30 May 2008

National Identity

The blog Experiencing the Emirates has a summary of news articles concerning National Identity. Here is the link.

Obviously, this issue is of great concern to someone. IMHO, the actions of the Emirates government are shaping the National Identity. You can't make mega construction projects that require large labor forces a national priority and then complain that expats are diluting the Emirati population. You can't claim to embrace openness to all cultures, open your doors to thousands of foreigners and then complain that Arabic is not being spoken enough or that Muslim values are being diluted. You can't promote an Emirati Identity if the only people tourists interact with are outsiders that you hire because you don't want to do the work.

28 May 2008

British Birdman Completes BASE Jump from Burj Dubai

A British man has made a BASE Jump from the Burj Dubai to set a new world record. See the story here. Unfortunately, he now faces a year in jail and a fine of about $1400 for "illegal entry".

Some people will do anything to avoid the Salik tols.

Garbage in Dubai

The National ran an article about waste. Dubai produced 27 million tonnes of waste in 2007. This was from a population of 1.5 million people. If you do the math, the per capita production of waste in Dubai in 2007 was a little over 20 tons per person. The average per capita waste production in the USA is a little less than 1 ton per person.

You can argue that much of this waste is generated by the hotel and tourism industry as well as all the massive construction projects. But you can’t escape the fact the Dubai, for all its glitz and glamour, generates one hell of a lot of trash.

Dubai likes to brag about their “green” buildings. But you cannot escape the fact that living in the desert and building such unlikely venues as indoor ski slopes and mega mega shopping malls, requires a lot of energy and generates a lot of waste.

For the record, I’m not a believer in the Cult of Global Warming and I think Carbon Footprints are load of BS, but even I can see that Dubai needs to do something to clean up its act. If the Sheikh put the effort into waste disposal that he puts into building monuments to hubris, Dubai could become a world leader in recycling and waste disposal.

This could offset the perception that Emiratis are a rich, spoiled, wasteful and lazy people who have no concern for the welfare of those outside their tribe.

27 May 2008

UAE National Identity

I've noticed a great deal of discussion in the press lately about a UAE National Identity. What puzzles me is that in all the rhetoric on that topic, I haven't seen anything describing what the UAE wants that identity to be. Two issues always surface: language and expats. Leaders are chagrined that Arabic is not spoken more often and blame the hoards of foreign workers for dilution of the culture. Finally, there has been absolutely no assessment of the current perception of the UAE by the rest of the world and how that differs from the identity the UAE wants to promote.

If you want to take the journey of developing a National Identity, it seems to me that you first have to determine the current status of that Identity and then define what needs to be changed to meet your ideal. That will require that leaders hear some rather unpleasant criticism, something the Arab culture is not good at giving or receiving.

26 May 2008

Head Count

Saudi Arabia executed 16 people in April bringing their year to date total to 53. Ten of those executed were convicted for drugs, 4 for murder and 2 for rape.

The case of Mohammud Kohail, the Canadian convicted of murder during a school ground fight is still working through the appeals process amid international political pressure.

Another Dead Canary

SeaBee posts about a real estate project in trouble in Umm Al Quwain (another lesser Emirate). The project cannot get, you guessed it, electrical power, water and sewage. The government claims that providing those services is not their responsibility so Tameer, the developer, is putting the project "on hold". I don't know how it works in the real estate game, but in oilfield construction projects that phrase was the kiss of death that no project manager wanted to hear. I'm sure the investors feel the same way.

Methinks the bubble is looking a little thin right now. People who prepaid for these developments are losing their investment. It won't take long before concern for the stability of Emirates real estate investment is called into question and potential investors will dry up like spit in the Rub' al Khali. It will make the sub-prime crisis look like pocket change.

Big Mo is Watching You - Follow Up

I told you I'd follow up on the two women arrested on the beach for "sleeping like married couples". It seems they got one month jail followed by deportation.

Can't have any of that dangerous cuddling going on can we?

