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

Friday, June 20, 2008

Property and Investment in UAE

Property for sale in Abu Dhabi Soars in Value, PN, 30 May 2008.
The $300 billion Arabs are Coming, Evening Standard UK, 29 May 2008
Not all Freehold comes with a Visa, Gulf News, 28 May 2008
UAE Foreigners…Main Buyers Dubai Property, MENAFN, 27 May 2008
How Foreign Cash is Driving World’s Property Markets, Kipp Report, 27 May 2008.
Palm Jumeirah Apartments, Arabian Business
Abu Dhabi Property Prices up 53%, Kipp Report, 27 May 2008.
Freehold Residence Visa Confusion rages, Kipp Report, 27 May 2008.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sounds of Silence in the Emirates

I wrote in an earlier post about my visit to the Fujairah Islamic Guidance Centre—the welcome, the tour, the literature, the sumptuous dates, the Arabic coffee and the talk with the Director.

There is another memory that I didn’t write about then but it has been triggered by the reading of Jeremy William’s valuable book, ‘Don’t They Know It’s Friday?’

The man giving my wife and I the tour couldn’t have been more hospitable. He called on the phone and then reported that the Director of the Centre would be arriving soon to have refreshments together.

We met with seven or eight others in the Director’s office waiting for his arrival. There were lots of ‘Salaams’ to begin with and questions about where we were from and how we were finding the UAE.

Then I noticed that the conversation petered out. People were just sitting and waiting. I thought this was a language thing—in Arabic and in English we had exhausted our vocabularies and did not have any more words with which to make conversation. Looking back, I remember thinking up more questions, not so much out of curiosity but to fill in the silence. I am part of a culture that has grown up being awkward in the silence.

Among all his cross-cultural considerations about business and life in the UAE and the Gulf, Jeremy Williams offers these pertinent comments:

“Most Westerners find silence embarrassing and will seek to fill a gap in conversation. Many Arabs are wholly unembarrassed by silence and are content, usually, simply to be ‘together with friends’, savoring companionship by being in another’s company. Speech is not always essential on such occasions, and there can be long periods of silence, intermingled with periods of good gossip and story-telling.”

“Many Arabs are aware of, and are perhaps amused by, the stress which silence can cause Westerners, and it is not unknown for an Arab deliberately to create an embarrassing period of silence when bargaining, perhaps to encourage a concession from the other side. The solution is to be ready to fall silent, and to remain silent.”

Source: Jeremy Williams, Don’t they know it’s Friday? Cross-cultural Considerations for Business and Life in the Gulf (Dubai: Motivate Publishing, 1998, 2008), 71.

This book is reviewed at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “content, usually, simply to be ‘together with friends.’”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

UAE Consumer Confidence Still High

It is interesting to see that while inflation has been soaring in the Emirates and wages have not been keeping up with the cost of living, consumer confidence still remains high (or at least higher than in other countries).

Reuters reports:

“The United Arab Emirates ranked among the top five nations globally for consumer confidence despite fears over rising inflation in the oil-fueled economy, a U.S. research agency said on Wednesday.”

“Despite double-digit inflation, the UAE's strong economy and booming employment prospects won the Gulf Arab state 111 points on the Global Consumer Confidence Index compared with a worldwide average of 88 points, The Nielsen Company said.”

Full article: Consumer Confidence Study Puts UAE Among Top Five, Reuters, 18 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Consumer confidence.

Check out:
New Federal Laws to Safeguard against Quarries, Fujairah in Focus.

Discovery Channel Examines Dubai’s Exotic Engineering

What does it take to build the largest artificial islands in the world? How are 65,000 fish moved from the Arabian Sea to the world’s largest aquarium? How can a joystick and a robot impact the outcome of a camel race? These engineering and technological mysteries are explored in the latest instalment in Discovery Channel’s groundbreaking original MegaWorld series.

Premiering Sun., June 29 at 7 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT, and simulcast on Discovery HD, MegaWorld: Dubai examines some of the innovations that are pushing the emirate to the forefront of engineering, construction and emergency preparedness. From a small trading port to a thriving economic hub and the most populous region in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai is quickly proving it is more than just a striking locale but a dynamic region on the cutting edge of exotic engineering.

Source: Discovery Channel, Canada, 17 June 2008

UAE Assessing Environmental Health Risks

Medical News Today reports on an important development:

“The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) has signed a contract with researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health to lead an assessment of health risks due to environmental factors in the country, one of the fastest developing nations in the world.”

“‘The U.A.E. is developing at an unprecedented pace and scale,’ said principal investigator Jacqueline MacDonald. ‘In the past 40 years, it has gone from a small, mostly nomadic and seafaring economy to a major industrial nation. While all the developments have brought some vast improvements in public health, they have also brought some concerns about risks due to environmental hazards that come with an industrialized economy.’

More on this assessment contract:
Medical News Today, 11 June 2008

Image: Dubai: “from a small, mostly nomadic and seafaring economy…”

Dubai House Prices up 42%

Gulf News discusses this alarming trend and provides some reasons.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “alarming trend.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why we should learn Arabic

TimeOutDubai.Com asks the question in their 16 June 2008 edition. They ask:

“Why learn Arabic? For many, the notion of doing so faded straight after arriving in the UAE and the discovery that most people speak English, or at least some variation of it.

Movies are in English, road signs are in English, government documents are in English…well, actually, the latter is no longer true, after Arabic became the official language this year.

Throughout 2008, the UAE’s year of National Identity, Arabic’s influence is only set to grow, both in the Emirates and across the globe. Time Out finds out whether speaking Arabic is the secret to a better life – and how to conquer it in a month.

TimeOut Dubai is convinced that people living in the UAE should learn Gulf Arabic and they include these three sections:

Arabic phrases: 20 Arabic phrases you really should know.

Entering the Arabic age: The importance of learning Arabic today.

Lessons made easy: Ten places to learn Arabic.

Types of Arabic: Which type of Arabic should you learn.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Learning Arabic by computer and native speaker.

Related:
Learning Arabic in the UAE and the Gulf, Experiencing the Emirates
John Kirkbright, Spoken Arabic Step by Step, Reviewing Books and Movies

Monday, June 16, 2008

Terrorist Alert for UAE

The British Foreign Office has warned its nationals -- traveling to or living in the United Arab Emirates -- about the increased threat of a terrorist attack.

