20 June 2008

Now Hear This, THIS WAS A DRILL!

Gulf News reports that a conversation between two drunk Arabs started the whole Dubai Terror Alert thing.

"A diplomatic source said the warning was issued based on a personal conversation between the two Arab men in the Hemingway bar in the Hiltonia Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The bar is frequented by hundreds of Britons and Americans.

One drunk man told the other in jest: "If someone wants to scare all these people and make them run away, just say there is a bomb. A belt bomb will kill hundreds of them."
The source said it is believed that Britons sitting near the men overheard the conversation and thought it was serious.

They reported the matter to their embassy who immediately issued the terror alert. "

They need to learn that that s**t isn't funny anymore. PE has a couple of observations. One, what about the Muslim prohibition against drinking? The morality police need to find these guys and arrest them. Two, didn't anybody learn anything about faulty intelligence with the whole Iraq thing?

Oh well, I guess its better to safe than sorry - and it did make for an exiting couple of days. And it's always a good idea to have a drill or two before the reall deal. As you were. Carry on.

18 June 2008

Advice to Expats in the UAE

I have taken a page from Col. Jeff Cooper's personal defence training and adjusted it to situations you may face in the UAE during the current terrorism alert. Col. Cooper taught four levels of personal awareness: white, yellow, orange and red. These corresponded to increasing levels of alertness culminating in a fight response at the red level. Here are my interpretations of those alertness levels applied to a terrorist attack.
  • White: Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be "Oh my God! This can't be happening to me."
  • Yellow: Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation. You should always be in Yellow whenever you are in unfamiliar surroundings or among people you don't know. You can remain in Yellow for long periods. In Yellow, you are "taking in" surrounding information in a relaxed but alert manner, like a continuous 360 degree radar sweep.
  • Orange: Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has gotten your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert. You shift your primary focus to determine if there is a threat. You formulate a plan of action.
  • Red: Your flight or fight trigger is tripped. You implement your plan.

While these levels were originally developed for an armed response, they are equally applicable for the average citizen in formulating an unarmed response to a situation. Typically, your response will be to evacuate the immediate area. Your planning should include a knowledge of the location of emergency exits and safety equipment (fire alarms, extinguishers).

Enshallah, there will be no problems and driving the SZR will still be the most dangerous thing you do all day.

17 June 2008

UK Raises Terror Threat in UAE

The British Foreign Office has raised the alert level for terrorism attack in the UAE to their highest level. There was no indication of the reason for the increase in alert level. No similar notice has been posted by the US Department of State, however the US embassy in Abu Dhabi posted the following on their web site:

As we enter the busy summer travel and holiday season, including plans for 4th of July celebrations around the UAE, Embassy Abu Dhabi and Consulate General Dubai wish to remind American citizens about the general security situation in the Middle East, as outlined below in the current Worldwide Caution. The Embassy and Consulate General wish to advise Americans that potential exists for terrorists to plan and carry out violent actions in the region, including the UAE, and for this reason Americans should maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, particularly in public places.

Certainly, the UAE is a target rich environment for terror attacks. It also provides naval support to the US fleet in support of the War on Terror.

Royals Behaving Badly

Sheikh Falah al Nahyan will be in a Geneva court this week on charges that he assaulted an American citizen who refused his homosexual advances. The alleged assault occurred in 2003 and the plaintiff, Silvano Orsi, claims he has been unable to work since then due to injuries he received during the alleged attack. The Sheikh could get two years.

In other news, Issa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been accused of torturing an American businessman. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2006, names five members of the royal family and seeks $1 billion in damages. The plaintiff, Bassam Nabulsi (a naturalized American citizen) , has videotapes of the torture sessions. Not surprisingly, he has had problems serving papers on the royals. A US District Court judge has given him until June 30 to serve papers or the case will be dismissed.

These guys are brothers to Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. He can't be happy about the publicity his relatives are getting, especially in light of the recent concern about national identity in the UAE.

10 June 2008

Three Real Estate Execs Detained

Three execs from Deyaar have been detained by Dubai police, Arabian Business reports. Deyaar is Dubai's second largest publicly listed developer and a subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank. Is there a connection here? And why doesn't this story show up in the Emirate's newspapers?

06 June 2008

QE2 - Rescued from the Harem?

The British government is seeking a legal opinion to see if they can block the sale of the QE2 to Dubai's land development company, Istithmar. Lord Inglewood, who chairs a government committee on the export of works of art, is asking for the legal opinion. A group protesting the sale, the QE2 Consortium, argue that the ship and its contents are of "national and historic importance". Cunard Lines sold the ship with its contents intact. The contents includes several works of art. Istithmar, who paid $100 million for her, is going to convert the ship into a luxury floating hotel berthed at the Palm Jumeirah and is under no obligation to preserve the interior of the ship.

05 June 2008

British Banker in Custody

Bahrain based banker and UK multi-millionaire Charles Ridley has been detained in Dubai without benefit of legal representation for almost one week, Arabian Business has revealed. Also detained with him is his business associate, Rayan Cornelius. Specific charges are not known but it is assumed his detention is related to certain investment funds. It is believed that Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) may have invested in these funds.

Although the paper has not indicated any relation between the two actions, A former VP of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), Rifaat Othmani, a Pakistani national, has also been detained for "bribery allegations and receiving kickbacks from clients in return for favours". DIB is the UAEs largest Sharia compliant lender.

Big Mo - Still Watching

A couple was in court the other day accused of that most heinous of crimes, namely "indecently gesturing in public by kissing, hugging and cuddling". They were seen commiting this crime in a car in a mall parking lot by an undercover policeman who then informed the local constabulary.

The accused couple plead not guilty and said the claimant was too far away to see clearly. It was only a kiss on the cheek and not a full fledged lip lock. There was no indication as to the courts decision.

03 June 2008

Problems on The Palm

This story from the Guardian describes some of the issues going on with the first residents to move to the Palm Jumeirah. It seems the brochures and hype were a little misleading. Villas crammed together, no air conditioning included in the price and white mans guilt for the laborers who built it all.

Magic Stone Update

The appeal has been heard and a decision handed down.

The government was not able to test the veracity of the gem dealers claims because "because they lacked proper scientific methods or equipment to test whether the onyx stone was bulletproof or to decide its real value. Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Metals and Commodities Centre did not have the necessary equipment to carry out the mission."

I think all they really had to do was call Mythbusters and set them to work. The court reduced the gem dealers sentence from 6 months to 3 months. And deportation, of course. This was probably very close to time served already but his lawyer is not satisfied. He wants a full acquittal.

"We will appeal yesterday's verdict before the Cassation Court... I am seeking my client's innocence and not a reduced term. My client has pleaded not guilty since the beginning," Q.M.'s lawyer Saeed Al Ghailani, of Saeed Al Ghailani Advocates and Legal Consultants, told Gulf News on Monday.

02 June 2008

Head Count

Saudi Arabia performed 9 executions in May bringing their year to date total to 62. Most of the executed were convicted murderers.