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

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rewriting Ads for Muslims in America

Especially since 9/11, American advertisers have been nervous about specifically referring to Muslims in their sale’s pitches. Either they have not seen much of a potential in specifically targeted advertising or they have been fearful about a backlash if they do something that is culturally and religiously out of order.

Things are changing, however, with more and more products being produced and packaged to comply with Muslim halal regulations and advertising in newspapers and catalogs that recognize the approach of Ramadan or another Muslim festival.


American Muslims are grateful that they are increasingly being portrayed in a positive light and as people other than terrorists and killers. This recognition is helping them to feel they are being validated and are a valued part of American society.


This interesting article by Louise Story can be found at ‘Rewriting the Rules for Muslim Americans’, New York Times, 28 April 2007.


Geoff Pound


Image: Shoppers in the supermarket aisle.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fishing in Fujairah

There is something beautifully basic and timeless about fishing along the 90 kilometer Fujairah coastline.

The Fish Roundabout near the Fujairah marina stands as testimony to the way that fishing has been central to the identity of this area and vital to the livelihood of its inhabitants. The crescent moon of every mosque not only determines the Islamic calendar with its religious seasons but the phases of the moon are still a crucial indicator for the setting and drawing of fishing nets.

Archaeological studies in the UAE have unearthed fishing hooks made out of shell and copper, various types of weights for nets and assortments of fish bones which reveal that this industry is thousands of years old.

There are some recent innovations. Nets are no longer pulled in by hand but by a 4WD at either end. Because of this extra horse power the time it takes for pulling the nets in are greatly reduced and the nets can be deeper and longer than in earlier days. Even so the whole operation still takes about six hours. These nets (dhagwa in Arabic) frequently extend for two kilometers and the ropes at either end, which are hooked onto the jeeps on the beach, can lengthen the entire net to between three to five kilometers. This is a communal activity involving teams of mainly Bangladeshis and Indians, some boats, jeeps, nets and usually an Emirati owner.

Further aspects that mark the contemporary fishing industry are the regulations and enforcement by the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, involving the control of fishing certain species during reproductive seasons, the rules about the size of fish that can be taken, the licensing of the estimated 15,000 fishermen and 5,000 fishing boats in the country and the bans on international trawlers operating in UAE waters. While many other countries are struggling with declining reserves of fishing stock, fish farms in the UAE spawn and nurture more than a half a million fish that are released into the waters annually.

What hasn’t changed in the thousands of years that fishing nets have been set in Fujairah waters are the hours of hard work, by day and by night and through all the seasons and climatic conditions. Every time the nets are pulled in there is still an air of expectation, the rollercoaster of emotions depending on the size of the catch and the intense curiosity of the crowd that forms on the beach to watch over the proceedings.

Fishing takes place in other ways along the coast—in boats, by people casting expensive rods from the beach and the simple Dh6 spool of nylon that can be bought from any Fujairah fishing shop.

Fishing—either hands on or as an observer—is still some of the best entertainment one can have in Fujairah.

Geoff Pound

Images: The Fish Roundabout and a Fujairah fishing collage.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Migrants and Maids in the UAE

This week there is an illuminating New York Times article that explores the experience of migrant workers who leave the Philippines to work in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Japan, to provide money for their families.

Writer Jason DeParle contends that, ‘A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves’, New York Times, April 22, 2007.

Image: Factory workers, Dubai.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Frankfort! Florence! Fujairah!

This is the text for the front of my new Sheesha range of T shirts especially designed for tourists to remind them of the wonderful holiday they had in the United Arab Emirates. It will have the text in Arabic on the back but I fear I won’t get the same alliteration.

Some enterprising tourists who visited the Middle East at the time of the Asian Games in Qatar said they found a dearth of souvenirs in this region, especially those that might be attractive to young people. They brainstormed lots of ideas, from clothing to coffee cups that had stylish calligraphy and Arabic art, as they contemplated their new business proposition.

But forgetting the souvenirs for a moment, what are the sights and the activities that might not only attract tourists to Fujairah and the East Coast but prove to make an enriching holiday experience?

Sankha Guha, the travel writer for the British Independent newspaper is one of many to believe that ‘Fujairah is full of eastern promise’. Writing about his trip to Fujairah last year he prophesied (29 January 2006) that Fujairah might be “the next big story from this region.” Then after making a few snide remarks at Fujairah’s roundabouts, that he said, didn’t quite measure up to Nelson’s Column in London or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, he headed off to Le Meridien’s Al Aqah resort to spend a week writing about beaches, boats, bikinis, bedrooms, balconies and beef bacon. What sort of travel writing is that?

Is the Fujairah Tourist Task Force merely going to major on its get-away beach resorts or are there other things local and international tourists might see and experience?

There are few travel reports that give more than a two star rating to the Fujairah holiday experience. Most of the ones posted on Travel Sites contain snippets like this one from seasoned travellers Ed and Pam Hahn:

“We did some exploring of Fujairah on foot. Pam walked all the way to the corniche, an hour round trip, while I explored a nearby shopping mall and the high rise World Trade Center. Neither of us was very impressed with what we saw. Perhaps our expectations exceeded the reality.”

“Fujairah has a 70km coastline and is the only emirate situated entirely along the Gulf of Oman. As we discovered, there is much natural beauty of the rugged and raw variety. The mountains are jagged, the desert is sparse and rocky and the beaches are pristine. Evidently the diving can be spectacular. Unfortunately, it is also one of the world’s busiest oil bunkering ports and we could see the ships lined up for miles waiting to take on their cargo. Not surprisingly, bilge emptying has had a deleterious effect on the harbour.”

“Our next stop was the mosque and watch towers at Al Bidya. We rate this as one of the highlights of the whole trip to the UAE.”

“We drove back to Fujairah to visit the Heritage Center, which is north of the Fujairah City Center - what a disappointment. It is intended to portray the traditional life of the Emirate people, including traditional houses, utensils, tools and other items as well as the system used for irrigating fields, including the working bull that makes the system go. We saw a bull but it was so old and sickly, I doubt if it could walk on its own. Nothing was labelled in either Arabic or English. For what its worth, the village is open all day; every day and entry is free.”

“We had a late lunch at a gauche looking but interesting Lebanese restaurant, across from our hotel, the Al Meshwar, Faseel Rd., telephone: 09-2229225. The food was excellent and the ambiance of the smoke-filled ground floor, reserved for men only, was fascinating. We ate upstairs. I wanted shwarma but they only serve it at night. This seemed weird to me given that the meat for shwarma is cooked continuously.”

“The next day we requested a late check out and grabbed a taxi to the Fujairah Museum and the nearby Fujairah Fort. The Fujairah Museum has displays of archaeological artefacts found in excavations throughout the Emirate, some going back over 4000 years. There is an exhibit of Islamic Art and other exhibits to illustrate traditional lifestyles. You need only budget about 30-45 minutes to see everything in this museum. It’s open from 8 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 6 pm every day except Saturday. Entrance costs 5 Dirham. Picture taking is allowed.”

“We walked the quarter mile or so to the Fujairah Fort. It’s actually a construction zone. Reportedly 360 years old, the fort was severely damaged in the early twentieth century by the British. It appears they’re just getting around to repairing it some 90+ years later. I think it will be an interesting place to visit someday but it certainly wasn’t the day we were there. The fort itself was locked tight. Everything else was under construction. I believe they plan to move the museum to the fort when they finish restoring it.”

“On our way back to Dubai, we drove through the Masafi Friday Market which is actually open every day. In addition to the usual tourist oriented junk, vendors sell fruits and vegetables as well as some interesting handicrafts including fabrics and pottery.”

“Our overall impression of the East Coast tourist scene is that it is ‘a work in progress.’ Unless you like diving or beach resorts, I would suggest there are other destinations in the UAE or Oman that would make better use of your time.”

With the Dubai government and businesses pouring buckets of money into Disneyland-styled tourist attractions, Fujairah will need to lift its game if it hopes to attract even a small proportion of the 15 million tourists and 120 million passengers that HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is expecting to come to Dubai each year by 2010.

Forecasted this week (22 April 2007) by the Khaleej Times is a ‘Wildlife Sanctuary Coming Up in Fujairah’. Planned for the popular Al Weraiaa area that is home to archaeological sites, rare wildlife and scenic waterfalls, the concept appears to be an attraction that will showcase and preserve rare animals and plants. It will be good to learn the detail of this new project and see how it fits into the overall tourism plan that the Fujairah leaders are plotting for this region.

What are the premiere attractions that you take visitors to experience in Fujairah?

And if Sankha Guha and others are right, that Fujairah is “full of eastern promise,” what are the attractions that you would like to see emerge?

