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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kiwi Sevens Rugby Team Returning to Dubai to Defend Title

Emirates Airline has recently strengthened its connection with New Zealand by becoming the major sponsor of the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Now the New Zealand team has been named top seeds at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, the first event of the 2008/09 season to be played on 28-29 November 2008.

For information, including match and pool schedule check out this link:

NZ Top Seeds at Dubai Sevens, IRB News, 30 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Kiwis—the winners of the Dubai Sevens Trophy in 2007.

Dubai’s Fog and Pollution Challenge

It is always referred to in newspapers and web sites as fog but ‘fog’ is a euphemism for ‘smog’—smoke, exhaust fumes and desert dust are a plenty.

If you’d like to see a series of these smoggy scenes from a tall building in Dubai check out this tourist web site:

Dubai Fog, On Earth Travel.Com, 29 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dubai—not quite holding the world record in air purity.

Eid Mubarak in the Emirates عيد مبارك‎

On this first day of Eid Al Fitr I wish all my readers a happy and blessed Eid.

Eid Mubarak! عيد مبارك‎

Dr Geoff Pound

President Bloom Appointed to New York University Abu Dhabi Campus

The New York University announced on Monday 30 September 2008 that Alfred H. Bloom will lead its new Abu Dhabi campus in the UAE.

When N.Y.U. announced the decision last September to create a campus in Abu Dhabi, commentators wondered if the university’s Abu Dhabi outpost would truly be allowed to have a free exchange of ideas, especially in sensitive areas like religion and women’s rights.

Mr. Bloom, 62, said he was certain that censorship would not be a problem.

“I am convinced that we will be able to provide a vibrant environment which guards academic freedom,” he said in a report in the New York Times.

Here are some questions that have not been adequately addressed in a vibrant and transparent discussion by the University and Abu Dhabi leaders.

In the press statement at the time of the initial announcement 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?

Bloom ‘Emblematic’

In a further report by Inside Education News (30 September 2008) mention was made of the ‘emblematic’ feature of Bloom’s appointment:

“Criticisms of colleges starting campuses or programs in the Middle East often include issues of academic freedom, human rights (in particular in the Emirates, concerns about migrant workers’ rights), and equal access and opportunities for women and Jews.”

“On the latter issue, ‘I am Jewish, as it is well-known,’ Bloom said Monday. ‘I see the institution as committed to diversity, and that my appointment is emblematic of the diversity to which it is committed.’”

“I know that the Abu Dhabi government will make it possible ... for us to include faculty and students from wherever they come.”

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dr Alfred Bloom, the NYU appointment for Abu Dhabi.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Emirates Sponsorship of Rugby World Cup 2011 Helping Kiwis Fly

Emirates Airline has sponsored the Kiwi sailing efforts in the America’s Cup.

Their new sponsorship with the Rugby World Cup in 2011 is a further indication of how deeply the airline is becoming interwoven with the New Zealand scene.

To read more of the sponsorship deal, follow this link:

Paul Lewis, Rugby: Welcome sponsorship as Emirates Come on Board, NZ Herald, 28 September 2008.

More on the Kiwi-Emirati Relationship
New Zealanders Attracted to UAE, ETE
The NZ-UAE Connection, ETE
Emirates Team New Zealand Wins NZ Sailing Award, ETE
Emirates Airline and New Zealand, ETE

Dr Geoff Pound

Australians Interested in Dubai’s Great Cultural Divide

The ‘sex on the beach’ case, touching and homosexuality has already been discussed on this web site but it is interesting to see that in Western Australia a report on the divide in Dubai and UAE values is the most viewed article at the moment [27 September 2008).

The interest is fuelled because Aussies are keen observers of what is going on in the Emirates, many of them are tourists or potential tourists to these parts and Australian values and lifestyle on the beaches of the large continent are open, tactile and tolerant.

To read the article first furnished by Reuters see:
Dubai’s Great Divide, Western Australia Today, 24 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Images of Ramadan in the UAE

The Gulf News has an article about the significance of the last week of Ramadan including some wonderful photographs, one of which is pictured.

Check out the story and the photo gallery at this link:

Siham Al Najami, Time for Deep Devotion, Gulf News, 24 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Population Figures and Trends for the UAE

Business 24-7 has an article on population figures for the UAE and major cities as well as the breakdown between expats and nationals, males and females.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “The country's total population was estimated at around 4.48 million at the end of 2007 and is projected to grow 6.12 per cent to nearly 4.76 million at the end of 2008 and by 6.31 per cent to 5.06 million at the end of 2009, showed the figures by the Ministry of Economy.”

Christina Aguilera Live in Abu Dhabi UAE

Following on the earlier announcement of her concert in Abu Dhabi (24 October 2008), Christina Aguilera has established a concert web site.

Check out this site which has information about tickets (these range from Dh295-890), sponsors, news updates, maps of the venue, a seating plan (capacity is 20,000) and a photographic gallery.

Link: Christina Aguilera in Abu Dhabi, web site.

More recent article:
Christina Aguilera’s Performance Confuses UAE Conventions

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Christian Aguilera.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Send the Right Message for Ramadan and Eid

As with Christmas and New Year in some other countries, the current Ramadan season and the approach of Eid Al-Fitr in Islamic countries means it is the time for gift giving and the sending of cards (see pictured).

A woman who was travelling through life like a whirlwind realised that just two days before Eid that she hadn't sent out any greeting cards.

So without a moment's hesitation she drew up a long list of friends and relatives and she hurried down to the nearby supermarket.

Sprinting through the shopping aisles she finally located some boxes of cards which pictured the peace, goodwill and serenity of the season.

She raced home, penned the cards, licked the stamps, tore out and dumped them in the nearest mailbox.

Soon she was back at the kitchen table, her fingers in a pose of prayerful relief.

A smile slowly softened her harried appearance and she congratulated herself for completing the chore with such efficiency.

Quietly nursing a cup of coffee she noticed the remaining cards still in their boxes and realising she hadn't actually bothered to read the message she picked one of them up.

The outside of the card had a lovely greeting but when she opened the card, to her horror, there was a message that consisted of this one line:

"This simple note is just to say...a little gift is on the way."

