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NYT on Masdar 27, September 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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The New York Times has an article on Abu Dhabi’s ‘renewable city in the desert’ – Masdar.

Am I the only one who is cynical/mean-spirited enough to think that this – the NYT article – is essentially the whole point behind Masdar? I.e. the publicity and the kudos?

I say this in light of many factors, too numerous to mention here…so I’ll just go for this:

Energy use per capita

(UAE – Red; UK – Yellow; World – Blue)

and headlines like

Yes, obviously, Masdar could be their attempt to redress the balance but…I mean honestly…do you really think that they care about the environment whatsoever?

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More Gulf fishing issues 5, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, Saudi Arabia, The Emirates.
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The trials and tribulations of fisherman in the Gulf continue. Eleven Asian fisherman from Saudi Arabia crossed mistakenly into Emirati waters and were arrested. They maintain that they did this mistakenly. It is not known whether they had GPS or not.

Whilst is seems likely that they crossed accidentally, smuggling cannot be ruled out.  In January this year, for example, two Iranians were caught smuggling two others into Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE.

The UAE’s curious relations with Pacific Islands 4, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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In a spectacularly random article in The National, Peter Hellyer discusses the UAE’s emerging relations with practically microscopic Pacific Islands thousands of miles from the Gulf.

Aside from setting up links with the Marshall Islands, Abu Dhabi sponsored a conference  recently attended by foreign ministers of 14 of these small island states under the aegis of the Pacific Small Islands Developing States group. This meeting followed on from the UAE Foreign Minister’s visit to the Pacific Islands in February.

The UAE pledged to contribute $50 million to a Pacific Islands Partnership Programme to invest across sectors, notably in the areas of renewable energy and education. Such a sum on money – given the tiny populations – will go a long way.

Heller offered two reasons for this initiative.

  • It followed logically from Sheikh Zayed’s stated vision of using the UAE’s largesse to help less fortunate countries around the world.
  • Both countries are threatened by climate change…

A couple of other reasons leap to mind too.

  • I would be surprised if some Emirati Sheikh did not buy an atoll soon.
  • As Israel has discovered, having support in such Island states can be useful. They have, after all, a vote in the UN. Who knows when such good will when come in useful?

As small island-states, the Pacific islands can comprehend – in a way that other, larger, countries cannot – how important our three islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs are to us. The Marshall Islands, still suffering from the impact of those US nuclear tests over 50 years ago, can certainly understand our concerns about a proliferation of nuclear weapons in our region.

I hope that other Arab countries will follow the UAE’s lead in paying attention to these far-off micro-states. The UAE’s initiative is one of which we should all be proud.

Sex and the City 2 banned in Abu Dhabi 26, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Sex and the City 2 which is partly based in Abu Dhabi will be banned in the Emirate’s leading city. Abu Dhabi has long been the more conservative city when compared to Dubai and just can’t bring itself to allow a film with the word “sex” in the title to be shown in cinemas.

Clearly, were it to be shown riots of women running around stripping off their clothes and having rampant, frequent causal sex would break out. But, by banning the film authorities have cleverly avoided such an eventuality.

The film has also been banned as in parts of the film the local dress code is mocked – the horror! – as well as for references to – deep breaths – homosexuality.

Emirati woman arrested for being raped 18, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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In a horrific story usually confined to the Saudi justice system, an 18 year old Emirati has been charged with having sex outside of marriage after she reported that she was raped by six men. Seemingly, the fact that she was in a car with another man was enough for the psychic judge to decree that she was there to have sex with him. He seems not to care whatsoever about the other five men.

I am sure that this will not stand. Someone from on high either with a conscience or a sense of decency or after looking at the negative press coverage will make sure that this woman does not go to jail. This, though, is hardly the point. Once again the seedier, backward if not barbaric side of life on the Arabian Peninsula takes the headlines over the glitz and the glamor. At least on this occasion – surely – no Emirati can possibly counter that the Western press are ‘picking unfairly’ on the Emirates, their usual response to any news story that is less that wholly positive.

Praise must go to The National. I am sure that it must have been a tricky decision whether or not to print this story, especially being as the case is in Abu Dhabi itself.

Abu Dhabi hotel unveils gold ATM 14, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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The Emirates Place hotel in Abu Dhabi has unveiled a gold bar dispensing cash machine in a truly awesome Dubai-esque level absurd hubris and profligacy.

The National refuses to advertise Doha Debates 14, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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The Abu Dhabi based newspaper The National has refused to advertise a recent episode of the Qatar based Doha Debates. The motion debated in the show was ‘Is Dubai a bad idea?’ The key irony here is, of course, that the audience voted strongly (62%) that Dubai was not a bad idea, showing considerable regional support. Yet, in the wake of Dubai’s humiliation of having their towering, crowning glory the Burj Dubai forcibly renamed the Burj Khalifah, they presumably did not want to have the appearance of gloating or further angering intra-Emirate feelings.

Mastercard does the Burj Khalifah 12, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Hat tip: UAE Community Blog

Burj Khalifah will be late to open 8, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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The National reports that not even a third of all the available office space in the Burj Khalifah will actually be ready in time for tenants to move in in March. More generally, the developers are pessimistic as to its final occupancy rates. They estimate that only 70-80% will be occupied in the next 12-16 months, a direct result of Dubai’s property crash.

Burj Dubai renamed Burj Khalifah 4, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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In a staggering sign of the times, the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world and the epitome of all that is Dubai, has been renamed the Burj Khalifah, after the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. This comes after Abu Dhabi bailed out Dubai from its largely self-induced financial meltdown towards the end of 2009 to the tune of at least $25bn.

The unanswerable question is, of course, just how grudging Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was in changing the name of his premiere, world attention-gathering, pet project. Certainly, he would not have given up this huge honour lightly but given the scale of the help offered to Dubai by its sister Emirate, Al Maktoum must simply have been left with no choice. It was expected that Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, was going to be ‘creamed off’ by Abu Dhabi as part payment, but to my knowledge no-one predicted that the price would be quite this high.