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  • Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    The Latest View of The Palms, Dubai

    From earth observatory

    Posted by at 7 comments :

    Potentially Iconic

    "Certain buildings take on iconic status, like the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, instantly recognizable and instantly associated with the city that they are placed in," Sang said.


    But Sang admitted that he did not expect Burj Dubai to remain the tallest building in the world forever.

    World's tallest tower rising in Dubai(AFP)

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    What it is really all about

    From Anarchitecture - Architect's Dreamland

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Building progress in Dubai

    from the Times:

    IT’S A ROOM with a view, for sure — just not a very pretty one. To my right are cranes, lots of them. It’s difficult to count them in the heat haze, but I get to about 20, each hanging over half-built, Benidorm-style apartments on a stretch of land jutting out to sea.

    To my left are yet more cranes and a gigantic pit of a building site, where a hotel is about to sprout. Yellow diggers are churning earth and beeping as they reverse. Directly below is a dusty lot in which a dozen giant cable spools and old coils of wire are scattered, looking like some kind of post-modern abstract art.

    Dubai, as any visitor to the fastest-growing tourist destination in the world soon discovers, is a land of cranes . . . and statistics.

    Sometimes the persepctive of returning after a while, gives you a better picture than seeing the changes that sometimes feel like the ststaus quo.

    Dubai still on a roll

    Posted by at No comments :

    The New Dubais

    In a reversal of the history of the world, Dubai becomes old and the rest becomes new, in that they all become the New Dubais:

    It promises to be the epitome of Dubai glitz: a golf course cum ski resort rising from the desert sand, complete with towering glass and chrome conference buildings, exclusive shopping streets, luxury hotels, fake beachfronts, giant water parks and millionaires' gold-encrusted villas. But Emaar, Dubai's largest property group, isn't building this Arabian oasis anywhere near the United Arab Emirates. This is Oukaimeden—in Morocco. It's also a mirror image of what Dubai's three massive property pioneers—Emaar, Dubai Holding and Dubai World—are building in Syria, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Turkey and half a dozen other developing countries around the world. Welcome to the places real-estate experts call "The New Dubais."

    Dubai's Glitz Goes Global

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    The Dubai Model

    The Dubai Model discussed by the editor-in-chief of OBG.

    Here's a typical question:

    Gulf News: Will the Dubai model work elsewhere?

    Jeffreys: I believe so. First, you have these huge funds. When you talk about diversification, Dubai is a case study in itself - it has tried to make itself a major player in so many areas - real estate, tourism, high-tech and increasingly in education and health. These large real estate projects-sort of mixed use developments that we see here which are upscale residential buildings with swimming pools, golf courses, shops, marinas-you haven't seen in the Levant or North Africa until now. Two years ago, Dubai Holding was not known in Morocco. With its announcement this year of massive investments in large real estate projects in Morocco, Dubai is aggressively pursuing investments abroad. It is also looking at Tunisia and other parts of the Middle East. Also, they are investing in different projects in Pakistan, India and China.

    Certainly, the Dubai model has evolved over the very short time it has been in existence.

    Evaluating the Dubai model

    Posted by at 4 comments :

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Remembering Sheikh Zayed

    It was two years ago, during Ramadan, that Sheikh Zayed passed from this world.

    And Eid, that year, was less of a celebration than it usually is. Spare a thought during the Eid festival and on November 2nd. Without Sheikh Zayed, the UAE would be nothing.

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Skinnydipping in the Desert

    MARGHAM, United Arab Emirates -- Skinny-dipping in Arabia? If it feels good, why not?

    So I was swimming naked. It was broad daylight, but I figured the private infinity pool behind our private bungalow in this exclusive desert resort was private enough. No one's going to see me but my wife, and she was napping.

    But I sensed a pair of eyes watching me as I floated in the pool. I looked around and quickly spotted the peeper. He was hiding in a broom bush......

    Dubai eco-tourism: Champagne and strawberries in the desert

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    For your retirement

    "Thanks for your contribution to sport, Michael. You have taken sport to the limit, and become, ultimately, the best at your game - ever! That is a remarkable feat. We have been watching you from afar for some time, and we like you. The 10s of millions of dollars that you have earned during your career is not enough for man of your stature. Let us give us a retirement present of part of Antarctica. You will like it a lot. Maybe you can build a go kart course on it for your children, and when it is finished in a couple of years time, you are always welcome. I know you will have to spend a lot of money building your kingdom, but this is good advertising for us. When the tourists come to visit and go on the Big Bus Tour, it will be one of the highlights of the crazy facts that the tourists will laugh at, and then they will go back and tell their friends, who will want to come to Dubai. I think it is a good deal for us both. No?"

    Schumacher given an island by Dubai prince

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    10 things everyone should know about race

    Our eyes tell us that people look different. No one has trouble distinguishing a Czech from a Chinese. But what do those differences mean? Are they biological? Has race always been with us? How does race affect people today?

