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  • Saturday, September 30, 2006

    UAE still competitive?

    While the latest World Economic Forum’s (WEF) influential annual Global Competitiveness Report places the UAE as the most competitive Gulf country at 32nd out of the 125 countries reviewed, is there another trend we should be looking at?

    2004 16th
    2005 18th
    2006 32nd

    Still number one in the Gulf, but it appears, from this basic trend, that other countries are becoming more competitive than the UAE.

    Read through the propaganda and look at the real numbers.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Retarded

    There was as much opposition as there were advocates of this one:

    The intellectual situation in the Arab world is not just retarded, but is suffering from ignorance and lack of acknowledgement, said a Saudi intellectual at a lecture yesterday.

    During the lecture — hosted by General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces — Ebrahim Al Belehi, Member of the Saudi Shura Council, discussed the ‘Structure of Retardation in the Arab Mind’.


    Intellectual situation in the Arab world 'retarded'

    Posted by at No comments :

    Friday, September 29, 2006

    For the speedemons

    Instead of putting everyone's life at risk on the roads of Dubai and making it one of the worst places in the world for death by driving, buy one of these, and get a real buzz in the middle of the desert.



    Sand-X.....Maximum speed on Sand

    Posted by at No comments :

    Sitting on the Dock of Dubai

    The Dubai Ports Deal is old news, yet it remains a headline due to the difficulty in actually selling the US operations. This is an example of the small minded mentality that caused the furore. Warning: you may get violent towards the guy by the end. And if you are a fan of the Otis Redding classic, this video may ruin it for you forever.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Unblocking is the voice of reason

    The post on this blog earlier this week seems somewhat redundant. However, the message is still the same. It is refreshing that those who pull the strings have seen sense that restrictions of this kind can prove to be a hinderance in the development of the 21st century state. The unblocking of sites that shouldn't have really been blocked in the first place is a realisation of the voice of reason.

    Now, the move should be understanding what is the real market place for competition on the net, allowing local UAE telco providers to compete with Voip. Here is a simple fact: work with the "medium" of Voip and take up of of broadband will increase. I suspect that etisalat are working on the intricacies of being a step up in the local market before going head to head with services such as skype and net2phone. My inkiling would be this is a matching of price on specific locations where the majority of expats originate. Voip shouldn't bea discussion. The discussion for the telcos should be what value added bolt on products should be offered to the customers - products that should guarantee medium term revenue.

    The voip issue aside, this is a great move, based on good reasoning and sound judgement.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Bab al Shams

    I found it difficult to describe the experience of Bab al Shams with the merit that it deserves. Desert resort doesn't quite do it. This video does pitch Bab al Shams in the niche it deserves:

    Posted by at 4 comments :

    UAE Ramadan Prayer Timings


    Ramadan Prayer Times in Dubai 2012
    Ramadan Prayer Times in Abu Dhabi 2012


    These are the prayer times for Ramadan in 2009
    I have received numerous emails asking me for Ramadan prayer timings in Dubai. Since, I don't really know, I would recommend the times listed by the gulf news.

    Prayer Times (PDF)

    Click here for 2008 Ramadan Prayer timings in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general

    Labels: , , , ,

    Posted by at No comments :

    UAE Nominal GDP growth

    Still on course for another bumper year. After a crazy gdp year in 2005 where the nominal amount was $133bn, that figure is expected to grow to $161bn in 2006.

    With a 30% increase in crude oil prices, on average, this is fuelling a strong economy.

    Posted by at No comments :

    UAE scared of Iran?

    The Bush administration has approved a $752 million sale of advanced artillery rocket systems to the United Arab Emirates.

    The administration has approved a UAE request for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems [HIMARS]. Officials said HIMARS would bolster Abu Dhabi's capability to defend against an Iranian ground invasion. The UAE has hosted U.S. Army and Air Force personnel and assets.


    Interesting that it was spun as a story of Bush Administration.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Etisalat V Mr Reach

    Etisalat doesn't reach the places that Mr Reach does.
    "Nothing is beyond" Mr Reach. Some things are beyond Etisalat.
    Mr Reach goes places that Etisalat does not.
    Mr Reach is self service. Etisalat sometimes has no service.
    Mr Reach is reliable. Etisalat is sometimes unreliable.
    Mr Reach is a superior product in a landscape of competition. Etisalat does not have any competition and does not need to be superior.

    Mr Reach

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    The dollar value of banned sites in the UAE

    What is dumbfounding is that some of the most highly influential and highly valued sites in the world are banned by etisalat, or more strictly the TRA. Here is a breakdown:

    1. Social Networking sites
    Although not all are banned, the value of such sites is huge. Facebook which seems to have the most scope of the strict social networking sites has just had a bid from Yahoo for $900m. In any world, that's a big number. The potential for the site has yet to be reached. But it is in the same realm as orkut, friendsreunited, friendster and hi5, all at the mercy of the TRA. Even sites such as LinkedIn could fall prey in these category.

