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Well, it seems to have been replaced by another BMW...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 clich├ęd 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 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 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:..............
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


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"...


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:



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

(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'.