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  • Sunday, April 30, 2006

    Dubai - The Railroad for the Middle East

    The Towering Dream of Dubai

    Railroad is a metaphor often heard in Dubai, an autocratic city-state ruled by a dynasty that evokes a language uncommon in the Arab world today: an utter confidence, brimming with pride and optimism, that collides with the dejection heard elsewhere in the Middle East. It has emerged as a 21st-century phenomenon, a city of perspectives, whose globalization suggests its inspiration and the discontent of those left behind.

    A all-encompassing "drive through" interview drom the Washington Post regarding Dubai. A good summary on the current situation and perception.

    Print it out, and read it when you're stuck in the traffic on your way home tonight. ;>

    Posted by at No comments :

    Fat man on the abra syndrome

    Fat man on the abra syndrome: if there are five smallish people on an abra and a huge 200 kg giant steps on the abra, the abra will tilt whichever way the big man wants to go. The same happens in the Dubai market, until there are enough smallish people and/or enough bigger players to stabalise the abra then the boat will continue to tilt when the big man moves.

    Realism from Sean Kelleher (Lies, sheer lies and newspaper articles)

    Posted by at No comments :

    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    Girl Power (but not in Journalism)

    Some insight into the girls college of Zayed University:

    "Over the last 30 years, this country has changed beyond recognition," says Sulaiman Al Jassim, Zayed University's vice-president. "...We can't afford not to have women in the workforce any longer. When we give young women a chance for education, they don't want to stay at home any longer. They choose to work, to improve themselves, to use their skills. Their country needs this."

    Good overall article dotted with a few inaccuracies, notably the "sheila", though I do like the black butterfly analogy. You can tell that this article was written by someone on their first visit to the UAE, if indeed they did visit.

    More from the Star.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Duped into the Dubai Dream

    Another article on "slavery in the camps", where it appears that suicide is the only way out:

    "They are promised that they are coming to an El Dorado, and they will make a lot of money," said Mohammed Ghobash, secretary-general of the Emirates Human Rights Association. "They are duped into such dreams, which may only work out for one case in thousands, by agents in their own countries. They practically enslave themselves."

    The UAE's Big Dirty Secret (Globe and Mail)

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Forget Flowers, she wants a Phone

    When smaller is better:

    In Dubai today it has become quite common for young men to hand out a new phone and prepaid SIM card to a pretty lady, as the opening move in romance. She gets something more substantial than flowers or a drink. He gets her exclusive phone number. And as this habit has been becoming more commonplace, of course the prettier ladies get many such phones, so they also start to measure the wealth of the suitor, based on how good a phone is he willing to hand out…

    First I have heard of this, but the dating scene is not really my thing!

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Dubai, still on track

    The biggest question is of sustainability. I have no doubt that the growth of Dubai is sustainable, even if it goes slightly off track to do it, and even if DubaiLand is dumbed down. The plan to corner the tourism market is a smart one, especially due to Location. The theme park on its own will attract many from the region, and many more from beyond. The question is not of sustainability, the question is whether Dubai will remain intriguing enough to be not just another "Disneyworld City with a bit more thrown in."

    Posted by at No comments :

    New China

    Being in the UAE we tend to marvel at The World/The Palms/Waterfront....etc. And we see pictures again again. It was refreshing to see what China are doing. You cant do a like for like comparison, but, in isolation, this is pretty impressive stuff.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Liquidity and Liquidation

    In two unrelated stories:

    1. UAE is coping well with surging liquidity - Moody's

    "The UAE economy is having to cope with huge surpluses on the current account, with no independent monetary policy to treat them. There is high credit growth too." This was the challenge identified by Pierre Cailleteau, senior vice-president of Moody's Sovereign Risk Unit, in Dubai for a conference on regional credit risk. Yet, he spoke highly of the UAE's efforts to develop its economy in the midst of soaring oil prices and monetary liquidity.

    2. UAE stocks crash to 13-month lows

    Driven by fear and greed, the UAE bourses witnessed another round of sharp fall in share prices yesterday with key indices closing at 13-month lows. The DFM index fell by 4.84 per cent to 586.51, the Abu Dhabi Index dropped 1.93 per cent to 3,811 points the lowest since March last year. After going through a sharp fall on April 23, the market rallied the following days to regain some of the lost ground, however the rally was short lived as investors started selling heavily from Wednesday. "The investor confidence is at the lowest level in the last two years. While speculators are trying to sell their holdings at the first opportunity to cut losses, institutional investors, especially the funds sponsored by the banks also rush to exit when there are opportunities to take profits," said Daheer Quraishi, a Dubai based investment analyst.

    The UAE stock markets are so speculative, all on borrowed money, and fluctuate in ridiculous amounts. This is currently a greed market.

    However, quoted from the first story is this quote:

    As for stock market volatility, that presents little concern. "Fundamentally, it is a matter of investor protection or education ? It is sad for people who have lost, but it is good that [market correction] happens."