    2. Social Lifestyle
    Myspace straddles social networking and traditional web, and has, over recent years, become one of the most influential areas on the net for the 16-24 year olds competing like for like with facebook and other blog type sites. Myspace were bought by Newscorp for $580m but, even then, that was a lucky price. I would put it more in the region of $2bn today, despite its apparent lack of imagination in the style category

    3. Video
    The banning of Youtube, Metacafe which leave the whole online video world up for the blanket is one of the most backward decisions when the rest of the world is ploughing forward into the video generation. Youtube said recently that it wouldn't sell out for less than $1.5bn, which is a probably a little expensive due to its running costs, but ballpark close to $1bn is a good estimate.

    4. Photo
    Sensitive pictures of someone with wasta probably lead to the ban of Flickr. When Flickr was bought by Yahoo in 2005 it went for a rumoured $30m which, in the grand scheme of what is going on right now, is small change. You could claim that it is worth a couple of hundred right now, and with synergy values with myspace, if purchased, could be worth a lot more.

    5. VOIP
    Was Skype really worth $2.6bn? Who knows? But there is long term potential in telecoms, and Skype is the biggest player in the VoIP market.

    6. Other sites

    Boingboing is valued at about $40m, but how do you value a site such as Michelle Malkin, that was banned because of the Cartoon debacle? Is it not better to listen to what people have to say, than shut out the views of others? Shouldn't the population be trusted to make their own informed opinion than to be guided by strong opinions?

    7. Real sites that should be banned
    I have never really had a problem with the banning of pornography or sites that verge on that limit. There is no doubt that pornography still brings in the bucks, especially online, but since this really does "contradict with the UAE social, cultural, political, economical, or religious values", as stated by Etisalat, I have no real reason to put a value on any real site. I mean, how much is playboy.com worth?


    What is the point of providing you with these figures? The point is that the money is onw thing but the value is something else.

    The value lies in the potential of these sites, their potential to build, and their potential to bring in the benjamins. The value lies in the investment in time and building such networks. The value lies in the technology. The value lies in being leading edge. The value lies in the what the Internet can do.

    Weyak has already proved that it is a lame substitute for what is probably one of the easiest areas to emulate. Simple technical and UI issues are a step backward when you have the potential to take two step forwards. If you are remove what is perceived as competition, then you need to provide a viable alternative in a country which prides itself with being technologically forward.

    Billions of dollars are atributed to these companies. These are the companies that leading Web 2.0, and yet the UAE appears to consider these a threat, because sites such as those listed, do not contradict the value of the UAE. They could help to develop and share the values further.

    Imagine myspace, tailored for the Arabic population? Why not work with myspace, to build something viable for the Muslim world? Why shut them out and let everyone lose out on the potential? What's next? Banning the blogging sites and removing freedom of speech to prehistoric times would be a step that I don't think anyone is stupid enough to do, but it has been proved before. And if the rest of web 2.0 is blocked then social bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us could also be up for the chop. The whole banning mentality extends past "value", past freedom of speech - it goes past the whole value of the internet, it goes past sharing, whether that be of pictures or communication or data or anything else. It extends to trying to control the internet which is an evolving medium. Use the medium, rather than trying to restrict it.

    Is it all about money? Is about about values? No, it is all about value. And that value is not being shared with the residents of the UAE.

    Posted by at 8 comments :

    Untainted view of Dubai

    They seem to be genuinely friendly and most noticeable; they are proud and passionate people when it comes to their country. And they should be when you look at the progress they have made in a nation that is only 35 years old. They are building educational systems, they start new industries and business areas from the ground up and they really believe in entrepreneurship as the engine for growth. These are important elements when you are building the foundation for a great country.

    From intrap

    Posted by at No comments :

    Dead Osama?

    If Osama is dead, is that the end or the beginning? Are there a hundred more Bin Laden's out there? Will the mantle pass to Zawahiri? Is this just the end of round one?

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    Common Currency Delays

    So the GCC central bank might come to Abu Dhabi. The statement has since been retracted, but it was a headline last week, and would be some sort of coup for the UAE.

    For many observers, however, the bigger story lay underneath in any case, in the apparent confirmation by Central Bank Governor Al Suwaidi that the US dollar will be abandoned in its role of currency peg, not by 2010, but by 2015.


