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  • Friday, March 31, 2006

    Unions

    In a swift move, typical of the Labour Minister, the concept of unions has now been addressed officially so that construction workers can be treated as human beings. The first step is recognising that there is a problem, the next is implementation of a solution. Steps have been made to ammend the labor law to create unions, but the real issues is whether these laws will be upheld or enforced. The proof is in the pudding. And let's not wait until the end of the year.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Why Dubai's Geography Matters

    A linear analysis on the the port deal by OUP. More factors were at play with this as we all know, whether you were pro or against the deal

    Love how they can get the Dubayy and Abu Zaby thing so wrong. Even if it were right, wouldn't "Locals" spell it in Arabic?

    Posted by at No comments :

    Mais Dubaï c'est où ?

    Dubai, c'est ici, n'est-ce pas? Je veux que je me pratique ma francais apres les examens. Je le trouve drôle au sujet de l'enchaînement du Dubaï et du Al Jazeera. Zut alors, mes amis, zut alors!

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Human Rights in the UAE

    The recent protests regarding the unfair treatment of workers in the construction industry is a culmination of a simmering feeling that seemed to bubble over the cauldron every now and then. Protests are, by all accounts, illegal in the UAE, but they have slowly started to increase over the last 12 months until the Burj Brouhaha spilled over to the delights of the watchful international media. Over recent days, one by one, the larger publications published their take on the situation. Views emanated from all over, and the world has begun to take note.

    Today the Human Rights Education Associates issued a statement entitled No Free Trade Pacts Without Reform. The article is a clear summary of treatment of the workers, and a critique of the UAE Government. It warrants your time and thought. It ends on this note:

    The governments of the United States, the European Union, and Australia
    are currently negotiating free trade agreements with the UAE. Human Rights
    Watch called on these governments to require improvement of UAE’s labor
    practices and legal standards before signing such agreements. Human Rights
    Watch also urged these governments to include in any free trade agreements
    reached with the UAE strong, enforceable workers’ rights provisions that
    require parties’ labor laws to meet international standards, and the
    effective enforcement of those laws.


    There is more to come. They have conducted a full review of conditions and will be releasing them soon. Could a matter that has been swept under the carpet for so long rear its ugly head to be the stumbling block in the UAE's quest to be become the trade partner to the world? If there was ever a time for the UAE to address human rights issues, now is it. For the good of the workers, for the good of the UAE, for the good of humanity. The world is watching.

    Posted by at No comments :

    UAE's first independent current affairs ezine

    That's a first. Thanks to ORB-UAE for bestowing on me the title. My interview is on there as well. Man, I feel famous.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Dubai is the Centre of the World

    As stated by the President of Emirates Airline:

    Dubai is "perfectly located to be the global hub of this century," Flanagan said. "Look at a map of the world, with the Americas down one side, and China and Japan down the other. If you balance that all on a point, that point is Dubai."

    The artcile talks of non retailation on the Ports Deal, Emirates domination of the long haul and how the airline's success can be alikened to the success of Dubai thusfar. A pretty accurate analogy at some levels.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Silver in the City of Gold

    On a retail level, Dubai is known as the city of Gold. YOu need only to walk through the Gold Souk to figure that one out. On a trading level, Silver Futures were launched yesterday in the DMCX in a booming market, which promises to rise further. Forget the volatile ups and downs of the stock market. Long term stability is in the precious metals.

    Posted by at No comments :

    In the battle of Elissa and Nancy Ajram....

    ....Elissa keeps winning. Well, kinda. Pepsi announced today that it has a 70% market share of the soft drinks market in the UAE. That is astounding, considering Coca Cola dominates the industry in most regions. With Pepsi's strategy to focus more on non carbonated drinks, it is firmly placed to maintain this position in this growth market with AquaFina.

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Lost in Translation

    Don't ask me why, but I needed to get some braces for someone back home, you know, those elasticated belt type things to keep your trousers up, not the teeth corrective thingys. So, while in our local multistore, which I haven't been to in some time, I decided to kill a number of birds with one stone, one of which were the braces. After rummaging through the belts, and searching near the suit section, and the men's accessories area, I decided that I was going to have to ask the man in the blue shirt (mibs). The conversation, went something like this - I kid you not.

    ME: Excuse me?
    MIBS: Yes, boss. [Aside, I like being called boss randomly like this]
    ME: Do you have braces here?
    MIBS: [blank stare]
    ME: Braces?
    MIBS: Tracey???
    ME: No. Braces.
    MIBS: Pastries?
    ME: [small chuckle, is this guy messing with me?]
    ME: No. BRACES [I do the Stan Laurel motion]
    MIBS: You mean shirt?
    ME: No! You know - braces, to hold up trousers?
    MIBS: Belt?
    ME: No. Like belt, but two...held with clip...
    MIBS: OH! You mean BRACES!
    MIBS: [hahhaahahahahaha] I no understand your accent. You have funny accent.
    ME: Like English Accent?
    MIBS: Yes, boss, like English accent.
    ME: OK, so...where are the braces then?
    MIBS: Braces? We don't sell braces here. We sell belts. You want belt. Belt is better. We have nice belt.
    ME: *&***&*& *&* ****
    MIBS: Boss, it's on sale, boss. Boss?

