Dubai Consumer Mirror

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dubai's trouble shooting strategy = keep it fun

Here is a no brainer

Dubai's trouble shooting strategy = whenever there is a problem, solve it by making it someone else's.

Other than an alarmingly increasing air pollution levels, rising petty & financial crime rates, 1000s of cheques bouncing back everyday and more road rage and car accident related deaths than ever, one of the most adverse effects of the never-ending rent hike rat race in Dubai, is that the demographic structure of the city is extremely distorted. Meaning that a huge number of people who work in Dubai, don't live in it.

So, what happens is that every morning, atleast 250,000 people travel in and out of Dubai using 2 roads only, bringing the city to a virtual stand-still.

So, the problem with Dubai traffic is not the lack of roads or bridges. Its the fact that population grows on an average of 15% if not 20% from 9am to 5pm. And they all come with their cars from one direction - Sharjah.

So, a quick and easy solution would be: put a leash on Dubai's greedy landlord mob and get that balance back where people who work in Dubai, live in Dubai.

But wait, there is a more FUN solution.

Just work on traffic inside dubai and make it so smooth, so that all those cars coming in/to Sharjah just swishe by Dubai streets and pours back into Sharjah's 1970s road system and get stuck there.

Don't you just love this place? :)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

American Cars

I was never a fan of American cars, but take a look at this tiny monster!

More here!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sh Zayed Road Beats 5th Avenue

What's interesting about this blurry shot I took of the New York branch of Mashreqbank is that according to the Bank's
CEO, its costing him Dhs 115/sqf to have that place in New York. We are talking about a location on 5th Avenue in Down Town Manhattan; It doesn't get any snazzier than that.

Funny thing is, the same branch on Sh. Zayed Road in Dubai is costing Mr. Al Ghurair Dhs 275/sqf.

Dubai is not going thru a real estate bubble .. Yeah right :)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ramadan Kareem, lets keep it that way

Wishing everyone Ramadan Kareem.

Just to set a few facts straight for y'all who are still new to this place in this time of year.

Fasting Ramadan is when Muslims don't eat or drink from dawn till dusk

Not completely: Its an examination of self discipline to cleanse one's mind, body and soul from anything that satisfies the urges (in general). It is to teach people that there are others out there who are not as fortunate and who don't even have the privilege of basic needs such as food and water.

So in Ramadan, its not right to eat and drink yourself to death. During fasting, one is to hold urges like smoking, lust, anger, lying, random impulses such as the urge to beat the living daylights out of someone because he is a moron-on-wheels, the urge to slap the driver of the car next to you because he is a seasoned nose-explorer, the urge to shove your foot up the next door neighbor’s rear-end for being not so neighborly, the urge to honk sporadically at the White Nissan Sunny that’s hogging the far left lane at 45 kmph... and stuff like that.

When you see/experience any of the things above, and you will, just move away and move on …

Going to a Ramadan Tent is a daily religious ritual that all Muslims should follow

Wrong again; Many Muslims today go to more Ramadan Tents than they do to mosques. They spend more money on Shisha and snack food in a 1 month, than they ever did in donations, Zakat or charity in their entire life time. That's just wrong.

Fasting in Ramadan means Muslims do little or no work at all

Early Muslims went to war in Ramadan. There is nothing more divine and self disciplining than to struggle through the daily hardship of going to work to make ends meet while constraining self control. Those fasting laborers who spend 12hrs a day working under the scorching sun experience the true bliss of this holy month.

Ramadan means staying all night watching Arabic TV soaps and other forms of entertainment.

It also means staying all night contemplating, meditating and asking God for forgiveness for all the crap you've been doing all year long. Ramadan is a great opportunity to get closer to God, go through what you did wrong, and reach out to old friends and family you haven't spoken to in ages and so forth..

Iftar HAS to be a scrumptious 12 course meal

A LOT of food is wasted during Ramadan. I agree, no one said not to enjoy having a good Iftar meal; just bare in mind that while you do, there are many people like you in Iraq, Palestinian refugee camps, some parts of Africa and many other places where an Iftar meal during Ramadan is no different than any other time of the year: 1 tiny serving a day, if available.