    If the stock market correction can be taken in isolation, and, in general, spearate from the mainstream growth of the reagion, it is time for those who lost their cash to take stock, learn and reinvest with a view to the long term. Greed will get you nowhere.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Dubai and Doncasters

    The same level of furore that surrounded tha Ports deal has yet to surface surrounding the UK defense contractor deal. Although, when you mention the word defense, the US people may start to worry, again, the key compenents of the deal are sound with promises to maintain supply. The purchase is less strategic than that of the Ports, but it's not small fry. $1.24bn is pretty big cheese. No wonder CFIUS held onto it for so long. However, Tammy Bruce is pretty peeved. She will be even more so when she hears that Istithmar wants to buy out all the real estate

    Posted by at No comments :

    Thursday, April 27, 2006

    Craigslist V Dubizzle

    Craigslist were the original. Dubizzle tailored the concept to Dubai. Now the powerhouse has joined the Dubai market. My take on it is that Dubizzle will triumph. The Craigslist brand is not really well known in the UAE - and they haven't yet tailored to the market. Who cares? - With competition brings choice.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Dubai is like a city of dreams

    Positive talk about Dubai Waterfront:

    Huraimel was confident that Dubai would attract the business and residents to make the city work. "In 15 years, the perception of the Middle East will change," he said. "We are a modern, diverse society in Dubai. The city is safe, there are no taxes, the weather is perfect for at least nine months out of the year."

    But Huraimel conceded that Dubai had a big job to do in overcoming the West's negative image of Arab countries. "Some have said that Islam and the West is a clash of civilizations," he said. "Dubai is like a city of dreams. This is not a clash of civilizations. This is the opposite."

    More from IHT

    Posted by at No comments :

    Money Laundering in Dubai

    To be honest, this exposure comes as no surprise, as banking systems are really in a growing development stage to cope with the growth in the region. But, as they gain more and more expertise, and with the eagle eyes of the law ready to pounce on the criminals, this should get sorted out in short period of time:

    "There are two parties in such cases, one outside the country and one inside and it can get confusing sometimes," said Suwaidi during a joint seminar on anti-money laundering efforts between the UAE and the UK last month. "Combating money laundering is a gradual process that will take years and a joint effort ... so international cooperation is needed," he added.

    Although the article is really only focusing on email scams and the like, it is worth noting that the authorities are on the case.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    UAE Competition Law

    The Competition Law can't come soon enough for the UAE with the cost of living increases, inflationary pressure and the like. If the UAE is to remain competitive to the outside world, it must remain competitive within. That's a simple deduction. Implementation of such a law would be pro-business, pro-growth and would answer the critics who say that the growth in the UAE is unsustainable.

    Of course, the devil is in the details. The "special report" in the Gulf News today (p46) is an important read that quotes the WTO's critique of the UAE's trade policy.

    Highlights of this critique include:

    - an attack on the Emiratisation Plan, saying that it could be an impediment to to doing business and further promote the free zones
    - an absence of a policy will preclude the UAE from the advantages of a free economy
    - exclusive UAE agents will lead to market segmentation and increase the prices for branded goods
    - the need to move away from the 49% maximum foreign ownership rule which has restricted FDI

    However, the WTO is positive that reforms will be made to the benefit of the UAE as a whole. Now is the time to iron out the details to maximise the growth that the UAE deserves.

    (Aside, this article should be front page news, and not languishing in the murkiness of the middle of the business section)

    Posted by at 4 comments :

    Middle Aged Korean Women....

    .....are coming to Dubai to speculate on the housing market.

    Recently, some middle-aged women in Korea have been showing interest in houses in Dubai. This is due to the fact that the Korean government has allowed investment in overseas real estate. Wealthy Korean women who were engaged in real estate speculation, hopping like locusts from one to another development areas including Gangnam in Seoul in the 1970s and 1980s, are now poised to enter a new market. Their special “tie” with the Middle East is eye-catching because petrodollars made during a construction boom in the Middle East once flowed into Korea and were invested in real estate. Moreover, the world has become globalized now. Interestingly, by the way, Dubai is an Arabic word for locust.

    That last line was an eye opener for me. All I could find was this definition of "Arab" at Webster's

    "Arab" is a name that signifies or is derived from: "multiplying", "sowing sedition", "a window", "a locust". Date "Arab" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1010.

    I fear it may be something the Korean misheard:

    The word "Arab" and "locust" in Arabic are very similar in sound. The word Arab
    is pronounced "Arbi" and the word locust, "Arbeh". (12) A famous traveler of
    last century named Niebuhr in his journeys through Arabia described the
    appearance of the swarms of locusts that afflict that particular area of the

    In any case, why reference that?

