Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible...

We're flying back to Dubai tomorrow, arriving on Friday morning at some unearthly early hour as all flights into Dubai seem to do.

We're on a non-stop Emirates A380, nearly fifteen hours.

It takes an hour longer going back to Dubai, obviously because to get from down here in Australia to the Northern Hemisphere it's uphill all the way.

I'm not sure how long after I get back it'll be before I get 'Life in Dubai' back to a normal posting schedule.

It's not just the fifteen hour flight, you have to add to that the time it takes to get to-from airports, to check in hours before the flight then sit around the terminal, then wait at the baggage carousel...it'll add up to nearly 24 hours in all.

Then there's a seven hour time difference that throws the body clock into total confusion.

I'm thinking I'll be unjetlagged and untravel-tired around March some time.

As you know, I like to include photos in my posts where I can, but after a couple of weeks here when I was able to post a few photos my little digital camera decided to throw a tantrum. When I tried to fix it it got really annoyed shut down all together.

I have to take it back to the dealer in Dubai to get it repaired and I'm not holding my breath for that to happen in a hurry. Being photoless will affect the postings schedule too I'm sure.

Still, I'll try to get back into the routine as soon as I can.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

King Parrot

Unimportant in the grand scheme of things I know, just a close encounter with a parrot, but I enjoyed it.

I walked into the lounge and sitting on the rail of our balcony was a King Parrot. They're gorgeous birds and it's the first time one has visited us.

By the time I found the camera and got it ready to shoot he flew off, so here's a shot of one from www.wiresnr.org. photo by Serena Hershon.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scammers using snail mail.

E-mail is the way they arrive.

Offers to make me a squillionaire. They always come by e-mail.

I get plenty of them. I bet you do too.

Millions of dollars are sitting in a bank account and in return for helping liberate them you get to keep a large amount.

Today I had a very different and interesting approach.

By snail mail. Personalised.

A stamped envelope containing a typed letter on headed notepaper (remember them?) arrived in my mail box.

It's from a firm of lawyers in Madrid with an address, telephone number, fax number and two e-mail addresses.

The stamp says it's from Portugal (is that where Madrid is now?) and it cost 80 euro cents.

The writer identifies himself as a barrister, personal attorney to a deceased gentleman with the same surname as me.

The bank of the late gentleman has issued a notice to the barrister to contact next of kin, otherwise the the account will be declared unserviceable and the money diverted to the bank treasury.

That would be a shame because the sum involved is "Seven Million Five Hundred Thousand Euros Only".

Barrister Santino tells me that "so far all my efforts to get hold of someone related to my client has proved abortive."

His suggestion is that he presents me as the next of kin,'"...since you have the same last name...", so that the proceeds can be paid to my account. He will of course provide the bank with "all the legal documents to back up your claim as my client's Next of Kin..."

The deal?

A nice touch - 10% of the money is to be shared"amongst the charity Organisations". The remaining 90% is divided equally between myself and barrister Santino.

Another nice touch - ïf this business proposal offends your moral ethics, do accept my sincere apology."

It's a new one on me. A correctly addressed snail mail letter, personalised by surname, the cost of a stamp, the cost of the paper and envelope...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hello, anybody there?

Actually, it seems that many of you have been here more often than I have over the past couple of months.

I've been away much longer than planned, been TBTB, but I see from the tracking meters that people are still taking the trouble to visit Life in Dubai. Thank you.

I'd planned to be be back in Dubai November 23 but, without boring you with the details, I had to change the flight back three times. It's now booked for December 30, no more delays on the horizon so I'll be back in the City of Dust on New Year's Eve.

I've tried to keep at least a little up-to-date with what's going on in the UAE from reading my blogger colleagues' postings and from the online papers. It's very different from being on the ground though so I feel quite out of touch.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Clarification needed

It's all too frequent that the papers report an extremely important subject with an utterly confusing article.

There's another one from what is no longer Emirates Business 24/7 but emirates247.com

It's about freehold property ownership in Dubai, a subject important to a lot of people.

Going back to the property boom beginnings, Sheikh Mohammed decreed that non-GCC foreigners could buy freehold property in special designated areas.

I think I'm right in saying that of the emirates offering property ownership to foreigners only Dubai declared it to be freehold. The others offered leasehold of 99 years.

In the Court of Cassation there was a case involving a property dispute between two expat owners of a villa.

According to emirates247, during the case the court ruled that ...in some areas such as freehold property, expatriates have the right of ownership limited with time...have the right to use property (rent or live in it) or alternatively possess right to rent for a period not exceeding 99 years.

Then an even more mystifying: The Ruler's decree is a command and ownership cases require immediate retroactive action, ruled the court.

What?

So freehold property was offered, many people bought on that basis, now the Court of Cassation seems to have declared that it's actually leasehold.

It's not the clearest article you'll ever read but I'm sure that's what it's saying.

I'm sure everyone who bought on the basis of their property being freehold would like some clarification.

The article is here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Clarification tomorrow

There are reports in the papers this morning that the UAE's Ottawa embassy has announced that Canadians will need a visa to enter the UAE, effective January 2.

No details, no requirements are given.

Stand by for a series of clarifications...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Climate change is here

We've certainly got climate change this month.

My view in Spring is usually like this...

Blue sky, blue sea, sunshine, warmth.

Half of the time I've been back it's been like this...


Grey sky, grey sea, raining, cold.

We're into November and I have the heating on, something I can't remember doing in November before.

Cricket is on at the Sydney Cricket Ground - a one day international against Sri Lanka - but rain's just stopped play, the covers are on, it's only 4.30pm but they have the lights on.

