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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The UAE and the Law

The web site of the Gulf News has a helpful page entitled, ‘Ask the Law’.

This is a guide to the legal system in the UAE.

‘Ask the Law’ also gives readers a chance to put their curly questions to the Gulf New’s Emirati lawyer.

Here is a sample from the web page, the sections and the topics:

Maternity rights at work
When a firm does not keep its promises
Can I leave my new job?
Salary disputes
Is job ban legal?

Housing & Rent
Can I get my deposit back?
Sub-letting is illegal
Illegal rent rise

Passports & Visas
No birth certificate
Who pays visa expenses?
Fired but passport still held
How to sponsor a maid

I’m still waiting for a divorce
Bills out of control
Marriage certificate query

And many more topics….

The Gulf News ‘Ask the Law’ Link

The book, ‘Setting Up in Dubai’ surveys the UAE legal system and describes in great detail the legal issues of setting up a business in Dubai and the UAE. This book is reviewed at this link—Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Setting Up a Business in Dubai and the UAE

For people pondering a move to the UAE, Setting up in Dubai by Essam Al Tamimi gives plenty of helpful information but to people thinking of establishing a business in the Emirates, this book is compulsory reading, especially if one is eager to avoid the pitfalls and expedite the process smoothly.

The book covers much general information about life in Dubai and the UAE and specific chapters deal with legal issues, immigration and customs, business associations, employment issues, housing, health and education, transport, leisure activities, local customs, language and a CD comes with the book containing all the application forms one might need.

A more comprehensive review of this book, with price and publishing details, is posted at:

Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Images: Front cover of Setting Up in Dubai.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in the UAE and Region

Check out eleven year old Faye’s story on Christmas in the United Arab Emirates.

Link: ‘Christmas in Dubai’, CBBC Newsround, 24 December 2007.

Other articles include:

‘Muslim Scholars send rare Christmas Greetings’, Gulf News, 24 December 2007.

'Palestinians See best Ever Christmas Season in Years’, Gulf News, 25 December 2007.

‘Christmas spirit alive and well despite increased cost of goods’, Gulf News, 23 December 2007

‘A good song for the season’, Gulf News, 23 December 2007.

Image: Festive Faye, Dubai.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Newspapers, TV and Other Media in the UAE

If you are interested in the media, working in the industry or have a business to market then the new book entitled Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008, edited by Ben Smalley, is a necessary acquisition.

In 500 pages the book itemizes the media outlets in the Middle East and North Africa and especially lists the new additions launched in 2007.

This reference guide lists newspapers from Algeria to the UAE and how you can contact them, the huge and growing number of consumer, news and business magazines, information on the 370+ free-to-air television channels, radio stations, news and photo agencies, media production companies and a growing section on new media (including the Internet).

Check out the more extensive review of this book including publishing details, price and information about the records that the UAE holds in the media world.

Link: Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Front cover of Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008.

UAE Praying for Rain

The Gulf News reports:
“President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has called for prayers for rain "Salaat Al Istisqaa" [to] be performed on Sunday across all the country's mosques and musallahs.”

“Shaikh Khalifa called on Muslims living in the country to pray to God for blessing the land with rain, in accordance with Prophet Mohammad's (Peace Be Upon Him) Sunnah to seek rain from Allah.”

“The call was made in line with the tradition of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to pray to Almighty Allah to bless the country with rain.”

Source: ‘Khalifa Calls for Rain Prayers’, Gulf News, December 23, 2007.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reading and Knowledge in the UAE

Knowledge to Be Driven by Reading
In late October at the Knowledge Conference in Dubai, when His Highness, Shaikh Mohammed, Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced the foundation of the “Knowledge Complex, he spoke about the important work of translating knowledge from its foreign sources in to Arabic, training translators, developing machine translation programmes to enhance translation activities from and into Arabic and financially supporting Arabic publishing houses.

This was a ground-breaking announcement as many people had been shocked when, in 2003, a UN report announced that only 330 books from other languages were translated into Arabic annually; and that, in the last 1,100 years, only 10,000 books have ever been translated into Arabic—the same number Spain translates into Spanish in a single year.

Kalima Announces 100 Books
Since Shaikh Mohammed, Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s announcement the Kalima (Arabic for ‘word’) project based in Abu Dhabi has announced a list of 100 books (see below) as part of its contribution towards achieving these goals.

