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

Monday, June 29, 2009

Longing for the Emiratization of the Food Industry

The Emirates Palace is welcoming a new master chef with superb credentials in Italian cuisine but when are we going to see Emirati food being showcased in the best hotels and restaurants of the UAE?

This is no disrespect to Andrea Montella who comes to Abu Dhabi with vast international experience gained over three decades in New York, London, Brazil, Thailand, Italy and the Middle East. With his award-winning Mezzaluna (Italian for half moon) Montella is well equipped to fulfil his ambition in making the Emirates Palace “the best provider of Italian food and to deliver the very highest standards of culinary expertise and service.”

Fine Italian flavours served by the maestro will be very welcome in the UAE especially at the ‘star-studded world class events’ hosted by the Emirates Palace.

But wouldn’t it be good for the nation, if in the pursuit of the Palace to be the epicurean flagship, its new master chef was given the mandate for making the Emirates Palace the mecca for Emirati cuisine?

Wouldn’t it be marvellous if the master chef was given the freedom to discover the ancient recipes from this part of the Arabian Peninsula and the menus that were served throughout the year and particularly during the religious festivals?

Can you imagine the Palace kitchen being turned into a school for Emirati chefs to be trained in their national cuisine under Andrea’s tutelage?

The Emirates Palace in time could in time become the powerhouse for producing Emirati chefs who will take their epicurean delights to all the emirates and to the tables of distinguished hotels all around the world.

Related
Try Camel Milk, Camel Meat and Now Gourmet Quail in the Emirates, ETE.
Eating the Emirates, ETE.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: One of the restaurants in the Emirates Palace and welcome to Andrea Montella.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Connect with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid on Facebook

He has his own award-winning personal website. He has recently invited people to submit questions and suggestions online and he is busy responding in this forum. This week His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has joined Facebook.

Why ever would this busy leader want to join an online social network?

Access
The test of good leadership is the ability to engage with your people, to help them to know that you hear their concerns and to learn from them.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has consistently given many indications that he is not remote or aloof. Facebook gives the Ruler of Dubai a further opportunity to engage with his people.

One of his new Facebook friends likes this quality and after thanking the Sheikh for accepting him as a friend he says, “Facebook helps us to communicate with you directly.”

Down to Earth
It surprised his interviewer on 60 Minutes to see that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed drove his own vehicle around Dubai and the Emirates.

It was a sign of his pastoral concern that after floods did damage to the homes of his constituents that he rolled up in his vehicle to visit them.

Now, judging by the reactions of his first few Facebook friends, the Sheikh is surprising many people with this initiative and his reaching out in friendship.

One of his appreciative Facebook friends remarks, “This is the first Arab leader in the world who reaches out unconventionally, innovatively and who contributes to building the virtual world community.”

Disclosure
Facebook gives to everyone the opportunity to reveal as much or as little as one chooses. This is a useful avenue for leaders and celebrities who want to share with people their ideas and the ordinary ‘status updates’ from their everyday lives.

On his Facebook page there is much already that Sheikh Mohammed is revealing—his political views, his religious views, some personal details such as his birthday, the things he is passionate about, his favourite books, the values that have been instilled within him, the achievements of which he is proud and the things he rates as matters of importance.

Approachability
At the commencement of this new chapter in his Facebook career Sheikh Mohammed has posted two photo albums. They contain old and more recent photos of his children, with their names and some pictures of him with his grandchildren about which the caption reads, “Deriving happiness from a new generation in the family.”

Some other photographs show Sheikh Mohammed in ‘everyday encounters’—visiting a man he met on his rounds last year, mixing with men in a home for the elderly and visiting students in a school.

Perhaps it is in these pictures more than any of the words that Sheikh Mohammed is depicted as being very approachable. Under one of the family photos someone has added this comment: ‘Father and daughter...an amazing bond.”

Dialogue
The beauty of Facebook is that it is interactive and ideal for stimulating conversation. After his initial greetings the Sheikh is using Facebook to stimulate discussion and seek the wishes of his people. He made this statement which has a question: “I visited the Ministry of Education today and would like to raise this question, ‘Should the new academic year start during Ramadan or after the Eid holiday?’” Judging by the number of replies, people are eager to tell Sheikh Mohammed what they would like to see happen and why.

Sheikh Mohammed’s Facebook friends are already remarking to him on his humility, characterised by the way he is giving them a chance to express their admiration, their appreciation, their blessing and their suggestions.

His friends are feeling honoured and humbled to be able to interact with the Ruler in this way.

One person said, “Wow—my first friend who is a leader of a nation!”

Creating a Community
One wonders how one person might engage effectively with thousands of people through Facebook yet this medium does foster a sense of community. This is a community that reflects the cosmopolitan flavour of the UAE and His Highness is writing to people in Arabic as well as in English. Women and men, old and young have a chance to respond in whatever language they would like to communicate.

Facebook is part of the World Wide Web so people in D.C., Dresden or Durban can feel just as close to the Sheikh as those who are living in Dubai. Facebook, therefore, gives to Sheikh Mohammed an international platform and the possibility of developing an international community.

Here is Sheikh Mohammed’s Facebook address if you would like to request to become one of his friends.

There were more than 700 people who became friends of the Sheikh in his first two days of being part of the Facebook community. Be in quick as there is a limit of 5,000 friends that anyone can have.

Further:
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Judged One of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21ST Century, ETE.
Poems Give Most Revealing Glimpse of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, ETE.
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.
Sheikh Mohammad Models Rare Style of Leadership, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Leadership is Honoured, ETE.
New Website for H H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ETE.
Dubai and Sheikh Mohammed on 60 Minutes Video, ETE.

Dr Geoff Pound
Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com or on Facebook.

Image: Sheikh Mohammed’s current photo and front page on Facebook.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Change that from English to Emirati Premier League Football

England to Emirates
Another Premier League football club could be passing into Emirati ownership after the official United Arab Emirates news agency WAM reported that Ahmed bin Saqr al-Qassimi, a member of the UAE ruling family, had bought a majority stake in an unnamed club.

Foreign Ownership
Should al-Qassimi take a stake in one of the British-owned clubs in the league it will make overseas investors a majority around the Premier League table.

Ten clubs are in foreign ownership: Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Sunderland, West Ham, Fulham and Manchester City.

60% Stake
According to the report al-Qassimi, a member of the ruling family of the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah (one of the seven emirates of the UAE), would be taking a 60 per cent stake and be appointed honorary chairman this week.

First Manchester City
Last year an Abu Dhabi Sheikh bought Manchester City.

Next Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the subject of a bid from the Abu Dhabi investor, Sulaiman al-Fahim.

Which Club?
A source close to Anfield’s owners denied Liverpool was the club in question.

Which club do you think is the next on the Emirati shopping list?

There’s no doubt about it, a revolution in ownership is gradually taking place and the wealthy Arab football lovers are at the forefront of this movement.

Related:
Portsmouth Gets Profile of New Football Club Owner, Sulaiman Al Fahim, ETE.
Is the UAE poised to Buy the Portsmouth FC? Yes! ETE.
Abu Dhabi to Buy Manchester City Football Club, ETE.
Abu Dhabi Purchase of Foreign Football Club Impedes Emirati Identity, ETE.
Video about Manchester City Takeover by Abu Dhabi, ETE.
The UAE Football Team Should Watch this Video from Barcelona FC, ETE.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Some of the clubs in the English Premier league.