Football weather, not cricket weather. It's not like any Spring I remember.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Qantas emergency

About three hours ago a Qantas A380 had to turn back and make an emergency landing at Singapore's Changi Airport after what they said was "an issue with an engine"

Some issue:




Thankfully all 459 people on board are safe and uninjured.

I've just heard a telephone interview with a passenger who'd just arrived in the terminal at Changi. He said they heard two bangs and saw debris flying off.

But he also said there was no panic on board because the passengers were kept informed quickly and regularly. The information was also given in German because there were a lot of German passengers, according to a passenger I'm listening to as I type.

A Qantas spokeswoman was also quickly on radio reporting everything they knew at the time.

Full marks for that. Lack of communication is usually the main complaint of people, something Qantas used to be guilty of like so many other companies.

Very quickly, Qantas have announced that their entire A380 fleet is grounded until they know exactly what caused the engine to fail.

The superjumbo was climbing after taking off from Changi and it was fortunate that no-one was hurt on the Indonesian island of Batam, because this lot landed there:




Some of the debris apparently went through the roof of a school and although there were children inside no-one was hurt.

I found the photos here.

Visitors

Not much time available to spend on the computer but I thought I'd stop by briefly to show you a couple of visitors.

This one is actually resident, a Blue Tongue lizard about 40cm long. They don't look particularly cuddly but we like to have them around in the garden because they eat slugs and snails...



Rainbow lorikeets, the most colourful, friendly birds. Although they all have the same mix of colours each one has a different pattern so you get to know them individually...


Saturday, October 30, 2010

UAE in the news

Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah are in the international news again I see.

The UK Daily Telegraph had a piece that tells us that in RAK a 'power struggle threatens stability in wake of monarch's death'.

Soldiers are on the street it said: Sheikh Khalid al-Qasimi, the elder son of the late ruler, Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed al-Qasimi, was on Wednesday night holed up in his palace, claiming to be the rightful successor, while troops were marshalled outside to enforce the claim of his younger brother, the Crown Prince Sheikh Saud.

Some of you are closer to the action than me right now - what's happening?

Then Dubai is back in the news with a parcel bomb destined for the US found at the airport, although naturally the main focus of the UK press is the discovery of another parcel bomb on a cargo plane at their East Midlands airport.

It makes life down here on the other side of the world seem very normal and relaxed.



Parcel bombs.

RAK excitement.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bin turkeys

Dubai has bin cats...



As I've observed before, things are a little different in Australia...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A jargon classic

I keep complaining about the ridiculous use of jargon, of companies using buzzwords which don't tell us what the company actually does.

A classic turned up in my paper this morning.

It's about the re-naming of Sydney's Star City Casino, as part of a major redevelopment.

The owners have employed a company in San Francisco, Tattoo Brand Strategy, to come up with the new name.

Tattoo describe themselves as an: "evolution strategy collective dedicated to helping clients decode the role their brand assets can play in driving their business forward".

Right.

Anyway, the word is that after a couple of trips to Sydney and several hundred thousands of dollars they're getting close to deciding the new name.

A 'well-placed source' told the paper what the name will be, which a spokesman for the casino would neither confirm nor deny.

The source said the name will change from Star City to....Star.

You need an evolution strategy collective, many months and plenty of dollars to come up with something as earth shatteringly creative as that.



The story is here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Australian way

I've posted a few times about the different speed that construction moves at in Oz compared to Dubai. I used as an example the upgrading our council has done of the road we live in.

After about seven years they've finished the roughly one kilometre long road, putting in kerbs and gutters, drains, a footpath and resurfacing the road.

At our house the high bank between the street and our boundary meant they needed to put in retaining walls.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well they'd done it, and I posted this photo sent to me by a neighbour at the time, just before Christmas.


As soon as I got back I realised there was a problem. I should perhaps have spotted it in the photo.

If you drive in from the left side you have to bounce over the kerb/drain to get into the driveway. People who'd avoided damage to their tyres and used the ramp had left their paintwork on the right hand retaining wall.

From the amount of different coloured paint I found on it a good few had scraped the wall.

So I e-mailed the council roads department and explained the problem. The kerb ramp and the retaining walls were out of alignment. I suggested the retaining wall needed moving back about a metre.

Without telling me they were coming they apparently did an onsite inspection and called me afterwards to say they agreed with me.

A stuff up.

Moving the wall would 'cost thousands' so they proposed re-doing the kerb/ramp, which they 'hope will solve the problem'.

Sounds simple and inexpensive, I thought.

On Thursday there was some major activity:

Half the road closed, seven or eight vehicles, a digger, warning signs up all over the place, men with stop/slow signs controlling traffic. A major undertaking, it looked more like they were building a freeway than adjusting a metre of kerb.
It all got too much for some of them too...
Anyway, it took all day Thursday to break up, dig out and remove whatever it was they broke up, dug out and took away.
Today a smaller crew with only a couple of vehicles arrived and by lunchtime they'd finished.
It looks like a lot of effort for this:

When it's dried I'll give it a go and see if it's solved the problem.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hello from Oz

I'm just stopping by to say a quick hello from Oz and post a brief report.

To make you jealous, I took this photo this morning - it's the view from my bedroom that I wake up to...



I did the nonstop flight from Dubai to Sydney, which with the extra hour sitting in the aircraft at Dubai was a total of fifteen hours. I chose the flight that gave me the new A380 and it was just about tolerable - I wouldn't like to do it in the smaller aircraft.

The long flight and the seven hour time difference take a good few days to get over, in fact I'm not entirely sure I've adjusted completely even now.

The big and instantly obvious difference is the clean, clear, dust-free air. Unlike Dubai, the air's breatheable. Then there's the very big, very clear, very blue sky.

