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  • Monday, March 31, 2008

    When will the GCC abandon the Dollar peg?

    The US economy is in a dire state. It is weak in numerous ways, and I am afraid that it has still more downhill struggling to go. More so, when you hear what I have to say. Firstly, will the GCC states revalue completely? I don't think so. There are too many political ramifications. The GCC states (excl Kuwait) have kept their peg to the US Dollar for way too long, and this is primarily due to the relationship with the US. The argument is that countries like the UAE have waited too long and are now considering doing this at a time when the US dollar is at its weakest. Decoupling now will undermine confidence in the US dollar, resulting in sales of domestic assets and thus the spread widens.

    The problem that the UAE has with the Dirham and the economy is that inflation is huge and continues to rise. With interest rates controlled by the US, essentially, which are being driven further and further downwards, the situation becomes unsustainable to have over a long period of time.

    The Dirham will move slowly away from the Dollar, in an semitransparent basket of currencies, heavily weighted towards the Dollar initially, but then with a smaller and smaller weight, until a balanced basket of currencies exist, and the next step of decoupling from the basket will begin.

    By the end of 2008, the fixed peg should end, and not a moment too soon.

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    Sunday, March 30, 2008

    Al Maktoum International Airport

    Heathrow airport is having a horrible time at present, with a failed start of a 5th terminal. The UAE don't have the historic legacy issues associated with the airport, and dont have the huge debt the BAA or Ferrovial have when they took over BAA. What is left is a farce of a start for the new home British Airways.

    Later this year, will bring the initial launch of the largest airport in the world, Al Maktoum International Airport, formerly known as Dubai World Central International Airport. It will eventually be the biggest airport in the world with 6 runways and 120 million passengers a year passing through.

    Heathrow used to be legendary. Now times are changing. Dubai is more strategically placed as centre of flight paths between the East and West. It seems, from a very crude standpoint, that it is a case of out with old and in with the new.

    And I guarantee that there will be no debacle, as has happened at the launch of Heathrow's new terminal. With Sheikh Mohamed's name on it, there better not be!

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    UAE Banned Drug List

    ...or strictly, the full list of Controlled Medicines and Medications for the UAE can be found here. Hashish and the like is one thing, but smuggling in your HRT, Actifed or Codeine is something quite different.


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    Saturday, March 29, 2008

    Ismaili Centre Dubai

    The history goes back some years with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum gifting the 13,000 square meters of land in Oud Metha to the Aga Khan back in 1982. This was on the occasion of the silver jubilee of the Aga Khan's accession to the leadership of the Ismaili community. He is now in his Golden Jubilee year, and it seems fitting that 5 years since the foundation stone was laid, the Ismaili Centre Dubai has now been opened officially. (formally opened on Wednesday 26th March 2008)

    This fact that there is an Ismaili Centre situated in Dubai is remarkable in itself. Many of the 20 million strong community do not live here. In fact, there may be only 8000 or so in the whole of the UAE. The majority are dispersed across the world from Northw America and Europe to Syria, Tajikistan, India and Pakistan, but also in many other smaller pockets of the globe.

    The building has been inspired by the Fatimid architecture of old Egypt and Syria, and emanates the spirit of Islam. Adjacent to the Centre, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has developed a 3,000 square metre park, as a gift from the Aga Khan to Dubai. Officials at the Centre said it took four years to build and cost 22 million dollars. There are currently 3 other Ismaili Centres in existence in the world located in South Kensington in London, Lisbon and in Burnaby, Vancouver. 2 further centres will come to fruition in the next few years, namely in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and Toronto, Canada

    The Aga Khan said that the Centre will serve as "a place for peaceful contemplation.It is not a place to hide from the world, but rather a place which inspires us to engage our worldly work as a direct extension of our faith," the Aga Khan said.The choice of Dubai as a venue was driven by the "diversity" that characterises the city state, which is home to some 1.4 million people, mostly foreigners. Dubai has become "a truly global crossroads" and "the very embodiment of the global village," he said. "The variety of expressions within Islam is not a curse but a mercy," said the Aga Khan, referring to various Sunni and Shia sects. "Shaikh Mohammad has provided a powerful example of how the ethics of our Islamic faith can be taken into the world, through his affirmation of a pillar of Islamic values and the spirit of generosity towards others," he added.

    Aside, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid and the Aga Khan share more than just friendship. They are both visionaries and revered by their people. Sheikh Mohamed by the people of the UAE and the Aga Khan by the Ismailis. They both happen to share a love of horseracing, with both of them having had numerous successes over the year.

    Aga Khan inaugurates Dubai Ismaili centre
    New Ismaili centre offers a place for 'contemplation'
    The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN)
    An Islamic Conscience - The Aga Khan and the Ismailis
    Interview with the Aga Khan (18th April 2008)

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    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Cultural appreciation

    West meets East.

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    Al Wathba

    As the rich and famous continue to be let out for fear of the further press intrusion, Cat Le-Huy tells us what it is really like in the luxury of Al Wathba Prison:

    "There was also some drugging. One guy came in he was screaming all day and all night and kept everyone up. He would just lie in the middle of his urine and faeces. They put him in solitary but he got better and said he had been injected by guards.

    "Another guy came in with the same thing - we fed him food and water through the bars, but he didn't improve.

    "The bathrooms were absolutely filthy - the toilets were overflowing. There was a Salmonella outbreak, but the prison denied it was happening."

    Some more 'wise' words: Dubai has a promising future if it can maintain its Islamic views, while also bringing in some sort of representative justice system. It has to realise what it is putting people through - something needs to change.

    I'm sure he didn't care too much before he went in.

    TV executive tells of Dubai prison ordeal


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    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Doing Business in Dubai

    The basics of Doing Business in Dubai presented as a 12 minute audio clip. Worth a listen if you know absolutely nothing about Dubai and how to conduct yourself.

    If you want more detail, check out the business section


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    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    2008 is the year of Abu Dhabi

    3 months in, and it is worth reiterating expedia's Top 10 destinations for 2008. In there among China and Argentina is Abu Dhabi:

    Few places can have undergone such fundamental change over the past 50 years as the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Today it’s a powerhouse of the Arab world, perched atop vast oil reserves, with development and ambitious construction to rival its famous neighbour Dubai. Today visitors can enjoy the beach, desert safari’s and acres of glossy malls and shops in and around the city, variety enough to quench even the strongest thirst for retail therapy.

    We've said it before - All the money in the UAE is originated in Abu Dhabi. All the external money up to now was coming from Dubai. Just remember where the oil comes from.


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