View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The UAE and the Law

The web site of the Gulf News has a helpful page entitled, ‘Ask the Law’.

This is a guide to the legal system in the UAE.

‘Ask the Law’ also gives readers a chance to put their curly questions to the Gulf New’s Emirati lawyer.

Here is a sample from the web page, the sections and the topics:

Maternity rights at work
When a firm does not keep its promises
Can I leave my new job?
Salary disputes
Is job ban legal?

Housing & Rent
Can I get my deposit back?
Sub-letting is illegal
Illegal rent rise

Passports & Visas
No birth certificate
Who pays visa expenses?
Fired but passport still held
How to sponsor a maid

I’m still waiting for a divorce
Bills out of control
Marriage certificate query

And many more topics….

The Gulf News ‘Ask the Law’ Link

The book, ‘Setting Up in Dubai’ surveys the UAE legal system and describes in great detail the legal issues of setting up a business in Dubai and the UAE. This book is reviewed at this link—Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Setting Up a Business in Dubai and the UAE

For people pondering a move to the UAE, Setting up in Dubai by Essam Al Tamimi gives plenty of helpful information but to people thinking of establishing a business in the Emirates, this book is compulsory reading, especially if one is eager to avoid the pitfalls and expedite the process smoothly.

The book covers much general information about life in Dubai and the UAE and specific chapters deal with legal issues, immigration and customs, business associations, employment issues, housing, health and education, transport, leisure activities, local customs, language and a CD comes with the book containing all the application forms one might need.

A more comprehensive review of this book, with price and publishing details, is posted at:

Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Images: Front cover of Setting Up in Dubai.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in the UAE and Region

Check out eleven year old Faye’s story on Christmas in the United Arab Emirates.

Link: ‘Christmas in Dubai’, CBBC Newsround, 24 December 2007.

Other articles include:

‘Muslim Scholars send rare Christmas Greetings’, Gulf News, 24 December 2007.

'Palestinians See best Ever Christmas Season in Years’, Gulf News, 25 December 2007.

‘Christmas spirit alive and well despite increased cost of goods’, Gulf News, 23 December 2007

‘A good song for the season’, Gulf News, 23 December 2007.

Image: Festive Faye, Dubai.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Newspapers, TV and Other Media in the UAE

If you are interested in the media, working in the industry or have a business to market then the new book entitled Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008, edited by Ben Smalley, is a necessary acquisition.

In 500 pages the book itemizes the media outlets in the Middle East and North Africa and especially lists the new additions launched in 2007.

This reference guide lists newspapers from Algeria to the UAE and how you can contact them, the huge and growing number of consumer, news and business magazines, information on the 370+ free-to-air television channels, radio stations, news and photo agencies, media production companies and a growing section on new media (including the Internet).

Check out the more extensive review of this book including publishing details, price and information about the records that the UAE holds in the media world.

Link: Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Front cover of Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008.

UAE Praying for Rain

The Gulf News reports:
“President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has called for prayers for rain "Salaat Al Istisqaa" [to] be performed on Sunday across all the country's mosques and musallahs.”

“Shaikh Khalifa called on Muslims living in the country to pray to God for blessing the land with rain, in accordance with Prophet Mohammad's (Peace Be Upon Him) Sunnah to seek rain from Allah.”

“The call was made in line with the tradition of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to pray to Almighty Allah to bless the country with rain.”

Source: ‘Khalifa Calls for Rain Prayers’, Gulf News, December 23, 2007.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reading and Knowledge in the UAE

Knowledge to Be Driven by Reading
In late October at the Knowledge Conference in Dubai, when His Highness, Shaikh Mohammed, Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced the foundation of the “Knowledge Complex, he spoke about the important work of translating knowledge from its foreign sources in to Arabic, training translators, developing machine translation programmes to enhance translation activities from and into Arabic and financially supporting Arabic publishing houses.

This was a ground-breaking announcement as many people had been shocked when, in 2003, a UN report announced that only 330 books from other languages were translated into Arabic annually; and that, in the last 1,100 years, only 10,000 books have ever been translated into Arabic—the same number Spain translates into Spanish in a single year.

Kalima Announces 100 Books
Since Shaikh Mohammed, Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s announcement the Kalima (Arabic for ‘word’) project based in Abu Dhabi has announced a list of 100 books (see below) as part of its contribution towards achieving these goals.

The list does not include many of the best sellers in recent years, however, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner makes the list. Some immediate discussion and debate on the first 100 books in the Kalima project can be found in Boyd Tonkin’s ‘Two Cultures, One Language’, The Independent, 22 November 2007.

The Challenge of Illiteracy
It takes only a few visits to the banks of the UAE to notice the many people who ‘sign’ their deposit or withdrawal forms with their fingerprint or when one flies internationally, the number of people who ask others to fill in their Landing Card.

In his ground-breaking speech Shaikh Mohammed, Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was not inattentive to this major challenge as he said: “How are we [the Arab region] to cope with this change [when] the rate of illiteracy is still the highest in the world?”

While many of the ‘knowledge’ initiatives have to do with scholarships and assistance for tertiary students the best place to start is by overhauling and ensuring the highest standard of education to pre-school and primary schools in the UAE. Not only will this build a solid foundation of literacy but it will address the other fundamental challenge which is tackling the love of reading.

The Challenge of Motivation
It would be interesting to test high school and university students, not only in the UAE but in different countries of the world to see how many books they have read that appear on the Kalima 100 list. Test yourself!

Then, just assume that the reading of this Literary Top 100 will deepen our learning and spark a new House of Wisdom (Dar al-Hikma) leading to another scientific and intellectual awakening of the Arabs and Muslims. How ever does one motivate people to read just one of these books, let alone to complete the entire canon? To a generation being nurtured on reading not much more than an email, a reply on Facebook or an SMS message, this is perhaps the greatest challenge.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: One Thousand and One Nights, كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة Alf layla wa layla

