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Gulf Research Centre Dubai ‘restructures’ 1, June 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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There have been rumours circulating for some time now that the various think tanks based in the Emirates were coming under severe pressure from the authorities. Now there is proof.

The Gulf Research Centre based in Dubai is, as it wistfully calls it, ‘restructuring’. Its permit to operate in Dubai expired after ten years in 2010 and it has not been renewed. Clearly, they are doing something right.

This is another nail in the coffin of the liberal dream of the UAE.

Curiously, GRC is relocating its staff to Jeddah(!) and also to Geneva and Cambridge. Best of luck to them.

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UAE GDP per Emirate and tax 29, June 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Once every six months or so there is an article in the Gulf press – no doubt studiously ignored by the rulers – which calls for some kind of tax imposition. The latest article is more interesting than most as it comes with some figures on each Emirate’s contribution to the UAE’s overall GDP.

2008 UAE GDP: $254 billion

Abu Dhabi: $141 billion

Dubai: $82 billion

Sharjah: $19.6 billion

Ras Al Khaimah: $4.3 billion

Ajman: $3 billion

Fujairah: $2.7 billion

Umm Al Qaiwain: $1 billion

On Dubai’s sex trade 17, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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The Observer has an article sure to whip up the anti-Dubai bashers into a frenzy commenting on the widely known and widely seen prostitution in Dubai. Here are the ‘best’ bits:

It is impossible to estimate accurately the prostitute population of Dubai. The authorities would never give out such figures, and it would be hard to take into account the “casual” or “part-time” sex trade. One recent estimate put the figure at about 30,000 out of a population of about 1.5 million. A similar ratio in Britain would mean a city the size of Glasgow and Leeds combined entirely populated by prostitutes.

Although strictly illegal under United Arab Emirates’ and Islamic law, it is virtually a national pastime.

Cyclone, a notorious whorehouse near the airport, was closed down a few years back, but then it really did go too far – a special area of the vast sex supermarket was dedicated to in-house oral sex.

‘Raped’ prostitute sentenced to jail in Dubai 14, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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A Kyrgyz woman who went to the Dubai police charging that she had been raped has been sentenced to jail for one year.  The Dubai police concluded after an examination that she had not been raped, despite clear evidence that she had been scratched and bitten. I sincerely hope that there is more to this case that this, else this is another travesty of justice in Dubai.

3 months for reckless murder in Dubai 27, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Two Emirati youths have been sentenced to jail for three months for killing a man in his car after losing control during a drag race. The two murderers were driving heavily and illegally modified cars at more than twice the speed limit in a residential area. Whilst the three-month jail sentence may well be viewed as a horrifically lenient and pathetic sentence, it is important to remember that they were also banned from driving for a year AND banned from renewing their licenses for a year as well.

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This blog is about…the Gulf 25, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random, The Emirates.
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I just want to make a quick general point. When I take various Gulf governments to task about some silly policy or other, lambast idiotic Muslims for seeking to kill a cartoon writer or ridicule Iranian chauvinism, I do this because this is thegulfblog.com

Overall, I do not take Western Governments to task about some silly policy or other, lambast idiotic Christian groups for seeking to kill, say, abortion doctors or ridicule US Fox News or UK Daily Mail chauvinism, because this is thegulfblog.com

God knows that examples of these things abound, and I do cover them from time to time, but this half of the debate is not the primary focus on this blog. Frankly, I don’t have the time, the space or the inclination to offer a counter example from the West every time I criticise something from the Muslim world. Just because I concentrate on the Gulf does not mean that I am not aware an enormous multiplicity and diversity of similar problems back in the UK or wherever.

In much the same way for those commentators that take great exception to criticism of Dubai in UK or US newspapers, just read the rest of the paper which usually caustically eviscerates Western-based banks, institutions, boards of governors and governments. Given the horrific inadequacies of Dubai’s economic policies in recent years combined with their dedicated and passionate thirst/search for the limelight, people can not complain whatsoever when Dubai is covered heavily in the press. It is hardly a press conspiracy against Dubai or Emiratis or Gulfies or Arabs or Muslims. Have these people read the coverage of Lehman Brothers?

Dubai bans then allows alcohol in food preparation 21, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates, The Gulf.
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On the 20th March Dubai’s authorities announced that they were unequivocally banning the use of alcohol in food preparation in the Emirates.

The letter, a copy of which has been seen by Arabian Business, states the use of alcohol in the preparation and cooking of food, and the display and sale of food containing alcohol was “strictly prohibited”.

This caused varying degrees of outrage from hoteliers and restauranteurs fearful that this would take a significant chunk out of their profits. The stink created was so bad that only a few days later Dubai changed their minds.

‘It’s all just a little mistake’ they tried to say. ‘All we wanted was to make the segregation clearer on menus,’ someone probably added in a desperate attempt not to look like a complete idiot.

Does this remind anyone of anything?

Once again we have a clear example of ‘a’ Shiekh wielding his power and making a drastic decision regardless of consequences of planning or an able bureaucracy to temper, evaluate or implement the decision. Once again, some time later, after vested powers have used their own wasta to go above the head of this Sheik, the decision is rescinded.

Being as I write this from France, I’ll finish with a ponsey Frenchism:

Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose

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Dubai’s Iran ties 3, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, The Emirates.
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Time Magazine has a good article discussing Dubai’s well-known Iranian links. These are no secret and this is no scoop, but they are presented in a straight-forward and interesting way. Some key points:

– Dubai is a key center for re-exporting both to and from Iran

– Dubai-Iran trade worth $12 billion last year

– 400,000 Iranians live in Dubai

– 8000 Iranian companies are registered in Dubai

– 2 Iranian banks in Dubai – Bank Melli iran and Bank Saderat Iran – are under investigation for funding Iran’s nuclear programme

– Recently, Dubai officials have discovered US aircraft parts destined for Iran’s military and US counterparts foiled the sale of US attack helicopters to Iran via Dubai based export companies

Only a small portion of shipments are checked, and officials rely on the honesty of shipping brokers in filling out manifests.

Couple arrested in Dubai for a kiss 12, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Authorities in Dubai have arrested and are threatening to deport and jail a couple that kissed in a restaurant. It is also alleged that the man – shockingly – might also have touched the woman’s shoulder and [oh, the horror!] leg during the ordeal witnessed by distraught Emiratees.

It is important to mention at this point that I am not being euphemistic: apparently it was just a kiss; they were not mounting each other in the restaurant or anything of the sort. This case is significantly different from the stupid British couple that had sex on a beach in Dubai some time ago.

The judge also fined them for drinking alcohol in a restaurant where alcohol was served in a ruling exquisitely highlighting his impartiality.

Israeli minister visits UAE for conference 2, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Emirates.
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Israeli infrastructure Uzi Landau is pictured at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi. Special arrangements had to be made to facilitate the Israeli Minister’s visit to the Emirates who have no formal relations with Israel. Previously, the UAE had denied entry to Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer for an international tournament hosted in Dubai for which they were fined $300,000.