Tour the UAE’s New Piaggio Planes Purchased in Paris

Paris Purchase
As part of the expansion of its fleet, the UAE Air Force and Air Defense announced at the Paris Air Show that it was purchasing two Piaggio Aero P180 Avanti II planes.

Why Italiano?
The UAE Air Force did extensive evaluation of various models and looked at the usual things such as reliability, cost etc. but here are the deciding factors:

* Multi-purpose facilities
* Piaggio’s ongoing relationship through training
* Speed for evacuations
* Ambulance facility
* Spacious stand-up cabin
* Environmentally efficient
* Cabin Configuration options

Take a Virtual Tour
Not convinced?

Check out the Piaggio Aero web site and the P180 Avanti pages, see the comparisons and go for a virtual tour of the cabin.

Then watch a short video or two of the plane doing some aerobatics.

It will make you want to say, ‘Bravo!’

More Info:
Paris Air Show, Flight Global, 15 June 2009.
The UAE Air Force Selects Piaggio Aero, AMEInfo, 15 June 2009

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Glimpses of the new UAE purchases from Genoa, Italy.

Watch Sheikh Mohammed Ride with the Queen at Ascot

Royal Procession
Check out this video of HH Sheikh Mohammed being granted the privilege of guest of honor as he rode with the Queen in her carriage to the races on 18 June 2009.

Also in the carriage, are the queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh and Andrew, the Grand old Duke of York.

The commentary about colors, hats, broaches and Irish guards convey something of the pageantry of such a day.



Gold Race
The third day of the festivity is traditionally when the Gold Cup (Group 1 Flat Horse Race over 2 miles and 4 furlongs) is raced, which is Britain’s most prestigious event for ‘stayers’.

Royal Company
Sheikh Mohammed’s personal web site added these details:

“The festival was attended by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Deputy Ruler and Finance Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wife of Sheikh Mohammed Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, other royals, dignitaries, senior officials and a large gathering of racing enthusiasts.”

Second Carriage
HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, Sheikh Mohammed’s wife, was in the second carriage, along with the Princess Royal, the Earl of Huntingdon and Mr. John Warren.

Winners
Sheikh Mohammed, owner of the Godolphin Stable, had three horses entered in the Gold Cup: Eastern Anthem, Veracity and Sagara. Although none of his horses got over the line first in the Gold Cup, Flying Cloud, his horse ridden by Frankie Dettori, won the Ribblesdale Stakes.

Dr Geoff Pound

UAE Car Rally Driver Featured in LA Times

The LA Times has a regular feature called ‘Friday: The Day in Photos.’

In a recent edition of the online paper, a UAE car rally driver appeared in the gallery of photos.

The photo is posted here (thanks to the LA Times).

The caption:
“Khalid Al Qassimi of the United Arab Emirates is enveloped in sand while driving his Ford Focus RS WRC in the SS 2 of Acropolis Rally of Greece 2009, in Thiva, which is north of Athens.”

Check out the other photos in the gallery at this link:

Friday: The Day in Photos, LA Times, 12 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thinking Green for Iran

Green Symbolism
The streets in Iran have been filled with green in recent days as people have worn green bracelets, headbands, scarves and waved green signs, flags, banners and ribbons.

While green has been the color of Mousavi’s campaign, now in this protest phase the green is being draped around Iranian towns and cities and beamed by computers to symbolize something greater than a political party.

Green for Change
The fresh green shoots on plants speak of newness and change. In this green movement the color is symbolizing a struggle against the stranglehold of the old regime.

The word ‘green’ is closely related to the word ‘grow’ in Old English so this color paints a vision of life, maturity and development into all the good that the Iranian nation might become.

Green for Salaam/Peace
As the ‘green movement’ strives to conserve the environment, so the green in Islam and other 'Religions of the Book’ recalls the original garden in the newly created world.

This green symbolism also appears with great lushness in the Qur’anic pictures of paradise with ‘gardens of the deepest green’ and people ‘reclining in fields of green’. Green spells regeneration, peace, fertility and prosperity (maybe this why the Americans color their money green?)

As the green bindings of the Qur’an, the domes of mosques and the green strips on the flags of many Islamic countries indicate, there is a skillful strategy in choosing this sacred color for the current movement.

Think Green
Think green in solidarity with many of the people of Iran.

Green for newness, change, life and growth.

Green for creativity, the vision of salaam, prosperity and hope.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Thinking Green for Iran.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Twittering the Emirates

Twitter seems to be sweeping the UAE with new users springing up as fast as swine flu is knocking down the Australians.

Tweeting Views and Feelings
Many of the tweets are ordinary and mundane but so is life. This is the simplicity of Twitter. It asks the question, ‘What are you doing?’ to which you provide your answer in 140 characters or less.

Today the tweets coming out of Fujairah (where I live) were feelings about the heat:

Timwhite90 tweets: “just off to Fujairah for the day, beautiful blue sky but 38 degrees so HOT HOT HOT.”

Riel505 tweets: “back from JAL hotel in Fujairah - lovely place! It was just too hot to really enjoy the beach. enjoyed the pool and great food though!”

Tweets can be sent by computer but perhaps more often by one’s mobile phone.

Celebrity Tweeting
Celebrity users have enabled ‘followers’ to feel like they are coming close to them, thus developing the allegiance of their fans and creating the illusion of friendship.

Fans like to hear what their heroes are thinking and doing—Ellen (‘I’m taping my TBS special right now.’), Oprah (‘Today went to see Phylicia Rashad in August: Osage County’), Britney (‘I want to thank everyone at the Mandarin Oriental in London for their hospitality this month’), Barack (‘Just finished a Town Hall discussion on responsibility and fatherhood with five remarkable fathers’) and Rania (‘I may be a bit biased but I believe Jordan is a very safe country.’)

Tweeting Nonsense
Many are calling their use of Twitter an addiction, a way to waste time when work is boring. Twitter seems to suggest questions or themes to which people can throw in their dirham’s worth.

At the moment people are invited to finish the sentence with ‘Do not use Twitter….’ Some of the responses include the following:
* Do not use Twitter in the bath.
* Do not use Twitter while you are making love.
* Do not use Twitter to say ‘I do.’
* Do not use Twitter to talk s#@t about your boss.

Tweeting Issues of Urgent Concern
Stories in the UAE news like the highly publicised case—‘Twitter Saves a Life in the UAE’—in which blood donors were needed urgently by a Dubai hospital—have won Twitterers to the cause or observers to recognise some of its important uses.

Often people check Twitter to keep in touch with a ‘trending topic’ or a breaking news story. At the moment Rosemary Church of CNN has just twittered, ‘No violence from Iran election rally so far but a lot of intimidation from heavily armed police.’ The use of Twitter in Iran to get news in real time and to many people, at a period when traditional media networks were either sluggish or muzzled, has enabled people to see its use as a tool of protest and a means of voicing solidarity with the oppressed.

Grabbing Attention
In a superficial analysis of UAE Twitterers, by far the major use of Twitter is to say ‘Look at this!’ and then provide a link to a blog posting, a special rate on a Dubai hotel or some cheap fares on a weekend diving excursion up the Musandam Peninsula. Twitter has become an important business tool.