    There's less - and more - to race than meets the eye:

    1. Race is a modern idea. Ancient societies, like the Greeks, did not divide people according to physical distinctions, but according to religion, status, class, even language. The English language didn't even have the word 'race' until it turns up in 1508 in a poem by William Dunbar referring to a line of kings.

    2. Race has no genetic basis. Not one characteristic, trait or even gene distinguishes all the members of one so-called race from all the members of another so-called race.

    3. Human subspecies don't exist. Unlike many animals, modern humans simply haven't been around long enough or isolated enough to evolve into separate subspecies or races. Despite surface appearances, we are one of the most similar of all species.

    4. Skin color really is only skin deep. Most traits are inherited independently from one another. The genes influencing skin color have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or forms of intelligence. Knowing someone's skin color doesn't necessarily tell you anything else about him or her.

    5. Most variation is within, not between, "races." Of the small amount of total human variation, 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians, Kurds, Koreans or Cherokees. About 94% can be found within any continent. That means two random Koreans may be as genetically different as a Korean and an Italian.

    6. Slavery predates race. Throughout much of human history, societies have enslaved others, often as a result of conquest or war, even debt, but not because of physical characteristics or a belief in natural inferiority. Due to a unique set of historical circumstances, ours was the first slave system where all the slaves shared similar physical characteristics.

    7. Race and freedom evolved together. The U.S. was founded on the radical new principle that "All men are created equal." But our early economy was based largely on slavery. How could this anomaly be rationalized? The new idea of race helped explain why some people could be denied the rights and freedoms that others took for granted.

    8. Race justified social inequalities as natural. As the race idea evolved, white superiority became "common sense" in America. It justified not only slavery but also the extermination of Indians, exclusion of Asian immigrants, and the taking of Mexican lands by a nation that professed a belief in democracy. Racial practices were institutionalized within American government, laws, and society.

    9. Race isn't biological, but racism is still real. Race is a powerful social idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. Our government and social institutions have created advantages that disproportionately channel wealth, power, and resources to white people. This affects everyone, whether we are aware of it or not.

    10. Colorblindness will not end racism. Pretending race doesn't exist is not the same as creating equality. Race is more than stereotypes and individual prejudice. To combat racism, we need to identify and remedy social policies and institutional practices that advantage some groups at the expense of others.

    excerpted in full from:
    Race - the power of an illusion

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Israeli diamonds welcome in Dubai

    Business is business, I guess:

    "There has been no visible platform for Arab-Jewish cooperation since the 1960s," said Chantal Abboud, Beirut-based representative of Antwerp's diamond industry in the Middle East. "Now, Dubai has created it."

    Israeli Diamond Exchange president Avi Paz says diamonds and hospitality flow freely between Israel and Dubai.

    "We came there, they came here. There is no problem at all," Paz said in Tel Aviv. "I wish that wherever I go, they'll host me like they hosted me in Dubai."

    Officially at least, the Emirates still enforces some aspects of the Arab League's boycott with Israel, although a government official said most restrictions were dropped long ago. There are no direct flights to Israel and visitors traveling on Israeli passports are rarely allowed to enter.

    from the Associated Press

    Posted by at No comments :

    A rejig of the petrodollar investment

    The headline may have gone unnoticed primarily because ADIA has thusfar stayed out of the public eye, despite being one of the largest inveestors in the world. The shift from Adia to Adic demonstrates a move to more investment in what is going on in Abu Dhabi and the UAE than just overseas. I think there will probably be a little more risk in the investment profile than less. We shall see.

    ADIA to be replaced by ADIC

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    The New Messengers of Islam

    Who will spread the fact that Islam is a religion of peace? The tourists of Dubai, of course!

    As tension between Muslims and the West seems to deepen every week, Dubai's leaders are fighting back by courting millions of non-Muslim visitors.

    The hope is that Western tourists can spread understanding of Muslims — and Dubai's tolerance — in their home countries.

    Leaders in this Gulf Arab boomtown, where religious tolerance has helped breed economic success, see their interests harmed by disputes over veils in Britain, headscarves in France and cartoons in Denmark.

    Dubai tries to promote favorable image of Islam in the West(AP)

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    The Role of Dubai in Oil Price Discovery

    It's all about transparency:

    Futures contracts are the most efficient and transparent instruments that markets can provide for price discovery. The Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange, the first commodities futures exchange in the Middle East, located in Dubai, will promote transparent price discovery in a range of commodities including a fuel oil contract planned for launch in 2006.

