Dubai Consumer Mirror

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Viva Las Vegas

Hey Dubai Sunshine, Sky and NZM ... I can take pictures as well you know! :P

Here are a few snaps of my trip to Vegas. Now i am sure you understand i can't publish ALL the vegas shots i have cause you know that "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" ;)

New York, New York Hotel. The original Cayote Ugly bar is there. Very entertaining.

The Bellagio. In my humble openion, I think it has the classiest Casino in Vegas. Oh, and the dancing water fountin/show thing is just out of this planet.

MGM Grand. I stayed there.. Home of KA theater and the Best club in town (Studio 54). But way too packed over the weekend!

Luxor. Another themed casino. Other than the pyremid shaped building, didn't see anything special about it.

Paris Las Vegas. Nice place, good places to eat there. All indoor signage are in English-French (Le Casino, Le Bathrooms, Le Shoppe ...etc)

The Excalibur. A 'Knights of the Round Table' themed hotel and Casino. If you were passing by and had 10 minutes to spare, you can pop in for a quick look. Can't promise anything fancy though... wasn't for me atleast.

Aaaah .. The Mandalay Bay. Now thats a very nice place! Not too packed, not too empty, no special themes, almost the right balance for someone who wants to enjoy a good "vegas" exprience while recieving luxury 5-star treatment. Oh, and the pool area around lunch time weekends is just H.O.T. ;)

Sorry for the blurry photo here, i should get myself one of those mini tripods.

Caesers Palace was also one of the hotels i liked. They have a HUGE retail annex. You can spend a whole day there without realising. If you like Celine Dion, he show is there.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Before starting this blog almost one year ago, I have been talking about THIS for years! I wrote DCCI, DCTM on many occasionts and sent several letters to editors of both arabic and english magazines and newspapers about protecting consumer rights and the abuse thats happens every day in shops, malls and supermarkets all over the country.

When this whole blogging thing came around, I actually started this blog to reflect the miserable conditions of consumer protection levels in this nation… hence the name Consumer Mirror. Though for sometime I felt my words were landing on deaf ears.

But I knew for a fact that Sh. Lubna has been working very hard and for quite some time to roll out a mechanism that wraps around some kind of leash around exploitation, monopolization of basic commodities and profiteering. The challenging bit was to create a process that doesn't only protect the masses, but also encourages constructive competitiveness with least-collateral damage possible to the nation’s fast moving economy drive.

No more "its store policy", no more corporate arrogance... consumers will have someone to stand up for their right. Thank you Sh. Lubna and everyone who stands behind this initiative - though its way over due, but better late than never…

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Why some Americans still don't get it

During my last trip to the US, I've had several conversations with many bright American individuals. People I met in gala dinners, while sun bathing around the pool or waiting for my turn on the amateur golf course. They all had lots of questions and most of the conversations were about "where did we (Americans) go wrong in Iraq" and "What the hell is happening in Lebanon?"

Good news is that most of the people I talked to -lawyers, IT execs, entrepreneurs ...etc, made is clear to me that non of them take any US based TV news station seriously. Almost all of them said it out in the open: "if I want a proper (credible) news story, the last thing I wanna watch is Fox or CNN."

I had a first hand experience to that notion. When i arrived to San Francisco on July 29th, it was the peak of the Israeli offensive on Lebanon and i was dying to get to a TV to know what was going on. When I checked into my hotel room, the first thing i did was reaching for the remote and FOX NEWS what the first station that came on.

I may sound a bit overdramatic here, but honestly that was what happened: It took me about five minutes to comprehend wha was going on. The language being used, the type of reports being aired, the coverage that was running ... it was a surreal moment.

I mean, I was this-close of losing any kind of compassion to what is happening to the Lebanese... almost made me feel like they deserve what they are getting AND Israel is plainly defending itself!!

I snapped out of it and I started flipping channels. Almost every other news station was following the same mantra. I switched the TV off and decided its better to hit the shower to wash off that 36hr long flight.

That same evening, "It could be a one-off thing" I was telling myself, " Or maybe I’ll just stick to CNN. I know CNN. I watch it all the time back home. It can't be that bad." Here is the thing. In the hotel, I was watching Cable CNN, not the International one we get here. It doesn't matter what logo was on the corner of the screen, it was all the same thing.

