Tuesday, April 14, 2009

JBR and the man

The police are back at the jumeriah beach projects tonight, no idea why but after the events of the last couple of weeks who can tell.
It is a fact though that if you accept buckets of dirty money from all over the world then eventually the owners of that money will come to enjoy the fruits of their cash.

And bring their baggage with them...

Monday, April 13, 2009

What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes eh?

The Weasel has been lurking on Twitter lately, it is so much simpler to post 140 characters than try to think up a whole post.

Dubai feels a different place for sure, gone is the old brashness to be replaced by a slightly paranoid fear of persecution that is pushing all types of responses to real or perceived slights.

That it is the British press, previous fawning darlings of the place that have turned on their old benefactor is not at all surprising to anyone except Dubai, which seems a bit shell shocked by the whole affair. The amateur and indignant responses so far have only made the pursuing pack bay more, a vicious circle that can be hard to get out of.

Very different when the press were swooning over Dubai (and their real estate advertising) it was all jolly hockey-sticks of course, now wasn't there some proverb about those that lie with lions?

The way to kill all the rumours is of course to have freely available information that people can trust, unfortunately that so often does not seem an option to Dubai or Dubai businesses. And in a vacuum the clammer rush in to fill the space.

Not all doom and gloom, recently the Weasel wandered along to the wildly popular Marina Yacht Club for a beer only to be appalled by the 50 people queuing to get in, leaving in a hurry the only option.
So there is life but also telling that it is a local place with a generous happy hour that gets the business, lots of lessons to be gleaned by Dubai businesses from that.

Classic comment from local shop operative that left the Weasel spluttering with incredulity,

"Yes sir prices have gone up"


"Customers few sir, so need to charge more"

It is scary how the little some in the "City of Merchants" actually understand commerce.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in the Emirates

The Weasel is a little out of sorts at the moment, stranded in a friends vacant house for Christmas and waiting for Dubai Municipality, Du and Dewa for the new place.
Could be here for a while then.............

Monday, December 24, 2007

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

The Weasel has hopefully made his last house move in Dubai, the 3rd in 4 years, it gets more stressful every time though the opportunity to clear out the accumulated rubbish of 2 years is welcome.

Moving away from the empty quarter and back to the sea is the best part of this latest flit, the opportunity to finally kiss the Ranches goodbye is a day to be savoured.
Of all the developments in "New Dubai" the Ranches is, for this Weasel, easily the worst.

The issues surrounding this development and Al Reem 1 in particular are legion but we can list a few here:
  1. Access, this is the greatest bugbear and one that on its own drove the Weasel from the Ranches. In Reem 1 heading for Mall of the Emirates the main gate is a congested 7km, 20 speed bumps, and a constuction traffic jam from the exit, heading toward Silicone Oasis the Weasel could drive for almost 6 Km to arrive back within in a few yards of his den, but now on Emirates road. On the original models and plans for the development there was a Reem 1 exit, that, like so much of Emarr's hype was an empty promise.
  2. The Reem 1 houses are actually crap, dark and miserable inside, the number of serious cracks in the plaster would worry this Weasel if he had bought one (though to be fair they were cheap when launched- just don't buy one now...). Reem 2 and 3 are a bit better with an improved design including a garage roof that actually keeps the elements off the car, though residents are still not allowed to put doors on their own garages.
  3. The enfored community spirit trumpted by a few busybodies who voted themselves onto the Commitee is laughable, it's a housing estate NOT a "community" and the sooner you silly people realise that, the better. Their private website lists calamity after calamity in the most hysterical fashion, the latest is, - shock horror - parking on the road outside your own house. On serious issues such as access and the woeful supermarket they have proved to be utterly toothless.
  4. Speed limits, the "community" is covered by a blanket 40kmph speed limit, this is the favourite bugbear of the commitee, with daily rants against "lunatic drivers". However what they fail to address is that the access roads are just that, access roads, and trying to enforce a ridiculously slow speed limit will result in it being ingnored. So Emarr in order to enforce the unenforceable have installed hundreds of speed bumps around every junction that quickly result in suspension damage to cars and congestion as traffic queues up to crawl over the bumps. This in turn results in drivers overtaking around slow cars at the speed bumps, and exiting vehicles chancing their luck to force themselves into the traffic, in turn making the junctions more dangerous, not safer.
  5. Shopping, not normally a Weasel worry but the standard of supermarket in particular at the Ranches is appalling, Le Marche, a well known chain in France has been imposed on the development by Emarr. Their imposition of their own personal dogma on the residents (no pork), and crap out of date food would be fine if there was a choice, but there isn't (see access above) so you are stuck with it - for 10 years...
  6. Distance, can't really complain about this since they havn't moved since the Weasel set up house there but seriously the distance and time to get to anywhere remotely interesting is tiresome and expensive. The famous interchange that was to solve all access problems was due to be completed in 370 days......18 months ago.......and it is barely half finished, it still takes up to an hour to do the journey from media city.
  7. The lake......this was a glorious lake in the middle of the development, quite pretty really and houses overlooking it were sold at 25% premium, all well and good, until Emarr drained it and started building on the lake bed, guess the space was too much to resist eh.
Still there is at least one good thing about the place, the tempreture and humidity in Summer are far more bearable that far out into the desert, a small but significant difference.
The entire development is not one of Emarr's better efforts, though to be fair, it is still very popular, just do not live in Al Reem 1.....