    The Role of Dubai in Oil Price Discovery

    Posted by at No comments :

    Dubai at the Kop

    Last year the rumour was that Etihad were looking at a number of the footbll clubs for sponsorship to raise their brand. Now, Dubai Holding is rumoured to be interested in actually buying Liverpool Football Club. No mater how badly their season has begun, Liverpool is an international brand that courts numerous geographic markets.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Istithmar's Investment Philosphy

    What do Istithmar do? They take the cash generated from the money making machines of Nakheel and DPW and channel that excess into investments, both home and away. Historically, there has been a lot of investment in real estate, but with all the money they have available, expect more diversity. With diversity comes a little risk, which is just up Istithmar's street. This means that the rumoured latest round investment in Standard Chartered (to increase the stake to 20%) means that the bank has the potential for some high returns. What returns they make is anyone's guess, but Istithmar, under David Jackson, is flexing its muscles at all things that can garantee a good rate of return, yet still guarantee a minimum threshold to make it worthwhile. Oh to be in that position!

    Posted by at No comments :

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    The Moon Man says Monday

    “We can only see the new moon on Monday evening with difficulty as it will be visible for only 36 minutes with a glow of 1.90 percent,” said Al-Zaaq, who is also a member of the Islamic Project to Observe the Crescent. He urged the public not to be confused by seeing celestial bodies on Saturday evening.

    Kul 'am wa enta bi-khair! Eid Mubarak! Eid saeed!

    From Arab News (Proviso - The Moon Man is in Jeddah)

    Posted by at 4 comments :

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    Locals on Expats on Locals


    “People see us as these creatures walking in their midst,” Ms. Atiyat said. “They see these aliens wearing all black or white, which they think means we are closing ourselves off.

    More insight from the New York Times

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Istithmar will buy you

    With a spending spree in the offing, and $7 billion in their back pocket, Istithmar will probably something related to your daily life:

    Mr Jackson said Istithmar was set to open offices in New York and Shanghai but the company’s investment strategy was driven less by geography and more by industry trends.

    Investment sectors he was interested in include media content providers and healthcare companies.

    Read more from the FT

    Posted by at No comments :

    The Real EMI

    Mention EMI in Abu Dhabi, and some confuse the real EMI with Emirates Media Incorporated, the government media arm that looks after Abu Dhabi TV, Radio 1, Itihad Newspaper and Zahrat Al Khaleej etc. It's more of a mouthpiece than a dynamic media orgnaisation and lives a little in the dark ages.

    The rumours are that Istithmar are interested in buying a stake in EMI. But why? It's a dead company. No, apparently Istithmar want a stake in the the real EMI, and are prepared to flex their cash for it.

    All rumours of course, apart from the fact that the fake EMI lives in the dark ages....

    Posted by at No comments :

    Top Arab Brands

    Forbes has released its ranking of the Top 40 Arab Brands, which makes for some interesting reading. No doubt debates will continue whether certain brands make it in higher than others and whether the mthodology is correct, but either way, at least there is a ranking of this sort to differentiate the big players.

    Here they are with the UAE brands starred:

    1. Al Jazeera
    *2. Emirates
    3. Almarai
    4. Al Arabiya
    5. Afia
    6. Americana
    *7. Burj al Arab
    8. Fine
    9. Jarir Bookstore
    *10. Emaar
    11. Qatar Airways
    12. Gulf Air
    13. Aramex
    14. LBC
    15. Patchi
    16. Rotana
    17. Future TV
    *18. Etihad Airways
    19. Kudu
    20. Rotana Hotels
    21. Gandour
    *22. Thuraya
    *23. Ajmal
    24 Al Islmai
    25. Kassatly Chtaura
    *26. Gulfa
    *27. Air Arabia
    28. Wataniya Telecom
    29. Mikyajy
    *30. Nakheel
    31. Mecca Cola
    32. Milco
    33. Melody
    34. Al-Tazaj
    35. Fayrouz
    *36. Splash
    37. Jashanmal
    38. Two Apples
    *39. Al Rawabi
    40. Orascom Construction Industries

    See the list and methodology here

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Ramadan Tents and Shisha

    Coverage of Ramadan in Dubai and the Shisha tents by the Washington Post:

    The city slumbers during the daytime hours of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from sunrise to sunset.

    But come nightfall, people throng to Bedouin-style tents at hotel beaches and rooftops to smoke tobacco water pipes, eat traditional Ramadan dishes, and enjoy a festive outing.

    Read the rest if you want to get a picture of what it is like.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Dead Dubai Drunk Deported

    Perhaps he was a ghost?

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Living it up in Dubai

    If you are going to use up taxpayers money, why not do it in Dubai, live bling and hope that no real work opportunity comes up.

    The case of the Canadian senators.

    Posted by at No comments :

    The Hijab Guide

    With all the debate about headscarves in the UK the BBC have produced a what's what guide.

    Not just for the ignorami

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    The VOIP farce

    As news of Etisalat's mega profits return to laugh in the face of the UAE consumer, the Associated Press have jumped in to throw the whole voip debate into the ears of the world. Here is the final paragraph which says it all really:

    Many people here believe the ban runs counter to Dubai's image as the Mideast's most liberal and business-friendly city.

