Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wildfires all over

There seem to be wildfires, or bushfires, across the planet.

California has big fires blazing now:

Photo Wally Skalij LA Times

Athens has just been through the same, with fires getting into the suburbs:
Photo AP

And even in Australia where it's winter and months before the fire season is due to begin there are fires to the north and south of Sydney.

This is near our home town just north of Sydney this week:

Photo Waide Maguire ExpressAdvocate

To the south of the city the Rural Fire Service has declared an emergency over several bushfires. The worst weather for firefighters, high winds, is forecast.

After Australia's deadliest fires in February, when 173 people died in Victoria's Black Saturday fires, there are warnings that their upcoming fire season will be the worst in the state's history.

Back in our home state I've just looked at the New South Wales Rural Fire Service website to check the current incidents.

Remember this is not the fire season, it's winter, yet they currently have 26 bushfires listed which are affecting over 12,800 hectares (28,000 acres).

Something's going on out there.

Dumped cars

You'll remember the silly story, long-discredited, about 3,000 cars abandoned at Dubai airport by fleeing expats.

It conjoured, as it was meant to, pictures of streams of refugees fleeing in panic. Dubai was doomed, being reclaimed by the desert. It was all part of the Dubai-bashing rumours that followed the earlier breathless and equally unbalanced 'miracle of Dubai' reports.

The rumour spreaders could be having another field day now because there seem to be even more abandoned cars around the streets, parked in the same place gathering dust. There seems to be hardly a street without at least one.

But the reality is that many of the owners are simply away on holiday and after a few weeks you'll see most of them cleaned up and moved.

But not all.

Like this one, which has been in the same place for months.

There were 3,000 vehicles abandoned, but all across the city not at the airport. And the figure has to be put into context. In a normal year there are about 1,500 vehicles abandoned.

It's a high number but it's all part of the unique society we have with eighty or higher percent of the population being expatriate, here as temporary guest workers.

It also reflects the legal structure regarding bankruptcies and debts and the antiquated payments system.

The mix means that the old-fashioned post-dated cheque system is the norm. People might pay for their year's rent by a number of post-dated cheques - but if they have insufficient funds later in the year, because they lost their job for example, it's off to Al Slammer. Non-payment of car loans gets the same result.

In their home countries the owners who can't meet the payments have their cars repossessed.

Here if they lose their jobs their best option is to take off back home, leaving their belongings and debts behind. If they stay and try to sort it out the problem is that they will almost certainly end up in Al Slammer.

That's the real story. That the law and the way of doing business with post-dated cheques really needs to be changed.

An interesting story earlier in the year on abandoned vehicles was in The National.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


What an offer! Buy one and you get one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Google reveals anonymous blogger's identity

Last week I posted about the unprecedented court ruling in the US in which Google was ordered to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger, something of importance to all bloggers.

A reminder - model Liskula Cohen wanted to sue the anonymous blogger for defamation after derogatory posts were published. She sued Google to force them to reveal the name of the blogger and the court ruled in her favour.

I said at the end of the post: Whether Google will appeal the decision hasn't been announced, nor has how or when the bloggers name will be revealed. I guess it could be in open court or privately to Ms Cohen and her lawyers.

In fact Google simply obeyed the court order. It's reported that the blogger's identity was initially concealed, but somehow it's now in the public domain.

The outed blogger is Rosemary Port, a 29-year-old New York fashion student.

The story will run for a while yet because she says she's planning to sue Google for breaching her privacy.

Talk about naive: "Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my website: one from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it," Port said.

"That was before it became a spectacle. I feel my right to privacy has been violated."

Rosemary, you publish something on the web and it's there for the whole world to see. You want your written thoughts to remain private, write it with a pen in an old-fashioned paper diary and lock it in a cupboard.

When you read the new details it's a case of two women being bitchy to each other which has got out of hand.

Now the lawyers are involved, offering them huge publicity, not to mention a good percentage of any damages awarded, it will just go on and on.

Mr Murdoch's rag the New York Daily News has been running the story and it'll be fodder for the tabloids for a long time yet. The gossip angle will probably throw a smoke screen over the serious aspect of it all.

I read the latest chapter of the story in The Sydney Morning Herald, which rightly puts it in the Technology section.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why the rudeness?

Why are so many comments on blog postings rude, impolite, bad mannered, offensive?

Why do people feel the need to do that?

It's something that's been intriguing me for a while.