Statisticians are revealing that a large proportion of hits on web sites are now coming through Twitter. The rush is on to build up one’s list of ‘followers’ (as distinct from Facebook ‘friends’) in order to enlarge your audience and potential market.

Programs abound and messages are being spammed whereby people are told they can get without cost 400 followers in a day or many more if they pay a VIP fee. People decide whether they follow or allow themselves to be followed or both.

UAE Twitterers
As bloggers have several web forums such as the UAE Community Blog and Bloglines: Dubai Blogs, there are several UAE directories emerging on which people can register and have displayed their Twitter statistics.

Twitter Counter is one such directory that keeps a tally of the top Twitterers in the world (at the moment aplusk from Teheran is the most followed with 2,290,644 followers, way ahead of Ellen DeGeneres at second place who has 1,993, 472).

Of the UAE Twitter users, 2067 are listed at the moment, with Sunil Jaiswal of Dubai at the top of the list with 18,461 followers. Much more statistical information with graphs is provided on every Twitter user’s rise and fall.

Are there any other important UAE Twitter directories that should be mentioned?

Getting into the Social Media Spirit
The UAE and other lists around the world indicate that huge numbers register with Twitter and Facebook but neither use them much, nor build a network and interact with their virtual community. Many have deliberately registered simply to taste and see whether this is a good investment of their time or beneficial to their business or cause.

Please leave your comments about Twitter, in particular, about why you use it or why you have left it, the tools you find helpful and the forums you think are worthwhile.

Connect With Me
And, while I am on a roll, do accept my invitation to connect with me here on Twitter and also on Facebook.

Most Popular Recent Articles on Experiencing the Emirates:
Is it OK for Women to Go Topless on UAE Beaches? ETE.
First the Swine Flu Sermon, Now a Sermon on Responsible Driving in UAE, ETE.
New Property Regulations in the Emirates, ETE.

Most Popular Recent Articles on Fujairah in Focus:
Make a Date to Come to Fujairah for the Harvest, FIF.
Things to See and Do Along the Fujairah Corniche to Kalba and Oman Border, FIF.

Dr Geoff Pound

Friday, June 19, 2009

Is it OK for Women to Go Topless on UAE Beaches?

Is it OK?
The brief answer is NO. It is illegal.

Does Topless Bathing Happen in the UAE?
Yes, it sometimes occurs on public beaches but more so at hotel beaches which are considered to be private areas and where there is a great number of international tourists.

Kicking Up a Storm
The issue has been kicking up a storm in the UAE (see all the comments on the articles listed below).

A British Travel Advisory warning last Tuesday was put out by the British Government, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advising against topless bathing and indicating that 24% of British women sunbathe topless when they are on holiday.

The warning follows several highly publicized incidents of British tourists being apprehended and imprisoned for doing things in the Emirates about which they said they were ignorant of the local laws.

The Debate
Some are furious that the travel advisory was directed at British citizens (‘What about the liberal Europeans?’), making them appear ‘indecent’, ‘ignorant’ and putting them (not their bodies) in a bad light.

Some people are annoyed that the travel advisory focused on women (‘What about men and their offensive Speedos?’).

Complete Coverage
To read all sides of the topless debate check these articles and the comments:

Kevin Scott, Keep Your Tops On Brit Women Warned, Gulf News, 16 June 2009.
Alice Johnson & Kevin Scott, Blame Europeans for Topless Displays, British Women Say, Gulf News, 17 June 2009.
Rabab Khan, Gulf News Readers Speak out on Advisory Against Public Decency, Gulf News, 17 June 2009.
UK Foreign Office Issues Warning to British Travelers Abroad, KippReport, 17 June 2009.
Charlie Hamilton & Eugene Harnan, Britons Warned to Respect UAE Laws, The National, 18 June 2009.

Traveling to the UAE?
If you are traveling to the UAE check out these articles:

Public decency in the UAE, Gulf News. This addresses questions about what to wear in the malls, kissing in public, holding hands in public, having sex in a car, what to wear in Sharjah, do you have to wear a veil when you play netball?, what do you wear when you play beach volleyball?, what about see through bathing suits?, wearing your birthday suit?, what about bikinis? attending a club, drinking alcohol in public, Is cross dressing OK so long as it is discrete? What about wearing national dress like kilts?
What to Wear in the UAE, ETE, 24 November 2007.
What to Wear in the United Arab Emirates, ETE, 21 May 2009.
Bodies, Bikinis and Breast Feeding in the UAE, ETE, 21 October 2008.
Etiquette in the Emirates, ETE, 21 February 2008.
Drug Laws in the UAE: Travelers Beware! ETE, 4 March 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dress debate (Some of these images are drawn with thanks from the GN Gallery).

Online Writing and Traditional Journalism in the Gulf

Tune in to the recent robust and sometimes heated discussion between online writers and professional journalists as they talk about topics such as:

* Revenue
* Readership
* Emerging technologies
* Citizen journalism
* Fostering debate
* Expression of views
* Freedom v journalism rules
* Accuracy of content

Source: Samar Fatany, Online Journalism in the Gulf, Arab News, 15 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First the Swine Flu Sermon, Now a Sermon on Responsible Driving in the Emirates

It’s Time!
Recently the UAE government did a good thing by giving all imams a ‘unified sermon’ to preach at every mosque in the country on the important subject of ‘Swine Flu’.

As most sermons are written from a central office the time is overdue for a sermon to be preached at all religious gatherings on the subject, ‘Responsible Driving in the Emirates’.

Here is an outline of things that could be incorporated into such a sermon or built into a series of sermons.

Let’s Begin With the Bad News
The UAE roads are among the deadliest in the world.

According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report that assessed 178 countries, the United Arab Emirates has a death rate of 37 (37.1) per 100,000 population!

UAE road users are almost seven times more likely to be killed than people in the United Kingdom where the death rate is 5 (5.4) for every 100,000 people.

The UAE death rate of 37 per 100,000 is tragic when compared with the world average of 19 (18.8) for every 100,000 people.

Why does the UAE have the highest death rate on the roads in the region (37 deaths per 100,000 people) with Bahrain at 12 (12.1), Kuwait at 17 (16.9), Oman at 21 (21.3), Qatar at 24 (23.7) and Saudi Arabia at 29?

The statistics do not lie. This is a distressing record and the World Health experts are crying out to the UAE government and drivers on the roads of the Emirates and asking us to make some radical changes.

Why a Sermon on Road Safety?
We can pray five times a day in a mosque but if religion fails to relate to our everyday life it is worthless and irrelevant.

A real faith connects with all aspects of life—decision making, relationships, family, neighbors, health, education and the environment.

Allah longs for salaam (peace, shalom, pax). This is a vision for peace at many different levels—peace between an individual and God, the possession of inner serenity, peace between families and neighbors, peace in the wider dimension between tribes and nations and peace that relates to the total environment in which we live.

With such a mandate, religious faith must connect with contemporary concerns such as swine flu, sexuality, spending, saving and safety on our streets.

The Good News
The good news is that we have the freedom and the capacity to do something about the carnage on our roads.

In its short history the UAE has developed a ‘can do’ spirit that relates to creating a union that benefits all of emirates, it has built eye-catching towers, made household water from the sea and it is grappling with the issues of human rights. Surely we can conquer our aggression and respect others who drive and walk on our roads.

