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  • Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    The End of Ramadan

    ....means the beginning of Eid. Eid Mubarak/Happy Eid to you all whether you are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or elsewhere


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    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Arabic is Amazing

    For the non native speaker, Arabic presents a challenge for the latin language speaker because it is so different. But a movement is growing, not among those going to fight in wars, not amongst those in armies. The new movement to learn Arabic is coming from nerds:

    So I would like to stand up for the language nerds and give some reasons for studying Arabic that have nothing to do with politics. The language of the National Designated Other is bound to switch to Chinese in a couple of years, but until colleges start teaching Martian, Arabic is going to remain the strangest, most interesting language you can study in an undergrad classroom.

    And don't fall for the bait and switch with Chinese or Japanese! They might tempt you with an exotic writing system, but after a few months you find out that the underlying language is pretty vanilla, and meanwhile there is a stack of three thousand flash cards standing in between you and the ability to skim a newspaper.

    Arabic, on the other hand, twists healthy minds.

    Here's why the language nerds love Arabic.

    The Root/Pattern System
    Broken Plurals
    The Writing System
    Plural Lite
    The Feminine Plural
    Crazy Agreement Rules
    Funky Numbers
    Learning Materials

    Phrases in Arabic
    The whole essay


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    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Arabize - fail

    We all know of MBC trying to localize The Simpsons for the Arab market. It didn't work, because when you try and localise too much it all gets lost in translation.

    No expense was spared to prepare The Simpsons for the Arab market. The Arab world’s best TV writers were hired to translate episodes into Arabic, and A-list actors and actresses were hired to provide new voices for the characters. To make the show seem less “foreign,” Homer Simpson was renamed Omar Shamshoon, and the show itself was renamed Al Shamshoon -”The Shamshoons.” (Marge Simpson became Mona Shamshoon, Bart became Badr, and Lisa became Beesa.) Each episode that was selected for translation into Arabic was carefully reviewed to remove anything that might be offensive to Muslims. For example, where Homer Simpson drinks Duff beer (Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol), Omar Shamshoon drinks Duff fruit juice. Homer eats hot dogs (which commonly contain pork, also forbidden) and donuts (which are unfamiliar to most Arabs), but Omar eats Egyptian beef sausage links and khak cookies, which, like donuts, are often made with a hole in the middle.

    Though 52 episodes were scheduled to air that month, -with MBC looking forward to “Arabizing” all 17 seasons of The Simpsons in years to come- the series was pulled after only 34 shows. Why? Because not many people tuned in to watch it. Al Shamshoon turned out to be just too strange a show for many viewers, especially in a part of the world where cartoons were still seen as entertainment for children.

    But what really killed Al Shamshoon may have been the very thing that brought it into being in the first place: Satellite TV channels. Arabs with satellite TV dishes can pull in non-Arab stations, and some of those broadcast The Simpsons in all its original, unadulterated glory. (The show is also available on DVD.) Many of the people who tuned in to watch Al Shamshoon were fans of The Simpsons who just wanted to see how badly MBC would botch the job, and after having a few laughs at the network’s expense, they went back to watching the real thing.

    Read the full case study at Neatorama and the older review of why the Simpsons failed in the Middle East from CBC


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    Cars in Qatar

    No description required.

    بـو ولـيــد ،،

    More at Nos Qatar

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    Friday, August 19, 2011


    Is it really seven years since the Founding Father of the UAE passed from this world? For those who don't know, Sheikh Zayed is a lot more than the name behind the most famous road in the UAE. He was the architect of the UAE, and it was his vision that helped create the position that Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the whole of the UAE is in today. It was based on his ethic that the UAE gave opportunity to others - he embraced pluralism and he gave back to his people and to others. Many across the Arab world will remember Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan - he was generous and caring - a role model for leaders today and tomorrow. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.

    We will remember lest we forget.


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    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Dubai, then and now

    There are many pictures that show Dubai and the UAE's transformation from back in the day to now. Many of these show the Emirates Towers and how Sheikh Zayed Road has changed. This compilation from Life, however, show a different side. Highly recommended

    Dubai and the UAE, Then and Now

    Dubai and the UAE, Then and Now


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    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    At the Etihad

    Service resumed at Manchester City last night as the Etihad sponsored team beat the minnows of Wales with Abu Dhabi money. And with an array of stars, this season could be the first one that brings the next step of returns to the Abu Dhabi investors. The first game of the season was impressive with a 4-0 win. But there are many more to go.

    In the mean time, welcome to Kun, aka Aguero, aka moneyballs. Oh, and get ready for the term "at the Etihad", meaning the stadium. Prediction for Manchester City this season - nearly. Maybe 2nd, and hatred and envy of many others. More importantly the brand of Etihad cemented on the brains of many.


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    Wednesday, August 03, 2011

    The tallest building in the world

    Taller is a word that has aspirations of grandeur. And if you can be taller, bigger, faster, stronger, you will. This week came the announcement that the Kingdom Tower has received funding to start work on the tallest building in the world, which has been in the offing for the last 3 years. That would dethrone the the Burj Khalifa as the tallest building in the world - but the race to be the tallest knows no boundaries.