Second day here I happened to look out of the window and saw a pod of whales blowing. I counted six but the camera's very slow to react and of all the shots I ran off I only managed to get one whale in...

We also have a bush turkey in residence. Here s/he is on the nest-mound s/he's building.

So, yes, it's very different.
And I can't tell you how good it is to be back for the next couple of months.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Downtime

It'll be quiet around here for a while - I'm off to Oz in the morning for a couple of months.

The first week or two in particular I have a lot of running around with very little time for sitting at a computer. Hopefully things will settle down after that and I'll be able to get back on here, check the UAE blogs to keep myself up-to-date and even post a few things myself.

Am I looking forward to the trip?

You betcha.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stupid me!

I really should have learnt by now...wait for the 'clarification'.

Before commenting, wait twenty-four hours after an official statement has been made and published because it's almost guaranteed that a 'clarification' is on the way.

Yesterday I posted about the lifting of the ban on fifty-seven job titles not being allowed to sponsor their families.

Within twenty-four hours a 'clarification' was issued which denied the ban had been lifted.

I quote from the 'clarification' in The National:

"UAE officials have denied a report that expatriates from 57 different work categories would now be allowed to get visas for their families to live here.

The ban on certain lower-income occupations being eligible for visa sponsorship has not been lifted they said."


The officals giving the clarification are anonymous, the original statement was from Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs at the Ministry of Interior.

An ongoing story perhaps, so let's wait for the 'clarification' of the 'clarification' which could well be being prepared as I write.


Here's the clarification.

Thanks for the comments on my previous post which alerted me to the 'clarification'.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good & bad

A couple of stories in today's Gulf News relate to subjects I posted about last year. One's good news, the other I don't understand.

The good news is that the strange list of fifty-seven occupations barred from sponsoring family members has at long last been changed.

It was always strange to me that sales people, mechanics, butchers, drivers, tailors, cooks and many more were discriminated against on the basis of their profession, regardless of how much money they earned. Putting a minimum wage requirement on sponsoring makes sense to me, to ensure that the family can be looked after, but to ban people from from having their family with them based on their occupation I don't understand.

Anyway, the ban is lifted provided that the would-be sponsor lodges a deposit of Dh5,000 per sponsored person. That's a lot of money to them but at least they now have the option.

The other story is about a Pakistani visitor who'll be spending ten years in Al Slammer, was fined Dh50,000 and will be deported after his jail term. He'll be pleased to be deported I should think, to get the hell out of here.

His dastardly crime? He was convicted of drug running. He brought in 123 grammes of...wait for it...poppy seeds.

Back in January last year I posted this pic...



Bagels sold in Spinneys smothered in grammes of...wait for it...poppy seeds.

I must have a look to see if they still have them on sale.

I haven't read about the Drug Squad raiding Spinneys. Or anybody from Spinneys heirachy languishing in Al Slammer. Why not?

Is it a law that needs changing? I think so.


My earlier posts are here and here. Today's stories in Gulf News are here and here.



Monday, September 27, 2010

Not tempted

We usually find something new and interesting on menus when we're in Singapore, and the last trip was no exception.

Chicken feet is a standard item in Chinese restaurants but this was a new one on me:



I've eaten crocodile meat back in Oz, but I draw a line at eating the feet.

I gave these a miss too:



And much like Dubai, No Parking doesn't apply to you if you drive something like a Lambo:



Now back in Dubai and there's an interesting story in today's papers. Given our reputation for enjoying a beer or two I had to smile at reports that an Aussie's been fined for consuming alcohol.
Our football team's former captain Craig Moore pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol and was fined Dh1,000.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Free cars

An update on the abandoned cars posts I've been doing every so often.

You could help yourself to any of these I guess, they're on a one kilometre stretch in Dubai Marina.











There are two more that could be holiday cars but the dust is getting thicker and they're beginning to look as though they may be abandoned too...



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cyber Stone Age



Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Claims that we're a major international commercial centre, business friendly, a great place to set up a business fly in the face of the Cyber Stone Age internet we have to struggle with.

The speed is no better than the old dial-up I had back in Oz fifteen years or more ago. That's a lifetime in the cyberworld - think of the development over that period. But not here.

It comes into sharp focus when you get back from somewhere like Singapore.

Using the computer there last week I was connected to websites within a couple of seconds. Click and the new screen opens in a couple of seconds.

I come back to Dubai and I sit looking at a slowly, very slowly, loading screen. Thirty to sixty seconds is normal.

Bottom left corner is mocking me with "Connecting to http://..." then after more time "Waiting for http://..." then even more time "Start downloading from site http://..."

And they're the same websites which open instantly in Singapore.

There are regular complaints about the high prices we have to pay for internet access, but to me that's not the main problem. The main problem is the lack of speed
.
It's hugely wasteful of time, reduces productivity which means increased costs. How many hours are lost here, I wonder, by people just sitting waiting for the computer to move on so that they can get on with their work.

We're paying high prices for a terrible product. If they gave it to us free it would still be a poor product.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A back issue

Well that was a different stay in Singapore from the ones we usually have.

Arrived late Friday evening, got ready to go out for coffee mid morning Saturday, bent over to pick something up...click...yell...on the floor in agony.

A joint in the back had decided to click out of place.

Ten minutes later I could move - just about and very, very carefully.

What I needed was a wellness solutions facility* .

But it was the weekend so they weren't open.

Spent most of the weekend lying flat, then I hobbled off to the first appointment I could get, which was 8am Monday. At 9am I walked out normally, if a bit stiffly.

The joint was back where it should be.

I went back a couple of times for work on the soft tissue which had been damaged, because another eight hours sitting in a cramped aircraft seat was coming up and I wanted to get it as right as I could. It worked.

