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  • Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    UAE, the role model

    The UAE's claims to fame is due to its decadence, sometimes excess and creating a great deal of something out of nothing. The flip side to this is the carbon footprint that it leave behind, or ecological footprint, as some call it. It's almost a slap in the face of Kyoto, a dig in the ribs of WWF, and a "Who are you, Mr Gore?" Arguments about whether the data is actually correct, on how it is actually calculated, will continue to play in the political rhetoric, and whether there will ever be an equivalent symbolic "Hong Kong cloud", that the Chinese can not dispute, is something that is not really a bother, when in the background you have gazing gazelles and commitment to renewable energy. And, in the background of all this growth at a price, there are Human rights movements demanding fair treatment of workers, as a minimum. Nevertheless,:

    With its business-friendly operating environment, liberal policies, and ongoing modernizsation of its political institutions, the United Arab Emirates is set to consolidate its position in 2007 as a role model for the Middle East region.

    That's exciting and sad all at the same time.

    Aside, and following on from the Abu Dhabi badge post of yesterday, Dubai seems to have served as the role model for what will become Abu Dhabi's stomping ground give it 3 years or so.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    Mint Tea, Ocean's Twelve and Elements of Cool

    Partaking in some Mint Tea is regular occurrence in the Middle East, but for the westener who enjoys their Latte from Starbucks or their teabagged cuppacha, mint tea, or a sulemani, in general, oozes a sense of cool, more associated with culture of a region than laser dance tricks.

    And while the film "Ocean's Twelve" didn't quite live up to the sexiness of its predecessor, there were certain elements of cool, including when the NightFox dances his way through the laser alarm system to break into the museum. While that didn't quite outfox Clooney and co, it was a memorable scene.

    The song that played during that scene is called "The À La Menthe" (mint tea) by Nikkfurie. The only song missing from the Ocean's Twelve OST is that song.

    Download the 2 minute sample (MP3) or buy the album here

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    Abu Dhabi's badge

    Abu Dhabi is changing its badge. Once thought of as just the Oil and Gas king of the UAE, it it currently being built from the bottom up. Most who visit Abu Dhabi, in isolation, will consider it a little sleepy. There's not too much to do, but you can sit on a beach and get a tan without too much bother. It's not paradise but there is an air of relaxation. Throw the gorilla of Dubai into the equation and Abu Dhabi becomes insignificant as a holiday destination. The bright lights lure the tourist to see what is going on in Dubai, so that they can discuss their escapade to the "Middle East". Abu Dhabi becomes pale. With not much else to show for their oil and gas troubles, bar a couple of malls, some palaces, and a 7 star hotel that's either completely empty or full - Abu Dhabi is slowly starting to rebadge, to get into a game that does not label it so. Abu Dhabi never comes up first in western dinner chat - it's always an addendum. And what is that addendum? - "I hear that Abu Dhabi is coming up". And that is where the interest lies - rebuilding, and an opportunity to get into the property game. Is that worth talking about? Probably. But what's more interesting is that the world and their dog know nothing else of the Emirate. Whether it is shifting towards a cultural capital route is neither hear or there. The badge of Abu Dhabi is this: The capital, Oil, neighbour to Dubai, some development going on....and a bit sleepy.

    Posted by at 3 comments :

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Only in America

    A toy manufacturer in the US is trying to make a bit of cash by producing a hanging Saddam Hussein doll.

    If you are interested, probably not in buying one, but just seeing what these guys do, Herobuilders has made more than 100 figures. You might remember the OBL one and there is TB dressed as action man.

    The question is - who buys this stuff?

    See more of these dolls at VICALE CORPORATION

    Posted by at 4 comments :

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Halal Taxis

    Ever seen a drunken partygoer exit from one of the many bars in Dubai, (even one of the seedier establishments where "ladyfriends" come home with the partygoers) , stumble into a taxi before slurring his location to the Muslim driver. It's a normal occurrence on the streets of Dubai. And why not? - in a city where tourism is king, a blind eye is turned to acticities normally associated to Western countries, in order to keep the money flowing.

    Well, an Islamic jurisprudence of sorts has migrated to the US and is starting to cause a new conflict of cultures:

    The issue originated 12 months ago when the airports commission received a fatwa, or religious edict, from the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society. It stated that "Islamic jurisprudence" prohibits taxi drivers to carry passengers with alcohol "because it involves cooperating in sin."