If you disagree with an opinion expressed you can say so, give your reasons for disagreeing, put your own opinion forward. That's the well mannered, adult way.

All too often though there's just rudeness and abuse.

I'll give you a relatively mild example and it's just one of many, but it prompted this post as it's the latest one to appear on my blog.

I've talked a few times about the inordinately high number of vehicle fires we have here and I've asked why it is. I've asked whether maybe our vehicle safety standads are not as advanced as other countries, which I've put forward as a possible reason. My latest post on the subject was on Tuesday.

On the live feed to Dubizzle there's the following comment - this is it in full:

"You can think of no other reason because you're not qualified to have one and therefore you amazingly just assume it must be down to poor vehicle standards.

You almost read like a quote from GN!

And yes, I am a qualified British Safety Engineer specializing in Accident Investigations and Root Cause Analysis...."

A self proclaimed expert bragging about his qualifications to justify a smart-arse comment; 'You don't know what you're talking about, I'm highly qualified and very clever'. But, you notice, not giving us the benefit of his expertise by giving an answer.

How about the alternative of an answer like: 'You're wrong in thinking that safety standards are to blame. As a qualified Safety Engineer I can tell you that the most likely reasons are (whatever they are)'

That would have been helpful and informative. It would also have been without the unnecessary and uncalled for rudeness.

I've never claimed to be an expert on the subject of vehicle fires, it's something that concerns me and I'm interested to know the reasons behind it. I think it's something that should be discussed and if the causes can be identified and prevented then that should be highlighted.

For the first time on one of my posts about it there's been a comment left from someone who claims expertise on the subject. Does he give us the benefit of his expertise? No, just a smart-arse comment and a brag about his qualifications.

It happens just about every time a blogger states an opinion and I genuinely am interested, as other bloggers probably are, to know what's behind the rudeness.

Among the people reading this are those of you who are bad mannered enough to leave offensive comments. Many of you do that regularly and exclusively, never leaving a sensible or helpful comment. My questions are to you.

Are you the same in the real world, face to face with someone in your working life who expresses an opinion with which you disagree? Or with a friend who does the same over a drink? I suspect you'd get a smack in the mouth if you did, so my guess is that you don't. The net gives you the anonymity and protection you need to be bad mannered, rude, offensive.

But that doesn't answer why you do it.

Why don't you express your opinions in a polite way, join in an adult dialogue, an exchange of opinions? Why play the man not the ball?

By being bad mannered and rude do you think you're being clever and smart? Do you brag to your friends about what you've said? Do you think it shows your sophistication and intelligence?

Why do you do it? The comments section is open for you to tell us...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Laws governing bloggers?

Every so often there's a debate about which laws cover bloggers, indeed whether there are any laws governing what we say.

I've always believed that we're governed by the laws of libel, decency and honesty which apply to any other published material. The fact that we're the new phenomenon of blogging, are amateurs and publish only on the web is immaterial.

The debate also often touches on anonymity, on bloggers using a nom de plume.

To me that's really neither here nor there, it's a well-established practice in writing. There's even widespread complete anonymity too, such as with newspaper editorial writers.

In any case the reality is that not writing under our own names doesn't mean no-one knows who we are.

The reason I'm posting about all this is an interesting and unprecedented court ruling in the US.

Model Liskula Cohen wants to sue an anonymous blogger for defamation after derogatory posts were published. She sued Google to force them to reveal the name of the blogger, who used Google's Blogger platform (as I do).

On Monday, Judge Joan Madden ruled that Cohen was entitled to sue the blogger for defamation and to enable her to do this ordered Google to provide the blogger's name.

Whether Google will appeal the decision hasn't been announced, nor has how or when the bloggers name will be revealed. I guess it could be in open court or privately to Ms Cohen and her lawyers.

It does confirm the obvious though, we're subject to the law as much as anyone else.

You can read the story here.

Another vehicle fire death

Yesterday I asked, yet again, why so many vehicles here burst into flames in crashes.

Today there's another vehicle fire death, also in Sharjah. This isn't a crash, it's an odd one.

The report about it in 'The National' begins:

A taxi driver died when his vehicle caught fire yesterday morning in the Al Khan district.

Attempts to save Syed Ali Shah, 45, a Pakistani, failed after his stationary taxi was engulfed in flames at about 11am, seven hours into his shift for Union Taxi.

An eyewitness said:

"...other taxi drivers had shouted the word for fire in Urdu, Arabic and English when they saw the flames...the fire was booming and people were shouting at the driver to get out."

