Gnarly, racist dude: 404 for ‘ya!

no racism

What would you do if you encounter a blog, a Tweet, a reading material that’s obviously, blatantly offensive in nature? Something that shouts racial hatred in your face?

The UAE expat community do not take something like this sitting down. We were recently outraged by a blog called Al-Emirati, written by a group of people, mostly locals. I won’t glorify that blog further by giving it a live link although it’s pointless now anyway – that blog in question has been removed by Google due to racist content. A big “Not Found” 404 Error page is displayed when you request for the URL of that blog. That’s what you get for being a bigot in a country that’s supposed to be a melting pot of more than 200 nationalities.

The blog was nothing but negative, offensive posts – making fun of people and sensitive issues. The latest of which involved the Air India crash that killed more than 150 people, most of them Indian expatriates from Dubai. The blogger made fun of the passengers who died which is a blow too low considering dead people can’t defend themselves. The blogger belittles Indian expatriates and communities with slanderous statements, forgetting that the UAE wouldn’t be what it is now if not for these people from the sub-continents (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka). The post was ingrate and very uncalled for.

I invite you to see the original content of that vicious blog post here and judge for yourself.

But while that post was written by an Emirati, he doesn not represent all locals as a whole. I don’t believe every Emirati is like him – racist, ignorant, arrogant and vile. Or one can only hope not everyone is like him.

So the blog, hosted by Google has been removed and now questions are raised. Was it the right thing to remove/block the blog? Or should it be allowed to exist, be ignored or argued upon?

Completely idiotic Sheikh Zayed road stunts

I’ve written my dislike for driving in Dubai roads before, in dealing with mental drivers who sadly are aplenty. Now the news today took this dislike to a whole new level. A video had been posted in YouTube showing young drivers performing road stunts on Dubai’s main SEVEN LANE highway, Sheikh Zayed Road. A pick up truck intentionally spins and skids across the road while a 4×4 zigzags across six lanes of traffic (cars running at 100kmh) balanced on ONLY TWO WHEELS. This isn’t a show.

Video credit: The National

The images are shocking to say the least and without an arrest as of this writing everyone knows the nationality of these reckless drivers. Where are they now? Somewhere in Dubai waiting to kill people! See the whole WTF maddening story via The National.

Driver of those two vehicles: you stupid, incredibly selfish, bored, spoiled twat!

Hot weather, hot topic

What’s new in desert land? Let me count ’em:

  • There was a sandstorm yesterday – we had dull, gray skies, strong hot wind (blow dryer in your face kind of weather has arrived) and rain! Rain! in May!! Oh well it was just a drizzle just before 7 pm but still very weird weather!

 

  • Dubai folks over at Twitter were busy buzzing about the recent article from UK’s The Guardian. Article teaser says, “Couples who publicly kiss are jailed, yet the state turns a blind eye to 30,000 imported prostitutes”. Oh yeah, wowzers…read the article here if you’re intrigued. And based on the stories I have heard from other residents here and actual “sightings” of these girls, yeah it is true.

 

  • A friend of mine got back from her Umrah (pilgrimage) to Mecca, Saudi Arabia with swollen, bruised feet. She said she walked for hours wihout any shoes. I have yet to investigate on the story. (She’s too busy catching up with work that I haven’t talked to her much since morning)

 

  • I won a radio contest again and the prize is a two night weekend stay plus breakfast buffet (who wakes up to have breakfast on hotels!?) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Hmmm, I just saved my husband some money because we’ll go on our anniversary in July + Pristine of course, just like last year. I’m counting the days until the mini R & R.

 

  • It’s getting real deal hot in here with temperatures soaring to the 40’s (102F) on midday. If it’s still too cold or snowing in your place, I’m open for bargain and gladly share half of Dubai’s temp. In that way, we’ll all be happy.