So where to next? Dubai marina is the next abode, should the weasel be reviewing his name? The sea weasel perhaps?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Moving on and again

A good friend of the Weasel's left Dubai today, and thinking of the good times that had been shared the Weasel became aware that he had little or no record of many of them.

Those times are of course all in the collective memory, but the Weasel does like to savour a good tale, and like a fine wine they are sometimes best laid down for a while before being brought out, dusted off, decanted, garnished as necessary and recounted over a bottle or two.

Fortunately his leaving friend has his own far superior blog and this has driven the Weasel to resolve to maintain this, albeit flawed, record better. On a sadder note, the Weasel is also witnessing a close relative start the slide to old age memory loss, distressing, and something that maybe these accounts scribbled late at night can in some way offset.

One of the oddities of Dubai is that people are always leaving, and not just moving to the next town but literally thousands of miles away, this means that local legend even within small circles only generally lives as long as the last resident of that group remains in Dubai.

The only experience that comes close to this city of temporary residents harks back to the Weasel's youth and a period spent as a cog in the military wheel. There, on constantly rotating postings you were never more than a couple of years from saying goodbye to everyone and meanwhile had to farewell all those you met on day one as they in turn left.

It's an exhausting process and can lead to insulation and shallow relationships, something immediately apparent in the the long term crowd in Dubai when the Weasel first arrived. All friends that were made at that period were themselves newcomers, while this could have been ageism, it was also a shared experience thing and possibly a desire on the part of the old timers to avoid the emotional roller coaster.

In the last few years however the Weasel has seen this gradually change, prior to 2000 Dubai seemed to have two types of resident, those who came for 2 years or those who had been here for 25 years, the difference is now that the churn rate has reduced, the Weasel still has many of the friends that were made on day one and strangely many are still in Dubai, some even left and came back.

This in someway is great but makes their leaving harder when it does come (as it will to all).

Have a good one mate, this furry friend wishes you all the best, we will see you soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Appropriate dress

It is always around this time of year when the letters columns are set alight by various people complaining about the dress of various expats (generally young and female) and the appropriateness to Ramadan.
It is the same hysterical letter over and over again usually ending with that most imaginative of sentiments - if you don't like it , go home.....yawn.

This however is a very different beast, recently the serenity of cubicle land was disturbed by a letter from the heights "reminding" one and all of the standards of dress demanded in order to enter the workplace - to make money for those who are writing the self same letter.

Now exposed flesh (particularly in the belly region) is not something the Weasel will ever voluntarily bare to the world and therefore he feels unable to comment on the rights or wrongs of said exposure, however the other half of this mail dealt with the wearing of suits and ties.


A Victorian English homage to the medieval cod piece is considered essential dress in a 21st century business ..............in the tropics.

Sorry but this is ridiculous , it is 40 bloody degrees outside and the Weasel is told to walk around in an (admittedly fine) outfit produced for Edwardian gentlemen who frequented the chilly streets of old Europe.

Now the Weasel knows that the days of Empire when besuited gentlemen strode around the dominions dressed in Saville row's finest are long gone, so why oh why are companies still demanding we dress, and sweat, in acres of worsted, cotton and silk.

The Weasel's one glimmer of hope is that national dress is permitted, so that will be the kilt on Sunday morning then with obligatory lack of undergarments, at least it will be nice and cool.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

chavvin it large

And at a time when non delivery of projects and perpetual building sites are finally knocking the shine off Dubai's tourist numbers comes a report from Dubai's biggest market outside the immediate region - UK.