I tell you all this not for sympathy but because some of you will, I'm sure, visit Singapore some time and you might also need a wellness solutions practitioner*

Away from our usual habitat the biggest problem is always who to call, who to see, who to trust.

Make a note of the name Jackson Yong. Far East Shopping Centre, next to the Hilton on Orchard Road. I hope you never need him but if you do you can call him on 683 65896.

Singaporean, trained in Australia and he's good. Very good.



* Physiotherapist

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Even quieter for a week

At the end of the day we human capital were looking for a relaxation solution going forward, somewhere that's customer-centric, offers lifestyle concepts, comfortable sleep systems, ticks all the boxes...



...we'll be in Singapore next week.

Eid mubarak all.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Solutions absurdity

It's been about six weeks since my last rant about the ridiculous buzzword 'solutions'; July 18 in fact if you want to go back and remind yourself.

But I've just noticed a byline that reaches new levels of absurdity.

Gulf News have a reporter who's called...Community Solutions Journalist.

Seriously.

It's her job title.

Community Solutions Journalist.

What the hell does it mean?

Compounding the absurdity the Community Solutions Journalist sometimes co-writes with a colleague who is...Community Interactivity Editor.

I'm not making it up, you can check it for yourself here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Strong light

It would have been much worse if the street light hadn't been as strong. It stopped the van from crossing the kerb and causing a head-on crash.



It's a sixty kph zone by the way, but as it's the usual Dubai dual-carriageway, two lanes either side, it's treated like a freeway.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trivia PS

PS to my earlier posts about the abandoned BMW which was in the same place in Dubai Marina for about eighteen months. It was finally moved a couple of weeks ago.

This one...



Well, it seems to have been replaced by another BMW...



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sound familiar?

A couple of recent overseas stories caught my eye:

One says: "There is a growing unease...against those sunburnt northern European tourists who offend the local population by walking in the streets, dining in restaurants and even doing their shopping in little more than beachwear."


The second says: "Lured by stories of the good salaries and advanced skills they could gain...they had paid high fees to (home country) brokers...believing they could earn many times more than they earn at home and return as heroes. But far from being a workers’ paradise (it) has been a country of hardship and discrimination for Mr Zhou and many of his compatriots, who are often forced to work long hours in gruelling conditions for less than minimum wages."

Typical stories about Dubai you might think.

The first is about Spain , the second is about Japan.


Spain is here.
Japan is here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Keeping the bastards honest

The three Independents who won seats in Saturday's Australian election quickly received phone calls of congratulation from the leaders of the two main parties.

Strange that leaders of the two dominant parties, with everything that's on their plates on election night, would give priority to congratulating irrelevant winning opponents.

Not strange this time. They're suddenly very relevant. The election was a draw.

A party needs a minimum of 76 seats to take power. It looks like the final score will be 73 - 73, the balance of power lying with one Green and three Independents.

Whichever side can convince the Gang of Four to back them will be the new government.

It's going to be unsavoury. The clichéd smoke-filled back rooms with the faceless behind-the-scenes party power brokers trying to outdo the other side with bribes millions of dollars of our taxes to be poured into the four constituences.

The founder of the Australian Democrats, Don Chipp, comes to mind. Speaking of the two major parties, he said that the Democrat role would be to 'keep the bastards honest'.

It was the slogan, the rallying call, of the party.

That phrase was in mind when I visited my blogroll friends and landed in Houston Texas at Thomas' blog Mean Green Cougar Red.

His post was a teaser to have a look at Tom Scott's blog posting 'Journalism Warning Labels'.

Tom's come up with a great idea to help to keep those bastards honest.

Or at least to add some honesty to what's appearing in print. Tom's created a range of 'Warning' stickers which readers can fix to stories.

Here's an example:



Sound familiar? Here are some more, very relevant...and not just in this region:




I bet, like me, you could have used some of them on your morning newspaper.

I have to agree with Thomas' comment: "I found these labels to be humorous and depressing at the same time, because they're so true."

Tom has a whole range of them which you can print out. They come in various languages too, so they have world-wide possibilities.

What a good idea to do that and stick them to the papers in the coffee shop or in your company reception area.

You'll discover which coffee shops I use because I'm going to print out a few sheets...

You'll find Tom's post here where you can enjoy many more examples and print out your own sheets.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Forward to the past

Here we go again...biggest, largest, tallest for Dubai.

Didn't take long did it.

This time it's the replacement Hard Rock Cafe, to be opened at Festival City.

The original Dubai Hard Rock Cafe in Media City closed about eighteen months ago. The new one we're told will have the largest Hard Rock Shop in the world in the largest Hard Rock Cafe outside North America and outside it will have the tallest ornamental guitar in the world at a height of 118 feet.

Just what we need.

Gulf News has the report here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Take away only"

Not being a morning person I try to ease myself gently into each day by making the first port of call a coffee shop, reading the papers and having my caffeine hit.

Not today though.

Ramadan eating/drinking rules are being enforced much more strictly than they were last year.

Last Ramadan the coffee shops in Souk Madinat Jumeirah were all open for business. Like prohibition-era speakeasies they were shuttered off, doors only a tiny bit ajar, customers inside hidden from public view, but they were operating normally.

In Madinat Jumeirah I usually have my coffee in Dome and a couple of days ago they told me that they would operate as last year during Ramadan.

But when we got there this morning they told us 'take away only'.

Dubai Municipality has apparently issued a new directive and are enforcing the no public eating/drinking rule.

Are you having the same problem this year?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

If you don't like it...

The commercial centre of the region is what Dubai wants, needs, to be.

They make it hard though.

Doing business is tough even in good times, so creating unnecessary obstacles and having a bad attitude culture are a huge problem.

A couple of those things have come up again.