A stationary vehicle bursts into flames, the driver doesn't get out.

The results of the police investigation will be interesting.

The report is here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yet more vehicle fires.

I've repeated myself on this subject many times and I'm going to do it again because there's yet another example of vehicles bursting into flames in a crash.

The latest is a terrible crash in Sharjah which killed two people and injured thirty three more.

Of the bus and three other vehicles involved the bus and two other vehicles burst into flames.

Photo. S. Kumar in Gulf News

What I keep asking is why do so many vehicles here burst into flames?

There are plenty of crashes in other countries, including high speed crashes on motorways, but they rarely result in fires.

I can think of no other reason than that our vehicle safety standards are nowhere near where they should be.

Gulf News has the full story here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Last word on inappropriate clothing.

Last Monday I posted about being irritated by the ridiculous complaints that shops shouldn't be selling clothing if it can't be worn.

As I said in that post, there are two facts which the complaints ignore.

One, the clothes are going to be worn overseas by tourists visiting here briefly and by expats when they go home.

Two the clothes can be worn here.

On the second point you only have to look at the photos in the gossip pages of the local tabloids and the magazines.

You could also look at Katie's latest post over at Hello Dubai.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dubai vs Abu Dhabi

Today's Travel section of 'Sydney Morning Herald' has a piece on the rivalry between AD and Dubai.

Less hysterical reporting in this one than we've seen in the past, especially in the articles about Dubai. It looks as though the writer, Michelle Wranik, actually spent some time here and got herself out and about.

For example, in previous atrticles I haven't seen much about my favourite areas of Dubai, like this: can find some of the tastiest curries and thalis at rock-bottom prices in Karama or Satwa – both grungier, though character-filled suburban areas.

It's in these lesser-known areas where Dubai hides most of its surprises. Like parts of the beachside Umm Suqeim or Jumeirah, where there are small mosques on every corner, ramshackle fishermen's huts and a well-loved sailing club. Or the scruffy commercial district, Al Quoz, where the number of art galleries sprouting up suggests a city ready for a cultural renaissance.

The labyrinth of souks in Deira, on the eastern side of Dubai Creek, also offers a glimpse into the city's past. The muddled rabbit warrens of stalls manned by Indian and Persian merchants sell everything from tacky magnets to fine silk, gold and spices. Walking along the creek at night when the calls to prayer sound in unison from the surrounding mosques feels worlds away from glacially air-conditioned shopping malls. There's even a Little India of sorts, in the form of Hindi Lane – a chaotic alley behind the fabric souk, packed with stalls selling flower garlands, incense and statues of Hindu idols.

The final para about Dubai was perceptive:

For those who fail to see beyond the fancy facade, Dubai is the epitome of gaudy. But scrape beneath the surface and that's where the similarity between Paris Hilton and Dubai begins and ends. It's not as synthetic as it looks.

One of the problems with most previous articles is that they've been unbalanced with plenty of inaccuracies. They've either been breathless, over the top reports of nothing but the new developments or 'dark side of Dubai' stories.

The article is here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dubai's very own Mata Hari

I have no idea what we're supposed to make of the sensational story about Malika Karoum, but it's fascinating me.

Yesterday 'Emirates Business 247' said that Malika, a senior executive in various Dubai-based real estate companies, was in jail in Egypt. They were quoting a Dutch tabloid magazine, which said she's been in jail for six months and has been convicted of money laundering and weapons trading. She was acquitted of espionage though.

Always a good reliable source of facts, are tabloids.

Anyway, today 'EmBiz' said she wasn't in jail after all.

That was after she told them the story was created by her former husband as part of their child custody battle.

She's been on Dubai Eye radio news too, which I'd say would be unlikely if she's in an Egyptian jail.

But. Was the person who spoke to the media yesterday really Malika? Suppose that from her Egyptian jail she'd arranged for a doppelganger to contact Dubai's media.

Dismiss no possibility in this saga.

But the stories here pale into insignificance compared to the one in 'Sydney Morning Herald'.

It's not usually a sensationalist paper but boy, this story has it all!

It has Dubai's real estate, business methods and politics, Aussies in Al Slammer, espionage for muliple countries, money laundering, gun running, drug dealing, terrorism, kidnap, greed, fraud, robbery, murder...

I loved this line: But there has not been a peep out of Dubai, which does not care about bad publicity.

Just about the only thing the story doesn't have is a connection to JFK's assassination.