The list does not include many of the best sellers in recent years, however, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner makes the list. Some immediate discussion and debate on the first 100 books in the Kalima project can be found in Boyd Tonkin’s ‘Two Cultures, One Language’, The Independent, 22 November 2007.

The Challenge of Illiteracy
It takes only a few visits to the banks of the UAE to notice the many people who ‘sign’ their deposit or withdrawal forms with their fingerprint or when one flies internationally, the number of people who ask others to fill in their Landing Card.

In his ground-breaking speech Shaikh Mohammed, Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was not inattentive to this major challenge as he said: “How are we [the Arab region] to cope with this change [when] the rate of illiteracy is still the highest in the world?”

While many of the ‘knowledge’ initiatives have to do with scholarships and assistance for tertiary students the best place to start is by overhauling and ensuring the highest standard of education to pre-school and primary schools in the UAE. Not only will this build a solid foundation of literacy but it will address the other fundamental challenge which is tackling the love of reading.

The Challenge of Motivation
It would be interesting to test high school and university students, not only in the UAE but in different countries of the world to see how many books they have read that appear on the Kalima 100 list. Test yourself!

Then, just assume that the reading of this Literary Top 100 will deepen our learning and spark a new House of Wisdom (Dar al-Hikma) leading to another scientific and intellectual awakening of the Arabs and Muslims. How ever does one motivate people to read just one of these books, let alone to complete the entire canon? To a generation being nurtured on reading not much more than an email, a reply on Facebook or an SMS message, this is perhaps the greatest challenge.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: One Thousand and One Nights, كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة Alf layla wa layla

The Kalima Project's first translations
The Acharnians/The Knights, Aristophanes
The Aeneid, Virgil
A Briefer History of Time, Hawking
The Complete Odes and Epodes, Horace
Greek Anthology, Archilochus, Alcaeus, Anacreon, and Simonides
Helen/Cyclops, Euripides
Poems, Du Fu (Tu Fu)
The Progeny, Sophocles
Galeni Opera Omnia/Corpus Medicorum Graecorum, Galen
Palimpsest, Archimedes
Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers: A Complete Translation of the Fragment at Diels, Various
Film Form, Eisenstein
In Praise of Folly, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus
Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno, Horkheimer
The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, John Maynard Keynes
Canzoniere, Petrarch
The Complete Essays of Montaigne Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Montaigne
Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
Middlemarch, George Eliot
The New Life, Dante Alighieri
Paradise Regained, Milton
Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke
Troilus and Criseyde, Geoffrey Chaucer
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Isaac Newton
Sidereus Nuncius; Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems; Two New Sciences, Galileo Galilei
The Ethics Of Spinoza: The Road to Inner Freedom, Spinoza
Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, Bruno
Leviathan, Hobbes
Logic, Hegel
Logical Investigations, Husserl
Art History: vol. 1, Stokstad
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Lewis
Inside Music, Haas
Towards a New Architecture, Le Corbusier
A History of Architectural Theory, Kruft
Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy, Næss
The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics, Penrose
Godel, Escher, Bach (20th Anniversary Ed), Hofstader
The Age of Extremes, Hobsbawm
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, Greenspan
The Birth of Europe, Le Goff
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon
The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, Watson
The Films in My Life, Truffaut
Freud: A Life for Our Times, Gay
Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance, Saliba
The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Wright
The Struggle for Master of Europe, A J P Taylor
The Anatomy of Revolution, Brinton
Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition, Friedman
Competitive Strategy, Porter
Kafka on the Shore, Murakami
The Executive in Action: Managing for Results, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Effective Executive, Drucker
The Halo Effect and Eight Other Business Delusions that Deceive Managers, Rosenzweig
Making Globalization Work, Stiglitz
The Middle East (Sociology of Developing Societies), Asad
Reading Capital, Althusser, Rancière
Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour, Von Neumann, Morgenstern
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, Hoffer
What is Globalization, Beck
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: vol. 1, M T Anderson
The Case for Literature, Gao Xingjian
Collected Stories, Singer
The First Man, Camus
The Higher Power of Lucky, Patron
The Inheritance of Loss, Desai
The Kite Runner, Hosseini
The Pickup, Gordimer
Pipi Longstocking, Lindgren
Selected Poems, Milosz
Something to Answer For, P H Newby
The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner
Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein
The Western Canon, Bloom
The Word, The Text, and The Critic, Edward Said
The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, Kurzweil
Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature; Discussion with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Physics, Niels Bohr
Cellular Automata and Complexity, Wolfram
The Chemical Bond: Structure and Dynamics, Zewail
Cracking the Genome: Inside the Race to Unlock Human DNA, Davies
Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature, Weinberg
The Eighth Day of Creation, Judson
Engines of Creation, Drexler
Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, Buss
The Feynman Lectures on Physics including Feynman's Tips on Physics: The Definitive and Extended Edition, Feynman
In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, Gribbin
On the Meaning of Relativity, Einstein
Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory, Planck
Punctuated Equilibrium, Gould
Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory, Heisenberg
The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, Dirac
The Scientist as Rebel, Dyson
Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, 25th Anniversary Edition, Wilson
Uncertainty: Uncertainty, Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science, Lindley
Difference and Repetition, Deleuze
The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, Lacan
The Future of Human Nature, Habermas
Il Segno, Eco
Margins of Philosophy, Derrida
Charlemagne and Mohammed: The Arab Roots of Capitalism, Heck