    "If the foreign companies Dubai wants to lure here can't use cheap communications tools, that cuts into Dubai's competitiveness on the international stage," Chesman said.

    Couple this with my post of the 13th, and a report from Katie the day after and you start getting some further backing that this it is time to move out of the dark ages and into the desert sun. (with a little UV protection of course)

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    The World Investment Report (UN)

    It's a hulk of a report, all 366 pages of it, but the UAE features predominantly due to the money coming in, and especially due to the freezones:

    The United Arab Emirates was the largest recipient of FDI in West Asia, with a record high of $12 billion, mainly gone to the country’s 15 free trade zones.
    The United Arab Emirates will continue to attract FDI in various manufacturing and service activities, mainly to their free zones. Driven by the property laws enacted successively in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai, FDI in real estate is likely to remain prominent. With the eventual adoption of the planned federal Company Law to allow majority foreign ownership in non-free economic zones, the Emirates would continue to be the largest FDI recipient in the region.
    According to the competitiveness rankings of the world’s economies, in 1986 there was only one developing economy (Turkey) among the 20 most competitive economies, and by 2005 the number had increased to five: Taiwan Province of China, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in that order (World Economic Forum 2005).

    Worth a skim, if you follow the economics of these things.

    WORLD INVESTMENT REPORT 2006 - FDI from Developing and Transition Economies: Implications for Development

    Posted by at No comments :

    The most important trend

    The most important trend considered by top managers is the growing number of consumers in emerging economies. If that is what the people in business think, expect more in terms of choice and competition to take our money away.

    Going from global trends to corporate strategy from the Mckinsey Quarterly

    Posted by at No comments :

    Speer meets Disney on the shores of Araby.

    Courtesy of the John Chilton, comes the latest must read article of Dubai, citing numerous past must reads:

    From a booster’s viewpoint, the city’s monstrous caricature of futurism is simply shrewd branding for the world market. As one developer told the Financial Times, ‘If there was no Burj Dubai, no Palm, no World, would anyone be speaking of Dubai today? You shouldn’t look at projects as crazy stand-alones. It’s part of building the brand’.

    Read it all: FEAR AND MONEY IN DUBAI: MIKE DAVIS from Evil Paradises: The Dreamworlds of Neo-Liberalism, to be published by New Press in 2007.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    $60 is a realistic price

    Opec have cut its forecast for q4 06, but have maintained their predictions for 2007. That's still money in the coffers for countries like the UAE, and will help to maintain balanced or surplus budgets without the need for any real income tax.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    The skyscrapers of the world

    The current under construction and proposed structures put into order of size. No doubt this will be change annually as the race to the top continues.


    Posted by at No comments :

    Emirates Air Canada

    No, not a takeover, but potentially Emirates may be sponsoring the Canadian Golf Tournament, which has confused local Canadians: "would this change the security in getting into the event?"

    Score Golf

    Posted by at No comments :

    If you haven't yet booked for Eid...

    ..you will certainly be paying a premium. Eid, which falls next week to mark the end of Ramadan, is one of the times where those in the UAE choose to holiday either within the Emirates or abroad. But, Eid, from a holiday perspective is equivalent to probably Christmas in the West, and so, with many people choosing to go on holiday, and with competition between other Muslim states, there is is a lack of supply on numerous fronts:

    hotels in the UAE;
    flights from the UAE;

    So here is the problem:

    While people leaving the country find it difficult to book an airline seat, those flying into Dubai may not be able to find a hotel room during the festivities, which are due to start on either Sunday or Monday, if they have not already booked.

    Note to file. Book early for next year.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Got 10 billion dollars handy?

    Then, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (Taqa) wants to borrow it to refinance debt and fund acquisitions.


    Posted by at No comments :

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Astana is a Dubai in the making


    On Astana:

    Other countries have built futuristic capitals in remote outposts, Brasília most famously, and other cities have experienced feverish, transformational construction, like Dubai or even the imperial capital that once ruled Kazakhstan: Moscow.

    Borat will be happy and have liquid explosion.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Paypal in the UAE

    For those interested in the online cash marketplace, there has been a step up that included the UAE. Paypal are now allowing sending of money online for 48 new countries, including the UAE.

    Although this is not a full solution, and many will have to action payment in other ways, this is the first step in the chain.

    Despite this move, which may signal steps down the line to go into the online auction arena against souk.com, it appears that ebay will not be in the UAE any time soon:

    When asked by Windows, the spokesperson added that eBay “currently has no plans” to launch in the Middle East region.

    Shame that.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Not Just a Dial

    The proposition of "Just a Dial" is to provide information for a small price. It works like this:

    1. you call a number
    2. you ask a question, eg where can I buy an Ipod in Deira
    3. they give you some options
    4. you say thank you and good bye.

    However, while the business model is similar to directory enquiries, they are able to push forward the obvious lack of enforcement of any data protection in the UAE. Fair play to them for investing 5 million dollars to get this running but will the man on the street go for it.