    Another must read from Andrew Shouler

    Posted by at No comments :

    Ramadan Revenue

    Understanding why food sold increases substantially during a period of fasting is to do with understanding the convivial nature of the month, that ends with Eid. And while much fasting occurs, the iftar brings people together to feast either at buffets arranged by restaurants or with family and friends. Many people get invited to friends, and money spent when inviting friends results in feasts fit for kings or sheikhs. There is charity, as people offer food to those well off, and by the end of the month, with the culmination of the feast of all feasts, you can understand why more money is spent on food during this month. The mix of goods is different, with more dates being sold, more meat being sold, resulting in a very odd month in comparison to the rest of teh year.

    Say average sales at foodspots are 100. People say that during July and August, revenue is down by anything between 20 and 40% each month. And during Ramadan, food sales increase by 75%. So, taken simply and probably very crudely, you could say this about revenue:

    Ramadan: 175
    July: 70
    August: 70
    9 months: 100 (X 9)

    So, you could say that Ramadan makes up for the Summer months, since the 60 deficit is made up by the 75 increase. But shop owners are greedy, and want to maximise the revenue even further during the Ramadan months, because people salivate for the food and will pay for what they want, to some degree. Because of this known fact, if prices are increased during Ramadan, by 5%, say, so instead of 100, you have to pay 105, and there is an increase of 75%, you have an overall further increase of nearly 9% above your normal average. That 9% is what the shopkeeper wants you to spend.

    But it is unfair, and perhaps unethical, to force people to spend more in a month when they are already spending more, and that is why the Government has warned retailers, importers and distributors against raising the prices of food items and other commodities during the month of Ramadan.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Ramadan Kareem

    ...Ramadan Mubarak, Happy Ramadan or whatever you say. Enjoy the feasting and fasting.
    Here is something I wrote last year that gives you on overview of Ramadan, its origins, and what life is really like. Have a good lunar month and enjoy the festival of the feast at the end.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Friday, September 22, 2006
    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Dubai, the superlative and the misperceptions

    Dubai: The Biggest Story in the World
    Including the biggest mall, biggest airport, tallest building, biggest race track…

    from the Fenton Report


    What is particularly amusing isBruce Fenton being interviewed about Dubai by conservative talk show host and opposition of the Dubai Ports deal, Ed Dean. The misperception is astounding, especially if you listen into how the questions are asked.

    Article
    Radio Interview (tricky connection)

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    The truth about Oil

    Heroen van der Veer does. If anyone is better placed to tell us the truth it should be the CEO of Shell. And despite being in his interest to maybe spin it a bit, he has a little more gravitas than that in what is one of the biggest jobs in the world:

    Are current prices sustainable?


    van der Veer:
    There's no point in predicting the oil prices, because it tends to be a pretty bad prediction. Why is that? Because there are so many factors at play. What I will say is that [recent data] shows that crude-oil stocks in factories around the world are very normal or even better than normal. It's a bit of a mixed picture, but by and large, there is no physical shortage in the world. So there must be two reasons [for current prices]: geopolitical tensions in the world and the amount of nontraditional money like hedge funds moving into the oil market.

    Read the full interview here.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Jump Images

    Interested in pictures of Arabia? Then let me recommend Jump Images to you. There are a lot of images of Arabs in daily life and the quality is pretty damn good as well. Worth checking out.



    Jump Images

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Dubollywood and Abullywood

    There seems a big push to bring Hollywood to the UAE. 2 years ago, it was Syriana with George Clooney and Matt Damon. Jamie Foxx has just left Abu Dhabi after filming scenes for his new film, Kingdom. With Hollywood looking to invest in setting up a facility in Dubai, and with Studio City having the potential to attract the big guns from Hollywood, things look rosey for the UAE Film industry that will complement the Arabic offerings from the traditional seat of power in Egypt. Hopefully, one day, a mixed language film will come out of the UAE that will mix up local and foreign talent and expertise, and that will cater to the international market. I'm afraid, however, that that day is still some way off, despite the investment in this creative industry.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Gas and Oil Numbers Increase

    Abu Dhabi
    gas production: 4.5bn cubic feet per day (2006) 6 cfpd (2008)
    liquefied petroleum gas: 6m tonnes per year (2006) 12mtpy (2008)
    oil production 3m barrels per day (now) 4m bpd (2007)

    Posted by at No comments :

    Democracy

    Is it as simple as Western Democracy versus Democracy with Arabic Values? I think not.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Dubai is the Matrix

    I have often had far flung conversations regarding the similarity of the Matrix and Dubai. What is the real world? What is the real Dubai? This is a homage to those conversations, to Dubai, and to Muppets...