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Powering the UAE Economy

The UAE needs an additional 6600 MW ($5.1 billion) capacity by the year 2010 to power its projected economic growth.

According to BP's 2007 Statistical Review of World Energy, electricity production in the Middle East grew 8.9 per cent between 2005 and 2006, faster than the growth recorded in any other region, including Asia Pacific, which grew by 8.5 per cent. Yet, power production was to scale up to the soaring demand.

"More importantly from the global perspective as Mid East power production rises to meet surging demand, more hydrocarbons that might once have been exported are instead being burned to create electricity for local consumption. And that means less oil and natural gas will reach the global market," the report said.

The creation of the GCC Power Grid, a multi-billion-dollar project that will link the six GCC countries with an integrated electricity grid by 2010 is expected to give a fillip to the power scenario, even as the six nations pump in major investments into the expansion of the national and regional power grids.

In United Arab Emirates, the government plans to expand its 9,500 MW of installed capacity by over 50 per cent over the next 10 years.

Source: To read a more extensive report about the UAE and the GCC countries, check this link:

‘GCC Power Demand Increases 100,000 Megawatts’, Bahrain Tribune, MENAFM.COM, 22 December 2007.

Friday, December 21, 2007

USA Puts the Squeeze on UAE Against Iran

A Financial Times article (21 December 2007), entitled ‘Dubai gets the message as US steps up Iran sanctions pressure,’ analyses well the current dynamics in international relations between this trio.

Dr Geoff Pound

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reducing Traffic Accidents on UAE Roads

UAE High Traffic Injury Rates
The UAE has another world record and this time it is a record to be concerned about. Traffic injury rates are among the highest in the world in the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates is seeking to do something about this problem. It has ditched the alarming and graphic TV campaigns used extensively in other countries as these have been shown to have little effect.

The UAE is hiring Canadian injury prevention specialist Dr Peter Barss who has been overseeing workshops in UAE high schools, delivered by trained medical students. These have shown statistically significant differences in safety knowledge and attitudes to road safety. Barss is in Queensland, Australia at present conducting seminars and speaking about his work in the UAE.

Country’s Safety Culture
Understanding a country's safety culture is an important factor, according to Dr Barss. He said, “There are varying degrees of a safety culture in different countries. In Sweden, people are very safety conscious. Energy absorbing roadside barriers are being introduced there. At the other end of the spectrum are developing countries, some of them very wealthy, where destiny and faith are strong beliefs and there is a fatalism associated with whether a road crash is going to happen.”

In ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله
The Arabic term, in ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله has a richness of meaning and the concept is common to other faiths as well as to Islam. It is translated as ‘God willing’ or ‘If it is God’s will’. It is a valuable rider so that we are encouraged to make plans but offer them to higher wisdom, filtering, adjustment or dismissal by God. “Please get your homework done by next Tuesday,” says the teacher. “Yes, in ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله,” says the student. Like all good things, in ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله can be distorted or wrongly used to absolve oneself from personal responsibility.

Getting back to the road, Dr Barss is hinting at the way that in ša’ Allāh إن شاء الله can be used fatalistically—“If an accident happens, it happens.” A distorted understanding can also mean that this will happen regardless or what I do and don’t do so there is no point in buckling up the safety belt. Taken one notch further is the erroneous and prevalent view that the doing up of one’s safety belt is a sign of a lack of trust in the power of God to protect and care for the driver.