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Banishing the Sterotype

    This recent Time article about racial profiling got me thinking. In the US, where race still plays a big issue in society, people sterotype based on your nationality or origin, as demonstrated so artistically by the film Crash. Here, in the UAE, we talk about a melting pot where nationalities and cultures come together. I think this is a misnomer. While, undeniably we must all exist together, more and more do I see a separation into pockets of society. More and more do I see stereotypes in play. If you are from the West, you are overpaid and moan a lot. If you are Arab, you are lazy. If you are from the East, we'll pay you a pittance because that's what you'll accept working for. We need to get past this. We need to move past our own sterotypes of our own race and judge others as we would want them to judge ourselves. It is time to create an open mind. In some respects, we are at a stage worse than in the US, but, in other respects, we are better off - there is more opportunity to change. Banish the sterotype and treat your neighbour as equal, and make the UAE a melting pot of meritocracy, not of stereotype.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Dubai Currency Futures

    News that the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange will trade currency futures is an obvious but bold move in a region which is fast picking up where it was left behind.

    For those that are not into the financial mumbo jumbo, a currency future is essentially a contract to buy or sell a foreign currency on a future date at an agreed set price. These can be traded on an exchange. What this does is allow companies or, indeed, individuals to hedge against foreign currency risk.

    It usually revolves around one currency, the USD, and since the Dirham is currently pegged to it, it seems a good move in a region which sits close between the Far East and the West. And thus it will trade in Yen, Euros and Pounds.

    Why is this important? With all the trade that is coming through here, companies will want to minimise the risk of operations elsewhere. It also sets the precendent for Dubai being the Finance Centre of the Middle East, ahead of Qatar and Bahrain.

    The specifics have yet to be drawn up, but somebody somewhere is has got their thinking hat on. Furthermore, with a Gulf wide Common Currency to be implemented within the next 5-10 years, this move could be very smart indeed.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Let the games begin

    Sir Dicky doesn't mess around. The time has come for the battle to begin on the 2nd most popular long haul route from Heathrow. Mr Branson must have done his homework, and I'm sure that this is good news for Dubai and for Virgin. Virgin, although a minnow compared to Emirates, is like Rocky in the boxing ring. As Mr Bhoyrul says:

    "Branson’s style is to come in cheap, blaze the market and hope it will stay loyal. And it usually works — in the last thirty years, Virgin has created five totally separate billion dollar businesses."

    Emirates Airline, be afraid. This is a growth market and Richard is going to take as much of that as possible from under your nose.

    Posted by at No comments :

    USA buys UAE

    Why is it that when investment comes into the UAE, in purchase of some of the UAE's prize assets that there is no furore and it is considered business as usual? Because it is in the spirit of free economy, trade and business. Things like this simply go unnoticed, because it is normal practice in this day and age. It's time to step towards a globalised economy and realise that long term partnerships, like this are in everyone's best interest.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Net Immigration

    I was looking into immigration figures and the like in relation to the UAE and found this great little site called World Mapper which resizes the world on different criteria. The picture below shows the relative levels of net immigration.



    The page also links to data, in Excel format, and although some of it is a little out of date, it gives an interesting view of world. FYI, the UAE scores highest on net immigration at 59% closely followed by Qatar.

    The population maps are particularly interesing with India and China looking like real powerhouses.

    Posted by at 10 comments :

    one hundred billion dollars

    It sound like a threat from Dr. Evil. But no, $100bn is the amount talked about by Abu Dhabi for investment purposes to diversify away from oil and gas.

    Al Mubarak, Head of Mubadala said: “The next five to eight years will be a very exciting time. I think it is like the early days of Singapore.”

    Interesting times for Abu Dhabi. Read the Sunday Times article on Abu Dhabi wooing UK companies

    Posted by at No comments :

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Sheikha Lubna Interview (video)

    In this interview with CNBC, Sheikha Lubna clarifies all the issues. If only everyone who were against the port deal could see this, it would begin to give a fair picture of what the UAE is about. She covers the port deal, the USD to Euro conversion, US protectionism and terrorism

    In short this is a MUST see. If you were not a fan of what she does for the UAE, you will be now. She does the UAE proud. Tell everyone!

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    Abu Dhabi and ADIA to focus on Emerging Markets

    Looks like Abu Dhabi have got it spot on:

    "...particularly interested in investing in Chinese companies set for privatisation, including in the insurance and oil and gas sectors. A typical example is its bid for about 2.5 per cent of the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which he said was still awaiting government approval amid pressure on the authorities not to sell assets to foreigners.

    But ADIA was also looking at Indian financial companies focused on infrastructure assets. “We see as much opportunity in China as in India and we understand India better – they’ve been a trade partner for a long time..."

