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  • Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    Camel Love

    A follow up to the camel beauty contest article. In a kingdom, far far away, one woman fights for her love of the camel, for what the camel can bring to her people.

    How hard is it to milk a camel? I'm not sure, but, North Carolina ain't the place to be convincing people to go camel. Maybe, she should import in some Camel Milk Chocolate from Al Nassma.

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    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Camel Beauty

    According to the latest National Geographic Article, camel beauty is rated on a few key criteria:

    - Firm Ears
    - High Back
    - Big Hump
    - Good sized Rump
    - Shiny Hair
    - Massive Head
    - Arched Nose
    - A hanging bottom lip
    - Long neck
    - Long legs

    The last line concerning criteria is hilarious:

    And the judges examine the two toes of the feet, looking for what their guidelines call "toe-parting length." Because so many beauty pageants, in the end, do come down to cleavage.

    An intriguing story of competition, of family, of rivalry and of history and culture. Worth 5 minutes of your time. And as with all things Nat Geo, check out the photos.

    Camel Contest


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    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    The Anti-UAE t-shirt

    Who knows what Harvey Nicks were trying to achieve with this t-shirt. You can see it quite clearly. Bulldog on the UAE flag. If that isn't offensive, then what is?

    For Emiratis, dog's are considered impure. For the Brits, the bulldog is a symbol of strength, bravery and loyalty. Stamping on one's national flag, in any culture is a symbol of disrespect.

    Believe whatever rumour you wish to, but Harvery Nicks Dubai are a little worried right now, from a slap on the wrist of 2000dhs, or loss of license. I certainly doubt it will be the latter, but their statement doesn't seem to be the right kind of apology:

    "Harvey Nichols said a wrong delivery of eight items was received by the outlet from the supplier and were mistakenly placed on the shelf. The statement blamed the supplier adding that the supplier has confirmed that the shipment to Harvey Nichols Dubai was not as per the specifications and regretted the mistake that led to the wrong design."

    Was the t-shirt commissioned, as is - but not supposed to reach the Dubai Harvey Nicks? - that sounds pretty bad anyway. This one will probably fizzle out, but based on the amount of emails I have received today, it may not!

    This may be a case of simple cultural insensitivity, but when you operate in the Middle East and you have multiple opportunities to prevent a t-shirt of a bulldog stamping on an Arab flag from getting to the shelves of one of your stores, there is something seriously wrong.

    Storm over Harvey Nichols T-shirts
    Boycott Harvey Nichols Dubai..
    Emiratis go online against Harvey Nichols
    Harvery Nichols

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    Dubai - the movie trailer

    This video depcts what Dubai could be in 2050, but maybe not next year!

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    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Unhappy Arab Emirates

    These surveys on happiness and the like are always treated with scepticism, especially when the country in question comes out in a negative light. But this latest index, the happiness "planet" index, paints a scathing picture of the UAE as an unhappy place, both for the people living there and as usage of natural resources.

    With only Kuwait behind the UAE as the most unhappiest place in the Gulf, it warrants further review:

    The new global environmental report compiled by the independent British think-tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF) analysed life expectancy and general life satisfaction and set them against each nation’s carbon footprint.

    Saamah Abdullah, one of the authors of the Happy Planet Index, attributed the UAE’s poor performance to the consumption of natural resources, which is among the world’s heaviest.

    Abdullah, who had been a Dubai resident for five years, pointed out that UAE had the third-highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world but added that life expectancy was quite high at 78.3 years, based on 2005 data.

    So what does happy mean - and what does happy stand for? Does the fact that your carbon footprint mean that place is unhappy? Yes, according to the authors:

    "The HPI strips the view of the economy back to its absolute basics: what we put in (resources), and what comes out (human lives of different length and happiness). The resulting global index of the 143 nations for which new, improved data is available, reveals that the world as a whole has a long way to go. In terms of delivering long and meaningful lives within the Earth’s environmental limits – all nations could do better. No country achieves an overall ‘high’ score on the Index, and no country does well on all three indicators. "

    So this does not seem an exercise in happiness, but more an exercise in making the world greener, or at least trying to. The mish mash of criteria is a little odd:

    Life Expectancy - The UAE scores well at 78.3
    Life Satisfaction - The UAE scores badly at 7.2
    Ecological Footprint - The UAE scores badly at 9.5 as its total ecological footprint, based on data from the Global Footprint Network.

    ...and I wouldn't necessarily group them together to create their equation of happy planet index = happy life years/ecological footprint plus some alpha and beta application, but hey I'm not a statistcian. You can download all the data and the report if you are that way inclined.

    All in all, what they are trying to do is make the world a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race. There's a song in there somewhere, I'm sure.