The Kalima Project's first translations
The Acharnians/The Knights, Aristophanes
The Aeneid, Virgil
A Briefer History of Time, Hawking
The Complete Odes and Epodes, Horace
Greek Anthology, Archilochus, Alcaeus, Anacreon, and Simonides
Helen/Cyclops, Euripides
Poems, Du Fu (Tu Fu)
The Progeny, Sophocles
Galeni Opera Omnia/Corpus Medicorum Graecorum, Galen
Palimpsest, Archimedes
Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers: A Complete Translation of the Fragment at Diels, Various
Film Form, Eisenstein
In Praise of Folly, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus
Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno, Horkheimer
The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, John Maynard Keynes
Canzoniere, Petrarch
The Complete Essays of Montaigne Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Montaigne
Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
Middlemarch, George Eliot
The New Life, Dante Alighieri
Paradise Regained, Milton
Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke
Troilus and Criseyde, Geoffrey Chaucer
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Isaac Newton
Sidereus Nuncius; Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems; Two New Sciences, Galileo Galilei
The Ethics Of Spinoza: The Road to Inner Freedom, Spinoza
Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, Bruno
Leviathan, Hobbes
Logic, Hegel
Logical Investigations, Husserl
Art History: vol. 1, Stokstad
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Lewis
Inside Music, Haas
Towards a New Architecture, Le Corbusier
A History of Architectural Theory, Kruft
Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy, Næss
The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics, Penrose
Godel, Escher, Bach (20th Anniversary Ed), Hofstader
The Age of Extremes, Hobsbawm
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, Greenspan
The Birth of Europe, Le Goff
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon
The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, Watson
The Films in My Life, Truffaut
Freud: A Life for Our Times, Gay
Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance, Saliba
The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Wright
The Struggle for Master of Europe, A J P Taylor
The Anatomy of Revolution, Brinton
Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition, Friedman
Competitive Strategy, Porter
Kafka on the Shore, Murakami
The Executive in Action: Managing for Results, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Effective Executive, Drucker
The Halo Effect and Eight Other Business Delusions that Deceive Managers, Rosenzweig
Making Globalization Work, Stiglitz
The Middle East (Sociology of Developing Societies), Asad
Reading Capital, Althusser, Rancière
Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour, Von Neumann, Morgenstern
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, Hoffer
What is Globalization, Beck
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: vol. 1, M T Anderson
The Case for Literature, Gao Xingjian
Collected Stories, Singer
The First Man, Camus
The Higher Power of Lucky, Patron
The Inheritance of Loss, Desai
The Kite Runner, Hosseini
The Pickup, Gordimer
Pipi Longstocking, Lindgren
Selected Poems, Milosz
Something to Answer For, P H Newby
The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner
Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein
The Western Canon, Bloom
The Word, The Text, and The Critic, Edward Said
The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, Kurzweil
Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature; Discussion with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Physics, Niels Bohr
Cellular Automata and Complexity, Wolfram
The Chemical Bond: Structure and Dynamics, Zewail
Cracking the Genome: Inside the Race to Unlock Human DNA, Davies
Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature, Weinberg
The Eighth Day of Creation, Judson
Engines of Creation, Drexler
Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, Buss
The Feynman Lectures on Physics including Feynman's Tips on Physics: The Definitive and Extended Edition, Feynman
In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, Gribbin
On the Meaning of Relativity, Einstein
Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory, Planck
Punctuated Equilibrium, Gould
Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory, Heisenberg
The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, Dirac
The Scientist as Rebel, Dyson
Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, 25th Anniversary Edition, Wilson
Uncertainty: Uncertainty, Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science, Lindley
Difference and Repetition, Deleuze
The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, Lacan
The Future of Human Nature, Habermas
Il Segno, Eco
Margins of Philosophy, Derrida
Charlemagne and Mohammed: The Arab Roots of Capitalism, Heck

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Powering the UAE Economy

The UAE needs an additional 6600 MW ($5.1 billion) capacity by the year 2010 to power its projected economic growth.

According to BP's 2007 Statistical Review of World Energy, electricity production in the Middle East grew 8.9 per cent between 2005 and 2006, faster than the growth recorded in any other region, including Asia Pacific, which grew by 8.5 per cent. Yet, power production was to scale up to the soaring demand.

"More importantly from the global perspective as Mid East power production rises to meet surging demand, more hydrocarbons that might once have been exported are instead being burned to create electricity for local consumption. And that means less oil and natural gas will reach the global market," the report said.

The creation of the GCC Power Grid, a multi-billion-dollar project that will link the six GCC countries with an integrated electricity grid by 2010 is expected to give a fillip to the power scenario, even as the six nations pump in major investments into the expansion of the national and regional power grids.

In United Arab Emirates, the government plans to expand its 9,500 MW of installed capacity by over 50 per cent over the next 10 years.

Source: To read a more extensive report about the UAE and the GCC countries, check this link:

‘GCC Power Demand Increases 100,000 Megawatts’, Bahrain Tribune, MENAFM.COM, 22 December 2007.

Friday, December 21, 2007

USA Puts the Squeeze on UAE Against Iran

A Financial Times article (21 December 2007), entitled ‘Dubai gets the message as US steps up Iran sanctions pressure,’ analyses well the current dynamics in international relations between this trio.

Dr Geoff Pound

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reducing Traffic Accidents on UAE Roads

UAE High Traffic Injury Rates
The UAE has another world record and this time it is a record to be concerned about. Traffic injury rates are among the highest in the world in the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates is seeking to do something about this problem. It has ditched the alarming and graphic TV campaigns used extensively in other countries as these have been shown to have little effect.

The UAE is hiring Canadian injury prevention specialist Dr Peter Barss who has been overseeing workshops in UAE high schools, delivered by trained medical students. These have shown statistically significant differences in safety knowledge and attitudes to road safety. Barss is in Queensland, Australia at present conducting seminars and speaking about his work in the UAE.

Country’s Safety Culture
Understanding a country's safety culture is an important factor, according to Dr Barss. He said, “There are varying degrees of a safety culture in different countries. In Sweden, people are very safety conscious. Energy absorbing roadside barriers are being introduced there. At the other end of the spectrum are developing countries, some of them very wealthy, where destiny and faith are strong beliefs and there is a fatalism associated with whether a road crash is going to happen.”

In ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله
The Arabic term, in ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله has a richness of meaning and the concept is common to other faiths as well as to Islam. It is translated as ‘God willing’ or ‘If it is God’s will’. It is a valuable rider so that we are encouraged to make plans but offer them to higher wisdom, filtering, adjustment or dismissal by God. “Please get your homework done by next Tuesday,” says the teacher. “Yes, in ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله,” says the student. Like all good things, in ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله can be distorted or wrongly used to absolve oneself from personal responsibility.

Getting back to the road, Dr Barss is hinting at the way that in ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله can be used fatalistically—“If an accident happens, it happens.” A distorted understanding can also mean that this will happen regardless or what I do and don’t do so there is no point in buckling up the safety belt. Taken one notch further is the erroneous and prevalent view that the doing up of one’s safety belt is a sign of a lack of trust in the power of God to protect and care for the driver.

In the UAE a passenger got into the car and immediately did up her safety belt. The driver took this as an affront to her driving ability and said, “Don’t you trust my driving?”

Allah Helps those who help Themselves
An old saying from the Islamic tradition puts it well: “Trust in Allah and tie up your camel.” Perhaps a more contemporary rendering that expresses both God’s care and human responsibility is this: ‘Trust in Allah and do up your safety belt.’

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Another car accident in the UAE.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fujairah Information

Following my recent post about the many questions people are asking about Fujairah, I have posted a basic Information resource about Fujairah that I started long ago for my personal use.

This list is incomplete with lots of gaps.

I plan to update this and would welcome people suggesting items to be included and pointing out mistakes or links that don’t work.

It might be a good idea to bookmark the site.

I am posting the link on this ‘Experiencing the Emirates’ site because many of the enquiries come from outside Fujairah and the UAE and from people who are searching for Fujairah information online.