Geoff Pound

Image: The mosque and tower at Al Bidya.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The UAE on Queue

The first time it happened to me I was dumbstruck. I was at the local plumbing shop asking the shopkeeper for a new washing machine hose when an Emirati man came into the shop, greeted the shopkeepers and stood in front of me demanding service. I stood back, watched him get his bolts and pipes and after he left I resumed my request.

I realized that for most of my life I have lived in countries that have a strong queue culture. This tradition was exported by the British, about whom George Mikes joked, "An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one." Queues give to the Brits a sense of belonging, so much so, that they will stand in a queue even when they have no idea what it is for. This British obsession is exemplified in the blog entitled, Standing in a Queue, which explores in quirky detail the culture and etiquette of queues in different parts of the world. One Englishman who was put on hold in a telephone queue was glad to be switched to a football commentary. He was so engrossed that when he was finally put through to the receptionist he begged, “Please put me back so I can get the final score!”

Although India was settled by the British, the queue tradition never took root and replaced the pushing and shoving which is essential for anyone wanting to get onto an Indian train.

While in America people form a ‘line’ and in Canada people ‘line up’, the British form or join a ‘queue’. The word is French for ‘tail’ and long before a ‘queue’ described people standing in a tail formation it referred to the pigtail of plaited hair down the back of the neck which was en vogue in France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The British historian, Thomas Carlyle observed in 1837 that the talent of spontaneously standing in a queue was a distinguishing mark of the French but this feature is no longer evident today. Au contraire! When explaining why relations between the French and the English were so bad, a recent traveler to France said:

“It has nothing to do with thousands of years of wars and battles and bloodshed and incest and grudges that never die. It has to do with the fact that French people simply refuse to stand in a proper line for anything. They don’t respect the queue… English people live for the queue! ... The queue is our life. It gives order to the madness. And the French refuse to live by the queue. They just don’t do it!”

Another person said, “You could be standing in line [in France] for thirty minutes, and some French dude will just walk right to the front. It really is enough to make you hate a whole race of people.” These episodes train you to ditch any strongly held preference of having your personal space as the likelihood of queue barging is diminished by standing as close as possible to the person in front of you.

I experienced ‘queue jumping’ again in the UAE when I recently paid my electricity bill. As I joined the twisted tail of 15-20 Indian and Pakistani men, I calculated that at an average payment time of 2-3 minutes, I was in for a long wait. There was a separate queue for women, which is the local custom to avoid prolonged stares from the opposite sex and is another expression of the segregated culture in the Emirates.

Those who study the art of queue management say that customers get less impatient if the lines snake, to create the illusion that people are moving faster but in this waiting area, the line was mainly straight and it extended through two rooms. There was no television monitor or what the American amusement parks call ‘inline entertainment’, to take people’s attention away from the clock.

An Emirati man entered the hallway and went straight to the counter, followed soon after by another compatriot. They shook hands, kissed and hovered about until the cashier served them, whereupon they glided out with their receipts. Later a businessman arrived shouting Arabic into his mobile phone. As he continued his conversation he strode confidently to the counter, dropping his account and money onto the cashier’s desk. His power dressing at this electricity office had the desired effect because he was served at lightning speed.

As I got within three of the counter one of the cashiers announced that the computers had seized, that they would have to be rebooted and that service would recommence in fifteen minutes. There was no point in storming out and going to the opposition for this is the only electricity supplier in the city and if the bill is not paid the power is cut off. When I eventually reached the counter and got the receipt in my hand I asked the cashier, “Why don’t you follow the principle of ‘first come, first served?” he appeared unimpressed with my question and muttered things about people not being able to get a car park and customers having a sick relative at home. UAE citizens appear to receive preferential treatment over expatriates on a temporary visa and one’s age and standing (wasta in Arabic) allows you to claim pole position.

A visit to the local dental hospital gave further insights into the practice of queuing and customer service. After sitting in the waiting room for an hour and watching other people getting called to see their dentist an Egyptian businessman exploded and demanded that the receptionist tell him why he was being overlooked. “Time is money!” he said. “I can’t sit here all day! It’s unfair!” Later when I got my call up and treatment I was told I would have to come again to finish the dental work. After being given a date I asked what time I should come. “Anytime,” said the dentist. “I never give out appointments because no one ever keeps them.”

The checkouts at UAE supermarkets and the narrow lines at the immigration hall at the international airports are signs, however, that the queue culture is taking root in the Middle East. While queues reduce the feeling of unfairness, one is still left with the challenge of deciding which queue is the shortest. Many international companies and new government facilities, have established the ‘virtual queue’ in which they issue customers with numbers that allow them to take a seat until their number appears on the television monitor.

The Chinese have never been predisposed to queues but their government has recently instigated a campaign to promote a queue culture. With the Beijing Olympics approaching in 2008, government leaders and games officials are worried about how rude they might appear to their international guests. To ensure a favourable impression they have established a campaign to promote lining up, along with other measures to curb the public vices of spitting, cursing, littering and mangling the English language on signs and menus.

On 11 April 2007 Beijing inaugurated ‘Queuing Day’ which will be held on the 11th of every month because the date symbolizes an orderly line. Jim Yardley, in his article, ‘No Spitting on the Road to Olympic Glory, Beijing Says,’ reported that “Volunteers wearing satin ‘Queuing Day’ sashes shooed rush-hour commuters into lines at busy subway stations, while hospital administrators and a few city officials handed out long-stemmed roses to patients who stood in line to pay their bills or pick up medicines.”

Some of the slogans adopted by various districts in China to promote the new culture included the following:

“It’s civilized to queue, it’s glorious to be polite.”

“Voluntarily wait in line, be polite and put other people first.”

“I care about and participate in the Olympics and set an example by queuing.”

“I am a member of the queue.”

The UAE may not opt to instigate Queuing Day with sashes, slogans and long-stemmed roses but it will be fascinating to monitor the ongoing experience of queuing in the Emirates.

Geoff Pound

Image: This group seems to be having fun in a queue.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

UAE Environment: It’s in the bag

“A carpet of plastic waste strewn across wide swathes of the deserts near Dubai is killing wildlife and domestic animals in alarming numbers, says a top Dubai environmentalist.”

“Two of every three animals autopsied at a Dubai laboratory have died in part due to plastic ingestion, says Dr Ulrich Wernery, a 20-year UAE resident and founder of the Emirates Environmental Group.”

“This is the worst environmental threat facing this country. Death of our animals from plastic is reaching epidemic proportions in the UAE, but people won’t do anything about it,” said Wernery.

Read more and see the photos on this alarming story by XPress reporter, Derek Baldwin at ‘Death Valley: Plastic Tragedy’.

Image: One of the animals that died due to the ingestion of plastic.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fujairah Women’s College Takes the Lead

The Fujairah Women’s College (FWC) is giving to businesses and schools on the UAE’s East Coast a constructive lead in practical environmental concern.

Dr. Bill Lex, Director of the Fujairah Higher Colleges of Technology, and Ms. Donna Wilson, Head of Student Services, have been in long term discussions with the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG). With its help, three recycling bins (pictured) have now been installed within the College grounds.

The total cost of the three bins is Dh 10,800 and the purchase of the bins for the FWC was achieved through the sponsorship of Dulsco, a UAE-based company. EEG has connections with manufacturers who make the recycling bins in large and small sizes.

The staff and students of FWC are being encouraged to bring newspapers, aluminum cans and plastic bottles and put them into the appropriate bins. The recycling processes are performed at different recycling centres, hence the need for separating the various items at the collection point.

The EEG is a voluntary, non-government organization that pays for the transportation of the waste to the recycling depots. It makes arrangements with various recycling companies who promise to collect the waste within 48 hours of receiving a call to say that the bin is full.

The aim of the FWC project is to get all students and staff participating so that the recycling of waste will become part of their daily lifestyle. The College leadership realizes that this will require a long process of education. The FWC is involved in a competition with other colleges that are vying to win the EEG’s first prize, which is the latest laptop for the top performer in volume of waste collected for recycling.

The College had a launching ceremony on 10 April with an address by EEG Chairperson, Ms. Habiba Al Marashi, a speech by a student, a time for questions and answers and a celebration by students who brought some waste and made the first deposits. Following this, some awareness-raising activities such as a continuous Power Point display has been screened around the College. Teacher, Lukas van Veen says, “The FWC students are currently completing an integrated project entitled, ‘Reuse, Reduce and Recycle’. At the conclusion, students will be encouraged to formulate creative ideas on how waste can be reduced, reused and recycled at home and at the College. Their findings and recommendations will be given to the management of the FWC.”