Dubai Marina at JBR, going to The Walk.

There are plenty, maybe a hundred, shops and restaurants. All wanting and needing customers to spend money with them.

Parking for the customers? The usual lack of planning has thousands of apartments with too few parking spaces for residents and very little parking space for the thousands of visitors the businesses need.

Now an increasing amount of the limited space is being reserved for valet parking - which simply means paid parking.

Here's a section, both sides of the road. Park yourself but it's Dh20.



Forget it, I'll go somewhere else. So the retailers here lose out.

If the retailers complain I know what the response will be.

The corporate version of 'if you don't like it you can leave' which is the normal business culture of so many companies here.

There are plenty of examples of it in the archives on this blog, going back to 2006.

One of the first I came across was when the pay TV box packed up soon after it was installed. I phoned to complain, was told they didn't do service and when I asked what I was paying for the answer was simply 'do you want to cancel your subscription'.

Plenty of comments have been left on those posts with similar stories.

A restaurant manager told me a similar story again yesterday. A huge drop in footfall to the location since other attractions such as Dubai Mall opened, so they asked the management of the mall for some promotions to attract people again.

'If you don't like it you can leave. I can always get someone else to take over your shop'.

It's not only infuriating it's terrible business practice, arrogant in the extreme.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Orders from the FBI

Another e-mail from the FBI has turned up, this one from none other than FBI Director Robert S.Mueller.

The last message was from a mere Agent - I posted the details on Saturday - but now I'm proud to say I merit a Director.

He's given me a better e-mail address than his colleague too, this is mueller.cv@ic.fbi. gov

He tells me that he's "brought a solution to your problem" (Boy, am I relieved - not only that he's solved my problem but also because he exposed a problem I didn't realise I had).

I'm sort-of resting easy because he assures me that "Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in this transaction, you have to be rest assured for this is 100% risk free it is our duty to protect the American Citizens"

The bit that worries me is whether 'have to be rest assured for this is 100% risk free' applies to me because I'm not an American Citizen.

Still, even if we're not American, if we can't trust the FBI who can we trust?

Oh, and he alerts me to the fact that "Puppy Scammers are impostors claiming to be the Federal Bureau Of Investigation."

Then using his position as Director he tells me: "We order you get back to this office..."

An order from an FBI Director - who could disobey that?

Here's the full text:


Attn: Beneficiary,

This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly Investigated with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network System that you are having an illegal Transaction with Impostors claiming to be Prof. Charles C. Soludo of the Central Bank Of Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Aziza, MrFrank Nweke, none officials of Oceanic Bank, Zenith Banks, kelvin Young of HSBC,Ben of Fedex,Ibrahim Sule,Larry Christopher, Puppy Scammers are impostors claiming to be the Federal Bureau Of Investigation. During our Investigation, we noticed that the reason why you have not received your payment is because you have not fulfilled your Financial Obligation given to you in respect of your Contract/Inheritance Payment.

Therefore, we have contacted the Federal Ministry Of Finance on your behalf and they have brought a solution to your problem by cordinating your payment in total USD$11,000.000.00 in an ATM CARD which you can use to withdraw money from any ATM MACHINE CENTER anywhere in the world with a maximum of $4,000 to $5,000 United States Dollars daily. You now have the lawful right to claim your fund in an ATM CARD.

Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in this transaction, you have to be rest assured for this is 100% risk free it is our duty to protect the American Citizens. All I want you to do is to contact the ATM CARD CENTER via email for their requirements to proceed and procure your Approval Slip on your behalf which will cost you $110.00 only and note that your Approval Slip which contains details of the agent who will process your transaction.

CONTACT INFORMATIONNAME: Mike WilliamsEMAIL:mikewilliams18@yahoo.cn Telephone Number: +234-803-357-0260

You are adviced to contact Mr mike williams with the informations as stated below:

Your full Name..
Your Address:..............
Home/Cell Phone:..............
Age
Current occupation:

So your files would be updated after which he will send the payment informations which you'll use in making payment of $110.00 via Western Union Money Transfer or Money Gram Transfer for the procurement of your Approval Slip after which the delivery of your ATM CARD will be effected to your designated home address without any further delay.

We order you get back to this office after you have contacted the ATM SWIFT CARD CENTER and we do await your response so we can move on with our Investigation and make sure your ATM SWIFT CARD gets to you. Thanks and hope to read from you soon.

FBI Director Robert S.Mueller III.

Note: Do disregard any email you get from any impostors or offices claiming to


I'm afraid that's where it ends, and without the missing information about what they're claiming I'm afraid I won't be able to identify imposters.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Trivia

Admittedly it's not much of a photo but I thought I should record the end of a saga:



Why do I bother with a photo of a parking bay?

I've posted a couple of times about an abandoned BMW, in fact the first post was a year ago when the car had already been abandoned for months.



It was in the parking bay in the first photo. It's gone at long last.

The end of another Dubai story.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Here we go again!

I've complained more than a few times in posts here about unbalanced over-the-top media stories about Dubai, both pro and anti.

A few years ago it was all 'The Miracle of Dubai' stuff. That was from journos flown in for a couple of days, put up in 5-star hotels, whisked around from one 5-star facility to another.

They returned the favour by hyperventilating about the place, with way over-the-top and often ludicrous articles.

It inevitably attracted an equally unbalanced reaction, the 'Dark Side of Dubai' stories, all about slave labour, chain gangs, fleeing expats and the city being reclaimed by the desert.

Now we've gone full circle with a new story in the UK Daily Telegraph from the 'Miracle of Dubai' folder.

Here's a sample:

What to do this morning? Hmmm. Let's head for the slopes and a black ski run and some tobogganing. Always an exciting, bracing way to start the day.