    UAE ranked 123rd out of 143 nations in Happy Planet Index
    The Happy Planet Index


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    Young Emiratis Wanted

    Request from the Emirates Foundation. As received:

    " UNEMPLOYED EMIRATI YOUTH - RESEARCH PROJECT: Calling on all young, unemployed Emiratis - we need your participation in an important research project that will inform the international community on the challenges faced by Emirati youth.

    Emirates Foundation has collaborated with ICOS Group to carry out a research project about the high unemployment of young UAE nationals. All you have to do is answer our survey questions and give your opinions on causes and solutions to this problem. Your contact details will be kept confidential and your identity will be kept anonymous.

    We ALSO need more researchers, Emirati GUYS who want to work with us carrying out interviews. This is well-paid work done on your own time between now and August.

    WE RE ON A TIGHT DEADLINE SO PLEASE GET IN TOUCH ASAP. Join our facebook group and message us immediately. "

    Research Project group on Facebook

    nb - don't usually post these requests - but this is all in a good cause.


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    Thursday, July 09, 2009

    Google knows about Dubai....

    There has been much in the recent press about predictive trends - and how the internet can aid in predicting outbreaks of swineflu and the like, how twitter can identify sentiment etc. Looking a little further, google predictive search can help us find out what people are searching about. (you know - when you search on google's home page and you get suggestions) I experimented with some key phrases to see what came up: Dubai is, why is Dubai, Will Dubai, Is Dubai, Dubai and the.

    Some interesting results, or perhaps obvious ones!

    Inspired by is Google making us dumber?

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    Wednesday, July 08, 2009


    What's a donut? It's either a small ring shaped type of cake that is deep fried. Or it's a 360° turn made in a car or boat. Both are life threatening, in a way. But deep in the desert of the UAE exists another donut of sorts. And how is this defined - well, it's a little tricky. But let's put it like this:

    There is an enclave called Nahwa. It is part of Sharjah, and it is completely surrounded by the Omani territory called Madha. Madha, part of Oman, is completely surrounded by Sharjah. And while the split up of the UAE is confusing enough, this little anomoly, makes for some interesting research.

    This is where it roughly located:

    And looking in a bit more detail, here is how the donut is made up:

    with a bit more detail, it is halfway between the Musandem Peninsula and the rest of Oman.
    The enclave is on the Dubai-Hatta road in the Emirate of Sharjah. It covers approximately 75 km² and is towards Khor Kakkan near the Hajjar mountains.

    and this is the complicated make up of the emirates in the UAE:

    From a nerdy persepctive it is all quite interesting, but why this happened is anyone's guess. Maybe when the Brit's were drawing up the map of the emirates by surveying allegiances, they came across some Omani - and that was that. Madha becomes an enclave and an exclave, and Nahwa becomes an enclave of that exclave.

    From the pictures, you can see that Nahwa only consists of a few houses and Madha is pretty small as well. This is certainly not going to be the next real estate hotspot, but to me it looks pretty serene:

    Apparently your mobile phone switches from Etisalat/du to Oman Mobile, so that you know you are in another country....but no border control here!

    For good measure, here is a picture of a some real donuts/doughnuts. Hungry now?

    Krispy Kreme

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    Wednesday, July 01, 2009

    Dubai 2020 Olympics

    This week Dubai announced that it was considering putting in a bid to host the Olympics in 2020. But has Dubai got what it takes to hold the Olympics? Could it deliver? Would it be true to what the Olympics represent? I belive that to all these questions - it is possible - and by 2020, more than 10 years time, Dubai will have learned many of the lessons required of hosting such an event. The infrastructure is starting to be put in place, but the issue with Dubai is that it is a state in transition (and one would argue that is at standstill at present) - and it has bever had to deal with an event of this nature ever before. But think again. The rebirth of Dubai - ie Dubai now compared to Dubai 10 years ago - is a wholescale change. That is the scale of transformation that an Olypics needs. I believe that is possible. It has happened before and it will happen again - the growth that is.

    If the right people are in place, if the right direction is given and if the leadership is there, there is no doubt that it could be achived and run very well.

    But, we are at the very beginning - Dubai is only considering and is in the hat with some other notable cities including - Durban, Cape Town, Busan, New Delhi, Toronto and Kuala Lumpur - and Doha. Taking this to the next stage will probably rule out 4 of these cities, so there is probably only room for one city in the Middle East. What Doha has over Dubai is that it has successfully run and operated a similar games, the Asian games in 2006, and although smaller, proof of concept is usually less risky than the promise.

    And why would Dubai want the Olympics? Cities want the Olympics for many reasons - regeneration, tourism, investment, commerce, - but Dubai would want the Olympics to tell the world that it has arrived - and by 2020 it certainly will be more than ever on the world stage. The blip of the bubble bursting will be behind it, and there will be new drivers of growth - one of which may be the Olympics. It may be a hot summer in 2020, but an Olympics in the Middle East? It's about time.

    Dubai has what it takes to host the Games
    Dubai has what it takes to host the Biggest Show on Earth


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