Reducing Waste
The recycling project at the FWC is good news for several reasons. It will reduce the amount of waste that would otherwise go into landfill. Here is a summary of how long different products take to decompose:

Paper tissues: Three months
Apple cores: Up to six months
Cigarette butts: Three to five years
Chewing Gum: Five years
Plastic bags: 450 years
Aluminum cans: Up to 500 years
Plastic bottles: Up to 1,000 years
Glass bottles: Up to 4,000 years

Turn Old Into New
Dumping waste in rubbish tips is no longer recognized as the most appropriate solution for dealing with our unwanted material. Increasingly our waste is being regarded as a valuable resource.

Recycled newspaper can be turned into new paper, so think of the trees that we save as we recycle the Gulf News and the Khaleej Times.

Recycled aluminum is the most efficient material to recycle and can be turned into new cans indefinitely. This process only uses 5% of the energy it takes to produce aluminum from raw materials so recycling gives enormous energy savings.

Plastic is made from oil so the recycling of plastic bottles reduces oil consumption, and there is a saving of energy as old bottles are transformed into new containers.

At present, glass is not being collected from Fujairah but the EEG is working to secure a transporter and when this is found, a special receptacle for glass containers will be provided free of charge.

Giving a Lead
There are many schools and businesses throughout the UAE that are involved in similar Recycling Projects. At all stages of the process they have received invaluable help from EEG through workshops, conferences and the availability of posters and brochures. EEG Waste Manager Coordinator, Ms. Jasleen Bhinder says, “We are very happy to come to any organization in the UAE to provide education and we like to receive people at our Dubai office.” The FWC appears to be the first organization in Fujairah and on the UAE’s East Coast to install the recycling bins.

Steps Ahead
If you think your group might follow the lead of the FWC here are some steps:

1. Gather Information:
Check out the EEG web site, call the FWC for advice, promote the idea within your group, secure a green light from your organization to proceed and set up a Recycling group to manage the establishment and ongoing activities.

2. Choose the Size of the Bins:
All groups in the UAE have gone for the large size bins.

3. Select the Placement of your Bins:
Choose a spot that will provide easy access for cars, good visibility as a reminder to people to bring their waste, and security from vandalism or people wanting to use the bins for dumping any waste.

4. Pay for the Recycling Bins:
Gather the money within your organization or do what most groups do and find a sponsor. The Recycling Bins have an area where a sponsor’s logo can be displayed, offering the company valuable advertising space and declaring them to be conservators of the environment.

5. Order your Recycling Bins through the EEG.

6. Plan an Opening Ceremony when representatives from the EEG can officially launch the project.

7. Arrange regular Awareness Activities and Education to maintain attention.

8. Mark World Environment Day (5 June) on your organization’s calendar.

9. Send representatives to the annual EEG Award Ceremonies
(hopefully to collect your prize) and be inspired by the stories of others.

10. Encourage other organizations to establish a Recycling Project and share with them the lessons that you have learned through the process.

For Further Details Contact:
Fujairah Women’s College: Donna Wilson Email: donna.wilson@hct.ac.ae

Regarding the RRR project: Lukas van Veen Email: lukas.van-veen@hct.ac.ae

Emirates Environmental Group Email: eeg@emirates.net.ae
P O Box 7013
DUBAI.

The Fujairah Women’s College needs to be congratulated for giving a strong lead. Hopefully this will inspire many other groups to follow suit.

Geoff Pound

Image: The three new recycling bins at the Fujairah Women’s College.

Further pictures, provided by the FWC, Dulsco and the EEG can be seen at the following link—The FWC Recycling Project Picture Gallery

Friday Market: Why Markets are Hard to Beat in the UAE

There is a vibrant ambience at a traditional market or ‘souk’ in the United Arab Emirates and this factor is a quality that even the largest malls in the world do not possess.

Take the Friday Market on the Dubai side of Masafi along the road to Fujairah. It’s no wonder that all tour operators stop here. Even the name is quirky, for the Friday Market opens every day and even if you’re traveling the road in the middle of the night there’s always someone awake to sell you a sweet banana or an apple for the road.

The origins of the Friday Market are shrouded in mystery. Nothing is written down but the oral tradition records that decades ago three Emirati farmers would come to the mosque and after Friday prayers they would unload their trucks and sell the produce from their farms at the roadside stalls.

The Friday Market is surprisingly located because whichever way you approach it you round the bend and it’s there before you know it. Sandwiched between high mountains and a nearby wadi, the high rainfall in this area (for the UAE) has ensured the good production of crops and a natural oasis for travelers and people wanting to pitch their tent for a night.

The Friday Market is a work in progress. It is only in recent years that electricity has been connected and the petrol station has added a modern touch. The stalls are no longer run by Emirati farmers but by Bangladeshis who sell fruit and veges, Afghanis and Pakistanis who operate the many carpet shops and Indians and Egyptians who run the café, the souvenir shops and the one cassette and video outlet. There are several extensive nurseries where you can buy bedding plants and sizeable trees. A mosque is part of the strip in case the shopping coincides with a time for prayer. One writer who has traveled this road for many years notes that the Friday Market shops have become disappointingly homogenous in recent years.

One of the attractive things about a market is that the produce is usually fresh and locally grown, although, how much of the Friday Market fruit and vegetables comes from nearby is anyone’s guess. It is fun to wander into the pottery shops where you can purchase locally made pots, cups and incense burners.

One does not feel as claustrophobed in a market as you can when encapsulated in a shopping mall with its special lighting and music to tempt you to buy. If you look around the Friday Market you can see the mountains and the farms which is a vivid reminder of the soil and the trees from where this produce has come.

For those who must have the climate-controlled malls, the Friday Market counters with its creative alternative. People can drive alongside the stalls, place their orders and receive their purchases all from the comfort of their air-conditioned vehicles. The Americans claim to have invented the drive-through concept in the 1940s with their drive-through restaurants (or ‘meals on wheels’), the drive-through banks, the drive-through pharmacies, the drive-through liquor stores and even their drive-through marriages, as popularized in Las Vegas. Sure there are no microphones, speakers and uniformed sales assistants but the Friday Market has been offering a drive-through service for yonks. There are oodles of staff so you won’t be kept waiting if you’re in a hurry.

The best shopping experience is when you get out of the car and the Friday Market is ideally situated to provide a timely stretch for travelers making the trip to and from Fujairah. Moving among the stalls you can see trading at its most basic level. There is no window dressing because there are no windows to dress. There are no advertising banners beaming their cunning logos at you. The market is free of wrapping, credit cards and other fandangled accessories.

But fruit and vege shoppers are induced to make a purchase by the oldest selling principle in the book—‘taste and see’. The vendors, who are mainly from Brahmanbaria in Bangladesh, will sit you down, thump on a melon to test for ripeness and cut a generous slice for you to sample. As you sit on your plastic chair munching, with sweet juices flowing from the edges of your mouth, they’ll regale you with stories about their team at the Cricket World Cup. It’s hard to walk away from such friendly and generous shopkeepers empty-handed.

Buying carpets and mats at the Friday Market is equally a fascinating business. If you happen to stop in the early afternoon, chances are you’ll see most carpet sellers lying out the front of their shop having a sleep. The shops are open but the workers enjoy the split shift approach to employment. There are no counters dividing shopkeepers from customers and you can roam around the large areas poking among the piles of carpet. When a design takes your fancy, if you as much as turn your glance away, the carpet seller from Kabul will pull out one hundred other alternatives.

The beauty of the bazaar experience is that there is no fixed price. When you ask, you might be told an outrageous price, although the naïve, who is uninitiated in the art of bartering might reach for their wallet and the seller makes a killing. If you dismiss that price as ludicrous and starting walking towards your car saying, “There’s plenty more carpets along the road,” the vendor will keep asking, “How much do you want to pay?” This cat and mouse haggling is expected and it’s all the fun of the fair.


On my last visit to the Friday Market I purchased a Kashmiri mat. “What is your best price I asked?" The carpet seller from Kabul said it was five hundred dirhams. “Five hundred dirhams,” I exclaimed. “That’s far too much.” When asked what I wanted to pay I said “Two hundred” and received a look of disbelief and a glare that was to say, “Get realistic! How do you think I’m going to earn a living by giving this carpet away?” After the tooing and frooing and some stories about the Taliban we settled on two-hundred and fifty dirhams. Whenever I start to feel guilty about my hard bargaining approach I seek solace and understanding in Umberto Eco’s anecdote concerning Baudolino (in the book with the same title).

Baudolino and the touring party had arrived at Gallipolis to do some shopping and he briefs the group on how to get the best deal:

“You should know that in our markets, at first glance, you wouldn’t want to buy anything because they ask too much, and if you immediately pay what they ask, it’s not that they take you for fools, because they already know you are fools, but they are offended because the merchant’s joy is bargaining. So offer two coins when they ask ten, they’ll come down to seven, you offer three and they come down to five, you stick to three, until they give in, weeping and swearing they’ll end up homeless with all their family. At that point, go ahead and buy, but you should know that the object was worth one coin.”