Non-fasting people shouldn’t eat in front of Muslims

Like myself, many Muslims don’t mind it when non-fasting people eat or drink around them. Nevertheless, and out of consideration, if you do not fast, and end up being surrounded by fasting colleagues - you may wanna ask for permission if you can eat/drink/smoke/wear see-thru cloths/low cut tops/mini skirts/hip huggers with thongs sticking out … etc

Ramadan Kareem to all ..

Friday, September 22, 2006

Triple Shaft

What's up with customer service in this place? I am usually very tolerant with service-industry cock-ups... but this week has been a record breaker.

Shaft #1

Earlier this week, I invited a couple of customers over for a lunch meeting. We went to Carter's at Wafi City. It was a very good meeting and service was attentive. I asked for the bill and took care of it without checking.

Since it was a business lunch, it was "a reimbursable business expense". While doing the expense report 2 days later, I went thru the receipt and noticed an item that never made it to our table. It was a cream of pumpkin something with whatchamacallit sauce.

I know we never ordered it because we had a long argument whether to have desert or not. And we didn't. So, calling the restaurant 2 days later about this mistake doesn't make my case very solid.

So,Ii let it go.

Shaft #2
Three days ago, I went to wire some money home. After the agony of spelling my name, the recipients name, my address, recipient's saddresss, phone numbers, checking the info, correcting the details and redoing the entire process cause the system has an entry field saveing issue. 15 minutes later, transfer was done, got my reciept and walked away.

I reached home and there it was, somehow the numbers on the recipet didn't add up. It was like a mathmatical riddle: One dirham keeps on disappearing and no matter how I add up the numbers, I can't figuire our where is that missing dirham. Its only one dirham.. no major damage.

So, I let it go.

Yesterday, I walked into Starbucks and ordered a Tea and one skimmed Cappuccino. The lady labeled the paper cups the way they do in Starbucks, asked for Dhs 25 and give me the receipt: "You are number 89, sir".

The guy behind the counter was yelling #85. "4 more to go, lets kill time", I thought… looking around the place, the people and I took a quick glance at the slip in my hand and it said:

Tazo Tea Dhs 10
Latte Dhs 15
Total Dhs 25

Latte?... I don't care, as long as I get the skimmed cappuccino I asked for... which I did. One my way out, I glanced at the Menu board over the counter’s desk and it said:

Cappuccino ……… Dhs 14.

THAT’S IT. i am not getting shafted for the 3rd time.

I asked to see the manager and a guy with an apron on walked up. “…err….I’d like to see the guy with the white t-shirt if you don't mind".

Few minutes went by and Mr white t-shirt manager came. I explained to him the glitch and that it was not about the dirham (Yes it was). The manager was nice and accommodating. He did beg me to fill a customer feedback form, which I did.

On the way out, the manager was very apologetic, warm and promised he’d look into the matter so that it doesn’t happen again. But never offered to give me the 1 dirham back.

And that was, ladies and gents, Shaft No. 3

Have a nice weekend

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Belated tag

I was tagged by Harsha few months ago, but forgot all about it. Sorry Harsha for the delay.. here it goes.

1. What are you doing now: getting tagged
2. Wearing: boxers

1. Is: Weekend
2. Got any plans: Brunch with people I don’t really like
3. Goal: learn how to dodge having brunch with people I don’t really like
4. Dislikes about tomorrow: won’t be able to dodge having brunch with people I don’t really like

1. Number: 5
2. Song: tough one
3. Color: Silver

1. Missing Someone: Yeah
2. Mood: a bit agitated
3. Wanting: A Cheese Cake I had in a shop on Broadway Street in Manhattan

I am a cuddler: T
I am a morning person: Sometimes
I am a perfectionist: Hell Yeah
I am an only child: F
I am currently in my pajamas: If you consider boxers as PJs, then Yup
I am currently pregnant: Not that I am aware off
I am currently suffering from a broken heart: Nope, but been there
I am left handed: Nope
I am addicted to Blogging: Kindda
I am online 24/7: Sad but true
I am very shy around the opposite gender:
I can be paranoid at times: T
I currently have a crush on someone: F
I currently regret something that I have done: T
I enjoy country music: Yup
I enjoy smoothies: Throw in a bar of Snickers, and I will enjoy it for sure
I enjoy talking on the phone: Not really
I have a hard time paying attention at school/work: School/T – Work/F
I have a hidden talent: I can detect morons a mile away
I have a lot to learn: Nope, I am a know-it-all smartass
I have a secret that I am ashamed to reveal: no