    Posted by at No comments :

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    Welcome to Abu Dhabi Heathrow Airport

    There are rumours that Mubadala want to spend big in Airports.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Go East

    Non oil trade with the UAE

    1. India
    2. China
    3. Japan

    Posted by at No comments :

    Emirates goes Budget?

    Emirates Airline strategists are usually pretty smart and while going for the budget market in hotels would be a smart move for most other companies, surely, this is a wrong move. For me, Emirates is a premier airline. Whether you agree or disagree, you will cerainly agree that it is not budget. I think this is a wrong move, and while it wont have any massive effect, it will erode its brand value over the medium term, especially when an businessman wakes up in his beige coloured hotel room one morning and has his litpton tea using water from the bathroom in conjunction with the mini kettle.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    The Next Dubai

    Interesting that comparisons are starting to be drawn to Dubai, which is not even half way complete - and this from an established city in the West. I'm not sure that Toronto (aka Traaaano, aka Tdot) is the next Dubai, but with all the oil in Calgary Cowboy Country, that surely is the next Abu Dhabi. No?

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Grapeshisha Interview on Gridskipper

    I feel famous.

    The previous interview that I had, I got thanked for my consideration and told that other candidate's skills more were more suited to the position. Luckily, that interview wasn't transcribed. ;>

    Enjoy. Today Gridskipper. Tomorrow Fortune Magazine.

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Monday, April 24, 2006

    The Dubai Life

    This new magazine looks to have all the hallmarks of the new wave of free speech that will come from Dubai. In the first issue, they are covering the Construction Workers and the Ports Issue as the main topics. They have even set up a petition to support the fair treatment of the workers. Good on them! I'm eager to see how it evolves.


    Posted by at 4 comments :

    Abu Dhabi's Alternative Energy

    Abu Dhabi's announcement that it is investing in alternative energy is a smart strategy, both forward thinking and ethical, at a time where oil profits continue to rise. Whether there is 100 or 150 years left of oil, Sheikhs Mohammed and Khalifa are following in their father's footsteps of looking after their people for the future, and at the same time securing the long-term well being of this country. And they are not just doing that, they are joining forces with worldwide democracies in tackling what will be a global problem.

    To the ignorant critics who say that the monarchy is a kleptocracy, this is substantial evidence to dispute that, and deserves worldwide recognition.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    This has gotta be porkys

    I love seeing news articles that are obvious fabrications of the truth - they are just so amusing:

    Angelina buys Ethiopa

    Angelina Jolie has decided that adopting children may not be enough to help the impoverished children of Africa.

    According to reports, the busty Tomb Raider star is set to buy her own piece of Africa, a man made version of Ethiopia located in Dubai.

    The development is part of a new entrepreneurial venture by Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, who is said to be building around 300 country shaped luxury developments to form a map of the world.

    They could have done a bit more research to realise that this was not Branson's development. It's almost as incorrect as some of the press reports we receive here daily.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Global Centre Rises From the Sands

    Another great overview article worth reading

    Few here seem to think so. Dubai Inc. has just been too successful for anyone to let it fail. If Dubai's bubble starts to pop, analysts say Sheik Mohammed could count on Abu Dhabi's oil money to prop the market up. The U.S. also has little interest in seeing Dubai -- which it sees as a model of what the Arab world could be -- fail.

    More from the Globe and Mail here.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    Dubai's Best Hotels

    The Times published their top 10 hotels in Dubai yesterday, and in the main, I would agree with their rating. Granted, you'd probably shift a few up or down, and there maybe a few missing, but times have changed. There are now more hotels than there were this time last year, and there is not enough room for the tried and tested old slippers. I can understand the exclusion of the Burj-al-Arab, but how on earth didn't The Royal Mirage fit in to the top ten?

    Here's the list:

    1. Madinat Jumeirah
    2. Park Hyatt Dubai
    3. Emirates Towers Hotel
    4. The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
    5. Grosvenor House Dubai
    6. Le Meridien Mina Seyahi
    7. Dubai Marine Beach Resort
    8. Shangri-La Dubai
    9. Sheraton Dubai Creek
    10. JW Marriott Dubai

    And here's the link to the article: Dubai's ten best hotels

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Air Arabia finally caught.

    The Air Arabia branded South Park look alikes were launched nearly 8 months ago, and the press has finally caught on to the fact that it is a rip off.

    Tony Fox, executive vice president of corporate communications at the Comedy Central network, said he was completely unaware of the purloined look until informed by WND.

    Wait for more cartoon analogies along the lines of - "why can they distort the image of Cartman and we can't show a cartoon of the Prophet?" - or something similar.

    Aside, this is what a character on South Park would look like if they had smoked too much Grapeshisha:

    Wanna play? - go here.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Camel Milk Ice Cream is in this season

    Apparently it's all good, and low fat!

    Health benefits of camel's milk
    - Doesn't curdle and is easy to digest.
    - Good for those with lactose intolerance
    - Low on fat
    - Contains five times more vitamin C than cow's milk
    - Longer shelf life that cow's milk

    But, you might get the hump...ahem.