    More from the FT article

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    The UAE Terrorism Details

    Some specifics from the declassified documents:

    "Documents from the Harmony Database recently declassified by the U.S. military includes a threat made by al-Qaeda to the United Arab Emirates, specifically Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The text is significant since it places the series of warnings against the UAE during the last year in a longer historical context, potentially indicating the level of interest shown by the al-Qaeda movement in the Gulf state, which is closely allied to the U.S. in the war on terrorism. The letter, dated May 26, 2002, warned the Emirates' authorities at the time that continued cooperation with the U.S. in extraditing mujahideen will "bring the country into an arena of conflict, in which it will not be able to endure or escape from its consequences." It argued that the state "knows full well that we have penetrated your security, surveillance and banking apparatus, along with others which it is not [at present] relevant to mention." The warning pointed out that the state was "wide open to us" with a population "the most fertile and conducive to the task and capable of exploding" and singled out the weakness of its economic dependence on "impudent tourism"

    More information at Jamestown

    Posted by at No comments :

    Burj Brouhaha

    History tells us that if you push a man too far, he will come back a raging bull. If you push 2,500 too far, you have a revolt on your hands that could highlights the issues that these labourers face on a daily basis. Working for a pittance in seemingly gruesome conditions, bunkbeded in labour camps, with sacrifices made to give their loved ones a better life - it was only a matter of time before emotions would boil in the cauldron of the construction industry. If these labourers are not treated as equals, then the Burj will come to symbolise not the tallest building in the world. It will symbolise mistreatment and the pinacle of semi-slavery in the world today.

    Posted by at No comments :

    They love her

    Sheikha Lubna is proving to be a big hit stateside, and for good reason:

    "Sheikha Lubna is the perfect weapon to counter the negativism generated by the Dubai Ports fiasco for several reasons. She is intelligent, sharp and charming -- proof that not all the people from Dubai are in cahoots with Osama bin Laden, as some people here would like us to believe. Her command of the English language is impeccable, and she could easily pass for an American."

    I have long been a fan. It was a smart move to send her to pacify the situation. Read about Dubai's Secret Weapon here.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    jobsindubai and Jobs in Dubai

    If you are not familiar with Jobs in Dubai Inc, or jobsindubai.com and are looking for a job in dubai, you should be.

    For all intents and purposes, I thought the company had shut down, until, today I saw a full page spread in the gulf news, giving a one month waiver on their charge. My first thought was that it beggars belief that such a company could be able to take out an advert like that, when they are known to be scammers. But then I thought, maybe I had it wrong, or maybe it was a new company, so let me look into it in a bit more detail. Can it really be possible that jobsindubai have gone legit?

    For those of you that don't know, jobsindubai are known to be scam artists, asking you for cash upfront to get you a job in dubai. So, you give them your hard earned 74 dollars, and you expect them to get you a job. Now, when something is too good to be true, it usually isn't. However, it is pretty difficult to get a job in Dubai, when you are sitting on your sofa in Manchester or Delhi or Iowa or wherever it is that you are, so you think this is the best thing ever, and you pay them. I think that it is quite possible that some people have obtained jobs because it appears that they do sell CVs on to companies. To the uninitiated employer coming to the region or looking at a focused approach, they might spend that minimum of 195 dollars to view CVs. But most likely, jobsindubai probably mail blast your cv to as many companies as they can. Eventually they get lucky.

    Let me put it like this: there are many people out there who want to take your money. They will offer you the world and ask for your money in advance. They say it is to cover the registration process or the cost involved. Be very wary of anyone requesting such payments. What they are probably doing at the minimum, is, taking your cash and putting it in a high interest savings account or dabbling in some investment for the 6 months. So, if you are lucky enough to get your cash back, that's what has happened to it, but more often than not you won't. Never send money, credit card or bank account details to anyone to secure or apply for a job. This is actually illegal in the UAE. Any reputable company or agency shoul absorb the costs involved themselves. After all they are charging the companies for your data.

    I looked at the site, jobsindubai.com. Here are some of my observations:

    - the website looks pretty slick, slick enough to fool anyone

    - the network alliance companies listed to give the impression that it is well connected are all owned by jobsindubai or Nofell Izz;

    - these network companies are actually all based in Ontario Canada and registered there - the head guy for all of them is Nofel Izz (nofelizz@gmail.com) and a simple whois database lookup on all the sites will give you the detail and proof;

    - some of the sites listed there appear dummmy template sites with no real activity;

    - one of the companies, flipeasy is actually a condom company;

    - careersindubai looks like another company set up to force people to format their cv in a certain way for processing by jobs in dubai;

    - the fact that they are listed on Dunn and Bradstreet is no big deal - any company can be on there (if anyone pays the 140 bucks for the report on them, let me know!);

    - they mention they have 3 million job candiates - the largest such portal in the uk, reed, has 2 million and their site has a hell of a lot more transparency, legitimacy and bells and whistles;

    - JID Referral network is a round about way of saying they email your CV when they feel like it;

    - They say that they were established in Dubai, this sounds highly dubious - they are also not here now;

    - the jobs listed are some well written spiel by themselves - they never change;

    - the excuse for length of time for refunds is just amusing - whether they actually refund is another matter entirely;

    - the only two companies listed in the testimonials telecertix and BD and G Trade just don't exist - the other testimonials are so obviously made up.

