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01 August, 2010

Bye Bye Blackberry

One quick guess what happened here:

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has said that BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry E-mail and BlackBerry Web-browsing services in the UAE will be suspended as of October 11.

The suspension is a result of the failure of ongoing attempts, dating back to 2007, to bring BlackBerry services in the UAE in line with UAE telecommunications regulations.

[...]

Today's decision is based on the fact that, in their current form, certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE.


The UAE tried to get RIM to let them snoop user data, and RIM told them to fuck off.



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11 June, 2010

RAK a rogue state?

Rocky Ras Al Khaimah has always been the most fascinating of the seven emirates, and now it's being branded a rogue state:

RAK is a strategically important part of the UAE, 50 miles from Iran across the Strait of Hormuz, through which 17 million barrels of oil are shipped each day. Sheikh Khalid, 66, was ousted by his father and brother as de facto leader in 2003.

The campaign alleges the regime presents an international security threat because the kingdom has become "a rogue state and gateway for Iran", allowing the shipment of weapons, including nuclear weapons parts, drugs and blood diamonds as well as military personnel and terrorists from al-Qaida and other networks.


How incredibly exciting.


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24 May, 2010

"RIP Plane Victims"

It is impossible to know whether this post at Al-Emirati.com on the victims of the recent Air India disaster is intended to be some appalling attempt at humour or satire, but by every single measure it is absolutely beyond the pale:
Not really. Not only do I not care if the victims "rest in peace" but it seems to me that they are, rather, resting in pieces!

I am of course talking about flight IX 812 from Dubai to Balglapour (or some other hell hole, they're all the same) that recently crashed (click here)

I know I know. Mean, blah blah. The way I see it is as follows. The UAE is (about) 50% Indians, Something that I, and 90% of all other Emaratis see as a bad thing.

This plane, carrying Indians who live and work here, means that 160 indians that clog up the roads, cause accidents, fail code inspections at Indian restaurants, speak like this guy, and are a general drag on the security of the UAE, wont be coming back. That is a very GOOD thing!

I can only pray that this happens every week!

Sadly, we'll probably have 160 new VISAs for 160 new Indians issued in 3 hours... And the authority in charge of this will flaunt that, as if it's a good thing.

Mocking the victims of a plane crash disaster on the grounds of their race and glorying in their tragic deaths is simply inhumane.

In fact, it is evil.


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30 November, 2009

From Vision™ to nightmare

It was October 2003; the setting was the recently opened Madinat Jumeirah, its lobby strewn with even more rose-petals and incense-bearers than usual. For the weary Dubai hack pack, lured there by the anticipation of free Jumeirah International catering and yet another laser-etched paperweight or pleather business folder, it was clear that Sheikhliness was afoot.

Sharpened pencils and reporters' notebooks were readied as the crowds descended the elevator into the press conference room. It was packed to the rafters. As well as journalists there were endless VIP guests, businesspeople and white-robed members of the royal retinue.

This was an era of great works of Vision™ - from Dubai Internet City and Media City to Dubai International Financial Centre. The emirate was growing, it was the start of the boom. People were excited about Dubai, they were anticipating great things. So far everything made sense. The direction was clear. Trade, commerce, technology: all areas that Dubai already did or likely could excel at.

And then a lengthy video played, introducing Dubailand. Endless CGI scenes of housing developments were intercut with stock footage of theme parks and shots of Dubai. It was more bewildering than impressive. As it went on, it made progressively less sense. The accompanying speech was no more enlightening.

As the media shuffled out, and started swapping notes, one thing became clear. Everyone had been left with a strange, prevailing sensation of tackiness. (According to one source in a production company that didn't win the bid, the video was made on the cheap in Asia). Nonetheless, this was an era when everyone believed in Dubai, and when everyone - local or expat - wanted to believe in Dubai.

But no one understood Dubailand. Other than that it appeared to be connected to tourism, it didn't seem very well defined. And its history has been one of cancellations, cover-ups, shifting goalposts. There was this article by ITP (link goes to archived pdf): "Projects worth billions of dollars have been shelved on the massive Dubailand development" - it was hastily pulled from the web, despite containing quotes from a senior official. Its assertions were never corrected or denied. As one source says in the banned article: "Many [projects] were unfeasible and impractical - the numbers just didn’t work, and they were simply shrouded by the glitz of the idea."

Looking back, Dubailand is perhaps the defining moment when the Vision™ first faltered. Let us not forget what we were told that day, these are the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum:

"I would like to tell capitalists that Dubai does not need investors, investors need Dubai and I tell you that the risk lies not in using your money but in letting it pile up. It is dormant and dead if it is merely a figure in an account. I tell them not to hold onto it and kill it in safes, let it breathe and be active because money is like water - if you lock it up, it becomes stagnant and foul-smelling, but if you let it flow, it stays fresh. If it does not flow, it will become stagnant and its colour will change. When I encourage you to invest, I am not asking you to put your money into a fire - I guarantee that your money will be invested in carefully studied projects. I want to be frank with you - I have the courage to take decisions and to bear the responsibility for the consequences. Do you have the courage to be frank and decisive?"


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22 November, 2009

Seven star service

Here's a lucrative career suggestion for anyone struggling in the Dubai recession, and you don't even have to get out of bed:

"STUNNING star student Paige Ashley turned her back on a lawyer's career to make £1million as a real life Belle de Jour.

My biggest one-off job was with three Arab businessmen at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi," she said. "It's a seven-star hotel and everything is decked out in gold leaf. They paid me £20,000 for one night with all of them. By morning I was exhausted.

"Arab men are fascinated by Western women. We're almost like status symbols to them. I've met girls working in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain who've made a million out of escorting."




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12 July, 2009

Bubbles in the sand

I'm forever blowing bubbles
Property bubbles in the sand
They grow so fast, obviously can't last
But why do I care, I still own the land
People keep on buying
I take all their cash
Oh, I'm forever blowing bubbles
And bubbles always crash

"Nowadays, ten months after the financial crisis came crashing in on the United Arab Emirates (UAE), nearly destroying its shiniest component, Dubai, hundreds of cranes and dredgers have yet to resume work. The Queen Elizabeth II, once the world’s smartest liner, due to become yet another posh Dubai hotel, is a sleeping quayside hulk. Nothing is happening on three of the most recently man-made islands shaped like palm trees off Dubai’s coast that were the latest flashy projects of Nakheel, the emirate’s shaky real-estate developer."


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26 May, 2009

British adulteress arrested in Dubai

Another lucky expat gets a free stay at the Al Wathba government hotel:

A BRITISH businesswoman faces a year inside a squalid Arab prison for having an affair — after her fuming husband shopped her to police.

Cops in Dubai nabbed blonde mum-of-two Sally Antia, 44, as she left a five-star hotel with her lover in the early hours.

Last night she was in custody and facing deportation after admitting in court: “Yes, I did it.”

Sally, who has been married for 14 years and lived in Dubai for 12, told officers she paid for her lover’s flights from the UK to the strict Muslim emirate.


Calling Dubai a "strict Muslim emirate" is akin to describing Amsterdam as a "puritanical Christian state".


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next issue is no. 12




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