30 June, 2010

UAE Celebrates Mashable Social Media Day

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Mashable has declared that 30th June should be celebrated as Social Media Day worldwide. There are over 615 meet ups worldwide. UAE (mostly Dubai) is celebrating this at The Shelter tonight.

Here we have tried to lend a hand and throw the spotlight on some of the small businesses in the community as well as a platform to share some of the interesting community projects from recycling to using public transport to saving the Hammour, being selective in our consumerism.

As part of the online community – this event is open to all – so please join us this evening from 7 pm onwards with talks beginning at 7.30pm.

See you all there.

28 June, 2010

Abu Dhabi Tourism TV Commercial Wins A Cannes Lions Awards

It's good to see the city that you've grown up in, in the limelight.

'Be Still' - a TV spot created by TBWA\RAAD Abu Dhabi for Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has just won a Cannes Lions Award. What I find really nice about it is that the award is for the poetic words in it - the copywriting. Have a look...

If you'd like to read more about this, see the Copywriter in UAE blog.

25 June, 2010

CNN interview with Sheikh Mohammed

The Government of Dubai Media Office YouTube channel has just posted this interview of Sheikh Mohammed with CNN:

24 June, 2010

Life in prison for cough syrup

There is an absolutely disgusting story in today's gulf news:

"Dubai: A pharmacist is serving a life sentence for selling a bottle of controlled medicine for Dh100, a judicial official told Gulf News.

The Indian pharmacist, identified as A.Sh. is in his mid-40s and had been working for a private hospital in Dubai. He is undergoing his punishment at Dubai Central Jail after being convicted by a court of selling a bottle of Actifed Compound Linctus for Dh100.

A.Sh. told Gulf News that he had been working as pharmacist for a private hospital in Dubai for nearly seven years and had never sold any medicine without prescriptions.

"An Emirati HIV patient identified as Khalid used to come to our hospital for treatment and doctors prescribed for him Actifed Compound Linctus," he said.

A.Sh. recalled the day when he was arrested saying that Khalid came to the hospital pharmacy asking for the medicine."

Life in prison for a bottle of Actifed Compound Lictus (known in the UAE as a controlled drug and in other countries as horrific 'cough syrup') that doesn't even contain enough codeine (10 mg) to be abused.

Keeping in mind the person that bought the cough syrup was actually prescribed to have cough syrup in the first place makes this story all the more ridiculous.

23 June, 2010

No more Emirates Business 24/7

Everyone's favorite source of optimistic recession news (formerly everyone's favorite non-negative newspaper) is going to be turned into an e-paper:

"Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Board Chairman of Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), has given the instruction to turn the newspaper copy of Emirates Business 24|7 into a comprehensive and interactive electronic newspaper that follows up local and international events.

The new e-paper, which will be launched in the second half of next month, will reflect a variety of the knowledge and information products of DMI which operates television and radio channels and newspapers."

More here: Emirates Business to turn into e-paper (Emirates Business 24-7)

Emirates to place large plane order

"Dubai's Emirates Airline will place a large plane order at the Farnborough Air Show in July, the emirate's ruler has said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in an interview with CNN, said Dubai Airport's continued expansion, in addition to a large growth in passenger numbers and tourism, prompted the national airline to invest in more airplanes to keep pace with developments.

In response to a question about the secret behind the Emirates Group's $15 billion business deals following the events of 9/11, as well as the recent $11.5 billion A380 Airbus purchase during the global financial crisis, Sheikh Mohammed said that opportunities arise out of crises."

more here: Emirates plans large order at Farnborough (Trade Arabia)

These comments were made during a CNN interview with Sheikh Mohammed that is going to air soon and looks so far to be pretty interesting.

22 June, 2010

Fresh milk, sir?

You have to hand it to the Saudis - they come up with some novel ideas:


500 million AED on CCTV in 2010

‘DUBAI // Dubai police are to spend Dh500 million on security technology this year with the aim of having “cameras everywhere”.

Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the Chief of Dubai Police, said surveillance needs to be ramped up to meet the growing requirements of an expanding city.

There are 25,000 security cameras in the emirate, and the number will increase as the force begins installing a new type of smart camera that can rotate to cover what were once “dead spots”."


"The police chief said residents should not be concerned about privacy issues as more cameras are installed.

“The big number of cameras does not alter the privacy of the city’s residents and visitors,” he said. “To intrude on people’s privacy is not allowed by law and is not acceptable by our religion and tradition, so nobody in Dubai need feel scared about their privacy.”

The force has 16,500 police officers and another 4,000 administrative staff who oversee security in the city, in which there are about 60,000 buildings, according to government statistics."

