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

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

Friday, November 9, 2007

Education in the UAE Gets Poor Report Card

An article that highlights the poor facilities in many UAE schools, especially in areas outside of the two main cities, is posted at:


Geoff Pound

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Learning Arabic in the UAE and the Gulf

Ever thought you’d like to have a crack at learning Arabic now that you’re living in the Emirates or one of the Gulf States?

Lists of the languages most spoken in the world vary but after Mandarin, Spanish and English, Arabic is the 4th most spoken language (by number of native speakers). The total population of people in the Arab countries of the world is estimated at 323 million. That’s a lot of people you can speak to, if you know their lingo.

American writer, Robert Lane Greene, in ‘Why Learning Arabic is So Hard’, has written of some of the reasons why a growing number of people have begun to learn this language:

“I'm one of a growing wave of people trying to come to grips with Arabic, a language long neglected by Americans in the years before Sept. 11. Since then, the CIA and the military have tried to recruit Arab-American ‘heritage speakers.’ The federal government has spent tons of money, both teaching Arabic to spies and soldiers at its specialized schools and encouraging university students to study it. College enrollment in Arabic classes doubled between 1998 and 2002, with much of the increase coming in a patriotic spike after the World Trade Center attacks. As a foreign-affairs writer, I thought it would be good to give it a shot.”

One of the reasons why many ex-pats in the Gulf States don’t bother to learn Arabic is because of the different dialects that are spoken in these parts. What’s the point of learning here, they say, if when you want to go to Egypt they won’t understand Gulf Arabic? In addition to Gulf Arabic, other main dialects include Egyptian Arabic, Levantine Arabic, Iraqi Arabic, Maghrebi Arabic, Quranic Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic. A class that I took, taught by an Egyptian teacher now living in the UAE, tended to downplay that excuse saying that Arabic is Arabic and one needs to learn the accent and the words particular to an area, as you would if you were living in London.

If you have started to do a course and then petered out, you may find your reason for giving up in Andrew Dempsey’s article [check out Andrew’s site and resources] entitled:

10 Common Problems Faced by Arabic Language Learners

[He says]

1. Struggling to pronounce new sounds in Arabic that do not exist in your native language clearly enough for native Arabic speakers to easily understand you, such asthe ع ain, ح Ha, غ Gayn, ص Sad, ض Dad, ط Ta ,ظ Za, ر ra, etc.

2. Being assigned long texts or dialogues to translate, with little time to build an active vocabulary that you can use in real life

3. Being given lists of Arabic words to memorize that have little direct bearing on your own personal, academic, religious, or professional needs and interests

4. Finding it difficult to remember key words and phrases that bear absolutely no resemblance in pronunciation or structure to English (or whatever native language you speak)

5. Having to recite long passages in Arabic when you do not even really know the meaning of what you are reciting

6. Sitting in classes with large numbers of students, so that the amount of time you spend speaking Arabic is minimized (and replaced by painfully long amounts of time spent listening to your classmates trying to speak Arabic!)

7. Not being able to find anyone that knows Arabic enough and has enough time, commitment, and patience to sit with you and give you the help you need with your Arabic pronunciation and vocabulary

8. Having to pay large amounts of money for a tutor in order to get the one-on-one work you need on your Arabic pronunciation and vocabulary

9. Wasting valuable time on getting to and from the place where you learn Arabic, whether it’s a school, institute, or tutor’s home.

10. Trying to get people around you (if you live in an Arabic-speaking country) to speak with you in Arabic so that you can pick up sounds and words only to have them answer you in English (whether or not English is your native language!)

Gulf Arabic Language Resources
There are an increasing number of online sites tailored for learning one Arabic dialect or another.

One of the popular, free and user friendly sites is Gulf Learning Gulf Arabic Online with many resources [I notice this site is currently up for sale].

Another do-it-yourself course that comes with two books and three CDs is entitled Spoken Arabic Step-by-Step. This guide, by Dubai-based John Kirkbright, is easy to follow, simply explained and the audio has speakers from several parts of the Gulf States so one can get acquainted with different accents. A review of this resource is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Keep adding to your knowledge of the Arabic language. It is affirming to the local people to use their language, it opens up and develops friendships and, if nothing else, it keeps the grey matter stirred.

There are hurdles and obstacles but as they say in this region:

رِحْلِة الأَلْف مِيل تَبْدَأ بِخَطْوَة Transliteration: riHlit il-alf miil tabda’ bixaTwa

“From small beginnings come great things” (literally, "The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step")

(Taken from, Primrose Arander & Ashkhain Skipwith, Apricots Tomorrow (London: Stacey International, 1997).

Geoff Pound

Image: Conversing in Gulf Arabic (courtesy of Gulf

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Iran, the UAE and the Middle East

“Iran has done what decades of peace proposals have not done — brought Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. together. You can go to Jerusalem or to some Arab capitals and the diagnosis of the situation is the same: Iran is gaining hegemonic strength over the region and is spreading tentacles of instability all around.”

