Wednesday, March 29, 2006


North of here, in countries like Turkey and Egypt, they are having a total eclipse of the sun (hmm, good name for a song). We in the UAE are supposed to be able to see a partial eclipse, about 35%. But guess what! Here's a clue:

The fluffy grey things are clouds!

Lurpak's Back!

Our local Géant, risking howls of protest from its customers, has resumed the sale of Lurpak butter. Sanity prevails at last. Excellent.

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

...Keefieboy and BetterArf had their Wedding Day!

Yikes, doesn't time fly when you're having fun.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Gulf News Puts Foot In It

Five days ago the normally sensible and respectable Gulf News published this article about the threat of closure of a women's shelter in Dubai. No names were mentioned, but as the only shelter of its type is the one run by Sharla Mussabeh, folks naturally assumed that that was the one being talked about. As it happens, fellow blogger Chevygirl is a friend of Sharla, and they spoke on the phone. Sharla has received no such threats of closure or eviction.

Two days ago Emirates Evening Post picked up the story and featured a front-page interview with Sharla.

So now you have the history. Gulf News appears to have published a hugely biased and completely inaccurate article that has no basis in fact. Today they published a letter from the owner of the villa that Sharla uses, who states she has had no contact from any authorities regarding the villa. Strangely, this letter and GN's reply do not appear on their website. However, GN did post a little reply to the letter pointing out that no names were named, so how does the owner of the villa know they were talking about her?

Gulf News. What on earth are you playing at? If there is another shelter in Dubai similar to Sharla's then please tell us about it. This is disingenuous tosh of the highest order and does not represent the standard of reporting we expect from Gulf News.



Monday, March 27, 2006

Sorting Out The Saudis

Camilla lays it on the line with Saudi King Abdullah, while Prince Chuck tries to conceal his embarrassment.


Friends In High Places

Hey, had a long visit from Wash DC!

Mr George likes it

Notice they were at ChevyGurrrrl's first...

Defensive Driving

There's so much stuff on the local blogs about driving that I cannot remember who popped up with this phrase: 'defensive driving'.

Hooever, it reminded me of something. Many years ago (about 17, methinks), I worked for a rather splendid company that not only made beer, but also provided its employees with lots and lots of training courses. One day, we all got a memo that said something along the lines of 'We, the beer-making company, are kind enough to provide you with a company car to enable you to do your job. You are all crap drivers, you keep crashing the cars, and it costs us a fortune in insurance premiums and repair bills. Therefore, you will attend a one-day Defensive Driving Course. You will be sacked if you do not pass it'.

I wasn't aware of anyone in the company who'd had any kind of accident, but we heard through the grapevine that it was mostly the sales managers. So, a date was fixed for our department, and the venue was Silverstone racetrack, somewhere near Oxford.

The course was brilliant. We learned how to drive really fast at an (imaginary) old lady and then brake inside the official stopping distance and steer round her. We learned how to handle a skid on an icy road using a specially-modified car with free-spinning wheels like the castors on an office chair. We learned I'm-not-quite-sure-what by driving quite slowly around the track while attempting to keep a tennis ball inside a shallow bowl taped to the bonnet. We learned how to drive really fast and then stop without skidding. And lots of other stuff. It were great.

So I got home and BetterArf said 'so you can kill terrorists now?'
Eloquent as always, I said 'eh?'
She says 'Wasn't this defensive driving? In case you're attacked or kidnapped or something?'
'Oh, yeah, we all had these great big guns...' etc.

Whatever, it certainly taught me to regard other vehicles on the road as potential attackers, and the vehicles themselves as Weapons of Keefieboy Destruction. So, touchwood, I've been safe driving in Dubai until now. Except for one occasion which I shall tell you about next week if you vote for me on Toot. (Oops, promised I wouldn't do that, didn't I).

Etisalat, We Love You Really*

I wasted a bit of time a few days ago doing an Etisalat survey. They are investigating the demand for faster broadband speeds - 4, 6 & 8 Megabippies are talked about. They ask how much I would be prepared to pay for this. Also what kind of 'gift' would I require as an incentive to upgrade - options range from a biro to a colour laser printer.