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Thou shalt not use Internet

    Reading the Cyber Crimes Law, I am either reading it wrong, or something has been mistranslated. I find article 2 particularly vague. And I can't be bothered to go through the rest in detail. I do want to know what secrete information is (article 22)

    * Law No.2 of 2006, issued last month, includes 29 articles, and shall take effect from the date of its issuance, and is to be published in the official gazette.
    * Article No.2 considers any intentional act resulting in abolishing, destroying or revealing secrets or republishing personal or official information, as a crime. It says anyone convicted of logging onto information website or system shall be punished with jail term, or fine, or both. If the act resulted in abolishing, destroying, or revealing, changing or republishing information, he/she shall be sentenced to no less than six months in jail and be fined, or both. If such information are personal, a fine of not less than Dh10, 000 shall be imposed, and a jail term of not less than one year shall be handed out to the convict, or both punishments.
    * The law also reads that anyone convicted of stimulating a male or female to commit adultery or prostitution via the Internet will be jailed up to five years and fined.
    * Anyone convicted of abusing holy shrines or religious rituals or insulting them or inciting others to do so, shall be sentenced to five years in jail and be fined.
    * Anyone convicted of opposing the Islamic religion will be jailed up to seven years. Anyone convicted of transcending family principles and values shall be jailed for one year and fined Dh50, 000. Anyone convicted of setting up a website for groups promoting programmes in breach of public decency and order shall be sentenced to five years in jail.
    * Article No.3 reads that anyone convicted of committing any crimes stipulated in Article No.2 of this law, shall be sentenced to no less than one year in jail, and fined not less than Dh20, 000, or both.
    * Article No.4 says anyone convicted of forging any document of Federal or local government?s documents, or any of federal or local institutions, shall be temporarily imprisoned, and fined, or both.
    * Anyone convicted of using the forged document with knowledge it is forged, shall be handed out the stipulated punishment for forgery crime. Article No.5 of the law reads anyone convicted of hampering, blocking or preventing the reach of service or logging onto computer programmes, or information sources with any possible means whether via the use of internet or any information technology mean, shall be punished with a jail term, or a fine, or both.
    * Article No.6 says anyone convicted of inserting certain information via the internet or using any IT or electronic mean for the purpose of stopping or breaking down, or destroying, deleting or amending programmes and information, shall be either jailed or fined, or both.
    * Article No.7 says anyone convicted of using the internet or any electronic or IT means for changing or destroying medical tests or medical diagnosis, or medical treatment or healthcare, or even assisted others to do it, shall be temporarily jailed or fined.
    * Article No.8 says anyone convicted of deliberately eavesdropping, or receiving or intervened information or messages sent via the internet by using any electronic or high-tech means, shall be jailed or fined.
    * Article No.9 says anyone convicted of using the internet or any other high-tech means for threatening or black mailing another person, to incite him to carry out an act or not, shall be sentenced to no more than two years in jail and fined no more than Dh50, 000, or both.
    * Anyone convicted of using the internet for threatening or black mailing another person, to incite him to commit lewd acts or honour crimes, shall be sentenced up to 10 years in jail and fined Dh50, 000.
    * Article No.10 reads that anyone convicted of putting his hands on immovable funds, or a document to sign for himself or others, by using the internet or any high-tech means in a fraudulent way or by taking a nick name or assuming the identity of others with intent to defraud, shall be sentenced to no less than one year, and fined no less than Dh30, 000, or both.
    * Article No.11 reads that anyone convicted of reaching data of credit card or any other electronic cards by the use of the internet or any high-tech means, shall be imprisoned and fined. If the act takes place with intent to use credit or electronic cards to get other?s money or their available services, the convict shall be jailed for no less than one year, and fined no less than Dh30, 000, or one of each punishments.
    * Article No.12 says anyone convicted of producing, preparing, sending, or saving information with intent to exploit, distribute or providing others with information that causes harm to public decency, via the internet or high-tick means, shall be sentenced to no less than six months in jail and fined no less than Dh 30, 000.
    * Article No13 says anyone convicted of inciting or luring a male or female to commit adultery or prostitution, by using the internet or high-tech means, shall be imprisoned and fined. If the victim is a juvenile, a jail term of no less than five years and a fine shall be imposed.
    * Article No14 says anyone convicted of logging onto a website with intent to change the designs of this site, deleting it, amending its information, or taking its address, shall be jailed and fined.
    * Article No.15 stipulates that anyone convicted of using the internet or high-tech means for the purpose of committing the following crimes, shall be imprisoned or fined.
    * The crimes are as follows:
    * 1-Abuse of any Islamic holy shrines or rituals
    * 2- Abuse of holy shrines and religious rituals stipulated in other religious since such rituals are maintained in accordance to the rulings of Islamic Sharia
    * 3- Insulting any recognised religion
    * 4- 4-Inctiment or promotion of sins
    * If anyone convicted of opposing the Islamic religion, or abusing its principles, or carrying out any missionary activities for the benefit of other religions, he should be sentenced to more than seven years in jail.
    * Article No16 reads that anyone convicted of transcending family principles and values, or publishing news or pictures related to the private life of the family?s members, shall be jailed for no one year and fined Dh50, 000.
    * Article No.17 stipulates that anyone convicted of setting up a website, or publishing information vi the internet or any other cyber means for the purpose of trafficking in human beings or facilitating human trafficking, shall be temporarily imprisoned.
    * Article No.18 reads that anyone convicted of setting up a website or publishing information with the aim of promoting narcotics shall be temporarily jailed.
    * Article No.19 says anyone convicted of transferring dirty money or concealing their sources, or transferring illegal properties via the use of internet or other cyber means, shall be sentenced to no more than seven years and a fine of no less than Dh30, 000 and up to Dh200, 000.
    * Article No.20 reads anyone convicted of setting up a website or publishing information for groups calling for facilitating and promoting ideas in breach of the general order and public decency, shall be sentenced to nor more than five years in jail.
    * Article No.21 says anyone convicted of setting up a website or publishing information for a terrorist group under fake names with intent to facilitate contacts with their leadership, or to promote their ideologies and finance their activities, or to publish information on how to make explosives or any other substances to be used in terrorist attacks, shall be sentenced to no more than five years in jail.
    * Article No22 reads anyone convicted of logging onto government websites with intent to obtain secrete information shall be sentenced to jail. If the practice resulted in deleting, destroying or publishing such information, the convict shall be sentenced up to five years in jail.
    * Article No.23 says anyone convicted of inciting, or assisting or agreed with other person to commit a crime of crimes stipulated in this law, he shall be punished with the same punishment stipulated in the law.
    * Article No.24 says with no prejudice to others? rights, all devices, programmes and means used in committing any of the previous mentioned crimes will be confiscated.
    * Article No.25 stipulates if the convict is an expatriate, he shall be deported after serving his term.
    * Article No.26 says the implementation of penalties stipulated in this law does not contradict any other tougher punishment stipulated in the penal Code or any other laws.
    * Article No.27 says law-enforcement officials are allowed to catch criminals and report violations.
    * Article No28 says any provision contradicts the provisions of this law shall be abrogated.
    * Article No.29 says this law shall take effect from the date of its issuance, and is to be published in the official gazette.

