Tags: dubai

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The Dark Side of Dubai

From The Independant via Cynical C Blog: The Dark Side of Dubai.

Her husband, Daniel, bought two properties. “We were drunk on Dubai,” she says. But for the first time in his life, he was beginning to mismanage their finances. “We’re not talking huge sums, but he was getting confused. It was so unlike Daniel, I was surprised. We got into a little bit of debt.” After a year, she found out why: Daniel was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

One doctor told him he had a year to live; another said it was benign and he’d be okay. But the debts were growing. “Before I came here, I didn’t know anything about Dubai law. I assumed if all these big companies come here, it must be pretty like Canada’s or any other liberal democracy’s,” she says. Nobody told her there is no concept of bankruptcy. If you get into debt and you can’t pay, you go to prison.

“When we realised that, I sat Daniel down and told him: listen, we need to get out of here. He knew he was guaranteed a pay-off when he resigned, so we said – right, let’s take the pay-off, clear the debt, and go.” So Daniel resigned – but he was given a lower pay-off than his contract suggested. The debt remained. As soon as you quit your job in Dubai, your employer has to inform your bank. If you have any outstanding debts that aren’t covered by your savings, then all your accounts are frozen, and you are forbidden to leave the country.

“Suddenly our cards stopped working. We had nothing. We were thrown out of our apartment.” Karen can’t speak about what happened next for a long time; she is shaking.

Daniel was arrested and taken away on the day of their eviction. It was six days before she could talk to him. “He told me he was put in a cell with another debtor, a Sri Lankan guy who was only 27, who said he couldn’t face the shame to his family. Daniel woke up and the boy had swallowed razor-blades. He banged for help, but nobody came, and the boy died in front of him.”

Karen managed to beg from her friends for a few weeks, “but it was so humiliating. I’ve never lived like this. I worked in the fashion industry. I had my own shops. I’ve never…” She peters out.

Daniel was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at a trial he couldn’t understand. It was in Arabic, and there was no translation. “Now I’m here illegally, too,” Karen says I’ve got no money, nothing. I have to last nine months until he’s out, somehow.” Looking away, almost paralysed with embarrassment, she asks if I could buy her a meal.

She is not alone. All over the city, there are maxed-out expats sleeping secretly in the sand-dunes or the airport or in their cars.

“The thing you have to understand about Dubai is – nothing is what it seems,” Karen says at last. “Nothing. This isn’t a city, it’s a con-job. They lure you in telling you it’s one thing – a modern kind of place – but beneath the surface it’s a medieval dictatorship.”
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Internet scrapings, Dubai edition

Dubai to build world's first outdoor refrigerated beach.
The world's first refrigerated beach is to be built at a luxury hotel in Dubai so the filthy rich holidaymakers don't burn their feet on the scalding hot sand. The revolutionary beach will sit next to the new Palazzo Versace hotel and will include a system of heat-absorbing pipes built under the sand and giant wind blowers, designed to keep tourists cool in the searing 40-50C heat. The hotel, which is due to open late next year or early 2010, will be controlled by thermostats linked up to computers and feature a cooled swimming pool. However, the plans have been criticised by campaigners who are infuriated by the potential impact on climate change... the city's continued expansion will also add to its huge carbon footprint. Each person living in Dubai has a carbon footprint of more than 44 tons of CO2 a year.

Dubai to outdo itself after its manmade World Islands, plan to add Universe-themed manmade islands to them.
Dubai’s largest developer, Nakheel, recently revealed plans for an entire archipelago of universe-themed islands at a $20 million dollar opening party for the Atlantis Resort. The cosmic string of strands will feature a sun, stars, and planets, and will be situated inshore of the already constructed World Islands.

U.S. citizen allegedly tortured in the United Arab Emirates.

An image gallery of life in Dubai.

Sources: Twitter Dubai feed and Twitter: Secret Dubai.

For those of you that don't know, I was born and raised in Dubai. I moved out of Dubai for good in 1997.
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Internet scrapings and offbeat news

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Israel disappears from world maps sold by Ikea in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia.

Okay, here's the thing:

EVERY map in the Middle East has Israel blacked out, censored or omitted. It's nothing unusual there, and no fault of Ikea. My schoolbook atlases and encyclopedias at home had Israel blacked out too. It's just one of the billion odd screwed up quirks of life in the Middle East. And I doubt very much that map would be corrected, because like I said, EVERY commercially sold map in the Middle East has Israel censored, because Arabs refuse to acknowledge the existence of Israel.