The alert, posted on its Web site, urged Britons in the oil-rich Gulf kingdom to be vigilant -- especially in public places -- because of a "high threat of terrorism."

The UAE is among the most moderate Gulf states and is home to thousands of expatriates.

"We believe terrorists may be planning to carry out attacks in the UAE," the Foreign Office statement read.

"Attacks could be indiscriminate and could happen at any time, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers such as residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests."

According to the British Foreign Office, more than a million British visitors traveled to the UAE in 2006, while over 100,000 British nationals live there.

The country is an ally in the United States' "war on terror," and its ports host more U.S. Navy ships than any port outside the U.S., according to the U.S. State Department.

Two of the attackers who took part in the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington came from the UAE. And it was among a handful of countries that recognized the fundamentalist Taliban regime before the September 11 attacks.

Dr Geoff Pound

Source: British Foreign Office

Image: Terrorist alert levels

Most Beautiful Goat

Earlier we posted an article on a Camel Beauty Contest in the Emirates.

Now a rare Damascene goat has won the Most Beautiful Goat title at the Mazayen al-Maaz competition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Via: A Welsh View, 14 June 2008

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: The winner!

Nationals Try to Fit into the Emirates

Here is the introduction to a new article on Emirati identity:

“It's Friday night in Dubai. Well away from the hotel beach parties, bars and restaurants, young Emirati girls peruse Dubai's mega-malls dressed in embroidered abayas, clutching unapologetically glamorous bags. They don't mingle with the hundreds of foreigners that surround them. Like a junior school dance, the girls huddle at one end of the wall with an "us against them" attitude. They aren't hostile, but they are unapproachable.”

“This is a nation wracked by divisions between communities: from the Indian to the Lebanese, the British to the Filipino. But the biggest chasm divides Emiratis from the rest of their nation's population. Although they are nationals, they are quickly becoming the "national other," marginalized by a lack Western education, conservative cultural values and weak vocational skills. Finally, as the smallest ethnic group in the country they are marginalized by demographics.”

Check out more on how Emiratis are trying to fit into their own country:

The Tricky Business of Integrating UAE Nationals, KippReport, 16 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “But the biggest chasm divides Emiratis from the rest of their nation's population.”

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Eleventh Oil Slick in 2008 Covers East Coast Beaches

The red flag is up at the Oceanic Hotel in Khor Fakkan. The beach is closed while the clean up of a four kilometer oil dump continues.

The oil is always smelt before it is seen and the detection took place on Saturday (15 June 2008) at midday by people out in their boats. The popular diving spot of Shark Island was covered with oil and from there to the equally popular Martini Rock, boat owners drove for seven to ten minutes through the thick oil slick.

Today (Sunday) the oil has washed up on the beach. The Sharjah Municipality was notified and it responded by sending workers and equipment to deal with the oil on the beach.

Hugh Naylor, who this year has been covering the oil dumpings for The National, has written a story and posted a photo of the oil in the water and on the beach. A list of articles written earlier chronicle the tragic series of oil spills along the Fujairah coast this year.

There is no need to rehearse the cost upon the hotels, the diving centres and the environment but there are some issues that this latest dumping highlights.

Who is responsible for the clean up? In reporting oil slicks earlier this year, it was noted that hotels such as Le Méridien and the diving businesses have to pay private companies to oversee the clean up. However, in the clean up today the Sharjah Municipality has sent along workers and equipment. The issues of responsibility for the clean up and for covering the costs are murky and they need to be clarified for businesses along the coast and the information of the public.

The matter of surveillance is brought into focus again today. The oil slick was spotted at midday on Saturday but the clean up commenced on Sunday morning. Wouldn’t it have been much better for the authorities to see that boats and equipment were commissioned yesterday to contain the oil slick rather than having to engage in a clean up of the beach 24 hours later? Repeatedly the case has been made for satellite surveillance and detection so that the oil is contained and treated with urgency.

The clean up of the beaches is taking place because the oil and the smell are preventing hotel guests from using the facilities. But is the pollution on Shark Island, Martini Rock and the surrounding waters going to be treated or is it a case of ‘out of sight and out of mind’? If these areas are left untreated the oil will continue to kill what remains of the coral reefs and marine life. It appears that the clean up operation is makeshift and not comprehensive.

This morning the Sharjah Municipality sent out its Beach Cleaner and Sandsifter (pictured). The Fujairah Municipality also uses these on a daily basis to rake and refresh the beaches. These are used to clear debris such as bottles and seaweed. They also serve a cosmetic function as they groom the beach. However, this machinery is inadequate for dealing with an oil spill. It does not have the depth and it does not have maximum effectiveness in removing the oil from the sand. It may break the oil up and improve the beach’s appearance but it does not deal adequately with the problem. It appears that the municipalities do not possess the appropriate equipment for containing oil, dealing with oil in deep waters and cleaning up the beaches. So why do they choose to attempt the clean up themselves rather than hire private companies to do a thoroughly professional job?

The issue of information must be clarified. Without state of the art satellite sensor equipment the detection of oil spills remains an ad hoc affair, happening when coastguards, fishermen and recreational boats people spot oil in the waters. Sometimes people walking the beach early in the morning are the first to discover an oil spill. Who must be notified first? Where the coastline moves in and out of the municipalities of different emirates, who are all the players that must be informed? The tendency to keep silent when oil slicks occur is clouding communication and leading to clean ups that are delayed, lacking in an understood strategy and carried out by people devoid of the training and the best equipment.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Beach cleaner and Sand Sifter.