Ridiculous, and of course they don't give you any opportunity to vent your spleen about the existing shite service, whose speed never ever gets close to what it's supposed to be. Anyway, if they follow my suggestion, I'll soon be enjoying an 8 Megabippy connection for ten dirhams a month and driving around in a brand new Land Cruiser. I deserve it don't I (I've certainly nearly bloody paid for it over the last twelve years).

On a happier note, I was compelled to visit Etisalat yesterday because the barftuds had disconned my Interweb thingy. Amazingly, there was no queue! I pointed this out to the guy at the counter and he asked me if there'd been any big accidents on SZR that was stopping the punters from coming. I told him they'd all gone to du.

*I tell lies.

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Case Dismissed

The apostasy case against Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan has been dropped due to 'lack of evidence'. Well, that is good news - although his future safety in Afghanistan is highly questionable. And it leaves open the question 'is apostasy punishable by death'?

Reading various blogs on the subject written by Muslims, the consensus is 'no, don't be a nitwit', and there's plenty of quotes from the Quran - 'Allah will be the judge', 'no compulsion in religion' etc. So once again we see that the nature of Shari'a boils down to interpretation, and interpretations differ widly from one sect to another and from one country to another. They can't all be right, so where is the mechanism to fix them?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Betcha Never Knew This!

What's an E-Route? And what's a D-Route?

Stumped, aren'tcha.

Never mind, Keefieboy is here to explain it all to you. E-Routes are Emirates Routes, yer basic motorway/freeway thang. D-Routes are Dubai Routes, the main arterial roads. Exits from E-Routes are numbered according to how far they are from the origin point of the route within Dubai Emirate. (Yes, I'm beginning to lose it too). E11 starts at the Abu Dhabi border. The other E-Routes in Dubai all originate from the E11, whatever that is.

Where did I find this cornucopia of infoboozlement? Dubai Municipality's Maps website: you can download PDFs of various maps and documents, some of them fairly esoteric. Like the one showing locations of Chinese, Italian and Pakistani restaurants. Or the one that shows you where all the Indian, Lebanese and American restaurants are.

Oh, and have a look at the 2003 Urban Structure Plan.This seems to have been prepared in 2001: it shows the Palms Jebel Ali and Jumeirah, but not the Deira one. The World and Dubailand are conspicuous by their absence.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Splendid Day

Yesterday was our cherished weekend Friday. So what did I do? Well, I worked in the morning (self-employed: wolves, doors, get the picture?), and at 1pm went to pick up BetterArf from her school. If anyone ever tells you that teachers have an easy life with little short days and big long holidays, send them round here and I'll put them straight.

We have a secret event coming up in a week's time, (I'd tell you about it but I know you'd all gatecrash and spoil it) so we had to do some research into posh eateries in the vicinity of Madinat Jumeirah. But first we had to eat, and we went to The Meat Company. It was sensational - these guys certainly know how to cook a steak. We sat outside, beside the fake canal and with the Burj Al Arab in the background. After all the depressing crap happening this week - carnage on the roads, riots at the Burj Dubai site, the Afghan apostasy case, etc, it was somewhat fab to just chill in such a pleasant location.

On the way home we hit the video shop and got a couple of DVDs. I chose a comedy at random, and BetterArf was a bit more careful. She picked 'Elizabethtown'. We watched it and loved it. And then we put my selection into the magic box. Turned out it was 'Galaxy Quest'. We'd actually caught the back end of this on TV once and liked it. So now we had the whole thing, and it is brilliant - very funny.

Thanks Sam!

I present this picture for the sake of posterity, 'cos it might not happen again. This campaigning for votes lark is a bit like hard work: Qaddafi might have the right idea.

But many thanks to Samurai Sam for voting even though he didn't want to, and to everybody else who did the same. I promise not to hassle my dear readers for votes ever again. Unless I have to. (The 31st March might be an interesting day!).

Sad. Pathetic. Moi? You bet!

Take a Tootin' Look at This!

It doesn't matter, right? It's only a stoopid bit of meaningless fun. And it's not the winning that counts, it's the taking part. So this is the score on Toot as of 10 minutes ago. Three blogs literally neck and neck with apparently exactly the same number of votes and cherries. So what's the slogan?