You can't even travel to any Middle Eastern country with a current or even an old Israeli visa or stamp of entry on your passport, regardless of nationality. You have to go get a whole new one made and then travel. All .il (Israel's internet domain) websites are not accessible from the Middle East either. That's how hardcore they are about not acknowledging it exists.

So now you know.
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Moar Internet scrapings and offbeat news brought to you by my inability to sleep

The Klein Bottle
is a surface with no distinct "inner" and "outer" sides. This is a "triple bottle" variety, on exhibit in The Science Museum in London.

America's 10 most confusing traffic signs pictured.

The hidden homeless of Los Angeles.

15 most bizarre anti-theft ideas pictured.

And now, Star Trek LOLcats.

Giant mechanical spider invades Liverpool.

Cute children's book about animals and group sex, apparently.
In art school we were warned about accidentally drawing suggestive poses of any kind, so I'm wondering whether artists who do dumb stuff like this had bad training or were doing it on purpose :-P

Giant Hummer at this year's Burning Man.

Introducing the YouTube Comment Snob Firefox extension that screens out idiotic and IQ-damaging internet comments automatically.

Also, type about:internets into Google Chrome for a fun little easter egg :) The full list of about: pages on Chrome.

Predictably, Adam Savage has backed off from his earlier statements made at HOPE about how credit card companies sic'd their lawyers on Discovery Channel when Mythbusters wanted to tackle RFID.

Carat senior executive accidentally sends a sensitive email intended only for management on laying off staff, to entire company. Complete with a PowerPoint presentation. The struggling media agency is in the midst of a major restructuring, including some heavy layoffs. This became public knowledge today when the company’s chief people officer accidentally sent a memo to the entire agency that was intended for the eyes only of the company’s senior management. Using attached Power Point presentations and Word documents, the email described how employees should be terminated and detailed the optimal approach to handling the situation with colleagues, clients, and vendors. The IT department pulled back the memo, but it was too late. Employees were informed of management’s plans for the future, including references to the current layoffs as a "right-sizing" of the company. And now it's all over the internet. Oopsie?

Arctic ice melting levels are making scientists shit bricks.

Now you can buy ocean view homes in a tiny Sicily town for one Euro each. No, really.

The UK police have embarrassingly lost control of the National High-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) website. PC Pro reports the police have sloppily let the domain registration lapse, and it has now been picked up by an opportunistic German owner. The NHTCU was disbanded two years ago, but sites such as the BBC were still linking to the website as recently as July, making it a prime target for malware writers or phishing attacks." Pwnt? I LOL'd.

The Taliban in Pakistan want to assure you that their religious devotions of fasting and praying during the Holy Month of Ramadan won't interfere with their duties of running around blowing innocent civilians into tiny pieces in the name of the Religion of Peace.

Pensioner armed with walking cane takes on attacker armed with samurai sword, and wins.

Five antisocial gadgets that should be banned.

3,400 ballots missing in Florida Election.

Citibank ordered to pay back the $14 million it stole from customers for over a decade.

How dolphins sleep.

Sarah Palin slashed funding for teenage moms.

East Coast women are getting enough mercury in their fish meals that it could affect pregnancy.

Drug scandal hits sumo wrestling. Bizarrely, the drugs in question aren't steroids but pot.

Egyptian women say they get sexually harassed on a daily basis, furthering the stereotype that all Egyptian men are gigantic assholes. Seriously, what is up with that?

Scientists claim that dolphins are turning on each other out of hunger. Attacks by gangs of 'killer dolphins' are responsible for the growing number of dead harbour porpoises washed up on the British shore, wildlife experts say. They believe a brutal 'surf war' over food has broken out between bottlenose dolphins and their smaller, more gentle cousins.

South Korea to "take action" about its unusually high suicide rate.

Man tries to amputate own arm at a Denny's.

Bonus offbeat news, Dubai edition:

7 killed in helicopter crash in Dubai.

A British couple is in big trouble for having sex on the beach in Dubai.

Meanwhile, so is a lesbian British couple who were jailed in Dubai for kissing on the beach.

Speaking of love in Dubai, a wealthy British businessman 'confesses' to beating his lover and dumping her in the Dubai desert, but insists 'she's fine'.
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Apparently, a few recent robberies in Dubai were committed by men on bicycles. The police response has been to impound 1,000 bicycles without explaining their reasoning to the people riding them. I'm scared of what the authorities will do when they realize some robbers flee on the power of their own two feet.

And other fail Dubai-related news from dubaiwalla.

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Moar Internet scrapings.