The Fujairah Information posting has links to maps, weather information, photographs, tourist hot spots etc and it can be found at the Fujairah in Focus site by going to this Internet address:

Fujairah Information

Dr Geoff Pound

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tiger Woods Gives the UAE a Lesson

Apologies for Dubai
An article in India’s Mail Today (Friday, December 14, 2007) caught my attention when I was stranded last week at the Delhi Airport (an experience that I have written about elsewhere).

The newspaper printed a story about the decision of Tiger Woods to forego playing at the Dubai World Championship in 2009, which happens to be the richest golf tournament in the world.

Different Priorities
On the surface, Tiger’s decision is a major blow to the UAE’s golfing public and to the extensive television audience around the world. But further reflection reveals that Tiger Woods is giving to the UAE and to the world a much greater gift—a vital lesson about the things that are truly valuable in life and the importance of keeping one’s priorities.

Tiger’s Choice—the Clubs or the Cubs?
So what is preventing Tiger from showing up in Dubai to collect a potential pay check of £1.8m? The Mail Today misled it’s readers by giving the headline, ‘Tiger’s too busy for Dubai riches’. The opposite is true as Tiger will be absent because of family responsibilities and the desire not to be consumed by his work.

The World No 1 has just had the longest break of his career, the first seven weeks of which he never touched a club. I have written elsewhere (Tiger Woods on the Joy of Shaping Lives and Anointed With Delight) about some of the other ways that Tiger Woods has been a superb model to golfers and others who yearn to be at the top of their game and calling. Here are a few more lessons that we can deduce from the golfing champion.

Equal Opportunity for Growth
Recently Tiger’s wife Elin went skiing while he stayed at home looking after their baby daughter, Sam.

Statistics reveal that men get more satisfaction out of the marriage relationship than women, probably because traditionally men have more opportunity to get out and work and engage in activities and courses that give them stretch and joy. To maintain and enrich a relationship it is important to aim that each partner will get equal opportunity for growth and pleasure, perhaps not always at the same time but over the course of their relationship. Tiger and Elin’s decision for him to stay and for her to enjoy her sport is a fine example of this principle.

No Abdication of Parental Responsibilities
Instead of Tiger and Elin hiring a baby minder while they both skied the slopes they decided that parenthood was too important a responsibility to palm off to others. Tiger gives an insight into the reason why he stayed at home when he said, “Incredible how fast they change and grow, isn’t it?”

Time to Value Children
Woods spoke of what he enjoys about being at home with his daughter rather than on the fairway with his golfing partners:

“The thing I’ve noticed most about becoming a father is how you appreciate the little things. Even the sleepless nights and the difficulties sometimes when she gets sick.”

There will be a long line of other golfers who will queue up to take Tiger’s place at the Dubai World Championship but there is no one else who can assume his responsibilities as father to his children.

Like Father Like Son
The setting high of family responsibilities appears to be a quality that has been passed down the family line. However, Tiger Woods confessed, “I said when my father passed away that I felt like I didn’t spend enough time with him, even though I was there as much as I could. I wanted to be sure that I truly appreciated these days with my daughter.”

The Gift of Absence
Tiger Woods will not be gracing the people of the UAE with his style and his presence at the Dubai World Championship in 2009. His absence and the knowledge that he will be at home with his family will be an even greater gift that he will give to the UAE.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Tiger and Elin Woods.

Check out the questions that visitors and international tourists are asking about the UAE city and emirate of Fujairah on:
Fujairah in Focus.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Getting to ‘Can Do’ Dubai by ‘Can’t Do’ Air India

Air India passengers were greeted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday 13 December 2007 with the welcome news that Flight 747 from Delhi to Dubai, scheduled to depart at 8.50pm, was on time.

Little did the passengers know that after check-in, immigration and security they would be subjected to a horrendous experience by Air India of Kafkaesque proportions.

Information Fog
If a plane had been on time and available passengers would have departed 2-3 hours late but the descent of the fog began to look like a longer detention was in store.

The fog on the tarmac, however, was nothing compared to the fog within the terminal. At first the plane was delayed until 10.00pm and then this was extended to 3.00pm. Apart from this information appearing on the video monitors no information was given and when an Air India official was cornered and asked to explain, what followed was a series of false statements and a story that was made up.

No information was communicated via the public address system. Questions were met with a blank face, some failed attempts to get information from Bombay where there was a plane being readied and a massive passing of the buck to the next official who was higher up on the Air India ladder.

Health Risks Ignored
With every waiting hour caused by the delay, the prospect of not showing up for work responsibilities in Dubai and the news from anxious relatives who were waiting, the passengers were getting stressed.

While other companies like Kuwait Airlines were accommodating their stranded passengers in nearby hotels Air India said that there were no hotel beds available in Delhi.

Many sleep-deprived passengers on Flight 747 admitted to feeling dizzy and suffering from claustrophobia as they were not permitted to move from the terminal. Mothers with infants were seeking to calm their children and were obviously not prepared for such a marathon wait.

Customer Care Nonexistent
Hours passed and no customer care was initiated. When bottled water was requested an Air India official came, dumped a carton of bottled water on the floor and quickly departed. Customers were treated like animals. The quantity of water was totally insufficient and its availability was also not communicated via the PA system. Passengers on other airlines were given boxes of food to tide them over.

By 5.30am, when Air India passengers said they were hungry, they were given a cup of tea. Only when Air India was told that breakfast was desired did they make some food of sorts available in one of the airport cafes. Every action by Air India was a response to customer pleas. The airline was totally lacking in initiative and feeling for how those under their charge were faring. As the national airlines this was an absolute disgrace and it reflects badly on the Indian government and its citizens.

Fog Lifts Outside but Thickens Inside
By 10.00am planes from other airlines were arriving and departing but there was no sign of action by Air India. Public announcements to inform passengers of Flight 747 were non-existent. Calls for the Duty Manager to come and explain were rejected but after several hours and further requests the Duty Manager cowardly said he would see two passenger representatives.

Indifference and Defensiveness
The two representatives told the story and communicated the points where Air India was negligent. However, all they encountered from the Duty Manager and his minions was nonchalance, indifference and a total defense of their actions. Only when their lack of customer service was highlighted did one of the Air India officials begrudgingly admit an apology. For Air India it is obvious that the customer is never right.

When the Duty Manager was asked to come and explain to the passengers the reasons for the delay and to make an apology to everyone, he refused on the basis that people can get violent. He obviously had not walked around the airport and seen the armed police and security guards that could accompany him on such a mission.

It was almost 3.00pm and the representatives demanded that the passengers be given a meal. This was disallowed on the basis that the plane was on its way from Bombay and the food would take too long to prepare. Air India did not have a simple system whereby they could issue food vouchers so that stranded passengers could show their boarding pass and get refreshment from nominated food outlets in the terminal. Instead, the representatives were offered two free passes to the Maharaja Business Lounge as an attempt to appease them but this invitation was declined because of the total disregard by Air India of the basic needs of all the passengers.

Passenger Protest
After twenty harrowing hours a plane appeared, passengers were called on board and Flight 747 departed for Dubai, arriving three and a half hours later.

