Dubai Consumer Mirror

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dubai Red Bull Flugtag 2005

I've been willing to post this earlier, but this whole tremor thing delayed my Dubai Red Bull Flugtag blog project. Don't have much to say, mainly photos to share with you.
We had a great time. The event was packed, I read in the papers next day that 35,000 people were there. Park must have been a disaster. Thankfully, Mrs. Moryarti recieved VIP invitations that came with a special parking pass (I love my wife!).
Anyhow, we got to the "Red Bull VIP lounge" and we were escorted in. The "lounge" was really nice .. free drinks, grilled burgers, stakes and hot dogs. There were Salad and desert bars, cushions, stools, tables, and (naturally) mountains of Red Bull cans were given away!

Knowing that i was destined to see things/people that could be "interesting", i got my camera along...

Welcoming committee: ladies were friendly - didn't see them do much, they were just friendly.

This guy i couldn't understand.. check out the logo on his cap, very courteous of him, NOT

I guess they were trying to have a yabadabado time ..

The Mexican mariachi was there ... all the way from Madras! ;)

"yah man! we gots to beat da white man - we need a navagashon to win da revoloshon!"

And guess who was sponsoring this team..

I thought this was a rated "G" event!

A couple of Ali baba's and a genie ?!

I couldn't figure these guys out ...

Cricket playing sumo wrestlers

Graduates, a Santa and an Austin Powers look-alike?

Dubai's version of the Village People..

The Cotton-eye Joe's in action..

Let the games begin: Thats one big mean "LOVE" machine!

That must hurt!

And they were all falling ..

and falling ..

and falling..

and falling..

and falling..

into the water...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Earthquake de' ja vu

Today marked my 4th earthquake experience. Though I didn’t feel the tremors, my wife did and she called me to check if I felt it or not. Sadly, the effect of the “white butter beans with tomato sauce” lunch offset any feelings of tremors or earthquakes.

My first ever encounter with this geological phenomena was in Kuwait. I also had two experiences in Cairo, Egypt.

I was young when the Kuwaiti one happened - it was a light tremor caused by a strong earthquake that hit Iran – I think it was about 20 years ago ... Not much to remember.

The other two Egyptian quakes i remember clearly:

Egyptian earthquake experience 1
I was in the American University in Cairo dormitory in Zamalek. It was the weekend, and I partied till 4 am the night before. At around 6 am, i felt the bed shaking franticly. For the first few seconds, it actually felt good in a very odd way; i think it was due to the fact that i was still in that "twilight-zone" of being between the state of consciousness and the total lack of it.

Then it hit me! It was an earthquake. I was still in my clothes from the night before (remember party till 4am?) I got up, i reached for my passport, plane ticket and my Walkman (don't ask me why).

I rushed to the floor below, and there were my friends: most of them sleeping like logs, I tried to get everyone to wake up... I reached my Lebanese/Australian friend’s room to find him standing in front of the mirror and applying hair gel.

Me: dude! Like …did you feel an earthquake..?
Lebo friend: yes ya man .. can’t you see I am getting ready to evacuate?

Anyhow, we went downstairs to the lobby. Thanks to my Lebo/Auzi friend’s hairdo, everyone got to the lobby before we did. There were girls in bathrobes and others wrapped in bed sheets. There were guys dragging their feet as they came out of other emergency exits and others crashing on the lounge sofas not bothering to find out whats going on.

We hung around until our security people told us to go back up to our rooms.

Egyptian earthquake experience 2
I think it was the same year. I was in uni, anthropology class to be specific. I suddenly felt the chair shaking the same way it would when the restless student sitting behind you rests his leg or foot on the back of your chair.

I remember feeling annoyed, turning around, giving the guy behind me a mean look, and pulling my chair away. I was so wrong..

While noticing that I kept shacking with the chair, i started seeing alarmed students rushing out of classes next door and heading toward the stairs.

Our professor’s reaction, god bless her heart, was very soothing. She stood up, calmly walked to the door and said: "looks like there was a light tremor ... do you guys wanna continue class?" one girl, known for being too emotional, broke in tears and said that she wants to go home.

We stayed in class..

