Dubai Consumer Mirror

Thursday, March 30, 2006


What a week!

On the first day of my new job, i found a Dubai-Muscat-Dubai plane ticket laying on my temporary desk. It turned out that the entire company staff was heading to a 3 days team building event in Oman. I also found out -when i got there- that I was flown one day before everyone else to help setting things up.

The event was great and we did all sort of things from team building activities, role playing and resolving challenging business scenarios, to going on a 2 hr dune bashing spree (40 land cruisers!) in the middle of the Omani desert where I discovered that I am not as bad as I thought I would be in off road driving.

We also went to a local school in a remote village and upgraded the school's computer room with brand new PCs, a network and Internet for the entire lab. We also repainted the entire school in less than 3 hours. We were about 6 teams of 10 to 15 person in each team.

We stayed in a really really really nice hotel. The worst thing about business traveling is that you always get to stay in great hotels, but never have the time to enjoy any of them.

Nevertheless, i took these photos for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

To RTA and Dubai Police

Reports claim that this project will take around 2 years for completion. Knowing the way things move around here, I would say 2.5 to 3 years in real terms.

Now, should we dance in joy because the daily Sharjah-Dubai drive torment is only a few years away from being over? I wouldn't be so happy, not anytime soon at least; cause things are gonna go downhill from day 1 road works commence.

According to the report, the new planned express way will consist of several bridges, tunnels and flyovers. If that means anything, it means that the already over-congested and heavily bottle-necked Al-ittihad road will go through some major alteration. Hence, traffic between Dubai and Sharja in the coming few years will be worse.

So, a few recommendations I wish
RTA and Dubai Police could kindly consider:

1. Reopen the Al Mamzar exit to reduce traffic pressure off Al Ittihad Road.

2. Link Sharjah Cornish to Al Khaleej Road in Dubai - its literally a few meters apart.

3. Introduce a "Light Traffic Patrol" Program: Fresh Police Academy grads on motorbikes and light vehicles, roaming the congested streets and making sure drivers are in their sane state of mind. Their presence alone will not only deter those morons-on-wheels from being ..well.. morons, they will also cover sever shortage of visible police cars during the chaotic rush hours.

4. The LTP will also have cross-emirate jurisdiction. Meaning, they can bounce between Sharjah and Dubai and to spot violations and help fix problems on both sides of emirates accordingly. Revenue of traffic fines will go to the emirate which the violation took place in.

5. Enforce a temporary car-polling regulation where cars with less than 2 people (during morning rush) will be automatically fined using a running mobile video camera or the monitoring police patrols. That should reduce traffic at least by 30 or 40%.

6. Create a Traffic Violation Tolerance Ceiling/threshold on violations committed on Al Ittihad road for repeating offenders during the anticipated road works duration. Any violation committed on that road during the road works period shall be doubled or tripled. Repeating violators shall have their cars confiscated for a minimum of 3 months.

Now I know some of these recommendations could be a bit drastic, but knowing the way people drive here, but the coming few years will be HELL, and everyone knows that desperate times call for desperate measures.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Its been quiet around here

I am changing jobs and things are moving much faster than I anticipated!

Will be back to regular posting very soon. Until then; make blog, not war ..

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Emirates Today Interviews Dubai Consumer Mirror

Make sure you do NOT miss out on James Reinl's excellent expose' on UAE blogs; page 18 & 19 in today's issue of Emirates Today.

One thing, I miss communicated my nationality to James during the email interview. That was totally my bad; sorry James - honest mistake. Though two thirds of my immediate family is local, I am not :)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Egypt's First Bird Flu Casualty

It is getting a bit worrying...

Shshshsh... I still got me one of those

Suggestions for recipes are welcome.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Its my birthday today ..