It does include ridiculous tabloid stuff like this:

"Four days after the swoop on Karoum's home, Dubai police arrested two Australians, Matt Joyce and Marcus Lee, on suspicion of fraud. The pair are former executives of Dubai Waterfront, the world's grandest waterfront project, a subsidiary of the Emirate's biggest property developer, the government-owned Nakheel.

The jailed Australians, who are fighting to prove their innocence, are in no way linked to Karoum."

So why put it in the story as though there is a link?

All this is under photographs of Malika, one with "two unidentified men" and one of Mata Hari.

Equally interesting is EmBiz' website.

If you type the 'she's in jail' headline in the search panel to go to yesterday's story you get:

"Former UAE-based realty executive jailed in Egypt Malika Karoum, who previously held senior positions at three Dubai-based real estate companies, including Omniyat Properties, ACI Real Estate and Define ...

But click on it and you get "This page does not exist"

You can, however, get today's 'she's not in jail' story. That's here.

And the amazing Sydney Morning Herald story, which is well worth reading, is here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Aussie vs Aussie over Dubai Waterfront deal

Dubai real estate is getting coverage in the Australian media again. This time it's the story that a claim has been lodged in the Federal Court in Brisbane over an alleged con relating to land on The Waterfront project.

It's Aussies versus Aussies in this one.

Sunland, a company backed by the Packer family, one of Australia's richest and most powerful families, says that two Australians 'conspired to defraud the company'.

There's old school tie stuff involved too, the two defendants, Matt Joyce and Angus Reed,having been at one of Melbourne's best schools together.

Matt Joyce, who was managing director of Nakheel's Dubai Waterfront project, has been in jail since the beginning of the year and was recently charged after a corruption investigation. Mr Reed is in Melbourne, a fugative according to Dubai authorities.

The claim is that the pair hid their friendship from Sunland and misled them into believing that Reed's company owned a particular block of land on The Waterfront project. Sunland payed Reed's company over A$14 million for 'releasing' the land but were later told by the Emirates audit office that Mr Reed had never purchased the property in question, and there had been no reason why Sunland could not have purchased the property in their own right.

It's a complicated plot and if you're interested you can read about it in Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The inappropriate clothing issue

The appropriate clothing issue that's being discussed in many places keeps bringing up a response that's really irritating me. It's not only irritating but it's ignorant too, showing a complete lack of understanding, a lack of awareness, tunnel vision.

It's been pointed out in a couple of blogs I've just been reading. Geoff Pound has a post titled 'Malls should not sell clothes inappropriate to the UAE', which is a quote from a reader of Gulf News' article on the subject.

Samurai Sam includes in his post on the subject 'Of course about 345 people have already pointed out that the malls themselves are selling the clothes'.

Firstly, the clothes themselves - and I assume they're talking about women's revealing clothing - are not inappropriate to the UAE nor are they contrary to the culture.

What goes against the culture is for revealing clothing to be worn in public or in mixed company.

In private, and in particular at women-only gatherings, revealing clothing is not at all unusual. (Mrs Seabee was at an Emirati friend's pre-wedding party recently so I have a first-hand report).

For shops to sell the clothing for women to wear here in private or in female-only company, or for residents and tourists to buy here to wear overseas, is not inappropriate. Nor does it encourage buyers to wear it inappropriately.

Secondly, there are very many products on sale which are not for use in the malls, including, for example, cigarettes, skate boards, lingerie, bikinis, sheesha pipes.

There's not a problem with the products themselves, nor with selling them. There's only a problem if they're used in the wrong place.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Indecent or inappropriate?

News that Dubai malls are becoming active in the issue of what visitors wear has created a bit of a stir.

The Gulf News feature calls it an 'anti-indecency' campaign, which in my opinion is misleading and that's what's caused a lot of the comment.

There's also the use of 'respectful', also not the right word in my opinion, and it's all exclusively about the way women dress.

But that's only half the story.

Surely it's really about what's appropriate dress in the country and what's appropriate dress in the specific location.

Go to, for example, Thailand and visit temples as most tourists do, and conservative clothing is required. I don't see any debate about whether that's right or wrong, or people insisting that 'nobody can tell me what to wear'.

In this area it's inappropriate for women to wander around the city or malls in hotpants, mini skirts, low tops.

But as far as I'm concerned it's equally inappropriate for men to wear beach clothing in cities, malls and restaurants. Not just here, by the way, but anywhere.