“Then why should we buy?” the Poet asked.

“Because they also have a right to live, and three coins for what is worth one represents an honest trade.”
(Umberto Eco, Baudolino, p285).

When you visit the UAE, described by a cynic as ‘one giant shopping mall’, don’t forget to visit the souks in Dubai or the Friday Market at Masafi and experience the joy of bargaining.

Geoff Pound

Images:
M. D. Anowar is a single man from Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh and has been selling fruit and vegetables at the Friday Market for seven years.

Mr. Ses Khan has been selling carpets at the Friday Market for eleven years. His wife and four children live back in Kabul.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Experiencing Industrial Life in Fujairah

Coming into Fujairah from the Dubai entrance, if you take a right turn before you get to the Etisalat building (with the distinctive ‘golf ball’ on the top) you will enter one of the major industrial areas of the city. It is sandwiched between the main street and the airport.

This place is abuzz—certainly a hive of industry. Nothing flash, as you negotiate the enormous potholes on the road and dodge the approaching trucks. An amazing array of welders, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics—the whole range of trades.

This is a city within a city with its cafeterias, hair ‘saloons’ and other shops to provide service for the big population of workers.

You would be forgiven for thinking you are in the back blocks of Peshawar or Mumbai as you weave your way through this fascinating maze of work yards. For English speakers, it pays to take a translator, brush up on your Urdu or check on how to say ‘carburetor’ in Pitani.

There are no reception areas with secretaries or waiting rooms with magazines and drinking fountains. No accounts are issued, no receipts are given and you won’t be given a printout, itemizing all the service that has been done on your vehicle.

This area will never be a stopping place for tour buses but it is a superb place to experience the richness of Middle Eastern industrial life.

Geoff Pound

Image: The front yard of an auto spare parts business.

Marine Life in Fujairah

This member of the ray family was washed up on the beach this morning. A good size and distinctively white.

Geoff Pound

Image: Ray at a Fujairah beach.

Monday, April 16, 2007

UAE Teams Clear Mines and Bombs from Lebanon

There is a great story posted today about UAE teams that have been helping to clear mines and cluster bombs from villages in Lebanon.

The article is entitled, ‘UAE Demining Project Clears Ten Villages in South Lebanon’.

Geoff Pound

Image: Map of Lebanon

UAE Population Perplexities

In a Gulf News special this week, Dr Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, Professor of Political Science at the Emirates University, Al Ain stated some population projections for the United Arab Emirates.

Here is a summary of his projections:

1. According to 2005 population census, 8 out of 10 people living in the UAE were born abroad.

2. If the current double digit annual economic growth continues [requiring people to come to the country on work visas], the percentage of non-citizens will reach 90 per cent by 2015.

3. By 2025, the citizens of the UAE will constitute zero per cent of the population and is “unprecedented in modern history” says Abdullah.

This zero per cent projection seems difficult to understand but the point about the proportional decline of Emiratis is clearly made.

The Professor states that these projections “raise serious issues regarding national identity, citizenship, residency, multiculturalism, sustainability and, ultimately, the question as to who is going to be in the driving seat of this rapidly globalising society?”

I couldn’t help but recognize the fear and fright that the writer was expressing, as revealed in the following phrases:

“UAE suffers from a deep demographic imbalance…”
“Getting worse by the hour…”
“The UAE will constitute zero per cent.”
“Unprecedented in modern history.”
“The demographic figures alone are frightening.”
“Who is going to be in the driving seat?”
“The demographic dilemma.”
“The chronic demographic imbalance.”
“Dr Jamal [said] that the UAE has lost the demographic fight for good.”
“He recommends … coexistence … which amounts to a national suicide for the citizens of the UAE.”
“The deadly demographic imbalance in the UAE.”
“The numbers alone, which have reached a critical level, are frightening.”
“To avoid living so dangerously close to the edge of the mount.”

There are issues here about how the indigenous people of the UAE might maintain cultural identity and religious traditions if citizenship and the vote were offered to immigrants who have come from a variety of countries and backgrounds.


Lurking behind these issues is the primary question of power and control or in Abdulkhaleq Abdullah’s words, “Who is going to be in the driving seat?”

Perhaps fear is the factor as to why this debate has not been on the agenda and getting the attention that it deserves.

The full article by Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, can be read at ‘UAE's demographic imbalance’, 14 April 2007.

Geoff Pound

Image: “How the indigenous people might maintain cultural identity and religious traditions.”

UAE’s Changing Work Culture

As the UAE government is undertaking a refinement of its employment laws, aimed at protecting workers from exploitation, the Gulf News is currently taking an in depth look at ‘Labour in the UAE’.

One of the features the Gulf News is examining is the issue of split and straight work shifts.

As in many hot countries, the UAE has traditionally practiced the afternoon siesta, involving the closing down of businesses while workers go home to dine and sleep before returning and working into the evening.

There are businesses, especially in the UAE’s smaller cities and towns where workers can get home quickly, who still favour the split shift. These are often businesses that involve lots of customer contact and who find if their customers are taking a siesta, then they may as well close their doors.

There appears to be a move towards the straight or continuous shift approach in the UAE. Such businesses who have changed to this style argue that:

1. It saves on time as it cuts down on traveling and the procedures for closing and opening the business.

2. It creates greater worker efficiency as some say that workers often return to work at 5.00pm feeling groggy and take a good 30 minutes or more to get back into work mode.


3. It enables workers to finish at 6.00pm and do other things with their evenings.


4. It is better for business because of their availability throughout the day.

A journalist who visited Fujairah to assess its changing work culture said in his article, ‘Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah at 2’, Gulf News, 15 April 2007:

“At two in the afternoon there is less energy in the city of Fujairah, with the traffic flow signaling the end of a working day for some, and the end of the half day for others.”

“Most cafes and entertainment facilities are empty, but a noticeable number of cars are parked around restaurants and other fast food outlets.”

“School buses are seen dropping off pupils and there are visibly less taxis on the streets. At the usually bustling Al Muhait Road, very few people are seen around as rows of closed-up shops line up on both sides of the tracks.”

“On a number of construction sites, a mixed picture develops as some labourers can be seen taking a nap while others toil in the afternoon heat.”

“A few tourists can be spotted braving the sun as they walk around the city, and at the sparsely populated beaches, some use the time on their hands to catch some sea, while others fly a kite.”

It is interesting to observe some UAE businesses maintaining both systems, presumably allowing its employees to decide on their style of work practice.

Geoff Pound

Image: Construction workers in the UAE.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

UAE Holds World Record for Number of Cars

The Dutch petroleum company Shell, opened a new Shell Care Outlet in Fujairah this week, signaling an increase to its network of 13 franchised Shell Care Outlets in the UAE.

The Grand Opening ceremony party was honored by the presence of H.H. Shaikh Saqer Bin Srour Al Sharqi and Mr. Abdullah Bin Haikel Al Bulushi the Emirates Bank Manager in Al Fujairah Bank.

Marwan Ramadan, Sales Manager in Shell Lubricants, said:
“The automotive industry in the UAE is experiencing a sharp growth resulting from more vehicles on the road. The huge number of cars will require a correspondingly massive service support infrastructure. The new Shell Care Outlet has been opened as Shell aims to increase its share in the growing market of car care servicing.”

The crucial announcement in the report is that the UAE has the world’s highest ratio of vehicles to the population.

The UAE is currently home to some two million vehicles of which 1.3 million are passenger cars. In Dubai alone, vehicles registered in 2006 reached over 700,000, which was a 12 percent increase from 2005 figures. Abu Dhabi has recorded the biggest change with a 700 percent increase in the number of vehicles over the last five years.

This might be good news for Shell and other petroleum companies but it is bad news when considering the further congestion of the roads and the increased pollution in the atmosphere.

Geoff Pound

Source: ‘Shell Opens New Car Center in Fujairah,’ MENAFN Press, 11 April 2007.

Image: Picture of Dubai traffic, bumper to bumper.

Stoning and Lashing in the UAE

The UAE Federal Supreme Court this week upheld the earlier ruling of the Federal Sharia Court of First Instance in Ajman, to hand down the death sentence by stoning to a Pakistani man found guilty of having unlawful sexual relations with his four stepdaughters.

The Gulf News report said that a police officer had remarked that this was the first time that somebody had been sentenced to death by stoning.

The man who is in his 50s admitted his guilt at all stages of the court process.

The four women were sentenced to 80 lashes each for ‘allowing’ their stepfather to have sex with them. They reportedly gave birth to 11 children by their stepfather.

These women, who are now aged between twenty-one and twenty-six, told the judge their stepfather had threatened them with a knife as he forced them to surrender to him.

