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  • Friday, May 18, 2007

    The UAE filter

    The UAE is a forerunner on filtering, it has been revealed. As part of an elite number of countries, the UAE stand proud as taking a lead on such a restrictive bar on communication. Acording to the report:

    The filtering had three primary rationales, according to the report: politics and power, security concerns and social norms.

    The report said: "In a growing number of states around the world, internet filtering has huge implications for how connected citizens will be to the events unfolding around them, to their own cultures, and to other cultures and shared knowledge around the world."

    Restriction of information leads you to know what they want you to know, and leaves you in constant frustration or perpetual ignorance.

    Global net censorship 'growing'

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    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Dubai is slow

    Last year, a certain Professor Wiseman put together an experiment to calculate the pace of life in certain cities across the world. The experiment was conducted by British Council researchers who secretly timed thousands of pedestrians’ speed of walking in city centres across the globe, including London, Madrid, Singapore, and New York. The experiment also contained Dubai.

    Prof. Richard Wiseman said: `This simple measurement provides a significant insight into the physical and social health of a city. The pace of life in our major cities is now much quicker than before. This increase in speed will affect more people than ever, because for the first time in history the majority of the world’s population are now living in urban centres.’

    Surprisingly, London ranked outside the top ten, suggesting that many in the capital prefer to live life in the slow lane compared to Copenhagen and Madrid who proved to be the fastest European cities, whilst the Middle East tended to have the slowest pace of life.

    The Pace of Life Project

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    Special Economic Zones

    In growth economies where the need is to attract foreign corporates to show a presence and transact business, special economic zones are used to lure specific companies to the zones. This usually starts off with the offer of a free building for a period of years. In the UAE, when SEZs are mentioned people think Dubai Internet City, or Media City, but as we all know, there are many such zones, and many don't work under the same principles of freezones. What might be interesting to know is that, Jebel Ali is considered the most successful free zone in the world. That said, it took 17 years to bring it to profit. This lesson aside, growing economies continue to look at the UAE for examples of how to best undertake certain tasks. Whether SEZs are the best way to undertake this is debatable from many standpoints. From a marketing standpoint, however, having large corporate logos displayed prominently looks pretty damn impressive and creates an air of stability, even if there are inherent infrastructure problems in the country concerned.

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    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    How Hijab?

    In the UAE there is varying degrees of head/hair coverage, depending on outlook, but elsewhere in the world it causes controversy, for being at either extreme of the "coveragometer".

    Just now, police in Iran are busy with their annual spring campaign against “bad hijab”, prowling parks and stopping traffic to enforce dress codes. This year's drive is the strictest for a decade. Thousands of women have received warnings; police cars have been parked outside shopping malls, scrutinising every customer; vehicles with improperly clad ladies at the wheel have been impounded. The crackdown, which also targets men in short sleeves or with extravagantly gelled hair, marks a reversal in a relative relaxation of dress codes which had occurred under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime. The manteau, or coat, which women are supposed to wear to hide the shape of their bodies has been getting shorter, as have the trousers underneath; and some women have sported jeans and lipstick under chadors covering their upper body.

    Whether the current campaign will have any enduring effect on the determination of Iranian women (and fashion designers) to interpret the rules creatively remains to be seen. But there are many Muslim countries where rows over headgear have already taken a toll in blood.

    The article from the Economist gives a good overview of what is going on all over the world with regard to hijab.

    Economist - The meaning of freedom

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    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum up close

    When an adviser -presented Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum three years ago with a scheme to build one of the world's biggest towers, Dubai's ruler demanded to know what else was being planned around the world. The adviser returned with a list of the tallest buildings, with Taiwan's Taipei 101 reaching higher than the proposed Dubai tower.

    "The sheikh asked me: 'Why is it taller - are people there smarter than you?'" says Mohammed Alabbar, the official and head of property giant Emaar. "That's why I made sure our project was the tallest by far."

    I love these detailed interviews with the great man.

    FT - Drilling minds By Roula Khalaf

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