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    The Economics of Oil

    Good, though American slanted overview of the Oil industry and how it doesn't operate as you may expect.

    IT’S TOUGH attending dinner parties these days. Until recently, all an economist had to cope with were requests for forecasts on house prices — for each of the neighbourhoods represented at the table. Now things are harder. Every guest has his or her own reason for wanting a forecast of oil and petrol prices.

    Politicians in America are convinced that the price of petrol will determine which party controls the House of Representatives after the November elections. Republicans profess to see the recent price drop of about 50 cents per gallon reflected in a rise in their poll ratings.


    Read the full article here.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Abu Dhabi Pharmacies

    Handy little table for those in Abu Dhabi (from Gulf News)

    Helplines: Abu Dhabi and Al Ain

    Below is a list of the main government hospitals, the private hospitals and late night pharmacies in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

    LIST OF GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS:

    Abu Dhabi
    Al Mafraq Hospital: 02 5823100
    Abu Dhabi Hospital: 02 6214666
    Al Jazeera Hospital: 02 6214800
    Shaikh Khalifa Medical City: 02 6102000

    Al Ain
    Al Tawam Hospital: 03 7677444
    Al Jimi Hospital: 03 7635888

    LIST OF PRIVATE HOSPITALS:

    Abu Dhabi
    New Medical Centre: 02 6332255
    Ahalia Hospital: 02 262666
    Al Noor Hospital: 02 6139111
    Franco-Emirien Hospital: 02 6265722

    LIST OF LATE NIGHT PHARMACIES:

    Abu Dhabi
    New Noor: 02 6264264
    Al Razi: 02 6326671
    Central Ahliya: 02 6269545
    Reema: 02 6744214
    New Medical Centre: 02 6341134
    Mussafah: 02 5546674
    Dar Al Shifa: 02 6411299
    Bin Sina Al Dana Plaza: 02 6669240

    Al Ain
    Al Ain Pharmacy: 03 7630120
    Farah Pharmacy: 03 7630120
    New Al Salam: 03 7543887

    Posted by at No comments :

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    How to make a fool of yourself and ruin Amr Diab

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    The Abu Dhabi Gherkin?