    1. The service costs something, something like 18 fils per minute.
    - it's not free
    2. Advertisers can pay to get at the top of the list
    - you may not get the best option
    3. Your details get passed to the retailer
    - your data is not guarded.

    I have no issue with the first two options. After all, nothing in this world is free, and second of all, they are providing a good service of organising information in what needs to become an organised infocentric society.

    My issue is with my own data. I don't want to call up a service which sells on my number. Once that data has passed to someone else, it could go anywhere. Shouldn't it be the case that I should choose to opt in or opt out from such distractions in life?

    It may be fashionable to be on the phone in the UAE, to appear to be important and to talk when one should be concentrating on other things (driving, watching a film, studying, working), but this kind of blatant disregard for data takes it too far. We all know that data is sold on the black market, but there needs to be some sort of law in place to prevent this from happening and for it to be enforced in the same way that the druggies are treated (sometimes).

    If I want to dial, I want it to be Just a dial.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Islam is perfect?

    Perhaps, but surely you need to address those who misinterpret the faith and those who cite Islam as their reason for attrocities.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Evelyn Waugh on Dubai

    amusing comparison by City of Sound.

    "This triumph of industry and order over the elements seems to me typical of Dubai. Nothing could be more supremely artificial, except possibly the india rubber bathing beach which they had just decided to install....."

    Read the whole thing

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Pimpin' aint easy.

    We have all heard of some stories of abuse of maids, some of whom are raped or beaten, but who have no choice but to live on due to necessity. Whether the story of revenge by one maid putting the baby in the microwave is true or not, the hought of such an action demonstrates the feeling of resent felt by those who get mistreated. There are, of course, many maids in the service of good mannered folk who are all inclusive of their maids to the point that they appear as part of the family.

    The story of Samia, however, is a sad one. Being forced to jump from from a window to escape her "family", she says:

    "I was hit, kicked and stepped on every day," she told Gulf News from her hospital bed at Rashid Hospital. She added that her employer also "sold" her to others, making her do chores for them without any money.

    And for those who sat on the fence on whether this could be considered modern day slavery, perhaps getting sold to the family next door, might convince against it being hard out here for a pimp.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Moe Quran Competition Coverage...

    ...from the Independant. The Most interesting part:

    The competition also contains a separate programme for prisoners in Dubai, who can reduce their jail terms by proving that they can learn the Koran.

    The programme is not open for those facing the death sentence or guilty of murder, but for those on lesser sentences, memorising the whole of the holy book can knock 20 years off their time in prison.

    Koran provides the ultimate memory test for Muslim boys

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Voip Ban lift?

    Apprently the TRA are considering lifting the ban. That is complete common sense.
    If this is the case, and there are no provisos to the ban lift, then this is great for business and life in the UAE.

    More from voip-sol, that quote Zawya

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006


    Anyone with the most basic knowledge of economics will know of the Economist's Big Mac index as a light-hearted introduction to exchange-rate theory. The basic premise is this:

    Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Thus in the long run, the exchange rate between two countries should move towards the rate that equalises the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in each country. Our "basket" is a McDonald's Big Mac, which is produced in about 120 countries. The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would mean hamburgers cost the same in America as abroad. Comparing actual exchange rates with PPPs indicates whether a currency is under- or overvalued.

    Although there are flaws to it, it is generally a goodish indicator of whether a currency is over or under valued. In the latest Economic Bulletin from the DCCI, (which, by the way is a good read, although a little dry), they have covered how this theory works for the GCC currencies:

    You will see from the table that all the GCC currencies are undervalued compared to the dollar, with the average price of 3.10 for a Big Mac in the US. The UAE is the least undervalued at 12%, but still undervalued. And whilst this doesn't bear any meaning to currency markets, it is probably something that the important men who are deciding about the single GCC currency must be pondering long and hard about.

    DCCI - Economic Bulletin
    Big Mac Index, Bugernomics from the Economist
    Gulf News Article

    Posted by at 5 comments :

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Khubaib the Kenyan competes in the Quran Competition

    The take of the West on Dubai International Holy Koran Award

    The competition, the Dubai International Holy Koran Award, is open to males aged 21 and younger, and this year more than 80 young Muslim boys and men faced off in more than two weeks of nightly performances that end Tuesday. The contestants came from around the world to represent their countries, including Iran, Iraq, Brazil, Australia and the United States.

    “This is the Olympics of Koran reading,” said Ahmad al Suwiedi, head of the competition’s organizing committee

    Read the article from the NYT

    Posted by at No comments :

    Entertainment at the Labour Camps

    Is this what really goes on? ;>

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Service charge = tax

    The real value of the phrase "Middle East tax haven" decreases by the day. A sign of the times, I am afraid:

    The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's (ADTA) decision to impose six per cent service charge as tourism fees on hotels and service apartments has sparked mixed reaction in the industry. The move will come into effect from January 1, 2007, according to a report in the Gulf News. Hotels impose a 16 per cent service charge on all bills but at present they pay no fees to the municipality, whereas hotels in Dubai pay 10 per cent of their service charge to the municipality, the report added.

