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  • Friday, July 30, 2010
    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Bu Tinah

    What are the 7 wonders of the world. It's a question that always stumps us. Even more confusing now that there is a new list being put together and it's based on the voting public. Abu Dhabi is getting in on the action with Butinah Island. You may not have heard of it but here's the spiel:

    Imagine an island with shallow sparkling blue waters and sandy beaches, visited by critically endangered animals, musical with birdsong and remote from the bustle and noise of human habitation. Add colourful coral reefs and seven metre high mangrove trees to that picture and you'll start to get an idea of the peace and beauty of Bu Tinah Island. Bu Tinah's thriving habitat and species form a unique living laboratory, with key significance for climate change research. An undisturbed but threatened paradise,Bu Tinah has much to teach mankind about environmental protection and survival. Its significant coral community and the health of its habitats and species despite its high temperature and salinity levels make the island of keen scientific interest. Bu Tinah is host to critical marine habitats containing internationally important species, as well as other charismatic wildlife. Seabirds such as the flamingo and the osprey, diverse species of dolphins, and the critically endangered turtles including hawksbills and greens can all be found in and around Bu Tinah. The island's waters are also home to the planet's second-largest population of dugongs, a large marine mammal that is globally threatened. Bu Tinah Island, rich in biodiversity, lies within the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve. The Biosphere reserve is the region's first and largest UNESCO-designated marine biosphere reserve. Closed to visitors, fishing and the collection of turtle eggs are prohibited on Bu Tinah Island. Its continued survival and protection must be ensured.

    Bu Tinah in 3 Minutes (English) from Bu Tinah Island on Vimeo.

    Anyway, for sure it's interesting, but it is not really getting the votes. Of the 14, Bu Tinah features in the bottom 7. Back in March when the campaign was launched, Dhs28m was being thrown behind the campaign, but that doesn't seem to have done the trick. Despite voting boots all over Abu Dhabi and now even at the airport, the campaign doesn't seem to have gone viral. This should have been an online viral campaign. Maybe Shakira singing hip shaking and singing "Bu Tinah, Bu Tinah". Just saying. There's still time though, so perhaps Abu Dhabi will have a new 7 wonder and not just a 7 star wonder.

    Here's your reason 7 reasons to vote:

    7 Reasons to Vote for Bu Tinah Island

    1. Coral Reefs: Their survival, despite the harsh environment, has given researchers insight into coral reef survival elsewhere in the world in the face of global warming.

    2. Natural Mangroves: They reach an average height of 5 metres and support wildlife including birds, fish and crustaceans.

    3. Hawksbill Turtles: Every year, these critically endangered species arrive to Bu Tinah Island to nest.

    4. Dugongs: These threatened species are often spotted swimming among the Island's extensive seagrass meadows. They have been able to live without disturbance in a clean natural sanctuary, thanks to EAD's management of the marine biosphere reserve.

    5. Dolphins: The Indo-pacific humpback, bottlenose and common dolphins swim around the Island.

    6. Ospreys: Bu Tinah Island is a major breeding site for this globally important bird.

    7. Socotra Cormorants: Bu Tinah Island is a roost site for about 20,000-25,000 of these birds.

    ...and not an oil spill in sight.

    New & Wonders - Vote for Butinah
    UAE's Bu Tinah vying to be amongst new Seven Wonders of Nature
    Bu Tinah voting moves to Abu Dhabi airport


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    19 Countries in the World with
    20 Million people in the
    21 st century

    That's what the study is about. It's a supercity study. Will Dubai or Abu Dhabi reach that level of size? No. But, the people in charge are so impressed by what's going on in Abu Dhabi that it's being considered part of this ongoing study:

    With a population of under 1million, Abu Dhabi City falls short of the population target of the original program. However, in a partnership led by Wurman, Radical Media of New York, and ESRI, the Emirate became involved in the 19.20.21. program.
    Late last year, landscape architect Jack Dangermond, the founder and president of ESRI visited Abu Dhabi. "[Dangermond] met with top leaders of the government and has been very impressed at the rate of progress," said Abdul Karim, executive manager, Geographic Information System, Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Centre (ADSIC). "He requested Abu Dhabi to have a large presence at the [ESRI] conference to share Abu Dhabi's experience with other attendees."Both the Emirate and the program partners agree that much can be learned by examining different sizes and types of cities. "Abu Dhabi is seen as a unique showcase for a rapidly growing smaller-sized but cosmopolitan city," said Rashed Lahej Al Mansoori, director general of ADSIC.

    The World is watching Abu Dhabi!

    New York vs. Abu Dhabi


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    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Sheikh Zayed Mosque Virtual Tour

    For those of you that haven't been, this is a nice teaser of actually being there. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque, or Grand Mosque is our top recommendation of things to do in Abu Dhabi.

    Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Courtyard

    View Full Screen - Flash
    View Small Screen - Flash

    Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Interior

    View Full Screen - Flash
    View Small Screen - Flash

    Sheikh Zayed Mosque

    Will Pearson


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    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Abu Dhabi Projects

    Back in the late 1990s, when the UAE was starting its ascent into world stardom, companies were being set up to take advantage of the lack of data to provide intelligence on such projects. Dubai was the focus up to the mid noughties, but from 2009 onwards, all the focus has been on the new construction projects in Abu Dhabi that come to fruition 2010, 2011 and 2012. There are numerous markets for this information. End consumers and speculators are interested in the property market to see if they can make a quick buck. I'm afraid that will probably not happen this time round as Abu Dhabi cements itself as a long play. The obvious market for this data are the construction and infrastructure companies themselves who are interested in tender lists for both major infrastructure projects and for new construction projects. The problem with these developments is mapping and location - non local companies want a map of development projects to assess scale, synergy and saving. Unless you are local, companies find it difficult to pitch value of the project in question to determine viability. And, in some instances whole areas are being rebranded with Al Gharbia being a prime example. The third market is for the job seeker. Many look to earn their riches for a few years before settling down. We would never hope to be a MEED company offering intelligence and data, but while the market is buoyant, I am sure there are many pretenders. We have started to put together a list of Abu Dhabi projects at a glance to reflect the higher profile projects that are currently in the offing. We have tried to keep it topical, but no doubt it's already out of date! And at some point in time someone will use this as a reference to cancelled projects in Abu Dhabi. Let's hope not!

    Abu Dhabi Projects


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    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Cheap Housing in Dubai

    New concept. Live in a box. It sounds dubious, but it is apparently legal. They may seem like a health hazard, and I'm sure they are pretty baking inside, but this operation has been going on for years.

    Each 40-foot container houses up to eight people. A front door in the middle opens into a small partition that separates two side cabins, each of which accommodates four roommates. They sleep on bunk-beds to save space for small furniture items.

    Better than staying at the Grosvenor?

    Gulf News


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    A Modern Day A-Team in Dubai?

    In 2004, a number of expats were sent to prison by a Dubai court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Global underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... Detained in Dubai (they're free!)

    Detained in Dubai
    The A-Team


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    The Worst Guide to Dubai

    The travel press have strayed away from the recent reviews of Dubai, but they are starting to return. Most notably, in yesterday's Telegraph, we are presented with possibly one of the most chessiest reviews of Dubai - which seems somewhat unreal. Entitled My Kind of Town, here is a teaser:

    What do you miss most when you're away?
    The intrigue and all the stories. Dubai is an edgy, tense meeting point; a neutral spot in the world's most contested region. Chancers, losers, dreamers and schemers flock to the place. How could a thriller writer not get a buzz out of that?

    Who the hell is Matt Lynn anyway? Oh he is an author plugging his book. That explains it then.

    Dubai guide: My Kind of Town


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    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    The Most Expensive Hotel in the World to Build

    You thought it was the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, right? Well, not any more. The crown has gone East, further East. Whilst there never really was a figure, it was estimated to have cost £2b or $3bn. That's a heck of a lot of money, and with no real return. I mean - this was the beginning of a brand building exercise for Abu Dhabi - and boy has it been a great one so far.

    Anyway, 6 years on from the opening of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, a new king of the world has taken the crown.

    The Marina bay Sands hotel in Singapore has now taken on the title of the most expensive hotel in the world to build. So, what's so glam about it? (Apart from £4bn, $6bn)

    It has a huge pool at 55 storeys high - 3 times the size of an olympic swimming pool. That's great - the worrying thing is that the design is based upon a deck of cards. Let's hope that it doesn't come tumbling down.

    Has the world recovered from the global economic meltdown? or is the Marina Bay Sands testament to how bullish Singapore is as a MICE destination. Time will tell. But, better get your spot in the pool ASAP!

    The Marina Bay Sands Hotel
    Don't go off the VERY deep end... Infinity pool 55 STOREYS above ground opens in Singapore in dazzling new £4bn resort

    The previous most expensive hotel in the world

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    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    The Tallest Hotel in the World

    Depending on what data you believe and what people say, Dubai is losing its crown as the tallest. Not the tallest building in the world. But for the tallest hotel in the world. That once belonged to Burj Al Arab at 1053 ft. The Rose Rayhaan Rotana on the Sheikh Zayed Road is 1083ft. So the Rose Rotana has that top spot at present. The Armani Hotel may be in the tallest building in the world. But that doesn't count.

    Anyway, things are about to change. Hong Kong is about to take the mantle away with the new Ritz Carlton Hong Kong at 1600ft.

    Set to open in December, the 312 guest room hotel will feature an indoor infinity pool, spa, gym, rooftop restaurant and restaurants on lower floors. The hotel's guest rooms will occupy floors 106-117. The other floors will house the spa (116); the gym, pool and rooftop restaurant (118); additional restaurants (102); and the hotel lobby will be on floor 103. The International Commerce Centre below floor 102 features office and residential space, an Observation Deck on the 100th floor, a shopping mall and is a transport hub to both Mainland China and Hong Kong Island.