Following the 2008 Oil Dumping Trail (some of the many articles):
More Oil for the Emirates-Spill Affects Tourism, Deeper Blue, 20 February 2008
Oil Damages Fujairah Beaches, Marine Life and Tourism, Fujairah in Focus, 20 February 2008.
Hotels Seek Strict Action on Oil Spill, Gulf News, 21 February 2008.
Spill Spells Trouble, 7 Days, 21 February 2008.
2nd Oil Spill for Emirates East Coast, Deeper Blue, 9 March 2008
Further Oil Spillages Call for Urgent Action, Fujairah in Focus, 11 March 2008
‘Oil Draining’ in Fujairah waters not ‘Oil Spills’, Experiencing the Emirates, 11 March 2008.
Monitor the Oil tankers and Keep our Beaches Clean, The National, 11 May 2008
Nissar Hoath, ‘Gulf Accounts for 75% of World’s Oil Spills,’ Emirates Business 24-7, 21 May 2008.
Gulf Holds World record for Oil Spills, Experiencing the Emirates, 21 May 2008.
Oil Spill Blackens Fujairah, The National, 2 June 2008.
Video: Oil washes up on Fujairah Beaches, The National, 3 June 2008
Oil Spills Threaten Beaches and Business, The National, 3 June 2008.
Oil Dumpers give authorities the slip, The National, 5 June 2008.
Another Oil Spill Hits East Coast of UAE, Gulf News, 10 June 2008
The Valentine Should Have its Day, The National, 11 June 2008.
Cheaper to Pay the Fine than Dispose of Waste, The National, 11 June 2008.
Spill Solution, The National, 11 June 2008.
Interactive: Cleaning up oil in Fujairah, The National, 12 June 2008.
Drilling Down into Oil Dumping Problem, Fujairah in Focus, 13 June 2008
Fujairah Civic Chief Pledges Solutions, The National, 14 June 2008.
Large Oil Slick Lines Coast near Fujairah, The National, 15 June 2008.

Dubai and UAE: The View from Bahrain

People in Bahrain today will read this article in their papers:

It is hard to believe that the Gulf was once considered a hardship posting. Skilled expatriates were lured out to the desert with the promise of high, tax-free salaries, impressive villas and excellent packages for schooling back home. As a few remaining salts from the first oil boom will tell you, life in Dubai, the quintessential expat enclave, was anything but difficult back then.

But those lazy days in beach clubs are a distant memory - or an unattainable dream - for the majority of Dubai's workers, says a report in the latest issue of business news and analysis weekly magazine The Gulf published by the Al Hilal Group today.

When it comes down to it, Dubai has become a very, very expensive place to live.

Accommodation costs are on a par with Geneva, and still rising.

Inflation in the UAE has been rising, and this year, with fuel, energy and food prices all on the increase, life in Dubai is likely to be a lot worse.

Rent is the biggest topic of conversation amongst beleaguered expats, even with a 7pc cap keeping things under some semblance of control.

To read the entire analysis:
An expensive dream, Gulf Daily News, 15 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Front page of Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News.

Finding the Way in the UAE

A Gulf News article contains interviews with residents and visitors to the UAE who say that it is very difficult finding your way to cities and within cities.

There are a lack of maps, an inadequate naming of streets, an absence of street numbers and not a Zip (area) Code to be found.

Add to this the challenge of new roads being constructed every month.

Signage needs to be updated for the modern day Emirates.

Source: UAE residents say system needed to locate places in Emirates, Gulf News, 15 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Related:
Fujairah, I’d Like to See That: Good Maps, Fujairah in Focus
Questions People are Asking about Fujairah, Fujairah in Focus
Fujairah Information, Fujairah in Focus
Fujairah on Google Earth, Fujairah in Focus

Image: “Signage needs to be modernized for the modern day Emirates.”

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Interfaith Dialogue? That’s a Miracle!

Islamic scholars have invited Christian leaders to a dialogue. King Abdullah has called for a trialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims. Now Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, is inviting Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs to talk across the table.

What is behind all this interfaith talk? What are the obstacles? What are the benefits?

These questions are discussed in an article at this link:

Geoff Pound, ‘People of Different Faiths have much to Learn by Talking’, The National, 9 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Pope Benedict welcomes King Abdullah to the Vatican.

UAE: World Record in Water Consumption

The Gulf News says that the UAE is among the top in the world for water consumption.

Is this because it is one of the hottest countries?

This is a factor but authorities are concerned about water wastage.

Source: UAE Residents among Highest Water Consumers, Gulf News, 15 June 2008.

Check out the ‘Archived Stories’ on the water theme.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “concerned about water wastage.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dubai for Australians

Yet another article on Dubai in the Travel section of Melbourne’s leading newspaper, The Age, although it looks like it has been recycled from Wellington’s, Dominion Post.

How does the writer tantalize people from ‘Down Under’ to come to Dubai? In an article entitled, ‘Truth and Trickery in Dubai’, the anonymous writer tells stories of seeing belly dancers that “make the tourists happy”, dune bashing, desert camps with plenty of booze served by dishdashered waiters who appear to be ‘on the turps’ (as they say in Oz).

And what about the trickery? The belly dancers are from Egypt not Dubai, a 10 metre camel ride is only long enough to take a photo, women doing henna painting were from India, the guide was from Bangladesh, the fake archipelagoes—The Palm and The World, buildings constructed by underpaid foreigners, artificial ski slopes… But on the positive side (‘the truth’), there are the souks, the crossing of the Dubai Creek in an abra and visits to some traditional Emirati sites.

For the practical details about visiting Dubai the writer warns not to go now as it is too hot. Furthermore, “avoid Ramadan: it's illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public in daylight hours.” November to April is your best bet as these are the coolest months.

The overwhelming picture painted by this travel writer is summed up in this statement: “Like our ‘desert experience’, much of Dubai is essentially fake.”

This writer might have been having a bad day or is this the way Dubai is being experienced? The tour operators must take some responsibility for staging such an itinerary or is this the circuit that most Aussies crave? Hopefully there is a yearning in the hearts of many Australasians for a travel experience of Dubai and the UAE that is authentically Emirati.

To read the article that Melbournians will browse over their breakfast this weekend:

‘Truth and Trickery in Dubai,’ The Age, 12 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: This image appears in The Age alongside this article with the caption: “Even Dubai's belly dancers aren't exactly ‘real.’”

UAE: Number One for the Creative Arts?

Media Reach Advertising CEO, Saad Saraf recognizes that Dubai & Abu Dhabi are making an attempt to create a centre for the creative industries but the question to ask is whether the emirates have what it takes to encourage creativity, creative talents and excellence.

Saraf sees the Creative Arts as a significant money-earner and believes the UAE is positioned well to become an international hub due to the freedom, diversity and pluralism it enjoys and the fact that the English language is spoken by most people as well as Arabic and Hindi.

A further positive he adds: “Dubai society [has] developed the value of openness [and] tolerance that distinguishes it from other Arab societies.”