In the UAE a passenger got into the car and immediately did up her safety belt. The driver took this as an affront to her driving ability and said, “Don’t you trust my driving?”

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

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Another car accident in the UAE.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fujairah Information

Following my recent post about the many questions people are asking about Fujairah, I have posted a basic Information resource about Fujairah that I started long ago for my personal use.

This list is incomplete with lots of gaps.

I plan to update this and would welcome people suggesting items to be included and pointing out mistakes or links that don’t work.

It might be a good idea to bookmark the site.

I am posting the link on this ‘Experiencing the Emirates’ site because many of the enquiries come from outside Fujairah and the UAE and from people who are searching for Fujairah information online.

The Fujairah Information posting has links to maps, weather information, photographs, tourist hot spots etc and it can be found at the Fujairah in Focus site by going to this Internet address:

Fujairah Information

Dr Geoff Pound

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tiger Woods Gives the UAE a Lesson

Apologies for Dubai
An article in India’s Mail Today (Friday, December 14, 2007) caught my attention when I was stranded last week at the Delhi Airport (an experience that I have written about elsewhere).

The newspaper printed a story about the decision of Tiger Woods to forego playing at the Dubai World Championship in 2009, which happens to be the richest golf tournament in the world.

Different Priorities
On the surface, Tiger’s decision is a major blow to the UAE’s golfing public and to the extensive television audience around the world. But further reflection reveals that Tiger Woods is giving to the UAE and to the world a much greater gift—a vital lesson about the things that are truly valuable in life and the importance of keeping one’s priorities.

Tiger’s Choice—the Clubs or the Cubs?
So what is preventing Tiger from showing up in Dubai to collect a potential pay check of £1.8m? The Mail Today misled it’s readers by giving the headline, ‘Tiger’s too busy for Dubai riches’. The opposite is true as Tiger will be absent because of family responsibilities and the desire not to be consumed by his work.

The World No 1 has just had the longest break of his career, the first seven weeks of which he never touched a club. I have written elsewhere (Tiger Woods on the Joy of Shaping Lives and Anointed With Delight) about some of the other ways that Tiger Woods has been a superb model to golfers and others who yearn to be at the top of their game and calling. Here are a few more lessons that we can deduce from the golfing champion.

Equal Opportunity for Growth
Recently Tiger’s wife Elin went skiing while he stayed at home looking after their baby daughter, Sam.

Statistics reveal that men get more satisfaction out of the marriage relationship than women, probably because traditionally men have more opportunity to get out and work and engage in activities and courses that give them stretch and joy. To maintain and enrich a relationship it is important to aim that each partner will get equal opportunity for growth and pleasure, perhaps not always at the same time but over the course of their relationship. Tiger and Elin’s decision for him to stay and for her to enjoy her sport is a fine example of this principle.

No Abdication of Parental Responsibilities
Instead of Tiger and Elin hiring a baby minder while they both skied the slopes they decided that parenthood was too important a responsibility to palm off to others. Tiger gives an insight into the reason why he stayed at home when he said, “Incredible how fast they change and grow, isn’t it?”

Time to Value Children
Woods spoke of what he enjoys about being at home with his daughter rather than on the fairway with his golfing partners:

“The thing I’ve noticed most about becoming a father is how you appreciate the little things. Even the sleepless nights and the difficulties sometimes when she gets sick.”

There will be a long line of other golfers who will queue up to take Tiger’s place at the Dubai World Championship but there is no one else who can assume his responsibilities as father to his children.

Like Father Like Son
The setting high of family responsibilities appears to be a quality that has been passed down the family line. However, Tiger Woods confessed, “I said when my father passed away that I felt like I didn’t spend enough time with him, even though I was there as much as I could. I wanted to be sure that I truly appreciated these days with my daughter.”

The Gift of Absence
Tiger Woods will not be gracing the people of the UAE with his style and his presence at the Dubai World Championship in 2009. His absence and the knowledge that he will be at home with his family will be an even greater gift that he will give to the UAE.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Tiger and Elin Woods.

Check out the questions that visitors and international tourists are asking about the UAE city and emirate of Fujairah on:
Fujairah in Focus.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Getting to ‘Can Do’ Dubai by ‘Can’t Do’ Air India

Air India passengers were greeted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday 13 December 2007 with the welcome news that Flight 747 from Delhi to Dubai, scheduled to depart at 8.50pm, was on time.