Vote for Sabbah and I'll set you free. Nope, doesn't rhyme.

Vote for Freedom For Egyptians and I'll set you free. Nope, doesn't scan.

For the honour of the UAE,
Vote for me and I'll set you free,

And I'll make you a cup of tea,
And fill your life with glee
Ah, that works!

And for all the previous voters, the Damas gift pack is in the post!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Tragic Week On Dubai's Roads

Actually it seems that every week is a tragic one, with an average of one death every single day so far this year. But in the last few days the papers have been reporting the human stories behind these statistics. A guy killed in the wee small hours when the car he was a passenger in plunged off the Maktoum Bridge and into the Creek (the bridge has a lifting section to allow the passage of small ships - it is opened about 3am each day and there are plenty of warnings and flashing lights). Another guy hit by a vehicle trying to 'undertake' a bus on the hard shoulder - the victim was changing a tyre. And a young chap smashed into by a speeding driver as he was pushing his car to a petrol station.

We go on and on and on about the lousy driving standards in this town. But nothing ever gets done about it. Speed cameras are not the answer: driver education and acceptance of responsibility are. And it would certainly not go amiss if the Police started to act like they actually care about this problem.

Oh, and how about enforcing the law that says car windows cannot have a tint of more than 30%? Like, every day, not just once a year when the car goes for registration? If you cannot see out of your damn windows you certainly cannot begin to drive safely, especially not at night.

Jebel Ali to Umm Suqeim: 15 minutes!

BetterArf's school hold a musical evening every year, and I always like to go because some of their kids are just incredibly talented. (And it's free, of course). One of their current crop recently won Young Gulf Musician of the Year in Bahrain, and boy can he hammer those ivories!

But I digress. The gig was due to kick off at 7pm, so we left Jelly Baby at 6 to allow us plenty of time to crawl along the Sheikh Zayed Road. Well, I don't know quite what's happened, but the traffic was moving at a fairly normal pace so we actually did the trip in 15 minutes. Amazing. Well, normal, but still amazing - if this keeps up we might get our social life back.

Another transport story - Sheikh Mohammed kicked off the construction of the Dubai Metro yesterday. This will involve three years of construction work, and it's gonna cause chaos in Old Dubai. But, as they say, no pain, no gain.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Whoops-a-Daisy, Apostasy

A geezer in Afghanistan is currently on trial, accused of the heinous crime of 'denying Islam'. If found guilty, which I expect he will be because he does not seem to be denying that he converted to Christianity 14 years ago, he could be sentenced to death. What is this nonsense?

OK, it's Afghanistan, and anything can happen there. Although it absolutely should not be happening under the Grand Puppet President Karzai. But it is happening, and the guy will get the death penalty, and the rest of the world will be slack-jawed and disbelieving, exactly the same as when the Taliban blew up the Buddha statue.

Now look. I know Afghanistan has its own legal system. And it's pretty much pure Shari'a. So, is this right? Does Shari'a law say 'kill anyone who quits Islam' or does it not? Islam is supposed to be the religion of tolerance. How does Islam benefit by having members who want to leave but are afraid to because they fear they could be killed? How does Islam's stature in the world increase by murdering 'apostates'?

On a slightly separate note, I read some stuff a few years ago about 'Untouchables' in India discovering that they could become 'real people' by the simple expedient of converting to Christianity.

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Hey You Why Aren't You Voting?

The good people at Toot are worried because since they implemented an abuse-proof voting system at the beginning of this month, hardly anybody is voting. Which possibly proves that the Middle East is still not ready for democracy, or, more likely, you have better things to do with your. Time.

Anyhoo, Adventures in Dubai has slipped from its comfortable number two position, down to a feeble number five. This will not do.

Vote for me and I'll set you free. Or at least give you a bit more Keefieboy wisdom and possibly the occasional laff. Mine's the one with the camel. 5 cherries, s'il vous plait.