What is needed, Saraf believes, is much initiative and a coherent strategy.

The article is at this link:

Saad Saraf, 'Can the UAE be a World Leading Creative Industries Hub?' Alsaraf’s Weblog, 13 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: A frame from a UAE film.

Related:
UAE and the Arts Articles, ETE.

Stop Dumping Oil in Fujairah Waters

I have written a review of the excellent series of articles published recently by The National on the dumping of oil in the Fujairah waters.

This posting provides all the links to their articles, videos and a great interactive illustration that offer insights with clarity, simplicity and depth.

The review brings together some of the questions that still need to be resolved relating to this tragedy that has major implications for the environment, the tourism industry and the economy.

The article is at this link:

Drilling Down into Oil Dumping Problem, Fujairah in Focus, 13 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “and a great interactive illustration.”

Islam and Virginity

A recent New York Times article discusses the issues regarding virginity and revirginization in Europe, due to the influences of traditional Islam.

Here is a sampling:

An increasing number of Muslim women are turning to the busy clinics to get a $3,000 hymenoplasty, a restoration of the hymen, the vaginal membrane that normally breaks in the first act of intercourse.

“In my culture, not to be a virgin is to be dirt,” said one student, perched on a hospital bed as she awaited surgery on Thursday. “Right now, virginity is more important to me than life.”

As Europe’s Muslim population grows, many young Muslim women are caught between the freedoms that European society affords and the deep-rooted traditions of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

As Europe’s Muslim population grows, many young Muslim women are caught between the freedoms that European society affords and the deep-rooted traditions of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

Gynecologists say that in the past few years, more Muslim women are seeking certificates of virginity to provide proof to others. That in turn has created a demand among cosmetic surgeons for hymen replacements, which, if done properly, they say, will not be detected and will produce tell-tale vaginal bleeding on the wedding night.

The service is widely advertised on the Internet; medical tourism packages are available to countries like Tunisia where it is less expensive.

“If you’re a Muslim woman growing up in more open societies in Europe, you can easily end up having sex before marriage,” said Dr. Hicham Mouallem, who is based in London and performs the operation. “So if you’re looking to marry a Muslim and don’t want to have problems, you’ll try to recapture your virginity.”

To read the entire article:
In Europe, Debate Over Islam and Virginity, New York Times, 11 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Doctor in discussion with a patient. Photo courtesy of NYT.

Dubai Toll Issues

Salik Web Site
More Salik Ahead! Khaleej Times, 28 May 2008.
New Salik Toll Gates by September, Gulf News, 27 May 2008
New Toll Gates, Xpress, 27 May 2008
New Tolls to Ease Traffic Chaos, The National, 27 May 2008
Salik: Fair Tax or another Burden? The National, 27 May 2008.
How the Dubai Toll Works, GN, 2 July 2007

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dubai Rides the Oil Boom

Here is a sampling from a very comprehensive US News report entitled ‘Dubai Rides the Oil Boom’.

Central Theme:
“With oil prices near record levels, the Gulf is on the receiving end of a historic transfer of wealth from oil consumers that dwarfs previous oil booms, even after adjusting for inflation. Just between 2002 and 2006, Gulf economies doubled. And this time, in contrast to earlier oil booms when most of the profits were reinvested in the West, Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are investing much more of that windfall at home.”

“More than $1 trillion of construction projects is currently underway in the Persian Gulf states, but the changes aren't just about the vast amounts of concrete, glass, and steel being erected. Indeed, this unprecedented wealth transfer is starting to rewrite the fundamental balance of power in the world economy, says Robert Hutchings, who as the head of the U.S. National Intelligence Council until 2005 led a project looking at what the world might be like in 2020. The rise of the Gulf economies ‘should give us pause about how much we Americans and the countries that created the global financial system 60 years ago still have control of it,’ he says.”

Scope:
The article offers this scope:
* Examples of ‘the city of superlatives’-Burj Al Arab, Burj Dubai
* The transformation and the Dubai marketing machine
* Building a world-class city in the sand on a par with New York
* Becoming a major global financial centre
* Tourism attractions
* Tourist and cargo traffic—new airports
* UAE as the ‘new America’
* Growing pains—traffic congestion, property rentals up,
* Foreign labour issues
* Security and the threat of terrorist strikes
* Balancing western interests and Muslim sensibilities
* Dress, alcohol, prostitution, drugs
* Political issues

The article comes with a photo gallery and video.

Link:
Kevin Whitelaw, Dubai Rides the Oil Boom, US News & World Report, 5 June 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “Foreign workers from South Asia at a labor camp.” (Photo courtesy US News)

US Info on UAE Oil

The US keeps a close watch on the UAE energy flow.

The information seems somewhat dated but this site is a source for Americans (and others) on:

$ UAE Oil production over the next seven years
$ Middle East Oil Resources
$ Oil sector organization
$ Exploration and Production
$ Pipelines
$ Exports
$ Refining

The site has some background to the oil scene in the UAE and the Middle East, specific information on oil, natural gas, electricity, quick facts and news reports.

Source: UAE Energy Data, EIA.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: These figures indicate why the Middle East has Americans over a barrel.

UAE and the Arts Articles

Art Lovers Flock…Islamic Art Seminar, ABus. 14 June 2008
Yash Raj Films to Build a Large Scale Entertainment District in Dubai, Frontier India, 13 June 2008.
Interview: Marjan Tehrani, Director ARUSI PERSIAN WEDDING, Still in Motion, 12 June 2008
Festival of Iranian Cinema in Abu Dhabi, Khaleej Times, 11 June 2008.
‘Sex and the City’ to Change Name for the UAE, Memri, 29 May 2008.
Picasso Opens Abu Dhabi, IHT, 27 May 2008.
Abu Dhabi Hosts Photography Exhibition, ME Online, 27 May 2008.
Ouds and Ballet in Abu Dhabi, More Intelligent Life, 8 May 2008.

UAE Unaffected by Global Property Recession

In the global ‘meltdown’ caused by rising inflation, oil and food prices, a real estate report indicates that the UAE seems to have bucked the prevailing trend.

Gowealthy.Com reports:

“The UAE economy attained an overall growth of 7.4% in 2007 over 2006. Oil revenues averaging $69.1 billion constituted 35% of the UAE GDP in 2007, but it was the non-oil sectors, mainly real estate and construction that made a major impact, accounting for 65% of the Gross Domestic Product.”