Lastly, I tucked Pristine to bed last night, hugged her tightly and whispered to her: “I love you. You are my life.” To which I got the reply, “I love you too mama but I’m not inside your body anymore!”

Anything going on in your neck of the woods?

No more lunging around in your lungi in Sharjah

short lungi 2

What is a lungi? The lungi is a piece of brightly coloured silk or cotton cloth that is wrapped around the waist. It is worn in India, Pakistan, Myanmar and other South Asian countries by MEN. Like a wrap-around beach skirt, that is. It covers the legs and usually up to the ankle in length but some men fold it into half and wear it like the above photo.

long lungi

What with the lungi then, you ask? Well, there are so many Indians and Pakistanis here in Dubai and they do wear lungis a lot. They lunge around with their lungis at home, or in the streets on Fridays (or any day for that matter – I only see them on Fridays on my day off). I never thought of anything about lungis and lungi wearing men except that it’s a bit weird for men to wear skirt-like costumes. I have no bias to Scots – I still find it funny to see them in checkered wool skirts.

Anyway, news came to day that the adjacent Emirate Sharjah announced they ban the wearing of lungi in public! Some say it’s indecent but what is indecent about this piece of clothing? For the record, I don’t like it but why not just let them have the freedom to wear anything. Anything is good as long as it covers the private parts and not too revealing, right?

Walk around the big malls and you can find women with clothes more indecent than a lungi! Talk about cleavages and hot legs in short skimpy skirts!

If the ban is really implemented, I feel sorry for the lungi wearers. It does look like a comfy piece of clothing, especially in Dubai weather.

No Ice tonight, courtesy of Twitter

vanilla ice

A prominent member of the ruling family, the brother of Sheikh Khalifa (President of the UAE) has passed away in a glider plane crash in Morocco and his body was found only yesterday after an extensive three day search. In true UAE tradition, all radio stations switched to obituary mode immediately, playing ONLY instrumental music since late afternoon yesterday.

A concert by Vanilla Ice (who knew this guy still existed in the music and concert scene!?) was scheduled tonight at Barasti bar (a beach front bar in Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Hotel) and early today, the promoters sent out an SMS to ticket holders and regulars in a cheerful tone that read:

NORMAL OPERATION. WE ARE NOT DRY! NICE, NICE BABY! 5PM-3AM C U ON THE SAND.

Immediately, UAE tweeps (or UAE residents on Twitter) sent a flow of tweets criticizing Barasti and it’s promoters for the insensitive and disrespectful act – the seemingly joyous SMS and by declaring that the show must go on!

When Twitter flexes its muscles, the punch hurts because just now, Barasti bar cancelled the Vanilla Ice show amid Twitter outrage. What will happen now? Will the UAE tweeps complain about each and every bar having a show tonight or this is just exclusive to Vanilla Ice?

Right now, I see tweets with keywords like “bunch of bullies”, “kill joys” and amusingly, “anti-90’s!”

Sandstorm and good news for Dubai

We’ve been experiencing nasty sandstorms as of this writing today in Dubai. I went out to go to the gym during lunch break and amazed how fine sand found its way through my sunglasses to my eyes!  I felt the slap of sand in my cheeks, ouch not nice.

It’s also suddenly getting hot in here. Last night, we had 26C – what happened to “winter”? Already finished? I took out my winter jacket because I was shivering in 14C on my way home the night before. Tsk, tsk, tsk. This is what desert living does to people – make them shiver at 14C. Ridiculous stuff.

Anyway, sandstorms, gusty winds and sudden heat aside….we had some breaking news today.

Just in time to redeem Dubai of it’s debts and continue to fuel it’s big golden dreams, Sheikh Mohammed tweets, “there is a new oil discovery in Dubai.” It’s good news for the leaders and people of the UAE – nothing can be so timely (if it’s really true).