    Based in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, the building has received funding headed up by Prince Al Waleed, the richest Arab in the World, Prince Al Waleed who is the 26th richest person in the world was recently in the news talking and about Rupert and James Murdoch, News Corporation and News International due to his standing as one of its largest shareholders. The cost to complete such a project is close to $1.2bn or nearly £750m.

    Jeddah is a great location as it is on the Red Sea and is one of the most forward focused in Saudi Arabia. It is also a prime spot as it is the main entry point, either by air or sea for pilgrims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca or Medina - which happens every year. It's a couple of hours between Jeddah and these cities. Jeddah is huge which extends along the coast of the Red Sea. It has its own corniche which is 30km long and has a whole stream of sculptures that lines the route.

    The tower will be 1km high, that's not quite as tall as the mile high aspiration of the Frank Llloyd Wright who envisioned a building called the Illinois back in the 1950s but it's two thirds there. And it's not as tall as it was pitched over the last few months. Initially it was to be a mile high building allegedly, but got scrapped because those additional metres threw the budget out of the air. Funnily enough the Nakheel Harbour and Tower in Dubai which was pitched back before bubble burst was pitched to be the same height as the Kingdom Tower. The Kingdom Tower will be nearly 200m taller than the Burj Khalifa which is 828m high - but for how long? The race to the top is a symbol of power and strength - and before you know it, China will be announcing to the world its intention to trump the Saudi Arabian bid to be top of the sky. Or in the Chinese way, it won't be announced, it'll just happen.

    But all of this doesn't bode well for the world. back in the day when the Empire State Building in New York was being constructed in 1930 the Great Depression began. In the 1970s the Sears Tower was during the time of a major stagflation. The Petronas Towers in Malaysia in 1998 marked the beginning of the Asian Financial crisis. And the Burj Khalifa and arguably Dubai became a symbol for the global financial crisis - which we will be in for the coming years. Hopefully by the time the Kingdom Building is completed, we will be out of the crisis rather than another one beginning!

    From the skyscraper index:

    The Skyscraper Index is a concept put forward in January 1999 by Andrew Lawrence, research director at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, which showed that the world's tallest buildings have risen on the eve of economic downturns. Business cycles and skyscraper construction correlate[4] in such a way that investment in skyscrapers peaks when cyclical growth is exhausted and the economy is ready for recession. The buildings may actually be completed after the onset of the recession or later, when another business cycle pulls the economy up, or even cancelled.Unlike earlier instances of similar reasoning ("height is a barometer of boom", Lawrence used skyscraper projects as a predictor of economic crisis, not boom.

    The Kingdom Tower will be impressive. It will contain the Four Seasons Hotel and Apartments and will have a 3,280 foot spire and will contain 5.7 million square feet of space:

    There will be 59 elevators, 54 single-deck and five double-deck, along with 12 escalator distributed through the Kingdom Tower. The elevators going up to the observatory deck will travel at 10 meters per second. That's 22.3 miles per hour. It will take you one minute and forty seconds to reach the top of the tower. There's even an outdoor space at the top of the spire which will be used by the penthouse floor at level 157.

    Some of the media have chosen to focus on the fact that this will be built by the bin laden group - whose name was ruined by the evil Osama. The Group actually severed ties with Osama many years back as he sought to build the terror organisation of Al Qaida. But no doubt the ignorant will see the story in this way: Bin Laden family building a tall tower to pour salt in the wounds of 9/11 victims. I'm afraid it ain't like that.

    The hope is that this will take Jeddah global:

    "We are confident that upon completion, Kingdom Tower will become one of the world's great tourist destinations as well as one of the most attractive places to live and work,"

    That said, we believe Kingdom Tower won't draw global crowds in the way that the Burj Khalifa has, at least in the medium term. The UAE has created an industry to meet global tourism, whether it is through a relaxed attitude to alcohol or a Western way of life. That won't happen in Saudi. Jeddah will be catering to the Arab and Muslim populous, which although large, limits its ambitions. Even so, the return is almost guaranteed. Prince Al Waleed rubber stamping and fronting it is better than a bank.

    Nevertheless, It's a great ambition - but let's hope that it is met with many more things - jobs, stability, reinvention and an increased investment for the people, namely welfare and education, because buildings may make a city, but people make the world. The Arab Summer cometh.

    See you in the sky. In 2016.

    World’s New Tallest Building

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    Tuesday, August 02, 2011

    The Blue Mosque Dubai

    The newest mosque in Dubai was opened last week in time for Ramadan and it is a marvel - on the right below. It is the largest mosque in Dubai and the second largest in the UAE after the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. built for the faithful, the mosque is formally known as the Al Farooq Umar bin Khattab Mosque, named after one of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh).

    Now that's a long name so I'm sure it will be shortened to the Al Faroook Mosque or something similar. But I think it maybe actually become known as the Blue Mosque, because it was versioned around the Blue Mosque in Istanbul - on the left above. Built in Al Safa, it is similar to the Blue Mosque because it is actually a replica - and holds a similar purpose of outreach. And that's an important pillar. Inter faith dialogue at a time of unrest is an important thing and the Blue Mosque Dubai will become known for bridging that divide.

    We look forward to visiting the Blue Mosque Dubai. It looks magnificent from the pictures.

    And a very warm Ramadan Kareem to our readers. May your Ramadan bring you back your generosity manifold.

    Blue Moque Dubai
    Blue Mosque Opens
    Blue Mosque Pictures

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