During this 24 hour ordeal the passengers turned their anger and boredom into constructive avenues such as calling media outlets and giving interviews.

This web site is one practical response and it has been established to collect the stories of the passengers. The site, Air India Flight 747 Passenger Protest, seeks to be one way of making their voices heard to Air India. It is also an attempt to inform the public of this company’s negligence and to warn prospective passengers to avoid subjecting themselves to Air India’s treatment of customer abuse.

People considering visiting India, especially the thousands who hope to arrive in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games in 2010, are hereby warned to avoid Air India at all costs.

Flight 747 passengers are demanding from Air India a formal apology, a complete refund of their fares and financial compensation for having to endure such disruption, suffering and inconvenience.

The new web site upon which will be posted further stories and reflection on this flight and airline is:

Air India Flight 747 Passenger Protest

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Air India Airbus--on the ground.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

UAE: Growing Like Date Palm

Just when I was berating banks for their inefficiency and mistakes I was disarmed when given a present this week at the local branch of the HSBC.

Was this a spontaneous gift with no strings attached? A way of appeasing guilt for mistakes to their customers?

The reason for the gift to every customer was that the HSBC was wanting us to celebrate UAE nationhood.

The gift came in a special box—two packets of Emirati dates and then some instructions in a little booklet in Arabic and English on how to get the seeds to grow. It said:

Take a tiny date seed. Plant it. Watch it grow over the years, as it becomes amongst the tallest in the world.

Listen to people from the far corners of the earth talk about it.

Visit it and seek shelter under its shade.

See them enjoy the fruit and benefit from its prosperity.

Observe them get inspired to plant their own seeds so that one day they too will have a palm of their own.

Only then will you come close to feeling how we feel, having witnessed this nation grow since December 2, 1971.

Happy National Day.

A beautiful gesture this was and so symbolic. Not only in banking but in all sectors of society, the vital thing is to make a long term investment and to leave a rich legacy to others when your earthly life is over. Yes, Happy National Day!

Dr Geoff Pound

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Human Rights: Unjust Labor Laws Leave Domestic Workers Exploited

Listening to the Women
Even if I went to bed at 3:30 a.m., I had to get up by 5:30 a.m… I had continuous work until 1:00 a.m., sometimes 3:00 a.m.... Once I told the employer, “I am a human like you and I need an hour to rest.” She told me, “You have come to work; you are like my shoes, and you have to work tirelessly.”

The conditions were getting worse. I told the employer that I wanted to leave but she would not take me to the agency…. [Her husband] would say, “You want to go, you want to go?” and he would pull my hair and beat me with his hands. He went to the kitchen and took a knife and told me he would kill me, cut me up into little pieces, and put the little pieces of me in the cupboard… By this time they owed me four months’ salary….

Comprehensive Report
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) is to be congratulated for compiling such a comprehensive report, detailing the abuses that often go on behind the walls in relation to Domestic Workers in the UAE and throughout the Gulf and amplifying the voices of the women themselves.

The study focuses on the experience of Sri Lankan domestic workers but it has important implications for domestic workers from other countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Not all domestic workers speak of exploitation but the report gives a gloomy picture of the prevalence of injustice and abuse that is rampant behind high walls.

The report entitled, “Exported and Exposed: Abuses Against Sri Lankan Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates,” (Dubai, November 14, 2007) indicates that Sri Lankan domestic workers face serious abuses, including violence, harassment and exploitation when they migrate to work in the Middle East.

Human Rights Watch said the governments of Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should do more to protect women from labor exploitation and violence when they migrate to the Middle East.

Government Protection Wanting
The 131-page report, documents the serious abuses that domestic workers face at every step of the migration process. It also shows how the Sri Lankan government and governments in the Middle East fail to protect these women. The report is based on 170 interviews with domestic workers, government officials, and labor recruiters conducted in Sri Lanka and in the Middle East.

“Governments in the Middle East expose Sri Lankan domestic workers to abuse by refusing to guarantee a weekly rest day, limits to the workday, freedom of movement and other rights that most workers take for granted,” said Jennifer Turner, a researcher in the Women’s Rights division at Human Rights Watch.

“For its part, the Sri Lankan government welcomes the money these women send home, but does little to protect them from exploitative bosses or labor agents.

Corrupt Recruitment Agents
More than 660,000 Sri Lankan women work abroad as domestic workers, nearly 90 percent in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. Human Rights Watch found that labor agents in Sri Lanka charge excessive fees that leave migrants heavily indebted, and often misinform them about their jobs.

Low Wages, Long Hours, ‘Imprisoned’
Once abroad, domestic workers typically labor for 16 to 21 hours a day, without rest breaks or days off, for extremely low wages of 15 to 30 US cents per hour. Some domestic workers told Human Rights Watch how they were subjected to forced confinement, food deprivation, physical and verbal abuse, forced labor, and sexual harassment and rape by their employers.

Some Labor agents forced women to take long-term contraception to prevent pregnancy during employment or administered this as part of the recruitment medical, without information

Abuse and Injustice by Employers
Human Rights Watch found that employers routinely confiscate domestic workers’ passports, confine them to the workplace, and in many cases restrict their communication, even with their embassy. Some employers also withhold wages for months to years at a time. In the worst cases, the combination of these practices traps Sri Lankan domestic workers in forced labor.

For example, numerous employers in Lebanon refused to allow domestic workers to return home during the July 2006 war. Human Rights Watch interviewed several domestic workers whose employers refused to return their passports and pay withheld wages owed to them so that they could return to Sri Lanka.

The labor laws of Lebanon, like the laws of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, categorically exclude migrant domestic workers from basic rights, such as a weekly day of rest, limits on work hours, paid holidays, and workers’ compensation. Immigration sponsorship laws restrict domestic workers’ ability to change employers, even in cases of abuse.

Sexual Abuse, Threats and Punishment
The report revealed the prevalence of sexual abuse by male members of the household, with threats if the women stop to others about this. This problem is accentuated by the fact that adultery and fornication are criminalized in these Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the UAE, so rape victims may face the prospect of detention, prosecution and punishment if they cannot provide evidence of the rape.

The report finds that Saudi Arabia’s policy of requiring employers to approve exit visas for domestic workers before they leave the country effectively traps them and greatly increases the risk of abuse and forced labor. Saudi Arabia proposed an appendix to the labor law two years ago, but it has not yet been published and the government has not to date extended equal labor protections to domestic workers

Government Reforms Insufficient
The UAE introduced a standard contract for domestic workers on April 1, 2007, and has proposed a new law for domestic workers. Kuwait also has a standard contract for domestic workers. But the report said that these contracts give domestic workers separate and weaker protections than those in the main labor laws

“Middle Eastern countries need to do a lot more to stop abuse of domestic workers,” said Turner. “The governments of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE should extend labor laws to domestic workers, ensure their complaints can be heard and reform immigration laws so that workers aren’t tied to employers.