    Apparently no need to worry the consumer, but as we well know, that hidden cost will creep into the bill by hook or by crook. International hotel operators in Abu Dhabi will not accept their revenue slashed in the short term.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    The UAE Inflation Numbers from the IMF

    IMF have released their regional outlook report with some interesting numbers. We are interested in the United Arab Emirates
    2005a 2006e 2007p
    Real GDP Growth annual % change 8.5 11.5 5.8
    Real Non Oil GDP Growth annual % change 11.0 10.5 6.6
    Real Oil GDP Growth annual % change 2.1 14.1 3.5
    CPI annual % change 8.0 7.7 5.0
    Nominal GDP in USD 129.6 176.8 196.2

    What's the interesting number here? The CPI figures. For two reasons. One because the official the current UAE numbers for inflation are 5% and that is signifcantly different to 8 or 7.7. Two, the numbers look set to fall to 5%.

    What you have to bear in mind is this. The numbers that the IMF are using are fed from government data in the local countries, so while Mohsin Khan might project to 5.0% right now, that my still be little aggressive especially if we consider the housing balance shortage severely shifting towards Abu Dhabi with no real short term solution.

    Read the IMF report and make your own judgement.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Natural Remedies of Arabia

    Got a headache? Then some of the local herbs, spices and food of the Middle East can help out. This little guide from Saudi Aramco's magazine is one of those little eye openers worth having a quick look at.

    Many of the natural remedies presented here are the result of a questionnaire distributed throughout the Arabian Peninsula in early 2002. The questionnaire, printed in both Arabic and English, asked families to explain how they, as well as their mothers and grandmothers, use various herbs, spices and other substances in natural healing. It also requested specific remedies for conditions such as headache, colds and coughs, sore throats, hair loss, general fatigue, childbirth and so on. We present their generous responses, which have helped to unlock many of the mysteries of local medicinal herb shops and reveal unique insights into the natural remedies of Arabia.

    Natural Remedies of Arabia

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    If VOIP is considered a provider...

    ..there is no hope. It appears that the TRA considers skype and the like as a provider of telcommunication services:

    Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP) are considered a regular telecommunications service and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of national regulations, according to the UAE's Telecommunications Regulations Authority (TRA).

    "The TRA considers VoIP as a means to provide a telecommunications service," explained the TRA's manager of technical affairs, Mohammad Gheyath. "The technology and the service are not of relevance here, as voice traffic is provided over a medium.

    The backwardness of this thought process, at a time where the world are looking to move forward with this medium, bears a resemblance to ignorance at the highest level. I am sure that this can not really be what the TRA thinking and the real reason must be something else. It is probably the perceived fact that:

    1. revenue will be lost by the UAE providers Etisalat and Du
    2. it is currently difficult to monitor voip calls, for terrorist activity and the like.

    If those are the real reasons, then state it - if the whole world thought in the same way as the TRA are currently stating, then skype and the like would have to take out licences with every country in the world. All voip providers, all chat (msn messenger etc), irc should be banned. In fact, all websites should be banned. Just ban everything and be consistent.

    In times to come, the UAE will look back at this, not only as a missed opportunity to move forward, but as one of those rare instances when it has taken a number of steps back.

    Telecommunications body defends ban decision

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Saturday, October 07, 2006


    Maybe he should have raised the debate.
    Maybe he shouldn't have broached the subject the way he did.
    Either way, it is not compulsory.

    Interesting fact that 20-30% of UAE females cover their face.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Purple is the colour of choice

    It is the colour of grapeshisha and it is the colour of speed.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Chuck a billion at it.

    Stndard Chartered is a pretty well known bank. Pretty gung-ho of Istithmar to be chucking a bill at it. 2.7% - is there any other reason to this that pure return?

    Istithmar, which is owned by the al-Maktoum ruling family in Dubai, has spent more than $1.8 billion buying overseas assets since its foundation, including 280 Park Avenue and the Knickerbocker Hotel at 6 Times Square in New York. It also owns stakes in Swiss aircraft-maintenance firm SR Technics and Perella Weinberg Partners, a financial advisory firm founded by former Morgan Stanley vice-chairman Joseph Perella.

    London-based Standard Chartered, which makes two-thirds of its profit from Asia, bought control of Hsinchu International Bank in Taiwan last month and 81 percent of Pakistan's Union Bank Ltd. in August.

    Some trend there....

    From Bloomberg

    Posted by at No comments :

    No more sandy water

    A decade of dredging and artificial island-making will have removed almost all of the sand from the territorial waters of Dubai by the time Dubai Waterfront completes in 2011.

    By that point, around 1.9 billion m3 of sand will have been removed from the seabed between the shoreline of the emirate and the start of international waters.