1. Are you currently mad at someone? Yeah, but if I say who, the blog would be blocked
2. Which of your friends has the worst temper? I don’t hang around with them anymore .. I aint down with drama queens no more, Aaaaight!
3. Have you ever thrown something at anyone? Yup: Darts, money, dust bins, mobile phones, a UPS, shampoo-filled condoms, slippers, fire crackers, Ninja stars, CinnaBons, mud pies, black forest chocolate cake and rocks.
4. Ever had something thrown at you? Battery Acid (I shit you not), darts, black forest chocolate cake, toilet rolls, a squashed cockroach, rocks, and a bra once.
5. When you’re mad do you prefer to stare angrily or yell and scream? Did all the above

1. Has anyone ever thrown you a surprise party for you? Yup, my wife
2. Are you easily excited? No
3. What are you most excited about? Making money
4. If you won a million dollars what would be your first thought? How to make the second million
5. If you could have anything right now what would it be? Order a Cheese Cake

1. Name: Moryarti
2. Where were you born? Planet Arabia
3. What’s your main goal in life? To find one
4. How do you want to die? Knowing that after i kick the bucket, everyone I love will be alright

1. Sex before marriage? Depends
2. Gay Marriage? Whatever makes 'em happy
3. Lower the Drinking age? I don’t drink – so I don’t care
4. Recycling? Of course

1. Straight, Gay, Bi? Straight
2. Do you have a bf/gf? Married
3. Do you have a crush? Yeah, on a Porsche
4. How many beds did you lay in yesterday? 1
5. What color shirt are you wearing? Purple
6. Name one thing that you do everyday? Kiss my daughter
7. What color are your walls? White
8. How much cash do you have on you right now? AED 37
9. I can’t wait till…? I finish this tag
10. When was the last time you saw your dad? 3 months ago :(
11. What did you have for dinner last night? No dinner
12. What’s the last piece of clothing you borrowed from someone? I don’t borrow cloths, I steal them.
13. What website(s) do you visit the most during the day? Google
14. Does anything hurt on your body right now? Head

1. Have you ever failed a class? Yup
2. Have you ever sung in front of a crowd? Danced but never sung
3. Have you ever not taken a shower for 3 days? Yup – in a camp, took bird baths
4. Have you ever slept with a night light? That’s a dumb question
5. Have you ever danced in the rain? That’s kindda gay
6. Have you ever lied? Yes
7. Have you ever had contacts? Yes
8. Have you ever tripped over something stupid? A pebble while on a skateboard trying to show off in front of a crush when I was 14

1. Samosa, Pakora, Kebab: Shawarma
2. Bollywood, Lollywood, Hollywood: What the fuck is Lollywood?
3. Love marriage, Arranged marriage: I went with the first, but heard second ain’t bad either.
4. Honeymoon, no moon: honeymoon.
5. How many kids would u like 1,2, 3+: 2
6. Kulfi, Ice cream: What is Kulfi?
7. Shah ruk khan, Orlando Bloom: err.. I’d go for Scarlet Johansson
8. Meenar-e-Pakistan, Eiffel Tower: I think this tag was done by someone from Pakistan
9. Lahore, Khi, Islmbad: Yup, this tag WAS done by someone from Pakistan

Tag anyone? Hell no!

Zune or iPod?

I was never impressed by this whole iPod thing. The player is too big and the small one (Nano) has some serious performance issues. Plus, and as far as music entertainment is concerned, I am very happy with the 50hr playtime Sony Walkman mp3 player my brother got me on my birthday.

Thing is, I've been missing out on a lot of good TV shows like 24, lost ...etc; you know, because of all the traveling, long working hours, and mainly for spending more time being stuck in traffic than anything else.