Nowrooz again

I love the idea of Nowrooz (numerous alternative spellings available: Norouz, Noe-Rooz, Norouz, Norooz, Noruz, Novruz, Noh Ruz, Nauroz, Nav-roze, Navroz, Naw-Rúz, Nevruz or Nowrouz and in Farsi نوروز). It's a celebration of life and vitality. This is represented by a display of seven things that all begin with the letter 's'. This is called the 'haft seen', and can include anything from this list:

sabzeh - wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish (symbolising rebirth)
samanu - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ (symbolising affluence)
senjed - the dried fruit of the jujube tree (love)
seer - garlic (medicine)
seeb - apples, (beauty and health)
somaq - sumac berries (the colour of the sunrise)
serkeh -vinegar (age and patience)
sonbol - the fragrant hyacinth flower (the coming of spring)
sekkeh - coins (prosperity and wealth)
a bowl with two goldfish (life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
a bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
rose water for its magical cleansing powers

There's also a Holy Book knocking around somewhere.

Come the time, everyone jumps up and shakes hands/kisses everyone else, and nobody sings Auld Lang Syne. It's lovely. And the kids get presents - I guess this is like Christmas for an Iranian child...the ones last night certainly seemed to think so!

I think I'll adopt the Vernal Equinox as a reason to be cheerful in future - definitely an excuse for a party.

An interesting aside: the telly was on at this bash last night, tuned to various Iranian channels throughout the evening. Every third advert was for property in Dubai! There was even an ad for The Lodge. This is the promised (sand)land.

Spring is Sprung!

We were invited to dinner at our Iranian next-door neighbours' last night, to celebrate Nowrooz, the Iranian New Year. This always takes place at the Spring Equinox, and the actual time of the transition from winter to spring is precisely calculated. Last night it was 10.20 pm, UAE time.

We had a great time, although eating dinner at something approaching midnight was a bit of a challenge. And once again, I was struck by this: every Iranian I have ever met has been clever, cultured and charming. So how come they let their country be run by Ayatollahs and Ahmedinejad?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Friends Dis-United

Ever been to It's a brilliant site that has a massive database of who was at what school / college / university / workplace at what time. I've used it in the past and got in touch with people I thought I'd lost touch with forever. Guess what?

Etisalat have blocked it! Now what on earth is all that about. What moronic, brainless, idiotic, pathetic arrogance is our wonderful ISP up to now? Tell you what, I'll undergo the pain of using their website and try to get an answer.

Wish me luck.

UPDATE: Two minutes later, I've clicked on the Feedback link, and now I'm staring in disbelief at a form that expects me to give my username and password over an unsecure connection! OK, I'll try the telephone thing.

UPDATE: After ten minutes in call-centre hell, a real bloke answered the phone. After spending a few more minutes trying to get him to grasp the speelin of friendsreunited, he gave up, and asked me to send an email to So I have, but I'm not expecting to get a reply anytime this century. I asked the guy how his application for a job with du was going, and he just laughed.

UPDATE: Just received an automated reply. My case number is a bit over 2.6 million - I really hope these case numbers are not sequential! And guess what - to find out if they've done anything about it, I have to go to their website and login with my account name and password. And it's still not a secure link. Bloody hell.

UPDATE: thanks to Jin, who has just spoken with Etisalat about this: it's classified as a 'dating' site, and is therefore incompatible blah-de-blah. This is the height of idiocy from Etisalat, Keefieboy's offence level is: VERY OFFENDED.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Offended Amish

Nope, apparently the Amish have not taken offence. Maybe they haven't read my previous post yet. Ah, wait a minute, they don't have computers, so I'll have to either

a) wait for one of 'em to take the pony 'n' trap into town and sit down with a mineral water and Rose of Mohammed at the interweb cafe,
b) wait for snailmail.

It's hard to offend people who ain't listening.

Snailmail From The Amish

Many thanks to TechHash for posting this. It really made my day!

***Amish Virus Alert***

You have just received the Amish virus. Since we have no electricity or computers, you are on the honor system. Please delete all of your files on your hard drive, then forward this message to everyone in your address book.