    - A simple search for any other testimonial brings you to this obviously set up page to try and create legitimacy to the people.

    - why don't they have any contact phone number in Dubai?;

    - you will see from the ITP story below that they do not actually exist at the location listed on aldifaya street;

    - the companies listed in the employer list are not considered big league, probably dont know that they are on that page and many don't even operate in dubai; however, motorola and etisalat are on there;

    You don't have to believe me and pay your money, but this is a friendly piece of advice. Jobs dont just come along like that. These scam artists advertise all over the place and spend a lot of money on it because they know people will pay money for it. It is also possible that they are also operating uaestaffing.com, even though they have distanced themselves from it. I would steer clear of these guys as well. If you need further proof that these guys are crooks, check these pages out, but watch out for the trolls who have only posted once to try and convince you otherwise:

    british expats 1
    british expats 2
    Expat Engineer
    Expat Engineer 2
    Pakistani forum
    Dubai Forums

    Here are some further press articles to expose them:

    Khaleej Times
    ITP Technology

    The ITP artcile is a MUST read.

    So, if considering a job in Dubai, we would suggest against using jobsindubai.com. You may think otherwise, but that is your prerogative. Just bear in mind that all the evidence points in one direction.

    If anyone has had a positive experience with jobsindubai, I would very much like to meet with you.

    EDIT: This reliability report from the Better Business Bureau lists their "unsatisfactory record"

    EDIT: Try our recommended agencies, and approaches from our website.

    Posted by at 45 comments :

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    The Regressive Yoyo

    The critique of the method of IPO as detailed by AMEInfo is well informed. Constant oversubscriptions, funded significantly by debt is only a recipe for disaster. The rush to IPOs is not based on analysis. Current thinking in the UAE is based upon the fact that stockmarket investment in a growth market is a means of minting money, and the latest du IPO oversubscription, which was a record, smells of investors wanting to make their money back on the downturn of 2006.

    What is needed now, is some objective assessment. Following international best practice would be a start, and DIFX could be the model that all the other bourses should follow. If restrictions on investment in an IPO, as well as the number of IPOs to be floated are not implemented, the UAE stock market will not ever settle. It will continue to overheat, bubble up and burst, creating a yoyo regressive effect, where those not so well of will make losses for the simple reason that they think the stock market is short termist. Education of what the market is all about, as well as how it works is a good start.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Happy New Year, again

    OK, so there is the Gregorian New Year (1st Jan), thee Hijri new year, and 21st March is the Persian New Year, celebrated by pockets of people around the world, notably in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. With people of those nationalities residing in the UAE, some will no doubt be celebrating Nowruz/Navrose or the first day of spring. Happy New Year/Happy Spring. Excessive tooting of horns during traffic jams can thus be explained as celebratory rather than anger.

    Public Holiday?

    Posted by at No comments :

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Brand Awareness

    With news today that J-Lo (aka J to the L-O, hello, aka Jennifer Lopez, aka Jenny from the block, aka La Guitarra) will play out in Dubai on the 27th of April, Dubai is fast getting a reputation for a must-do tour date. Mirage Promotions have brought over significant big players over the last few years, such as Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child amongst others. The demand is out there as shown by the 4 hour Robbie Williams sell out.

    The brand awareness of Dubai is now significant, not just as a place of 'wonderful' construction, but of business, and as the hub of the Middle East. If big (butted) artists are chosing to play out here, the wonder of Dubai must be reaching out to right people. Either that or it is an excuse for the stars to do a spot of shopping. Either way, it's another feather in the cap.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    The Fast Track

    Some time back, I was asked to interview a guy to give a second opinion for the company I am working for. And so I did. This chap, let's call him Mo, was about 30, a UAE National, well spoken, all in all a decent chap. His English was pretty good, and the first five minutes, I thought, would lead to some in depth discussion on his career choices.

    The CV that I had appeared to be missing some years, so I asked Mo to detail his career path since university. It transpired that on return from the US, where he had studied, he had taken up an HR position, and had basically been in acting Senior HR positions for a 500 person semi government company for 3 of the years post graduation. Impressive, so I probed a little more.

    It became increasingly obvious that Mo did not know the detail of anything underneath him, and that he believed he didn't need to. He just thought he would make decisions and sign letters etc. As I didn't know what position he was actually being interviewed for, I asked him what he was going for. "HR Director, of course," he said.

    Now, while Mo had 3 years as a stand in, the rest of the years had been spent "doing personal things" but which were beneficial to his career path. I was not allowed to know what these things were, but they didn't seem to give him either any theory or practice.

    This guy was obviously very intelligent, but had been given a false sense of how a career should pan out. Even if you are a clever fella, you need to prove something. You need depth as well as breadth. Many a time I have met people who say that they have been doing a job for a long time, and should get a promotion. I'm sorry it just doesn't work like that. If meritocracy is going to work in this country, standards need to be drawn up, and the fast track should only be used to speed up the careers of the next Alabars.