    Am I talking about that shawarma that you just gobbled down? Indeed not. Rumours are rife that the Abu Dhabi Royal Family is just about to buy one of the modern day landmarks of London. Swiss Re have put the building up for sale at GBP600m. Acquiring such a building would be a significant presence in London.



    More from this is money

    Posted by at No comments :

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    HeyU!

    Skype workarounds, VOIP wars - they are all in cyberspace. HeyU is another proposition which involves paying a company for the download of the latest skype exe file, and so if you have an account, you could operate skype. But it is not as simple as this, especially with certain partitions being blocked, which really limit what can be done with voice encription and decription.

    More here and here.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Clinton aides had hand in Dubai deal

    It sounds like a title that involves Bill, but nay, don't assume too quickly. Hilary had hands in Dubai deals. It is interesting that she could be denouncing the Ports deal in public, but have her finger in similar pies. Business is business and politics is politics, but when you mix them, conflicts occur.

    Clinton aides had hand in Dubai deal

    Posted by at No comments :

    Catholic Cartoons

    The People of the Book seem to be edging further away in their direction towards God. The Jews and the Muslims are in conflict in the Middle East. The Jews don't recognise Jesus and the Christians. And now the Pope says something which really he shouldn't have said. Whether it was in or out of context, whether someone else said it or it was his true feelings, the Pope is a respected leader, which ever religion he comes from. To say what he said, only causes friction and problems that could escalate past the depths reached by the Danish cartoon controversy. Why? Because this time, it wasn't a Danish cartoonist - it was the Pope.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Sour milk

    I'm sure this will be thrown out. It has all been cleaned up.

    Dubai Ruler Sued in U.S. over Enslaving Small Boys

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Las Vegas in the Arabian Desert

    And another one...

    Dubai has sold its soul to globalization like few cities have. A glittering capitalist fantasyland has taken shape at the heart of the Arab world. It's a center of international trade, a holiday paradise and a carnival rolled into one.

    Las Vegas in the Arabian Desert

    Posted by at No comments :

    Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling

    One of the most random things you will ever see in Abu Dhabi

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Emirates Vs Emirates

    Emirates Airlines sponsors a host of teams to increase its brand awareness. Today we face that odd situation of Emirates V Emirates in the game of Arsenal V Hamburg in the Champions League but because FIFA don't allow the same sponsors on both teams, Arsenal will be sponsored by....Dubai. Yes, for one night only, Arsenal will have "Dubai" on their shirts. Shame Thierry Henry is out with an injury. However, Champions League advertising is pretty damn good publicity, especially with an Arsenal team who have the spotlight shining bright on them. I suppose those shirts will go for a few dirhams if auctioned on ebay or souk.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Ridiculous Room Rates

    According to the Ernst and Young Middle East Benchmark Survey, occupancy is reducing, room rates are increasing, which probably mean that revpar has probably increased. While Dubai has always been pricey, during recent years, Abu Dhabi is now increasing with gusto. Here are the numbers courtesy of the unlinkable Emirates Today:

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Weyak

    The brand spanking new portal from etisalat, weyak.ae, looks to be a mish mash of services for the "community". In intiatives like this, sometimes I just don't understand the logic behind some areas. For example, a jokes section is not really ground breaking, and above all there doesn't seem to be much in terms of new content for a portal. There seems to be a reliance on users creaing the content themselves. Personally, I don't like it. The worrying thing is that they are offering blogs (but with low level functionality) - does this mean the end for other blog providers, like blogger and wordpress?

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Official Inflation......4%

    I think I'll take the unofficial view that it will be above 4%.

    Posted by at 4 comments :

    Save.ae

    What is the proposition of save.ae? They say: 'you click we deliver', but are they trying to provide an aternative to spinneys or carrefour? The issues I have is with the the product. The lesson of the dot com era was that to really be in with a chance you had to be bricks and clicks. Although some did exist as solo dot coms, many died away. We need to look at the tech boom that seems to be taking place in the UAE in the same way. For example, I know the product from Spinneys. I can feel the melon in my hand, and I know if they had the same dot com version, that it is likely that it would be of good quality. At present, I dont know what save.ae is, apart from a short domain name. Good luck to them. I hope they prove me wrong, but in the disparate world of the UAE where the suppliers are many, and the net savvy consumers are few, it may be difficult.

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Diamonds are Dubai

    Here is an interesting fact for you:

    Gemstones and jewelry were at the top of Dubai's re-exports, accounting for 33 percent of the total, or about $3.63 billion.

    As I have mentioned before, Dubai has continued to stick to its trading roots of yesteryear and maximise revenue slices through super efficient trade roots.