The report did not indicate how the charge of ‘allowing’ the stepfather to have sex with them, squared with their statement of being forced to comply to his advances, at the threat of a knife.

The punishment decreed by the court has already been carried on the women.

The mother of the young women (who was formerly married to an Emirati man who died twelve years ago) has been accused of aiding and abetting her husband but is yet to be sentenced.

The full report is online at: Bassma Al Jandaly, ‘Court upholds Stoning Penalty Against Man’, Gulf News, 13 April 2007.

Geoff Pound

Friday, April 13, 2007

Checking the UAE Calendar

More than a month ago (early in Spring) I posted a picture of a palm tree with the dates just forming. The article is called Springtime in Fujairah if you’d like to see it for comparison.

Here is a picture taken this week of a palm tree that shows the dates plumping nicely.

These Arabian calendars are indicating that summer and harvest is on the way.

Geoff Pound

Image: Date palm.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dead Fish, Oil and the Fujairah Beaches

A regular reader of this Experiencing the Emirates site has written today in response to my previous articles entitled, Extra Oily Fish in Fujairah, Further Fish Deaths in Fujairah and Further Fishy Stories from Fujairah.

This person who lives in Singapore asks, ‘How are the Fujairah beaches now following the oil spill?”

Last Friday morning there were large areas of oil on the beach (north of the Hilton Hotel). We are still trying to get the oil and sand combo off our shoes.

Earlier this week there were stretches where there were lots of oil globules. These have gradually disappeared over the last few days.

The beaches do look much better but looks can be deceiving and oil takes a long time to break up, especially when it is untreated.

Today there were lots of little fish washed up on the beach, although it is difficult to ascertain whether this was due to an ominous cause or whether these were fish that escaped the net when it was pulled onto the beach.

Low down on the mud flats this morning I found a mobile phone (pictured) which was caked in oil and sand.

I visited the official at the Environment Management Division of the Fujairah Municipality. He was still of the view that the carpets of dead, small fish last week were the result of the mismanagement of fishermen. I told him of the presence of large fish that had died on the beach the day before and in subsequent days, the visible signs of oil in the water, on the beach and on our shoes. I left the phone with him so that he could see the oil.

The official said that his department is hamstrung regarding the investigation of oil spills out in the deep. His jurisdiction extends 10-12 kilometres out from the beach so it is over to the police to deal with tankers further out in the sea. This seems to be a difficulty especially as the Sharjah Municipality is currently probing into oil spills reported by residents and fishermen out from Kalba beach. He also said that his department regularly tests the water to check on levels of oil and other impurities.

Thanks for the enquiry. It is good to know that international readers are concerned about our Fujairah beaches, the fishing industry and the marine life.

Geoff Pound

Image: The mobile phone found today on the Fujairah beach. It is a Nokia phone. If it is yours you can collect it from the Environment Desk at the Fujairah Municipality.

Two Dirham Shopping in Fujairah

The USA has its Dollar Stores.
Canada has its Loonie and Toonie stores (Canadian nicknames for $1 and $2 coins).
The UK has its Pound Shops
In NZ and Oz they have their Two Buck shops.
Saudi Arabia has its 2 Riyal shops.
India has its 49-99 shops.

You can read all the names used by different countries at the Variety Store web site, which refers to ‘price-point’ retailers that sell inexpensive items such as cleaning supplies, toys and sweets. Unfortunately, over the years as inflation bites they have to raise their prices and they usually do not change their name!

Not to be outdone the United Arab Emirates has joined the Variety Store chain with the establishment of the ‘Two Dirham Center’. I don’t know whether there are others throughout the UAE but this one pictured, is still under construction in the Anajaimat suburb of Fujairah (near the Avenue Shop and the Giant Supermarket).

Geoff Pound

Image: The new ‘Two Dirham Center’.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Petrol Costs in the United Arab Emirates

Further in the series on prices and the cost of living in the United Arab Emirates is this posting on the cost of filling up the car at the Petrol Station.

This week when I filled up the car this was the cost of fuel:

91 octane (marked red at the UAE pumps) was Dh 5.75 [US $1.56, AUS $1.89] a gallon.

95 octane (marked green and called ‘special’) it was Dh 6.25 [US $1.70, AUS $2.06] a gallon.

Diesel was Dh 8.60 [US $2.34, AUS $2.83] a gallon.

To fill up my small to medium sized car (Ford Focus) with 9.92 gallons cost Dh 62. At the moment the cost of filling up a small car in France (where there are additional taxes) is approximately 70 Euros.

The prices for petrol seem consistent throughout the UAE and do not appear to fluctuate from station to station as in many other countries. Consequently, the prices are not advertised to woo approaching cars, as if to say, “Our prices are cheap, come and fill up here.” The price of diesel does, however, change frequently throughout the UAE.

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in the USA rose about 18 cents to $2.78 [Dh10.2] during the past two weeks, according to the latest Lundberg survey of 7,000 filling stations.

For comparative prices around the world, readers might like to check the site, Gasoline Usage and Prices. I am presuming the imperial gallon is also used here in the UAE.

One other feature in the UAE is that petrol stations are still ‘service stations’ in every sense of the word. Petrol, oil and water (or whatever) is put into your car by service station attendants and credit card facilities are alongside the pumps so you never have to leave the cool of your car.

While the car is filled the attendants wash and clean your car windows. Once when the service station was particularly busy I got out of my car and started to clean the windows myself. Very quickly one of the attendants came up and asked to take the sponge and cleaning blade from me saying, “Please. It’s my duty!”

Geoff Pound

Image: ADNOC Petrol Station attendant, Abdul Rasheed, from India, filling my car up with petrol and giving good cleaning service.

Shopping is Super, Hyper and Going Ultra in the United Arab Emirates

Further to my recent articles on shopping malls and food prices in the UAE, here is a short explanation of some terms used in this region.

In many countries, the term ‘supermarket’ is used to describe a self-service shop with departments that offer a wide variety of food and household goods. The prefix ‘super’ (from the Latin meaning above, over and beyond) indicates that it refers to a shop that is bigger and therefore has a greater variety than a traditional grocery store.

In the UAE the word ‘supermarket’ is generally used for small shops, even the ‘corner store’ variety, that might normally qualify for the term with its different areas, but would hardly make the grade on the basis of the volume of its stock.

Perhaps the word supermarket is used widely in the UAE, because the term popularly used for the big supermarkets is 'hypermarket' ('hyper' from the Greek meaning ‘over, beyond, above measure’). The first hypermarket to appear in the Middle East was the French Carrefour (previously Continent), which was established in Dubai’s Deira City Centre in November 1995.

Now hypermarkets abound in the Emirates and the term refers to a superstore which combines a supermarket with a department store. This concept involves high volumes of goods, low profit margins and big retailing. The intention is that shoppers will find all that they need in the one facility—a one park shopping experience.

What’s next? Perhaps the ‘Ultramarket’, to describe the shopping experience that is extreme and far out?

Geoff Pound

Image: Small Basil Supermarket in Faseel, Fujairah and the ‘big box’ Lulu Hypermarket, downtown Fujairah.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

UAE Wins Prize for its Economy

The United Arab Emirates won another accolade today when it was judged to have the most competitive economy in the Arab world according to the World Economic Forum’s Arab World Competitiveness Report, 2007.

Here is a link to the World Economic Forum announcement along with a Press Release, Report downloads, country rankings and interviews.

Geoff Pound

Image: Report Cover

Hair Cuts and Styling in the UAE

This posting continues the theme of shopping and living costs in the UAE.

Even in times of financial recession, hair dressing shops seem to survive because the haircut is one of the last things that people snip from their budget.

Pictured is Ramesh, who owns the Ramsis Saloon in Faseel, Fujairah (opposite the Preventive Medicine Department).

Ramesh works with his nephew, Ageesh and they both hail from near Cochin in Kerala, India.

Things are done decently and in order in this saloon (see my earlier article on salons and saloons) with Ramesh donning his white coat, removing the tools of his trade from the sterilizer and setting them out methodically like a surgeon. His work on the locks is equally meticulous.

The cost of a hair cut or trim is Dh15.00. This generally comes with a dry head massage that includes a swift cracking of the neck.

A wash and shampoo is another Dh5.00.

Coming from the centre of the art of Ayurvedic massage in Kerala, Ramesh and Ageesh also offer a scalp massage with Indian herbal oils for an extra Dh10.00.

At nearby Ladies’ Hair Saloons, a hair cut or trim (without a wash and shampoo) can cost Dh30.00.

In one of the hair salons (not saloon this time) located in a major hotel in downtown Fujairah the cost of a trim for a man or a woman is currently Dh50.00. Here the shop rental will be higher than other salons and there are many international hotel guests and clients who will have the wherewithal to pay higher prices. As always it would be useful to receive comparisons with other UAE cities and towns.