    I'm not against UAE Nationals being given a better deal in their own country, but becoming an HR Director after 3 years of experience and a bit of wasta? Come on! Mo, will certainly do well, but I just hope that he gets tested every once in a while so that he is forced to learn.

    Proof is in the pudding. Unfortunately, we've just ordered the starters.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Newsletter: Tax in Dubai

    This month, I have covered VAT, its necessity and its implications in my newsletter. I tried to keep it simple and stay off the economic jargon, but threw in the word inelastic to bring back those childhood memories. Enjoy. You can locate the piece from the homepage , the archive, or directly.

    Hope you enjoy. As always, comments, suggestions, discussion, all welcome, either here or directly to me.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Escapes and Lessons

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You can sit back, almost without consequence and analyse what went on. Dar al Hayat and Asharq alawsat in their respective pieces, The Lesson Drawn and Dubai's Escape look back at the DP World incident from different perspectives, and there are indeed learning points from both views. Dubai did avoid an inevitable future backlash by pulling away from the US ports. Any minor issue, no matter how small would have blown up in the US press. As we know, it just takes one Associated Press reporter and then it is fact. The other view, suggesting that the focus of investment should be a little closer to home is an interesting one. What DP World was trying to do was to make some money. Investing closer to home may not just do that in the short term. As Dubai looks to diversify, all it is trying to do is establish reputation and create a return in industries other than those historically associated with the region. However, the Al Hayat argument is a noble one - if investment is not wanted, you can't force it. I think the status quo of regional and opportunistic investment is sensible, at least in the short to medium term. Oh, and avoiding conflict is a good thing also.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Dubai threatened

    For years, the rumours would surface, sourceless, that Dubai had been threatened. And many would say that the reason that nothing has happened thus far is because Dubai is keeping the radicals sweet. The Associated Press article that details the recently declassified threat in 2002 will open up two schools of thought: one, that Dubai will be safe because nothing has happened thusfar; two, that the radicals must have been paid off. The bombing in Qatar over a year ago resulted in minimal action. However, if anything were ever to happen in Dubai, the repercussions would be huge. The turmoil within the Middle East would spread to the Gulf region. It is unlikely that the UAE would sit back, and funnily enough, I am sure that the US would get involved at a strategic and operational level to rid the vagrants from the region. The Gulf is important for oil, and despite what happened with regard to the Dubai Ports World, the UAE is the West's closest neighbour in a troublesome region.

    Although I am skeptical about the seriousness of the threat, you can not help but think that regional strike would create shockwaves of epic proportions, both with the GCC and the rest of the world. A strike, equivalent to 7/7, would be the invitation to finish off militant Islamic terrorism once and for all. Let us just hope that it is stifled before the notion is put into action.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Dubai Ports - the Arab American View

    Imagine being Arab in the US, while this was blowing up. This article from the LA Weekly summed it up:

    Given that Dubai represents a beacon of progress for the Arab world (some call it the “Monaco of the Middle East”), Arab-Americans were demoralized when their best candidate for American acceptance was rejected. “If the UAE can’t do it, what Arab country will be able to?” asked an Arab-American grad student studying Gulf relations at Georgetown. “If the role model of the region is not even given a fair chance, it’s a deterrent for other Middle Eastern countries.” He regretted the callous superficiality of the whole debate: “It became frustrating when you’re watching the news and facts about the UAE are jumbled,” he said. “Some parts of the U.S. still can’t differentiate between the UAE and Taliban-era Afghanistan.”

    The furore just continues, with constant muck raking, false accusations, and misinterpretaion. With Sheikha Lubna travelling to the US to discuss the US-UAE free trade agreement, this is indeed a key turning point, but I'm sure the US will find some sticking points with that as well.

    (P.S. Read the whole article - the last line is a classic sum up of pent up anger)

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Dubai Property Law......Finally

    It was all a case of when. The World's [sic] least well kept secret is finally official. Here is what you need to know:

    The Law is called Law No. 7 of 2006.

    UAE Nationals, GCC Nationals and companies owned by them can purchase property on a freehold or 99 year leasehold basis anywhere in Dubai.

    Expats may be given the right to purchase in some parts of Dubai, on a freehold basis or on a 99 year lease (or usufruct as termed by KT). These areas will be specified at a later date but will probably be limited to where the Emaar, Nakheel and Dubai Properties are located.

    If you have purchased before, you can register your property.

    Inheritance needs to be registered with property register.

    So, all good, on the day after the biggest stock market crash in Dubai's history. Now that this legislation has been passed, expect the money flow from the next level of speculator to shoot into Dubai, the mortgage market to go crazy and the Dubai PR machine to start rolling again with the slogan: Property not Ports.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Grapeshisha Gaffes

    I have been doing the Newsletter officially now for over a year, the site has been up for about 2 months, and I've been blogging for little over a month. If you know the site you will know that I have a Q&A section on it where I try and help those who are in need. How it works is either they post a question from the site or they email me. Admittedly, I have been struggling to help with some specifics recently because for some reason they have all been about Sharjah, "find me a place to live" and some visa specifics.