Talk about the spirit of goodwill and generosity! This wasn't the message she'd intended to convey!

So often we move at breakneck speed thinking we're saving the world but unaware that we're giving out the wrong messages.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Ramadan and Eid greeting cards.

What Lawyers Earn in the UAE

James Exelby of Arabian Business has posted an article about what lawyers earn in the UAE.

It looks like they are highly valued or as scarce as hen’s teeth for they bank a tidy sum each month.

Exelby says:

“Lawyer salaries in the UAE, especially in the banking and financial services sector, are on the rise, climbing to an average of 82,000 dirhams ($22,330) a month for the Head of Legal, a survey published on Tuesday showed.”

Check out further details on legal salaries including an assessment of the hours that lawyers work in the Emirates and their satisfaction levels.

‘Lawyer Salaries in UAE Up, Now Average $22,000 a month’, Arabian Business.Com, 23 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Tattoos and Henna in the Islamic World

The recent article on how the burgeoning billion dollar global industry of cosmetic surgery is viewed in the Islamic world raises the related and popular issue of getting tattoos.

The site, American Bedu, (which interestingly records ‘experiences and observations of a former American diplomat now married to a Saudi and living in KSA”), has recently (22 September 2008) addressed this issue as it applies not only to Saudi Arabia but to the Muslim world.

Check out the articles and the comments entitled ‘No Tattoos in Islam’ as it roams across issues of permanent markings (tattoos), temporary designs (henna) and corrective surgery (repair), as distinct from cosmetic surgery (for appearances).

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Pictures of tattoos and henna design from around the world.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Your Invitation to Subscribe to Postings from this Site

I’d love you to subscribe to postings from this site because:

1. It is free (unlike most subscriptions).
2. You don’t have to become a ‘member’ of this site.
3. I travel a lot and therefore postings are not always regular.
4. When you subscribe you will get an alert that a new article has been written.

Click on the Subscribe button (see pictured) to get article alerts coming to your computer via Google Reader, Bloglines, or however you manage your favorite web site feeds.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: This has become the universal Subscribe Button on most Internet web sites.

Questions and Answers about HR Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum for Quiz Night

Quiz nights are as popular in Dubai as they are in Dartmouth, Dublin and Dunedin.

Study these questions and answers in preparation for when the quiz leader turns to the subject of the well known Dubai personality, His Highness (HH) Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum:

Questions (answers down the page)

1. In what year was HH Sheikh Mohammed born?

2. Name at least two of HH Sheikh Mohammed’s political roles?

3. How many wives does HH Sheikh Mohammed have and what are their names?

4. How many children is HH Sheikh Mohammed credited with?

5. HH Sheikh Mohammed has been a keen sportsman. Name two sports in which he has participated.

6. HH Sheikh Mohammed owns or is a leading partner in several horse stables. Can you name at least two of these stables?

7. In what year did HH Sheikh Mohammed become Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE?

8. HH Sheikh Mohammed and his investment company (DIC) have been connected with attempts to purchase which English football club?

9. At last count (2007) what was HH Sheikh Mohammed’s estate worth?

10. HH Sheikh Mohammed owns a yacht. What is the name of the yacht and what is distinctive about it?

Scroll down for the answers.


1. HH Sheikh Mohammed was born in 1949 on 22 July.

2. Among his major political roles, HH Sheikh Mohammed is Prime Minister of the UAE, Vice President of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai.

3. HH Sheikh Mohammed has two wives, his ‘senior wife’ is Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma al Maktoum (his first cousin) whom he married in 1979, and his ‘junior wife’ is HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, (daughter of King Hussein of Jordan) whom he married in 2004.

4. HH Sheikh Mohammed has 19 children, 8 sons and 11 daughters.

5. Horse racing (including Endurance Racing) and camel racing.

6. HH Sheikh Mohammed’s horse stables include:
Gainsborough Stud in Wooton Hill, Berkshire, England.
Ballysheehan Stud, Ireland.
Gainsborough Farms, Versailles, Kentucky, USA.
Darley Stables.
Godolphin Stables
Woodlands Stud, the largest stud in Australia.

7. HH Sheikh Mohammed was named to these political roles in 2006 (January 4 and 5).

8. HH Sheikh Mohammed and his company have negotiated to purchase the Liverpool Football Club.

9. In 2007 HH Sheikh Mohammed’s fortune was said to have been worth US$18 billion making him the world’s fifth richest royal.

10. HH Sheikh Mohammed purchased a yacht named Dubai which is the longest yacht in the world at 163 metres or 530 feet.

All questions and answers were drawn in September 2008 (they might need updating) from the following sites:
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Wikipedia.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Official Site.

-If you got 8 questions right you deserve to have lunch in the Burj al Arab (one of HH Sheikh Mohammed’s famous building projects).

9/10-If you got 9 questions right you deserve to be taken to the top of the highest building in the world, the Burj Dubai, another historic project over which HH Sheikh Mohammed has presided.

10/10-If you got 10 questions right you deserve a trip to watch the Dubai Cup, the richest horse race in the world.

Further Quizzes
Quizzes about His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the UAE are very popular with people of all ages.

There are several quizzes (at various levels) listed on HR Mohammed’s Official Site at this link for anyone wanting to get more practice.

Related Articles
Sheikh Mohammed Hailed as Most Powerful in Horse Racing Industry, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Pays Record Price for Aussie Horse Racing Deal, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Ambitions for Middle East, ETE.
Shaikh Mohammad Models Rare Style of Leadership, ETE.
Shaikh Mohammed’s Leadership is Honoured, ETE.
New Website for H H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ETE.
Dubai and Shaikh Mohammed on 60 Minutes Video, ETE.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Collage.

UAE Education about Cosmetic Surgery Must be Comprehensive

Dr Jeehan Qadir, a leading physician in the UAE, has called for more education to be offered to the public about cosmetic surgery.

“We have an educational department here because unfortunately people in the Gulf are not educated in cosmetic surgery like people outside the Middle East. People in the West are more educated although they do less surgery,” she said in a statement reported in Business Intelligence Middle East (Bi-ME), 22 September 2008.