So says David Brooks in his NY Times column on Middle Eastern relationships. To read the full article, here is the link:

David Brooks, ‘Present at the Creation’, NY Times, 6 November 2007.

Image: “Iran is taking advantage of the region’s three civil wars…”

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Melbourne Cup: ‘Efficient’ and ‘Emirates’ take the Honors

‘Efficient’, trained by Graeme Rogerson, and ridden by Michael Rodd came with a late run to get up on the line to claim the Emirates Melbourne Cup on Tuesday afternoon at the Flemington Racecourse.

The ‘Emirates’ name was on the cup, the billboards and the luxurious marquee which took a Venetian theme (to mark the new route to Venice). The tent was full of celebs drinking top grade Moet and exquisite food.

In the run up to the cup Emirates and other sponsors came in for criticism with their over-the -top extravagance.

2008 Report: Aussies Not Happy with Flood of Foreign Horses at Emirates Melbourne Cup.

Geoff Pound

Image: Efficient flying to a winning lead against Fly Emirates

Strikes Prompt Consideration of UAE Minimum Wage

After the initial strikes by 4,000 Dubai construction workers there were hundreds of arrests and tough talks of deporting huge numbers of protesters and giving them a life ban upon reentry to the UAE.

While interviews were rare and news was scarce the decision now seems to have been greatly modified. At a time when the very same UAE skyline and completed buildings were been showcased to delegates at the Festival of Thinkers and the US First Lady, Laura Bush and international interest was high, the thought of deporting thousands of the workers who had contributed significantly to the UAE success was obviously deemed to be a bad move.

Now the word from the Ministry of Labour is about protection and encouraging companies to recognize that workers are worthy of their hire.

A soft and compassionate report from the ministry was issued in the Gulf News and can be found at:
WAM, ‘Labour Ministry Told to Protect Workers’, Gulf News, 5 November 2007.

The many international papers have reported this news and their commentaries are much more pointed. One example can be found at:
AP, ‘Asian Workers’ Strike Prompts Emirates to Start Considering Minimum Wage’, International Herald Tribune, November 5, 2007.

Image: Construction workers Dubai.

MTV Developments in the UAE and the Middle East

MTV Arabia has outlined its thinking and its offerings as it looks toward the Dubai launching on 17 November 2007 of a new channel aimed at a potential audience of 200 million across the Middle East.

To tune into the announcement:

Jolanta Chudy, ‘MTV’s Arab Net Thinking Locally’, The Hollywood Reporter, November 6, 2007.

Top Books According to Facebook Users on the UAE Network

In an earlier posting I gave the number of people on the Facebook—UAE Network. Have a look at that total then and compare it with the current total of 113, 005.

Facebookers in the Emirates are increasing by a sizeable amount every day.

By the number of discussion posts one would think that Facebook Users don’t have any time for reading, however in the profile page for each user there is space to list one’s interests, including reading and one’s favorite books.

Here are the top Books as listed by those on the UAE Network:
1. The Alchemist
2. Da Vinci Code
3. Harry Potter
4. Angels-Demons
5 Memoirs of a Geisha.

Geoff Pound

Image: UAE Banner for the Guinness Book of Records. Read the story about the UAE Facebook Record

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dubai & Sharjah Videos: Dubailand, Marina, Internet City, Finance Center & Business Bay…

Halcrow, according to its blurb, is responsible for “planning, design and management services for infrastructure development worldwide.”

Halcrow builds airports, marinas, roads, bridges and tunnels.

The Halcrow site contains some interesting short videos of some of its projects around the world. There are several with a UAE focus.

Check out the videos on a range of different projects in Dubai, at this link:

Halcrow Videos Dubai

Videos on some Sharjah projects can be seen at this link:

Halcrow Videos Sharjah

The video on the Kalba Road and the Gillay Tunnel is at this link:

Kalba Road and Gillay Tunnel

The video showing the construction of the grand Sheikh Zayed mosque and the Golf Course in Abu Dhabi can be seen at this link:

Abu Dhabi Videos

Image: Dubai Marina

Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Golf Club, Abu Dhabi on Video

Halcrow, according to its blurb, is responsible for “planning, design and management services for infrastructure development worldwide.”

Halcrow builds airports, marinas, roads, bridges and tunnels.

The Halcrow site contains some interesting short videos of some of its projects around the world. There are several with a UAE focus.

The new Sheikh Zayed Mosque is being built in the UAE capital (thanks to Halcrow) as is the new Golf Club whose club house and 19th hole has a falcon-like structure.

Check out the way these two very different projects in the capital are being constructed, at this link:

Halcrow Videos Abu Dhabi

The Kalba Road and Gillay Tunnel project can be seen at this link:

Kalba Rd and Gillay Tunnel

The many Dubai and Sharjah projects can be seen at this link:

Dubai and Sharjah Videos

Image: Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Leadership Lessons behind Emirates Airline Success

Maurice Flanagan, the CEO of Emirates Airline, recently delivered an address as part of the Wharton Leadership Lecture series and he took the opportunity to talk about his leadership style and the leadership of the Al-Maktoum family's leadership style.