This afternoon? Shopping at the world's finest stores or a spot of sun-bathing and a swim with dolphins? Spoilt for choice.

Later on, some quad-bike racing and a 4x4 safari through scorching sand dunes stretching into the mists of time. Sounds good.

And what better way to end the perfect day than a candle-lit river cruise with as much wine as you can drink to compliment a gastronomic five-course feast after flying a sea-plane past the world's tallest building.

Unless, of course, you fancy a romantic, balmy, moonlit early hours walk along your private beachfront, dipping your toes in the Gulf of Arabia.

And there's the clue. Because where else in the world could you be but... Dubai.

And if you should ever see the slogan: "See Dubai Before You Die"...



Groan...

Stand by for the reaction pieces.




Read it and cringe.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

From the FBI Scam Dept...

I thought I'd share this with you, its just turned up in my in-box:


FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20535

UNITED STATES FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION & THE INTERNET CRIME COMPLAINT CENTER (IC3)

This is Agent Jeremy White of the FBI UK Division.

We are writing in respect of your recent E-mail Transaction with an unknown group,as their identity and intentions is still uncertain you are hereby advised to continue the transaction and forward all recent Mails and information to this office for proper verification of authenticity.

Note that providing false information could subject you to fine, imprisonment, or both. (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1001)

Rewards has been made available by the Organization for your time and cooperation.

View link below for list of wanted cyber criminals by the FBI see if you can identify any of them.

(Here they give a link but I've deleted it in case your curiosity gets the better of you).

Forward all correspondence to:

Agent Mark Stevens
Tel:+447045736450Fax:+44(0)8715039599
E-mail:mark-stevens@live.com

INTERNET CRIME COMPLAINT CENTER (IC3) UK.
(Director Jeremy White)



What do you reckon?

The FBI budget is under such pressure that they need to scam funds from us?

The FBI has been infiltrated by Nigerian scammers?

It's not from the FBI at all?


And do you think I should write back to them?

They are after all the INTERNET CRIME COMPLAINT CENTER and I could complain to them about their own e-mails.

Couldn't I?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Storm in a B cup

You'll have read by now about the classy British female tourist who stripped off down to her bikini and paraded around Dubai Mall.

It was in response to being told she was originally dressed too revealingly, breaking the mall rules.

The woman's clothes "were so short and revealing, close to a bikini. Such outfits are not permitted in shopping malls or family-oriented public areas," said Colonel Al Razouqi (Dubai CID)

"She was wearing very revealing clothes as it is, and decided to dress down further after she was approached" said a Dubai Mall official.


As usual there are different versions of events.

According to the UK Daily Mail which broke the story:

"Briton held for wearing a bikini in Dubai shopping mall after fight with Arabic woman.

...she was accosted by an Arabic woman...

The mall's security team then intervened and called the police, who arrested the British holidaymaker."


According to a mall spokesman and Dubai Police, reported in Gulf News:

"A group of Gulf national women recently tried to enforce a dress code morally acceptable to them by distributing leaflets to women they found to be dressed inappropriately, a Dubai Mall official said.

Colonel Dr Mohammad Nasser Al Razouqi, Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigations Department for Police Station Affairs, told Gulf News the incident was a "minor" argument in Dubai Mall.

"We called in both women to the police station to resolve the matter amicably. We didn't charge the Briton or open a case against her," he said."


So there we have it. A fight/accosted or a minor argument. Arrested or no charge/no case opened.

As always I love the revealing reader comments section of the Daily Mail story. You might well roll around with laughter at many of them, as I did. Like these:

"They can wear what they like in our country - why shouldn't the same courtesy be extended to us in their country?"

"Good for that British woman for making a stand."

"if we cant wear bikinis in their country why can they wear burkas in ours?"


She was, you'll remember, strutting around a city centre mall in a bikini.

I'll refrain (for once) from offering my opinion on the comments because I think I might devote a new post to the subject in the next day or two.

But I will say I have to agree with George, who said that on his trips to Dubai he'd noticed it had become Chav City.


Here's the version of events from the Daily Mail.

And here's the version from Gulf News.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Moron, crash, fire, death

Al Sufouh Road by Media City. I know it well, drive on it every day.

Speed limit is 80kph, routinely ignored because it's a straight, flat dual carriageway with three lanes each side.

Yesterday yet another moron in a 4X4 was speeding while approaching red traffic lights at which other vehicles had stopped.

Not only speeding, the moron was also obviously not paying attention. Slammed the brakes on, tyre burst...


Photo: Karen Dias Gulf News

Six vehicles in flames.

One innocent woman dead, three more innocents badly injured. Had brave people not pulled those involved, including children, from the burning wreckage the death toll would have been much worse.

The moron who caused the crash? Escaped with minor injuries.

We have many people unjustifiably in jail, for bouncing cheques for example. If anyone deserves a long jail term this moron does.


The story is in Gulf News and The National.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Blackberry saga



Blackberries are big news.

Big news here and worldwide, because of the threatened ban on parts of the Blackberry service. I've just been listening to a piece about it on Sydney's ABC local radio station for example.

Most of what I've seen and heard in the international media seems to be just reporting the TRA's threatened action without comment. But the stories are attracting plenty of reaction and the internet's full of comment.

Two aspects of the comments are amusing me.

First is the shock that a government might want to eavesdrop on people's communications. Typical of a non-democratic dictatorship is the theme of many comments.

'Naive' doesn't begin to cover it.

I'm amazed at how many people are unaware that our communications are routinely monitored by governments, including the world's leading democracies. Never heard of Echelon?

The other amusing aspect to me is the claim that companies won't be able to operate if they can't use Blackberry - businesses are totally reliant on their BB, people are saying, and without it they can't carry on their business.