More here: Dubai to spend Dh500m on security (The National)

17 June, 2010

LA Times: Alleged victim of gang rape sentenced to one year in prison

"The Criminal Court of Abu Dhabi, in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, ruled this week that an 18-year-old Emirati woman who accused six men of gang-raping her will herself serve a one-year sentence for consensual sex.
It's one of in the latest in a scourge of reported rape cases in Dubai, The court proceedings were marred by legal travesties, experts say.
While the plaintiff was not granted a lawyer, the defendants were. Moreover, the plaintiff could not have any family members present with her during the trial, the court decided. The prosecution also argued that simply because the plaintiff agreed to enter the police officer's car, this action somehow constituted partial consent to sex, The National reported.
Emirati authorities had kept the plaintiff imprisoned since she made the allegations last month.

Meanwhile, the accused rapists mostly got off lightly. A police officer will serve one year in prison for extramarital sex and two of the other defendants were sentenced to three months for being in the company of a woman not related to them by blood."

More here: DUBAI: Alleged victim of gang rape sentenced to one year in prison (LA times blog)

Ban me banner!

Try and ban this!

Dubai bans the flying of national flags and banners from cars or buildings during the World Cup "for safety reasons".
(There seems to be an exception for UAE flags plastered across car windows, because as we know, Emirati drivers are safe anyway. Another reason could be that otherwise UAE would never have a chance to brandish their flag because they'll never make it to the World Cup. But that's of course just a malicious rumour.)

I think the recent Emirati approach is that everything should be banned unless specifically allowed.

Ras Al Khaimah 'succession struggle'

More news from Ras Al Khaimah...

"RAS AL-KHAIMAH, United Arab Emirates — In tiny but strategic Ras al-Khaimah, the aged emir's failing health is spotlighting a succession struggle between the crown prince and his deposed half brother.

Sheikh Khaled bin Saqr al-Qassimi was crown prince until 2003 and has launched a campaign to regain his position. He accuses current Crown Prince Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qassimi of turning the emirate into a "rogue state" that Iran uses to circumvent UN sanctions.

The emirate, which has been governed by now 92-year-old Shiekh Saqr bin Mohammed al-Qassimi since 1948, is located on the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which some 40 percent of the world's oil is shipped.

Sheikh Saqr's health "condition is critical, which poses a real problem of succession" for Ras al-Khaima, a source close to the royal family told AFP.

"Sheikh Khaled considers himself the legitimate heir and deputy ruler, saying he has in hand a 2004 decree by his father returning him to his position, a year after Sheikh Saud replaced him," the source said."

Read more here: Deposed prince vies to succeed ailing emir in northern UAE (AFP)

16 June, 2010


When you wake up with a head filled-up with thoughts which put your mind on overdrive mode, you just hope the day passes by as quickly as possible with the least amount of emotions/thoughts/crap. Fate is not on your side when it comes to this son, the sooner you realize that the better :)

15 June, 2010

Rent drop in 2010

Arabian Business has an interesting analysis of the decrease in rent within Dubai this year...
"The cheapest annual rent in Dubai is as little as AED22,000 for a studio in the country clusters of International City, latest figures reveal. 
Landmark Advisory's rental guide for June also showed that one-bed apartments in Palm Jumeirah are now available for AED75,000, a 20 percent drop compared to March rents listed by Dubai's real estate regulatory agency.
The study by Landmark, which said on Monday that rents had declined in even the most sought after locations since April, also showed that a studio apartment in Dubai Marina now costs as low as AED38,000."
More here: Cheapest Dubai annual rent drops to AED22,000 (Arabian Business)

14 June, 2010

Germany shows UAE the way

At the FIFA Worldcup last night Germany’s Nationalmannschaft (NB: sharply click your heels when saying this) demolished a pathetic looking Australian team 4-0. What does that have to do with the UAE and its community blog I hear you say? Apart from putting gobby Ozzies in their rightful place at the bottom, which is welcome always and everywhere, it is relevant to the UAE in one particular aspect.

The entire German Worldcup squad features no less than 11 players who were either born outside Germany or to are first or second generation Germans, i.e. they were born to parents who came to Germany as “guestworkers” / immigrants from Turkey or Poland, Ghana, Brazil or Vietnam who became German citizens. In the UAE we like to call these people expats - which sounds more glamorous than guestworker but really is the same thing.