Heil Dubai

Dubai is cracking down on transvestites. They will be questioned and possibly arrested for "public indecency and behaving like a man or woman". In announcing the five day crackdown, the chief of police stressed the "danger" they pose to society. (Well, there was that little crime spree down in New Orleans a couple of years ago.)

PE suggests that Dubai capitalize on their population of transvestites by opening a tranvestite stage show or a restaurant where the wait staff is made up entirely of transvestites. Perhaps Dubai can become a destination for those seeking sex change operations. PE is also not sure how one differentiates between a transvestite, a dyke lesbian or a fashion model wearing a mans shirt and tie? Could a Scotsman in a kilt be considered a transvestite? What about a woman wearing pants (its considered a no-no by the more conservative Baptists, by the way).

The whole issue stikes me a little silly and xenophobic.

21 May 2008

Harrasment in Any Culture....

Melanie, a relative newbie to the Emirates, tells of an interesting intercultural experience of a semi-sexual nature. I didn't know that solicitation by mothers was part of the culture.

20 May 2008

Big Mo is Watching You!

In the first case of its kind to hit the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors, two women were charged with indecent behavior at a public beach. Said behavior included kissing, cuddling and "sleeping like married couples." (I wonder if that included snoring and flatulence) The ladies are currently out on bail pending a judgment. I'll keep you posted on this serious offence as the case unfolds.

In other news, you'll be glad to know its OK to carpool and help reduce traffic, providing you first get permission from the RTA, list your passengers, make sure they have a background check done and keep to a 4 passenger limit. After all, we can't have serial carpoolers running amok.

And in an update to the abandoned baby story, Abu Dhabi authorities are going to take a sample for DNA. It's not immediately clear who they are going to check the sample against. Or maybe they'll just take DNA samples from everyone. They could start with the carpoolers.

19 May 2008

Suffer the Little Children....

A three week old baby was found abandoned in an Abu Dhabi park. Two hospitals refused this baby treatment and she was taken to a third.

The baby was taken to the Corniche hospital first and then to Al Mafraq hospital. After both hospitals refused to admit the baby to neonatal care, the child was taken to Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC).

What does it say about a culture that does not protect children?

Story is here.

Utility Problems

It seems that the lesser Emirates of Sharjah and Ajman are having public utiilty issues. It is taking as long as five years to get electricity, water and sewage connections to new construction projects There are some 30 high rise apartment buildings in Sharjah and Ajman that are unoccupied because of it. The story is here.

The problem is not the result of slow bureaucracy but a reflection of municipal systems that do not have the capacity to keep up with the demands of the rapidly growing emirates. Ahmed Al Abdullah, CEO of New Dubai Property, which operates in Sharjah and Ajman, said population growth had made it difficult to resolve a current lack of capacity despite efforts to expand infrastructure in both emirates.

Some developers are thinking about building their own power plants. The promise that power is about to be provided is a commodity that increases the value of a property before anything is built.

This problem is the canary in the mineshaft giving warning about the runaway growth in the Emirates and failure of infrastucture to keep pace.

09 May 2008

Divas Defer

Mariah Carey and Fergie have either cancelled or postponed their upcoming concert in Dubai, depending upon which news source you prefer. Gulf News' version is here. The stated reason is the logistics problems caused by the short time frame of a concert announced 10 days ago. The singers are, of course, "disappointed". However, a line in the Gulf News story makes me wonder if other factors might be in play. The promoters say that the "cancellation had nothing to do with the singers themselves".

Given that both divas have a penchant for diplaying their rather bodacious bosoms, I wonder if concerns about Emirati sensibilities were a factor.

01 May 2008


The UAE Community Blog is a site where UAE web diarists can post articles of interest. It's been stuck for more than a week now on one topic, probably because of blocking by the Telecommunications Regulation Authority. (The UAE can block anything they deem to be pornographic or critical of the government and its leaders)

The amusing thing that it is blocked on a story describing the pitifully small payout made to victims of the child camel jockey scandal.