This report can be found at:

‘Emirates Airline executive shares success story that began "22 years ago with two planes in the desert"’, News, Emirates Airline, 5 November 2007.

Image: Maurice Flanagan, at 79, the oldest CEO in the business.

Keep in touch with what is happening out east by checking:


Sunday, November 4, 2007

New Book: UAE Speeches to the United Nations

The whole collection of speeches delivered over 35 years by representatives of the United Arab Emirates before the United Nations General Assembly has been issued by the UAE Foreign Ministry.

The 429-page, six-section compilation entitled "The UAE speeches before the UN General Assembly from 1971 to 2006" offers a documentary overview of the UAE foreign policy based on speeches by its successive representatives at the world's largest annual meeting of the heads of states.

The speeches, organised in chronological order, were delivered by current UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and former Foreign Ministers Ahmed Khalifa Al Suwaidi (1971-1978), Rashid Abdullah Al Nuaimi (1978-2006) and the late Saif Saeed Ghobash (1973-1977).

The introduction of the new book noted that the UAE, ever since it became a member of the United Nations in 9 December 1971, has been keen to commit itself to the principles outlined in the Charter of the United Nations and all affiliated organizations and entities.

Source: ‘Compilation of UAE Speeches Made to the UN’, UAE Interact, 4 November 2007.

Image: UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.

Birds of the United Arab Emirates

A review of the recently republished book, A Photographic Guide to Birds of the Middle East, has been posted on the site, Reviewing Books and Movies.

An article about Birds in Fujairah has been posted on the site Fujairah in Focus.

This newly revised publication focuses on bird species in the United Arab Emirates, thanks to a couple of essays by Simon Aspinall.

Some salient points about birds and bird watchers in the Emirates include the following:
* In the growing volume of tourists to the UAE there is an ever-increasing number of tourists who come primarily to watch birds
* The UAE boasts a bird checklist of 433 species of which 300 are migrants (usually in the winter) with 130 species that breed in the Emirates
* The best time to look for birds in the UAE is in the cooler months between October and March (this period corresponds with the time when there is high migratory traffic)
* There is no endemic species in the UAE i.e. birds that exist only in the UAE and nowhere else in the world
* As in other spheres in the UAE, the bird population is a place where ‘east meets west’, making bird watching a rich and rewarding pastime
* The UAE government has transacted legislation to protect birds in special bird areas e.g. Ras al Khor (head of the Dubai Creek)
* There are at least twenty important bird areas in the UAE where one can see a variety of bird species

The contributors to the book, Birds of the Middle East, are keen to see people added to the small group of 8-10 active bird watchers resident in the UAE. To this end the book lists the Bird Watcher groups and gives the email addresses of where you can send the records of the birds you spot and where you might get news about bird watching tours.

It is worth having a look at the web site Birding the United Arab Emirates and checking the photos and the ‘This Month So Far’ with the list of birds sighted and the popular areas for watching.

Geoff Pound

Image: The hoopoe. This bird is the only bird to be named in the Koran but in this last month it has been seen many times and in many places in the UAE, including the Dubai Pivot Fields, the Jebel Ali Golf Resort, the Mushrif Palace Gardens (Abu Dhabi), the Fujairah National Dairy Farm and our front lawn.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Falling Dollar+Rising Costs= Protesting Labourers +Anxious Property Developers

In the past week the falling dollar and a steadily rising cost of living have prompted a series of violent strikes by workers, whose demand is simple: they want more pay.

“I no longer have enough money to send home to my family. My expenses are too great,” Mr Khan, 33, a crane operator from Haripur, Pakistan, said. He was jailed last week after a protest against his employer, Pauling Middle East Company, a general contracting company, turned into a riot.

More on this article on the UAE’s labour crisis can be found at:

Sonia Verma, Dark side of Dubai’s Economic Boom Exacts Harsh Human Toll’, Times Online, 3 November 2007.

Image: Workers Sitting Down on the Job (courtesy, Times Online).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Emirates Tent for Melbourne Cup is Over the Top

Nearly ready for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, ‘the race that stops the nation’, the Emirates marquee is styled as a Venetian Palace, will be filled with the finest French Moet, a two-storey chandelier adorned with flowers and six tonnes of ice to carve a frozen bar.

The Melbourne Age reports:

“But not all applaud the excesses. World Vision chief executive Tim Costello yesterday condemned the lavish marquee scene as a sad indictment on society. ‘I think the marquees are the outward sign of great wealth and self-indulgence, but not necessarily the sign of great generosity and strength of spirit,’ he said.

For more on the article:

Lorna Edwards, ‘Emirates Marquee, the Hottest Place to be For Some’, Melbourne Age, 1 November 2007.

2008 Report: Aussies not Happy with Flood of Foreign Horses at Emirates Melbourne Cup

Image: Emirates logo linked with winning.

Check out the site Fujairah in Focus