Regulation of standards and the eradication of incompetent cheats are vital as is education about surgical methods and how one chooses a qualified surgeon.

But before the Emirates fully embraces this multi-billion dollar global industry it is important that the public understanding extends beyond the physical and emotional dimensions of cosmetic surgery to the cultural and spiritual facets.

Many interpreters of Islam (e.g. Central Mosque.Com, Islam Channel, Islam Online) do not permit cosmetic surgery for beautification stating that it is allowed only in cases of deformity or damage. Many outside the faith often wonder why cosmetic surgery is needed or desired by people who cover up but those seeking physical change by surgery are often also seeking emotional enhancement.

One wonders, however, how people seeking physical renewal and the reversal of the effects of aging will maintain face when they undergo surgical changes that they know are contrary to their faith and the religious and cultural values of the United Arab Emirates.

What do you think of the growing desire for cosmetic surgery in the UAE?

If you are positive about it, how can it be reconciled with the Islamic faith?

Should the UAE practice of censoring sites and prohibiting harmful extend to practices such as cosmetic surgery for beautification?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “how people…will maintain face when they undergo surgical changes that they know are contrary to their faith.”

Bernard Lewis on the Crisis of Islam

In a Time magazine Q & A Bernard Lewis discusses his new book, Islam: The Religion and the People. Here are some snippets of the interview:

Importance of Islam Today
“One [point] is the importance of Islam at the present time, which is about a billion and a third people, but it's not because of the numbers only but more because of its role at the present time, its situation in Europe, Africa, Israel and increasingly America, and the mood in which the Islamic world finds itself at the present time. I think it's very important that we should understand it….”

Difficulties in Understanding Islam
“There are considerable difficulties in understanding Islam because of two false images, which are widespread. On the one hand we have the image of Muslims as barbarians, the traditional image of a Saracen riding out of the desert on horseback with a sword in one hand and a Koran in the other offering their victims a choice between the two. On the other hand we have Islam as a religion of love and peace, like the Quakers but without their aggressiveness. Both of these are, of course, nonsense. Both are wildly exaggerated, and the truth is in its usual place somewhere between the two.”

The full interview and details of the book from this prominent observer of Islam is at this link:

Bobby Ghosh, 'Q&A: Bernard Lewis on Islam’s Crisis', Time, 20 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Bernard Lewis (photograph courtesy of Alan Koic from Time and posted at the above link).

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Atlantis Hotel in Dubai has Environmentalists up in Protest

Update on Atlantis Opening

The $1.5 billion Atlantic Resort on Dubai’s Palm Island is set to open on Wednesday 24 September amid cries of protest.

Journalists see this opening as another round in the rivalry between Dubai and Abu Dhabi for architectural supremacy and oil-powered opulence.

In keeping with Dubai excess the 113 acre resort built on an artificial island boasts a $25,000 per night suite and an ocean-themed family entertainment.

The resort has a giant tank with 65,000 fish, stingrays and a dolphinarium with two dozen dolphins flown in from the Solomon Islands.

Environmental groups are critical of the relocation of the dolphins from their South Seas' marine home and for exposing them to the 30 hour flight from the Pacific Ocean to the Persian Gulf.

To read more and to see the photographic gallery follow this link:
Adam Schreck and Barbara Surk, 'Dubai Ups Ante with $1.5B Hotel on Palm Island', Huffington Post, 22 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: In with the carpet for the new hotel. Aquarium in the backround (courtesy of Kamran Jebreili AP from the gallery at the above link).

Mosques, Bars and Confusing Values in the UAE

Following some recent court cases concerning the jailing of a lesbian couple for kissing on a Dubai beach and a heterosexual pair charged with sex in the sand, the New York Times has published an article about the moderate influences of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.

The title of the New York Times article (22 September 2008)—‘Young and Arab in a Land of Mosques and Bars’—encapsulates the tolerance and confusion over the coupling of diverse cultural and moral standards.

The sixth in a series of articles “examining the lives of the young across the Muslim world at a time of religious revival”, Author Michael Slackman writes of the ‘unsettling freedom’ in ‘glittering, manic Dubai’ with young people drinking beer most nights, cavorting with prostitutes and living a ‘freewheeling, disorienting life’ with little restraint.

Dubai is portrayed as a ‘playground’, a city devoid of religious extremism, a place of inequities and exploitation, dazzling and confusing at the same time and glued together by ambition rather than culture. Many see Dubai as a model to which other Arab cities might aspire with its prescription for moderation and freedom for young people to redefine themselves.

The glitzy city is not all beer and skittles according to Jackman’s witnesses. Much of the lifestyle must be kept secret and success depends on what people can get away with. Not all people escape the arm of the law.

While many Internet sites are blocked firmly and clearly identified as being outside the cultural parameters and religious values of the UAE, many questionable activities are being experienced in a cloudy coherence of mosques and bars, gay and gain, halal and haram.

To read the entire article and series follow this link:
Michael Slackman, ‘Young and Arab in Land of Mosques and Bars,’ New York Times, 21 September 2008.

How accurate is Slackman’s portrayal of Dubai?

Does the lax moral behavior Slackman describes and the strong arm of the law in recent moral court cases, make for a city and country where values are in flux, standards are confusing and punishment is difficult to fathom?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Young people having a night out at a Dubai disco (Photograph courtesy of Shawn Baldwin and the NY Times from the photographic gallery at the above link).

First Impressions of Emiratis and the Emirates

First Impressions
It has been said that the first 15 minutes upon entering a country are extremely important as it is fascinating to note our first impressions.

A Romanian guy has just written his impressions upon landing in the UAE. He is on a 3 month hitchhiking journey to Nepal by land, passing through Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India.