“As the UAE economy develops, its real estate sector has blossomed into an attractive investment market, offering solid returns. Dubai is currently one of the world's top ten expensive commercial property markets, according to a report by CB Richard Ellis. “

Further information:
Gowealthy.Com., 12 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Dubai: “one of the world's top ten expensive commercial property markets.”

Dubai Loses Attractiveness for Skilled Workers

A survey conducted by Bayt.com and unveiled on 8 June 2008 at the Dubai Economic Council forum has shown that the Dubai (and UAE) image is becoming tarnished and that it is harder to attract talented skilled workers to its shores. The survey also included observations relating to national workers.

The equation looks like this:

+High cost of living
+High inflation
+High rents
+Falling dollar peg
+Lifestyle harder
+Traffic congestion
+Parking woes
+Growing wage discrepancies between public (higher) and private sectors
And still to come…
+VAT
+Higher visa costs

=Private sector claims it cannot raise salaries
=Private sector cannot attract Emiratis
=Emiratis paid more in public sector (this is not linked to productivity)
=Harder to recruit
=Good workers leaving
=High turnover of staff especially among nationals

There are a growing number of concerns highlighted by the Skilled Workers survey which, if not addressed swiftly, will lead to a severe bleeding of the talented workers that the UAE has attracted and major long-term difficulties in convincing prospective international workers that life in the Emirates is worth making the transition.

Paying Emiratis more than people of other races is a retrograde step. It affects staff morale when salaries are not tagged to credentials and performance. It discriminates, it flies in the face of modern international labor legislation and it is not an act of justice ‘adl (عدل).

On the surface it may appear desirable for the recipients but this practice is not good for the workers concerned as it removes any incentive to strive and develop when salary increases are awarded simply for being a member of the right race. This practice of unintentionally doing harm by being kind is well illustrated by the Emperor Moth syndrome.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Traffic congestion

Related:
For more on the different salary rates according to ethnic origins refer to the book by Essam Al Tamimi, Setting up [Business] in Dubai. This is reviewed at Reviewing Books and Movies.

On the Negative Side
VAT and Visas Discouraging Tourists
High Costs Driving Expats Away

On the Positive Side
New Zealanders Attracted to UAE
Australia’s Love Affair with Dubai and UAE

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gulf Currency Looks to Miss 2010 Deadline

A Reuters article is critical of the tardiness of the Gulf countries as the much-trumpeted 2010 target for having a common Gulf currency (like the Euro) seems unlikely to be hit.

The article identifies the reasons and discusses the consequences.

Gulf 2010 Currency Deadline Far Out of Reach, Guardian, 11 June 2008.

Here is a 2002 article in the BBC News that was talking about the early plans and 2010 target.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Money, money money.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

VAT and Visa Decisions Discouraging Tourists

The comments on the online newspapers and web sites are loud and heated concerning two new decisions that are likely to discourage tourists to the Emirates.

VAT
The public debate in countries such as UK over the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) and Australia with its Goods and Services Tax (GST) was enormous. The UAE does not have a protest tradition, as such activity is seen as a criticism of the government and its leaders, but prospective tourists to the UAE will simply voting with their wallets and passports. While authorities are saying the VAT might only be a 5% tax, evidence from other countries illustrate the way VAT and GST increase incrementally to raise more revenue.

The UAE has had an attractive image of tax free shopping and this has lured tourists from all over the world who have combined shopping with other forms of tourism. With the introduction of the VAT in early 2009 this attraction will be tarnished, hitting the tourism, commercial and accommodation sectors of the Emirates.

Visas
UAE newspapers (Khaleej Times, The National, Gulf News) are reporting the concern of tour operators and residents over the complicated and confusing visit visa fees that are due to kick in from August 1.

Certain nationalities such as Egyptians, Syrians, Pakistanis and Indians are not eligible for tourist visas and will have to pay Dh500 for a one-month visit visa. This will impact greatly upon families who are seeking to holiday and catch up with relatives in the UAE.

Osama Bushra, Chief Operating Officer of travel agency Travco, was reported in the Khaleej Times saying that these groups, traditionally with large Arab families and staying a minimum of one week, contributed significantly to the tourism economy.

The complexity of the new visa categories smacks of bureaucracy gone mad and surprisingly runs counter to the fast, ‘can do’ spirit that UAE has become famous for around the world.

The new red tape will discourage the large number of transit tourists and people on long routes who might otherwise have enjoyed a few days in the UAE and the chance to break their journey.

The new fees and the hassle of getting visas is likely to reduce the number of visitors and cause Dubai to fall short of its mark in aiming for 10 million visitors by 2010 and 15 million by 2015.

According to the Cabinet, the changes in the fees and structure of the visit visas are part of the UAE government's plan to combat illegal immigration in the country.

This heavy-handed and costly approach (financially and administratively) with VAT and visas, seems set to knock the tourism industry and have a major flow on effect with hotels and shopping.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “The new fees and the hassle of getting visas are likely to reduce the number of visitors.” (Photo courtesy of The National)

UAE Cities and Quality of Living

Mercer’s Quality of Living survey findings are out for 2008 and Abu Dhabi and Dubai appear to have dropped in their ranking.

In 2007 the only two UAE cities that were surveyed were Abu Dhabi and Dubai and they shared top spot for Middle Eastern cities and attained position 58 overall in the world rankings.

This year Dubai came in at 83 and Abu Dhabi at 87.

In 2008 European cities dominate the rankings of locations with the best quality of living, according to Mercer’s Quality of Living survey. Zurich retains its 2007 title as the highest ranked city, followed jointly by Vienna (2), Geneva (2), then Vancouver (4) and Auckland (5). Baghdad, ranking 215, retains its position at the bottom of the table.

High Safety Ranking
Abu Dhabi at 33 is the best city in the region (Middle East and Africa) for personal safety followed by Dubai at 47. This safety ranking is based on criteria including relationships with other countries, internal stability and crime and law enforcement.

Criteria
The Worldwide Quality of Living Survey, conducted by the human resources consultancy firm Mercer, is based on an evaluation of 39 criteria contributing to the overall livability of each city.