    What will the be the effect of having sand free waters? Who knows? Fin-free fish?

    Posted by at No comments :

    Firefox blocked, myspace investigation, Youtube sale?

    Three questions
    1. Can it really be true that Etisalat don't understand the benefit that Firefox brings to the tech space? (courtesy of Keefieboy - Firefox Blocked)

    2. Was the Myspace (newly opened site to UAE residents) sale to Murdoch a scam? It certainly was very cheap.

    3. Is consolidation in the Web Video market space be good for world? Google buying Youtube.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Human Rights Watch & the UAE

    They're back, with a direct message:

    UAE: Stop Harassment of Human Rights Defenders

    This is the first paragraph of a letter sent to HH Sheikh Khalifa:

    Your Excellency,

    Your government’s policies toward human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates are an important measure of its commitment to respect and protect the basic rights of UAE residents. For this reason we are seriously concerned about recent steps taken by UAE authorities that seem targeted to harass and silence activists attempting to monitor human rights in the Emirates. We urge you to put an immediate stop to these policies, and to make clear that the government intends to protect the ability of human rights defenders to carry out activities without interference.

    Read the rest of the letter here

    This is their message:

    The authorities in the United Arab Emirates should end their harassment of some of the country’s most prominent human rights defenders and give their organizations the legal recognition they have sought, Human Rights Watch said today.

    Read the press release here

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Abu Dhabi Rent

    The Negative is that it is too expensive for the residents.
    The Positive is that the shortage makes Abu Dhabi a good investment.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Burj in Perspective

    Check out BurjDubaiSkyscraper.com to check out the current status.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    UAE ranks well in the corruption stakes

    The whole thing about bribery and comparing it with other countries is a ticky business. Where is the benchmark? How do you compare like for like, especially when you are looking at a country venturing into new markets? Transparency International have released their latest report entitled the Bribe Payers Index 2006 which attempts to do just that amongst a select number of countries.

    The BPI looks at the propensity of companies from 30 leading exporting countries to bribe abroad. Companies from the wealthiest countries generally rank in the top half of the Index, but still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing economies. Companies from emerging export powers India, China and Russia rank among the worst. In the case of China and other emerging export powers, efforts to strengthen domestic anti-corruption activities have failed to extend abroad.

    The index determined clusters from least likely to bribe to most likely. These are the results:

    Cluster 1: Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Austria, Canada, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, US, Japan

    Cluster 2: Singapore, Spain, United Arab Emirates, France, Portugal, Mexico

    Cluster 3: Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa, Malaysia

    Cluster 4: Taiwan, Turkey, Russia, China, India.

    Ignore what you think you know of corruption within the UAE. Look at the UAE going overseas. In my understanding the UAE has behaved impecably whether you are looking at JVs, overseas investment or pure aquisitions. In fact, the UAE fares as a cluster 1 country when veturing in OECD activity. And that is crucial if the powerhouses of Dubai and Abu Dhabi wish to continue their strategy of investing in high profile ventures overseas, as they have been doing over the last couple of years.

    However you wish to take the results, it is worth remembering that Transparency International's work is recognised worldwide. For essentially a developing country, the UAE can be proud for what it is achiving. Reputation for honesty goes a long way in the politically correct business world of today.

    See the full Bribe Payers Index (BPI) 2006 Analysis Report at Transpaency International's site.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Angry Emirates

    Airbus are in a little bit of bother. Delivering the airbus so late will cause them some severe problems. Emirates Airline are the biggest order for the Airbus (43 out of the 134), and due to the delays, could leave Airbus with bigger problems than they currently have.

    The Times has learnt that a number of airlines are extremely unhappy about the delays — and the lack of information that they have received from Airbus. Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, said: “This is a very serious issue for Emirates and the company is now reviewing all its options.”

    Sources close to Boeing said that Emirates was considering ditching half its 43 A380 orders and buying the new 747-8 instead. That could cost Airbus a further $6 billion in lost revenue.

    With an aggressive growth strategy planned, Emirates are not too pleased, and the shift looks like an option that may be considered.

    Posted by at 2 comments :


    It's always good when a fresh discussion board comes to the scene. discussdubai.com exists but is waiting for a heart. So, sign up for the forum and discuss away.

    Check it out: discussdubai.com

    Posted by at No comments :

    Is Condi causing a commotion?

    According to the Gulf News she is:

    Commenting on the first issue under the title "A hidden plan to create disorder", the Dubai-based "Gulf News" said: "Condoleezza Rice is back. The US secretary of state is touring the region to 'encourage' the resumption of the peace process, according to her aides. But according to what she has been saying all last week in interviews with American newspapers, she is here to pit Arabs against each other.