Thank thee.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Talking To Microsoft

OK, this one's a bit techie, but it's wasted most of my day and I am very angry about it. I've downloaded a bit of software from M$ that would be very useful if only I could get it to install. When I tried to install it, it first of all required me to upgrade the Windows Installer component. So I go to their website, and I do that. I try to run the program installer again, and it says I need to have Windows XP Service Pack 2. I was pretty sure I did have that, but I went to their website again to try to get it. No dice - it offered me all the latest bits, and I waited at least an hour while they were downloaded and installed.

Reboot the machine, try to run the software installation again. Still no dice - it wants SP2. I go back to the M$ site, and cannot find a straight download of SP2 - everything that looks likely just takes you back into this loop of updating various bits. Buggeration!

So, I guess I'll have to try Tech Support. Now this is an eye-opener. You have to tell 'em what country you're in, so I select UAE. I am then given a page in Arabic, with no apparent link to an English version. Oh, aren't we bloody clever! So I try again, pretending this time that I'm in the UK. When you eventually work your way through the maze of options that are clearly designed to exhaust your patience, you get to a screen that tells you you can have 2 free email enquiries during the lifetime of your product. Or you can pay £69 + VAT for a premium-rate phone call.

I try the email option - it tells me I can't have any free emails and suggests that I get in touch with the dealer who sold me my computer. As if Praveen Q. Billibobbi in the computer soukh will be able to give me any kind of a useful answer.


And then I think, hang on a minute, there's a gazillion download sites out there, I can get it from one of them! So I am. I'm about one-third of the way through the 266Mb download. Fingers crossed.

Update: Why do these things take so long? Anyway, 'tis done, I now have a functioning SP2. So I fire up the program installer again, it believes I have SP2, and then it demands that I must have 1.5 Gigglebytes available on my C: drive. I've already told it that I want to install this on my D: drive, but it's not having it. How the hell can one little program need so much space! 'Tis ridiculous. But what's more ridiculous is that I cannot find a way to increase the size of my C: partition without formatting the disc. Anyone know?

Monday, March 13, 2006

I'm Offended. But Not Easily.

More fuel has been added to the fire of the 'Clash of Civilizations'. 80s rockers Saxon were due to play in Dubai this coming weekend, but permission has been withdrawn by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. Why? Because one of their songs, 'Crusader', is considered offensive to Muslims. The lyrics are written from the viewpoint of a brave English chap going off to the Holy Land to fight the 'heathen Saracen', any time between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. You might consider it akin to an historical document. Or a work of fiction. You certainly cannot consider it a literal threat to Muslims, but this is apparently what some of the local Arab press has been whipping up.

...what will Saxon do in Dubai’s land and on Arabian sands? Are they going to make us, the Saracen heathens, taste their music just as if their guitars were swords made of steel?

When this started becoming a problem, the band said they would not play that particular song at this gig. End of story you might think. But noooo.

This is like family feuds over 'what you said to Sharon at Our Jason's wedding', only much much worse.

I just hope no-one mentions the Muslims and Christians Festivals that happen every year in Spain. Oops, too late.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Rainbow Sheep?

Political Correctness continues its insane progress in the UK, according to the BBC. Kids Twildren in nursery schools in Oxfordshire are no longer allowed to sing about baa baa 'black' sheep. Because, well, you know why. So the invented alternative is 'rainbow' sheep. For fux sake. What planet are these people from? Why can't we just take them out and kill them? Hmm? Hmm?

Mad, mad, mad. And no doubt 'not in my name Tony' will support them to the hilt.

DP World: Discretion Is The Better Part Of Valour

Dubai Ports World has graciously conceded 'defeat' in the US arm of the P & O takeover fiasco. The US ports are only a small, and by no means critical part of the P & O empire, and the only part of the deal that has caused any controversy. DP World's takeover of P & O works with or without the US ports. The deal still makes DP World the global number three ports operator.

DP World management have, probably wisely, decided that it is not worth the hassle of following through on the US ports part of the deal. No doubt they will sell it to Halliburton or somesuch, and everyone will then be happy.

As a longtime resident and total fan of Dubai, I have been absolutely appalled by the American reaction to this issue. I have had emails from one American (who knew damn well that his posts would have been deleted had they been made to the comments section) that were bursting with misinformed, vitriolic hatred of anything connected with the Middle East / Islam. I have seen and read utterances from other folks and politicians who really, really, should know better. Hillary Clinton has gone down in my estimation to much less than zero.