These indicators include:
* Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc)
* Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services, etc)
* Socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom, etc)
* Health and sanitation (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
* Schools and education (standard and availability of international schools, etc)
* Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion, etc)
* Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
* Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
* Housing (housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services, etc)
* Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

Mercer’s Quality of Living survey covers 215 cities and is conducted primarily to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments.

Source: Mercer’s 2008 Quality of Living Survey, 10 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: A slice of Abu Dhabi from the air.

Monday, June 9, 2008

UAE’s Erection Complex

The UAE is obsessed with erections—the tallest, the fanciest, the most eye-catching skyscrapers the architects can create.

I am a regular visitor to Brett Siegel’s very fine web site, UAE Mega Projects, but one of his recent posts, in which he listed Dubai’s Top 100 Skyscrapers, got me thinking. Is the greatest of a metropolis gauged by the height or number of its buildings? Will the Burj Dubai, which according to The National is going to be higher than originally intended, become the monument of all monuments to Dubai’s greatness?

It can be pleasing to the eye to see a building that is a work of art and a towering mountain or building can be breathtaking whatever way you look.

Recently one of the major newspapers in the UAE (Gulf News) has been featuring the issue of national identity—how does it develop? What promotes a healthy cultural identity?

The race to have the tallest building in the world is like an adolescent trying hard to be somebody. It suggests a flaunting of riches and size—‘Look at me!’ It might impress for a few moments but it does little to build a robust cultural and national identity.

If the UAE began to innovate in clean energy for all of the country (not just Masdar)…
If the UAE raised the salaries of its teachers from Dh4,000 to build an effective education system…
If the UAE improved the health system so the nurse-patient ratio was the best in the world…
If the UAE welcomed people to become permanent residents and not just laid out the welcome mat to get their employment services…
Then this would help build national pride, construct a strong sense of community and enable all its people to stand tall.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “The UAE is obsessed with erections.” Burj Dubai rising higher.

Benazir Bhutto’s Daughter Carries on Mother’s Work

Bakhtawar Bhutto, 17, who goes to school in Dubai, has been made head of the Pakistan Peoples party’s (PPP) women’s wing. In her first television interview since her mother was killed last December, she pledged to carry on Benazir’s work.

Bakhtawar promised to play a prominent role in the campaign for women’s equality and said that she had not ruled out a career in politics.

“I definitely want to help people in Pakistan. I want to continue my mom’s mission in any way I can, whether it’s politics or something else - I haven’t decided yet,” she said.

She and her sister Asifa, 14, were last seen in public mourning at the flower-bedecked graveside of their mother after she was killed by a suicide bomber two weeks before an election that she had been widely expected to win.

Bakhtawar, said: “I am proud to think people see me as a role model. I’m a very confident speaker and I hope all women can do what they want.

“I was given the opportunity. I was privileged, as you know. I was born into the family that I am in, where everything I could have was my right. Everything was equal between me and my brother and there was no discrimination between the sexes.”

Her 19-year-old brother Bilawal, an Oxford undergraduate, was appointed co-chairman of the PPP along with Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, within days of the assassination and is widely seen as a future leader of the party.

Nevertheless, the appointment of Bakhtawar, which was combined with the announcement that her younger sister would lead the party's youth movement, led to speculation that she, rather than her brother, might be the next star of the Bhutto dynasty. Bakhtawar's public reminder that she is Bilawal's equal has also raised memories of the bitter sibling rivalry that divided the Bhuttos after the death of Benazir's father.

Sources: The Post (Pakistan), 9 June 2008; Times Online, 8 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “Bakhtawar (right) and her sister Asifa, 14, were last seen publicly in mourning at the flower-bedecked graveside of their mother.” 28 December 2007.

Related:
Benazir Bhutto’s biography, Daughters of the East, is reviewed on Reviewing Books and Movies.

Martin Luther King Jnr. and His Influence on Benazir Bhutto, Stories for Speakers and Writers.

Benazir Bhutto on Bitterness, SFSAW.

Benazir Bhutto on Destiny, SFSAW.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

High Costs Driving Expats Away

Many sectors of the work force are starting to feel the pinch. Expatriates are leaving the UAE in great numbers and there are not enough replacements as high costs, high inflation and the weakened dirham are kicking in and salaries are not keeping up sufficiently to make this option viable and attractive.

The most reason sector to suffer is the area of health. Here is the introduction to an article in the
Khaleej Times:

[A] shortage of nurses is beginning to tell on the UAE health sector and government hospitals are pushing for more benefits and for the upgrading of the recruitment system to retain the experienced nursing workforce currently available.

The seriousness of the issue can be gauged from hospital statistics. Internationally, the ratio of nurses to patients is set at 1:5, in general, and one nurse to one or two patients at the most for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of each hospital.

But, this is not the case in the UAE. One hospital in the Al Baraha area of Dubai has a ratio of one nurse to 10 patients, and in the ICU, one nurse to four patients.

The situation has been so for the past few years as more nurses in this region are tempted to proceed to the United States and the European countries reportedly offering family and immigrant visas in lieu of the usual work visas to experienced nurses and their families.

The UAE has been home to nurses from several countries with 40 per cent of them coming from India, followed by Filipinos 30 per cent and the remaining 30 per cent is shared by local nurses and those coming from other Arab countries. Of the 30 per cent, the local nurses comprise mere 4-7 per cent.

Most of them have spent more than three years in the UAE. But, with the current skyrocketing of prices of basic commodities and the spiralling cost of villas and houses, many have opted to leave the UAE and take up jobs in the West.

More detail is available at this link:

‘Shortage of Nurses Hits Health Sector, Khaleej Times, 8 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “A shortage of nurses is beginning to tell on the UAE health sector.”

Saudi King Prepares for Inter-Faith Conversation

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has won backing from Muslim clerics from around the world for an interfaith dialogue with Christians and Jews, state media reported on Saturday.

Some 500 religious scholars and academics gathered for a 3-day conference in Mecca which ended on Friday as the first step of a plan announced by the Saudi king this year to create a dialogue with other faiths.

The king's call, which followed a meeting with Pope Benedict at the Vatican last year, sparked much interest from Jewish and Christian groups around the world.

More on this conference that is preparing for the ground-breaking event:

‘Saudi King Prepares Ground for Interfaith Meeting,’ Khaleej Times, 7 June 2008.