Geoff Pound

Image: Ramesh, owner of the Ramsis Saloon.

Car Cleaning Costs in the UAE

Further to the recent Fujairah Food Shopping List, there are one or two other shopping costs that might be good to mention.

While the roads are of a good standard in the UAE, there is lots of dust that blows around, resulting in the need for your car to be cleaned regularly.

The modern service stations have automatic car washing facilities, which I have not had any experience of in the UAE. There are other, more sophisticated places where you can give your car an additional paint-cutting or waxing service.

There are many car wash and polishing facilities where you can get your car cleaned by hand.

Pictured in the photo is Alam from Chittagong, Bangladesh. He and his team do an excellent job at our local car cleaners in Faseel, Fujairah. They work from 9.00am to 11.00pm every day of the week for not much money.

Admittedly, my car is small, but the cost of getting it cleaned inside and outside, with shampooing, vacuuming, polishing, new paper mats and the tyres blackened is only Dh15.00. Another car wash outlet that opened up less than a kilometer away (towards the beach) was charging only Dh10 but they have recently gone out of business. It would be interesting to compare Fujairah prices with other centres around the UAE.

Geoff Pound

Image: Clean car, Alam and the Hani Cars Polishing Business, Faseel, Fujairah.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Food Shopping in the United Arab Emirates

Comparing Apples with Oranges
I have been asked many times in letters questions about the availability and prices of different food products in the UAE. I decided when I went shopping yesterday (7 April 2007) that I would take my pen, note down the prices and post these for readers to make their comparisons. The exercise may look tedious but I thought it was about time I developed a decent shopping list. The list is not exhaustive but I have tried to indicate something of the range of products that are available.

The prices are taken from the largest supermarket in Fujairah, the Lulu Hypermarket. Their web site has an online site which is presently under construction. When this is completed this site might be a good source of up-to-the-minute prices.

Some products such as fish are usually cheaper at the fish markets and bread is usually cheaper at a bakery.

I have recorded the prices in UAE dirhams. On 8 April 2007 one dirham is worth:
0.27 US dollars
0.20 Euros
0.31 Canadian dollars
0.37 NZ dollars
1.94 Sth African Rand
0.33 Aussie dollars
18.7 Bangladesh Taka
11.6 Indian rupees
13.1 Philippine pesos
0.41 Singapore dollars
29.4 Sri Lankan rupees
0.13 UK Pounds

You might like to check your currency on the Universal Currency Converter.

Toiletries
Soap Imperial Leather (6 bars) 125 grams 08.25
Palmolive Natural Soap (6) 175 grams 11.40
Dove Shampoo 400mls 12.70
Shaving Blades (4) 12.75
Adidas Aftershave Lotion 100mls 18.95
Shaving Foam 200mls 07.20
Men’s Roll on deodorant 50mls 06.50
Women’s roll on deodorant 50mls 07.90
Olay Beauty Fluid 200mls 18.25
Talcum Powder 250grams 11.75
Strepcils Throat Lozenges (24) 06.95
Durex Sheaths (6) 22.00
Listerine 2 X 250mls 19.95
Toothbrush (1) 08.50
Colgate Toothpaste Adv. Whitener 125mls 06.90

Cleaners, Powders etc.
Lulu 5 boxes of tissues (200 sheets each) 14.90
Dish Washing Liquid Detergent X 3 20.00
Fabric Softener 2 lts 11.25
Gladwrap 200 sq.ft 08.45
Omo Washing Powder 4kg 25.50
Clorox Bleach 1 gal 10.25
Jif White or Cream 500mls 07.15
Dettol 500mls 11.85

Beans
Masoor Dal 500gms 02.95
Chana Dal 1kg 04.75
Moong Beans whole 500gms 02.95
Chick Peas whole 500gms 02.95
Red Beans 1kg 07.80

Sauce & Mayonnaise
Maggi Tomato Ketchup 475 gms 03.75
Heinz Mayo 440gms 06.50

Spices
Turmeric Powder 200gms 01.35
Black pepper whole 200gms 06.25
Nutmeg powder 200gms 06.00
Paprika 200gms 03.50
Cinnamon 200gms 02.75
Ginger powder 200gms 04.25

Rice
Lulu Basmati rice 5kg 17.90
Sunwhite Calrose rice 10kg 29.50
Thai white rice 2 kg 07.60
Egypt White Rice 5kg 11.50
Uncle Ben’s white rice (long) 5kg 30.95
Idly rice 2kg 04.75
Lulu White rice 5kg 09.00
Brown basmati rice 1kg 07.25

Pasta and Pasta Sauces
Dolmio Bolognese 500gms 07.25
2 Minute Noodles X5 80gms 04.35
Kolson vermicelli 450gms 01.75
Lulu Macaroni corni 400gms 01.95
(Same price for shells, spaghetti etc.)
Arrighi tortiglioni pasta 500gms 02.50
(Same for spaghetti and other shapes)
Light Figaro olive oil 750mls 22.30
Rafima Extra virgin olive oil 750mls 16.50
Nacrar Sunflower Oil 5lts 20.95
Iodised Salt 750gms 01.25
Spanish Cordoba Olives 275gms 09.40

Eggs, Dairy, Juices
Bustan Large Eggs 12 07.10
Assiman Quail eggs 18 07.00
Al Ain Mango juice and other flavors 2lt 07.00
Marmum Low fat fresh yoghurt 2kg 09.00
Fresh Laban (liquid yoghurt) 2lt 09.00
Almarai Fresh (full and low fat) 2lt 09.00
Flora Sunflower spread 250gms 10.50

Sugars
Raw sugar 1kg 07.75
Demerara sugar 500gms 05.95
Brown sugar 1 kg 07.25
White sugar 2kg 06.95
Caster sugar 1kg 05.15

Flours etc.
Lulu Flour 2kg 03.25
Lulu Rice powder 1kg 01.90
Whitworth Self-raising flour 1.5kg 06.60
Corn flour 400gms 01.75
Couscous 500gms 05.90
Instant yeast 500gms 07.45

Cake Mix
Cake mix chocolate 524gms 05.25
(Also strawberry, Pound, Banana)

Tins
Pineapple slices 850gms 04.95
Rambuttan in syrup 505gms 04.90
Diamond Tuna 185gms in water 03.75
Peas 400gms 00.95
Baked beans 400gms 03.40
Red beans 440gms 02.65
Corn whole kernel 425gms 03.20
Corn cream 425gms 03.30
Mixed garden veges 425gms 03.75

Jams and Spreads
Al Alali jams 465gms 05.00
(cherry, orange, apricot, marmalade)
Langnese liquid honey 500gms 16.90
Kafe Pure Oz Honey 500gms 13.75
Capiliano Liquid honey 400gms 11.50
Lulu Peanut Butter creamy 510gms 06.75
Egyptian White honey 750gms 13.50
Yemeni Honey in comb 1kg 75.00
Nutella Choc Spread 350gms 11.00
Diabetic Jam 430gms 10.50
(Apricot, raspberry, blackcurrant)
Diabetic Marmalade Jam 10oz 11.75

Powders, Coffee, tea
Milk full cream UHT 1lt 03.25
Anchor Full Cream Milk Powder 1.25kg 19.25
Nestle Milo 500gms 17.50
Jacob’s Coffee Esp. 500gms 22.75
Ovaltine 400gms 13.45
Cadbury’s Bournvita 200gms 06.55
Coffee Mate light 400gms 13.25
Nescafe Coffee (regular) 200gms 22.75
Nescafe Gold 200gms 35.25
Nescafe Decaf 100gms 19.20
Maxwell House Coffee 326gms 12.75
Twinings English Breakfast tea 200gms 18.70
Twinings Jasmine tea 200gms 24.60
Twinings Darjeeling tea 200gms 26.40
Twinings Earl Grey tea 200gms 21.60
Peppermint tea bags (25) 10.30
Twinings Eng. Bfast tea bags (100) 24.35

Biscuits
Oreo Chocolate Sand. Biscuits 176gms 02.75
McVities Digestives 400gms 07.85
Family Choice wafers 175gms 02.75
Crème Noisette Choc Biscuits 100gms 07.50
Choc chips cookies 200gms 03.40
Tasty Crackers 170gms 02.00
Coconut cookies 200gms 03.85

Cereals
Quaker Oats 1kg 09.90
Dorset Muesli 1 kg 12.00
Weetabix (24) 430gms 11.15
Special K 375gms 13.75
Special K 500gms 18.50
Heritage Bran Flakes 500gms 11.75
Kelloggs Corn Flakes 500gms 10.50