Sri Lanka extends fewer protections to citizens who travel abroad to work than other labor-sending Asian countries such as the Philippines. The government fails to adequately monitor and regulate abusive practices by recruiting agents and subagents in Sri Lanka. Its consular officials often provide little or no assistance to domestic workers who approach them with cases of unpaid wages or abuse. Domestic workers returning to Sri Lanka confront obstacles to filing complaints and receive minimal services at a government-run shelter for arriving domestic workers located near the international airport.

Human Rights Watch also urged the Sri Lankan government to improve regulation and monitoring of recruitment agents, as well as services for abused workers in consulates abroad.

Calling for a Response
The women and the HRW have spoken. It is now up to the UAE and Gulf governments to address these serious breaches of human rights, to implement appropriate laws and inspection processes and to punish agents and employers who fail to comply.

Links to further information:
Summary Report

Exported and Exposed Full Report

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Front Cover of Report.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Top Ten for Architectural Excellence in the UAE

We know of the UAE’s reputation for building the biggest, the tallest and the most but how many of the new buildings could be described by the term ‘architectural excellence’?

The Blog Sheikh at United Blogging Emirates has a new post entitled ‘Architecture in the Emirates’ in which he lists the top ten projects.

A good idea and a creative way to bring these towers together.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Ras Al Khaimah Convention and Exhibition Centre

UAE and Middle East: Construction Centre of the World

Check out the number of projects and the incredible money that is being invested in one of the biggest construction booms that the world has ever known.

The link is:

‘Construction Boom Tops $2.4 trillion in Gulf Projects’, AME Info, 25 November 2007.

Dr Geoff Pound

Check out the recent article on the Fujairah in Focus web site entitled:

Bull Butting: Quintessentially Fujairah

Fujairah Oil Terminal Being Extended

New Hotel for Fujairah

Book Review: Colours of Fujairah

The Dream Car of the United Arab Emirates

A recently conducted survey among visitors to the Middle East International Motor Show in Dubai asked the question, “What is your dream car?”

Are Emiratis lusting after the newly publicized Muslim Car, created in Iran?

Have a guess, then check out the answer on the Autosavant web site and the posting, ‘UAE Wants a _________’.

Also read the way car buyers purchase their vehicle (there is a lot clocked up on credit) over time but in ways that are Sharia compliant.

The going price for this dream car in Dubai is a mere Dhs 125000 – 235000, depending on the model and accessories.

Dr Geoff Pound

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What to Wear in the UAE?

The matter of dress is a question that is often Googled by soon to be visitors and ex-pats to the UAE. This question is usually one regarding climate and custom.

The A-Z link provided for its staff by the Fujairah Women’s College (Higher Colleges of Technology) is most helpful and well worth quoting. Here are a couple of snippets from their more extensive article on D for dress:

Clothes and Climate
“You will be most comfortable if you wear light-coloured clothing made of natural fibres, since they allow your skin to "breathe." The breathability of your clothes is an important consideration, since the hot weather begins in April and continues to November. Even in the "cold" months, a lightweight jacket or a heavy sweater will probably suffice for outerwear. An umbrella can be useful both to protect from the heavy occasional winter rain and to shield you from the sun in summer.”

“A hat and good sunglasses are necessary. Both can be purchased locally, but bring them with you if possible so that you will have them from the first day.”

Clothes and Culture
“Women should take care that their clothing is modestly cut - no plunging necklines, slit skirts, or filmy [is that flimsy? Maybe not!] materials.”

“In your own home and around the hotel swimming pools, you may wear what you like. [Some European women choose to wear very little around the hotel pools, as is their custom] On desert trips or by the seaside you can wear modest shorts and in the shopping malls of Dubai where the dress code is more relaxed.”

Body Parts
The legs, even the ankles, and the shoulders need to be covered according to traditional Islamic custom. I overheard an Emirati man on the Fujairah corniche mutter to his friend the word ‘haram’ (not proper according to Sharia law) as a woman passed them with a sleeveless shirt.

Stricter Sharjah
Tourists need to be aware of the stricter enforcement of the dress code in the emirate of Sharjah. An article in 2001 (have they loosened up since?) announced their hard line on improper dress and the consequences for breaches of this code:

“The new Decency Law will make no exceptions whatsoever for women of any nationality wearing ‘indecent dresses that expose the stomach and back, short clothing above the knees, and tight, transparent clothing that describes the body’, said a senior police officer.”

“We have begun implementing the new law throughout the emirate since September 26 according to the directions of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah,” said the officer.

“Any revealing clothes worn by women will be considered a violation of the new law, whether they are saris or any other types of clothes.”

“The traditional sari can be worn in a way to cover the whole body, stomach and back. It is an Indian traditional dress, but can be worn properly so that it is considered decent. It should cover the stomach and back. All traditional dresses of all countries must be worn in this decent way,” said the officer.

“The new rules and objectives, he added, are aimed at protecting public values and decency and providing a peaceful atmosphere for residents and tourists in accordance with the UAE Federal Constitution.”

“Sharjah Police personnel have been instructed to implement the new rules and objectives in a civilised manner by giving advice to offenders first and helping people understand what is decency and what the new rules are all about.”

“Offenders who fail to respond positively will be penalised. They can be deprived of public service until they respect the rules,” said the officer.

Leery Looks
A further consideration for female travelers and residents to the UAE has to do with attracting undue attention because of the exposure of skin. Here is a commentary by a recent British tourist on the scene created by his wife who dressed in shorts while touring the streets of more tolerant Dubai:

“Being a Friday though meant that foreign workers were all off work. Hundreds of Indian men were being bussed into the city, and most were hanging around in huge groups talking or else browsing the shops. Whenever we approached them, all would stare at Angela. If one man spotted her, he would soon tell his companions, until crowds of men were openly gawping at her.”

“Jesus,” I whispered to Angela as we squeezed our way through them. The men moved to allow us past, but every one was staring and smiling. It was as if they had never seen a woman before. One man even leered, showing Angela some blackened teeth.”

“This is what it must be like to be famous,” said Angela, clearly embarrassed, trying to keep her gaze fixed forward.”

“I, on the other hand, was being totally ignored. And this gave me an opportunity to gauge just how much attention Angela was getting. As we walked towards the tunnel, I watched the men watching Angela. After only a few hundred yards, it seemed as if every single man was staring at her, young and old, it didn’t matter. She was the centre of attention.”

“As we entered the tunnel, the crowd of men compressed and the heat soon became oppressive. It didn’t take long to realise that we were the only Westerners in the tunnel which at that precise time must have been accommodating hundreds of Indian men. Angela was the only woman.”

“I suppose it must be like prisoners,” I commented to Angela as we made our way through the underpass. “They’re cooped up all day long and hardly ever see a woman. And the ones they do see are covered from head to toe in black. So now when they see you in your shorts, they’re going ape-shit. Who can blame them?”

“We were soon out the other side of the tunnel, and by now, the spectacle of fifty pairs of eyes all swivelling towards Angela in unison was almost comical. Even Angela accepted the stares. “I suppose I should feel flattered.”