In reality only a small percentage of companies use the device; I wonder how they managed before it was introduced.

Of course, the same could apply to any new device - I wonder how companies were able to operate before e-mail, before fax, before telephones, before telegraph, before...

It reminds me of a situation back in Sydney when I worked for a hotel group.It was the bicentennial year, hotels were running full. Some regular card-carrying business guests were having trouble getting a room with us, so we suggested that the hotels ran a wait-list for regular guests who could then be allocated a room if a cancellation came in.

At a marketing meeting the reaction from a hotel was presented, that they couldn't create a wait-list because the (computer) system didn't have that function.

A colleague shook his head while he held up a pencil and writing pad.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Hot & dusty

There's a whole team of street cleaners in Dubai Marina, each with their own patch to keep clean and rubbish free.

I see this guy every morning with his broom and black plastic bag.

It's hot, it's dusty and like his colleagues he does the sensible thing and wraps up to keep the sun off and the dust out.



Cap with a large neck flap which he ties across his face, sunglasses, gloves...fully covered.

It's an interesting comparison - people, from hot sunny climates cover up to keep the sun off, people from colder climates wear as little as they can in the sun; shorts, singlets, flipflops being streetwear of choice it seems.

Trivia - these street cleaning guys are, according to the ID across their back, part of 'House Keeping'.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ignorance about Dubai

With all the publicity that Dubai's had internationally over recent years it astonishes me that there's still a huge lack of basic knowledge about the place.

While a few people, to their credit, are trying to get the facts by asking questions on forums, the questions reveal this lack of basic knowledge.

On various forums in recent weeks I've seen, for example, questions about which areas tourists to Dubai should avoid because they're unsafe, about whether women can go out on their own, about whether women can drive.

The ignorance about Dubai shows up in some of the answers too. Inevitably there are replies from people with no knowledge, who make no effort to get any. The internet is full of them.

I've seen adamant statements that women can't drive in Dubai, are spat on if they go out on their own, that bikinis can't be worn anywhere including the beach, that it's a place to be avoided at all costs. Spoken with great authority but total ignorance.

One of the very basic misunderstandings seems to be where Dubai actually is. It shows up regularly in the questions. I'd have thought it was pretty clear after all the exposure, but obviously not.

It's just come up yet again on what I think is one of the best forums, Expat Forum, with a question asking whether it's difficult being a single American woman living and working and Dubai.

The reason for the question is explained: " I've just seen a few things that make it seem like you'll need a male co worker with you at all times during meetings."

As some replies pointed out, Dubai is in the UAE not Saudi Arabia.

After all the exposure Dubai's had, people still don't even know which country it's in, whether it's a country in its own right, or perhaps even if there are different countries making up the Gulf region and if they might have different societies.

There's still a lot of work to be done by Brand Dubai.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meanwhile, back at the coalface...

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid has approved a document setting out standards for federal public employees.

"The document identifies 13 core values which distinguish professional behaviour and the ethics of a governmental job in the federal sector. These 13 core values included excellence, diligence, efficiency, leadership, hard work, objectivity, honesty, sincerity, impartiality, adhering to economy and transparency values, plus integrity, fairness and equality.

The document also clearly pointed out that gaining preferential treatment through nepotism and favouritism in a public post must be avoided, a Federal Government representative said.

Another important principle mentioned in the document is the commitment of employees — it must preserve the professional dignity of public posts, to not exploit a profession's authority due to rank or status, to be committed to using resources in an honest manner and to refrain from practices that result in conflicts of interest."


It's another of the well meaning directives from on high, introduced in all sincerity, that we see around the world from governments.

High flown phrases, laudable principles.

The problem is that it has a long way to go to get to the end of the line, to the public servant who's actually face to face with the enemy - us. The public.

So back in the real world the friction between public employee and public won't change. Nor, I'm sure, will the use of wasta.

They'll continue to be bureaucrats, doing what bureaucrats all over the world do, talking their impenetrable language, tying us up in kilometres of red tape, making life difficult for us.


Gulf News reports here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A classy election

The Australian election is under way, our first female PM having called the election a few weeks after taking power.

The quality of the debate & the candidates and the tactics the parties stoop to never inspire confidence, and this time the bar's been set as low as ever from the outset.

It began with the handling of a TV debate between the leaders.

Demonstrating how seriously it was taken, the original 7.30pm broadcast time was changed to 6.30...so that it wouldn't clash with the cooking show Masterchef.

The choice: to watch the one and only TV debate between the contestants who will set the country's policy for the next few years or a 'reality' cooking show. It was obviously assumed that the electorate would choose the latter.

As for candidates, the Liberal (conservative) opposition party - led by a former trainee priest known popularly as the Mad Monk - put up in a Sydney constituency a 'conservative Christian' (don'tcha love euphemisms) to stand against a self professed "non-practising Muslim", Ed Husic.

Guess where the debate in that electorate was headed.

Fortunately the candidate has been making his views known on Facebook:

The NSW Liberals appear to have had something of a road to Damascus conversion in the lightning-fast decision to dump the conservative Christian, David Barker, as their candidate for the western Sydney seat of Chifley.

Questioned about Barker's anti-Muslim Facebook comments by Laurie Oakes on Channel Nine on Sunday, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey condemned Barker for "trying to use religion as some sort of tool in the election campaign"


Shock, horror! Bringing religion into the campaign!

Obviously it was purely coincidental that a Muslim candidate had a radical Christian put up against him.

Oh, but wait:

In 2004, the party chose another conservative Christian, the Hillsong Church member Louise Markus, as their candidate in the western Sydney seat of Greenway to go up against Husic. That campaign, too, was marred by allegations of religious scare-mongering.