‘Chav’ influx drags Dubai down market

Mass-market tourists overwhelm the emirate, says one agent, but Oman is benefitting

If there is a downturn in the UK due to money tightness this type of report will just drive more of the upmarket tourists away denting the numbers of tourists willing to pay the 5* rates to hotels who now face massive increases in staff costs because of the amnesty and rubber currency.

mmm let's see what the next couple of seasons bring.

Getting the mud and duck out of here

The Weasel can't help but think that the government have really shot themselves in the foot with this illegal alien amnesty.

Arabian business has an article that claims today that 8% of the country is currently trying to leave. That's 350,000 people.

This is hailed as a huge success, and if the residency department's sole job was to rid the country of illegal workers then that must be seen as a result.

However, there is no unemployment or other benefit in this country, well not for foreigners anyway, so what were all these people doing? For sure there were a few beggars but to be honest almost none, so all these people were working.

So they have effectively reduced the working population by over 10% (reduction of 8% of total population)..... overnight...... with no plan of how to replace them......when all their current industries are facing a recruitment crisis........and with a currency tied to the American peso which prevents them attracting any more........at a time when they want to grow the economy by 8% a year.......and with literally thousands of unfinished buildings littering the place.

Good one lads, that'll help the country along no end.

Inflation in Dubai is running at more than 10% a year unless you listen to the govt in which case it is only 8%, this can do nothing but significantly add to this figure, and for all those poor sods (including the Weasel) waiting for a building to be finished, or in many cases, started. Tough.

What in the name of basic economics was wrong with legalising their status?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hopping Mad

Sorry bit of a non story this from a 1st person report:

Now the Weasel is normally the leader in all things liquid, but for a number of reasons (including a raging hangover) he missed this years festival of yeast, barley and hop at the Irish Village.

Just as well by the sound of it: according to all who went the place descended to a near riot on Friday as thousands of people tried to force their way into a tent built for 500. 7 days quoted a couple of the organisers blithely blaming the punters for all the problems.

Last year there were large queues and while there was some rowdiness all seemed to pass off well but surely they could have anticipated a bigger turnout this year? I know Summer is always a gamble for a promoter but it is the first week of term now and most people were back in town, the Weasel would have laid cash that this was going to be a big event.

So whats the answer? Obvious is to sell tickets but this is Dubai and no-body buys tickets in advance, especially not just for a piss-up, they simply arrive. Bigger tents might help but space becomes an issue as does cooling etc

But really what we need is more things to do in summer, now that's radical, trying to convince promoters there are a lot of us still here despite the heat, might save this small furry mammal from tearing his hair out all summer.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sentence construction

spot the difference

One perp is knowingly breaking the law of her own country to deliberately sell drugs, operating within the society that these laws are presumably trying to protect, she has a valid quantity of horrendously expensive hash and attempts to sell to the police.

Other perp is transitting through the country (thereby posing no threat to society) and has, lost in the bottom of his pocket, enough drug to just about get a fieldmouse high.

Guess who go four years and who got one...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Them bad streets of Dubai

Interesting little ditty in today's Khaleej Times caught the Weasel's eye this morning.

Thefts rise in summer time By a staff reporter 31 July 2007
DUBAI — Thefts, brawls and assaults are the most common of crimes reported during the summer months, suggest the findings of a survey recently conducted by the Dubai Public Prosecution.
Robberies were the most frequent with 40 per cent of cases registered, followed by assaults and fights which accounted for 16 per cent, and financial fraud forming 13 per cent of all reported crimes. According to a top public prosecution official.

Now it is rare to get stats like this thrown out, sure individual crimes are eagerly reported in the 1950s schoolboy prose the KT is so fond of, but we usually don't get to hear the real stats and what the trends are.

Now we only need the actual figures to determine whether Dubai is as safe as the municipality make out. More interesting is speculating as to the why of these increases, after all the town is almost empty, who hangs around in the street in August waiting to get robbed? Or possibly it is that empty houses are targets but then that should be burglary.

Ah summer, the Weasel loves nothing better than to while away the day speculating on pointless questions. What do you mean get back to work...............

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cartel capers

Even the Weasel is occasionally amazed by the level of blatant price fixing that is all too common in this market. Today on the Dubai eye business breakfast we had the rare treat of listening to one of the local managers justifying the setting up of a cartel to run remittance exchanges, listen here 23rd July .

What really tickles the Weasel is the fact that Mr Joseph Ponnou not only is stupid enough to announce this to all his potential customers but can't seem to realise that this may be a foolish move. In a move that would land him straight in court in the US or EU he blithely witters on that the formation of the cartel is in the consumers best interest, while opening the subject by explaining that it has been set up to ensure prices are as high as possible and no-one undercuts the members of this chummy club.