But the thing that was so shocking is that for the following 4 or 5 days, there were numerous reports, feature shows and survivor interviews on the US Marines Barracks bombing incident that took place in Beirut over 20 years ago. Those stories kept running on and on and on for days, in what is likely an attempt to make sure viewers who didn't see them in the morning, they will at night.

The unfortunate Marines barracks bombing incident happened in October '83... fair enough.. but what the occasion here? Why are they reminding people about it now? Its not the annual anniversary... There are no, presumably, American military engagement in what's happening in lebanon now... What the hell?

Any idiot can see thru it. Those stations where actually driving an anti-anything-lebanese campaign. It was disgustingly unbelievable.

I wasn't the only one who felt that way. This experience was a breakfast topic with my Lebanese friends for the first 4 or 5 days of my trip. After that, we simply stopped watching Cable TV and stuck to online international new sources.

It all made sense when I came across saw this post by my friend Buj.

The video link in Buj's post is more or less a user;s guide for the The Israeli Media and PR Strategy for Dummies. The video is about 1 hr long and one might need to have broadband to watch it. But do take that hour as it will really change your perspective and give you a better understanding why the majority of avarage americans on the street still don't fucking get it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sense of Humor, California style

I spotted this all-american family wagon parked in Santa Cruz, California. A closer look revealed that it wasn't really 100% "all-american" .. thought i'd share it with you :)

Jetlag drag

Its 3:40 am .. but to me, its still 2:40 noon time ... you can figure out the rest.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

At JFK Airport - Terminal 4

I arrived 6 hours earlier than i supposed to be. I was told to come early because of the extra time it takes to do all the security stuff. Anyhow, I spent 3 hrs browsing the web and checking out every form of “I (HEART) NY” merchandise possible on the planet.

Never the less, I am relieved. Here is why:

About 1 hour ago, I walked up the ticket checking counter carrying 4 weeks load of shopping indulgence, courtesy of the malls of California and the streets of down town Manhattan.

Two major concerns were on my mind: (1) the excess baggage I am carrying and whether my virtual Levantine-charm can be leveraged with the checking counter young lady clerk.

I really need it to work this time as to save my heavily bruised credit card from further hemorrhage and financial humiliation.

The other concern (2) was the 15 hrs non-stop flight back to Dubai, which, knowing my luck, I will spend crammed somewhere in the back of the plane surrounded by farting snorers, back seat bangers and crying babies.

I crossed my fingers:

Airline Clerk (AC): NEXT!
ME: Helloooo... How u doin?

(I am doing the Joey!! ... what the hell am i thinking?)

AC: Ticket and passport please
ME: There you go ma'am. my e-ticket, printed using fine, high quality HP inkjet technology

(AC giggles!!….SHIT .... IT’S FUKCING WORKING!)

AC: How many pieces do you wanna check it?

(Oh boy .. here it goes)

ME: Two pieces ma'am.

(I swiftly and casually moved the heavy bags onto the weighing counter. I desperately tried to hide the severe pain caused by the potential back injury i might've just inflicted myself with.)

AC: You're OK ... you can take them off and drop them there for the scan before they take them in.

(YES!!!! Mission 1 accomplished)

ME: Thank you ma'am .. you are very kind.
AC: Do you wanna be a volunteer today?


ME: Sure ma'am. I'd love to volunteer.. err ..what for?
AC: We are extremely overbooked today. So, if you volunteer to stay behind for one day, we can give you a free ticket as well as a free night stay.


ME: Oooooh... that kind of volunteering. Ma'am, i swear i was in 3 community service clubs back in college and I donate money regularly... I love volunteer work and at any other trip, i would LOVE to stay behind to help those stranded travelers. But i have been here for about 4 weeks and i really miss my wife and 7 month old daughter…


AC: Oh, i see, its ok .. i understand

(Wait a minute.. this actually could be a good thing!!!)

ME: I WOULD stay one day behind if you give me an UPGRADE on tomorrow's flight!
AC: You know something ... we usually do that, cause its cheaper to give you a seat than to book you in a hotel, but tomorrow's flights are over booked as well.

(Darn... I almost scored that one! :) )

ME: Ohh.. that’s too bad...
AC: But thanks for considering .. (HANDS ME PASSPORT AND BOARDING PASSS) ...Have a great flight
ME: thank you!