Anyway, you'd be forgiven for thinking the choice of a radical Christian was deliberate, especially as the cat's out of the bag about a deal between Barker and the party powerbrokers to keep his extreme views out of the public arena. He'd agreed "to give the answers they had recommended".

There's still a month to go before polling day so the fun's only just started.

Oh, and some fun trivia. The Libs' leader, the Mad Monk, is Mr Abbott. And the candidate who's replaced the dumped radical Christian is Venus Priest.



Masterchef wins.

Religion & politics.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crime in Dubai

One of the plus points about living here is the lack of crime. Safety is always high on the list in surveys about what residents like about the place.

That's not to say it's crime free - you can't expect that in any city which has a population of nearly two million. But for a city this size it really is noticeably better than most places.

That was the theme of comments left on Wednesday's post about abandoned cars.

All sorts of cars are simply left on the streets or in car parks by expats who are leaving, including Jaguars and BMWs. But no-one takes them, and it's the same with so much valuable equipment.

Take restaurants for example. Back home the pavement chairs & tables have to be taken inside every night and the whole shop barred and shuttered.

But here the furniture is simply left in place overnight. And it's still there the next morning.



The dhow loading stretch of the Creek in Deira is the same. All kinds of material is left on the dockside, a completely open public area in the centre of the city.




Back in Oz a truck would pull up on the first night and anything valuable would disappear, and I'm sure the same would happen in many cities. But not here.

Our crime rates are also given some perspective in a report in The National this morning.

Dubai police are warning that juvenile crime is on the increase, and that's obviously a concern.

But look at the figures. How many big cities around the world would love to have a problem of this magnitude?

An average of five crimes a week are committed by children, with the figure expected to rise over the summer break, according to police.

Dubai Police registered 110 juvenile crimes carried outby 161 children in the period between January 1-May 31.


Remember we're talking about a city of over 1.7 million people.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Loans threaten residency"

That's the lead story in today's Gulf News, with a related report on page three.

They begin with these paras:

"Residency departments will not renew the residence visas of expatriates if they are wanted by police for financial obligations, Interior Ministry officials said."

"Residency departments cannot punish people who have arrest warrants against them for financial disputes by not renewing their residence visas, legal experts have said."


I'm not going to comment now because tomorrow there's bound to be a 'clarification'.



See what you make of it. You can read the reports here and here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Car dumping

The reality behind that very silly tabloid story of thousands of cars left at the airport by fleeing expats is that abandoning cars is par for the course in this area.

There are figures based on reports from banks, car dealers and the police that about 1400 cars a year on average are abandoned around Dubai.

I guess the reason for the phenomenon is a combination of factors.It's a very transient society with people moving in or leaving every day. People come here 'for a couple of years', or they decide they don't like it and leave, or their contract finishes or, in more recent times, they lose their job.

Then there's the draconian debtor law.

And the time & frustration involved in doing anything like selling a car.

People borrow money from a bank to buy their car. Then for whatever reason they leave Dubai.

The easy way out is to think of the payments as a car rental or lease...and just leave it where you last parked it.

The giveaway is the amount of dust on the car.

Those left while the owners are on holiday get a layer of dust, but it's not too thick and it's cleaned off as soon as they get back.

Others though have a thick layer and they start to attract message writers.

In just over one kilometre in Dubai Marina this morning I saw a few that could still be holiday cars, but there are others in the thick dust category. It's quite a few abandoned cars for a short stretch of road:







But they're not all from Dubai:






And this BMW is a permanent fixture. It had already been there for months when I first posted about it in August 2009.

Here it is this morning...




Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm on a winner here

I've hit on a great new business. It's just so now that it's a dead cert winner.

Can't fail.

We'll be offering contemporary holistic lifestyle concept solutions.

What about that!

Bet you can't wait to place orders with me.

I had the brainwave thinking about a couple of announcements I've seen recently.

The first was from the Jumeirah Group, who are to introduce a new hotel brand. It will be, and I quote, "a contemporary lifestyle brand" and that apparently will "fulfil a clear market need".

Then the Pragma Group announced that it was taking over the Palladium building in Media City. That's going to become, I quote again, "a forum for holistic lifestyle concepts".

It's a huge advance on just the 'solutions' that so many companies offer. That's all a bit passe these days, although Gulf News has plenty of them today - a specialist provider of geophysical solutions and an aircraft technical solutions provider included.

To help generate business in the start-up phase - or should that be moving forward - I'll be using the traditional Dubai strategy - a big Opening Sale offering 'up to' discounts until stocks last.

What's that? What exactly will we be offering? I told you, contemporary holistic lifestyle concept solutions.



Jumeirah Group.
Pragma Group.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tell me they're kidding



A cheeseburger pizza??!!


This is one I must bring to the attention of the Italian pizza police.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Croc man speaks

On Tuesday I told you about the man in Western Australia who climbed into an enclosure with a 5 metre saltwater crocodile so that he could sit on its back.

(Measure out five metres to see how big the thing was).

Surprisingly it didn't eat him, just bit his leg.

To that post LDU asked 'what was going through his head'.

Good question.

I think it's all explained when he was interviewed on Perth's Channel 9 television. Einstein he ain't.

Have a look.

A big round of applause for...Michael Newman.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Westin emergency

A short time ago I drove past the Westin Mina Seyahi where there was a big show of force from the emergency services



Police, fire, ambulances, rescue vehicles and plenty of people gathered about.



I don't know what the problem was, although a stretcher was out of the ambulance and there was activity around it.

It's normal in many countries to have a mass turnout of the emergency services when there's a problem in a hotel so I guess that could have been the reason for all the hardware and activity.


UPDATE

It was just a practice run folks - see the comment from the Westin for details.