Image: King Abdullah and Pope Benedict at a historic meeting in Rome, November 2007.

Emiratis Protest over Quarry Damage

Dozens of infuriated Emiratis from the northern parts of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah on Saturday stormed into one of the biggest rock quarries forcing the management to stop work until their demands are met.

They alleged that the quarry is encroaching on their lands, blasting the mountains, damaging their properties, and creating pollution.

The women in the group stood at the gate and blocked the entrances to the rock quarry while the men got inside the quarry, forcing the work to a halt.

The entire story is published at this link:

‘Quarry encroaching on our Land says enraged Emiratis’, Gulf News, 8 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “quarry is… damaging their properties, and creating pollution.”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Australia’s Love Affair with Dubai and UAE

Here is a further article on the UAE in the major Brisbane newspaper today. See what they identify as being the things in the UAE that might attract Aussies. Here in the introduction the Aussies are highlighting an alcohol draw card in the Burj al-Arab.

On the 27th floor of what is billed as the world's most luxurious hotel is a glass cabinet holding what is said to be the world's most expensive drink.

So far, only two people have paid the 27,321 dirham – 27 for the number of floors in Dubai's lavish Burj al-Arab and 321 its height in metres – for the pleasure of sipping one glass of this 55-year-old Macallan single malt scotch whisky.

Even if $A7740 seems excessive for one tipple, there is little doubt the remaining eight serves of this ultra-premium spirit have their days in the bottle numbered.

Since opening almost 10 years ago, the Burj al-Arab has symbolised Dubai's wealth and extravagance.

As the city continues its building frenzy, many other landmarks are jostling for top status and spots in the record books.

To read the entire article, follow this link:

‘Desert Storm of Activity in Dubai, UAE’, Courier Mail, 8 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: It’s up there on the 27th floor.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper Wins Zayed Prize

Emmy Award winning journalist, author, and television personality Anderson Hays Cooper will receive a special recognition from the Zayed International Prize for the Environment for his outstanding contributions to investigative journalism and reports on the CNN news Show Anderson Cooper 360°.

“As primary anchor of the CNN news show, Cooper travelled around the world with Sanjay Gupta, a chief medical correspondent, and Jeff Corwin, a wildlife biologist and Animal Planet host, for Planet in Peril,” said member of the Zayed Prize Committee Colonel Ahmed Rafia.

Further information can be found at this link:

‘Noted CNN Anchor Wins Zayed Prize’, Trade Arabia, MEBI, 7 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Anderson Cooper

Search and You Will Find

I sometimes get asked the question:

“Where is that article about UAE Identity or ‘What to Wear in the Emirates’ or the link to the 60 Minutes video on Sheikh Mohammed or info on Fujairah?”

Archives
You can go through the Archives of this site looking for a title that looks like the one.

Search Function
You can try using the ‘Search Blog’ at the top left of the site (if it is in English) or the top right (if it is in Arabic).

Put in your key word into the box—‘Identity’, ‘Mohammed’, ‘60’, ‘Wear’, ‘Fujairah’ or whatever.

It is generally effective and the fastest way to track down what you are looking for.

Give it a go now if you have not tried the Search Blog function.

Ask
And if your issue is a U2 challenge—“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”—then send me an email.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Search and you will find.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Are You Ready to Come to the UAE?

Jeremy Williams runs seminars for business people visiting the Gulf countries entitled Handshaikh. On his web site he offers this test for business people to see if they are ready to come and do business in the Gulf. See how you score:

1. When is Ramadan this year?
2. Doesn't Ramadan mean 'fasting' in Arabic?
3. What does 1427AH mean?
4. Arabs are all the same, aren't they?
5. All Arabs are Muslims, surely?
6. We need to book an appointment in three days' time, don't we?
7. What is an Eid?
8. What should I wear?
9. They all speak such good English the proposal can be in English, can't it?
10. Excuse me Mr Abdullah, but what is your Christian name?
11. Iranians are Arabs, aren't they?
12. He seems to be very nice so shall we have him as our Agent/Sponsor?

Jeremy Williams says:
“IF YOU ASK THESE▲OR SIMILAR QUESTIONS, DON'T GO TO THE GULF YET!
SPEAK TO HANDSHAIKH LTD FIRST” (especially the last three!).


If you can’t get to one of Jeremy Williams’s seminars, the next best thing is to buy a copy of his book: Don’t they Know it’s Friday?

A review of this book can be found at this link:

Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan welcoming a guest.

Fujairah Exports Hookah Café to USA

At a time when restrictions are being imposed on Shisha smoking in the United Arab Emirates a Fujairah-inspired ‘Hookah House’ is hubba-bubbling along in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

To read about the American couple that got so hooked on the Fujairah shisha habit that they returned to the US to establish the Hendersonville Hookah House and to catch a whiff of why Americans have been sucked into this Emirati tradition, go to the web site on all things Fujairah:

Fujairah in Focus, 6 June 2008

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Sharing the Shisha in USA, courtesy of Bold Life.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Beware Bouncing Cheques in the UAE

A story from Fujairah cropped up this week (4 June 2008) concerning a man who issued a cheque to pay for some goods. The company went to bank the cheque and it bounced and when this was reported to the police the customer ended up in jail for two months.

On the surface, this punishment looks harsh. Not being present in court I am only going on the details reported in the newspaper.

Was it because the amount was large, in this case Dh290,000 and the higher the amount, the higher the bounce and the higher the punishment?

Was it because the man was of a particular race? It is good that the man’s name was withheld with only his initials printed but it is unfortunate that in the space of four short paragraphs his nationality is referred to three times. The UAE publishing law is clear about people, especially journalists, not doing or writing things that would discredit the United Arab Emirates so why mention the expatriate’s home country in triplicate?

Bouncing cheques in the Emirates is a serious business. Many expatriates in the UAE will have had the embarrassing experience (especially in the age when bills were paid by cheques rather than by credit cards, phone and Internet banking) of writing a cheque and then finding that you (or was it your bank?) did not have the funds in your account when the cheque was cashed. Banks usually have a standard fee that they charge for such a misdemeanour. Read the story of the person who received an ‘excessive’ double charge totaling £72 by an English bank for a bounced cheque due to having been away on holiday and not realizing that the account was in need of topping up!