A friend suggested getting the iPod with the MPEG4 player. Convert dvds to mpg4 files (or just download them :P ) and watch them while in the plane or when stranded in the 3hr pseudo-drive to work.

So, lately, I've been hitting Virgin, Plugins and CompuMe stores to check out which iPod, what colors, what accessories ..etc.

It was until I heard that
Microsoft is rolling out Zune.

According to engadget, Zune should be out in US markets around the holidays season this December. It also seems our friends in Gizmodo believe that Zune will actually take on iPod -
See here.

Me want ..

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Intelligent Traffic System in Dubai

Ok, Its great that Dubai is working very hard on rolling out an Intelligent Transportation System soon which The RTA announced a few months back. Also, there is lotsa talk about NOT having any Tolls or Road usage Fees... Even better..

If you've been driving around Dubai lately, you must have passed under several of those large-metallic-silver-erected-panels thingies that look like Futuristic traffic direction signboards.

Now, what those really are something like super-sized motion sensors.

Those sensors provide immediate and instantaneous road/traffic condition data based on cars movements running beneath them. All the panels in Dubai will be inter-connected to a central command/control hub. The road/car movement data that these sensors will provide are collected and processed into information and traffic reports such as average street speed, estimated travel time on road ...etc.

These reports can also be used and pushed to Traffic Police or even the public, in the form of SMS traffic alerts straight to your mobile or emails to your PC. Also, and with the proper adaptors, these reports could even be fed via GPRS to update your navigation application in your car or PDA.

Sounds awesome .. doesn't it?

But there is a flip side to this. These sensors-cum-sign boards create the perfect platform for one of the most crucial components of any Intelligent Transportation System: The
Electronic Toll Collection system.

So, for those who thought that Road Tolls in Dubai is just a silly idea and they won't happen, well think again. Road Tolls are just a few heartbeats away and will be implemented sooner than you think.

Just notice the locations of these signboard-like-panels, they are mainly scattered all over the entry points to Dubai.

There is one over Sh Zayed Road in the direction bound to Dubai coming from Abu Dhabi. There are several ones over the roads that take you into Dubai from Emirates road (Al Tuwar, Al Ghussais ..etc).

The one in Sharjah-to-Dubai highway is still laying on the right side of the road waiting to be erected. Of course there are also ones before bridges and over main roads like Al Maktoum, Al Garhoud, Al Khaleej, Sh. Rashid ... etc.

How this Electronic Toll Collection system can work:

It’s pretty simple really. First, you'll have to buy a pre-paid card with credit on it, just like the pre-paid phone cards. The card will have an embedded RFID tag (Radio Frequency Identification).

You will have to place the card on the dashboard or anywhere visible in the car.

Every time you pass by under one of these panels, the card will be detected by the transponders that are fixed on the panels.

The sensors then instantaneously recognize your card's unique ID and deducts the toll fee from your cards central database.

For argument's sake, let's say you buy a Dhs 30 toll-card and if the toll is for Dhs 3 per pass. That means your card is valid for 10 passes only.

Also, because of the interconnectivity of these panels, i think drivers can be able to choose to know which alternative routes are clear, and head there. The catch is, if you chose to drive thru a Toll area, you will have to pay for it.

If you, God forbid, don't have a card in your dashboard or carrying one with ZERO credit, the sensors will identify your vehicle as a "no-card" or "no-credit" and will automatically snap a picture of your car and a fine of maybe Dhs 200 will be slapped automatically.

Now, having said that. I am not sure how are they gonna tackle Dubai Residents vs non Dubai Residents driving in-out of Dubai. I mean, if I live in Dubai and I want to go to Sharjah. On my way back to Dubai, do I pay for for re-entering?

Tanswerer than, I think RTA will force Dubai registered cars to install boxes like this one to identify them as Dubai residents. But many Dubai registered car owners live in Sharjah and Ajman..

In that case, RTA might ask for users to present Dubai based home ownership/tenancy contracts. Fair enough…

But what about the people who share an homes with 10 other flat mates? What will the other flat mates do to prove they also live here? Or the people who are paying a monthly fee for a bed only in Dubai. How can he prove that he lives in Dubai? Or the people subletting a room only?‚Though subletting is illegal here, believe me, there are tens of thousands of such cases.