    Well, since I started the newsletter I would occasionally get some odd requests, and, increasingly, more and more so. I have collated my favourites for your light amusement:

    In no order of weirdness and more or less verbatim, unless it was impossible to understand:

    1. How much does it cost to date girls in Dubai?
    [Money can't buy you love, well maybe for one night if you go to some places.]
    2. What is the legal age of pre marital Muslim s3x?
    [Er, not allowed mate.]
    3. How much [would] a holiday to Australia cost from Abu Dhabi?
    [Depends if you are going bling or not]
    4. How much [does] it cost to fly from Barbados to Dubai?
    [I'm not a travel agent.]
    5. Where is the embassy for the UAE is in London? Im lost and sending this from my Blackberry.
    [Astounding.]
    6. If I wanted to get a discount at the Emirates Palace, how would I do that?
    [Sorry, I don't have any wasta.]
    7. Why [is it] that there is traffic and accidents all the time?
    [Two words. Ego Driving.]
    8. Who decides about Dubai?
    [Sheikh Mohammed , of course!]
    9. What is the minimum cost to live if I don't want to spend any money?
    [0Dhs]
    10. I tried grapeshisha but I preferred rose.
    [Stick to that then, my friend. ]
    11. If I am not Muslim, can I have another wife in Dubai?
    [You're just being greedy.]
    12. I am doing a geography project. What is the capital of Dubai?
    [The World, but it's not built yet. ]
    13. Can you source a paper on how Dubai Ports World operates its ports and identify how this could be a risk for the USA?
    [No.]
    14. Which companies from the Middle East have links with President Bush and former President Bush?
    [Ask Michael Moore. I'm sure he is doing a film on it.]
    15. I heard that it is illegal to bring drugs to Dubai and you can go to jail. What drugs can you import?
    [Caffeine, nicotine, love.]
    16. Is there something special about grapeshisha. Is it like drugs?
    [Yes.]
    17. How often do bombs go off?
    [Where, in Iraq?]
    18. What is difference between Palestine and Israel
    [!!!!!]
    19. I have heard that obesity and diabetes levels are similar in parts of the Gulf to America. Can you comment on why?
    [Shwarma, chicken shwarma]
    20. Could you do an analysis on the cartoons around in your next newsletter?
    [Sorry, I don't like jail. And I like Roses of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)]

    OK, I didn't reply in the same way as I did just there, but if you did send one of these questions, then please reread what you sent, and you will know why I didn't reply.

    There are more, some less amusing, some just rude, some disgusting, and unpublishable. I get the feeling that most of them are legit, which is worrying. - because of ignorance, because of the way they asked the question and some because of what they asked. Oh, and by the way, a number originated from the US, pre and post Port debacle.

    Posted by at 6 comments :

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Oprah to do Dubai?

    It has emerged that the American Business Group of Abu Dhabi has invited Ms Winfrey to do a show from the Gulf to try to alter American public opinion on Dubai and the UAE. Some say that Oprah has become arrogant and self serving, but there is no doubt about it, she is one of the hugest influences in the modern world and no matter what you think of her she has helped thousands upon thousands of people. Oprah is MASSIVE all over the world, including the Middle East with Star and MBC syndicating her show.

    If there was anyone to sway opinion, Oprah is the one. A show highlighting what the UAE is really like will be an eye opener for many Americans who know only of terrorism in the Middle East. If Oprah is able to get a grip on what the UAE is, and its standing in the world today, then this could be massive plus to come out of sour tasting sell off of American ports. With talk of other hosts being approached, the UAE propaganda boat will be able to venture to further shores.

    I can see it now: "Everyone in the audience today has a brand new Hummer!!"

    Posted by at No comments :

    Food Fights

    Time Out are going to be publishing their first food awards in a head to head competition with What's On Magazine. For those that do not know, these titles are a straight up competition for the tourism and entertainment sector, with supposedly What's On winning on distribution. Also, their publishers ITP and Motivate are bitter rivals in the 'MediaMagSphere' of the Middle East. Either way, both magazines are a bit of a muchness to me, worth a 5 minute flick through, and have an occasional top quality article.

    These new food awards are a good thing, as long as there is an objective way of judging the categories. At present, when dining out at a restaurant that What's On have chosen to judge (or at a restaurant that has elected to be judged), the diners are given a card to fill in. No score assoicated to a category - 'just fill in your name and you have voted for us'. It is difficult to just say no to filling in the card while you wait for your change, even if it is to give the details of Mr Micky Jackson at the New Neverland Palace in Bahrain. But if you can not rate it and the restaurant controls how many votes it has by forcing you to fill in the form, is this fair? It should not be judged as best restaurant, just "restaurant who was able to get a lot of people to fill in forms".

    I hope that the Time Out awards have an objective method of rating the restaurants, fair, non-wasta and truthful. Perhaps they could bring in a chef celeb such as Jamie Oliver to taste all the food at all the restaurants in Dubai. That would keep him schtum for a bit. Pukka.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Grapeshisha to be banned?