Check out the other hilarious memories of this Dubai holidaymaker including his encounter with an aircraft full of abayed women, the congested streets of Dubai and ‘water, water, everywhere’, meeting guess-who at Wild Wadi, touring the shopping malls, the crisis when they couldn’t get a drink in dry Dubai, haggling at the souk, the cramped accommodation of foreign construction workers and traveling up the creek without a paddle.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Not necessarily meeting proper UAE requirements on several counts.

Check out the more recent article, ‘Bodies, Bikinis and Breast Feeding in the UAE’.

Another updated article appears at this link, What to Wear in the United Arab Emirates.

Check It Out
Check out the new site America’s Cup in the UAE.

Friday, November 23, 2007

UAE: The Highest, Largest, Longest, now the Deepest

Dubai’s underwater hotel is going to cause quite a splash.

Spending a night or two below sea level is one way to escape from Dubai’s smog.

Check out the story and the futuristic pictures at:

‘Hydropolis Underwater Hotel, Dubai, UAE’, Dubai for Visitors.

Biggest Pay Rise in UAE History

The UAE government ordered this week (20 November 2007) the highest salary increase rate in the history of the UAE Federation in which all federal government employees, including civilians and security personnel of the interior ministry, will get a 70 per cent salary hike with effect from January 2008.

The euphoria and hype evoked by the news of this presidential patronage and the lack of specific details have created a fog that has blanketed the truth about who gets this increase and who doesn’t.

What is the rationale for the salary increase?

Does this enormous increase mean that salary rates have been below standard for quite some time?

Is a back pay in order?

Is the new salary level in keeping with the current prices and cost of living or will this enormous salary increase hike the cost of commodities and services?

Is the UAE government providing leadership to the private sector and saying that this portion of the employment pie should necessarily follow suit?

What is the expected impact of this salary increase on other aspects of the economy such as inflation and Emiratisation?

John Chilton in The Emirates Economist has sounded one salutary warning in saying:

“There's a problem. Pay increases this large, out of line with private sector wage increases, run entirely contrary to the government's expressed desire to see more Emiratis in the private sector. Very few are, and with good reason. Their time would be better spent hounding someone for a job in government. That's a waste from the social perspective. It's a waste because it's effort that just moves money from one pocket to another and produces nothing. It discourages Emiratis from becoming engaged with the private sector and meritocracy. And not least of all the country develops no institutions of its own to foster economic growth.”

Source: ‘UAE Federal Government employees get 70 per cent pay hike’, Gulf News, 20 Nov 2007

Dr Geoff Pound

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Is it Safe and Secure in the United Arab Emirates?

When I have traveled back ‘down under’ and met up with old friends, one of their first questions is this: “Is it safe and secure living in the Middle East?”

The phrase ‘Middle East’ presses red buttons for people who have been raised on emotive television reports. Sure there are hot spots in the region but what about the UAE?

A person from the promotional department of the Higher Colleges of Technology asked a range of people who work for HCT across the Emirates for their views. Here is a sampling of what they said about the UAE:

It is safe and secure
Very healthy
So sunny
Great for swimming
I love the movie houses
There is nothing I miss about teaching in the UK

And many more responses about the HCT as well as the UAE.

Listen to these people on the HCT’s promotional video clip to get an idea of what it is like to live in the UAE (and just note that while everyone is affirming, they were not asked about the downside)!

Dr Geoff Pound

Check out the book review, Colours of Fujairah

Video and image courtesy of HCT

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Party to Exploitation and Injustice?

The Guggenheim Foundation announced in July 2006 that it was building a Guggenheim museum in Abu Dhabi.

The construction has not commenced but Human Rights Watch has challenged Guggenheim AD to clarify its treatment of those who will work towards the completion of this project by 2011.

HRW has been keeping an eye on the systemic’ abuse problem at many UAE construction sites and in particular it is scrutinizing such things as safety provisions in hot and hazardous conditions, the adequacy of wages, the withholding of wages, the confiscation of passports and the right to organize.

Guggenheim AD has not responded to these concerns and has failed to meet the requests of HRW for meetings to discuss these important matters.

There is no doubt that the UAE government has been working hard to step up its campaign to enforce labor rights and increase the number of site inspections.

The New York-based Guggenheim Foundation is also implicated in this matter. It has done an amazing job of creating museums and promoting the appreciation of art and visual expressions of culture but its grand mission will be tarnished like a vandalized masterpiece if this new museum in the wealthiest city in the world is erected by exploitation and raised as a testament to injustice.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Artistic expression of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

UAE Fastest Growing Country, to Showcase at 2010 EXPO

A report posted by UAE Interact says:

* The UAE is one of the fastest growing countries in the world

* The UAE has emerged from shortages and deprivation to a higher standard of living in only 3-4 decades

* The secret is the leadership and vision of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who ensured that oil money would be used to create better living conditions for everyone in the UAE

* The UAE will participate in the EXPO 2010 in Shanghai with the theme ‘Better City’, Better Life’

* The UAE will have one of the largest pavilion areas in which to tell the story of the UAE, past, present and future

The EXPO 2010 Shanghai site reports that:

The UAE signed up on 16 November 2007 along with Nepal, the Netherlands and Poland

There are 180 confirmed participants

The dates for the EXPO are May 1-October 31, 2010

Source: ‘United Arab Emirates on Track for;Better Cities and Better Lives’ UAE Interact, 16 November 2007.

Image: EXPO 2010 Logo
Grease along to the FUJAIRAH IN FOCUS site to get an update on the Fujairah Oil Testing progress.

Monday, November 19, 2007

UAE Has the Lowest Tax Rates in the World

The British Times Online says today:

“Workers seeking out the lowest tax rates in the world should head to Dubai, Russia or Hong Kong, according to a league table of the world’s most attractive personal tax hot spots.”

“Residents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) receive the highest net income at 95 per cent of their gross salary, while expatriates in Russia and Hong Kong pay 13 per cent and 14.2 per cent in tax respectively, according to Mercer, the business consultancy behind the survey.”

“Markus Wiesner, head of operations in Dubai for Mercer, said: “We often find that the UAE’s zero taxation is a strong draw for expatriates on short-term assignments. For three to five years, young professionals can fast-track their savings to afford a mortgage when they return home, while senior executives can maximise their savings potential ahead of retirement.”

Married people with children almost universally pay the least tax, followed by married people with no children. Single workers foot the biggest tax bills across the world, the figures showed.

“The UAE ranks highly because it does not apply any income tax at all and only levies a charge of 5 per cent in social security contributions on local citizens. Russia applies a flat income tax of 13 per cent, while Hong Kong applies a rate of 14.2 per cent in tax and social security contributions.”

The full report and to see how countries rank on the Income Tax scale see:
Rebecca O’Connor, ‘Head to Dubai for the lowest tax rates in the world’, Times Online, November 19, 2007.

Image: UAE dirhams.

Coffee, the Arabic Invention and Lessons of Change in a Coffee Cup

Read the story of how coffee was discovered in the Arab world, but like many good things, it took a long time to be accepted.

The story is at this link:
‘Change, like Coffee, takes Time to Percolate’, Stories for Speakers and Writers.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Coffee served Arabic style.