Check out what Mrs. Moryarti got me ..
I've been JAMin all day long today :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Serendipity and stuff

One day on my way back home from work, I stopped at a petrol station. While my car was being filled up, I decided to walk to the minimart. "I don't really feel like anything," i told my friend who i was dropping home along the way, "I am just gonna go the to minimart, not sure why." I honestly didn't need anything. I wasn't thirsty nor hungry. I just felt like walking to the minimart.

On the way, I spotted a white puppy around the minimart's corner. Now me being a "cat person", i went like "here doggie, doggie .. " The puppy gave me a funny look, wiggled its tail for a second and scurried away under a parked car nearby. I noticed the poor thing was shivering. It was a cold windy day.

I turned away and walked into the mart, looked around the store and picked up a small bottle of water. The cashier lady asked if I'd like to take the dog with me because they are not allowed to have pets and -most probably- Sharjah municipality will end up treating the dog their way. I paid the lady for the water and told her 'sorry, but i can't take the dog'.

Got into my car and told my friend about the dog. He was like, "those K9 friends guys are located here in Sharjah - we can call em".

Better then, lets just take the puppy over to them, i said.

I pulled over next to the mart and started looking for the puppy. Somehow, the dog found us and run in our direction jumping around in playful excitement. I held up the puppy, she (as i noticed) could not be older then 3 or 4 weeks. She looked like a mixed breed.. she was clean, very cold but very cute :)

I placed her back on the ground and opened the back door of my car. It was as if she read our minds and jumped right into the backseat and rested calmly on the floor. We drove off and started calling our friends for directions to the K9 Friends joint.

I was a bit worried of her going crazy and tearing up the back seat, especially while i am trying to avoid those maniacs on the wacky streets of Sharjah's industrial areas. Instead, she was soo quiet, she didn't make a single sound. She even slept for a while.

Anyhow, we reached the place and called the guy to come out to check the puppy in the car.

"I know this type. Local dog"
"umm.. a street dog, you mean" (I couldn't resist hiding my giggle..)
"Yes, yes... I can take dog. But you know this is charity... you can give something"
"Yeah.. sure, is there like a rate card ... or something?" (rate card? what was i thinking?)
"anything sir .. you know this is charity"

I handed him a hundred dirhams and said goodbye to the puppy who seemed very happy to be there.

On the way back, me and my friend were only thinking of one thing: the way I felt compelled to walk to the minimart, though I did not have any reason to do so.

Whatever the reason was, I am glad we took her off the streets.

Du this but don't du that!

Can anyone tell me what could be the connection between this Du and that Du?

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Stories of con artists in Dubai are not only popping up more frequently than they used to, they are also becoming quite creative..

First there is the mesmerizing holy man, who 'charms' people away from their cash... what a bunch of crackpots. Then came the Black Dollar Gang scam: a posse of Africans who convince their victims with their possession of millions of US dollars that are blackened due to some civil war fire in Africa (!!) and that they are willing to sell the "magic" solution that washes away the blackness.

I mean, how retarded can one be to fall for such a dumb scam? Anyhoo, it seems that the con artists aren't that bright as well because, according to Al Khaleej Newspaper, they were nabbed in Abu Dhabi few days back.

Then you have the water purifier machine scam, with stories of a door-to-door salesman roaming Bur Dubai, convincing his victims to give him a cheque for about $1800 in return of a blanc promise that the dream machine will arrive the following day... dream on!

I am seeing a couple of new trends here. First, people are willing to do anything to make an extra buck in this place. Second, there is a new breed of tarts that is popping within the community. Individuals that are so gullible, you can score money off them faster then they can say hello-I-am-a-dweeb-come-screw-me.

I think living for a few years in Cairo helped me become a part-time-wise-ass-on-demand, who can be skeptic about almost anything. Being (and looking) non-Egyptian, residing in the posh area of Zamalek, as well as being a student in the American University in Cairo, made me the perfect target for the conman (and woman sometimes).

Thankfully, I was always surrounded by an entourage of hustlers who taught me a bit about sniffing a con artists when I see one.