    Posted by at 6 comments :

    Your name's not down.

    You may be important, but that doesn't mean you have wasta.

    BCCI to give benefit of doubt to Abu Dhabi

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    CSI Dubai

    Never noticed this before, but Khaleej Times have an "Investigation Team". Does that mean that the rest of the journalism is just fact based reporting with a few spelling mistakes thrown in for good measure. I jest. I look forward to further episodes from the team, and who knows, perhaps one day there will be a show about them.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Dubai Mall Video

    Starting with the Mission Impossible type jingle followed by cheese catchphrase central:

    the centre of the world; the new centre of the earth; the phenomenon is taking shape; your retail destiny here; a marvel of epic proportions; the most spectacular development; an architectural wonder; worldclass showcase; glittering experience; imagination comes alive; join us in making history; everything shoppers desire; a retail legend is created; and much much more.....

    Probably all true, but I think the pitch is all wrong, and that guy's voice is a real put off. James Earl Jones would have sounded much better.

    Check the comments at the Metacafe site

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Budget Hotels in Dubai

    With RevPar, occupancy rates and prices at the highest level in the world, there is a big need for the likes of the Easy brand and the Holiday Inn Express to enter the market. While the low-end already exists these are usually, seedy, old and run down establishments that give the air of luxury from their name and lobby entrance. Branded budget hotels are good for Dubai that will add an air of transparency to the no-frills traveller, who wants to just sleep in a clean bed, shower in a non-manky shower and not be troubled by the ladies of the night.

    While the full service but low cost model is the route taken by some hotel operators, Accor has announced plans to add 200,000 new rooms over the next four years, of which half will be in the budget sector, several mavericks may revolutionise the low-cost hotel sector with radically different products.

    If Stelios is aiming to provide rooms at 20 bucks a night(27,000 per year), that might even help solve the housing problem!

    More here.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    "Turn on your bluetooth!"

    More insight to the UAE Dating scene

    ...it's haram -- forbidden -- for unattached young men and women to socialize, unchaperoned, for the purposes of romance.

    "There is a contradiction here: You want women to open up, you want women to study, you want women to work but they are not allowed to interact [with men], to have relationships, to choose their husbands..."

    It seems as though the progression in society is in conflict with the ideals that are still held by that same society. But the conflict of balancing tradtion with modernity is something that can be overcome over time.

    More from the Globe and Mail

    Posted by at No comments :

    Yoga and Make Up in Dubai Women's Prison

    Sounds like better living standards than some of the seedier hotels in Dubai!

    The Saturday morning yoga classes are only one of the unique features that set the Dubai prison apart from others in the country. Major Fawziya Al Mullah, the chief warder, allows women to wear make-up because, she says, women who look good also feel good.

    Women's jail brings literal meaning to doing a long stretch

    Posted by at No comments :

    Cricket and Abu Dhabi

    A good portion of the population are talking about a certain cricket match that is going on today, and while this means so much to the Indians and Pakistanis living here, this is a big thing for Abu Dhabi.

    So what’s it with this UAE venue, which has already pocketed $ 12 million from this two-match India-Pakistan series? The answer probably is a mix of cricket politics, the match-fixing cloud over Sharjah and some hard work by organisers here.

    This is why Abu Dhabi means goodbye to cricket in Sharjah.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Dubai Nationals are traders...

    ...and have that reputation, but I bet they wouldn't be able to trade a paperclip for a house (Wasta not included)

    Posted by at No comments :


    Another demonstration of Sheikh Zayed and the rulers'generosity to their people. I remember seeing a table once with dependents amounts, but have a quick squizz through this. Those that work will be rewarded. I'm sure that at some point, the pot will have to be filled up in other ways, or there will be need for some sort of reform, as is happening in the West right now. But there must be some relatively young Nationals chilling out after a career of 15 years. And why not???

    Posted by at No comments :

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Dubai, the middle man?

    Here is a take on how Dubai, as a re-exporter of Haliburton's goods to Iran, is considered to be the "middle man" in aiding "evil" countries.

    One of the simple ways around this is to simply export the illegal stuff to the United Arab Emirates, where trading activity accounts for the biggest single chunk (16.5%) of a $20 billion economy, to be re-exported to the offending countries.

    Just more anti UAE speak that originates Stateside.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Driven to attraction: The Girls of Riyadh

    If you haven't yet read the book An eye opener on dating, and the struggles of those females looking for love. It was highlighted in this weekend's FT Magazine. Read the article here.

    The Girls of Riyadh is written by Rajaa al-Sanie, a 25-year-old dental student who comes from a family of professionals, has lived most of her life in Riyadh and attended King Saud University. A kind of Arab Bridget Jones’s Diary, the novel is popular across the Arab world and a bestseller at book fairs all over the Middle East. Published in Beirut last September, it was officially banned from distribution in Saudi Arabia until last month, a prohibition that created even more excitement. In Saudi Arabia itself, tens of thousands of copies have been circulating - from the internet or the black market. It is being read by men as much as women, its impact has been debated in newspapers and on television, and Rajaa has become a celebrity.