I do not suggest that native Germans have less talent than foreign born or naturalized citizens and are therefore destined to be sidelined (cheap pun intended). But what seems important to me is that despite featuring several ‘new’ Germans the team yesterday still played that typically German brand of football of a physically dominating team effort with a no nonsense finish with deadly efficiency. It shows that the (oxymoronic) soul of German football can be maintained and even perfected by incorporating and assimilating foreign elements, by giving clear directions and coaching. If Germany with their abominable history of doing the exact opposite can do that, anyone can. (Heck, it’s fun to vent one’s bigoted chauvinism every four years!)

Dubai’s 'idol' Singapore grants citizenship to residents willing to vest their interest and commit, as do most countries civilized and brave enough to realize the potential advantages of injecting fresh blood in an aging and dwindling national population and harness the ambition that most immigrants tend to have.

The UAE don’t’, and are worse for it.

13 June, 2010

Fair usage rights in the UAE?

Fair usage rights in the UAE?
"DUBAI - Blogs, being new in terms of online communication, does not have a bad impact on intellectual property rights, but development of awareness and precautionary regulations are needed to avoid violations, according to a legal advisor.
“The situation is quite different in the West as numerous blogs have become more specific, even scientific, and they have turned into a real business worth millions of dollars. Thus, IPR infringements are now a phenomenon there,” said Khalid B El Nour, Legal Advisor with Dubai Customs.
Nour said even some big news agencies have committed such violations by re-broadcasting others’ wires and feeds without permission, claiming lack of funds or financial deficit.
“Some cyber quotations may be permitted under certain policies, such as Fair Dealing in the UK, Fair Use in the US or Private Copying in Europe. Nonetheless, most copying on the Internet is illegal.”
Added to this, Nour said similar and more dangerous infringements are expected in the Arab world very soon in view of the digital explosion.
“Hence, precautionary measures are necessary not only to protect others’ rights, but also the blogger himself,” Nour told Khaleej Times on Wednesday on the sidelines of the First Arab Bloggers Conference that concluded in Ajman on Thursday."

More here

Trouble brewing at Discovery Gardens

There's an interesting report from Bloomberg just surfacing.

Nakheel PJSC, the Dubai World construction unit that received state cash to pay contractors and suppliers, may leave residents without air conditioning as it hasn’t agreed to foot the bill.
Occupants of Discovery Gardens, a Nakheel development spanning 26 million feet that includes over one hundred apartment blocks, may find their homes uninhabitable when Palm Utilities cuts off the air conditioning on June 15 as temperatures surpass 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

"Due to the building owner’s continuing failure to enter into a legally binding contract with us, we have served on the building owner a ‘Notice of Disconnection’ of chilled water supply," Palm Utilities unit Palm District Cooling said in posters put up in the entrance and lift of Discovery Gardens Building 107. "Chilled water supplied to this building to service the building’s air conditioning will be disconnected on Tuesday 15 June 2010."

One to watch.

The Bloomberg report is here.


Bloomberg have updated their report to tell us that the dispute is resolved.

"An error has been rectified," a spokesperson for Nakheel said by e-mail. "No utilities will be cut off."

Good news and a huge relief for the residents.

(Sam, thanks for adding your edit, you just beat me too it).

Edit by samuraisam: dispute is now resolved.

12 June, 2010

"Surfacing of video clip creates stir in UAE case"

From The Times of India... 

"CHANDIGARH: Posting of two video clips on a popular video uploading site is creating quite a stir among those involved in the case relating to 17 Indian, mainly Punjabi, youths, who have been awarded death sentence in UAE for alleged murder of a Pakistani youth. 

The case is coming up for appeal on June 16. 

The video uploads, lasting barely a few seconds, feature three men, one of whom is described as Mushtaq Ahmed, brother of the slain youth and reportedly the sole eyewitness in the case, who is quoted as saying he did not identify any of the 17 people who have been sentenced for murder of his brother. In the second clip, the same man is heard responding to a query by a woman interviewer, by saying his family is not interested in accepting blood money and that they would seek punishment for the perpetrator of the crime. 

The videos have also been uploaded on the site of Lawyers for Human Rights International (LFHRI). The organization's lawyer Navkiran Singh, who had visited the Indian prisoners in Sharjah soon after the sentence, had come back to India to reveal for the first time that the eyewitness had not identified any one of the accused."
More info on the case: Appeal postponed for the bootleg turf war killers (The National)

Abu Dhabi traffic gridlock video

The Abu Dhabi Police YouTube channel has posted an interesting video of the 'traffic breakdown' that occured on June 1st...