Friday, November 25, 2005

Dubai Air Show 2005

Just thought of sharing with you a few snapshots from the event ...

AH-64 Apache helicopter gunship - The one in this photo belongs to the
UAE Air Force and was engaged in real combat situations in Kosovo

The magnificent SAAB Gripen, star of the airshow... too bad
the Swedish don't make cars that look that good!
(i took the first photo, the second is from SAAB website)

F16 Fighting Falcon - jewel of the UAE Air force.
The original F-16 was designed in 1984 as a lightweight air-to-air day fighter. It proved itself for
superior multi-role responsibilities transformed the first production F-16s into multi-role fighters

F15 Eagle. Tactical fighter that played a major roll in operation desert storm (KSA AIR FORCE). Known for its extreme maneuverability advantages and for its ability to gain and maintain air superiority.

A10 Fairchild Thunderbolt, commonly known as the Warthog . Low speed close
land support tank and unit grounds hunter. Its Gatling gun in
front has the capacity of firing up to 4200 rounds/min.

MIG 29 Fulcrum, excellent maneuverability and control at subsonic speeds. Designed for Air-to-air combat with air to ground mission capabilities. Got very bad publicity after constantly being shutdown during gulf war II (I blame the iraqi pilots for that).

Front: US Navy E-2C Hawk-eye AWAC - for early warning and sky surveillance.
This aircraft is
designed to operate on aircraft carriers.
Back: Lockheed C-5 Galaxy: heavy logistics transport aircraft. Can travel from Baghdad to Germany in 3 hours

View from the navigator seat in the C-5 Galaxy. It requires 3 people only to fly this huge aircraft: pilot, navigator and loader.

C-5 Galaxy can carry about 56 tons of men and/or equipment. It can be transformed to be a fully operational 100-bed aerial hospital.

B1 bomber: long-range, multi-role, heavy bomber - each costs around $200 million. Very intimidating looking aircraft.

Emirates Airbus A 380 - do I need to say more?

...hope you enjoyed the tour

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Lost Identity

Seems like someone out there doesn't really like me that much ...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Why do you blog?

If you were one of the few frequent visitors to my humble blog, you might have noticed that on UAE community, the Dubai Consumer Mirror link was tagged "updated" all day long yesterday. Although, there wasn't much activity happening on my latest post, the action was taking place somewhere else.

Zaydoun, a Kuwaiti blogger whom i hope i could have the honor in personally meeting him one day, came across my 'On Kuwait' post. His reaction and what followed was unbelievably overwhelming.

See for yourself here.

I hope I made a slight difference. Not necessarily a major one, but at least informed a few bloggers here about Kuwait and some of the great things Kuwaiti people are doing. I also hope I laid another brick in the bridge connecting our great blogger community together.

Please ask yourself this question: Why do you spend countless hours ogling your monitor and getting chocked up with words and expressions? Why do you blog? Do you have a purpose for blogging? If its for pointless (and i stress pointless) ranting, then good for you; join the rest ....

When i was invited to bloggerland by Secret Dubai, I was like: "yeah sure ... why not". Its only now I figured out one of my purposes for blogging...

Friday, November 18, 2005

A quick question..

Why is it that Dubai builds a "city" for Internet, media, sports...etc; but when it comes to knowledge .. it builds a "village"?!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Every morning

On my way to work ...

The Bright sun is shining...

Birds are singing....

The smell of hot fresh aromatic coffee .....

and this ...




Saturday, November 12, 2005

RANDOM POST - Ten Commandments of Elevators

In the midst of Dubai's skyscraper derby, it would be only natural to think that we will be using more elevators than anytime before. And on this jolly occasion, i would like to highlight a few tips on the decorum of using those mechanical marvels. Something like the Ten Commandments of Using Elevators.

1. Thou shalt not press the UP button if you are going DOWN.

Or vice versa. Elevator UP/DOWN call buttons indicate your desire to whether go UP or DOWN – its THAT simple. If you were in an upper floor trying to go down; you press down. If you think that because you are upstairs, and pressing UP means asking the elevator to come UP to you, do everyone a favor and take the friggen stairs.