    I have been blogging for a little over a month now. I have tried to cover a number of issues, from the ports to women equality, topical issues such as competition, redistribution and consumerism. I have also tried to throw in some amusing anecdotes. I have tried to be fair and not too right wing. I have tried to line with reason. In sum, I have made extra efforts to try and tread that fine line to open discussion without overly offending anyone.

    The UAE blogging world is perhaps viewed as a slightly dangerous area. There was Secret Dubai that was banned for misinterpretation and then reinstated, as well as some others that were banned due to their radical thoughts, without being constructive.

    Whether my time has come is not yet known, but it was rather disconcerting to find out through the press:

    "officials told Gulf News they have no role to play in this issue, as it should be taken care of by the people who provide licences....."I will not reveal the brand name, as I am not out there to ruin people...""


    I'll continue to blog until I get offical notice. ;>

    Posted by at 8 comments :

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Dubai means something else in Swaziland

    Dubai means different things to different people. To some, it means a land of opportunity. To others, it means contruction and traffic. To some xenophobes, it is an Arab state linked with terrorism wanting to take over ports. But in Swaziland, a 'Dubai' is an illegally imported vehicle, as referenced by this article. The question is this: If you wanted to buy a Dubai in Dubai, where dy'a buy it?

    Posted by at 4 comments :

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    7 stars do not exist

    In the latest piece about the Emirates Palace and Abu Dhabi by the New York Times (free sign up required), journalist Katherine Zoepf reads back the the EP brochures:

    "...in what seems to be a slap at the promotional claims of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, which says it has seven stars, the frequently asked questions section notes that "the seven or six star ratings do not officially exist. ... We classify Emirates Palace as just that, a Palace."

    And a palace would be the place to serve expensive drinks:

    "A waitress at the Havana Club cigar bar spontaneously offered a tour of the bar's marvels, including Cohiba cigars in a dramatically backlit storage case and a kind of Cognac called Hardy Perfection that costs 9,000 dirhams, or $2,400, a glass.

    "A lot of people have asked about it," she said, "but the seal is still on the bottle." "


    Expect Diddy, Snoop and the rap fraternity to name drop Abu Dhabi, like it's HOT!

    Fo shizzle.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Sheikh Zayed and redistribution

    The UAE is a country, or federation, in transition. Either in transition or just being born, and so what we are going through, the pain, if you would call it that is part of the journey on the way to a vision. There are traffic issues. Yes. There are cultural clashes. There is misinterpretation. And yes, there is inequality. But let us look at this in perspective. Aside from the rigours of daily life, this is the country of the UAE Nationals. I don't buy the "if you don't like it you can go home" attitude because that is wrong. The expat and the local have both benefited from the UAE and will continue to do so together. Without the expat, the country would not be where it is. And without the leadership, the UAE Nationals may be in a different situation.

    The late great Sheikh Zayed was revered and for good reason. Because of his generosity, UAE Nationals have a better life than their neighbour Arab. And because of this, the UAE Nationals have opportunity.

    But, in parallel to this backdrop, the cost of living increases, the inflation, the extra cost - these all can lead to a long term problem of loss of talent. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and now that UAE Nationals are starting to struggle, something needs to be done, because the circle of union between labour and expertise and worthwhile opportunity is about to be broken.

    The time has come to take Sheikh Zayed's legacy one step further:

    Whatever the argument regarding GDP and economic growth, there seems to be consensus among economic experts that income distribution is the key reflection of growth, and that while the wealthy are getting even richer, the middle and lower middle classes are paying the price.

    It is time to redistribute to create a real middle class, or else the talent will be lost and the new talent will not be lured. The need is now.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Women as Global Leaders

    I remember that this was a success last year, and for the students who will attend this conference in Abu Dhabi next week with Queen Rania, Mary Robinson, Cherie Booth and Sheikha Lubna amongst others are the lucky ones. Still today, we talk of opression of women and of Muslim Women. This is a clear sign that the UAE is at the forefront of bring women to the forefront and is not afraid of shirking away from the issues. With two females now in government, the role of women in UAE society should start to become cemented more as a norm than an odd occurrence. And although there is a long way to go before true equality exists, events like this distances the UAE from preconceived stereotypes that some aliken to Taliban oppression. I hope that the event inspires those that attend.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Pan Emirate English News Channel

    I posted previously about a great little service, called Mosaic, that provided snippets of the news from the Middle East and translated them into English, for those that don't speak Arabic or the local language in which the news is broadcast. Now, while this is amazing in its own right and points somewhat to how we will watch our tv in the future, the need for an English Language free to air News channel is an obvious one. At the end of May, Al Jazeera International will launch its new English speaking channel to start to provide the bridge to the West. The channel will bring its new age journalism to the masses and will no doubt continue its bare bones approach to journalism thats has stirred up so much controversy since its launch. Even with names such as Sir David Frost and Rageh Omar due to join the channel, I believe that it will still breed controversy but is a welcome addition to an onviously vacant area.