09 June, 2010

Blogging code of ethics

An interesting article in The National about blogging/freedom of speech/ethics/etc:
"AJMAN // Prominent Arab bloggers have recommended a code of ethics to improve the quality and influence of their internet posts, particularly those in Arabic.
Mohammed Badwi, a Saudi Arabian who is among the best-known Arabic bloggers, said his fellow internet correspondents and opinion writers should follow four guidelines – a clear objective, responsibility for their words, passion for their subject and an understanding of readership.
Bloggers must follow these steps if they wanted acceptance and trust from the public and governments, he said.
The comments come at a forum in Ajman. “We understand freedom to mean ‘say what you want and no one stops you’, but freedom stops when you [infringe] on other people’s freedom,” said Mr Badwi."
Original article here: Bloggers support a code of ethics (The National)

07 June, 2010

RAK politics

Linked to via slashdot:
"A bloodless coup to take control of an Arab Gulf state is being plotted by an unlikely alliance that includes a powerful firm of US lobbyists and a provincial English high-street solicitor.

Peter Cathcart, a 59-year-old lawyer from Farnham, has been hired by the ousted crown prince of Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) in the United Arab Emirates to co-ordinate the plot aimed at returning him to power after seven years in exile.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that Cathcart has acted as a paid agent for Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi in a multimillion-pound campaign to "undermine the current regime's standing" and to force the leadership of the UAE in Abu Dhabi, which has powerful influence over the emirate, to "make a change".

RAK is a strategically important part of the UAE, 50 miles from Iran across the Strait of Hormuz, through which 17 million barrels of oil are shipped each day. Sheikh Khalid, 66, was ousted by his father and brother as de facto leader in 2003"

more here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/06/peter-cathcart-prince-coup

Also worth reading the wikipedia page on Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi and a page on the Washington Institute site for a bit of background.

Thanks to anon for the link.

Do PR companies think people are stupid?

According to this report, the broke state-owned property developer Nakheel will start paying claimants who are owed less than 500K Dirhams. And apparently Nakheel’s PR advisors think this is such good news that they sent press releases to every copy + paste newswire in town.

Do PR people really consider people so stupid to believe that paltry sums like 500K Dirhams make an iota of difference to the number of mega projects Nakheel started and shelved? Nakheel’s projects were the archetypical Dubai superlative of hubris. Both immensely over-reaching in ambition and badly (and in some cases, criminally) managed, the state owned developer owes – by their own reluctant admission – hundreds of millions of Dirhams to consultants and contractors. Contractors will typically pay their subcontractors and suppliers “if and when” they are paid themselves. It’s a top-down trickle effect: the clue, Nakheel, is in the word "top-down". Any claim of less than 500K Dirhams is likely to be smaller outstanding payments to direct suppliers of Nakheel, for example printers of their lavish marketing material. [Does anyone remember the banners across Sheikh Zayed road: “We promised you the World. What next?” I tell you what’s next: you are broke and the international butt of jokes; that’s what’s next.]

Paying the small dues first and advertising this as a glorious restart of stalled projects does two things: Firstly, it is a slap in the face of the big consultants and contractors who should be paid first, and aren’t, and who could really make a difference in restarting Nakheel’s projects if they were paid. Secondly, it is a glorious shot in your own foot - an embarrassing admission that Nakheel doesn’t have the money to settle the serious claims.

As the saying goes: You can fool some people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time; not even in Dubai. Come to think of it, especially not in Dubai where perhaps 50% of the population are somehow connected to the construction industry or know someone who is.

01 June, 2010

Blue Waters - Jewish Piracy

As you know, the Israelis have have boarded an international aid ship heading for Gaza while it was in international waters and murdered 19 of its members. The ship was carrying the Turkish flag and Turkey as well as all Muslim and Arab nations are furious, the world is furious too at this act of state-sponsored barbaric piracy by the Middle East's "only democracy".

Democracy my ass...

Coming soon.. more stuff on this.. but until then I leave you with this excellent cartoon by my friend Carlos Latuff.

More info:

Carlos Latuff on Twitter
Carlos Latuff on Deviant Art



PS: I actually met the Gulf News reporter on board the ship, and my thoughts go out to his family at this time.

Israel Kills Innocent Protestors: Rest Of World Not Bothered

I mean, come on, exactly what does it take for Israel to provoke a truly international outcry? In case you missed it, yesterday Israeli commandos rapelled from helicopters onto a ship carrying humanitarian aid to the imprisoned population of Gaza and killed between 10 and 19 unarmed (unless you think a stick is an arm) civilian activists. Get this: the ship was in international waters about 70km from Israel. So, act of war? Piracy? Mindless, vicious and brutal over-reaction? Whatever it was, Israel has once more enthusiastically leapt over the line that divides civilized nations from rogue states.

And no reaction / comment on here? Unbelievable. Here's my full rant.