First Impressions of the Emirates
In his blog entitled Pathzero he records his first impressions upon landing in the UAE—the cumbersome new visa process (these were supposed to be granted in 10-15 minutes), the heat and humidity outside air conditioned zones, the huge number of Toyota vehicles, the high buildings of Dubai and Sharjah, the beauty of the mosques, the large number of expats and the imbalance with the native population…

First Impressions of Emiratis
This hitchhiking blogger is a straight talker so he says of Emiratis:

“[It] is the people that impress me less. The Arabs in the Emirates are so different from all Arabs I’ve met till now. They are cold, distant and very suspicious. I have the longest and most interesting conversations with Pakistanis and Indians. In the floor I live in there are forty Indians. They are very passionate and interested in everything is new and different. They receive my presentation on Romania with obvious joy.”

Remembering Your First Impressions
First impressions are usually very personal and can be right and wrong.

What were your first impressions of the Emirates? Do you still feel the same way or have your impressions changed?

What were your first impressions of Emiratis? Are you in agreement with our hitchhiking blogger? Why do you think this is so or not so?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Pathzero Home page.

New UAE Traffic Penalties for Running a Red Light

The UAE is toughening the penalties for the breach of road rules in a country that is seeking to lower the soaring statistics of car accidents and fatalities on the road.

Here is an example of the new (21 September 2008) tough penalties that will be applied to you for the running of a red light.

R-Your car will be impounded for 15 days.

R-You will be fined 800 dirhams (US$218).

R-You will receive 8 black (demerit) points—get 24 points and it is goodbye to your license for a while.

The Traffic and Patrol department in Abu Dhabi impounded a total of 1,943 vehicles for running red signals during the last six months, official news agency WAM reported on Sunday 21 September 2008.

Related Articles
The Road: The Most Dangerous Place in the Emirates, ETE.

UAE: The Tailgating Capital of the World, ETE.

UAE Pedestrian Crossings: The Most Dangerous Place to Be, ETE.

Reducing Traffic Accidents on UAE Roads, ETE.

Hefty Fines, Penalties for Traffic Violations Planned, KT, 21 March 2006. An article outlining fines in 2006 when a system of demerit points was introduced. [This may well be out of date but information is hard to come by].

What Do You Think?
Do you think these new 'jumping the red light' penalties are too tough or do you think that with the deaths that are caused and the drivers that continue to flout the laws that the punishment is not tough enough?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The remains of a car that was hit by a truck running a red light.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Directions from Dubai to Fujairah without a Good Map

Ever wondered how to get from Dubai to Fujairah?

If so you are in good company.

It is a common question to be Googled in the UAE. Most maps don’t help much and they go out of date quickly.

One way of getting from the Dubai International Airport to Fujairah has been written up with some interesting and important milestones along the way.

Check out these instructions and let me know where they are unclear, wrong or out of date.

They are posted on Fujairah in Focus, a resource site for Fujairah places, pastimes and frequently asked questions.

Link for Dubai to Fujairah Travel Instructions: Fujairah in Focus

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

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Some of the distinctive scenery on the way to Fujairah.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Amazing Wildlife of the Emirates

Rich Bird Life
I was writing an article for the Fujairah in Focus site to highlight the rich bird life in the UAE and especially on the east coast.

When I looked at the UAE Birding site I was staggered by the sensational gallery of birds such as the Indian Pond Heron (pictured) which was photographed by UAE’s Bird Recorder, Tommy Pedersen, at Khor Kalba. This rare bird is found in Khor Kalba only between September and May.

Have a look at another specimen and the spectacular photo at this post on Fujairah in Focus. Click on the photo to see the image magnified.

Diverse Wildlife
Tommy Pedersen is currently moving photographs from the old site to a new site at this link. Check it out.

The Home Page points to pages for news, forums, reports on bird outings and what birds were spotted, the main birding sites in the UAE and there is the opportunity to join up with this group or go on a guided visit.

I was surprised when I clicked on the Photo link. There are scores of bird photos (or if they are not there yet you can change back to the old site which will eventually be closed down when the job is done).

The new site also has galleries that contain photos of the UAE’s wildlife.

There are galleries of the following:

UAE mammals (camels, donkeys, foxes, gazelles, goats, gerbils)
UAE reptiles and amphibians (Arabian agamas, lizards, geckos, skinks)
UAE damselflies and dragonflies
UAE insects (varieties of wasps, bees and beetles)
UAE spiders (they are coming)
UAE aquatic life (turtles, crabs, sea snails)

This site is a visual feast.

Thanks to Tommy Pedersen for permission to post the photograph.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Indian Pond Heron, Khor Kalba.

Could a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Housing Collapse Happen in the UAE?

Richard Dean from Business 24/7 asks this question, comparing the booming real estate market in the USA with the frenzy in the UAE.

Dean looks at comparisons and contrasts between the two countries and economies.

Most interesting are his 5 statistics about the UAE housing market.

Link: Richard Dean, Fannie and Freddie: Lessons for UAE, Business 24/7, 11 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Housing in US and UAE

Remembering Chile’s Painful 9/11

The 9/11 tragedy in New York and at the Pentagon often overshadows the other painful anniversary on this day in Chile.

On September 11, Chilean people will remember their 9/11 when in 1973 a coup d'état took place overthrowing President Salvador Allende who died, and signalling the rise of General Pinochet.

The fatalities due to fighting during the coup might have been relatively small, however, tens of thousands of people were arrested during the coup.

While many were released, hundreds of people were detained, tortured and murdered.

The pain still lingers for loved ones of the murdered and those who ‘disappeared’, thus preventing many people from working through their grief towards a state of closure.

Vivir en Paz! Live in peace!

Hacer las Paces! Make Peace!

La Paz sea Contigo! Peace be with you!

1973 Chilean Coup, Wikipedia.
11 September 1973: The Day Democracy Died in Chile, BBC.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: La Moneda Presidential Palace being bombed during the coup.

Remembering Victims and Families of September 11 Attacks in USA

On September 11 (now commonly called 9/11) wherever we are living, it is good to pause and remember that morning in 2001 when hijackers intentionally crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and a third airliner into the Pentagon.

We remember the 2,974 people who died in the attacks plus the other 24 who are missing and presumed dead.

We remember the families and friends who lost loved ones, who continue to grieve and yearn for wholeness.

