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  • Saturday, November 28, 2009

    Dubai debt, damage, and the double dip downturn

    Is this the death of Dubai? Almost certainly not. But this is probably the end of the current chapter of the success story of Dubai penned by Sheikh Mohamed. There is much too much water that has pass through Dubai creek for this situation to be remedied overnight.

    Although the situation at hand is serious, and grand in the scale of sovereign debt, it hits us at a time where markets are sleeping. The American’s are thanksgiving, the whole of the Arab world is off for Eid, so any ripple or hiccup in a low trading period becomes exacerbated. But why has this sent shockwaves across international markets when hundreds of billions of dollars have been written off during the first phase of the downturn? Well, whether this is $60bn or more, it hits hard, especially when this is considered sovereign debt.

    But while there has been talk of refinancing of debt in recent months, this actually came as much of a surprise to the market. This is why headlines over the world over the last few days have centred on Dubai. And why did markets freefall on first hearing of Dubai’s struggle? Well, the investment that Western banks had in Dubai World was significant. HSBC and Standard Chartered are said to be exposed by $25bn. That, and the fact that the dollar is at risk. Could the dollar collapse?

    Indeed, Islamic Finance, itself, is being scrutinised and if Nakheel doesn’t repay on its $4bn sukuk, the options for Dubai World start to diminish. Whether or not Dubai World defaults, Dubai is now in the limelight. The critics had previously tried to trash Dubai’s reputation in many other ways. But this is the nail in the coffin. To the layman on the street, Dubai had taken out lots of debt, built some crazy buildings using slave labour, and now can’t repay the debt. It’s a little more complicated than that, but Dubai will find it difficult raising the type of money it once found easy to turn away. That’s a new era for Dubai.

    What is important to note, is that strictly Dubai World hasn’t yet defaulted – it has just asked for a delay in the repayment of their $60bn. And while that might not happen, Abu Dhabi, the elder and oil rich emirate will step in to prevent a wholescale collapse that would take much of the Arab reputation back into the sinking sand. Abu Dhabi will want to balance saving Dubai versus maintaining itself as a viable investment hub – the balance between seeming overly eager and scrapping at fire sale assets – which it had always wanted, is how the cynics will paint it.

    This is the second phase of the global recession. This is the second dip in the double dip scenario - markets have rebounded far too quickly. The first phase was defined by the bad debt in Western markets – and headline was Lehman. This second phase will headlined as Dubai’s collapse, even though it wasn’t the heart of the problem. A problem, yes, a scapegoat, yes. But the real story is that the problem of global debt is very much alive and Dubai has been part of that problem.

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    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    Abayas and Frocks

    The traditional UAE female abayas have moved on in the last few years as the standard black over garment to trendy cuts with subtle and glamorous details and accents. The use of frills, lace, swarovski crystals, beads, fringes, chiffon – basically anything bling, is used to take the traditional formal abaya to the next level, whilst still maintaining elegance, heritage and cultural meaning.
    Jalabiyas or kaftans are also having a makeover primarily to look more appealing to younger emiratis.
    With the recent success of Dubai Fashion week last month, we thought we’d give you an insight into the Emirate’s rising fashion talent for local dress and their passion for creating new modern, trendy versions of the abaya and jalabiya and not only dressing the VIPs of the UAE but also Hollywood mega stars!

    What the traditional saree has done for India, and the Shalwar Kameez for Pakistan, the Jalabiyas are doing for Arabia. This traditional dress, introduced by the older generation is a more informal dress in contrast to the Abaya.
    Abayas are worn outside the home and its purpose is to cover the female figure, except the hands and feet and face. A separate shela is used to loosely cover the hair.
    Jalabiyas (or kaftans) in contrast, are worn at home and at ladies parties. They are long flowing gowns designed in a multitude of colours and ornaments, fitted elegantly and seductively at the neckline with loose flowing fabric below the waistline. This was the staple ‘indoor’ dress for females many years ago. Skirts, blouses and trousers were seen as ‘modern’ clothes and many older females refused to wear these. As years passed, the younger female generation chose to wear modern western clothes under their abayas outdoors and even in the home amongst family. Recently, upcoming designers have revamped and updated the traditional jalabiya to appeal to the younger female crowd and the taste in this traditional apparel is changing.
    Trendy designers such as Bahrain based Mohammed Mubarak and Rehab Yousif Qamber, and Abu Dhabi based Rania Al Bastaki are becoming increasing popular and the topic of conversation at parties. Prices start at Dhs 500 and up.
    Dubai based Zareena Yousef creates designs that appeal to both mid and high end clients such as UAE royalty with her one of a kind pieces.
    Zahra Mohammed Karmostaji a Dubai based designer who stocks at Studio 8 boutique, hit headlines when socialite Paris Hilton selected one of her jalabiyas to wear at a press conference for her first appearance in Dubai in June 09.