And I know that a lot of the political reaction has been because this is an election year in the US (no more Dubya, yayy!), and politicians are what they are.

But a good thing to have emerged from this debacle is that Americans in America have now actually heard of this place called Dubai, and have possibly begun to get an inkling of what it's about.

The management government of Dubai and the UAE have now seen, in no uncertain terms, what America thinks of them. This is a good thing because if you do not have this information then you cannot address it. So now these issues have been thrown on the table, and the powers-that-be can fix the ones that are actually true, and make absolutely sure that the entire planet knows about it.

And as the old saying goes: 'he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day'. There are no limits to the ambitions of Dubai and the UAE, and in future they will make sure that mere politics do not impede the march of commercial world domination! Watch out Microsoft.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

International Media Star!

Keefieboy was on an Open Source Radio show broadcast from Boston last night. Well, I say last night: it was actually between midnight and one o'clock this morning. This is way past Keefieboy's bedtime: he likes to be tucked up with his teddy by 10 p.m. because he has to up for chauffeur duty at 6 a.m.

So I'm a bit tired this morning.

Update: there's an MP3 of the show on the site now, er... but ... er... y'know, umm... Keefieboy was, like, erm..., awful!

That Tag Thing

The tag that White Son of the Dessert started is still rumbling on. Buj tagged Balushi. Balushi has done it and tagged Dengrous Boy - I can't wait to read that one!

UPDATE: Dengrous Boy has done it. Definite proof, the boy'z a spoof!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Da Oscars n Dat

So it's done and dusted for another year. This year's Academy Awards have almost no relevance for us Woollybacks * here in the sticks of Dubai though. As far as I know, not one of the nominees for Best Picture (Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich) have hit these shores yet. Interestingly, George Clooney won Best Supporting Actor for 'Syriana' most of which was shot right here in Dubai, but it has not been released here: if the script was acceptable for the censors, how come the finished film isn't? Brokeback Mountain, forget it - that is very unlikely ever to get a release here (homosexuality is a big no-no in Islam, I'm not planning to argue against that one - the Anglican Church still has problems with it even though it's a biological issue, not a religious one).

Some sanity at least: Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit won Best Animated Feature. How long before this category gets merged with the 'Best Picture' category?

Short note on censorship, oh Government, 'cos I know you're listening. People pay money to see movies. It is their choice - they decide what they want to watch based on some pre-knowledge. So you don't need your censors to rip them to shreds, ok? Even a 'controversial' movie like Brokeback or Syriana can and should be shown here. If it's not your cup of tea, you don't shell out the 30 dirhams to see it. Quite simple really.

Anyway, back to the Oscars. This awards stuff is nonsense. And by the way, have you voted for Adventures in Dubai on Toot yet? Hurry, hurry, only 25 days of the month left! And nothing less than 5 cherries if you please. Thanks.

*Woollybacks: Scouse (Liverpool) slang for someone random asshole who doesn't come from my city/suburb/street'.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Blogger Power!

I sometimes feel a bit guilty when I make less-than-complimentary comments about companies that have upset me in some way. Because I know that the chances of them stumbling across my blog are somewhere close to zero.

But a couple of days ago I was extremely pleased to receive an email from Monte Carlo Car Rental in Amman, Jordan. I had rented a car from them for our holiday in January, and had written nice things about them in my blog about the trip. I had also slagged them off a little bit because they didn't give me the car I wanted, but hey. So I expect if you go to their website soon you'll see a nice testimonial from Mr Keefieboy of Dubayy.

Cockles of heart duly warmed.

What Really Happened On 9/11?

This was posted a few days ago on the UAE Community Blog, but, strangely, it didn't seem to raise any eyebrows.

It's an hour and 20 minutes long. If you don't want to sit staring at your computer for that long, skip through to about the 45th minute and watch the next ten minutes. It shows you how the collapse of the twin towers were controlled demolitions that had nothing at all to do with the 747s parked on the upper floors. Feel free to tell me if you disagree.

Seriously scary stuff.

The Ports Thang Again

This is a comment I made on a discussion at MetroBlogging Dubai. An American commenter named Errinf was getting a bit hot and bothered about that democracy thing.

