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  • Friday, September 28, 2012

    The UAE Expat Influx

    It’s clear – the UAE is preparing for a new wave of expats. They are returning back to the UAE.  It seems the sun and sea hold more lure than unemployment elsewhere. There is less opportunity in home countries, but there is a differing opportunity in the UAE. It feels as if it is being rebooted. It's no surprise that so many from the UK are choosing to move here, taking advantage of the relaxed tax laws, high-end salaries and appealing expat accommodation.

    In the state of Dubai alone, more than 90 per cent of its inhabitants are expats. Living in the UAE may be costly, but the benefits are certainly worth considering for professionals who are losing out to the tax man on British shores.

    In terms of property, expats have been permitted to buy real estate in the UAE since 2005 but many still choose to rent.  In cities like Dubai, the monthly rate is high – an equivalent of around £2000 for a one-bedroom flat in a locations such as Downtown Dubai with the plus side that there are excellent amenities.

    An apartment at Dubai Marina may afford you a better deal for a few hundred pounds cheaper. Some argue that the area is a little far out, but it’s not really – and the marina is a community in its own right. It is where Dubai has stretched out to.  As a comparison, Abu Dhabi tends to work out a little less expensive at under £1000 per month for a budget one-bed in the centre but remember that many landlords still expect payment upfront for the year (post-dated cheques however).

    Many have asked us recently what are the catches. It’s all about cost of living. Bills are charged on top of rent and tend to be regulated and therefore affordable – around £90 per month for 2 people sharing – but beware extra costs in more high-end accommodation for things like air-conditioning if it is not included.

    Shopping wisely at local markets will get you more for your money as groceries such as milk cost around 74p a litre and bread starts around 70p here. It's possible to buy enough food for two in a month with just over £200 in Dubai, although this will restrict you in terms of eating out more than once a week. Other costs to factor in are things like transport: it's near-essential to own a car for getting around, but the expense obviously depends on the model you drive. Average fuel costs are around £70 a month! – a far cry from UK petrol prices

    Documentation for visas should be filled out back home before arrival but are fairly straightforward for UK citizens. Once the process is fully completed, banking in the UAE is also uncomplicated; opening current accounts here involves the usual processes. Find out more about personal banking services from HSBC, which has a number of branches in the UAE.

    The appeal of living in this part of the world is plain to see and there are some even more attractive employment packages including accommodation being offered to ex-pats who have landed jobs prior to emigrating.

    Of course, this means it's a popular move to make and competition is increasing for those seeking jobs on arrival, so make use of tools like expat forums to get the latest word-of-mouth information on opportunities. Friends can be invaluable when relocating and advice from people who have been through similar situations can make the difference between struggling somewhere and settling in with ease. For the new wave of expats, enjoy your stay. You may be transient for a few years – or you may become an old timer! 

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    RX Time

    It comes about a few times a lifetime – for some people more, for some people less. It’s that big decision – buying a car. It sits up there with buying a house or apartment (although not as expensive) and buying a wallet or purse (it’s with you every day). Phones, whether it’s the latest iphone 5, 6 or 7, come and go, but, for us cars are a big decision. Buying a car is your safety and exterior to the world. It is also your status symbol, and for us we were looking for something that reflects a sense of accomplishment and that was becoming of a new lifestyle.  When you live in places like Dubai or Abu Dhabi, or many of the other Gulf States, cars become a critical part of the active life-style led by many.

    So, it was about our time to go down this route – which led us to the test drive –an exciting proposition – and the question of which car to go for fell upon us, and almost without thinking we found ourselves in a 2013 Lexus RX.  There are two- the RX 350 and Rx 450h. The new Lexus RX 450 was in the running for us. It has all the features we were looking for to fulfil our lifestyle needs. The RX feels impeccably smooth on the road and with the option of two engine types; the 3.5 L petrol and the hybrid version, the RX offers high level of performance that is fuel-efficient while at the same time it's supremely smooth and the quiet drive provides the you with an extremely refined experience.  Most people don’t know that RX 450h has two power sources (well, we didn’t anyway): the 3.5-litre V-6 petrol engine plus the electric engine which give it a more powerful performance with a total system output of 295-horsepower.  It also looks and feels “the business” - there is no substitute.

    Inside, it is the luxury that we have always wanted. The thing you love about the Lexus is that everything is intuitive, where you expect it to be.   Its made for everyone, simple yet fully equipped.  It’s almost built for you with options on the steering wheel so you can keep focused on the road.

    There is a comprehensive list of comfort and convenience features. The 2013 RX comes with perfect 10-way powered semi aniline comfortable leather seats, USB connectivity; HDD navigation, remote keyless entry near your hand. So there’s no extra searching for the air condition, as well as Lexus’s world renowned Mark Levinson premium 15-speaker surround sound systems and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Forget Beats by Dre – this is refined tunes played to perfection.

    The 3.5L engine, but it feels stronger. In our old M Class, it was similar, but this feels more powerful, safer even. And we reckon it’s one of the best 4x4s in its class, because for what it is, it should be more expensive. It’s just right for the family of 4 or 5, but equally stylish for the executive on the road.

