Hollywood ignored, not forgotten

Perhaps the US has conveniently forgotten the grave dangers of global warming depicted by reputed film directors of its own province …

writes a Mr G. Cecil in today’s Gulf News. Of course, Hollywood productions are an excellent basis for governmental policy. Shame on the US for not doing more to prevent environmental catastophies, alien invasions, giant lizards, meteor impacts, rogue gorillas, and super intelligent robots from threatening the world. How can Bush be so stupid?

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Shake Zayed Road

Yesterday residents of the UAE we all excited about the occurence of an earthquake in Iran which was felt by those in the northern emirates and part of Dubai.

This is interesting for me, because the company I signed up with before it was bought out by my present company were one of the world leaders in seismic engineering. In the first year in the job, I was building finite element models of nuclear power stations or the equipment inside and subjecting them to seismic accelerations to calculate forces and displacements at various places. As part of my training, I was sent on an earthquake engineering course in Glasgow, one of the lecturers of which was a very interesting and excitable young chap who knew his subject well: designing structuress to withstand earthquakes. I have long since chucked the course notes, but the one thing which stuck in my mind was his tales of how the seismic engineering consultants used to have furious rows with the architects over the design of the buildings.

The reason for this is that in order for buildings to stand a good chance of surviving an earthquake intact, they must have a uniform stiffness throughout their structure. In layman’s terms, this means they must be as boring as the stuff the Soviets used to throw up: regularly shaped, evenly shaped, every floor the same as all the others. So, no fancy flarings on the sides, no 3-storey atriums half way up, no spectacular sculptures on the roof, no bridges linking two otherwise separate towers. Numerous models were shown during the course showing what effect a “soft spot” in a building can have, plus several photos of collapsed buildings whose failure mechanisms were remarkably similar to those flapping about on the computer simulations.

And with the look of some of the buildings going up in Dubai, I wonder if any of the architects have bothered seeing how their piles of glass and cement behave when subjected to multi-directional accelerations from deep within the earth. I doubt it. I’m glad I’ll be living in my nice, square, uniform, 7-storey apartment block with a pool on the roof.

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Pure Poetry

The last three paragraphs of Secret Dubai’s latest post are so beautifully written, especially if you are familiar with Dubai, that I feel compelled to give them a wider audience:

Freedom to roam again at last! To ride the wild roads of Sheikh Zayed once more, racing past sluggish white Nissan Sunnies as sheikhmobiles fly up the hard shoulder in a cloud of dust. Being able to snooze peacefully in the late afternoon at the wheel of the Shadow, as it rests in hour-long stationary gridlock.

Driving past the great sights of Dubai: the post-apocalyptic concrete monoliths of Jumeirah Beach Residence with their glittering, clanking cranes; the beautifully landscaped Beach Road with its lovely sandy trenches, lane closures, myriad plastic cones and glorious netting barriers lining each side; the white-trash-christmas flashing neon artificial ski slope at Emirates Mall.

Oh, the joys of driving in Dubai.

Why she’s not working as a journalist I’ll never know.

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A Woman’s Role

Take heed, oh ungrateful hags:

The new rule issued by Iranian officials about women reaching home by dusk is indeed worthy of praise.

No matter how much one argues or tries to reason otherwise, the fact remains the family is held together, and the upbringing of the children, is the job of a woman.

Nobody else qualifies.

It is sad that we have women arguing against it. They just don’t know what’s good for them.

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Ramadan Driving

From the Gulf News:

The emirate’s roads witnessed a tremendous rise in the number of accidents on the first day of Ramadan, a police official told Gulf News yesterday.

“There have been many accidents today. They are all minor, but the number is very high,” said Lieutenant Ali Mohammad from the operations room in Dubai yesterday.

“We have been receiving a great number of calls regarding accident reports. The number was so high that we had difficulty in sending police patrols to all the scenes.”

“We are surprised at the number of accident reports we are getting. I don’t really know the reason behind it, but it might be that Ramadan has affected motorists and their ability to concentrate while driving.”

Forcing drivers to become severely dehydrated in 30ºC+ temperatures causes an increase in accidents? Fancy that!

