speak at its October 10 conference.

Laporte is a journalist specialized in technology; he hosts and produces the most popular technology shows on the Internet.

His shows are hosted on the This Week In Technology network (TWIT). All of his productions are available completely for free - he runs his business exclusively through a few sponsors and listeners donations; it is a revolution in the making, the real proof that if you have good content, people will follow you no matter what.

Full story here: TEDx Dubai Blog

Change to family sponsorship minimum salary

According to a report in Gulf News, quoting the Director General of the Naturalisation & Residency Department, expats wishing to bring their families to the UAE will in future need a minimum salary of Dh10,000 a month.

There will also be a requirement that applicants will have to rent an independent house or apartment.

The new decisions will be effective when the residency laws are officially changed.

The report is here.