For example, we were having dinner in a restaurant the other evening. Nice restaurant, tablecloths, waiters in formal uniforms etc. At the next table were two young men in thongs, football shorts and singlets. Totally inappropriate - and the restaurant was at fault for allowing them to dine in their beachwear.

It's hot outside? That has nothing to do with it. You're in an air-conditioned restaurant or shopping mall, usually at an uncomfortably low temperature.

What's appropriate clothing in Dubai is not a new issue by the way. People who've been here a while have always known what was appropriate. There was no need for guidance to be issued by the authorities, no need for coverage in the media.

That all changed with the big boom which started six or seven years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of new people arrived together, they didn't mix with the old hands, they simply brought their own standards with them and ignored the local culture.

Added to that is the influx of millions of tourists, again with little thought for the local culture.

Dubai's authorities and tourism industry must share a large part of the responsibility. They thought only of the commercial benefits and didn't anticipate what else the huge influx would mean.

They've allowed standards to be ignored for the last several years and now there's a predictable backlash from Emiratis, concerned that they're being swamped by the influx of foreigners, that their culture and standards are being lost.

So now, several years too late, there's action being taken to try to re-establish standards.

The backlash is not unique by the way, the same complaint is made by people all over the world about newcomers to their country. Think of the UK, Germany, France, Australia for example, where there are complaints that immigrants don't fit in, don't assimilate, and there are campaigns to stop immigration.

People arriving here say that they weren't aware of the dress code, and that argument has some validity.

But there's also an arrogance about people, with examples given in the Gulf News feature.

Tania N. a 29-year-old Russian businesswoman, said she got confused when a security guard at the Mall of the Emirates handed her a brochure on how to dress appropriately.

"I respect Dubai, its religion, culture and people, I come here frequently for business and pleasure...I used to wear a sleeveless short gown or miniskirt and according to my background it is a decent outfit and doesn't cause any kind of embarrassment.

Asked whether she will adhere to the mall's dress code, she said: "I really don't find it necessary, besides I don't have long or covered outfits, and the most importantly I didn't do something bad to Dubai or its people."

Katayoon Tahmoress M, an Iranian writer based in Dubai agrees with Tania.

"I love Dubai and I like its style. But the way I dress is completely a personal matter and I don't allow anybody to educate me on what to wear and what not to wear."

So we have a combination of arrogance, lack of awareness, lack of knowledge, lack of information and standards allowed to be ignored in the pursuit of dollars.

The Gulf News feature is here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Celebrity koala's sad end

You might remember this photo from my post back in February:

A koala with badly burned paws from the terrible bushfires which devastated Victoria taking water from a firefighter.

She was treated an animal hospital and recovered well from that ordeal.

But now ABC has reported:

Sam the koala, made famous by footage of her drinking from a firefighter's water bottle during Victoria's bushfires, has died.

The badly burned koala became a symbol of hope for the survivors of the deadly bushfires that killed 173 people and left 7,500 homeless.

But just months after her rescue from the fires, Sam was diagnosed with cysts linked to the life-threatening disease chlamydia that has ravaged the koala population.

The four-year-old koala was due to have surgery on Thursday to remove the cysts but John Butler of the Morwell Vet Clinic discovered Sam had severe changes in her urinary and reproductive tract that were non-operable.

"Unfortunately Sam has been put to sleep. It's very, very sad," said Peita Elkhorne of TressCox Lawyers on behalf of the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter.

"It was so severe that there was no possible way to be able to manage her pain."

A sad end to what was a heartwarming story.

The ABC report is here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Here's one to get you going.

Discrimination. An interesting subject and one which causes heated debate.

Not just debate of course but abuse and extemist ranting. It's been a while since the ranters have screamed abuse at me, so here's an opportunity.

Anti-racism body welcomes UAE efforts to combat discrimination

Geneva: The UAE reviewed on Tuesday the achievements it has made regarding the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination before the committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

That's the beginning of a story in 'Gulf News' this morning.

Note that the presentation outlined the steps and measures taken by the country to enforce the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.

All forms of racial discrimination.

Also in today's 'Gulf News' there are very many employment ads which are distinctly discriminatory and wouldn't be allowed in many other countries. Examples:

Accountant, Indian, age below 30,

Sales Consultant, Indian, with experience

Cashier (6 Nos.), Filipino, female.

IT Technician, Filipino.

Outdoor Sales Executive, female, Pakistani.

Young Pakistani, diploma & BSC in Electronics.

Pharmacist & Dentist, Arab, male, required.