2. Thou shalt not press the elevator call button repeatedly, frantically and obsessively.

Though they were created in the late 19th century, elevators are intelligent creations and they do get it from the first time. Pressing the elevator call button at the speed of a 100 clicks/second will not make it arrive any faster or ignore the rest of the floors in the building. So keep your pants on and wait like the rest.

3. Thou shalt not smoke, burp or fart in an elevator.

Even if you were alone, that doesn't mean that the elevator won't stop at a floor and innocent human beings might come on board with you or after you disembark. So, if you feel the urge to discharge any lethal emissions, take a fart/burp walk before you catch the lift … and I am sure you can hold your nicotine-rush for 15 seconds.

4. Thou shalt not ask stupid questions when taking elevators.

The flashing arrows on top or next to elevators are not Christmas decorations. Thanks to LCD technology, all elevators have brightly lit indicators signing out their direction. So, instead of looking like an idiot and wasting everyone's time asking dumb questions like "up or down?", pahhhleeeeaas take a quick glance at the flashing arrows and make up your damn mind.

5. Thou shall not squeeze thyself in crammed elevator.

There is absolutely no need to stuff yourself in that moving human sardine can. Even if you were in a hurry. I mean, lets face it, you will be only rushing yourself to what? To get stuck in the world's larges parking lot - SZR. Chill out and grab the next elevator.

6. Thou shalt honor 'first-come-first-in' statute

The fact that you don't have any consideration to personal space, the concept of queuing or like a spineless reptile, you slipped yourself through the crowds to land right next to the elevator door, does NOT give you the right to take the elevator before the people who were there before you.

7. Thou shalt not obstruct movement of other elevator passengers

If you are next to the door, GET OUT. The "ladies first" rule doesn't always apply in elevators. Especially if the unlucky damsel is stuck way at the back of the lift. By you standing like a horny temple gargoyle, pretending to hold the door open for her, you are standing in the way you numbwitz.

8. When choosing a floor, thou shalt make sure yer 100% awake, conscience and free of any chemical or natural muscle relaxants.

There is nothing more annoying than that clumsy button pusher who takes him/her 3 or 4 wrong presses until the right floor button is hit. If you are like that, you should be in mental institute hitting Prozac or Valium instead.

9. Thou shalt not get too close to others in elevators.

Even though you are confined to a small footprint, that doesn't mean you get your body as humanly possible close to the lady person in front of you. She is not enjoying neither your brutal invasion to her personal space nor your body odor. As a matter of fact, the reason why she is so quiet about you crawling up to her, is because she is visualizing how many ways can she shove the emergency telephone handset up your @$$.

10. Upon entering the elevator, thou shalt peacefully greet others

Come on now, cheer up. Even for 15 seconds, forget all about DEWA bills, etisalat bills, credit card bills, rent due, car loan, personal loan, second credit card bills, traffic jams, bosses, clients, locals, expats, sub-cons, bad customer service, wife, girlfriend, mistress, ... don't think any of that whack
. When entering an elevator, leave it all behind smile, say good morning, good evening or goodnight... and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blogger in Kuwait - Dining

Next to being the acclaimed GCC fashionistas, people in Kuwait luuurve to eat. No wonder the largest food company in the region (Americana) is Kuwaiti.

Anyways, On the second day of Eid, we decided to drop by Buffalo's, a TexMex thats specializes in .. Yep, Buffalo wings. They have all type of sauces: mild, hot, very hot, nuclear hot, BBQ, ...etc. And the wings you get there are nothing like the one you get at Ch!lli's .. oh no .. These wings mean business baby!

After lunch, we went to Marina Mall (the one in Kuwait, not Abu Dhabi). After some serious credit card damage, we dropped by The Chocolate Bar, something like the one in Harrods in Laandan. Your's truly decided to kick it off with an amazingly energetic "Chocolate Shot"...

Mrs. Moryarti asked me if I can share a Chocolate Fondue, which basically was pieces of strawberries, bananas, sponge cake and choc-chip cookies ready to be devoured after dipping em in 3 types of chocolate dips: dark, milk and white chocolate. How could i resist?