Frozen Foods
London Dairy Ice cream Tiramisu 1lit 19.75
London Dairy Ice cream Mocha almond 1lit 16.45
London Dairy Ice cream Butter Pecan 1lit 16.45
Garden peas (Denmark) 450gms 03.50
Watti Mixed veges 450gms 04.75
Watti Mixed garden peas 450gms 04.75
Watti corn 450gms 05.85
Watti corn 900gms 11.45
Watti beans 900gms 07.50
Rose chicken franks 400gms X3 09.25

Fruit Juices, Soft Drinks and Water
Al Rabie orange 330mls 01.75
Cocktail drink 1lt 03.95
Guava Nectar 1lt 03.95
Grapefruit 1lt 03.95
Coca cola cans 330mls (6) 05.25
(Same price for Cola light, Fanta, Pepsi)
Coca cola reg. or light bottles 1.5lt 02.65
Sprite bottle 1.5lt 02.75
Lulu Spring Water 1.5lt X6 05.00

Nuts
Pine nuts (Turkey) 1kg 135.00
Pine nuts (Pakistan) 1kg 79.50
Raisins (Iran) 1kg 06.95
Raisins (black) 1kg 09.50
Raisins (USA) 1kg 15.00
Raisins (Greece) 1kg 15.00
Cashews 1kg 26.00
Cloves 1kg 25.00
Cinnamon sticks 1kg 09.00
Golden Almonds 1kg 34.75
Figs dry 1kg 28.00
Cardamom large 1kg 65.00
Pistachio 1kg 40.00
Black Pepper 1kg 15.00
Hazel Nuts 1kg 38.50
Walnuts 1kg 32.00
Apricot dried soft 1kg 20.00
Coconut powder 1kg 07.50
Karkadi (Iran) 1kg 18.00
Sagi dates (Saudi) 1kg 30.50

Ready to Eat
Mutton samosa (1) 01.00
Cheese samosa (1) 01.00
Vegetable samosa (1) 01.00
Spring chicken roll (1) 02.00
Broasted chicken 06.50

Deli
English Red cheddar 1kg 48.25
French Emental 1kg 31.00
Swiss Emental 1kg 38.90
Parmesan cheese 1kg 62.50
French Brie 1kg 56.50
English Cheddar 1kg 33.75
Red Leicester 1kg 48.25
Bega Cheddar 1kg 22.50
Old Amsterdam 1kg 57.75
Ricotta Cheese 1kg 41.50
Dutch Gouda Mild cheese 1kg 23.50
Dutch Gouda Natured cheese 1kg 49.50
Danish Mozzarella 1kg 28.70
Blue Stilton 1kg 76.45
Anchor Butter Block 1kg 12.50
Danish Feta Cheese 1kg 11.75
Hungarian Cream 1kg 15.45
Egyptian Feta 1kg 09.50
Fresh Bulgari Cheese 1kg 22.90

Meat
Chicken Breast fillets 500gms 13.75
Chicken legs 525gms 15.25
Chicken breasts 1kg 24.00
NZ Minced Beef 1kg 21.90
NZ Rib eye Steak 1kg 47.90
NZ Topside Steak 1kg 26.90
NZ Sirloin Steak 1kg 43.90
NZ Rump Steak 1kg 28.90
NZ Lamb Mince 1kg 22.50

Fresh Fish
Hammour fillets 1kg 19.90
Squid large 1kg 18.90
Dover sole 1kg 11.90
Sultan 1kg 18.90
Prawns defrosted 1kg 39.00
Prawns large 1kg 56.90
Prawns small 1kg 19.90
Red snapper 1kg 19.90
Tuna 1kg 05.90
Barracuda 1kg 06.90
Shark 1kg 06.35
Black Pomfrey 1kg 19.90
White Hammour 1kg 27.90
Sheri (Local) 1kg 07.90

Bread
Large French Stick (1) 01.75
Lebanese White or Brown Bread (6) 02.00
Arabic Brown flat bread (6) 02.25
Chapatti (6) 00.75
White Jumbo Bread 01.75
Brown sandwich Bread 05.75
Wholemeal brown bread (small) 02.25
Wholemeal sandwich bread 03.00
Burger buns (6) 01.50
Mega Vital loaf 06.50
Multigrain loaf 04.50

Fresh Fruit (per kg unless otherwise stated)
Water melon (1) 01.95
Sweet melon 04.90
Sweet melon (Egypt) 05.75
Papaya (Philippine) 05.75
Papaya (India) 05.45
Pineapple (Philippine) 05.95
Banana (Philippine) 03.75
Banana big (India) 05.95
Banana small (India) 05.95
Mango (India) 09.90
Navel orange (Spain) 04.45
Mandarin (Spain) 07.90
Mandarin (Pakistan) 04.25
Lemon (Sth Africa) 03.90
Lemon (seedless) 02.90
Grapefruit 04.90
Limes (India) 04.75
Fresh dates 02.90
Royal Gala Apple (Chile) 06.25
Royal Gala Apple (Italy) 06.45
Royal Gala Apple (NZ) 06.45
Royal Gala Apple (Brazil) 04.65
Golden Apple/Golden Delicious (France) 06.65
Green Apple (Granny Smith) 07.90
Red Apple (USA) 05.90
Pears Anjori 07.25
Pears Packham 04.25
Pears Fuji (China) 04.95
Pears Golden (China) 02.90
Red pears (USA) 06.75
Guava (Egypt) 06.45
Guava (India) 06.25
Red Plums 07.90
Black Plums (Chile) 07.90
Yellow Plums (Sth Africa) 07.90
Kiwifruit (Italy) 08.45
Chestnuts 04.45
Rambuttan (packet of 12?) 09.75
Grapes white 06.90
Grapes red (India) 06.95
Grapes black (Oz) 06.90
Grapes red globe (Sth Africa) 06.90
White nectarine (Oz) 28.00
Red nectarine (Oz) 08.90

Vegetables (per kilo)
Tomato 01.95
Cucumber 02.95
Carrot (Australian) 04.25
Carrot (USA) 03.95
Sweet Potato (local) 04.90
Yam (Egyptian) 04.90
Red pumpkin 01.75
Bread fruit 07.25
Tapioca 04.65
Cauliflower 04.95
Cabbage (green) 01.75
Cabbage (red) 02.25
Egg Plant (small) 03.25
Egg Plant (big) 02.25
Beetroot 02.75
Turnips (local) 03.25
Potato (loose) 02.95
White radish 04.90
Avocado 07.95
Brown onions 06.25
White onions 05.90
Onions loose 01.65
Garlic loose 03.95
Celery 12.90
Mushroom (local) 04.65
Mushroom (Holland) 06.25
Cucumber (Holland) 15.75
Parsley 00.95
Spring onions 00.95
Lettuce Romane 04.95
Lettuce iceberg 03.95
Long chili red 10.90
Long chili green 03.28
Green chili 04.65
White chili 04.25
Beans 05.90
Beans string 06.45

Miscellaneous
Hookah Sheesha Pipe 1pc 115.00

Prices might be different in other towns and cities so it would be good to receive any comments of comparison or comments about any topic.

Geoff Pound

Image: Fruit and veges.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

UAE Malls: Shopping the Emirates

The New Oil
The United Arab Emirates and Dubai in particular, is fast becoming the shopping capital of the world. With an eye to the long term decline in oil production the UAE government is banking on the retail industry for a major source of income. Anji Shalhoub, President and Manager of Etoile Collection, has said that, “The new black gold discovered in Dubai is the retail business.”

Appetite for Malls
Some critics suggest that the UAE is one giant mall but the projections reflect an enormous appetite for malls and retail outlets. I heard of an Australian woman who visits Dubai once a year to stock up her wardrobe. I met an American woman in Florence who spends a week in Dubai each May enjoying a ‘shopping holiday’. People must be serious shoppers to travel such long distances to shop for clothes but for many visitors to the UAE, shopping is also accompanied with rest and recreational pursuits.

Shopping Projections
The Mall of the Emirates was recently (March 30, 2007) named ‘Retail Destination of the Year’ at the World Retail Awards in Barcelona. With its 440 international retail brands, 75 cafes and restaurants, one of the largest indoor ski slopes, a five star Alpine style hotel and a 7,000 capacity car lot, this mall is expecting 30 million visitors each year. This mall is already the largest mall outside North America.

And it doesn’t stop there. It is projected that 75% of the new shopping malls planned in the Gulf region will be located in Dubai.

The Mall of Arabia (part of the City of Arabia) is due to open in 2008 and with its 10 million square feet area, 1,000 outlets, 10,000 car park capacity will be one of the world’s largest malls.

The largest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall, is billed to open in 2009 with 12 million+ square feet, 1,200 stores and 16,000 car spaces it is expecting 35 million visitors in its first year of operation. This Dh billion 2.6 project at the heart of the Burj Dubai will be the largest commercial centre in the UAE.