    Even the Emirates Park Towers in Business bay wont be able to compete at 1296ft. So it's bye bye sky high. Guess Dubai will have to live with only having the tallest building in the world then. Feels like we are in a new era where Dubai is done with breaking records and others are trying to break Dubai's hey day in the noughties. Anyway, it hasn't happened yet, so the Rose Rotana doesn't need to change its brochure just yet.

    Ritz Carlton To Open Worlds Tallest Hotel In Hong Kong
    Official World's 100 Tallest High-rise Buildings (Hotel Use)
    List of tallest hotels in the world
    Best Hotels in Dubai


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    Middle Eastern Comics

    Talk about Middle Eastern Comics and you could be entering shady territory. Talk about Middle Eastern Cartoons and you are definitely there.

    But when you clarify that you are not talking about offending there appears to be an emergence of new material out there. The 99 were real cartoons, but if you go back to the old school, the original comic strips, there is a new era of Middle Eastern Comics.

    It's cool stuff and it's breaking down borders, because if you can't read Arabic, there are the English translations as offered by Samadal.

    Check it out

    Undiscovered Art: Comics and Graphic Novels Emerge in the Middle East
    Middle East Graphic Novelists Push Boundaries, Challenge Taboos, and Pay a Price


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    Virtual Sightseeing Sheikh Zayed Mosque

    If you haven't seen the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, it's a must see. It's one of the only mosques in the UAE that lets those of all faiths have a look, and you also get the guided tour. If you're ever in the UAE, this is the number one thing to do in Abu Dhabi and it's probably at the top of things to do in the UAE.

    That said, not everyone can visit Abu Dhabi, and in this age of technology, you can virtually vist anywhere using google maps. googlesightseeing is a whole site about it.

    Sheikh Zayed Mosque
    Google Sightseeing
    Things to do in Abu Dhabi

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    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    The 99 - Islamic Superheroes

    Not so dissimilar from those of the West. Naif Al-Mutawa battling stereotypes in a different way. A great update from TED.


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    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    News about News and News

    Al Jazira and Al Arabiya Beware - Rupert is coming to play:

    British Sky Broadcasting is in talks to broadcast a 24-hour rolling news service in Arabic, based in Abu Dhabi, as part of a joint venture with a local private investor, according to people familiar with the project. Entering a highly competitive market, the satellite channel would launch under the Sky News name and be the UK broadcaster’s first venture into a territory outside the UK. The Sky News venture, which would be 50-50 owned, is not connected to the Abu Dhabi government, according to two people familiar with the situation. The Abu Dhabi investor was described as “private” by the people familiar with the matter.

    Rupert is a fan - and this is his first step after he talked of Abu Dhabi in such high esteem in March.

    Conclusion: The region is becoming important from a media and influence perspective - OR - significant returns are to be made. Another win for Abu Dhabi and TwoFour54?

    BSkyB in talks on launch of Arabic service


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    Friday, July 02, 2010

    5 Reasons why the World Cup is like Dubai.

    Do you love tenuous links between anything and everything? Is Dubai really like the World Cup? Is there really a similarity between the wow of Dubai and the wow of the world cup? These are our top 5 reasons why Dubai is like the World Cup. Humour us please.

    1. There is a history of non delivery

    Ever been waiting and waiting for the big day? The big day to receive your keys to your new apartment. And then find out that the company has gone bust and there will be no apartment. And then with the meltdown of the global economy, many real estate companies got hit hard. No customers, no sales, no building, no apartment. In the World Cup there is a different kind of non delivery. This year, three big teams have not delivered, notably France, Italy and England.
    Dubai Real Estate Crash
    World Cup Failures

    2. There's always a scandal

    Dubai seems to be associated with more scandals than it should really have with thing sometimes blown out of proportion, from Dubai Ports World to the sex on the beach escapade. While there are always scandals at the World Cup, the 2006 final with Zidane headbutt is most memorable
    The Hamas Assassination in Dubai
    The Zidane explanation

    3. Bad People Management, on occasion

    Dubai employs/has employed labourers from the Indian subcontinent. Whilst they are probably earning more money than they would have back home, many have had to pay loansharks to get to Dubai, and there has been much discussion regarding the non payment of workers to the point that Human Rights Watch haven't liked what they saw. This year, Raymond Domenech couldn't control his French team - an he had a full scale revolt on his hands. The positives are that things can only improve for both the French and the labourers in Dubai.
    Human Rights in Dubai
    French Revolt at the World Cup

    4. The Wow factor

    Having the tallest building in the world is an amazing achievement. As is having the ball skills of Brazil.
    Burj Khalifa
    Brazil Skills

    5. Superstars

    Sometimes names get associated with events and places. There is only one name and one visionary of Dubai and that is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Nahyan. And for the World Cup and Football in general, the forever poster boy remains Pele.
    Sheikh Mohammed

    OK, OK, they aren't that similar, but just remember, the Dubai World Cup is something different - the world's richest horse race - for jockeys, trainers and owners - is the equivalent of winning the Fifa World Cup!

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