NY University Abu Dhabi Campus Has Not Clarified Human Rights Issues

Last month (October 12, 2007) Martin Lipton, Chair of NYU’s Board of Trustees; John Sexton, President of NYU; and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, announced that they have reached an agreement to create “NYU Abu Dhabi,” a Middle Eastern campus of NYU.

In the press statement it was stated that, “Students will be chosen based on their academic potential and qualifications as determined by NYU's Office of Admissions, without regard to race, religion, sex, nationality, or sexual orientation.”

For an American University proud of its tradition in promoting equal opportunity, opposing discrimination and campaigning for human rights, one wonders what it will mean to be an effective educational institution and a prophetic voice in a city where homosexual acts are illegal.

The new campus will build on the foundations of the New York base with a declaration that it would be innovative in the Middle Eastern context but is it proposing to be an American enclave in an Emirati world? If so, one would question the purpose of an education which does not mesh with its immediate society and where ‘town and gown’ do not relate easily together. An essential ingredient of lively education is the context of learning and the conversations enjoyed with local people.

It is clear that homosexuals will be admitted to the new university but will this mean that homosexual activities will be allowed in the NYU Abu Dhabi Halls of Residence but not outside the gate? Will the UAE government grant special immunity to members of the new campus?

According to the NYU University News some students on the New York campus have engaged with Dr. Sexton to express their disquiet and to ask for more detail about the implications of this partnership in the UAE, especially as it relates to the rights of homosexual and bisexual students and staff.

In this interchange it was clarified by Simon Pearce, the director of strategic communications for Abu Dhabi's Executive Affairs Authority that, “U.A.E. federal law does not outlaw homosexuality outright, but it does define ‘acts of homosexuality’ as illegal.”

NYU students were concerned at Sexton’s vagueness when he said, “it’s not going to be a problem.” A similar opportunity was considered by the University of Connecticut in February 2007 but the offer was shelved because of questions as to the degree to which genuine partnership could be established and the potential for conflict on a range of fronts in reconciling University values with UAE law.

Until this dilemma is clarified and communicated it appears that the New York University is turning a blind eye to issues of human rights because the lure of free land, generous finance, investment in faculty and the prize of a larger global network are too tantalizing. And does this mean that the Abu Dhabi and UAE negotiators are willing to disregard the laws of the land for the sake of securing a prestigious partnership?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: NYU Logo

Abu Dhabi and the Culture Boom

An important essay on the development of cultural attractions and the encouragement of the arts in the UAE capital can be found at this link:

Gerhard Haupt and Pat Binder, Nafas Art Magazine, November 2007.

Image: Cultural District on Saadiyat Island (Photo by Haupt & Binder).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CNN: International Media Increases Exposure on UAE

‘Be the First to Know’
CNN is upping its coverage on the United Arab Emirates in response to the growing international appetite for things Emirati. TV Week reports:

“CNN Worldwide is beefing up its newsgathering capacity with at least four additional correspondents and a regional hub in the United Arab Emirates.”

“This is all about owning more content,” Tony Maddox, executive VP and managing director of CNN International, said in an announcement Wednesday.

The commitment is described as CNN's largest expansion of international newsgathering resources in 27 years.

In many ways the media development is a tribute to the growing confidence of the UAE and its rising place on the world stage.

Cuts Both Ways
The UAE is heartened when H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum shares his vision to a huge audience on ABC’s 60 Minutes program, when there is extensive coverage of the visit of US First Lady Laura Bush to the Emirates and when the Festival of Thinkers becomes an international showcase of the UAE ‘can do’ attitude.

But the international attention during all of these events also focused the spotlight on the protest of 4,000 construction workers and issues to do with fair pay, work hours and adequate living conditions.

Similarly, when the New York Times published a story on the gang rape of a 15 year old boy, massive international attention was directed towards the UAE with concerns about the rights of homosexuals and questions about the punishment of victims of abuse.

World news agencies are currently transmitting the concern of the Human Rights Watch and its report this week that Sri Lankan Domestic Workers are facing abuse in the UAE and throughout the Middle East

The strategic role of the international media has been evident in the influencing of local decision makers to do a U turn, from the initial decision to deport 4,000 construction workers and permanently ban them from the country, to more recent talk of the need for compassion towards workers and demands that companies establish a minimum wage.

In a very real sense the ‘unskilled Asian construction workers’ are doing an important job in the Emirates. Their contribution is much more than erecting the tallest buildings in the world. These workers, through their protests, have raised to new heights the issue of human rights and their greatest and lasting monument will be to have contributed to the construction and refurbishment of just labor laws in the UAE.

The growth of the international media in the UAE will be important if it highlights both the exploits of the Emirates as well as the urgent work still to be done.

Source: The report on the expansion of CNN in the UAE and other countries is at:

Michele Greppi, ‘CNN Beefs UP International Coverage’, TV Week, 14 November 2007.

Dr Geoff Pound

Check out the Growth of Media in Fujairah
A media statement announced recently that “twenty-four new satellite TV channels will go on air from the Creative City of the Fujairah Media Free Zone over the next three months, raising the total number of operating channels form the city to 37.”

More on this report with comments can be found at:


Friday, November 16, 2007

Emirates Team New Zealand Wins NZ Sailing Award

Many times the UAE-New Zealand connection was mentioned through the sailing for the America’s Cup this year. While they did not collect the big one, they were awarded a prize in NZ tonight. Here is the crucial part of the report:

Emirates Team New Zealand was named Carlson Wagonlit Travel Sailor of the Year 2007 at the Yachting New Zealand Excellence Awards tonight.

Young Sailor of the Year was jointly awarded to Optimist World Champion Chris STEELE and 420 World Champions Carl EVANS and Peter BURLING.

The winners were announced in front of a packed audience at the presentation ceremony and dinner held at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Peter MONTGOMERY, acting as Master of Ceremonies made the announcement and Dean BARKER accepted the Award on behalf of Emirates Team New Zealand.

The line-up of finalist nominees for the pinnacle annual yachting title in New Zealand was impressive, making it a tough year for the judges. The medal and trophy haul accumulated by the group of finalists over the past twelve months is tremendous with multiple World Championship titles and medals, Pre-Olympics medals, numerous ISAF Grade 1 medals and the Louis Vuitton Cup amongst them.

“Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007 and the right to challenge for the 32nd Americas Cup off Valencia, Spain,” said Master of Ceremonies, MONTGOMERY.

“Emirates Team New Zealand, lead by Grant DALTON successfully raced through to win Louis Vuitton capturing and inspiring the New Zealand public and restoring their faith after the disappointment of 2003 with an outstanding performance. In doing so, they put sailing back into the headlines in such a positive way.”

It was this significant achievement which has earned them the title of Sailor of the Year in New Zealand for 2007 despite tough competition from Olympic campaigners including Barbara KENDALL, Jo ALEH and Tom ASHLEY.

His Excellency the Governor-General Anand SATYANAND presented BARKER with the Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy while Debbie KELLY of Carlson Wagonlit Travel handed over a travel prize pack and framed certificate.