    The FT provide an extract, provided here.

    Sadeem’s legs could barely carry her as she nervously entered the living room with her father where Waleed Al-Shary was waiting. She refrained from extending her arm to him to shake hands, remembering that Gamrah’s mother had warned her not ever to shake Rashid’s hand when he came to see her during the elro’yah elshariya. Waleed stood up respectfully to greet them, then sat down again after she and her father were seated. Her father then started asking him questions that seemed random to her and which she found difficult to concentrate on. After a few minutes, her father left the room, allowing Sadeem and Waleed to talk freely and get to know each other.

    The book has become a bestseller all over the Gulf, especially since the ban on it was just lifted in Saudi Arabia. Previous to that, it was selling on the black market.

    The reason's why it has courted such controversy is obvious, as highlighted by the author:

    "It shines a light on subjects that people do not openly discuss in Saudi Arabia. It's about the secrets of Saudi society and its contradictions."

    More press about it: Reuters, Arab News, Asharq Al-Awsat

    The English Version will be out later this year.

    Posted by at 2 comments :


    The Lagoons will no doubt be another massive project for Dubai. And since this is the first big thing to come from the rebrand of Sama, there is no doubt that it will be a success. The question is - when will these big projects stop? Is there really room for one more at this stage? Is it circumspect to go all in when the infrastructure to support this is struggling? I suspect it is a first mover game that is now spiralling to claim its centrepoint status of the Gulf. I just hope there is some long termism in there.

    Aside, it wont be long before the jokes start:

    Residents will be called - The Goonies
    Any seediness and it will be labelled - The Blue Lagoon
    The Arsenal Football Team will be offered plots, since they are known as Gooners with possibly a mini Emirates Stadium located on one of the islands.
    Buy a villa and get a Renault Laguna free
    Any criminal will be labelled The Creature from the Black Lagoon

    OK. OK. Enough already.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    The Mall of the Emirates Hotel...

    ...is now open. If it is Kempinski, it is bound to be bling. And if you want to experience this blingness, then stay there before August while they are offering discount rates. With views of the ski slopes, you could get this unearthly feeling of seeing the ski slopes from your suite. Just remember that you are in the desert.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Minting Money in Construction

    Here's an obvious observation:
    If land price actual cost remains cheap, and finished construction prices are starting to veer towards Western Prices, those at the value added and speculation part of the market are making a killing. We all know that supply will not reach demand until about 2008, and so between now and then those in the construction industry will continue to mint money.

    Here's a simplistic product life cycle:

    Land - Land reseller - Construction / Construction Materials - Real Estate Sales - Real Estate Reseller - Speculator - End Customer.

    The End Customer in Dubai, whether they buy or rent are being stung big time, more so than other already developed countries, because the margins at the lower end of the value chain are so large. (and even more so with the low wages of the construction workers)

    Clever people with money are building resedential buildings, or building hotels where the ROI is high especially since the REVPAR in Dubai is the highest in the world. Clever people with more money are vertically integrated across the value chain.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Office Space and the Real Big Bad Wolf

    Naturally, Dubai residents worry abou their own rent. Of course, businesses also suffer, depending on the shortage of office space. So research by Colliers suggesting that rental space has doubled in price in four years is a particularly icky situation for those small companies trying to make a few bucks in a dynamic environment. Forget about the Big Bad Wolf - the rent will eat you up, if you are not careful.

    Posted by at No comments :

    While everyone is investing in the UAE...

    ..the UAE is investing in Morocco

    "The UAE has become the single largest source of foreign investment in Morocco," said Salaheddine Mezouar, Morocco's Minister for Trade, Industry and Economy. " We anticipate more investment of this sort in the future."

    20 billion dollars is certainly big cheese money. Looking at investment, you know where to go.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Or does it explode?

    Great little blog that I stumbled on covering civil rights in the Middle East with a summing up on recent issues.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Black Points

    Further to the issue of tracking of traffic that we highlighted last week, OBG picked up on the new system that we suggested would benficial. If what we are reading is correct, this could be the start of the war death rate from ego driving.

    Penalties range from fines between Dh600 ($163) and Dh2000 ($545) to permanent cancellation of a valid driver’s licence. For each small violation, a black point will be added to the offending driver’s record. If the total reaches 24, the licence is cancelled.

    But remember our proviso on enforcability.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Paradise Lost

    The mistreatment of workers will continue to surface amongst the big publications, until something is done about it.

    "Either they pay us or send our corpses home," said Imtiaz Ahmed Siddiq, one of the South Asian laborers, who has made the trek to the court more than 50 times since last year. "If they pay us, we'll go home alive. If they don't pay us, we'll go home dead."

