30 November, 2009

Media Council to the Rescue!

You can count on British newspapers: After the shock, the ridicule. An image accompanying an article in the Sunday Times which shows Sheikh Mohammed ‘floundering in a sea of debt’ is deemed so offensive to the nation’s frail and fickle sensitivities as to spur the National Media Council into action and order removal of the ‘The Sunday Times’ and ‘Times of London’ print editions from the shelves of local news stands, according to this report in ‘The Wall Street Journal’.

Never mind the matter at heart of the controversy. The fact that investors were kept in the dark about Dubai’s ability and intention to repay its debt on time. The fact that this inconvenient truth was released only weeks after Dubai’s ruler told critics to ‘shut up’ and repeatedly reconfirmed that Dubai would honour its obligations - which evidently it is not. That fact that this announcement was made just hours before the financial markets in the UAE shut down for several days of public holidays and the government went ‘incommunicado’.

No, these facts matter not! What really matters is that nobody in this country reads about it.

The National Media Council can be relied on to save the day, and face. Never mind the cock up – as long as people don’t see the photo or read the story, ‘nothing happened’. Thank you, NMC; we can sleep easy in this country, unbothered by troublesome news.

Since the NMC hasn’t heard of that newfangled invention called internet yet, you can see the “offending” article and image here:

26 November, 2009

Wishing everyone Eid Mubarak.... :)

25 November, 2009

Selected Pictures from Abu Dhabi Art 2009


24 November, 2009

Heads up folks

Banks will be officially closed from Thursday to Sunday (26-29th November), which means the little elves will not be around to stock up your ATMs for you. 

To avoid unnecessary frustration in the coming days, fill out your wallets today. It will give the nice banking people one more day to refill the ATMs for all the uncool people who do not read the UAECB. 

Pass the word around so you and your friends are not stranded at a petrol station because the ATM was out of fuloos

23 November, 2009

Etisalat talks back!

Update on the annoying Etisalat text message saga. The good thing is that I got a reply from Etisalat's Customer Care Centre by email the very next day. Somebody must have got the message (17 times)…

The bad news (in bad English) is that “In reference with your case, we would like to inform you currently there is no provision to block incoming SMS from Etisalat.”

Maybe I didn't clean my ears properly this morning but to me this sounds like an admission of providing an incomplete amateurish service.

But behold; apparently “a solution for your request is currently under development and you will be informed accordingly once the solution is developed and approved. We apologize for the inconvenience faced by you.”

Apology accepted. But I wonder just how long it will take them to develop a solution to the problem of blocking SMS from a particular source, because at the same time the message from the Customer Care Centre goes on to give me precise instructions on how to block SMS from a particular source:

“Note: To stop incoming message from the company, simply send the message b followed by the content provider's short code or name of the message sender to the number 1011. The message is "b (4 digit short code)" to 1011”

Etisalat's SMS do not show a short code, but a name. Although I completely trust Etisalat's admission of applying the blocking command to any other company but themselves, I thought I better check and immediately sent “b etisalat” to 1011.

“Sorry can’t process your command. Unknown request.”

A question of Ethics and Sensationalism

My entry into the UAE blogging world was more or less inspired by Secret Dubai Diary; I was sort of a fan of her reporting / blogging style, and was even more impressed by the way she has been maintaining a parallel voice that... (READ ON)

(Also read some comments here.)

20 November, 2009

GeoEye-1 flies over Dubai Airshow

Orbiting at an altitude of 681km, GeoEye-1 is the world's highest resolution commercial earth-imaging satellite.

It passed over the Dubai Airshow and captured this awesome image.

You can go to the GeoEye site to see the original and to download the 11mb high-res file.

If you're interested in aerial imagery, click the Back to Gallery link on that download page and check out the other wonderful photos.  Interesting AUD one at #7!

Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye

19 November, 2009

Blog Rank???

Anyone ever seen this? Came through on my email.


18 November, 2009

FNC & English language requirements

The FNC has some recommendations for the education sector: "The committee also said federal universities should be more lenient in their admission requirements for students when it comes to English language proficiency..."

To me, lowering the bar is a disservice to students, to their future employers and the economy in general or is it just me not understanding the logic behind this suggestion?

facebook group

Funnily enough, someone has gone and created a new facebook group. It is called 'I bet I can find 1 million people who hate Etisalat spam text messages' and is open for membership now.

Dear Etisalat,







MY NUMBER IS 050-xxxxxxx.


Yours sincerely ..."

After receiving 8 unsolicited text messages this morning from Etisalat in Arabic I wrote *) the above message to Etisalat customer "care" email address. Let's see what happens now.

*) I sent the email 17 times.

17 November, 2009

Emiratis blacklisted over job-hunting attitudes

I guess this might be a good step forward:
"More than 500 Emirati job seekers have been placed on a blacklist designed to combat lax work attitudes that include refusing a number of employment offers.