"Mainly for the benefit of Errinf, but also anyone else who is confused about how Dubai is governed (not that I'm an expert, you understand, I'm just a Brit who has lived in Dubai for twelve years).

"Nobody in any of the Emirates is called an 'emir'. Each Emirate has a Ruler. The seven Emirates are part of a federation called the United Arab Emirates. (So maybe the 'Emirates' should be 'Rulerates'. But they're not. Don't ask).

"You have caught us in a period of profound change. One of the founders of the UAE, and its first President, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, passed away in November 2004. He was replaced by one of his sons, Sheikh Khalifa.

"The Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum, passed away in January 2006, and has been replaced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

"Sheikh Mohammed is the one to watch; he has been enormously influential in the development of Dubai, and that beneficial influence will now extend to all of the Emirates.

"So, we have the Rulers, and they elect a President. They also nominate candidates to sit on the National Consultative Council. It was announced a few months ago that in future half of the NCC seats will be filled by directly-elected candidates.

"Destitute Rebel says that Emiratis are 100% behind the monarchy (actually, monarchy is the wrong word too - nobody goes around calling themselves King). DR's claim might be an exaggeration, but it is not far from the truth. Most Emiratis truly love their leaders. Heck, I love them and I don't even get any of the social benefits that the Emiratis do! I know this is going to be hard to swallow for anyone who has not experienced it directly, but this little country is flourishing under its benevolent dictatorship: the Rulers do everything they can to improve the quality of life for Nationals and expats. And because they do not have to deal with bureaucratic consultation procedures, decisions can be implemented very very quickly. Sometimes these decisions are flawed because they have not been debugged by consultation, but they get tweaked as they go along.

"Yes, there are issues with human rights, freedom of speech, Internet censorship etc. But these issues are being addressed, and while the situation is far from perfect, it is a lot better than it was even five years ago, and it has always been infinitely better than in many other Middle Eastern countries. With Sheikh Mohammed's recently-announced new Cabinet I think we are going to see some surprising and welcome changes.

"But don't try and force western-style democracy into the picture. As far as I can tell, there is not that much interest in Government and politics amongst Emiratis. And the great fear would be that free elections could give power to Islamists, and if that happened it would be the end of the UAE as we know it."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Rip Me Off, Why Don't You?

In yet another sign of the murderous inflation that is killing Dubai, your favourite number one blogster has just returned from doing a little shopping at his local Choithram's. The Keefieboy was appalled to find that the price of one particular item he wanted to buy (Jus-Rol Shortcrust pastry) has increased from Dhs 7.95 to Dhs 9.95. He knows this because underneath the new price sticker there was an old one, at the old price.

Oh, you say 'it's only 2 dirhams, surely you can afford that?' Well, yes I can, and no it isn't. That two dirhams represents a rise of about 17%. I questioned the duty manager about this and he said the supplier has increased the price. Yeah right, retroactively on old stock? This kind of thing is seriously illegal in the West: old stock must be sold at old prices.

I didn't buy the item (no doubt I will buy it at a Spinney's for about 10.95 or a Union Co-op for 6.50, or maybe I'll just make my own sodding pastry), but it really is well past time that we got some proper consumer protection in this country.

Oh, see this as well.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

National Bonds

I meant to blog about this story when it came out a couple of days ago. Modelled on the UKs Premium Bonds, investors can hope their 10 dirham stake wins them one million dirhams. And if it doesn't, you still have your stake in the next monthly draw. And investors will get a bonus each year- a slice of 10% of the scheme's profits. And it's Shariah-compliant (how they work that out is beyond me).

Just as the UK scheme has a friendly computer called ERNIE (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) to choose the winning numbers, the UAE one will have AHMED (Automatic Hopeful Millionaire-Enabling Device) doing the honours.

Gonna get me some...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New Toot

It's a brand-new month, so Toot have wiped out all previous votes. But Adventures In Dubai has stormed into the new chart at number seven with two votes.

So vote for me and I'll set you free (eh?). Or something. Just make it a habit: go to Toot, vote for Keefieboy. I'll keep on nagging you until you do!