    The Washington Post article is here.

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    The Fast and the Furious of Dubai

    Jay Kay will be revving his engine at the UAE Desert Challenge.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Dubai and Charity

    Dubai Aid and Humanitarian City (DAHC) will be a crucial focal point for charity and charities over the coming years. If Jan Egelund thinks so, it must be. This is a very worthy part of Dubai that is overlooked by the critics.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Dubai's Dark Side

    Another look at the camps from the inside.

    "Welcome to the damaged camp," Ghulam Mustafa, 35, said with a smile at the entrance of one 35-room compound where he and some 600 other migrant workers live in this desolate desert area on Dubai's fringe.

    Read more

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Profile of Grapeshisha on Gridskipper

    It was humbling to be highlighted in Gridskipper, the urban travel guide. It's a great resource, and very well done.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    The Structure of Dubai Holding

    Dubai Holding is a powerhouse amongst Dubai companies, semi government and also investing overseas. It's a great amalgamation of different companies including Tecom, Internet City, Jumeirah etc. They've now increased the scope of DIP to create Sama Dubai. While all of this is all very exciting, there must be some guy who is concerned with change or organisational design who must be having a hard time. If change is this frequent from a structural standpoint, goodness knows what it must be like froma process point of view.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Tea and Trends

    It's interesting that the whole tea craze is following suit in the UAE. While this is not wholly interesting in isolation, as a general trend it can be argued that the speed by which this has followed the Europe and North America is particularly so. Trends that usually establish themselves either in these places some how end up in the Middle East. But as time goes by, they are being picked up quicker and quicker. Whether this is to do with the make up of the population, or due to consumer savviness is unknown. But what you can deduce, is that there is some follow through in consumer tastes, even if the culture defines the norm scales of those tastes.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Emirati Women's Struggle

    What it is really like for a number of females growing up in this society.

    Before leaving her house, she must obtain permission from her mother and determine whether a female domestic worker is available to accompany her. She is not allowed to go out on her own and the family's Islamic beliefs prohibit her from being alone with their driver, a foreign-born man.

    This article will help you understand what it is like for these women.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Forgotten once more

    The Observer goes underground to get the real story on what is going on with the construction workers.

    'If we are caught speaking to you here, we are finished, you understand that? They will throw me in prison and deport everyone in this camp, not just the people in this room. They are actively looking for us,' he tells me.

    It appears as if some people in middle want to shut this up lest it eat away at their profit margin.

    The article is an eye opener, and testament to real investigative journalism.

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    Copying Dubai's Reclaiming Strategy

    Could Dubai's "Island" model be used in the UK? Is it being copied already? Was Dubai just the tip of the iceberg? The Business Online plays devil's advocate and looks into the detail.

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    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    Nothing Opec can do....

    ..to tame the oil price rise.

    “Demand is very robust. The major crashes were supply-driven crashes. The prices we are witnessing now are supported by robust demand. At what level will demand start to get sluggish? I really don’t know, but it will at some point.” US crude climbed towards $68 a barrel on Thursday. Opec, which accounts for over half the world’s oil exports, has been pumping almost flat out for months. But prices remain stubbornly high because of robust demand, supply disruptions in Nigeria and Iraq and worries over the security of Iranian flows.

    That'll be more dirhams to line the coffers. Here's the full article

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    The edited element of Syriana

    George Clooney won an oscar for Syriana, but the first Hollywood flick to be shot in Dubai was edited to remove parts of the film that showed the labour camps. Now, an Indian Film maker hopes to focus on this element when filming starts in September. If South Indian director Lal Jose is able to tell the story, then the reality of sacrifice will be spelled out to those who intend to follow and to those who are trying to understand the lives of these poor chaps. Between now and then, there will undoubtedly be objections to the film being shot, but I assume, if that is the case, Jose will tell the story from elsewhere, and we'll be watching it on a DVD from Karama market.

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    Village Mentality

    The time is coming where Dubai will be officially split into the city and the burbs. It will be too expensive to live in prime estate and people will live far out in the "suburbs" and commute into their job, much as you are seeing now. And as the balance between quality of life and cost of living starts to shift, people will start to congregate around certain areas, and villages will be created where people will work and live, to support the village that supports the city that supports the emirate. Tribes will eventually be in competition with one another and we will become neaderthals with village mentalities. The return to the dark ages is upon us.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    du jobs

    Does the fact that so many people applied for a job at du mean that it is the employer of choice? Or does it mean that people are tired of their current job and want a change, thinking du will be their saviour?

    I think the latter.

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Competition to arrive soon

    "The UAE is coming under increasing pressure to remove certain restrictions as this deadline looms. While a prelude to UAE's full WTO compliance will be its forthcoming free trade agreement with the US, central to the new scenario is its commitment to abrogate the current commercial agency law that establishes foreign ownership limitations on business operations in the UAE," legal exerts point out.