I am also not sure about how users will be able to monitor the balance on their cards. Most likely they will have solution for that in SMS updates, online credit check or an 800-number.

As much as I loath this system and its socio-economic impact, I honestly think it will have a drastic positive effect on the unbearable traffic and road conditions in Dubai. And driving will become a pleasure again.

People will then seriously consider car-pooling and use public transportation instead. These solutions are very much in use in several countries and cities world wide. They are quite popular in the US and Europe and the Far East.

Again, all above is hypothetical and I am not 100% sure if the Electronic Toll system will be in effect here in Dubai. I do, however, strongly believe this program will be in effect sooner than later.

I predict the program is in its final-touches stages with RTA. So until then, enjoy your free ride, cause it'll all be over soon.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A two-day weekend

Seems like the good doctor is seriously considering forcing private sector bosses to grant their overworked and underpaid slav…err… I mean employees a much longed for two-days weekend.

Given the way some private firms think, here is a quick dodge-the-new-law maneuver which I bet most 1-day weekend companies will rollout..

Labor Contract: pre new compulsory 2 day weekend law

Working days: 6 days a week
Basic Salary: Dhs 4000
Allowances: Dhs 1000
Total: Dhs 5000

Same labor contract: post new compulsory 2 day weekend law

Working days: 5 days a week + 1 day overtime
Basic Salary: Dhs 3500
Allowance Dhs 1000
Overtime: Dhs 500
Total: Dhs 5000

Wanna bet?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It's different this time

It's funny how some people are wondering why Muslims are reacting the way they are toward the Pope's latest comments ... well let me tell you why;

It's because the comments came from the POPE!

Those comments weren't made by some low life, fame-seeking newspaper editor. They came from the highest Christian authority on the planet.

When this whole Danish cartoon thing broke off, I was extremely against the way the Muslim masses reacted to it for many reasons. Mainly, because the perpetrators were not even worth a fragment of the attention they received.

But this case is different.

We are in a time when people of different races and religions need to come closer, not drift apart. The world always views the Pope as someone who brings minds together through love and forgiveness. The Pope was never an advocate of division or dispersion. Those last comments do nothing but widen the growing civilization gap between

The Muslim world is in both shock and disappointment. The Muslim world is in shock because it came from someone who is supposed to symbolize peace and advocate coexistence in a world that’s torn by differences and deviations. The Muslim world in disappointment because most Muslims believed that the Pope knows more about Islam than any other Christian.

I spoke to many Christian friends and all of them share my views.

I just hope things don't get worse

Friday, September 15, 2006

Arabic media at its best

Apologies in advance to non-Arabic speakers .. I translated a few snippets of this highly intellectual, thought provoking and mind stimulating debate.

Location: Orbit Studios - Cairo Today production set
Program Hosts: Amr Adeeb and Ahmad Moussa
Participating Guests: Dr. Abulhamid Kandeel, Chief Editor of Al Karama newspaper (opposition) and Mr. Karam Jabr (Gabr), Head of pro-government Rose El Youssef magazine.

Topic: Opposition Press Insulting the Egyptian President

The whole thing started when Kandeel started his opening speech with a fierce verbal barrage on the Egyptian el Presidente.

إنه -قنديل - يستيقظ كل صباح "حاطط الرئيس في دماغه يترصد له كل كلمة يقولها ولا أعرف كيف دخل أمثاله هذا المجال، إن هذا يشعرنا بالعار

Gabr: " He (Kandeel) wakes up everyday with nothing but the president and what on his mind … I don't know how did the likes of this person entered this field (journalism). This is shameful"

لم آت من مباحث أمن الدولة مثلك

Kandeel: "…I am not graduate from Mabaheth Amn Dawla (Intelligence/secret service)!" (Indicating that Gabr is a government informant)

الدولة لا تتشرف بأمثالك، الذين يبيعون ضمائرهم لأي دولة، خاصة الشنط اللي بتروح تجيبها من ليبيا وترجع

Gabr: "the country is not honored by the likes of yourself who sell their souls to any country, especially with those suitcases that you bring along from Libya!"