Good news is.. i don't have to pay for any excess baggage. I can't say me not getting a free upgrade is bad news, cause i am already flying economy and I am not loosing anything anyways :)

Shoot! that PA system e-woman is calling for the EK flight .. gotta run.

See you in Dubai.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Moblogging from NYC: Ye Fired!

I was passing by East 56th and Madisson ave, walking next to the Trump Tower, and guess who I getting into his black Rolls Royes Phantom... yep, no one else but mr. apprentice himself :)

talk about luck :)

More moblogging from NYC

I am currently walking around Soho ... among all the unusual places/markets I have been to, Sohu is by far the most...err.. well I can't really find a name for it..

here is the thing: you'd see a hi end brand like channel or ann tylor shop and right at the shop's door step, there is a street vendor of fake bags or cheap chinese plastic stuff...

Moblogging from NYC

just went thru a street fair on Lexington ave. I had what they call 'a beef gyro'... it turned out to be the US version of a shawarma :P

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Cirque du Soleil

Two days ago, I had the chance to see Cirque du Soleil all time top live production in Las Vegas: O.
Last night, I saw
KA, their latest live show in Las Vegas ...

The things these people do are just unbelievable!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

technology in action... wow

I just emailed a hotel in malaysia regarding a reservation confirmation for my wife who will be flying from dubai. I did it thru my etisalat gsm GPRS line using Cinguler's network while cruising at 55mph on Highway 101 somewhere between San Loius and LA ... Not only that, and blogged about it too! :-p

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sleepless In California

I did mention that I have several posts in my "saved" folder. Here is one of my first when I arrived to California about 10 days ago...

12:00 - 02:00 Boarding for EK flight bound to NY
02:00 - 16:00 Non-stop flight through the night (and day) to New York.
15:00 - 17:00 Waiting on JFK Tarmac cause some lame-ass pilot was hogging the EK gate
17:00 - 17:45 Waiting inline for Passport control check
17:30 - 19:00 Did all the "registration work" at passport check
19:00 - 20:30 Roaming around JFK looking for American Airlines flight to San Francisco
20:00 - 01:00 Caught the flight to San Francisco on AA: Discovered a whole new meaning for the concept of "budget airlines"
01:00 - 02:30 Filling 'Missing Baggage Report' at AA lost luggage desk
02:30 - 04:00 Shuttle service from San Francisco to San Jose
04:00 - 06:00 looking around Santana Row for somewhere/something to eat..
06:00 - 07:00 first time to have sea food for breakfast (it was dinner time in San Jose)
08:00 - sleep - at last

I just woke up. I think the jet lag will take some time to wear off. My eyes are still red and everything around is in slow motion. One would think you can have enough sleep on that 15hr DXB-JFK flight ... but how could I with the inhumanly impossible leg/knee space on EK flights? People all around me farting/burping all night long - I swear, I was this close to permanently losing the sense of smell? When everytime I attempt to close my eyes, the super-sized-super-bright LCD screen light went thru my head like a hot skewer cutting thru butter? Oh and with that insomniac moron, 2 rows behind me, laughing all night long at comedy movies? What a flight!

Oh well.. got to sleep for a few more hours, but I still can't sleep well enough. This lost luggage thing is keeping my mind busy. Let hope I get them tonight (as promised) - otherwise, it will be a "Credit Card Go Wild at Nordstrom Day" tomorrow..

See ya

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Breaking the silence

I was not too busy to blog, or as commonly known as TBTB, I was in a self enforced quiet mode. But lately I've been receiving several emails and posts wondering where heck I disappeared into...

1. For all those as asked, I thank you and I miss you too.

2. Okay, here is the deal: Frankly speaking, i was not planning to post anything until the situation in Lebanon cools down. As most of you know, i rarely cover politics and most of my posts and light, cynical and might be considered by some people, funny.

Having said that, i think its absurd to publish humorous posts while the suffering all over Lebanon goes on. I will continue to refrain from posting my thoughts about the political scene as it will do nothing but attract comments that make my blood boil, which will most probably force to do/say things that i don't like to do nor say.

Call it my way of anger management.

Bare in mind that though I haven't posted anything for sometime, but i have been keeping track. I have several unpublished posts in the SAVED folder, which, i will share with you soon...