Jeremy Williams, author of ‘Don’t they know it’s Friday’ puts it in his typically clear and succinct manner:

“Bouncing a cheque can be a criminal offence in the Gulf, not just a commercial matter.”

The UAE is not the only country where in certain instances writing a cheque against insufficient funds can be deemed to be a criminal action. Bouncing a cheque does appear to be viewed with greater seriousness in the UAE and the Gulf countries.

Anyone had any experience of this in the Gulf countries? Do write a comment if you have more to add or some point to correct.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Beware bouncing cheques.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hummer Facing End of the Road in UAE?

The Hummer, which is exceedingly popular in the United Arab Emirates, is in trouble.

It is reported that Hummer's owner, General Motors, is reviewing the future of the Hummer brand, due to a slump in demand for vehicles that consume vast quantities of fuel.

The vehicle was originally a civilian version of the US military's armoured Humvee. The Hummer has had a host of wealthy enthusiasts making the steep purchase, including California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. At one point, the former actor owned an entire fleet of Hummers before giving them up after his election.

David Hirsch, of Friends of the Earth in the US, described the Hummer as "the most anti-environmental vehicle in the history of the world".

Weighing in at 2.6 tonnes, a typical Hummer can only do between 10 and 15 miles on a gallon of fuel (roughly 15 litres per 100km).

With gas prices not as high in the Emirates it will be interesting to see whether the Hummer drops in sales and whether SUVs take a dive as they have in the US.

For more details on the declining sales in the US and the UK and the options that GM is pondering, follow this link:

Andrew Clark, ‘End of the road for Hummer after sales of 'world's most anti-environmental car' dive’, The Guardian, 4 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Hummer H3T model due for release in 2009; Arni with his yellow Hummer.

Extra:
The Hummer is not the most popular car/truck in the UAE. Check out which car make is the favourite in the post entitled, ‘Dream Car of the UAE’.

UAE Fights Human Trafficking

The UAE figured in the United Nations discussions and press statements when for the first time the UN devoted the entire day (3 June 2008) to dealing with the issue of human trafficking.

Anwar Gargash, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, said that the UAE, which has been a strong supporter of UN.GIFT since its inception, is endeavouring to address the problem.

The country’s ‘wake-up call’ came in the form when it was discovered that camel jockeys were being exploited, he said at a press conference today and convinced the UAE that global partnerships were key to tackling the problem of trafficking due to its transnational nature.

“We understand that it is not a stigma to have human trafficking but the stigma is not to do anything about it,” Mr. Gargash said, adding that the UAE is leading the fight in the region against human trafficking.

The United Nations estimates that at any given time 2.5 million people find themselves in situations that are defined as forced labor or sexual exploitation. Fifty-six percent, 1.4 million, are in Asia and the Pacific.

The global organization says human trafficking—the issue of forced labor and exploitation—affects more than 160 nations that serve either as a source, a transit point or a destination.

According to figures from the International Labor Organization, the majority of trafficking victims are between the ages of 18 and 24. The United Nations Children Funds, UNICEF, estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. Another recent study says that 95 percent of trafficked people experience physical or sexual violence.

UN studies show that the estimated annual global profit from trafficked people is almost $32 billion. Almost half of that is generated in industrialized economies.

So far, 116 nations have ratified a UN protocol against trafficking, the only international agreement that addresses human trafficking as a crime. The Trafficking Protocol requires ratifying nations to criminalize human trafficking and help victims.

Source: ‘Words Must be put into Action to Fight Human Trafficking’, UN News Centre, 3 June 2008.

Image: Robot jockeys have replaced child jockeys in the UAE since 2005.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fujairah: The UAE’s Best Kept Secret

Check out the most recent postings on the Fujairah in Focus web site, a sister site of Experiencing the Emirates.

They include articles on one of the most popular pastimes in any country—

Fishing: Quintessentially Fujairah

Are you thinking of making Fujairah your new base, working from home via the Internet and new I-Phone and commuting to Dubai or Abu Dhabi for a day or two a week? You might save yourself thousands of dirhams in rent and your family might enjoy a more relaxed, even a rural lifestyle! Instead of spending all that time in the car you could be crashing around the mountains in your 4WD or hooking in the fish out on the Fujairah waters. Perhaps you might be thinking of joining the…..

Renter Migration to Fujairah

There are other articles with a Fujairah flavour entitled:

Fujairah Tourism

A great photo, Road to Fujairah, from a terrific Photo Blog of Fujairah that also has some UAE scenes.

A sad story on yet another Oil Spill on Fujairah Beaches and…

Your invitation to check out Fujairah on Google Earth.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: The distinctive coffee pot roundabout in Fujairah’s suburb of Faseel—a stone’s throw from the Hilton Hotel. Coffee was first discovered in these parts so it is culturally a most appropriate symbol of Emirati history and hospitality.

This article will make you thirsty: Imbibing the Emirates.

Monday, June 2, 2008

UAE Oil Gas Electricity Articles

Shocked! How Oil Crisis Has Hit the World, ABT, 31 May 2008.
UAE Says Oil Market Well Supplied, GN, 30 May 2008.
How Abu Dhabi Differs from Exxon, Wash. Post., 29 May 2008
UAE Says Oil Prices Rising too High Too Fast, Reuters, 29 May 2008.
Electricity Demand to Fuel Gas Shortage, Business 24-7, 28 May 2008.
What would oil at $200 mean for Dubai? Kipp Report, 27 May 2008.
Gulf States May Soon Need Coal Imports, Times Online, 19 May 2008.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Can’t Eat Petrodollars so UAE Buying Farms

You can’t drink crude oil. You can’t eat petrodollars.

In the face of soaring food prices with Gulf nations being hit hard they have to import more than 80 per cent of the food needed for their rapidly growing populations.

Gulf rulers have a new strategy: They are buying unused agricultural land in poor countries like Pakistan, Thailand, and Sudan, and becoming large-scale farmers.

The Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital aims to work with the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in buying up large tracts of land in Pakistan for the creation of major agribusinesses.

With the state acting as both food producer and trader, the UAE hopes to help lower food prices by eliminating profits by middlemen.

More details on this move can be obtained from this article:

High Food Prices… Oil Sheikhs Turn to Farming, MC-Business, Jun 1, 2008

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “buying unused agricultural land in poor countries like Pakistan…”