Al Mulla added that other job seekers had been blacklisted for not attending interviews and citing reasons such as not being able to wear a uniform or inability to work shifts as an excuse for turning down jobs.

The pros are realizing that Emiratis should take more jobs in every sector, rather than wanting to be "boss". Nothing wrong with aiming for the top, but if the UAE wants to truly step towards having its citizens take over, they have to be willing to work everywhere.

On the flip side, forcing people to take jobs within a certain amount of interviews seems a bit much. I would not like to be forced to take the next job available simply because I may exceed the allowable limit and get blacklisted.

What do you think?

16 November, 2009

I’ve been living here for the last 8 years now, and I can say that Public holidays here are primarily “Emirati affairs” - with the expatriates rarely participating in it like the way they do in developed countries. Instead, their celebrations are restricted to enjoying it just as a holiday.

Recently however, I saw some interesting developments that could change this attitude, and could perhaps also bridge the Local-Expatriate culture gap... (Read On)

13 November, 2009

.il (Israel) TLD unblocked?

Has anyone else found the Israeli TLD to be unblocked from the UAE?
On my Etisalat connection it seems to be open.

Here's a URL you can try it on: http://www.google.co.il/

12 November, 2009


There have been a couple of posts put up over the past couple of days that seem to have mysteriously disappeared. Blogger Dashboard gives the header & opening lines of the post but when you click on it, you're taken to the latest post & the one you want is nowhere to be found.
What happened to 'Judicial System Fails Roxanne' & 'Visitors are being held captive for months after passports are being confiscated for minor offences in Dubai' both posted by Radha Stirling? Click on either title & you'll get the 'Page Not Found' excuse.

If the posts aren't being blocked, what's happened to them?
If they are being blocked, I can't help but think the UAE is taking it's censorship a bit too far.

It's not a perfect world.


10 November, 2009

Laid off for implicating Emirates Airlines

Dubai Media Observer links to a Reporters Without Borders article titled "Laid off for implicating Emirates Airlines"

"The exclusive account of Courtney C. Radsch, a US journalist who recently lost her job at the Al Arabiya news website (www.alarabiya.net) in the United Arab Emirates for posting information about safety violations by the national air carrier, Emirates Airlines.

“ On Sunday Oct. 4 one of my reporters asked me if we could write about a report on safety concerns at Emirates Airlines following a report about pilot fatigue. Since the report was from a respected Australian paper based on a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) for a report from the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) and I assessed that the story was newsworthy and in the public interest. We sought and received a response from the airline which we featured in the lede and devoted an entire section of the story to. The story was on the site for about 4 hours before I received a call from Dawood al-Shirian, the manager of AlArabiya.net, telling me to remove the story from the site."

Read the DMO post: Nose-dive/Crash landing/[insert aviation disaster pun here] for more.

TV Casting for new series

Casting now for the three lead roles of a new TV crime series to be filmed in Abu Dhabi starting December 09. If you speak Khaleeji and are preferably a Gulf National, this is a great opportunity. Professional acting experience is not required.

Looking for:
1 x male 45-55 years old, will be the Major (crime investigations) mainly playing office scenes and the
“boss” behind the scenes.

1 x male, beginning 30s for the LEAD ROLE. Must have a police / military / security backround. Knows how to handle weapons, arrests, investigations etc.

1 x male or female, mid 20s – mid 30s, Polixe / military / security background. Will be the team partner
of the Lead Role and will be out there conducting the investigations in the field and chasing / arresting people etc.

All people applying must be able to be free and available for further shootings from Jan until July 2010.
Participants will not be able to have “another job”, as the shooting will be a 5 day a week job.

Casting now! Suitable candidates should email a short bio & photograph to info@speakers.ae

09 November, 2009

Dubai Water Bucket Walk by DubaiCares

Have you always wanted to do something for a noble cause, but are not quite sure where to go or what to do? Well Dubai Cares has the perfect opportunity for you! To commemorate the United Nations’ Universal Children’s day, Dubai Cares is inviting the UAE community to participate in a Water Bucket Walk, in support of children globally who do not have access to clean drinking water in schools. Dubai Cares welcomes the participation of individuals, families, schools, corporations, government bodies, social, ethnic and religious clubs and all other entities to participate in the Water Bucket Walk.

For more information, go to -  http://www.dubaicares.ae/WaterBucketWalk

08 November, 2009

Social Media Tips for the Consumer

I have seen many Twitter HOWTO's and Guides, but I have yet to come across one that shows consumers how they can get the attention of brands/products. We have all been busy talking about how we can talk to consumers, how we can engage with them.. which is all great, but we seem to forget that just like marketers, a lot of these social media tools are new to consumers as well. After all, we are all consumers.

Being on the monitoring end of things, I hope that I can give some insights to how brands see the world and how you, the consumer, can make your voice better heard. The most important thing you need to know is this: good brands are really trying to listen.

Give your opinion weight

Simplify your sentiments

Engage with the top

You can read more in my Social Media Tips for the Consumer post.