"sinfully delicious" :)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dubai Med!a Show

In GITEX, IT companies demo their software and/or hardware to their visitors. In Auto shows, car manufacturers display their cars inside out and schedule test drives. In construction exhibitions, developers display highly detailed miniatures of their estates and properties..

But what would an advertising agency showcase in a media/marketing exhibition?

1. a funky stand
2. great freebies and brochures
3. hot young promo girls with skimpy outfits
4. Non of the above

If you answered anything but 4, do yourself a favor and do NOT pursue a career in marketing.

One of the main reasons organizations participate in exhibitions is to demonstrate key service/product offering to potential customers and investors. And an advertising agency's core offering revolves around "creativity".

This weeks Dubai Media Show is the best opportunity for advertising agencies to show themselves at the top of their game. Sadly, only 2 or 3 agencies did that.

Organizationally, the event was OK - no problems to get into the halls and parking was easy. Its the some exhibitors that were royal screw ups this time: very poor visitor attendance/traffic, non of the major big players (Leo Burnett, Team Y&R, Publicis, FP7 ..) were present and whoever exhibited -especially the ad agencies- they could've been a bit more creative.

One exception was Saatchi & Saatchi. Their stand was in the form of a private vip lounge padded with red velvet cushions, fluffy red hearts pillows and a big red "Lets Make Love" sign on the top of the stand. I spoke to Saatchi's regional creative director who told me that the main idea is to offer drained visitors a place to stretch their feet and chill out with the Saatchi guys.

Personal, imaginative and leaves visitors with that "it felt comfortable to deal with that agency" feeling.

The only other exception was B Marketing. This young agency is run by a very active PR/Event management professional who about 2 years ago convinced a group of investors to start a new agency and called it B. The agency is doing well and employs a number of good talents.

Since they work intensively with agencies as sub contractors, I think B's objective at this event was to Maximize awareness. To do that, B decided to pull a "stunt" - they constructed a boxing ring next to an audience stage. They got two professional Mau Tai (Thai Kickboxing) champions who staged a number of good rounds - the theme was "Flies like a Butterfly, Stings like a B". It gathered crowds from all over the place.

All the other so called "creative" houses were very passive, sitting down, nibbling on free snacks and hoping they can spot someone with a badge other than "EXHIBITOR" on it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

On Kuwait

© Kuwait Towers - photo taken by Mrs. moryarti

In less than 12 hrs, i will be flying back to Dubai. I spent Eid holidays with my parents who have been living in Kuwait for the last 3 decades. It was a great stay, I will post more details on my visit soon.

“Whats Kuwait like?” I get that question a lot. “I love it!” is always my answer.

But I listen to what other people have to say about Kuwait and the thing I hear most is related to Kuwaitis, their Alfa-GCC national attitude and their over-exaggerated sense of style (both men and women).
The way I see it, and as far as Kuwaitis are concerned, once you break the big thick wall that surrounds them, they are wonderful people to know and to deal with. Plus they are very very good business people.

But why do I love and respect this nation?... Here is a bit more on Kuwait – something up-close and personal.

In 1961, Kuwait was granted sovereignty and became one of the first GCC nations to run its own business thru the ruling Al Sabah Family. The combination of wise leadership and the discovery of oil resulted in a country that became a landmark destination for the Levant intellect, especially fleeing Palestinian and Lebanese teachers, doctors and engineers from war-torn areas.

Kuwaitis saw the potential and value these experienced Arab expats carry and syndicated more specialists, especially from Egypt and Syria. Soon enough and during the 70s, Kuwait was exporting and sharing its experience in education, judicial systems and medical services to its young GCC nations – including the UAE.

Before 1990, Kuwait was spearheading the GCC on many different levels. Commercially, Kuwaiti companies were known to be some of the most professional and almost every major MNC had a representative office in Kuwait. Socially and culturally, Kuwait was the home of many great artists, musicians and scholars – Kuwaiti media production was the best in the GCC, if not the best after Egyptian.

Kuwaitis were also good philanthropists. Backing up the arab and muslim causes and housing many NGOs, like The Kuwaiti Development Fund, a Kuwait based NGO that looked after many social and economic development projects all over the middle east and the rest of the 3rd world, especially in Africa.