    Transmission is smooth and it goes between shifts cleanly, just as we move up for the DubaiAbu Dhabi journey. We didn’t go off-road, but we’re not off roaders.  It doesn’t feel like that type of car. It’s a car for the road to be proud in. It’s got blue tooth for hands free as well as the audio jack for more music.

    Safety is at the top of this car’s list with the Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control which uses millimetre-wave radar to measure and help maintain a pre-set following distance from a vehicle traveling directly ahead. Very cool and very safe.

    I think we’ll be spending a lot of time in the Lexus RX 450 h. Yes, we’ve ordered – and can’t wait. Get down to Al Futtaim for a test drive; you’ll be  as obsessed as we are!

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    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Arabic Growing Fast on the Internet

    Arabic is growing at warp speed on the net. In fact it is the fastest growing language on the Internet right now. That's pretty amazing. Fair languages give us the stats:

    In the past 10 years the use of Arabic on the Internet grew by an impressive 2500%. Whereas in the year 2000 only 2 million Arabic-speaking users surfed the world wide web, in 2011 there were 65 million of them. And with an estimated 280 million speakers of Arabic as their first language there is still room for growth. In comparison, the second fastest growing language is Russian with 1826% followed by Chinese on third place with 1277%, Spanish with 743% and English with 281%.
    Remember, these are growth numbers, not actuals, which means that Arabic has some way to go to get to certain stages. But it is predicted to be one of the world's top 5 languages in 2050:
    According to so called engco model of language forecasting the top 5 languages in 2050 are going to be:
    • Chinese
    • Spanish
    • English
    • Hindi-Urdu
    • Arabic
    The top 3 are the most important. It will be a world dominated not by English, or Spanglish or Chinglish - but Spinglish. Those are going to be the most important ones to learn. And so, that means for the Arabic speakers, they will need a linguafranca. That's unlikely to be French any more for some of the levantine states. English will dominate as it has already done in the Gulf.

    One of the drivers for the growth of Arabic has been the implementation of IDNs - allowing other script URLs. But the pace of the Arab Spring has meant many more people have wanted to go online and join the hyperconnected world we live in - prompting growth. With more still to come - and with infrastructure being put in place across the region, Arabic will rise further on the Internet - cementing it as a language for the future.

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    Saturday, September 01, 2012

    Theme Parks in KL

    In the last of our posts on KL we wanted to covert the popular theme parks that there are in Kuala Lumpur. The UAE gives a different flavour to theme parks. As you know, or favourite is the Ferrari Theme Park, but KL gives a great option for families looking for theme park fun as part of their holidays.Kuala Lumpur has a good swathe of popular water theme parks boasting rides, water and family fun. Many of these offer fantastic ways of keeping cool in the hot and sticky climate, or if it is the rainy season and too wet to traipse around outside. These are the ones that we recommend:

    Many people head to the Genting Highlands to escape the heat of the city thanks to its elevation at 2000m. This is a rather glitzy park but it’s a good place to base—there are plenty of hotels on the hillside to choose from—for a few days of fun. There’s also something here for everyone from golf courses to casinos, shopping malls, water parks and video games. Opening hours Monday - Friday 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, Saturday and school holidays 9.00 am to 10.00 pm, Sunday public holidays 9.00 am to 6.00 pm
    Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia.

    View of Genting Highlands outdoor theme park. Pic: Angcr, Wikimedia Commons

    Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya
    There’s every reason to visit this small satellite town about 15km southwest of the city centre and that’s to take in this multi award winning attraction. You can cool down in any number of watery activities such as on water slides, the surf beach, the wave pool or on a pirate ship. There are 80 rides and attractions all up and Sunway also hosts events and concerts. Opening hours are Monday & Wednesday-Friday 11.00am-6.00pm, Weekends 10.00am-6.00pm.
    3, Jalan PJS 11/11, Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel. +603 5639 0000.

    Formerly known as Cosmo’s World Theme Park this massive indoor experience is located within Berjaya Times Square – yes that’s right, a shopping mall. The amusement park is on the fifth and seventh floors and has two zones: the Galaxy Station that’s more in line for adults and bigger kids and Fantasy Garden with rides for young children. One of the most dizzing rides to try is the Supersonic Odyssey roller coaster, the biggest indoor roller coaster in the world at 800m in length. Opening hours are Monday - Friday      
    12pm-10pm, weekends and holidays 11am-10pm.
    Berjaya Times Square Theme Park, Level 5 & 7, Berjaya Times Square, No.1, Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur. Tel. +603-2117 3118

    Berjaya Times Square – Asia’s biggest Indoor Theme Park in Kuala Lumpur. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

    Now that we are back, it seems a long time ago that we visited KL, but we wanted to share a view with you. We hope you enjoyed our taste of Malaysia. As they say on the ad  -Malaysia truly Asia.

    If you want to find out more, check out the Tourism Malaysia Website . You can also view this blog post in Arabic

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