    The Abaya is the signature dress for emirati women. They are black outer garments covering the whole body except hands, feet and face. They are made using soft non- creasing fabrics which hang on the body elegantly. A shela is normally used to complete the outfit to loosely cover the hair. Abaya shops are available on almost every street and mall throughout the UAE from off the peg to bespoke designs. Over the last few years, young talented emiratis and even non locals are giving the traditional abaya a makeover by creating funky and glamorous styles thus providing more choice and variety for occasional wear. Reem and Hind Beljafla, both in their twenties founded the D.A.S collection over a year ago and already, very popular amongst Dubai’s VIP, their style is mostly for occasional wear and for consumers with no strict budget! They are even in talks with top international designers such as Vera Wang to possibly start a collaboration.
    Shaikha Amal Al Maktoum and Raghda Taryam's label Kanzi opened in 2008 and is fast becoming popular. Their trendy line of abayas and jalabiyas are also stocked at Saks Fifth Avenue Dubai and Bahrain as well as their initial showroom in Sharjah.
    Homa Qamar is another rising fashion talent. Originally from Pakistan but brought up in Dubai, Homa has grown up around ethnic wear. Her designs show a modern edge built on the classic traditional abaya. Her designs were on show at the recent Dubai Fashion Week during October 09.

    Reem and Hind Beljafia's DAS Collection

    Zareena Yousef

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    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    For the Police that have everything

    The perks of the Abu Dhabi police must be a tad higher than those elsewhere. Yes, the drive Nissan GT-R Police Car, well not all of them.... but at least one happy copper does. Nice.



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    Mutahida - do you love the UAE?

    You may be a lifer, or just passing through, or maybe you have your goal to achieve before you move on. Wherever you are from, and whatever are your intentions, if you are living in the UAE, then Watani is for you. What is Mutahida? Well, it is supposed to bring together people living in the UAE, to play up the positives and unify people irrespective of origin, cast or creed.

    Why - and what for? - The UAE National Day is around the corner....and so this is the perfect time to come together

    What can you do?

    1. Check out the Dubai mall Art Exhibition between 26th Nov and Dec 6th - and sign up for the competition.

    2. Send a postcard....to the President. Go to any post office and

    3. Join the Facebook page.

    To those of you that celebrate Eid, Eid Mubarak in advance, and happy National Day for next week.

    Watani launches Al Mutahida campaign to commemorate national day
    Facebook page

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    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Dubai Cheerleaders

    Yes, they do exist. But they're a little different:

    From Jezebel


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    Abu Dhabi and technology

    Abu Dhabi is being redefined as many things - but can it be defined as a tech hub?

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    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Video from the top of Burj Dubai

    View from the highest point in the world at the spire of Dubai:

    Makes you feel a little sick? Here's is the view that you saw from above, from below:

    And here's the view from top to bottom:

    And Burj Dubai, at sunset:


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    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Eko Dubai for Eco Dubai?

    We're not talking about Dubai taking a wholescale approach to going green. We are talking about a new building in Dubai that is being called the Green Eiffel Tower

    It is planned for Zaabeel Park, City Center Dubai. And why is it green? It generates solar energy and purifies air.

    Not crazy, but sustainable

    Another day, another building

    Via Yankdesign


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    The Death of Dugong

    As Abu Dhabi's light shines brighter, the dungong's light wanes...to the point of extinction. Watch the video about their plight.


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    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    UAE National Heroes

    Who is your UAE hero of 2009? Choose from the following:

    Answer the survey and be in with a chance of winning some LG phones and stuff

    Here is the survey. It will take 2 minutes to fill out. Good Luck.


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    Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    Women in Dubai

    There is always the question of the unknown - what are women like in Dubai. Here are two views of women in Dubai. On the one side there is the fashionista showing off here Manolo's - and on the other is a mother of 4, balancing her career. Are these atypical views. Probably not, but if you are looking to compare lifestyles of females in Dubai versus your home town, this probably sets aside some preconceptions. The BBC video is about a year old, but the Oprah How Women Live in Dubai is recent.

    And here is the Oprah Video - How Women Live in Dubai

    Just remember that women in Dubai can cover the multitudes of nationalities who follow different paths, and that while these videos represent Emiratis, that number only represents 10% of the population. Nevertheless, those that thought that Dubai Women were hidden away in the home - will be a tad surprised. That certainly isn't the case.


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    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    The Empty Quarter, Dubai

    On talk of the empty quarter, one immediately thinks of the vast sand dunes, next to the emptiness of further sand dunes. The empty quarter is in reference to areas of the world where it would be pretty damn hard to exist for more than a couple of days. Yes, the middle of the desert is one of those places. But, the empty quarter is also the name of the only gallery in Dubai devoted exclusively to fine art photography and located in DIFC.

    The current exhbition, Dubai, Transmutations, is an excellent example of old school techniques on new school photo opportunities. And so the balance od new and old becomes the balance on yin and yang. A fantastic exhibition worth checking out.

    The Empty Quarter, Dubai Transmutations

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