    "She said an 'alliance of moderates' has emerged in the region, under her sponsorship, to confront "the alliance of extremists" namely the Palestinian ruling party Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance group.

    from Internet Chat Radio

    Posted by at No comments :

    Dubai Corporate Governance

    Dubai is poor at corporate governance. What does that mean? Here are 3 definitions:

    "Corporate Governance is concerned with holding the balance between economic and social goals and between individual and communal goals. The corporate governance framework is there to encourage the efficient use of resources and equally to require accountability for the stewardship of those resources. The aim is to align as nearly as possible the interests of individuals, corporations and society" (Sir Adrian Cadbury in 'Global Corporate Governance Forum', World Bank, 2000)

    "Corporate governance is a field in economics that investigates how to secure/motivate efficient management of corporations by the use of incentive mechanisms, such as contracts, organizational designs and legislation. This is often limited to the question of improving financial performance, for example, how the corporate owners can secure/motivate that the corporate managers will deliver a competitive rate of return", Mathiesen [2002]

    "Corporate governance is the system by which business corporations are directed and controlled. The corporate governance structure specifies the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the corporation, such as, the board, managers, shareholders and other stakeholders, and spells out the rules and procedures for making decisions on corporate affairs. By doing this, it also provides the structure through which the company objectives are set, and the means of attaining those objectives and monitoring performance", OECD

    Make sense that Dubai needs to work harder at it? Well the general consensus is that there is some way to go. That's why companies such as Hawkamah exist.

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    American Ramadan

    Here's the trailer for the film American Ramadan. Looks like an interesting film. If anyone knows where it is showing, please let us know.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    The US goes halal

    I have no complaint concerning the banning of pornography and gambling in the UAE. It took the west some time to realise the harm that could be done by gambling market, and with the US passing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, making it illegal for financial institutions and credit card companies to process payments to settle internet bets, it appears that Bush has hindered the haram. Companies such as Party Gaming and 888 together have lost billions of dollars in value almost overnight. Now, the only difference between the use of the web it feels as if the only thing between the UAE and US, in terms of "web access" is porn and voip. And although, gambling, per se, has not been outlawed, the banning, in theory, of online gaming, is the acceptance that there is something inherently evil about gambling. One of my friends who couldn't undertsand the furore over this suggests, that if you miss your fix, then come and play the roulette wheel of the UAE stockmarkets.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    When Media collides

    E-vision is the cable TV arm Etisalat. I bet they are in a quandry as to how to deal with the TV through your internet connection. Will there be a reactive strategy to ban all such sites? Or will something be done to create a UAE equivalent?

    Check out Viidoo as an example of what life might be like.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Not Doing Business

    Hat tip to bizzwhizDubai for spotting the latest Doing Business report from the World Bank.

    It looks like troubled times for the UAE. Is the UAE slowly slipping down the doldrums or is 77th place a realistic spot?

    2006 - 77th
    2005 - 68th (rebased from 69)

    There were no rankings previous to this, but the key categories were measured in the same way and are similar to currently. The overall rank is probably about right for the specifics that they are recording, taking into consideration that the UAE falls at both ends of ths scale in various categories. Since the UAE is pretty high up on some categories, the drop by a few places is not significant. Worryingly, though, is the fact that there doesn't seem to be much improvement in areas that the UAE seems to be poor in, such as enforcing contracts, starting and closing a business and protecting investors.

    This is a World Bank ranking, so it does have some weight. In some parts of the world, those being judged look at rankings and actively try and improve in the specific areas. Whether or not this makes the ranking legitimate is debatable, but it appears that the UAE is not doing the basics to jump ahead of the pack. With Qatar and Bahrain not measured, and Saudi, Kuwait and Oman all ahead of the UAE, there must be something that could be done to work on those criteria.

    "Decree, task force, committee" - are words that I am sure we will hear soon. And hope that positive action will result in those words.

    Buy the report

    Posted by at No comments :

    Harrods Dubai

    Luxury brands and retailers love Dubai. First Harvey Nicks, then Harrods:

    If the deal is finalised, Harrods will follow in the footsteps of major UK luxury department store Harvey Nichols, which opened in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates in May this year, following a Dh100 million investment and partnership deal with Al Tayer Group.

    It remains unclear whether the Harrods brand will be introduced in its full London department store format, or solely as a food and well-being retailer under the Harrods 102 name.

    Hopefully they won't have a silly advertsing campaign like the "Forget London" teaser that Harvey Nicks used which raised some controversy being so close to the London 7/7 bombings.

    Harrods' entry to raise Dubai's retail profile

    Posted by at 2 comments :

    The longest...

    ...billboard in the Middle East. Sama Dubai advertising The Lagoons, 400m and on the Sheikh Zayed Road.

    From Jazarah
    via ADBlogArabia

    Posted by at 4 comments :

    2nd place Dubai

    You usually hear of Dubai in first place, but in the grand scheme of things, being ranked second in the world in terms of office real estate construction activity, is pretty good going. 1st place - guess who? Shanghai? Mumbai? No, it's Moscow.

    Read details of Colliers report at Trade Arabia

    Posted by at 1 comment :

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