The list of shopping malls that are under construction or still on the drawing board include, the City of Arabia, Dubai Land, Dubai Festival City (Ikea, the UAE’s largest retail outlet has already opened here), Dubai Outlet City, Burj Dubai Complex, Dubai Pearl Complex and The Walk at Jumeirah Beach residence.

Whereas in early 2005 the total area of shopping centres in Dubai occupied 7 million square feet, the upcoming projects will increase the total area to 45.6 million square feet by 2010 (double that of the US in terms of the ratio of shopping centre area to the residential population).

Upon completion the big quartet—Dubai’s Mall of Arabia, the Dubai Mall, the Mall of the Emirates and the Ibn Battuta Mall will be among the largest malls in the world.

Spending Projections
One begins to wonder when the UAE will reach shopping mall saturation but, according to retail International, the total value of retail (this includes retail outlets beyond the malls) spent in Dubai is expected to reach $7.6 billion in 2009 and Abu Dhabi’s retail spending will reach $1.9 billion. The total retail spending in the UAE will reach almost $10.2 billion per year by 2009.

Shopping Mall Styles
Someone has said that if you’ve seen one shopping mall, you’ve seen them all. This may be true of the labels and many of the products but the design and infrastructure of some of the new malls are quite distinctive.

The creators of the Ibn Battuta Mall have worked hard to produce something different and beautiful. The inspiration of the design is based around the regions visited by the fourteenth century Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta. After studying to become a lawyer he believed that travel provided the best education so he clocked up 75,000 miles during his lifetime. His six travel destinations form the six sub-malls—China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and Andalusia.

This shopping complex is designed to give an education not just a shopping experience. Guided tours are offered and visitors can observe interesting replicas, including many items that Islamic scholars and engineers invented—the first camera, a water raising machine, an elephant clock, a Chinese junk, some time pieces and a compass.

A Home Away from Home
Information on the Ibn Battuta Shopping Mall reveals an insight into what all creators of shopping malls have in mind. It is billed as ‘a home away from home.’ Certainly in the UAE summer the malls, like a home, offer respite from the 50 degree heat. People can turn off their air conditioners at home and make a whole day of it at a mall. There are Kids’ Zones for the children, where they will be safe and occupied so shopping and spending can be accomplished without distraction. The steady inside temperatures and light mean that, as in casinos, shoppers lose all sense of time and keep on shopping. There are cafes where one can be refreshed, theatres where people can be entertained, a wide selection of fast food without having to cook, wireless cafes where people may stay in touch and do their business by phone and laptop.

Shopping Malls and That Something More
The design commentator, Ahmad Humeid, has suggested that shopping is the new religion and shopping malls are its cathedrals. “When one enters the [Ibn Battuta] Persia Hall,” Humeid says, “one cannot but stand in awe, dwarfed by the magnificence of its ornate, tiled dome. And that’s just the beginning of the (religious?) experience.”

From the time we leave our cars and enter the mall, the musak, the aroma, the colours and the architecture all combine to bring us to our senses and ready us for an inspirational experience.

Shopping is a communal ritual and the large masses can reinforce the rightness of what we are doing and the universality of what it is we seek. Our offerings are made and blessings are wrapped and received at the ring of a cash register. Transactions are celebrated with our fellow worshippers over a communion of muffins and cappuccino.

Our inner emptiness and urge to acquire get tangled with large, perfect images of the successful, famous and beautiful icons who represent the brands that will bless us and work the miracles for which we crave.

‘How was that for you?’ we ask as we bring our booty to the car. We feel blessed until our credit card statement arrives but the lure of the mall is strong and we’ll be back, on a regular day or during a special festival, for another spiritual experience.

Geoff Pound

Image: “One cannot but stand in awe, dwarfed by the magnificence of its ornate, tiled dome.” Ibn Battuta Mall, Persia arcade.

The statistics in this article are taken from the book, 1000 Numbers and Reasons Why Dubai. A review of this book can be found at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Further Fishy Stories from Fujairah

In a recent Gulf News article, ‘Dead Fish Cleared from Fujairah Beaches’ on 5 April 2007, the head of the Fujairah Municipality was swift to dismiss suggestions of an environmental cause, insisting it was due to bad fishing practices. The same report quoted a Fujairah Municipality worker saying he had never seen the long carpets of dead fish in his 30 years of service in Fujairah and earlier Gulf News reports have written about the scarcity of fish, making it even more surprising that fishermen would waste their catch.

I reported on my web site, in an article entitled, Extra Oily Fish in Fujairah (dated 3 April 2007) not only the presence of large numbers of small fish but the sight of many large fish washed up on a different beach, (north of the Hilton Hotel) where oil was clearly visible. This article was followed up the next day with another posting entitled, Further Fish Deaths in Fujairah.

It is important to note that the Khaleej Times today cites many reports by fishermen and residents of the presence of oil in the waters further south, in an article entitled, ‘Probe Ordered Into Kalba Beach Oil Slick’.

A similar, independent probe should be extended to all the Fujairah beaches, for the sake of the fishing and tourism industries, the health of Fujairah fish consumers and the preservation of the marine life.

Geoff Pound

Image: One of the many victims.

New Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa 2007 Room Tariff


Further to my earlier story about the new Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa, I am posting the new room rates, as supplied by the hotel.

Let me remind you that I neither have shares in this hotel, nor a bias towards it.

People saw my story and have asked the question so here is the answer.

Further information can be obtained from their web site.

Click on the photo for magnification.

Geoff Pound

New Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa 2007 Water Sport Price List: Part 1


Further to my earlier story about the new Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa, I am posting the new Water Sport Price List. This is part 1. The second will follow.

Let me remind you that I neither have shares in this hotel, nor a bias towards it.

People saw my story and have asked the question so here is the answer.

Further information can be obtained from their web site.

Click on the photo for magnification.

Geoff Pound

New Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa 2007 Water Sport Price List: Part 2


Further to my earlier story about the new Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa, I am posting the new Water Sport Price List. This is part 2. The first is the earlier posting.

Let me remind you that I neither have shares in this hotel, nor a bias towards it.

People saw my story and have asked the question so here is the answer.

Further information can be obtained from their web site.

Click on the photo for magnification.

Geoff Pound

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Easter in the Emirates

Very little information is posted publicity concerning Easter activities in the UAE and what is a major Christian festival in other parts of the world, largely goes unnoticed in the Emirates.

Churches do have a larger raft of services over this weekend, although Easter Sunday is a working day. Depending on your tradition you might find a foot washing ceremony, The Stations of the Cross, a Saturday candlelight vigil and an Easter dawn service.

In Fujairah there is more attention given by supermarkets to the annual Mango Festival than to the Easter celebration. You might locate Easter items in some of the supermarkets in the UAE’s larger cities but in Fujairah it is hard to find a chocolate egg, a hot cross bun or a greeting card.

Online flower shops are inviting people to celebrate Easter with especially designed bouquets and baskets on the themes, ‘Springtime Joy’, ‘Awake with Gladness’ and ‘Love some Bunny’.

Some international hotels and restaurants have a special ‘Easter Brunch’ menu with Easter egg hunts while a Dubai golf club is scheduling an ‘Easter Tee Party’.

Geoff Pound

Image: Saying it with flowers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Islamic Guidance Centers in the UAE

Soon after arriving in the UAE I visited our local Islamic Guidance Center. I told the guide that I was new to the city and was interested in learning more about Islam and the way it shapes life in the Emirates.

I was warmly received, introduced to the director and his team, given morning coffee and delicious Saudi dates. After a tour of the establishment, where I saw people coming for classes and for prayer, I left with a bag laden with books.

In my resource kit I received a copy of the Qur’an (in Arabic and English) and twenty booklets on an assortment of topics—Human Rights, Christianity, the status of women and Islamic views about menstruation.

I was invited to return although I must admit to a little concern when the man said, “If you have any questions, come back here and we will answer them all.”

I greatly appreciated the time that I was given, the warmth of the hospitality and the generous resources. I want discussion and debate but I don’t want all my questions answered. I want to have convictions but I don’t want all mysteries to be explained away.

As Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all art and science.”

Geoff Pound

Image: The Islamic Guidance Center in old Fujairah.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Further Fish Deaths in Fujairah

Further to the earlier posting, a large team of workers from the Fujairah Municipality was doing overtime early this evening, clearing up dead fish from the Fujairah beaches.

With rakes and shovels and amid the intensifying stench, they put heaps of fish into bags.

In one private beach the sand appeared as a large, white carpet of small fish.

Along other beaches today many larger fish have also been found dead.


Geoff Pound

Image: The Fujairah Municpality clean up
and More dead fish.