The only way to combat the runaway inflation we are all experiencing is to allow free competition, eventually prices will find their correct level. Much as the Weasel enjoys the low price of fuel and the attempt at a rent cap, in the end they simply distort the market and all pay the price.

The awarding of import licences to single companies and the set-up of blatant price cartels keeps us beholden to conglomerates that simply print money on the back of UAE consumers.

And that's everyone not just expats.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Big shoes to fill

Back after a brief sojourn to Ibiza and consequential psychotic episode, every year the Weasel wonders if this is the last year of behaving badly, but then the combined effects of an entire year in the desert conspire to make the occasional blowout feel like a vital safety valve.

Well that's his excuse and he's sticking to it.....

Ironically the earth-aid feel good concert was happening as the Weasel flew overhead on his long weekend away, for one of such diminutive stature the Weasel's carbon footprint is bloody huge. Flying to Ibiza for the weekend does not seem outrageous, this behavior is of course hardly unique in Dubai.

We superchill our offices, deep freeze our houses, take showers in desalinated water, drive our big ol cars and fly 3 times a year (or more in the Weasels case), it's a good job he's unconvinced of the CO2 argument.

Seriously though if this is ever proved beyond the current hysteria the life styles here of much of the population would have to drastically change to meet any global norms, more use of solar would make so much sense along with building for the climate not the perceived tastes of a European housing market.

We await developments.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Today finds the Weasel scampering around his old haunts in London, it is wet, cold and you can't smoke in the pubs.
Tonight off to the white isle for a couple of days, while in Wembley tomorrow tens of thoussands of people will gather to protest about climate change (oh, and listen to a huge rock concert).

Climate change awareness has not really arrived in Dubai, we all know we live in an environment that is only survivable with huge amounts of ac, desalinated water, V8 motors and regular trips away (Weasel endurance limit is 3 months).

What is a little shocking was when last night the Weasel was asked incredulously "don't you feel guilty?"

err no?

Cue tut tutting and storming off - the Weasel may need to prepare a response to this question that doesn't involve flying from Dubai to London to Spain and back again for a party.....

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Open season on Dubai banks?

In a move the Weasel finds hard to comprehend the DFSA appears to have declined to investigate a reputed attempted fraud of $5 bn.


Because it was targeted against an institution not an individual, leaving aside the bloody obvious that a bank's money belongs to individuals who most certainly would have suffered should this scam have worked, what were they thinking?

Does this mean if the Weasel wanders into, lets say Dewa or any other "big institution" and for instance bounces a cheque for his water bill that he will be let off scot free....... nope, he doesn't think so either.

The jails in this town are full of people charged with fraud for bouncing a cheque, so perhaps the story here isn't, why not?

but who can't be investigated?

And this is personal, although called lloyds TSB it isn't a direct branch of the bank and it is probably likely that a loss of this size would have folded the institution, taking the Weasels 2dhs of savings with it. The lack of action cannot do anything to inspire confidence in any financial institution in Dubai

From the Toady today.

The United Kingdom-based banking and insurance group Lloyds TSB Bank, operating from Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), has left it to the regulators, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), to investigate the $5 billion (Dh18.35bn) financial fraud targeted at the bank.

Media reports had said Lloyds TSB Bank in Dubai had been targeted by fraudsters who tried to raise a credit facility of up to $5bn (Dh18.35bn), in one of the largest attempted financial frauds in the region in recent times.

The regulators said individuals representing two fictitious organisations – Heritage Private Bank of the UK and the Genesis Foundation of Hong Kong – failed in their attempt to use false guarantee documents from five banks, including UBS, the US Federal Reserve and Citibank in Singapore, in a bid to raise funds for an alleged real estate project in Abu Dhabi, the Financial Times reported.

Lloyds TSB’s private banking arm, located in the DIFC, had said in early May it provided information about the use of fraudulent documents to the DFSA.

“Lloyds TSB International Private Banking takes its obligations to combat financial crime extremely seriously and reported an attempted use of fraudulent documents to the DFSA in the appropriate way in early May. This is now a matter for the regulator and we will co-operate fully with any investigation they undertake,” the bank’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Quoting DFSA’s managing director for policy and legal services, Ian Johnston, the Financial Times said after carrying out an investigation the regulator had decided not to pursue injunctions against the individuals involved, as the scam had targeted authorised companies rather than members of the public.

The official pointed out that the fraud attempt, while substantial, was unsophisticated and unlikely to have duped the vetting procedures of authorised companies.