So what are the things we can work on together? Here are some specific recommendations from the World Health Organization report and then a few others:

Slow Down
With the high number of fatalities on the roads the UAE government is being asked to reduce the speed limit in different areas.

Hand in hand with this new law is the issue of detecting those who drive over the speed limit and speed cameras has helped detection and saved lives. In some emirates there is a wide margin of grace whereby drivers can go 20kph above the indicated speed before the cameras take their picture. This margin of grace needs to be reduced accordingly.

Abu Dhabi taxis have been fitted with speed limiting devices to halt the high accident rate but these should be fitted to the cars of drivers who repeatedly break the speed limit, if not to all cars in the Emirates.

Belt Up Everyone
The WHO report is recommending that the wearing of seat belts be made compulsory in the back as well as in the front seats. This will save many lives, especially children, who when unrestrained become like missiles hurled against the front window in the event of heavy braking or a collision.

There is an erroneous view that the doing up of one’s safety belt is a sign of a lack of trust in the power of God to protect and care for the driver.

A passenger got into the car and immediately did up her safety belt. The driver took this as an affront to her driving ability and said, “Don’t you trust my driving?” This attitude needs to be challenged. Safety belts must be worn in all seats of a vehicle for the safety that they bring.

Stop for Pedestrians
The WHO report declared the alarming news that pedestrians constituted 28% of casualties in the UAE. It recommended the establishment of further pedestrian bridges, road crossings and cycle paths.

The pedestrian crossing is the most dangerous place on UAE roads. Lulled into thinking they have protection, pedestrians quickly discover that they do not have the right of way.

A massive education about pedestrian crossings is required in the United Arab Emirates to make people safe. The UAE road law must require, as some countries have introduced, that vehicles must stop when a pedestrian steps onto the crossing, even when they are on the other side of the road.

To see a car stop for a pedestrian at a crossing is such a rare sight that when it occurs the pedestrian looks astonished and then appears like a child walking across the stage to collect a prize.

Because of this crossing culture it is dangerous for drivers to stop for pedestrians. The likely result is for unsuspecting cars to ram you from behind. Drivers seeking to change the culture will usually decide to stop after ensuring that there are no cars close behind and as they slow to a stop they may activate their emergency lights to warn others that this unusual phenomenon is about to occur.

Beyond the need for education for both drivers and pedestrians, some other challenges for the Ministry of Interior include:
* Developing better signs (black and white poles, flashing yellow beacons, zig-zag road markings) to indicate the approach of a pedestrian crossing
* Repainting crossings where the paint has pealed or faded (this is needed especially in towns like Dhaid where the large number of trucks passing through the main street quickly erase the white lines)
* Installing different types of crossings which are appropriate to the width of the road, the volume of traffic and the speed zone.

Tailgating Must Stop
‘Tailgating’ is following too closely behind another car and UAE drivers are the greatest tailgaters in the world.

On the open road sometimes you sometimes find it takes longer to pass a stream of cars and trucks. The tailgater is one who steams up behind you, maintains a high speed and follows you within a few inches of your rear bumper at 120 kph! Some cars, especially sports cars and 4 Wheel Drives (SUVs) are the greatest culprits.

Tailgating is a concoction of speed, disrespect and arrogance. The excessive flashing of lights and tooting of the horn is road rage and the proximity to the rear of another car make this act one of gross intimidation.

Tailgating is extremely dangerous, especially in wet weather. It limits the ability of the tailgater to react swiftly to unforeseen events further along the road and it increases the chance of a pile up. About 40% of all collisions are of the rear end variety which might have been avoided by keeping the appropriate distance.

Tailgaters must be apprehended and all motorists must be taught how to determine a safe distance from the car ahead.

The Stop Sign Must Mean Stop
Newcomers to the UAE quickly have the experience of having cars thundering up behind with their drivers sounding the horns when they stop at a ‘STOP’ sign, especially when there are no cars approaching on the other road.

In the UAE, if you come to a ‘STOP’ sign and there are no other cars present you do not have to come to a standstill. However, the international traffic rules as defined by the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, declare that the ‘STOP’ sign in English and Arabic on an octagonal, red sign means Stop! Completely!

The STOP sign in the UAE must mean stop. If that is not the intention because it is not a critical or hazardous intersection the sign should be changed to a GIVE WAY sign.

God and Road Safety
A verse in the Holy Koran says: “The Lord of the worlds; it is He who heals me when I am sick, and He who would cause me to die and live again.” (Koran 26: 80) This truth resonates with scriptures in other traditions and implies that God is the creator, the giver of life and that our time is in God’s hands.

There is a common distortion of this truth that is disturbing. We hear it after there has been a fatal car crash in the UAE. Friends will say, “It was their time. In ša’ Allāh. When your number is called you’ve got to go.” This approach blames Allah for the deaths on the road. Allah is blamed not the senseless driver who was speeding way over the limit. This thinking is one of the greatest heresies in the UAE and it must be condemned. We must all take responsibility for our actions and stop blaming Allah or other people for our stupidity in breaking the law.

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

Further
Global Status Report on Road Safety, WHO, June 2009.
Speed Limiting Devices on All UAE Cars, ETE, 23 October 2008.
Reducing Traffic Accidents on UAE Roads, ETE, 20 December 2007.
UAE: The Tailgating Capital of the World, ETE, 16 October 2007.
What Does this Sign Mean in the UAE, ETE, 19 March 2007.
Road Safety in the UAE, ETE, 18 March 2007.

Dr Geoff Pound

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Try Camel Milk, Camel Meat and Now Gourmet Quail in the Emirates

Tasting Camel
Tourists are sometimes served camel meat as a delicacy in the UAE (check out this review).

For some time the supermarkets in the Emirates have been stocking camel milk chocolate and Camelicious in the milk section (check out this article to see the nutritional richness and the difference drinking camel milk has made to my voice and my appearance).

Gourmet Quail
Now two companies are producing quail and exporting them to the world. They can’t rear the birds fast enough to satisfy the global demand for the gourmet quail. An AMEInfo report (10 June 2009) says that the high temperatures make raising quail a challenging task in the Middle East.

Quail and Health
Check out the nutritional value on quail meat at this link. It has good and bad news: “This food is low in Sodium. It is also a good source of Thiamine, Riboflavin, Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Selenium… This food is high in Cholesterol.”

Trendy yet Traditional
Foodies may think quail is the latest thing with which to give their palate a workout but the locals in these parts have been chomping on quail ever since the prophet Moses led his people around in never ending circles in the desert across from the Red Sea (Check out the actual place on Google/Bible Maps).

Both the Koran and the Hebrew Bible authenticate that quail was provided on the menu by God to Moses and his hungry travelers so there is a divine example and a blessing to be had in the serving and eating of this holy quail.

Quintessentially Emirati
Yes, you can get quail in the USA or the Philippines (often sold on skewers in the streets) and quail has been favored by chefs in France, Malta, Portugal and India but think of the difference in eating quail that has been raised on the Arabian Peninsula where it has been part of the diet for centuries.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Finding the holy quail.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Property Regulations in the UAE

The current economic crisis has put a strain on all industries in both established and developing markets.

The severe impact of the present situation has put substantial pressure on governments to react by implementing packages to stabilise and stimulate the economy.