أمال هتتشرف بيك أنت وأشكالك، والشنط اللي بتقول إني بأرجع بها تعرفها مباحث أمن الدولة، واتحداهم أن يثبتوا ذلك، لأن كلهم في جزمتي

Kandeel: " Do you think the county is honored by people like you? and those bags which you are talking about, Mabaheth Amn Dawla know all about them and i challenge them to prove anything because they are all in my shoe" (that’s an All-Egyptian-style street insult)

عندما تقول إنك تتقيأ من الرئيس فإن الشعب كله يتقيأ منك لأنك شبهة في هذا البلد لأنك عميل للدول الأخري.. للعراق وليبيا

Gabr: When you say that the president makes you sick.... well the entire people is revolted by you because you are a suspicious character in this country. You are an agent to other states .. to Iraq and Libya..!"

أسمع حشرة تتحدث الآن.. انت اسمك إيه

Kandeel: I hear a bug speaking now .. what’s your name? (its like saying: Who the hell are you)

اسمي أشرف من اسمك، لأنك طبيب بيطري ومكانك في حديقة الحيوانات لتكشف عليهم

Gabr: " name is more honorable than your but cause you are a veterinarian and you belong to a zoo to inspect animals!"

يعني أكشف عليك

Kandeel: " ..want me to inspect you?" (hehehee... good one :) )

Then then kept exchaing profenity for some time.. one saying to the other that he bleongs to a barn, then other saying he should be a mental hospital... bla bla

مخبر حقير وليس صحفياً

Kandeel: "You are a low life informant and not a reporter!"

أنا طبيب بشري يا حمار.. وطالع الأول في الثانوية العامة يا جاهل هناك نوعان من الصحافة.. صحافة الأحرار وصحافة العبيد وكرم من الثانية

Kandeel: I am a physician you jack ass, not a vet and I ranked top of my class in higt school you moron.... There are two types of press. Journalists of the free and another one for the slaves. Karam belongs to the latter.

According to news, both journalists are being reprimanded by the Egyptian Press Syndicate. You can see the whole escapade live
here (courtesy of

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

American Dad

If you like
Family guy, you will love Amrican Dad!.

In my last visit to the US, I watched one episode on Cartoon Network and I was hocked. The next day I went to Barns & Nobel and got the complete Season 1 DVD Box-set.

Produced by
Seth MacFarlane, American Dad! is about The Smiths. A typical, everyday American family: Mr. Smith, a hard-line neo-con republican who works for the CIA. Mrs. Smith, a typical desperate housewife who has one life and surpressing another. Heyley Smith, the 18 years old liberal, pro-choice anti-war democrat daughter. Steve Smith, the 13 years old geek who is going thru a sexual identity crisis. And of course Roger the alien, who is secretly living with the Smiths after escaping from Area 51. And finally Kluas, the German scientist-turned-into-a-goldfish because of top secret American brain swapping technology. Klaus has a mega crush on Mrs. Smith and wants to get in her pants.

Highly recommended :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

More NYC photos .. At Ground Zero

Get live feed of ground zero here

Anniversary Tag

I've been tagged by Kaya the great. What's interesting about this tag is that it came on the same day I started my blog 1 year ago. So, I thought it would be conveniently appropriate to share with you what I think about blogging on my blog's 1st anniversary.

1) Are you happy/satisfied with your blog with it's content and look?
Not really, I think there is much more that I can do. I just don't have the time :(

2) Does your family know about your blog?
Immediate family members only

3) Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?
A bunch of friends know about this blog. I am not THAT paranoid about my anonymity.

4) Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?
Yeah, big time.

5) Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?
I comment on many blogs that's owner never posted a single word on my blog. I always like to check out new blogs.

7) Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?
Some of them...

8) Admit. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?
If you choose to, there is so much you can learn from it

9) Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?
You can't be isolated from real world and interacts with events in the same time. Actually, bloggers that talk about general stuff are more intouch with society than anyone else.

10) Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it's a normal thing?
I welcome it on my blog and I do get it on occasions.

11) Do you fear of some political blogs and avoid them?
I would only refrain from visiting blogs when the blogger is inherently and profoundly, racist, subjective or irrational by any humanly acceptable standard.

12) Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?

13) Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?
Nope. But now that you've mentioned it, I will give it a thought

14) What do you like to hear? What's the song you like to put its link in your blog?
Chillout/Lounge music

15) Five bloggers to be the next "victims"?
only 3...
Herlock Sholms

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Nothing You'd see on SZR

I took these shots while roaming around Manhattan, New York. Buildings and towers were radiating with character.

I will post more NY photos soon.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A letter to Mr Jaaoura

Once again, ignorance strikes one more time. Taking away the life of an innocent British man this time. Oh but wait, maybe he is not that innocent. Actually, I think he was 100% guilty.

The British victim was guilty because he, against the advice of all the lads at the pub, insisted on coming to this savage place called the Middle East, where everyone runs around in robes, persecute women and chop each others' necks off… well, that’s what the lads told him anyways.

This Briton was guilty because he stayed in your hotels, ate at your restaurants and spent his hard earned cash in your frailing economy..

This Briton was guilty for wanting to visit your country, your markets and your historic and touristy spots, so that he can go back to his hometown and show the lads at the pub that that place they warned against, is not what they think it is...

This Briton was guilty for believing in whatever humanity we have left in us..

And the to animal who committed this atrocious act… You killed and terrorized the living daylights of people who have nothing to do with whatever sad cause you believe in. If you are such a tough guy, why don't you go and flex your scrawny muscles in South Lebanon or the Occupied Territories in Palestine.

You fucking imbecile. You are a rodent, a vermin that should be crushed under the feet of your own people. You think this will scare the "evil" west away? You really think this will hurt them? You did nothing but cause damage to your own flesh and blood… Bravo, for taking your nation and your people years in the opposite direction of the rest of the human race.

I wish that you, along with anyone who shares you sick ideologies, rot in hell's darkest corners…

Borders: Opening soon in Dubai

In Mall of The Emirates, conveniently located above Virgin Megastores.

Though I really doubt the highly anticipated Dubai branch of Borders will have a collection that's remotely close to the one in the US, but its nice to see it here anyways.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Weekend, New Work Order

There is a bit of confusion around town... Though the government did give private businesses enough lead time for them to sort out the new weekend transition, a lot of companies are still scratching their heads on what the heck to do about it.

You see, most local private businesses operate on a 5.5 working day per week policy. Meaning, workers have a FULL working day from Saturdays till Wednesdays and on Thursdays, its a 1/2 working day which usually lasts till lunch time.

It was a convenient setup for most of these businesses. As they make sure their government customers are fully served throughout the week and their relatively less-important private sector clientele are attended to on Thursdays.

HR and Payroll departments in those locally run companies are having a hard time now. You see, employers can't ask their employees to work 1/2 a day on Fridays. Not because employers are kind and considerate, its because, and from a local company’s employer’s perspective, their staff will have nothing to do on a Friday, hence business owners will end up on the losing side. On the other hand, it is equally meaningless to have employees work 1/2 a day on Saturdays after a full day on Friday.

Knowing how some of these local companies are run and the mentality of its Accounting and HR people, here is a probable scenario:

HR and Payroll will end comeing up with a really backward thinking plan where employees will end up working an extra hour everyday to make up the additional 1/2 day off they are getting now. Or get that 1/2 day deducted from their employees already pathetic monthly salaries.

While such policies are hypothetically designed to maintain worker productivity, it will -most definitely- have an adverse impact on employee moral; dropping loyalty levels to the ground and forcing majority of employees seeking other options for better jobs.

Having said that, I honestly think that most local-5.5-working-days businesses will keep their working schedules unchanged: Saturdays till Wednesday and 1/2 day on Thursdays. No salary change, not extra working hours and no interrupted work environment. Beating the entire purpose of this nation-wide government initiative.

If there is anytime for those companies to start reviewing the way they do business, it is now. Local companies HAVE to get out of that 70s style business model and accept the fact that employees have to have a 2 day weekend. The transition from a 1 to 2 day weekend may cause a short term dent to their businesses productivity levels, but on the long run, such a transition will contribute to nurturing a loyal work force that won't swap jobs for an additional Dhs 200.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Restaurant Review: Al Sammach

Reviews is something that i wanted to do here for sometime: movies, restaurants, products ..etc. I think i will start with this sea food place I had lunch at yesterday.