    Worth keeping your finger on this one as the environment changes.

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    UAE gets 350 thousand pound discount

    Everyone hates the congestion charge in the UK, but everyone has to pay it. The UAE has up til now had not paid anything citing that they shouldnt have to and thus becoming the largest debtor. But holding out on payment, has given the UAE embassy a discount with its original figure of gbp452,000 slashed to 99,950. Obviously the experience in the souks has paid off!

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Arla's inroads

    Further to Keefieboy's announcement a week ago, the butter is officially back on the shelves. It will affect Arla's bottom line by 64 million dollars this year! Although it was unfortunate that Arla saw the brunt of the cartoon controversy, it was ingenious how they linked up with charitable organisations to buy back trust.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Good News for the UAE Blogging Community

    While growth is slowing at most top Internet sites, it is skyrocketing at sites focused on social networking, blogging and local information.

    This would seem particularly true in the UAE, where substitutes to the mainstream sites on specific UAE issues are minimal. There does seem to be any portal of sorts which amalgamates content, discussion and news in a suitable format. Where social networking is more or less banned in the UAE net space, there seems to be an increasing number of bloggers who are taking to the blogwaves to share views and opinions. An interesting trend and worth reviewing with the actual article.

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    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Poor cross-cultural communications and cultural misunderstandings

    One of the better bits of analysis from the region concerning stereotypes, miscommunication and the like:

    THE chaos spun from the Dutch cartoons of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) I believe largely developed due to Western and Islamic nations’ poor cross-cultural communications and cultural misunderstandings. This miscommunication has led to a growing gulf of misunderstanding between Western and Islamic nations and distrust in the other side. The West does not fully understand the outrage of Muslims and the subsequent violence that has ensued. And Muslim nations don’t fully understand Western democracies’ ideals/constitutions and the non-religiosity of many Western nations.

    This is a must read in understanding the conflict that exists between western cultures and those that are Islamic in nature.

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    Attending the Majlis

    Confluence of Occidental and Islamic belief systems, UAE remains an enigma for most people.

    "I attended a meeting at the majlis in Abu Dhabi with the top brass of the Sheikhdom. I was more a witness to such a discussion. The Arab greeting is warm and loud - they kiss on the cheeks. Formal visitors like me had to be content with a mere handshake."

    Read more from Mirage in the Desert

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    What's behind the hijab?

    An interesting article about how indo-west fashion is penetrating the Middle Eastern Clothing Market.

    "It's not exactly worth losing your head for, but a glimpse of a wealthy sheikh's coiffeured wife under her hijab can lure even Adam away from Eve. This life-threatening peep may get you a charming smile from the doe-eyed beauty or a punch. But it may also give you the answer as to where our designers are selling their "West-inspired clothing."

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    Minimum Salary

    The UAE Labour Ministry has fixed Dhs3,000 as the minimum salary for a UAE national with no qualifications. Those staff with a secondary school certificate will be paid a minimum of Dhs4,000 a month, while those with degrees will get Dhs5,000 by law.

    This is all well and good, but with recent events being highlighted in the news, steps need to be taken to create humane living standards for all staff, irrespective of nationality. At the very least, minimum salaries should be set for the lower paying industries and positions.

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    A Single Currency is a Good Move

    As you know, when it comes to the single currency proposition, I am vehemently for the motion. The time is upon the region to consolidate which is just what they are doing. This article begins to put the benefits into context.

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    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Etihad are playing the field

    It looks like Etihad enjoy the dating game in the UK. It would be a smart move if they were to capture either Manchester United or Liverpool as part of a sposnorship deal. The brand awareness created by Emirates with Chelsea and Arsenal has rubber stamped the brand as high end and top quality. If Etihad are able to capture that in a short period of time, then good on them. Next, it will be to sort out teh product offering. I look forward to Emirates V Etihad on the pitch next season.

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    Sharjah Airport Makes Your Life Easy

    More flogging reports for D&D

    A court sentenced the Estonian sergeant major to a one month jail sentence for drinking and had him choose between either three months in jail or 80 lashes with a whip (which could be fatal). His lawyer says Korol chose flogging. He has already spent more than a month in a local jail.

    Can you imagine what a hellhole the jail must be for him to risk his life against returning?

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Shiver me timbers!

    Pirates hijack UAE tanker with Filipino crew off Somalia: IMB

    A dozen heavily armed pirates have hijacked a UAE-registered oil tanker along with 19 Filipino crew members off the coast of Somalia, an international piracy watchdog said.

    Do they really think the UAE will pay? There's more chance that their parrots will learn Arabic. Well, officially anyway.

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    Short termism?

    AMEInfo ably cover the eternal question of dream disloyalty to the greenback.