The government of the United Arab Emirates has established an array of regulations and rulings to support the economy. In Dubai several measures have been taken in the area of property management.

A renewable residency visa is currently being developed by the government which is targeted at investors that are intending to buy freehold property.

A further target has been the off-plan market. The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) is determined to protect it from defaulting developers. It has ruled that developers must pay 100% of the land price. Only once they have done so can they proceed to sell property off-plan.

The Abu Dhabi real estate market is facing comparable difficulties with sellers and buyers failing to come to an agreement on property prices. The reluctance of banks to lend money results in a considerable lack of available finances keeping transactions to a minimum. The property market of Oman has also failed to escape this difficult situation.

The development of properties in these areas is in need of financial injections. Despite the oil-related revenues provided by the government, existing projects are slowing down. While the Central Bank agreed on a 10 billion US$ bond to assist in existing development plans only the future will show whether the majority of real estate developments can be kept up.

Regardless of the economic situation and the resulting difficulties for the real estate market, a number of opportunities are undoubtedly at hand for those who know how to make the most of them.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: New regulations for property management but new opportunities for those who know how to make the most of them.

Male and Female Queues, Separate Colleges and Now Segregated Banking in UAE

Separate Gatherings
Weddings and funerals in the Emirates each have separate social gatherings—one for men and one for women.

Separate Lines
For a long time in the UAE women have been able to go to a separate line to pay their water and electricity bill. With the line usually being shorter, this is a bonus for the female gender. In a veiled society a separate queue reduces the amount of time that women have to linger in the gaze of men.

Segregated Education
Many of the tertiary Colleges in the Emirates have separate Men’s and Women’s Colleges which, even though the management is often the same, makes for a much more expensive operation.

Segregated Banking
The Dubai Bank recently (6 June 2009) announced the launch of a new service for its female customers. It is named 'Amirah' (meaning princess in Arabic) which conveys that the bank is given a royal customer service.

The service involves the creation of exclusive areas within some of its branches, enabling women to carry out their banking transactions with greater comfort and privacy. It is to be supported by a team of female banking professionals.

This is also a sign that women are playing an increasingly active role in financial transactions for themselves, their families and businesses.

If it works and women will be treated as princes and men will be treated as princes, this could be a bank worth watching.

Royal Service?
Do you get treated like a princess or a prince at your bank?

Dr Geoff Pound

Sunday, June 14, 2009

UAE-based Filipino Artist Turns Junk into Beauty

The Khaleej Times reports 14 June 2009:

“A Filipino visual artist, Darwin Guevarra (pictured), has an eye for beauty, even for worthless junks, which he turns into unique pieces of art.

“Japat, as he is known to friends and family members, says that anything he sees on the street and at any place, he picks up and embeds it into his artwork.”

He is the first Filipino to have a one-man art show with 40 mixed media art pieces at Tashkeel Gallery, Nad Al Sheba in the emirate of Dubai.

The Saatchi Gallery Online has more of his art with information about this twenty-nine year old Filipino artist working in Dubai.

To read the fine article and details of Japat's exhibition:
Lily B. Libo-on, Picking Garbage for Art, Khaleej Times, 14 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Darwin Guevarra (Japat) and one of his rags into riches pictures entitled, ‘The Centre of the System of Humanity.’ (Photos courtesy of Saatchi Gallery Online at the above link)

How the UAE Views the Prospect of a Nuclear-Armed Iran?

Tariq Khaitous (Visiting Fellow at the Washington Institute) has compiled a personal report for the Institute entitled, ‘Arab Reactions to a Nuclear-Armed Iran’.

It is available to the link below.

If you don’t want to wade through the 40 pages here is a brief summary with a UAE slant:

Generally there is Little Support
“Arab regimes share a belief that Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a pretext to develop a nuclear military capability. Since the end of the Cold War, Iran’s sense of security has been in constant flux. Iran has been wary of the growing U.S. presence in the region, first with the removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and then with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Arab countries understand Iran’s security concerns and recognize that the Islamic Republic faces numerous challenges. However, with the exception of Syria, none of the Arab regimes has expressed support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

Fear of Iran Influence
“A nuclear-armed Iran would lead to a cascade of conventional arms buildup in the Middle East, a trend that has already begun. Arab regimes would fear that Iran would become the most influential country in the region and, as a result, they might seek to modernize their military capabilities in order to mitigate the acceleration” toward Iranian hegemony.”

Multilateral Discussions Needed
“To avoid such escalation [of weaponry], Arab states should intensify their involvement in multilateral discussions with Iran…. The involvement of the Arab regimes might make Iran more likely to take negotiations seriously. If Arab states remain on the sidelines and Iran succeeds in acquiring a nuclear weapon, this would have major consequences for the future of the Arab world. It would serve as a tool to intimidate Arab regimes and envelop them in Tehran’s sphere of influence. The Iranian regime would take a significant step forward in establishing itself as a regional power, and it would have more leverage to interfere in Arab issues. This only underscores the need for joint Arab action against Iran’s nuclear threat.”

On UAE Mistrust
“Some Arab states consider Iran to be an occupying power in Arab lands: the United Arab Emirates has claimed sovereignty over the three disputed islands located at the entrance of the Persian Gulf since its independence in 1971, and Iraq has a long-standing dispute with Iran over control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway.”

Huge Military Expenditure by UAE
“A notable example is the largest GCC arms purchase in the decade 1995–2005: the purchase by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of sixty F-16 aircraft from the United States. The UAE engaged in tough negotiations to obtain good terms and invested substantially in training and infrastructure to make effective use of the planes once they arrived.”

“In the field of air and air defense forces, some of the wealthier regional states (particularly the UAE) have stepped forward and displayed a commitment to playing a credible role in the air defense network. In September 2008, the UAE agreed to purchase a U.S. missile defense system for $7 billion, including the Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system.5 According to Defense News, “The proposed sale of the weapons will strengthen the effectiveness and interoperability of a potential coalition partner, reduce the dependence on U.S. forces in the region, and enhance any coalition operations the U.S. may undertake.”6 In December 2008, the UAE ordered its first shipment of U.S. Patriot-3 missiles. According to the clauses in the contract, “The agreement...includes technology, training, and supply of the medium range missile system, which is part of a multi-tiered defensive shield the UAE Armed Forces is building to protect the nation from perceived threats in the region.”

See the graph in the report that illustrates the growing expenditure in things military.

UAE Defence Against Iran
Given the character of the weapons systems purchases, the best explanation is the Iranian threat. Consider the UAE’s $7 billion THAAD purchase. There is only one threat the UAE could have had in mind, namely, Iranian attacks on U.S. interests in the region…. For the UAE, the U.S. missile defense system is a necessity to counter Iran’s advanced missile capabilities.”

“Historically, Arab states have been tight-lipped about their military expenditure, but because they now fear Iran’s growing strength, these regimes have shown more transparency in order to send a warning message to Tehran to stay within its borders.”

UAE Seeking Western Assistance
“The UAE has already begun opening its territory to new Western powers. On January 15, 2008, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Emirati officials signed an agreement to establish a new permanent military base in Abu Dhabi, close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz and facing the Iranian coast.”

Seeking US Nuclear Arms Umbrella
“Under the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, it is likely that America’s Arab allies would seek to expand military cooperation to include de facto U.S. nuclear deterrence in the region.”