We remember the many wars that continue to rage and commit ourselves to the work of peacemaking:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(Author unknown but often attributed to Francis of Assisi)

September 11 Attacks, Wikipedia.
September 11: A Memorial, CNN.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

Drive the Fast Lane this Ramadan with a New Audi

Mention was made in a recent posting of the way commercial pressures impact on festivals such as Ramadan.

Here is a classic example in the Gulf News, 10 September 2008.

After a report on the record 40% sales growth for the first half of 2008 and a summary of the factors that have contributed to this ‘dramatic growth’ comes this Ramadan sales pitch:

Following the results, Audi Abu Dhabi has announced a special offer on the Audi A4, A6 and A8 during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Customers purchasing their new vehicle before October 4 receive a preferential interest rate of only 3.5 percent and make no repayments until 2009, along with benefiting from the five years / 105,000 km free servicing.

Before you jump to the Audi web site to see whether the A4, the A6 or the A8 would look best outside your home, consider the timing of this special advertising.

This is a month of going without (as much as possible) the ordinary, everyday, material things.

As hinted earlier, going without food and drink (and possibly extra spending and entertainment) for this period has the capacity to get minds centred on the things that nourish and satisfy our deepest urges.

It is interesting to see some business people in the UAE pulling back from doing deals until the special month is over.

Dangling special offers like an Audi A8 maybe like presenting a plate of scrumptious cakes to people who are fasting or getting them to think that with so much self-denial they deserve to be rewarded by something special.

What do you think of special Ramadan offers? Fair enough or not appropriate in this season?

Further ETE articles and photographs of desired cars in the UAE:
Flash New Cars Roll into Emirates
Abu Dhabi Billionaires Obsessed with Lavish Lifestyle
Old Cars in UAE Get the Chop
Dream Car of the UAE
Hummer Facing End of the Road in UAE?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The Audi range (A4, A6 and A8) reduced to reward in Ramadan.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Smoking and Dietary Patches Ease Pain of Ramadan Fast

An article, via Al Arabiya, reports that many Turkish Muslims use dietary patches to suppress their hunger pangs during the Ramadan fast.

The discussion has been heated with some claiming that the use of dietary and smoking patches is haram. They say patches are cheating the Ramadan regulations, tantamount to a red card for foul play on the football field. It makes the fast null and void and is an evil that should be outlawed, especially at such a holy time.

Some Turkish theologians have said not to worry about using patches. The suppressing chemicals are not ingested so this is not eating or drinking. They argue that this is an example of science helping us and is like taking tablets to alleviate headaches. If Ramadan is about making time to focus on the spiritual then why not use patches to remove the distractions that come from hunger pangs and the need for a smoke? Take it many say in Ankara. Dietary patches are a Turkish delight.

The dietary and anti-smoking patches uncover some deeper questions:

Why is the Ramadan fast commanded? Is it simply a legalistic practice to obey?

Are the hunger pangs and desire for a smoke intended to make you grumpy and leave you in some pain that must be good for you?

Is going without a form of self-flagellation designed to suppress the physical urges and create room for spiritual desire to grow?

Does going without food and fags build important self-discipline that would not be developed by using patches?

Is fasting a way of affirming the truth that life is more that bread and coffee and going without these basics is revealing the deeper things that satisfy and truly nourish us?

What do you think about using patches to get through a Ramadan fast?

What good does fasting do? Is it worth the trouble?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “The dietary and anti-smoking patches uncover some deeper questions.”

Ramadan Reflection on Fasting and Feasting

Like Christmas in some countries Ramadan is fast being influenced by commercial pressures and is becoming for many a cultural observance that is coming adrift from its religious foundations. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of food.

A UAE Gulf News article at the outset of Ramadan was entitled, ‘Shoppers Set for the Good Times during Ramadan’. The report not only assured customers that essential supplies would be in the supermarkets at regular or improved prices but there would be stocks of special food available for consumption each night after sunset.

Another article from the same newspaper and in the pre-Ramadan period was headed, ‘Iftar Indulgence in the UAE’. It was packed with reviews and recommendations for restaurants offering the traditional and sumptuous meals.

What good is a strict observance of a fast throughout the day if it involves time-consuming preparation of food, followed by hours of rich feasting that leaves one carrying more weight at Eid-al-Fitr? It doesn’t make religious or dietary sense to do without eating, drinking and food preparation for the daylight hours if this is followed by carbohydrate loading for much of the night.

Having highlighted the danger of extremes, it is important to affirm that hospitality and reconciliation are key themes of Ramadan and the giving and sharing of food can be symbolic of building friendship and community. To eat special food at this season, like a date to break the fast, can build solidarity with the fathers and mothers of the faith who have observed these traditions for centuries.

Whatever festival we observe it is good to stand back and ask why we do it and ponder the extent to which our participation is unduly influenced by ritual and commercial pressures.

What do you think? Are the pressures to buy and feast at Ramadan becoming stronger? Is this a problem with businesses cashing in on religious festivals?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: ‘Consumers have a wide choice during Ramadan shopping at Al Wahda Mall’s Lulu Hypermarket in Abu Dhabi’ says the caption to this photo in a Gulf News article (Photo courtesy of Ahmed Kitty, Gulf News).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

‘Sex on the Beach’ Case is Tarnishing UAE as Holiday Destination

Check the update on this case at this link.

Tourists must realize that the UAE beaches are not the French Riviera or Sydney’s Bondi beach where people strip off to sun themselves and engage in some touching.

The UAE’s laws are not always clear and consistently applied but the country prohibits women exposing too much flesh (particularly in the more conservative emirate of Sharjah).

It is improper to touch a member of the opposite sex in public and an unmarried man and woman are not allowed to associate by themselves in an apartment or a car.

There are strict laws governing the sale and consumption of alcohol.

The trial of a British couple accused of having sex on a Dubai beach was delayed today for another month because the woman “was declared too stressed by doctors to attend court.”

From several accounts the woman is on depressants, is suffering from anxiety and paranoia, has been in hiding since her arrest and has suffered ignominy through being exposed to the glare of the international media. There is a real sense in which significant punishment has already been dispensed.

The court case is damaging the UAE’s image as a popular tourist destination. The case has been dragging on for a long time due both to court procedures and the delay of the accused because of ill health.