World’s tallest tower opens in style!

lead_burj_final02

Photo credit: Gulf News

Yesterday was a historic day for the UAE, especially for Dubai. The world’s tallest building Burj Dubai* was officially opened with an inauguration ceremony that could surpass all inauguration ceremonies for a long time. Thousands of fireworks lit up the cool desert night, witnessed by thousands of people from the UAE and abroad.

It was not a special holiday yesterday although it would have been great if it was. In my opinion, every Dubai resident would have loved to get out there and witness that piece of history in the making. I had work until 6 pm and by the time I got out of the office, all roads leading to The Dubai Mall (the huge mall beside Burj Dubai*) already looked like a huge parking space. A part of the main arterial road Sheikh Zayed Road was closed. Crowds have gathered near the promenade as early as 2 or 3 pm!

promenade crowd

Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News

We always watch the beautiful Dubai Fountain show from this side but yesterday, there was no way we could get near: the parking areas were full and there could never be a foot space for us who come late (damn work!!). One of us would eventually carry Pristine (she’s 20 kgs heavy) so she could see.

burj dubai from ras al khor

M appeased me by trying to find a place where the tower can be seen, a little bit far but still a good view. We ended up watching it from Ras Al Khor. So many people parked their cars on the side of the road, even police cars! We couldn’t see the special fountain show from where we were or but the firework display was grandiose.

Pristine was so excited that she kept shouting “Happy New Year!! Happy New Year!!” and jumping up and down. Oh well, even if it wasn’t New Year’s Eve, it’s still the 4th of January and the new year just rolled in. In a sense, I feel that 2010 will be a new year for the UAE and for Dubai, after the much talked about credit crisis last year that paved way for Dubai bashers to celebrate, with more bashing than ever before.

I didn’t take photos because it would not look good from where I stood but I took a video. I’m still uploading it and while we wait for that, here’s some awesome photos of the big event courtesy of Gulf News:

Burj Dubai fireworks

Burj Dubai fireworks

Burj Dubai

I am not from this country but I feel proud. I love the UAE – I’ve never been to a place where people of more than 200 nationalities live and work together in harmony. People of different religions and sect who respect each other and love their adoptive country like their own. I love Dubai, the city with all possibilities of growth no matter how others view or criticize it.

*****

* I logged in to Twitter as soon as I came home and surprised to know that the newly opened tallest tower in the world, known as Burj Dubai had been RENAMED to “BURJ KHALIFA”, in honor of the UAE’s president and Abu Dhabi Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

WHAT!?

Burj Dubai —–>>> Burj Khalifa.

It just doesn’t sound right! JUST. DOESN’T.

It should be as is, “Burj Dubai” because it IS located in Dubai. When hearing the words “Burj Khalifa”, I bet people will go like, “Burj what? Where is that!?”

Is this what Dubai has to pay for Richie Rich Abu Dhabi’s redemption of Dubai’s massive debt last year (and in the coming years)? And just the start of Abu Dhabi showing control over the Emirate?

UPDATE: Here’s a video I took that won’t give even a fraction of  judgment to the real thing. If there’s going to be another inauguration of any Dubai feat in the future, I’ll skip work and be there early.

So the cat is out of the bag now

Burj Dubai 11.29.2009 p

You must have known it by now. It’s been exposed that Dubai has a $60bn debt and has sought debt payment delay until May next year.

Dubai – a desert city, driven by ambition, huge dream and all things glittering. Anything wrong with it? No. Not at least until we know that Dubai’s explosive growth was too much for them to handle, financial wise. Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has told his critics to “shut up” and said, there is a recovery plan.

I am not a financial anylyst so I don’t have the exact numbers and situation aside from the ones I read in the news. So many papers and journalists have sensationalized the story by saying, “Dubai is finished”, “Dubai is dead”, or “Dubai is a ghost town”. Personally, I don’t know if Dubai will be finished or if it will die – that is up to the rulers to decide. And after doing so much, I doubt if they will just let it die.