Little did the passengers know that after check-in, immigration and security they would be subjected to a horrendous experience by Air India of Kafkaesque proportions.

Information Fog
If a plane had been on time and available passengers would have departed 2-3 hours late but the descent of the fog began to look like a longer detention was in store.

The fog on the tarmac, however, was nothing compared to the fog within the terminal. At first the plane was delayed until 10.00pm and then this was extended to 3.00pm. Apart from this information appearing on the video monitors no information was given and when an Air India official was cornered and asked to explain, what followed was a series of false statements and a story that was made up.

No information was communicated via the public address system. Questions were met with a blank face, some failed attempts to get information from Bombay where there was a plane being readied and a massive passing of the buck to the next official who was higher up on the Air India ladder.

Health Risks Ignored
With every waiting hour caused by the delay, the prospect of not showing up for work responsibilities in Dubai and the news from anxious relatives who were waiting, the passengers were getting stressed.

While other companies like Kuwait Airlines were accommodating their stranded passengers in nearby hotels Air India said that there were no hotel beds available in Delhi.

Many sleep-deprived passengers on Flight 747 admitted to feeling dizzy and suffering from claustrophobia as they were not permitted to move from the terminal. Mothers with infants were seeking to calm their children and were obviously not prepared for such a marathon wait.

Customer Care Nonexistent
Hours passed and no customer care was initiated. When bottled water was requested an Air India official came, dumped a carton of bottled water on the floor and quickly departed. Customers were treated like animals. The quantity of water was totally insufficient and its availability was also not communicated via the PA system. Passengers on other airlines were given boxes of food to tide them over.

By 5.30am, when Air India passengers said they were hungry, they were given a cup of tea. Only when Air India was told that breakfast was desired did they make some food of sorts available in one of the airport cafes. Every action by Air India was a response to customer pleas. The airline was totally lacking in initiative and feeling for how those under their charge were faring. As the national airlines this was an absolute disgrace and it reflects badly on the Indian government and its citizens.

Fog Lifts Outside but Thickens Inside
By 10.00am planes from other airlines were arriving and departing but there was no sign of action by Air India. Public announcements to inform passengers of Flight 747 were non-existent. Calls for the Duty Manager to come and explain were rejected but after several hours and further requests the Duty Manager cowardly said he would see two passenger representatives.

Indifference and Defensiveness
The two representatives told the story and communicated the points where Air India was negligent. However, all they encountered from the Duty Manager and his minions was nonchalance, indifference and a total defense of their actions. Only when their lack of customer service was highlighted did one of the Air India officials begrudgingly admit an apology. For Air India it is obvious that the customer is never right.

When the Duty Manager was asked to come and explain to the passengers the reasons for the delay and to make an apology to everyone, he refused on the basis that people can get violent. He obviously had not walked around the airport and seen the armed police and security guards that could accompany him on such a mission.

It was almost 3.00pm and the representatives demanded that the passengers be given a meal. This was disallowed on the basis that the plane was on its way from Bombay and the food would take too long to prepare. Air India did not have a simple system whereby they could issue food vouchers so that stranded passengers could show their boarding pass and get refreshment from nominated food outlets in the terminal. Instead, the representatives were offered two free passes to the Maharaja Business Lounge as an attempt to appease them but this invitation was declined because of the total disregard by Air India of the basic needs of all the passengers.

Passenger Protest
After twenty harrowing hours a plane appeared, passengers were called on board and Flight 747 departed for Dubai, arriving three and a half hours later.

During this 24 hour ordeal the passengers turned their anger and boredom into constructive avenues such as calling media outlets and giving interviews.

This web site is one practical response and it has been established to collect the stories of the passengers. The site, Air India Flight 747 Passenger Protest, seeks to be one way of making their voices heard to Air India. It is also an attempt to inform the public of this company’s negligence and to warn prospective passengers to avoid subjecting themselves to Air India’s treatment of customer abuse.

People considering visiting India, especially the thousands who hope to arrive in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games in 2010, are hereby warned to avoid Air India at all costs.

Flight 747 passengers are demanding from Air India a formal apology, a complete refund of their fares and financial compensation for having to endure such disruption, suffering and inconvenience.

The new web site upon which will be posted further stories and reflection on this flight and airline is:

Air India Flight 747 Passenger Protest

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Air India Airbus--on the ground.