More detail can be read at:
ISAF, ‘Emirates Team NZ Named NZ Sailor of the Year’, 16 November 2007

Image: Emirates Team NZ Named NZ Sailor of the Year

Thursday, November 15, 2007

UAE Chokes on Smog While Fujairah Breathes Deeply

Read the story on air quality in the UAE and how Abu Dhabi and Dubai are shrouded in smog while Fujairah is clear.

See the difference in the photographs at this link:

‘Fujairah is Fog Free While UAE is Blanketed in Smog’, Fujairah in Focus, 15 November 2007.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: A recent scene of low visibility near the Sharjah Scout Camp.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Searching the Emirates

Don’t forget to use the effective Search Blog function at the top left of this blog site.

Search for topics like:

A Amnesty International, Arabic, Abu Dhabi

B Burj Dubai, Birds, Biggest, Beaches

C Cyclone, (Muslim) Car, Construction workers, corruption, coffee

D Dubai, Dubailand

E Eating, Employment, Environment, Energy, Ecology

F Food shopping, Falcons, Fujairah, Freedom of Press, Friday Market

G Gonu, Gender Gap, Guggenheim, Going Green

H Hilton, Hotels

I Irish, Israel, Islam, Interfaith

J Jumeira

K Korea

L Laura Bush, Lashing

M Mohammed on 60 Minutes, Malls, Friday Market, Migrants

N National Tree

O Oman

P Petrol Prices, Population

Q Queue, Queuing, Quest for Freedom

R Recycling, Ramadan, Religion, Rotana, Road Laws

S Shopping, Shariah, Shisha, Solar

T Tallest, Towers, Tailgating

U UAE, United States

V Visiting the Emirates

W Waves, World Records

X Cake Mix, Durex and hundreds of shopping prices

Y YouTube videos, youth

Z Zayed Mosque, Sheikh Zayed

Geoff Pound

Image: Searching the Experiencing the Emirates Blog Site

Things with a Fujairah theme may be on the related site:


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Website for H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The website of the Ruler of Dubai has recently been revamped.

New Features
It contains these informative features:

Latest News (events and sporting highlights)
History of the Al Maktoum family and the UAE
Biographical Articles and poems
Library of Videos and Photos
Maktoum awards
History of the UAE
Tourism Information

And much more on this influential leader.

The web site address in English is Sheikh Mohammed

The web site address in عَرَبيْ (Arabic) is Sheikh Mohammed

Image: Front Page of New Website

Monday, November 12, 2007

Muslim Car Could Be Highly Marketable in Middle East

The Gulf News has reported this week a joint Iran, Turkey and Malaysia plan to build an ‘Islamic car’.

The special features, the report from Malaysia says about this Iranian dream, will include a compass to find the direction of Makkah (Mecca) and a compartment for the Quran and prayer scarves.

“The car will have all the Islamic features and should be meant for export purposes,” said Proton's managing director, Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.

The article does not elaborate but what would “all the Islamic features” include besides those already mentioned? Here are some thoughts:

* Surely Muslim drivers and passengers would want a Global Positioning System (GPS) rather than the old compass. This could also be set to indicate when a mosque is approaching.

* A clock that sounds the call to prayer at the time, in accordance with where the car is located

* A sound system that musically beams out the prayers and Quranic readings

* A compartment in the boot with water so that hands and faces can be easily washed

* Another division in the boot where prayer mats can be stowed

* All parts of the car certified as halal

Any other components so the car will have all the Islamic features? If you have any constructive ideas, please write them in the Comments below.

The full report can be found at this link:
‘New Islamic Car to Have Compass to Find Makkah’, Gulf News, 11 November 2007.

Geoff Pound

Image: A worker inspects a Proton Waja at Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton) assembly plant in Shah Alam near Kuala Lumpur (the place where it is proposed that the Islamic cars will be manufactured). Photo courtesy of Gulf News.

Fujairah in Focus
Check out the two new articles with a water sports theme at the Fujairah in Focus web site:
Fujairah and Kalba Water Scooters

Fujairah Water Activities: I’d Like to See That!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Shisha Cafes Could Be Extinguished in New Anti-Smoking Laws

Having at least a puff or a pipe of Shisha, (also known as the hookah or hubbly bubbly), is one of the ‘must-dos’ for many tourists to the UAE and the Middle East.

But shisha cafes in the UAE could soon become a thing of the past when anti-smoking legislation is finalized. Many residents also take a liking to smoking a shisha with their coffee and shisha cafes have boomed in the UAE.

Dr Wedad Al Maidour, head of the National Tobacco Control Committee responsible for drafting the law said the tough stance was necessary as shisha-smoking was more dangerous than cigarette-smoking. Studies have shown that one session of shisha-smoking is equal to smoking more than a pack of cigarettes.

"Shisha is more dangerous than cigarettes because of the fumes and the many additives in the tobacco. [All that] is deposited in the lungs," she said.

The whole article and some reader reactions is at

‘Shisha Cafes Face a Hazy Future’, Gulf News, 21 October 2007

Image: Puffing the shisha

Global Gender Gap Report: UAE Improving Opportunities for Women

The Gender Gap Index released this last week (7 November 2007) in Geneva showed encouraging improvement in the United Arab Emirates which now ranks 105 out of 128 countries involved in this annual study.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2007 is based on new methodology introduced last year and includes detailed profiles that provide insight into the economic, legal and social aspects of the gender gap in each country.

The Report measures the size of the gender gap in four critical areas of inequality between men and women:

1) Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment

2) Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education

3) Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures

4) Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio

Middle East, North Africa
Here are snippets from the summary of how nations in the Middle East and North Africa performed in this last year:

“Israel (36) continues to hold the top spot in the Middle East and North Africa region, favoured by higher-than-average performances on economic participation (45), educational attainment (38) and political empowerment (41). Relative to last year, Israel’s scores on economic participation improved: women’s labour force participation rates increased relative to those of men, as did women’s estimated earned income vis-à-vis that of men.”

“This year, we have included three new countries from the region: Syria, Qatar and Oman. Kuwait (96) remains the second-highest ranking country in the region, followed by Tunisia (102), Syria (103), Jordan (104), the United Arab Emirates (105), Algeria (108), Qatar (109), Bahrain (115), Oman (119), Egypt (120), Morocco (122), Saudi Arabia (124) and Yemen (128).”

“Most Arab world countries not only continue to perform far below the global average, but also do not show much improvement over the last year or have deteriorated. The exceptions are some of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.”

United Arab Emirates
“The United Arab Emirates had significant improvements on both economic participation and political empowerment sub-indexes. Wage inequality for similar work decreased and the gap between women and men’s estimated earned income also diminished. Furthermore, both women and men stood for election and voted for the first time in that country’s history. Nine women entered Parliament gaining 22.5 percent of the seats.

The detailed profile on the UAE performance in this last year can be found at this link:
UAE Profile

Source: The WEF Report is at this link:
The Global Gender Gap Report 2007

Image: Cover of the Gender gap 2007 Report