Dubai being a ghost town? Not yet! Far from that. The streets are still teeming with people, there’s still traffic – unless all those people and cars I see are ghosts. Though a lot has been said about construction being halted, I still hear cranes working and hammer pounding from wherever I stand. Buildings are being completed around. And no, there has been no exodus of expats!

With the constant mocks directed to Dubai, with Western countries ganging up this Middle Eastern city, its ruler have mentioned before that it’s because the world doesn’t want to see Arabs succeed. The latest news of this debt crisis with the words “meltdown” or “end of Dubai” justifies this.

But what the world has forgotten is that, Dubai is one of the seven Emirates of the country called UAE (United Arab Emirates). They have forgotten that Dubai’s debt is not even one-tenth of Abu Dhabi’s wealth. (Whether Abu Dhabi will bail out Dubai, that remains to be known, probably after National Day on December 2 when leaders of all 7 Emirates gather and “talk”)

As someone who has lived here for merely three years, I have seen the city grow and the photos of Dubai 10, 20 years ago is amazing. There was nothing here but large areas of sand and a few buildings. The rulers have built it to what it is now. I have confidence that despite the crisis, Dubai along with the other UAE leaders can solve it.

The Dubai Metro 9-9-9 frenzy: a success!

Dubai Metro was opened  a few weeks ago and have to say, I haven’t tried it until now. What a shame. We are still waiting for the rush of excited people to slow down a bit. The local news reported that 212,000 passengers rode the Metro in the first four days of its operation!

I have no photos of the Metro yet but I got a great collection via email so I thought I’d post it here. I don’t know who to credit for these photos so whoever you are, thank you!

*****

The most awaited moment: the giant clock displayed 09:09:09 on 09/09/09.

090909 clock

Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, punched in the first ticket at exactly 9 pm, 9 minutes and 9 seconds on 09/09/09. Then he boarded the first ever Dubai Metro train that Wednesday night.

Sheikh Mohammed

The Mall of the Emirates station is lit up on the night of the project launch.

Mall of the Emirates station

As the train left Mall of the Emirates station,

Dubai Metro

fireworks lit up the sky to commemorate the big event in the history of Dubai, the UAE and the Middle East. (The Dubai Metro is the first driverless train in the region, and the longest one too)

Dubai Metro fireworks

Residents braved the heat and humidity (yes it’s still quite hot even at night here) around the station in the hope of getting a glimpse of Sheikh Mohammed and the new trains.

Dubai Metro

Some of the passengers on board one of the first trips on the Dubai Metro.

Dubai Metro passengers

To promote the opening day, the government launched the Dubai Metro Golden Ticket Competition. The Golden Ticket might not have guaranteed entrance to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but it was enough to stir up excitement in many eager passengers.

A few of the 500 Golden Ticket winners, obviously ecstatic of their Metro ride.

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Some photos of what’s inside the stations:

Dubai Metro

Union Square station:

Dubai Metro

Union Square station

Khalid bin Waleed station:

Khalid bin Waleed station

*****

On Friday of the week of the opening, we were ready to try it out. We woke up early, as usual, even on a weekend morning and drove to Rashidiya Station. It’s the nearest station from where we live but when we got there, we were surprised to find out that:

  • the car park building was closed
  • the security personnel couldn’t speak English (he was trying to say something in Arabic which we couldn’t understand. At all)
  • Turned out that the car park building wasn’t available (so we had to park far from the station then we had to walk…it was hot)
  • the station was creepily quiet
  • WE WEREN’T ALLOWED ENTRY BY DUBAI POLICEMEN

and the greatest discovery: STATIONS WILL OPEN AND TRAINS WILL ONLY OPERATE FROM 2 PM ONWARDS ON FRIDAYS.

Do you know that sometimes, when you read something in CAPS LOCK it kind of implies as the writer is screaming? In this case, yes, it’s true.

*****

Anyway, we are still looking forward to our first Dubai Metro experience. That might not come until mid-October though, when we come back from our vacation in Japan.