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  • Monday, April 28, 2008

    Palm Jumeirah is a scarer

    Is the Palm really all it was cracked up to be? Or is the first Palm island in Dubai a plum?

    The Guardian give their own view:

    Multimillion-pound villas have been squeezed together "like Coronation Street", air-conditioning bills are hitting £800 a month and persistent snags have led some to joke it is more "eighth blunder" than "eighth wonder".

    Pitfalls in paradise: why Palm Jumeirah is struggling to live up to the hype

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    Visions of what Masdar (the zero carbon, zero waste city) in Abu Dhabi.

    From If you Build it (Slate Magazine)

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    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    New Companies Law on Foreign Ownership

    Up until now, the freezones of Dubai have operated perfectly well as a sort of offshore haven operating within the UAE. But if the UAE is going to look for sustainable growth for the whole economy, it needs to lift some barriers on foreign ownership. Currently if you are setting up a company in Dubai, you need a local partner who take 51% of the company. The perception of this is risky, as you believe that you are losing more than half your company, and are never in control. More often than not, it does work well, and the local partner will be active in opening doors for the company, as it is in his own interest. It may work that that the local partner (who has to be a UAE National) may be a sleeping partner and just take a small amount every year for doing nothing but put his name to the company. Some are more active, and are looking in royalties or profit share. It's a difficult situation.

    Over the last few years, there has been much discussion about changing this structure. Indeed, there have been many who now find it too expensive to set up in the "free zones" some of which which neither have the space or capability to deal with such companies, even though these continue to open up all the time all over the UAE. Some have been holding out for the new law believing it will offer 100% ownership of companies.

    The reason why this has taken so long to come to fruition is that many believe that opening up too quickly will be for those with local businesses. However, by the end of the year, according to the Economy Minister, Sultan Al Mansouri, a new companies law will be in place. Will it offer 100%? Yes and no. It is likely that 100% ownership will be offered in sectors that benefit growth of the UAE and local economy. Where this is not the case, it will probably increase somewhat to a ceiling level of 70-75% or in other cases remain at the 49% law.

    The Companies Law 1984 needs to be updated for a changing modern business climate, and we will find that it will tackle more than just foreign ownership.There will be coverage of corporate governance as well as public offerings - allowing firms to retain control of their company and float less than 55% of their equity of the stock exchanges.

    The change in foreign ownership will be a big step in realising Dubai and the Abu Dhabi's plans for the future. It will be interesting to view how far that goes.

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    Saturday, April 26, 2008

    Arab Women

    You have always got to listen when Queen Rania has something to say:

    Her open debate on youtube is remarkable.

    Aside, here is something on women doing business in Dubai

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    Peter J Cooper's Blog

    Peter J Cooper has now set up a blog - and this will be the blog to watch. More insight than blog, it comes with the backing of a wealth of past and present experience. It is my new must read, although I'm sure he doesn't care too much for Grapeshisha or any of the other blogs out hear, bar John Chilton, "the emirates economist", and he does have some views that are valid but probably don't gain the backing of the UAE Community Blog.:

    Blogging is not an alternative to the established media and needs to be treated with a measure of skepticism. Who is the blogger? What qualifications do they have to blog? Who is checking their facts?

    Peter J Cooper - Arabian Money

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    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Dubai: Miracle or Mirage Video

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Part 5

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    Price of Gold

    The price of gold at the moment is currently north of $1000 per ounce. These are unprecedented levels and those that reflect the current market sentiment. The price of gold has historically been correlated to oil and inflation. If you look at the current price of oil which hovers around the $115 per barrel mark, you could say that gold is undervalued, at the current time. And there are other factors in play. People invest in commodities in a time of slow down as they move away from equities. They also invest in gold to hedge against inflation and the US dollar which is happening right now. There is only one way to go for the US dollar - down. And in the UAE, with the dirham pegged to the dollar, inflation will remain around the 10% mark. If all things remain the same, the gold price will continue to move up. The UAE is not the main factor but is a factor in the gold market. Dubai's demand is based probably split equally between the local market (many of whom are expats), and the tourist market (many of whom come to Dubai and the UAE with the prime goal to buy gold and jewellery for wedding and the like). This demand, the physical demand, is about 75% of the UAE demand and will remain , at worst, at a stable level. 2007 was the highest year ever despite the price of gold, and 2008 is already up by more than 15% in demand for the first quarter year on year. The investment demand which will continue upwards, is about 25%. To those who say that gold prices will continue to $1250 and $1300, I think this is sound logic, given that all things remain the same. But what goes up must come down the $700-800 level will be where the gold price might end up in the medium term. All things are cyclical, aren't they? But over the next two years, the only way is up.