Arab National Sales Manager.

Western Commercial Manager.

Legislation in many countries wouldn't allow those ads not only because they're specific about nationality/ethnicity but also because of gender and age specifications. Australia is a typical example, where the law forbids mention of nationality, ethnicity, male or female, or the age of the candidate because to do so would be discrimination.

In spite of the UAE reporting that it is eliminating all forms of racial discrimination, we have ads on a daily basis which are blatantly discriminatory.

So should it be banned? It's actually companies simply specifying precisely what they're looking for. There's an argument that it makes sense for, as an example, an Indian company with Indian employees and a mainly Indian clientele to want an Indian salesman and to be able to say so in its advertising. If they weren't allowed to be precise and had to say simply 'salesman required' very many people of other nationalities would apply for the job. But they'd be wasting their time and effort because the company would employ an Indian anyway

There's no question that it discriminates against all the other nationalities.

I think the most interesting point about banning discrimination is where the line is drawn.

Vilification and abuse based on ethnicity, certainly the line has to be drawn before that.

But should it be unlawful for an employment ad to specify a nationality? And for the company to deny other applicants the job based on their nationality?

And what about name calling?

An interesting insight into that came up not so long ago, about the term 'Paki'. In the UK it's a term of abuse, used and taken as an insult. In Australia it's just an abbreviation, so newspaper posters for example will refer to cricket along the lines of 'Paki bowlers tear through Aussies'.

So in the UAE, where is the line going to be drawn I wonder.

'Gulf News' has the story here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

I don't understand, again

All too often our newspapers publish incomplete stories, quoting statements from officials and leaving it at that. Questions are not asked which would provide clarification of what the statement means.

There's another example in this morning's Khaleej Times, the headline being 'Ministry Launches Campaign Against Female Cross-dressers'.

Apparently the Ministry of Social Affairs has launched a campaign called "Excuse me, I’m a girl" to combat a trend of girls cross-dressing as men.

The Ministry has 'several solutions to combat the practice, including providing psychological treatment and social counselling to affected girls'.

As part of Sharjah's decency campaign in malls and residential areas, the police will question and arrest cross-dressing women and men.

By the way, according to the report this doesn't just apply to the northern emirates. It says that in Dubai 41 men and women who indulged in cross-dressing were arrested between May and July 2008.

Expatriates will be deported and UAE nationals will be referred to the
public prosecution, so this is a serious matter.

So don't you think that the journalists should have clarified exactly what a female can and can't wear before filing the story?

Male cross-dressing is straighforward. A man wearing a dress, stilleto heels, make-up would fairly obviously be cross-dressing.

But a female?

Trousers? Jeans? Reeboks? A jacket? No make-up? What about something that's quite common, jeans under an abaya?

I expect an official will announce tomorrow that 'everybody knows' what female cross dressing is.

I don't.

The story's here.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Magic & monsters

To brighten up a gloomy day (see previous post) we have a continuation of reports of magic and monsters.

The National has a story on each this morning.

The magic story is that two magicians have been offering to double people's money by using magic powder.

Sadly the powder wasn't magic really and it was nothing but a con.

According to police "a massive number of people, not some, lost money to them. They swindled one person out of Dh6 million (US$1.6m)"...with most of the victims - inevitably - coming from the northern emirates.

The CID mounted a sting operation, the suspects offered to double an undercover cop's money using the magic powder and they're now in Al Slammer.

Laboratory tests showed that the powder consisted of flour and washing powder. How disappointing.

Then there's the monster story.

On Friday there were reports of panic on an EgyptAir Abu Dhabi to Cairo flight when a crocodile started wandering about the cabin.

Only a baby mind you, about 30cm long, but a crocodile is a crocodile and keeping a cool head is not an option when confronted by one, especially whan it's rampaging around an enclosed space.

Had there been residents of Ras Alkhaimah on board it would probably have been identified as a dragon.

However, now that the panic's subsided it's been identified as a common lizard and has shrunk down to 'between 15 and 30 cm'

Magic powder arrests.

Croc was a lizard.

I have some previous posts on this kind of thing here.

It's awful out there.

The blazing Arabian summer sun

We've had dust hanging in the air for days now but today must be the worst yet.

Not much cheer from the Met office either, it may clear on Tuesday but it'll be back Wednesday.

They're warning people with respiratory problems to stay indoors but it's so bad I'd say it applies to everyone, asthmatic or not. Breathing this stuff in has to be bad for everyone.