    The channel comes at a critical time and will give a much needed outward view to the West, even if Dubya doesn't like them very much. But, I digress. I want to concentrate a little closer to home. Al Jazeera satisfies one type of audience including those who live in the UAE, but what we are beginning to find is the tipping point to the English Language is slowly drawing nearer to the point that soon, more people in the UAE will be more likely to speak English than Arabic, as a sole language. Now, what I am not saying is to get rid of the Arabic TV stations. No, what I am saying is that something is needed to compliment these channels, and fast. Increasngly business is transacted in English, the financial institutions function in English and many larger and multi-national organisations located here use English as their official language. With the influx of expatriates, a Pan-Emirate current affairs type channel, at this point in time, would have numerous benefits, and, I believe, would be hugely popular. If we consider that we rely on, let's be real, very little good quality daily written media, we are sometimes being fed undebated nonsense. Some of the radio stations promote a litle debate as do new media such as blogs, but the time has come to step up and move news and current affairs to the forefront to satisfy the ever growing non-Arabic speaking crowd. Now that the Ministy of Information is defunct, the Ministry under whose remit this would now fall could gain some serious browny points from implementing such a channel in a first real move for free speech. If Qatar can do it, so can we.

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Objectivity

    Every so often, an objective piece emerges in one of the quality publications that tries to paint an accurate picture of what exactly is going on in the UAE. I think that this recent Business Week article summed it up quite well:

    The Dubai Ports deal, though, is just one relatively small episode in the second great Mideast oil boom. The boom is characterized by hugely ambitious projects that are transforming the shores of the Persian Gulf into a Xanadu with some of the most fantastic and expensive structures on earth. The rush of petrodollars is creating enormous private and public wealth and reshaping Gulf business and society.


    And while the focus is not just on the construction, there are always going to be inaccuracies when accurate information is particularly hard to obtain. Sadly, this is one of the reasons that pessimists jump on when criticizing the potential that the UAE has. The truth will be told.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    Positive PORTrayal & Patriotism

    The Economist leader, this week, critiques the US in its portrayal of simple selfish populism:

    PATRIOTISM, said Samuel Johnson, is the last refuge of a scoundrel. That may be unfair to the proper sort of patriot, but it would be an entirely valid comment about politicians today who make a fuss about foreign takeovers in their countries, in the name of “national interests”. The truth is that they are not defending their nations' interests at all. They are defending their own interests and (often) those of their cronies.

    It also commented that the backlash was a slap in the face of Dubai. But as news came in that the UK courts had approved the deal despite the objections of Eller & Co, the US P&O partner who is opposing the deal, it could be said that, either way, this deal has heightened awareness of Dubai and the UAE. There are probabaly some converts who read through the hate campaign, and there are sceptics who were never going to be converted.

    What can be said is this: throughout the case, DPW has behaved impeccably, neither resorting to cheap tactics, nor hurling accusations. Objective onlookers will look at the situation and see the benefits of working with UAE related companies, government funded or otherwise. Whether or not the path will be blocked with investment in the US, other economies will open the arms to the benefits of working with the UAE, whose sole aim is to diversify, and to adopt best practice operations, especially in new international markets.

    I'll take those positives as a win.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    On communication and miscommunication

    The hand signal of putting all your fingers and thumb together, sort of cup like, means 'Wait just one minute' among Indians but to some Latin cultures, this could verge on the obscene. Amongst the globalized society in which we live, it becomes more and more important to understand the intricacies of culture especially, where language is a barrier. The US army recently funded some software to teach their troops how to use and detect Iraqi body language. Supposedly, and it must be true if Will Smith said it (in Hitch), 60% of all communication is non verbal, but if you can't get the verbal right, you risk a worst case scenario where everyone who knows you thinks you are dead, as Ahmed Arshi found out in Abu Dhabi.

    The importance of communication is clear, but the biggest miscommunication is to assume that communication has taken place, which is a hurdle that needs to be faced in the UAE where people's first language is sometimes pot luck.

    (Note to file - must learn Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin and Spanish)

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    A far fetched thought on outsourcing

    Whatever your situation, many of you would agree that the number of workers who move to the UAE to make a wage to look after their families back home, is a little sad - which is why I get enthused by seemingly insignificant stories such as this one. While many of his fellow Keralites are working in a variety of different jobs in the UAE (Those from Kerala are the largest proportion of Indians that are in the UAE), Jacob Kuruvilla makes buses in India that that he has been contracted to build by Dubai.

    This made me think. If this could be done with Buses, it could be done with many other things. A move to not displace workers from their families, could be to offer similar salaries to carry out work in their home countries. If some sort of outsourcing arrangement could be struck up in a high level agreement between governments, the welfare of some people may indeed be improved. Whilst this is unworkable in an industry such as construction, something like this could open up further markets for the UAE, it would be a humanitarian move and could potentially save money.

    OK, so it is a little far fetched, but when everything that is announced is big and bold, small initiatives like this may indeed be earners and could potentially make the world a better place.

    Posted by at No comments :

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