Talk of a possible six year jail sentence for the accused is portraying an image of a country that is harsh, severe and uncompromising.

Enough has been made of this case to beam out to the world that there are different standards and values in this country. Tourists are getting the message that ‘anything does not go’ in the Emirates.

The UAE government has some responsibility for making clear the things one cannot do within its national borders. Some tourist information sites are seeking to give clarity but tourists on arrival are given nothing in the way of guidelines and warnings about UAE customs, laws and lifestyle.

It would be in the interests of both the co-accused and the UAE to dismiss the case and bring it to closure.

The President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai have recently exercised mercy in releasing hundreds of prisoners. (See the account in this report)

It would be good and timely to extend this Ramadan spirit to these tourists by dismissing the charges.

Some UAE Information for Tourists and New Residents:
What to Wear in the UAE?
Etiquette in the Emirates
Drug Laws in the UAE: Travellers Beware!
The UAE and the Law
UAE Information: Essential Guide for New Residents to the Emirates

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “The UAE’s laws are not always clear and consistently applied but the country prohibits women exposing too much flesh.”

It’s the UAE Dam It!

The UAE is not only building skyscrapers, canals, Formula 1 race tracks, airports and art galleries but also dams. Sixty-eight dams in the next five years to be precise.

This is all part of the move to protect the UAE’s natural water resources and meet consumer needs.

Here is a trivia question:

Q. How many dams does the UAE currently have?

Answer at the bottom of this page.

Check out more on this dam project at:

UAE will build 68 dams in five years, Khaleej Times, 13 August 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: One of the dams in Fujairah (courtesy of Khaleej Times)

A. 140. Dam!

Canal between Dubai and Fujairah may be in the Pipeline

Abu Dhabi is building a pipeline to Fujairah so the flow of oil can avoid the troubled Straits of Hormuz.

Now Dubai authorities are considering the construction of a by-pass shipping canal to avoid future strangulations of the Straits of Hormuz.

Iran repeatedly says it will block traffic through the Straits if its nuclear plants are attacked by Israel or the United States. These are no idle threats for Iran has targeted tankers in its recent history.

Whenever Iran makes these statements the price of oil rises so this is an international problem not just a challenge for the Gulf States to avoid the Hormuz choke point.

This traffic is significant as 17 million barrels of oil a day (or 40% of the world’s traded oil) pass through the Straits. This represents 90% of the Gulf’s oil flow.

There appear to be several plans but the 112-mile canal would link the Gulf coast with the port of Fujairah on the Indian Ocean coast.

This would pose an enormous engineering feat as the canal would cross the Hajar Mountains using a network of locks. But with Dubai’s ‘can do’ attitude, this would be further testimony to Dubai’s remarkable achievements.

Cost is a consideration with the projected price tag of the canal around US$200 billion. However, with Abu Dhabi splashing its millions on football clubs and footballers this canal construction cost is put into perspective and it would provide a telling contrast in investment.

Furthermore Dubai is getting experienced at creating canals and it is already looking to earn the reputation as the Venice of the Middle East. A canal through the mighty Hajars and wide enough to move oil tankers would be taking canal building to a new level.

No details have surfaced on the environmental impact of building a canal through the Hajars but as these mountains are quarried to provide the foundation for Dubai’s big building projects this would not seem be of great concern to the decision makers.

The leaking of these plans to construct a Dubai to Fujairah Canal has come in the same week as Fujairah authorities have announced major alterations and extensions to its port, which is the second largest oil bunkering port in the world and still growing.

One wonders what connections there are between the plans for a new inter-emirate canal and an enlarged Fujairah port.

David Robertson, Dubai plans $200bn canal to bypass Strait of Hormuz, Times, 9 September 2008.

Fujairah Port Announces Expansion but no Word on Oil pollution Control, Fujairah in Focus, 8 September 2008.

Read more on The Geopolitics of Excess with a wonderful drawing of military action near the Gulf of Hormuz and where the Dubai-Fujairah canal might be built.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “Building a canal through the Hajars.”

UAE Progressing Toward Full Religious Freedom

It is good to read the article in The National about a recent visit by a delegation of Muslim scholars to the UAE and the tributes they have paid to the UAE for discouraging extremism, walking a ‘middle way’ and ‘promoting the true principles of Islam’.

Sheikha Huwaida Bakir, a prominent female preacher, commended the Emirates with this bouquet: “Our interaction here breeds tolerance and understanding between the different Muslim countries. The UAE is one of the best examples of tolerance of mixed religions and backgrounds. Anyone can come here and live respectfully.”

The UAE has made significant progress in human rights and religious freedom but it would be incorrect to imply that the country has arrived.

It is important to monitor and study the annual reports on the UAE as they relate to human rights (often an expression of a nation’s religion) and the International Religious Freedom Report (UAE 2007) to identify the work that is still to be done in the path towards full justice and freedom.

Amnesty International Middle East and UAE Reports [these are the most recent at the time of writing]
International Religious Freedom Report UAE 2007
Rasha Elass and Rym Ghazal, Emirates Praised for Promoting True Principles of Islam, The National, 9 September 2008.
Religious Freedom in UAE: Commendable Advances, Significant Challenges, ETE, 9 October 2007.
UAE Law about Muslims Leaving the Faith, ETE, 8 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The new mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Monday, September 8, 2008

UAE Law about Muslims Leaving the Faith

Recently the Gulf News ran the story of a Saudi man who cut out his daughter’s tongue and burned her to death for converting to Christianity.

There has been much heated discussion about this act and what should become of the father who was taken in custody.

The article said that the Saudi authorities have “decreed that watching these [Christian television] channels or browsing these websites which call for conversion to Christianity by various means is against the teachings of Islam.”