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Silence of the Camels

Further to this story, a Mr T. G. Davies from Abu Dhabi writes an amusing letter to the Gulf News:

I assume the camel was not a consenting partner in these acts. That being the case, it is clear to me why more camels are not coming forward to report cases of abuse.

The offender gets three months in jail and the victim gets the death sentence. Hardly fair.

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Driver Jailed for Bestiality

A man has been sentenced to three months in jail after pleading guilty to charges of bestiality.

reports today’s Gulf News.

The camel involved in the case is to be put down in accordance with Islamic law.

A court official said the Bangladeshi, who worked as a driver, had been spotted going into his employer’s barn on a regular basis.

His employer became suspicious as his duties did not involve him dealing with animals.

The official said the employer, a UAE national, followed his driver into the barn one day and saw him starting to have sex with a female camel.

The owner lost his temper and started beating him. He then took him to the police station to press charges.

The official said the driver confessed to police that he used to have sex with one particular camel.

The police arrested him and the case was referred to the Public Prosecution.

The official added the man told the prosecution that he had fallen in love with the camel and had sex with the animal.

The emirate’s Criminal Court sentenced him on Wednesday to three months in jail, to be followed by deportation.

It also stated that the camel be put down as its meat would now be tainted.

I’d say it’s not only the camel’s meat that’s tainted.

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Backwarder and Backwarder

I missed this little gem from Etisalat, the UAE’s monopoly state-owned telecoms service provider, back in August:

The Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE has stated that all use of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony in the UAE is illegal. The TRA has instructed Etisalat to block all access to VoIP telephony.

Marvellous. So much for Dubai being the hi-tech communications centre of the Middle East.

(Via samuraisam commenting on Secret Dubai Diary)

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Burning a hole…

With the rapid increase in the price of oil over the past 18 months, the oil-rich Gulf states have found themselves blessed with the resulting windfall and are trying to outdo each other in spending it in the daftest manner possible. As The Economist reported last month:

Artificial lagoons and landfills, spiked with villas, hotels and apartment towers, are growing all over the Gulf. The world’s would-be tallest building is already under construction in Dubai, whose latest fantasy development, City of Arabia, with no fewer than 35 skyscrapers, promises to house the world’s largest shopping mall. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are embarking on lots of similar projects. Even sleepy Oman, a relatively poor cousin, has plans to convert a few miles of Indian Ocean beachfront into Blue City, at a cost of a mere $15 billion.

It must be said, the construction projects underway in Dubai are impressive – although those guests who have paid to stay in a 5-star beach resort may not be so impressed when they find their hotel only yards from a dozen skyscrapers under round-the-clock construction. The latest white-elephant to add to Dubai’s approaching property bubble is described in today’s Gulf News:

Saudi Arabia’s Al Sharq Group will invest Dh7 billion [$1.9bn] in an eight million square foot development in Dubailand, named Aqua Dunya, that is expected to become the region’s largest theme park.

Construction of Aqua Dunya, which will be equivalent in size to 150 football fields, will begin next January.

The centrepiece will be the world’s largest cruise ship, the Desert Pearl. Berthed at its own Dubailand oasis, the ship will contain a climate-controlled indoor element of the theme park, and a 330-stateroom luxury hotel.

The world’s largest cruise ship which doesn’t actually go anywhere? They’ll be better off with a monorail (which would be of considerable benefit to Dubai).

The project is is one of the 19 confirmed ventures in Dubailand, and it is among one of the first 10 projects that will coincide with its Phase 1 opening in early 2008.

Phase 1 will include Aqua Dunya, Desert Pearl Hotel, a traditional souq and port district, conference centre, 170 vacation apartments and 3,400 residential apartments for sale.

Future development will include a second theme park, two more themed resorts and a golf course.

So that’s 3 themed resorts, to add to the several dozen already under construction. And that’s not all:

Aqua Dunya is the second project announced in the last three days.

The Dh5.5bn [$1.5bn] Falcon City of Wonders – which features replicas of architectural wonders such as the Eiffel Tower and , the great pyramids of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – was announced on Saturday.

Sounds like money being well spent. Far better than, say, making the tap water drinkable.

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