My mom was in town this week and I wanted to take her to a nice sea food joint. I have been to the Fish Market at the Dubai Intercontinental Hotel which everyone says it’s the best place in town. Seriously, I have no clue what the hype was all about on that place. Fine, it is a good place to have a decent seafood meal. But it all ends when you get the bill for a not-so-exhilarating experience.

So I made a few phone calls and everyone recommended a seafood place called Al Sammach. In Emarati (or Khaleeji), Al Sammach means the person who deals in anything that has to do with fish: fishing, trading and even processing (cooking, preserving ..etc).

Located in the Beach Centre, a relatively small shopping centre that is one block away from Mercato mall on Jumeirah's beach road. So getting there and parking wasn't really a problem.

So, we got there and walked into the place with mom, mother in law and of course, wife and baby M. Seating area was divided between the actual restaurant and an open-air seating area in the middle of the mall. The outside seating area seamed more cozy with the natural day-light atmosphere. Though it was around 3pm, the place was relatively busy. Never the less, we were seated quickly. Water, bread and a pickle platter were immediately served while browsing the menu.

The menu was straight to the point. 5 or 6 choices for each category, making the ordering/selection task for indecisive people like myself, a much easier thing to do. Mom ordered the Hammour with Lemon butter sauce, wife asked for her favorite Mixed Sea food platter and mother-in-law requested the Fish 'n Chips. As for moi, I selected my own Fresh Hammour, about 1.5Kgs next to 1/2 Kgs of large white shrimps, Half grilled and half fried which I couldn’t resist not ordering.

Cold starters arrived quickly. The Fattoush was REALLY good. The use of good quality Debes Remman (Pomegranate
molasis) was delightfully apparent. Hummos was OK, though it needed to be a bit more creamy and the portion wasn't as generous as its neighboring dish, the Fattoush. Cold vine rolled leaves were refreshing with hint of a red vinegar crisp to it.

Hot starters followed and i have to say, it was the best fried calamari I had in ages. You could feel the freshness of the squid. They weren't too chewy, nor too soft. The tenderness of the breaded fried calamari was close to perfection!

We also asked for the "seafood spring rolls". They came with a bowl of salty soy sauce. I think it would be better served with Sweet Chili, since the rolls were savory enough.

Now, this is where the ball was dropped a bit on the service. main courses were served gradually and as the plate were done, they would slide them in. Mom got her plate first and it looked pretty basic: 2 thick slices of white Hammour fillet swimming in a pool of lemon-butter sauce with fries on the side. I tasted it and it was a bit less zesty that I would've liked it. However, mom enjoyed her dish.

10 minutes later, a plate of grilled prawns landed and we literally ravished the plate. Each shrimp was individually seasoned with an aromatic paste of cumin, lemon and sweet paprika before the large prawns are thrown on a scorching grill.

Mother in law's Fish 'n Chips arrived and were prepared in a traditional, English style recipe. Nothing special about was about the plate. While me and my wife were still waiting for our plates, the 2nd half of the shrimps came cleaned, cut/spread in butterfly shape, breaded and fried to perfection. We dipped them in tartar sauce and the prawns were divine.

Surprisingly, my 1.5kgs fried Hammour arrived while my wife's Mixed Seafood platter is still MIA. My Hammour was very good. But i enjoyed it less cause of the delay of my wife's order.

We prompted a couple of waiters to the missing plate. About 10 minutes later, a agitated waiter (other then the one who took our order) came to our table saying that on the order slip in his hand, he can't find a Mixed Seafood platter and that he was sorry.

Fair enough, honest mistake. The Hammour was large enough for me and my wife. So, we didn't make a big deal out of it. And to be honest, it will definitely not stop us from eating there again. As for the bill, well i was surprised to see that it was only Dhs 250 for all that. I thought they gave us another table's bill, but it wasn't.

Bottom-line: I am adding Al Sammach to my favorite seafood joints in Dubai.