    How to buy gold in Dubai

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    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Arabic Literature

    Arabic Literature is taking centre stage at present, with many titles starting to command a presence in the west, and many doing not so badly at all.

    Here is a selection of the best Arabic literature that is currently doing well, or soon to do well. Although this category of best current Arabic literature is a little tenuous and are not necessarily written in Arabic before they are translated, they fall into the category, because the West puts them in that category! These books are considered to be some of the best around (by some!) and probably worth a little time if you are intersted in experimenting with literature from the Middle East. Some are old, some are new, but all worth a read:

    Rajaa Alsanea - Girls of Riyadh (Saudi)
    Alaa al Aswany - The Yacoubian Building (Egypt)
    Alaa al Aswany - Chicago (Egypt)
    Jabbour Douaihy - June Rain (Lebanon)
    Elias Farkouh - The Land of Purgatory (Jordan)
    Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner (Afghanistan)
    Khaled Hosseini - A thousand Splendid suns (Afghanistan)
    Khaled Khalifa - In Praise of Hate (Syria)
    Khaled Al Khamissi - Taxi (Saudi)
    Ibrahim Al Kouni - A Call Not Too Far (Libya)
    Elias Khoury - Gate of the Sun (Lebanon)
    Naguib Mahfouz - Cairo Trilogy (Egypt)
    Naguib Mahfouz - Chitchat on the Nile(Egypt)
    Hisham Matar - In the Country of Men (Libya)
    Mekkaoui Said - Swan Song (Egypt)
    May Menassa - Walking in the Dust (Lebanon)
    Ahlan Mosteghanemi - Memory in the Flesh (Algeria)
    Khairy Shalaby - The Lodging House (Egypt)
    Huda Al Shawa - Birds Journey to the Qaf Mountain (Kuwait)
    Hanan al-Shaykh – Women of Sand and Myrrh (Lebanon)
    Hanan Al Shaykh - Only in London (Lebanon)
    Ahdaf Soueif – The Map of Love (Egypt)
    Bahaa Taher - Love in Exile (Egypt)
    Baha Taher - Sunset Oasis (Egypt)
    Abdellah Taïa - The Salvation Army (Morocco)
    Friendly Fire: Ten Tales of Today's Cairo (Egypt)

    If you are looking at some place to start as a recommendation, I would recommend the Yacoubian Building as a good place. I'm sure Chicago, Al Aswany's next book will be amazong also. Enjoy.

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    Tuesday, April 15, 2008


    The London Book Fair has an Arabic theme this year, with Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States stating:


    He said there had been an increase in the number of books published in the Arab world in recent years, with a new creativeness in literature, less censorship, and more translation abroad. "The number of books issued [in the Arab world] in the last five years was three times greater than the books issued in the previous 50 years. There is increased quality and diversity, especially in children's publishing."

    So what this means is that the the Arabic book market is about to go crazy with a huge amount of books about to be published. Essentially this is the beginning of a growth curve. At the other end of the scale, democratizing of quality content is starting to take place with english publishing about to embrace a new proposition called authonomy. Although this will take years to come to the Arabic language (if at all), it's an interesting proposition to think that you can get your book noticed if it's good enough, without being judged by the middle men. Budding writers from all over the world can sign up at authonomy.com

    Authonomy Blog


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    Batman bin Suparman

    This has all the markings of being schooled, but those who know the very basics of Arabic names will know that bin means son of. So, this is conclusive proof that Superman was Batman's father. It sounds like having the hallmarks of a mashup of Starwars and superheros. Imagination overdrive. For those of you who have had issues at airports, consider this:

    Airport Security, Customs Official: May I know your name?
    Customer: Batman.
    Customs Official: May I know your name?
    Customer: My name is Bat-man.
    Customs Official: Trying to be funny?! What is your surname?
    Customer: Supar-man.

    Customs Official arrests the guy.

    Enjoy for what it is.

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    Schools in Dubai

    Whether you are interested in finding the best schools in Dubai or Abu Dhabi or just trying to get a feel for schools fees, we have tried to cover a number of issues, from availability of schools to cost of education to universities and special needs, as well as trying to provide some detail on curriculum.

    Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

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    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Abu Dubai

    Old but gold. Dug up this great Fox blooper. Apple...Apple Dubai....Abu Dubai....oh - the Arabs. This was towards the end of last year. No doubt the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority need to rethink how they get Rupert Murdoch and all his Newscorp companies to take note of the differing proposition of the larger emirate. The analyst was right, though- Apple taking a stake in AMD is not a million miles from illogical, conceptually. But that's no excuse for ignorance.

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    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    The Sheikh Zayed Phone

    This takes loyalty to a different level.


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