Full Report:
Tariq Khaitous, ‘Arab Reactions to a Nuclear-Armed Iran’, Washington Institute.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Photo from front page of report.

The UAE Football Team Should Watch this Video from Barcelona FC



The UAE Football Team is down and out after failing to qualify for the World Cup.

The players are probably licking their wounds if not their lips after too much fast food slowed down their performance against Iran last week.

Looking forward, they might well think of how they might get a vision for winning in the future by learning from champion team, Barcelona.

Josep “Pep” Guardiola wanted to help his FC Barcelona players to visualize winning the final Champions League match against Manchester United. Before the match he showed his team this video he made together with Catalonian TV. The video shows the best moments of the season and mixes them with gladiator scenes and the soundtrack of the movie.

Source: FC Barcelona Visualised Their Victory, Fresh Creation, 12 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sheikh Mohammed and Dubai-Kicking Discussed in Huffington Post

A report of ‘Brand Dubai’, with a new office to coordinate media affairs, is part of a strategy to respond to the recent barrage of Dubai-kicking articles.

The Huffington Post gives some views from the Ruler of Dubai and how he is responding to the criticism.

Link: ‘Brand Dubai’ Aims to Polish Emirate’s Image Following Negative Reports, HP, 13 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Photo courtesy of HP at the link above).

Quiz Night Question: What is the No. 1 Selling SUV in the Emirates?

The Banks should know and they are giving their vote to the Mitsubishi Pajero.

They will more easily give you a loan if you want a Pajero that any other SUV.

Source: AMEInfo, 11 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Mitsubishi Pajero, 2009.

Appearance of the Rolls Royce Ghost in UAE, Late 2009

For years the UAE has had a love affair with the Rolls Royce and many will be salivating at the news this week about the latest model soon to be on the roads of the Emirates in the autumn of 2009.

Ghostly Power
Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 6.6-litre V12, developed from the new all-aluminium 6.0-litre recently revealed in the BMW 7-series. Rolls won’t reveal the outputs of the new engine, only claiming that it will produce upwards of 500bhp – but the smaller BMW engine produces 536bhp, and 553lb ft from just 1500rpm, so performance from the Ghost should be adequate.

The 6.6-litre engine powers the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission – there are no more technical details but the same auto will come with stop/start in future BMWs so Rolls may also feature the technology.

Inside there’s seating for four or five (dependant on what options boxes you tick), and there should be plenty of room to lounge about thanks to the 3295mm wheelbase, making it bigger than even the long-wheelbase new 7-series (at 3210mm).

Holy Ghost
Production of the Rolls-Royce Ghost will begin at the company’s Goodwood factory later in 2009 and go on sale in the autumn of this year.

It is expected to cost just over Dh1 mill (£180,000 or US$300,000).

Dr Geoff Pound

Images: Rolls Royce Ghost.

UAE Responding to Call to Rebuild Sri Lanka

UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayid Al Nahyan, has made a one day visit to Sri Lanka at the request of his counterpart, Rohitha Bogollagama.

Rebuilding SL
Discussions have taken place today (13 June 2009) about the possibility of the UAE helping to rebuild swathes of land devastated by the near four decades long ethnic war with the Tamil Tigers.

Types of Assistance
Sheikh Abdullah Al Nahyan indicated that the UAE is “also looking at opportunities in tourism, agriculture, renewable energy and areas beyond that.”

Source: Sri Lanka Seeks Post-War Aid from the Emirates, The Straits Times, 13 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Two foreign ministers.

Libraries for the UAE to Stimulate Reading

Desert of Libraries
A great article by American Bedu made me realize that the United Arab Emirates is short on public libraries and that building such resources might be an effective way of encouraging reading.

The development of the Internet with e-Books and Kindle will never substitute for public libraries but this new technology will certainly shape the type of libraries that might be constructed.

Fostering Reading
When our children were young we lived in the NZ city of Dunedin at a time when a new public library was built and opened.


It was a state of the art library at that time with lots of places for people, especially children, to sit and read or listen through their ear phones to a book being read.

The much-loved family ritual of visiting the library every week did much to give our children a love of books and reading.

Libraries in the Emirates
Two years ago His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed, Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the initiative called the ‘Knowledge Complex’ to stimulate the translation of great literature into Arabic, encourage Arabic authors and address the challenge the illiteracy rate in the Arab region which is the highest in the world.

Hand in hand with this initiative must be the building of public libraries where books, magazines and online resources might be accessed and enjoyed.

Mosques, Health Centres and Libraries
Sheikh Mohammed recently established a new decree whereby all new shopping centres must have a mosque and a health centre within the facility.

Perhaps it might be good to also institute libraries in all new shopping malls to encourage the love of books and the joyous habit of reading.

People in the Emirates might then experience more often what James Crossley described when he said:

“It is impossible to enter a large library... without feeling an inward sensation of reverence, and without catching some sparks of noble emulation, from the mass of mind which is scattered around you.”

Further: Libraries Become the Hip Place to be, The Age, 13 June 2009

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne. One of my favorite libraries.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Any Emirati Groups that Dance Like these Michael Jackson Styled Saudi Dancers?



Check out this short YouTube video (50 seconds) of a Saudi group dancing the traditional ardha (southern Saudi style) with a Michael Jackson twist.

Are there any Emirati dance groups that have added such a contemporary flavor into their traditional dances?

Thanks: John Burgess at Crossroads Arabia.

Dr Geoff Pound

Investing in Education in the Emirates

An Emirati who was completing a diploma of English language returned to his secondary school to share his success with his former teachers.

He told the school principal that he had been accepted for the UAE Police Force and when they compared salaries it was revealed that the raw police cadet would commence on a salary that was already higher than the experienced Secondary School Principal.

Money Talks
With high remuneration it is no wonder that the UAE Police Force and Army have no difficulty attracting staff into their ranks. Money speaks. But it is a serious concern when the Education Department in the UAE is unable to attract male Emiratis into the teaching profession at all its different levels.

Militarization and Education
A recent Wall Street Journal article by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum bemoaned the fact that Middle Eastern countries were spending an exorbitant amount on militarization and little in comparison on education. In seeking to redress this concern a wise investment in education will raise the salary levels of teachers so that Emiratis increasingly see teaching as a profession to which they will aspire.

Paying Peanuts or Six Figure Salaries?
It was reported recently (4 June 2009) in the New York Times, that a school is paying their teachers $125,000 a year. This is nearly twice as much as the average New York city public school teacher earns and about two and a half times as much as the national average for teacher’s salaries. They will also be eligible for bonuses, based on school-wide performance of up to $25,000 in the second year.

The jury is still out on this new experiment as to whether securing excellent teachers is the critical factor in achieving student success.

But the school has received hundreds of applications from teachers who want to work there and more applications than they can accept from pupils who want to study in this school that is making a huge investment in education.

Link:
Elissa Gootman, Next Test: Value of $125,000-a-Year Teachers, New York Times, 4 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Rhena Jasey, one of the teachers on the New York dream team. (Photo courtesy of Richard Perry and the New York Times at the above link).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

UAE WC Football Team Too Slow Because of Fast Food

The National reported this post-mortem:

“If there were a single cause for the UAE’s failure to qualify for football’s World Cup finals yesterday, it may well have been the team’s fondness for fast food, according to a scathing critique by one of the team’s star players.”