    "the discussion among GCC central banks about diversifying away from the US dollar comes at a time when the greenback has already devalued significantly against the euro"

    My concerns lie less with the short term. Preventing slippages in the implementation of a common currency is crucial to the region. To be fickle now, and move away from the hand that held fluctuation relatively securely since the Dirham graced our pockets would be a short termist act. Convergence criteria is more important.

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    a lack of information, a lack of understanding

    DP World's CEO, Mohammed Sharaf lets loose without mentioning racism:

    "We understand the American peoples' concerns - because they have been misinformed about us. We have lacked the part of the equation which is communicating with the American people."

    Diplomacy at this late stage is still a good thing.

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    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Big Brother on the Roads

    While a car tracking program in the UAE could have certain preventative benefits in restructing speed and ultimately deaths, I have a sneaky feeling that this will be used more to experiment with a proposed toll system. And I bet that if you kick up enough of a fuss, and have a bit of wasta, they won't install the black box. Let's see how this pans out. If it installed across the board and is used to prevent speed, I will tak back any criticism. However, I would still go with a harsher system of penalising with insurance points, ultimately leading to a ban. The British system imposed in the UAE would make those who speed think twice if there was a risk that they could not drive. In a land where monetary fines do little to thwart those with it, taking away the bread and butter of their lives is the only way to go. And let's be real - the death rate from car accidents is more like a war than anything else.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Dubai Driving School

    Original at Metacafe

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    UAE woos the Media in Cannes

    In steps to manage the image amongst the moguls of media, the UAE, in various guises will attempt to repair the image of the UAE that was destroyed by the recent Ports Controversy. In an attempt to make the UAE a regional hub, this is a further move to create opportunity for both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. According to Dr. Anwar Gargash, who is highly respected in both government and business:

    "We want to make others understand that the Middle East and the Arab world is basically a tapestry," he added, "and you cannot come to a tapestry and have one judgment and put everyone in the same shade of black."

    My concerns are this: If the UAE wants to portray itself as media friendly, then there should be more freedom of speech in actual terms; and censoring Syriana, the first international film to come from the UAE is not the way to do this.

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    UAE is Switzerland

    In this article, the U.A.E. is referred to as the Switzerland of the Middle East. It's a good overview article on what to expect from the UAE, with Abu Dhabi as the focus.

    The analogy is somwhat fitting, and despite what goes on internally, the UAE has secured a reputation of international diplomacy.

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    To be Dubai'd

    A new word is born from the Ports controversy:

    Sami Merhi was "Dubai'd"--that's when you are demonized by unfounded allegations spread by opponents seeking political advantage and then dumped by so-called friends who fear defending you. It is a kind of political terrorism that mixes fear, character assassination, and crass politics.

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    Dengrous Boy has fans.....

    ....from the offroading community.

    ‘I am Kebab 4 u‘ blends the themes of motorcars, desire and food with forceful and graphic imagery.

    The idea of the lover spinning, locked between the flames of the grill, awaiting slicing, the addition of tahini sauce, some pickles and flat bread is seductive – and possibly unique in poetry either ancient or modern.

    Posted by at No comments :

    The Conflict of Abu Dhabi

    Abu Dhabi will be a business haven but will not allow any foregners to own property freehold.

    This is what was said in the news today, which I believe to be a little in conflict. After all, the world goes crazy over freehold opportunities, and less so over leasehold. People would love to be able invest in themselves and their heirs as well as invest in the Emirate. If this had followed Dubai, there would be more investment in Abu Dhabi, which is ultimately the Emirate's goal, for when the oil runs out.

    Let's take the flipside. If Abu Dhabi was to only offer freehold, the whole world would be queuing up for a piece of the action, and Abu Dhabi would be cemented on the worldwide stage for business, leisure and investment.

    The decision to only offer leasehold will not result in any negative sentiment, but compared to other options, it will not result in the speed of growth that Abu Dhabi requires.

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    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    UAE to rebrand

    News today suggests that the UAE is to rebrand in order to eliminate confusion over its name. Rumours suggest that this came about because of a number of reasons:

    1. In the recent port deal, the US got confused that it was doing a deal with Dubai and couldn't find it on a list of approved countries.

    2. The UAE now doesn't like the fact that the word United was in both country names

    3. No-one understood the term emirate and whether this means state or not.

    The new name is unlikely to come into play until the end of the year but Sheikhs Mohamed and Khalifa have set up the CNC, the country naming committee, which will head up a task force to find out the new name. Expect surveys in the Gulf-News, competitions on Radio 1 and door to door gaging of opinion over the coming months. Initial names suggested include Dubai Dhabi, Abu Dubai, Saudarf, Fraudas (both using the first letters of each of the emirates). The Galaxy has been suggested, since it would contain The World.

    The rebranding exercise is likely to cost in the region of 50 Billion Dirhams and is most likely to be funded from an IPO on the one of the local markets.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    From the World to the Real World

    Good overview article of Dubai in the FT, telling it how it is. Yes, slowly going crazy in Dubai.

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