The action in Arabia raises the issue of cruelty and the way that punishment was meted out by the father. Was this a fit of family rage or was it a modern expression of obedience to the Qur’an and its injunction (attested to by the major schools of scholars) that “a sane male apostate must be executed.” (There is a difference of thought on the type of punishment that is appropriate for a female apostate. See this link)

In running this article the Gulf News gave no information on the legal issues to do with apostasy and how this is addressed in Islamic countries, including the United Arab Emirates. If the law on apostasy is different in the Emirates it would be helpful to hear how Emirati scholars now interpret these Qur’anic texts. How do scholars who oppose capital punishment for apostasy interpret the scriptures? When life and death matters like apostasy are not clarified, readers can be left hanging.

The Gulf News has for many years celebrated the testimonies of people who have converted to Islam in other countries (Netherlands 28 April 2007; Georgia, USA, 4 February 2007; Washington, USA, 30 September 2006), as well as in the UAE. However, the same freedom of choice is not applauded or affirmed when people move away from Islam to another faith.

The restrictions on Muslim people being able to walk away from the faith heighten the view of a country that has not fully embraced religious freedom and liberty of conscience. This basic freedom is enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Defending human rights.

Abu Dhabi under Entertainment Spotlight with Christina Aguilera

Abu Dhabi is targeting the entertainment sphere in which to excel with the projected concert starring Christina Aguilera on 24 October at the opulent Emirates Palace.

She follows in the footsteps of other notables such as Bon Jovi and Justin Timberlake who have performed in the UAE capital.

For Aguilera, American songwriter, singer and Grammy Award winner, the Abu Dhabi gig will be her first performance in the Middle East.

Christina Aguilera is admired for her powerful voice, vocal range and her propensity to reinvent her image which, has led her at times to venture into risqué performances and raunchiness.

Have any restrictions been placed on her for the Abu Dhabi performance? Has Christina been asked to tone down her sexually provocative image because of the cultural values of the UAE? Will Emirati modesty mean that Aguilera chooses to dress and perform more conservatively in deference to local customs? What image is Abu Dhabi seeking to project to the world?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Christina Aguilera. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald)

Flash New Cars Roll into Emirates as Old Cars Scrapped

Mention was made earlier of the UAE decision to put 20 year old cars into the auto cemetery and in a couple of years the car life expectancy rate will be lowered to 15 years.

It is difficult to understand the logic in all the reasons presented but many commentators are saying that New Car dealers are the ones that are rejoicing most at this decision.

British journos covering the Abu Dhabi purchase of the Manchester City Football have expressed amazement at the lavish cars outside the Emirates Palace (see this expensive car).

Check out this post to discover what is the most popular car in the United Arab Emirates.

Pictured in this posting is an example of the luxury cars that keep rolling into this country. Here are the descriptive notes on a luxury car web site:

“Wealthy customers in the United Arab Emirates seem to have a penchant for special editions of the most expensive luxury saloons. As if it wasn't enough to get the Maybach Landaulet revealed right there on their home turn, one Arabian customer recently ordered a custom gilded Rolls-Royce Drophead. Now Rolls-Royce has followed up with a special edition of its Phantom limousine targeted specifically for the UAE.”

Here is the link to read the full description, view the pictures and prepare your order:

Rolls Royce Creates Special Peony edition Phantom for UAE, Autoblog, 24 August 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “Rolls Royce Creates Special Peony edition Phantom for UAE.”

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Israeli and Palestinian Race Cars for Peace

CNN’s ‘Inside the Middle East’ is screening this week the story of the passion an Israeli engineer and a Palestinian computer scientist share for motor racing.

The greatest race is to cross the line for peace.

Check out this video.

Link: Love for Motor Sports, CNN International Videos, added 3 September 2008

Dr Geoff Pound

UAE Investing Money to Treat Blindness and Impaired Vision

Not all the UAE cash is being spent on Football Clubs, Formula One competitions, films and fancy cars.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai launched this week a new health initiative to give sight to one million people.

To read the article, check out this link:

Meraj Rizvi, UAE’s Gift of Sight to One Million People, Khaleej Times, 4 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “give sight to one million people.”

With Manchester City Purchase Abu Dhabi Kicks Goal Against Dubai

Since Abu Dhabi billionaires purchased the Manchester City Football Club much has been written about oil money to burn and the lavish lifestyles of the new Emirati owners.

Today’s Independent views this spending spree as a ‘Gulf War’ over acquisition and glory by the two richest emirates in the UAE .

Link: Michael Savage and Toby Green, ‘The New Gulf War’, The Independent, 6 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “Abu Dhabi Kicks a Goal Against Dubai.”

Museum of Middle East Modern Art Expresses Dubai’s Cultural Ambitions

Check out the amazing pictures of this new cultural museum and what it intends to portray for Dubai and Khor Dubai.

Link: Museum of Middle East Modern Art, Dubai, Perspektif, 7 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: One perspective of the Museum of Middle East Modern Art. (Picture courtesy of Perspektif at the above link)

Abu Dhabi Billionaires Obsessed with Lavish Lifestyle

If the focus wasn’t on Abu Dhabi earlier it certainly is now since the purchase of the Manchester City Football Club and the splashing out to draw Robinho into the Manchester/Abu Dhabi fold.

Journos are flocking to the capital of the Emirates in search of motives, signs and wonders. They write of the lavish lifestyles of the Abu Dhabi oil barons, typified by the Bugattis and limos outside the Palace.

If the wealthy members of the royal family are seeking to bring ‘glory’ to their city they are at least capturing attention.

While the Footy Club purchase has galvanized the attention reporters are noting the recent purchase of the Chrysler Building in Manhattan, the $7bn chunk of America's biggest bank Citigroup, the Guggenheim branch, the Louvre franchise, the film studios, the Formula One racing circuit.

But that’s not all. There’s more on the shopping list.

Check out the article in which Frank Kane notes not only the purchases but the way that wealth is changing the social and religious landscape of the Emirates.

Link: Frank Kane, ‘The Gulf's new bling kings’, The Guardian, 7 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: A Pur Sang Bugatti Veyron in Abu Dhabi. It is one of a handful in the world and it costs a mere $1.4 Million.

If you’d like to see the Abu Dhabi owner drive this car and hear its throaty sound check out the video clip at this link.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Manchester City Asked to Consider UAE Human Rights Record

The purchase of the Manchester City Football Club by the Abu Dhabi royal family is not quite as easy as putting millions of dirhams on the table.