    One solution, Islamic zealots suggested, would be to designate the majority of cabs following the practice with special colors, or lights, so that passengers would not hold their breath — which is tantamount to telling a newly stranded passenger: "I am Muslim, and I choose not to give you a ride. Tough luck."

    Would that ever happen in the UAE? Maybe on the way to Sharjah? But not in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The "war of civilizations" is somewhat different in the UAE than it is elsewhere. Muslim majority versus Muslim minority produces differing situations.

    New in America: Not Muslim, No Taxi

    Posted by at 9 comments :

    Recruitment agencies taking fees from job-seekers 'to be shut down'

    In relation to this, this is applicable.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    Looking for Mammon in the Muslim World

    Update from Slate on Dubai:

    There is profound wackiness afoot here. But I wonder: Is something more interesting happening, too? Because I can't help but find reason for hope in this crass spectacle.

    Read the whole thing, with some reference to falconry later.

    Posted by at No comments :

    Big Brother on Speed

    One of the worrys of living in the UAE is that you could be struck down. There's always a chance of being knocked down by a car, but it is more prevalent in the UAE than most places in the world. I know a handful of people who have had direct relatives killed by the ego driver, the driver that doesn't care, the driver who thinks that the Sheikh Zayed highway is level 3 on the latest release on the PS3.

    Much is being done to try and stop these hooligans, but I suspect not enough with the death rate as it is. And I am sure that there are those who get away with just a slap on the wrist because they can. Well if you can't enforce the law, you can start by tightening it up a bit. A technology, called e-plate, should be able to stope those travelling speedily:

    e-plate is a traditional looking aluminium number plate with an embedded high performance active RFID chip inside.
    At a distance of up to 100 metres, e-Plate readers identify fast moving e-plated vehicles (up to 200mph) with 100% accuracy, 100% of the time, something traditional ANPR solutions can only dream of.

    e-plate securely transmits the vehicles's unique identifier. In the majority of cases this will be the vehcile's VIN ("Vehicle Identification Number") as it is a unique number which stays with the vehicle for its lifetime - unlike owners' details and the licence number which can change over time.

    It might be 'big brother'-esque, but I would rather people be scared of big brother and moan about it, than be splattered across the Ittihad highway.

    e-plate from selectamark

    Posted by at No comments :

    Monday, January 08, 2007

    The UAE is happy

    Despite all the rants, the traffic, the cost of living and all the other problems, the UAE seems happy:

    From The Map of Happiness

    Posted by at No comments :

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Maktoum V Maktoum

    Anyone else spotted this?
    Chelsea V Liverpool

    Is International Life Vice President just a title?

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    Blinded by the Craziness

    The smartest thing in this article is the articulation of the common observation:

    And what's interesting is that most Indians hang out with Indians, Filipinos with other Filipinos, Arabs with their brethren so on so forth, so it reminds one of what Amartya Sen says in his book Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, about multiculturalism and how cultures in the same place tend to coexist in parallel rather than in nexus.

    From Dubai: First Impressions - There's more to the city than tall buildings

    Posted by at 1 comment :

    That Single IP problem

    If a country, or more specifically, a telecoms provider, uses only one IP address, then whatever that any user does is associated with that country. So if someone decides to blatantly edit nonsense into wikipedia, or try to hack into the US government servers, thee are repercussions.

    Case in point: Wikipedia has banned Qatar:

    Apparently Qatar has a single ISP, Qtel, with a single IP address shared by the entire country. Wikipedia has blocked that IP address for anonymous edits, but is allowing users of that IP address with actual Wikipedia accounts to continue to edit articles. There’s one problem, though. You can’t create an account if you enter Wikipedia from that IP address. It’s a bit of a Catch 22, and users will be forced to either use a proxy to enter the site (many of which are also banned), or simply stop editing altogether.

    This is not a problem specific to Qatar, by the way. The UAE doesn't seem to have enough to go round, although I think it has gone past the problem of just one, but there are way too few. And while foxy proxies may be the answer for some, this may cause problems for the masses, in time.

    Posted by at 1 comment :

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