“Saleh Obaid, a defender, said players who took part in qualifying matches for next year’s World Cup may have hurt their game by devouring fast-food meals twice daily leading up to matches.”

“The UAE’s Asian qualifying campaign ended with a 1-0 defeat to Iran in Tehran last night. But the result was irrelevant as the UAE had already been eliminated.”

What brand of fast food led to the slow football by the UAE team in Iran?

Do football players have to eat this food because the fast food company is an official sponsor of the Fifa World Cup?

Take this statement as a health warning:

“The food from this fast food chain will slow you down in all sorts of ways until you finally stop completely.”

Sauce: Zoe Griffiths, Football Star Says Fast Food Cost UAE World Cup Place, The National, 11 June 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “What brand of fast food led to the slow football by the UAE team in Iran?” Check The National article at the above link.

Tragedy for the Emirates if Heart-Broken Paris Hilton Cancels UAE Trip

Heart-Breaking News
The tragic news of the war in Gaza and the financial recession affecting the United Arab Emirates looks to be followed with the catastrophic possibility of Paris Hilton cancelling her visit to Dubai.

The web sites are reporting the sad news that the heiress has split with her boyfriend, Doug Reinhardt.

Commentators are surmising that the heartbreak Hilton might be too emotional to front the cameras and may have to postpone her visit.

Disaster
The cancellation of her trip would be disastrous for Dubai.

Thousands of people were hanging out to hear from the heiress’s mouth the details about her sex tape which was blocked by UAE censors.

If she fails to appear, how will UAE residents ever discover whether there was any truth in the rumors about her strip tease at the Las Vegas party?

Did she have the date with George? What was it like with Ronaldo? Did she dump Benji? I agree with Paris that he was too controlling. What about her puppies? Her eating disorder? What was it like in prison?

So much important information that we may never discover if Paris Hilton fails to visit Dubai.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Paris and Doug on a better day.

Can Emiratis Stand the Heat in the Kitchen?

Yesterday I wrote about the high unemployment rate among the national people of the United Arab Emirates and the way that Sharjah taxi companies were unable to attract Emiratis to become taxi drivers.

كتبت أمس عن ارتفاع معدل البطالة بين الوطنية لشعب الإمارات العربية المتحدة ، والطريقة التي الشارقة شركات سيارات الاجرة غير قادرة على جذب الاماراتيين لتصبح سائقي سيارات الأجرة.

Hospitality Jobs are Unattractive
الضيافة وظائف ليست مرضية


A journalist for Hotelier.Com article (20 May 2009) listened to a discussion on employment and learned that Emiratis do not want to join the hospitality industry.

صحفي من Hotelier.Com المادة (20 مايو 2009) واستمع الى لقاء حواري حول العمالة وعلم ان الاماراتيين لا يريدون الانضمام إلى قطاع الضيافة.

Human Resources managers are finding it difficult to recruit UAE nationals to serve as waiters and cooks.

مديري الموارد البشرية تجد صعوبة في توظيف مواطني دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة لتكون بمثابة النوادل وطباخين.

Part of the problem is the issue of communication in helping people to recognize that after working for a period in the kitchen or in the reception of a hotel, they might later discover that they are given more challenging and better paid jobs.

جزء من المشكلة هو مسألة الاتصالات في مساعدة الناس على الاعتراف بأن تعمل بعد لفترة في المطبخ أو في استقبال أحد الفنادق ، قد تكتشف في وقت لاحق نظرا لأنها أكثر تحديا والأعمال ذات الأجر الأفضل.

Hospitality Belongs to the Desert
ضيافة ملك الصحراء
Is the traditional image of Bedouins offering hospitality to anyone who comes by their tent a myth or have Arabs in the United Arab Emirates lost the art of hospitality?

هي الصورة التقليدية للبدو تقديم الضيافة لمن يأتي به الخيمة أو أسطورة العرب في دولة الامارات العربية المتحدة فقدت فن الضيافة؟

The employment by most Emirati families (as well as expatriates) of domestic helpers to clean, cook and serve food has given the message to young Emiratis that hospitality is hard work, that serving others is what people should do to them and that these jobs are not well paid.

توظيف معظم الأسر الاماراتي) وكذلك في الخارج) في الخدمة المنزلية من تنظيف وطبخ وتقديم الطعام أعطى رسالة الى الشباب الاماراتيين الضيافة التي هي من عمل شاق ، على أن تخدم الناس الآخرين ما ينبغي عليهم القيام به ، وأن هذه الوظائف غير المدفوعة.

Are there other reasons why the national people of the United Arab Emirates do not want to work in the hospitality business?

هل هناك أسباب أخرى وطنية لشعب دولة الامارات العربية المتحدة لا تريد أن تعمل في الأعمال التجارية والضيافة؟

A UAE Tragedy
وهناك مأساة في الإمارات
My wife and I went to an Iranian restaurant to taste Iranian food for the first time. We enjoyed the experience but when we left the restaurant by the back door we walked by the kitchen and saw that the cooks were Indian and not Iranian! This is no disrespect to the Indians but we felt cheated!

زوجتي وذهبت إلى مطعم ايراني لتذوق الطعام الإيراني لأول مرة. الخبرة التي نتمتع بها ولكن عندما تركنا المطعم من الباب الخلفي مشينا بها المطبخ ورأى أن الطهاة وكانت الهند وليس الايرانية! وهذا ليس عدم احترام لالهنود ولكن شعرنا خدع!

This must happen all the time but when I taste Italian food I want it to be cooked by Italians. When I go to a Japanese restaurant I expect the food to be cooked by Japanese chefs.

هذا يجب أن يحدث طوال الوقت ولكن عندما تذوق الطعام الايطالية أريد أن يكون المطبوخة من قبل الايطاليين. عندما ذهبت إلى مطعم ياباني اتوقع الطعام المراد طهيه قبل الطهاة اليابانية.

So much of a culture is expressed in the cooking, the serving and the eating of food. It would be a great tragedy if Emiratis do not enter the hospitality industry and as a result, the old recipes and the traditional ways of cooking, serving and eating are lost.

الكثير من الثقافة التي أعرب عنها في الطبخ ، والأكل في خدمة الأغذية. انها ستكون مأساة كبرى إذا الاماراتيين لا تدخل صناعة الضيافة ، ونتيجة لذلك ، الوصفات القديمة والطرق التقليدية في الطبخ ، والأكل في خدمة فقدناها.

If I am a tourist or a newcomer to the United Arab Emirates I want to taste authentic Emirati food that is cooked by Emiratis. I want to eat it in the way that nationals eat the food. I would like to be served by Emiratis. To do this, is to take the culture deep into my being.

إذا كنت سائحا أو الوافد الجديد لدولة الامارات العربية المتحدة أريد أن أتذوق الحجية الاماراتي ان طهي الطعام من قبل الاماراتيين. أريد أن أكل عليه في الطريقة التي المواطنين لتناول الطعام. وأود أن يخدم الاماراتيين. لذلك ، هو أن تتخذ الثقافة في عمق كياني.

To give and take of one’s food is the most basic form of experiencing culture and building a sense of community among people who are different.