The question of the human rights record of the UAE is being raised and the extent to which the British Football Club will be tarnished by it association with the Gulf nation’s record and laws that discriminate against Israelis and gays.

The British Mirror reports this complication

A human rights campaign group has called on the FA and Premier League to review the Fit and Proper Person Test after Manchester City's takeover by Abu Dhabi United Group.

The investment arm of the Abu Dhabi royal family, rulers of the second largest of the United Arab Emirates, bought out the club on Monday and instantly splashed out £32.5million on Robinho.

But campaign group Mafiwasta has questioned the country's human rights record.

Mafiwasta, an organisation which campaigns for the UAE to sign up to International Labour Organisation conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining, said: "To protect the reputation of the game, Mafiwasta urges both the FA and Premier League to undertake a wholesale review of the formulation of the Fit and Proper Person Test currently in force- one which in its present form is utterly insufficient to address the role of the principal actors in the takeover of Man City FC in human rights abuses in the UAE."

The entire article can be read at:

Mirror, 5 September 2008.

What do you think? Is the relationship one in which the club will be seen to condone human rights abuses and discrimination? To what extent will the Manchester City Football Club be affected by its association with the Emirates?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The Manchester City, Mafiwasta, human rights, football, Robinho and dirhams.

Old Cars in UAE Get the Chop

When the new regulation becomes law in January 2009 a car that is twenty years or older will be banned from UAE roads.

But there is more! From 1 January 2011 cars older than 15 years are going to get the axe!

This is happening in the country that holds the world record in having the highest number of cars per head of population. (There are 1.8 million registered cars in the Emirates as of August 2008)

In a statement introducing the transport policy (Gulf News 30 August 2008) it was argued that the law was needed “to reduce pollution and accidents because mostly old cars break down.”

Where is the evidence to suggest that old cars are involved in more accidents than new cars? The UAE unfortunately holds the world record in having the highest car accident rates on the planet. However, the surveys that have been conducted in the UAE concluded by saying that it is caused by the old habits of drivers, not the old cars that they drive.

The reduction of pollution issue does have some validity and UAE leaders who are seeking to address the environmental crisis of the country have stated as one of their aims to “reduce the life span of cars across the UAE.” But to cull old cars is such a drastic step when other less draconian laws have not been introduced or applied such as insisting on effective exhaust systems and filters and conducting regular emission tests whenever they are re-registered. Introducing high taxes on the purchase of gas guzzling vehicles would be much more effective environmentally than taking twenty year old cars off the road.

The move to do away with twenty-year old cars next year, fifteen year old cars a little later and the law that will make it impossible next January to import cars into the country older than five years makes this legislation look like a deal that is done with the only people who will be happy about it—the new car dealers.

The spokesperson tried to underplay the impact of the new ruling saying that as the UAE already has newish cars (the average age of cars in the UAE is 5-6 years making this another world record), the rule will not have much of an effect.

Not much of an effect? Only 10,277 vehicles will receive the death sentence in January 2008!

The biggest effect of this ruling will be the dropping of the price of cars in the UAE. It will be much harder to get rid of cars the nearer they get to the new UAE automobile life expectancy age of twenty and soon to be, fifteen.

The only types of car not to receive a life ban will be the classic (1931-1948) and vintage (1919-1930) cars but how will cars have a chance to reach the antique status when they are prized for their automotive history and years on the road?

What do you think? How is this new law going to impact on you?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Spare a thought for this man who can’t bear to give up his old VW.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why People Visit Fujairah

Ramadan with its slower pace has commenced. Temperatures are beginning to fall as we proceed through September. It’s not a bad time to plan a day trip or a weekend to the eastern Emirate of Fujairah and explode the myth that the UAE is only Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Check out and keep in touch with everything Fujairah at the sister site, Fujairah in Focus.

At the moment Fujairah is undergoing a building boom. Have a look at the different sorts of constructions that are going up out east, in the ‘Fujairah Building Boom’ series that commences at this link.

Even though Fujairah has more cranes now than at any time in its history there is no way this emerging city will compete with the shine of Dubai’s skyscrapers and the glitziness of the UAE capital. That is what makes Fujairah different and a delight to visit. If you want all the shopping malls, the theme parks, the high towers, lavish hotels, traffic congestion and western commercialism, stay in the large UAE cities over on the west of the UAE.

Fujairah is east in geography and eastern in culture.

Why do people visit Fujairah? Find out a few reasons from the new and developing series entitled ‘Visit Fujairah For…’ which begins here.

Pack your towel and swimming gear, get out your snorkel and diving equipment, bring your book to read beside the sea or the pool and don’t forget your camera to snap pictures of Fujairah’s mountains and historic buildings.

Fujairah is a slow and often sleepy work in progress, so don’t expect it to be finished, highly organized and polished. Much of the architecture is ordinary and tacky. It has sensational scenery that is being threatened by quarries and quarry dust, an amazing coast which gets polluted far too often by oil tankers. But Fujairah has the potential to be one emirate in the country that is 100% natural and authentically Emirati.

If you have been out east, why did you visit Fujairah?

What did you enjoy and not enjoy?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Symbols of the Fujairah culture.

Do You Know these Ten Things About Dubai?

Dubai has been squarely in the international media focus for several years but Time Out Dubai, which regularly publishes “authoritative views and reviews of everything that’s great in Dubai,” has an interesting photographic gallery of ‘10 things you didn’t know about Dubai’.

See how many you know on this link: Dubai City Gallery, Time Out Dubai.

Image: Dubai city of gold: “80% of us own gold. According to statistics, we spend an average of Dhs14,000 a year each on the stuff. We think someone’s got our share.”

Dr Geoff Pound

Abu Dhabi for Pearls, Fish and Rich Marine Life

The National has posted an important article on the pearl heritage of Abu Dhabi, the rich marine treasures and gives many reasons why the coastal environment must be protected.

M K Wong, Abu Dhabi’s Coastal Treasure, The National, 3 September 2008

Dr Geoff Pound

Images of Abu Dhabi Marine Life