Which brings me to a seasonal scam that is becoming quite common in the streets of Dubai and Sharjah during the hot summer months. I am calling it the 'Saudi Summer Broken Car' scam.

Dubai Summer Surprises festival attracts many gulf tourists, especially from Saudi. Its only a few hours drive away for them, and they take advantage of the reduced hotel rates in the summer. Luckily for me, I've spent the past 2 summers in Dubai.

Almost once a week, a car with Saudi license plate numbers, would pull over and a guy (not supposedly A Saudi) starts going all Assalamu-Alaikum-oh-brother-in-Islam on me.

These guys are typically found in car parks, especially hotel's and cinema's. They would scan for and target people who are alone, Arab looking, well dressed and who just got off expensive looking cars.

It is exactly the same story every single time:
"I am from Saudi. My car broke down. I paid everything i had on me to fix it. I need cash to go back to Saudi".

Rule #1: Even if you are 100% sure you are talking to a con artist, NEVER show him that you've blown his cover. Just play along. So, my typical answer would be: "Thats a shame wallahi, I am so sorry. How can i help you?"

Rule #2: Never automatically extend your hand to your bag/pocket. This may indicate that you carry cash and it only take a few extra persuasive gestures to get it out of you. Instead, say that you are not carrying any money on you and offer to help the guy. "I am sorry, mafi folos. But let me call the police. I am sure they will help you." and get your mobile out and start dialing (fake it if you have to).

Rule #3: This is the nut cracking acid test. If the guy is in genuine need for help, he will welcome the gesture. Sadly, that never happened to me before. Its always a case of "er.. umm.. thank you brother, no need to bother yourself .." and zooms away with his car.

The first couple of times, I took down the plate numbers (just in case). Then it started happening so often, i stopped taking numbers and enjoyed the whole encounter instead. A friend of mine who works in Dubai Police told me once that they have cases of UAE residents actually paying Saudi car owners to use their cars during the day just for that matter.

Nevertheless, one does not have to be street smart to dodge those scams or conmen, all what it takes is exercising a bit of plain ol' common sense..

Jackass of the month

I sometimes spend 30 minutes looking for a space in that particular parking lot. Congratulations Jackass, you are Mr. March

Friday, March 10, 2006

Oprah is in da house

According to Al Qabas newspaper, seems like Oprah is planning to be in Kuwait on the 23rd of this month. She will spend 3 days in Camp Doha (ex UNIKOM turned US military camp) with American troops.

Say/think what you want, I love her show :)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The 7 deadly sins of Dubai's real-estate market

"The agent is sleeping now, call later"

"Rent for this 2br apartment is Dh 120k, payment in 1 cheque, plus 5% security deposit, 5% commission, 5% cheque guarantee, 5% advance municipality fee ...etc"

"What is your nationality?"
"We don't want (arab, local, indian..etc) tenants. Only US, EUR, SAF, AUS"

"I do have a 2br apartment, but its too expensive for you"

"I do have a 2br apartment, but it is not available"

"If you can't afford the 100% increase, vacate the premises by the end of the week"

"But sir, an annex to a villa is considered an apartment"

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rogola (chivalry)

ON MSN messenger with my friend (X)

X says:
are you going to the races?
moryarti says:
no man
moryarti says:
i'd like to
moryarti says:
but .. i don;t know
X says:

someone sent me tickets abu 600 even not abu 175 so I'm so excited
X says:

some local dude I know sent me 2 tickets
moryarti says:
X says:

so I forced my friends to buy 600 AED tickets so we'd be together
moryarti says:
Invite a friend
X says:

Ya man
X says:
I already invited a chic
X says:

Tab3an she thinks I bought them
moryarti says:
bravo, heya de el rogola
X says:

X says:

heya di el nadala
moryarti says:
you know i am blogging this ..