للأخذ والعطاء واحد من الغذاء هو أبسط شكل من أشكال الثقافة ، وتعاني من بناء الإحساس بالانتماء للمجتمع بين الناس الذين يختلفون.

Good News
الأخبار الجيدة

It is a tragedy if Emiratis are not attracted to work in the hospitality industry but I have come across some good news.

انها مأساة ان الاماراتيين لا جذب للعمل في قطاع الضيافة ولكن جئت عبر بعض الأنباء السارة.

The Gulf News reported (9 June 2009) that the European International College (EIC) in Abu Dhabi, which specializes in hospitality management, is planning to move to a bigger campus to enable it to accommodate more students.

الخليج نيوز (9 يونيو 2009) أن الكلية الأوروبية الدولية (EIC) في أبو ظبي ، والتي تتخصص في إدارة الضيافة ، وتخطط للانتقال الى أكبر مجمع لتمكينه من استيعاب المزيد من الطلاب.

Dr Abdullah Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, Chairman of European International College (EIC), said the expansion is meant to attract more students - especially Emiratis - to take up hospitality management.

الدكتور عبد الله عبد الجليل الفهيم ، رئيس مجلس إدارة الكلية الاوروبية الدولية (EIC) ، وقال ان التوسع يهدف الى جذب المزيد من الطلاب -- وخاصة الاماراتيين -- يتولى إدارة الضيافة.

Al Fahim said: “I am aware that some Emiratis remain hesitant to study hospitality but with time, their idea about the field will change, and this starts with today.”

الفهيم قائلا : "إنني أدرك أن بعض الاماراتيين لا تزال مترددة في دراسة الضيافة ولكن مع مرور الوقت ، وفكرتهم عن الميدان سوف تتغير ، وهذا يبدأ اليوم".

Hopefully the EIC and other Colleges in the UAE will attract more students and encourage Emiratis to participate professionally in an art for which they have been associated and admired throughout their history.

نأمل EIC وغيرها من الكليات في دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة سيؤدي إلى جذب مزيد من الاماراتيين وتشجيع الطلاب على المشاركة في محترف الفن الذي ارتبط والإعجاب طوال تاريخهم.

Dr Geoff Pound

This article is translated by ‘Google Translate’. It is something of an experiment. I would appreciate a response from people who understand both English and Arabic as to whether the translation is effective or not.

هذه المقالة هي ترجمة 'مترجم جوجل. هو شيء من التجربة. وسأكون ممتنا ردا من الناس الذين يفهمون باللغتين الانكليزية والعربية ما إذا كانت الترجمة هي فعالة أم لا.

Image: Emirati women preparing food in traditional ways.

في الصورة : المرأة الإماراتية في إعداد الطعام الطرق التقليدية.

Keep People Who are Different Far Away From Me

CNN reports:
“The Pacific island nation of Palau has agreed to take in 17 Chinese Muslims held at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the country's ambassador to the United States said Wednesday.”

This is after the USA tried unsuccessfully to get Australia to receive the Chinese Muslims.

This action is an expression of the way we often push away people who are different from us.

It is the reason why the detention centre was established in Cuba, a long way from the Americans.

It is why the USA has a strong need to find a place a long way from its own people who would create a protest if they were relocated to America.

Civilizations have traditionally established prisons and mental hospitals outside the city walls.

These are all examples of the way we humans push away people who are different.

It is only as we come near to people who are different from us that we come to respect and appreciate them.

Dr Geoff Pound

يبقي أناس مختلفون الأقصى بعيدا عنسي ان التقارير : واضاف "في المحيط الهادئ جزيرة بالاو ، وافقت على اتخاذ المسلمين الصينية في 17 التي عقدت في معسكر الاعتقال الامريكي في خليج جوانتانامو بكوبا ، والسفير القطري لدى الولايات المتحدة اليوم الاربعاء". هذا بعد الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية حاولت دون جدوى الحصول على أستراليا في الحصول على الصينية المسلمين. هذا العمل هو تعبير عن الطريقة التي كثيرا ما تدفع الناس بعيدا الذين يختلفون عنا. وهذا هو السبب الذي أنشئ مركز الاعتقال في كوبا ، وبعيدا عن الاميركيين. ولهذا السبب فإن الولايات المتحدة حاجة قوية ليجد لنفسه مكانا بعيدا عن شعبها الذي من شأنه أن يخلق احتجاج إذا تم نقلهم إلى أمريكا. عادة ما تنشأ الحضارات السجون ومستشفيات الأمراض العقلية خارج أسوار المدينة. هذه كلها أمثلة على طريقة دفع البشر بعيدا أناس مختلفون. ما هي الا ونحن نقترب من أناس مختلفون لنا أن نأتي إلى احترام وتقدير لها. الدكتور جيف باوند

Image: Uighur Muslims from China

في الصورة : الأويغوريين المسلمين من الصين.

Translation into Arabic by 'Google Translate'. Do let me know how good this Arabic translation is.

الترجمة الى العربية من قبل 'مترجم جوجل. اسمحوا لي أن نفعل في معرفة جيدة في هذه الترجمة العربية

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Emirati Taxi Drivers Wanted

National Taxi Drivers Wanted
A Kippreport article (24 May 2009) entitled, ‘Emiratis: Better Unemployed than Drive a Taxi’, said that despite the commitment of the Sharjah Public Transport Corporation to emiratisation, in five years they have received only one enquiry from an Emirati and, as yet, they have had no nationals work as taxi drivers.

Why is Taxi Driving Unattractive?
Why does taxi driving fail to attract Emiratis when, according to a recent report (6 June 2009) dispatched by Zawya, there are currently more than 89,000 unemployed UAE nationals—approximately 60,500 are registered with Tanmia and about 22,870 more are registered with the Emirates National Development Programme?

Is the unemployment benefit so high that people can afford to be choosey about jobs?

Is the salary for taxi drivers so low that driving is an unattractive occupation?

While Emiratis like driving cars is there something about the service nature of taxi driving that makes the job unappealing?

Is the drawback the fact that taxi driving is a high contact occupation involving significant communication skills and a certain proficiency in English and other languages?

Disappointing Drive
The Sharjah Public Transport Corporation is disappointed at the lack of Emiratis stepping forward to the steering wheel.

At the same time there seems to be satisfaction among those who have spearheaded Emiratisation and complacency regarding the serious unemployment levels. Is the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority (Tanmia), which is charged with aiming for balance in the labour market, unconcerned about the difficulties of attracting nationals into taxi driving?

Taxi driving is more than taking people from point ’alif (a) to point baa’ (b). Taxi drivers are often the first contact that tourists have with local people when they arrive at the international airports and shipping ports. To a large extent taxi drivers have the potential to be cultural ambassadors for the nation.

Oman For Example
One of the contrasting features of neighboring Oman is that nationals commonly drive the taxis. Omani taxi drivers look striking in their dishdashas and multicolored muzzars (turbans) and this first impression is remembered with appreciation and often noted in tourist reports.

Drive On
It is good to see the Sharjah Public Transport Corporation persist with the campaign to attract nationals to their cabs. It may be worthwhile to work harder at discovering what the chief barriers are. Employing women as taxi drivers is a growing trend in Oman, India and in other parts of the world and this new service has given to female passengers a greater sense of safety and peace of mind.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Sharjah taxis.