    Dubai: Diamonds, Jewelry Top 1H Imports, Exports

    Posted by at No comments :

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    The hub of sustainable energy

    Masdar looks to be true to its word, and is succeeding. Earlier this year Mubadala talked of such iinitiatives and has now launched a fund, Masdar, to attract sustainable energy technologies to Abu Dhabi. According to The Times, the big guns are backing Abu Dhabi in centralising this crucial worlwide initiative. Aside, within this same arena, the Irish look to be making significant progress.

    Abu Dhabi sheikhs seek green pastures

    Posted by at No comments :

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Insead Abu Dhabi

    If you know business schools, then you will know that Insead rates amongst the best in the world, and competes with the likes of Harvard and London Business School in terms of quality MBAs. The fact that Insead is setting up its third campus in Abu Dhabi is huge. There must be many incentives for Insead to do this, but whatever these are, this is a big win for Abu Dhabi, not against other cities in the Gulf but amongst World Cities providing their citizens with quality education.

    Press Release from Insead
    FT article

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    An afterthought on 9/11

    As we reach the 5 year anniversary of a tragic event in history, we remember the victims of such an horrific, inhumane act. We also remember the many heroes of that day, including the blue collar workers of the New York who took control of the situation and risked their lives to help rescue the white collar workers. My question is this: would we expect the blue collar workers of Dubai to act in such a way if, God forbid, the same were to happen in Dubai?

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Overheard in Norf London

    Heavy cockney twang required:

    "Fancy meeting up on Saturday, mate?"
    "Sorry man, I'm goin down the Emirates. Will be Wicked"
    "When did you book that? I didn't know you were going"
    "Just because I was on holiday doesn't mean I'm going to miss the whole lot of them."
    "What do you mean?"
    "I mean I have paid and I am going, like I do every year."
    "But you have never been to Doo Bye, have ya?"
    "Doo - bye? Why Doo-bye? No, I'm going to watch the football. "

    Arsenal V Middlesbrough, Saturday, 09 September 2006
    At the Emirates Stadium
    Not in Doo-bye (Dubai), but if you are coming from there, then Fly Emirates.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Capital Inflation

    I'd go with Standard Chartered's estimate of the increase in rents in Abu Dhabi over the coming year. This year's increase prediction of 37% is probably equivalent to the previous 3 years' increase but all in one go. There is short term trouble brewing in Abu Dhabi. Stress free days striding down the corniche appear to be a distant memory. The Dubai stress has reached the capital.And it won't go away for a long time.

    Standard Chartered forecasts 36.6% Abu Dhabi rent hike

    Inflation may rise to 13.8pc in 2006

    and this year's prize for the most obvious article subject goes to:

    Rent hikes key reason for inflation

    Posted by at No comments :

    Emaar is the stock markets.

    With 55% of total volume, day traders look to profit on the yoyoing nature on bulk transactions.

    Dar-al-Hayat: UAE Stock Markets: Fictional Growth or End of Adjustment?

    Posted by at No comments :

    Thai welders

    coming to your nearest construction project, some time soon. 10,000 of them.

    Posted by at No comments :

    The Eastern Connection

    Where is the big growth coming from over the next 50 years? China.
    Who is smart enough to capitalise on both the East and the West? DIFC.

    From Bloomberg:
    The Dubai licence allows the bank to channel capital into investment opportunities between the Gulf and China, Chu said. First Eastern also plans to offer Chinese companies financing options for Middle East projects, including arranging export credit loans, project financing and equity investment.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Car accidents by Nationality

    Is it right to break down the numbers by nationality. To me, it feels a litle uncomfortable:

    H2 figures from Gulf News

    Indians: 228 accidents, 30 deaths, 344 injuries

    Pakistani: 193 accidents, 37 deaths and 332 injuries

    GCC nationals: 163 accidents, 20 deaths and 257 were injured.

    UAE nationals: 32 deaths

    Total: 157 deaths, 1457 injured.

    The real numbers would be as a proportion of population. I am sure that would paint a different story. If the RTA wish to issues such figures that point to blame, perhaps that is what they should be concentrating on.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Arsenal V Man U

    The amazing new Arsenal stadium has attracted a huge amount of attention. With the 60,000 stadium was completely full for the Brazil v Argentina match, despite the absence of the the big grinned man. With Emirates paying for sponsorship, Arsenal is gaining a bigger name in other parts of the world. Manchester United have a longer term strategy in building from the ground level up, with its soccer schools, notably the soccer school in Dubai. What is the conclusion of all this? Not much. Emirates is making a big name for itself by embracing the football sponsorship bandwagon for both the World Cup and Arsenal. With 20% annual growth targets, it needs to channel numerous approaches in its aim for global air dominance. As for Manchester United, building brand overseas at grass roots is a smart move in an industry where the non-football profits are proving lucrative.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Camel Milk gets Global Coverage

    After hearing of the issue faced by someone who was lactose intollerant, I suggested camel milk instead, as perhaps a substitute to soya milk. I got a response similar to:
    "That sounds ****ing disgusting". However, as I have mentioned before, the pluses of camel milk are constantly being lauded. The most recent coverage comes from the Globe and Mail.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    The Abu Dhabi Louvre?