Monday, March 06, 2006

I can't sleep

Its about 3:30 am now and i can't get myself to close my eyes. I had a nasty dream that i can't remember most of it. I think I should've passed on the Popeye's Golden Meal Special that I had for dinner last night.

I couldn't help it. My breakfast, lunch and dinner time-frames have been overhauled to adapt to my 4 weeks old baby-girl sleeping/feeding agenda. Which is OK -i ain't complaining- but again, i do think my sleep deprivation is collateral damage.

I have resigned from my existing job and should be starting a new one in less than 2 weeks from now. Thankfully i am not worried about the new job and what it might entail. The only challenge that i am dreading is the daily drive to/from Dubai Internet City... I don't think i mentioned that i live next to Al Taawon mall in Sharjah. I once left my house at 7:30, i made it to DIC by 10am. A trip that shouldn't take more than 40 minutes on any other day.

Since i signed that contract, I have been scanning the Properties section in Gulf News looking for houses - I wish i never did.

A couple of years back, I saw a villa in Mirdif for 48k/year. We didn't really like it that much because we thought it was too tiny and didn't offer much value-for-money. Few days ago, we saw a villa in the same compound and it was going for 100k... enough said.

I think i can stick around my current house. After all, I've just moved to this place and i really like it. OK, the building's location on the Middle East most traveled road (about 400,000 cars travel that 5 to 6kms everyday) might not by the most ideal, however, this apartment has every thing I ever wanted in a home. Its extremely spacious, I have everything around me, its close to my barbershop, my butcher, my favorite bakery and the helpful pharmacist. I have a perfect parking space that I had people offering me cash in exchange for it. The building is loaded with facilities, its reasonably priced and I've been a loyal tenant the past 4 years.

I think i will complete this year, and start looking for houses to move back to Dubai by next Sept or October. Though i am very doubtful about rent this year, 3 to 4 hours of driving is not gonna get the best of me... i hope

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Friendly Fatherly Advice

If you are a new father like myself, or even planning to be one in the near future, i strongly recommend you get familiarized with a couple of baby lullabies. Or else you will find yourself (like yours truly) and in an attempt to get your baby to sleep at 3 am, humming the theme song of this.

A quick shout to Tim on Dubai Eye 103.8

Thank you for hosting me, it was a pleasure being on your show..

Thursday, March 02, 2006


I was tagged by nzm.. Lets see now

Four jobs that I’ve had:-

  • Outdoor signs designer/installer
  • Bodyguard to movie star Adel Imam
  • 24hr computer lab supervisor
  • Video clip models casting coordinator
Four movies that I could watch over and over:-

Four places where I’ve lived-

  • Kuwait City, Kuwait
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Damascus, Syria
  • Dubai, UAE
Four TV shows that I like:-

  • Anything by Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI, Cold Case, Without A Trace ...)
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Scrubs
  • Anything on the Discovery Channel
Four places where I’ve vacationed:-

  • Langkawi, Malaysia
  • Paris, France
  • Beirut, Lebanon
  • Fujairah, UAE (haven't been traveling much this past couple of years)
Four of my favorite dishes:-

  • SUSHI - California Rolls
  • Kusa Mehshi - rice stuffed zucchini (courgettes) in minty tomato sauce
  • Spanish tapas - HOT and Cold
  • Mathbi Bukhari - Saudi/Yamani rice and bbq chicken dish... (long story)
  • Msakhan - Jordanian/Palestinian dish - roast chicken with summak and chopped onions, wrapped in tannour bread and dipped in virgin olive oil
  • Tagliatelli in white alfredo sauce
  • Beryani
    .... i think i should stop now !
Four sites that I visit daily:-

Four Books that I’ve read this year -

  • Brand Failures - Mat Haig
  • The Fall of Advertising - Al Ries
  • Permission Marketing - Seth Gordon
  • The Arabic version of 'What to Expect When You are Expecting'
Four Bloggers that I’m going to tag with this:

Sorry guys .. but the show must go on :)