Kuwait looked after its people – medication and schooling is free – it was only until 2 years back, expats started paying for their medical checkups (a flat fee of KD 1 ($3.5)) for all general checkups and it includes medication. And although Kuwait operates the world’s largest water desalination plant, energy (water, electricity and fuel) is very cheap – the water/electricity bill for a 2br apartment never exceeds $10 to $13 a month.

On the internal political front, there has always been a 2 way dialogue between Al Sabah and the Kuwaiti people. The first exercise of democracy (The Nation’s Assembly) in the GCC was in Kuwait.

August 2nd, 1990 (Iraqi invasion) is marked by observers as the beginning of almost a decade of recession. After an 8-month brutal occupation, Kuwait was suffering from a traumatized community (Kuwaitis were never exposed to the brutality of war, occupation and terror A la Saddam). The issue of Bedoun (people with no nationality) also struck hard after the invasion.

The financial bill Kuwait had to pay to get the Iraqis out of Kuwaiti was a hefty one. the Kuwaiti civil society was demanding a more active role in the political process and it was divided between an overwhelming Islamic current against a liberal, democratic minority.

And on top of all that, neighboring Saddam was holding about 700 Kuwaiti POWs as hostages and he occasionally stirred up the area by randomly mobilizing a few militarily pieces along the Kuwaiti borders from time to time.

During that time, few sectors were performing well in Kuwait. Telecommunications was one of them. Kuwait was the first Arab nation to offer Internet to the public. The mobile telecommunication sector has always been open and deregulated and Kuwaiti based Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC-Vodafone) is one of theeee major telco players in the region.

By 2003 – things were getting better. No more Saddam upnorth and Kuwait didn’t have to pay heavy security fees to the Americans anymore. Starving Iraqi consumers and businessmen flooded the Kuwaiti markets. Shipping orders from Iraq operating companies were pouring on Kuwaiti service providers, especially shipping, logistics and transportation: (PWC Logistics, a $2.6 billion Kuwaiti-based logistics company that is considered one of the largest in the world.)

Soaring oil prices helped create a public surplus for 2 consecutive years and the tight-grip policy on public budgets is there no more, pushing Government expenditure to the limit and leaving local businesses singing with joyful profits.

Socio-politically, reforms were taking place with passing the Woman-Vote law. The National Assembly is slowly moving toward a moderate majority, and the 13 years old POW file was closed when -sadly- most of the POW remains were found in Iraqi mass graves after the US lead invasion. The closure of the POW file got the country out of a morning that lasted for over a decade.

Less than 2 years ago, Kuwait rolled out a new and well defined regulation that allows foreigners to own property on a renewable 99 years lease, that evoked a healthy and steady construction sector growth.

Also, a few months back, Kuwait announced that all expats with +30 years residency are eligible for Kuwaiti citizenship. Applicants with professional qualification like doctors, engineers get and expedited application process (my Egyptian dentist got it).

And if you carry a western passport, traveling into Kuwait is much easier than before. Like the UAE, you get your visa from the airport. Though, unless you have a pre-issued VISA, non GCC Arabs will find it difficult to enter Kuwait.

These last few years witnessed many Kuwaiti businesses aggressively moving to the regional and international market place. Specifically companies like Al Shayaa (Starbucks, River Island, Debinham’s ..) Group Seven/Zaman (Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti, Virgin) and Americana (Pizza Hut, Hardee’s, KFC, Chilies’ ..etc). Kuwaiti companies like Habchi & Chalhoub and Villa Moda helped men and women look and smell better by bringing A-list brands like Dior, Gucci, Prada and LVMH.

Retail business isn't the only thing Kuwaitis were good at. There are major companies like Al Bahar, the regional representative of Caterpillar (CAT) construction machinery that’s building houses, towers, malls, airports ..etc all over the Middle East. Also, if it wasn't for companies like KIPCO (Showtime), western entertainment would still take a few years to make it your silver screen.

There is still a great deal of issues that needs to be addressed in Kuwait. However, everyone is anticipating a major Kuwaiti comeback and they are waiting for things to cool down in neighboring Iraq.

I hope this gives a better idea on Kuwait, because as for myself, Kuwait will always be on my Radar..