    After the Guggenheim signed up for a key spot in Abu Dhabi, there is further speculation regarding the Louvre setting up in the capital, as Abu Dhabi aims to bag the label of the cultural capital. Certainly, the Louvre would be another prestigious tenant, and if it does get signed up, and is implemented, it will surely cement the tourism chapter of Abu Dhabi's growth.

    More from the Art Newspaper

    Posted by at No comments :

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Qatar Nursing homes

    Qatar want to consolidate the UK nursing home market, which is highly fragmented. However, nursing homes, as a concept, are alien to Islam, in general. But, as they say: business is business.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Sheikh Mo, the Dictator

    I am not sure that Dictator is the right word, and even if it is meant in a non dirty way, I would have thought that the New Statesman would have had more sense to stir controversy where it is not needed. In any case, here's the article. It paints SMBR in a positive light.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Typical Dubai Salaries

    One of the most common questions we get asked concern the salaries in Dubai, and what is a typical salary. This is a very difficult question to answer, because employers differ in their approaches to salary, even within industry. What I have done however, is put together some salaries in a spreadsheet, available for download. Take them with a pinch of salt, and bear in mind the explanatory notes on the page. The salaries qoted are only intended to help those looking at benchmarks of what can be expected, and as advertised in the press. Also, if you want to anonymously add your salary to help others, please do so on the contact page. You don't have to leave your name.

    Typical Dubai Salaries on Grapeshisha

    Posted by at No comments :

    Want to understand Islamic Finance?

    First read my basic overview.
    Then read everything by Sohail Zubairi, in his special to the Gulf News. Zubairi Zubairi is the VP for Sharia structuring, at Dubai Islamic Bank.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Sharia and the Amish

    Letters to the Editor

    The Times September 02, 2006

    Sharia mortgages
    Sir, A number of UK banks now provide Sharia-compliant mortgages, which is good news for practising Muslims who want to buy a home. But where is the real difference?

    Instead of charging interest, the bank agrees to purchase the property and then rent it to the mortgagee until such time as legal ownership can be transferred. By this time, the bank will have earned the same amount as it would have by charging interest, and the purchaser will have paid as much.

    It reminds me of the time I visited an Amish community in the US. Landline telephones were prohibited, as the Amish believe that the devil may enter a house by way of the wires. They all, therefore, use mobile phones.

    KATHERINE SCHOLFIELD
    London W8

    Posted by at No comments :

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    I Am Not A Terrorist



    Get the t-shirt

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Visit Marriages (misyar)

    If you are interested in the recent talk of Misyar, read these:

    1. 'Pleasure Marriages' in Sunni and Shi'ite Islam
    2. Are Muslim F*** buddies a sign of progress?

    Interesting reading of a topical issue.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Expensive Handbag

    First Class Flights with the lads to Dubai: $3000
    Living Large at a swanky Hotel: $1000 per night
    Buying your wife a handbag so you don't feel guilty: $2500
    Agreeing to an $89,000 fine to avoid tax evasion charge on above mentioned handbag: Priceless.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Dubai Free zones are not free

    From the Gulf News:

    Outside the free zones, etisalat blocks internet ports usually used for VoIP calls. Within the last two weeks, the representative said, the operator inadvertently blocked its use in Media City and Internet City, which are supposed to have unfettered internet access.

    "etisalat is blocking the ports for VoIP, and we got infected," the representative said. "We are negotiating with them to open up access to VoIP again."

    Mohammad Najuib, acting manager of corporate communications at etisalat, said, "Until now VoIP has not been licensed in the UAE. This issue should be addressed to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA)."

    A representative for the TRA said he was not aware of any recent issues arising from VoIP access but that the agency's stance against it has not changed.

    While internet-based calling faces new difficulties in the free zones, the campaign to block it in the rest of the country seems to have gained new ground. Reports are circulating that etisalat has found new success in blocking VoIP calls.


    People underestimate the benefits that the freezones brought the Dubai. The freezones offered an offshore environment to operate both in local and international markets with relative ease. With the costs escalating, and now, with simple civil liberties that you would expect in the free world, there seems to be more cost than benefit.

    I know of a number of medium sized companies that rejected a move to Dubai for cost reasons. And with no reasonable alternative in the region, they have elected to focus on the Chinese market.

    Posted by at 4 comments :

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