Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marnie Pearce Tragedy

I think we have all read about Marnie Pearce, the Brit lady charged with "adultery" after letting a guy use her computer, etc.

I have to say I have been a bit of a passive follower of this story, but only because the facts and the whole story are never printed. As you can read in the attached link, the asshole husband as well as the mistress' family confirms HE was screwing around. Regardless of who the cheater is/was, this story is so amazing, even Amnesty International considers Marnie Pearce a "prisoner of conscience".

What is shocking (maybe not) is the degree of cover-up or lack of publication of the facts. Very sad indeed, that authorities think it is better to jail a woman, separate her from her kids and ruin lives. All this while the beach-sex couple gain celebrity status and have their case dismissed. What the hell kind of world is this? These ridiculous laws and rulings are what is printed in countries with a free press. If the powers that be had an ounce of common sense and decency, they would think for a second what they are doing to their image.

Still from the video of kids being taken away.

Stories like this make me puke on my shoes. I could not even watch the 2 minute video past the one minute mark. Shame, shame, shame. This case LITERALLY means a man can have an affair, give the cops a few used rubbers and tell them it was his wife that did it.

Personally, I think the woman's story is 100% true and the prick she married should be hunted down. Good thing the UK papers printed then names and story, hopefully this dude's career will be ruined. You can sign the petition to have Marnie freed.

Here is the article, which BTW has been vetted by "real papers as well.

I just decided, he's this week's 'hole as well. And I forgot to include his picture and name. His little tartlet is in the pic as well...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Great Article on Dubai Real Estate Agents

It has been said before and discussed to death. The past few years, Real Estate agents here have been more like order takers than sales people. You are not "selling" anything when buyers are lining up to purchase your wares. The marketing department did the job for you by wrapping the Gulfnews in the latest splashy Tower Du Jour. Seems of late these poor guys actually have to have some kung-fu and actually sell something. They might need to know what they are talking about to have a competitive edge, huh? This article doesn't pull any punches. It is amazing that some of these guys are resorting to sleezy used-car-salesman methods. Not the least bit surprising, having dealt with some of theses nitwits in the past! I like how the author goes to town on Better Homes, long considered a leader in the UAE real estate market. I'd like to share a vat of infidel juice with the author. I like his style. Another gem article from Arabian

For those too lazy to click, here is the article:

Are estate agents the smartest guys in town?
by Anil Bhoyrul on Sunday, 22 March 2009

There are two schools of thought when it comes to estate agents. Either they are incredibly astute, sound, well informed and only interested in getting you the best deal going – or they are third rate shallow imbeciles who will sell their grandmother at the first available opportunity.

Which is it? In my search for a good property bargain over the past three months, I have been inundated with unsolicited calls from estate agents. Presumably word has got out on the street that “Bhoyrul is buying.” (or Bhoyrul is borrowing). As a result, they regularly pass vital market information on to me in “total confidence.”

Here are just a few recent lines.

“I shouldn’t be telling you this, but my boss's cousin works at HSBC. And they have been told that the market has already bottomed out, and in fact, prices in some parts of Dubai rose 12 percent in the past two weeks. This is triple A confidential. You really need to buy a property before the weekend or you will miss out.”

Really? I suggest the guys at HSBC get on the phone to the White House asap, as President Obama needs to get hold of this info right now.

How about this call I received yesterday. “I have a seller in the UK who wants 300,000 sterling. Now that works out, on today’s exchange rate of 5/1 at AED1.5m today. However, my uncle works at the Bank of England, and he told me – and please, don’t pass this on or I will get in serious trouble – that next week they are going to put the rate up at 7.5/1, which means the price will go up to AED2.25m. If you can complete the deal this weekend, you are saving yourself over AED700,000.”

Incredible! I had no idea the Bank of England sets the UAE exchange rate – again, I suggest Bank of England governor Mervyn King emails me at anil.bhoyrul@itp.comThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it , urgently, and I can pass on the estate agent’s contacts.

And let’s not forget the magnificent Ryan Mahoney, managing director of Better Homes, who suggested the market has turned because more people are visiting his website. Personally I think he’s a complete xxxxxx (use your imagination here).

So what is really happening? Could it just be, that after years of sitting by the phone taking sales orders in between eating Shawarmas, thousands of estate agents in the region have been struck by lightning.

They are having to make a sale, something they have never done before, and have no idea how to do. They will tell you nonsense, rubbish, or downright lies – take your pick. Or am I missing out on the deals of the century?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

NBD and Emirates Bank...nice try

You know, looking back, I see I bitch a lot about government institutions. It is not a conscious effort, it just happens. It is usually these institutions that cause us residents a great deal of stress. It drives me nuts, but that is the way it is. The point of this Blog is to "tell it like it is" to potential residents and expats coming here and help them avoid the pitfalls that come with moving here.

I will say for the record, if I can score a decent gig here in the coming weeks, I will be happy to stay here, conform and put up with all the bullshit associated with living in Dubai. I made a 3 year minimum commitment when arriving and I am happy to see it through, but these bastards need to come to the party as well.

It is no secret that expats from every corner of the globe have been taking off and leaving their debts behind. There is little recourse, as when your visa is canceled, you gotta go. If faced with being trapped here and potentially going to the clink or taking off and leaving behind your debt, I would chose the former.

Let's be realistic for a second. Dubai is quite the rumour mill. There is a new BS email circulated or a new BS "law" you hear about every day. It is viral here. Back to reality. Many people have lost their jobs and had visas canceled. That sucks. These same people need to leave the country within 30 days. They own cars, houses, have credit cards, etc. The rumour du jour is that you can't leave the country if you lose your job. You "hear" that you will be turned around at the airport. This is complete and utter crap. Garbage. Drek. Get real.

Just to clarify, I have left and returned since losing my gig, and I also know several other people that have. We all have loans of some sort and have had no issue. I wish people would use their heads and think about it. YES, if you bounce checks and have legal issues, you are in shit....but if you are paying your bills, have a positive bank balance and carry on, you're fine.

Question: "Can a foreign Government detain you for losing your job?" I think not. People own cars and houses here that are nowhere near paid off. Do you think if you lose your job, you are now a prisoner? How the hell can the bank possibly keep you from leaving if you are paying your bills on time and are leaving the country. They can't or I think you would see several thousand "guests of Mo." Also, jailed people have a tough time paying their bill, me thinks!.

Over the past (almost) 2 years I have banked with Emirates Bank, EBI, or NBD, not sure who they are this week. I got a call a few weeks ago from someone there (in addition to the weekly "would you like a retarded-interest-loan" call) They/she was wondering if I had a new salary certificate to deposit with them as there is not one on file. I informed her that I do not have a job, but my loan is being paid and is guaranteed, so what is the problem. She said "no problem, but perhaps I would like to pay off my loan". I told her no, that I was fine with status quo, and why would she ask me such a question. Her reply: "Just checking dear, have a nice day". What are they checking? That I am still here?

Last week there was a good one. For the record, I keep my money in my mattress, not in the bank. Banks go tits-up these days and I don't trust the bastards. I made a deposit on a Tuesday to cover my monthly expenses, and of course it did not get credited in time (a day late, even after spending 2.5 hours at the bank). I got the following text from some she-twit at "Emarits Bank":

I texted the following back to said she twit:

She called back, I tuned her in and have never heard back.

My take on it is that they are giving these banktards some sort of incentive to get expats to pay up (or see if they are even still here). That is all well and good, but stupid methods like this? Are you serious? Get lost you twits. Banks are not the ultimate authority here or in any other country. I assure you, both local readers and son-to-be-expats....the banks can blow it out their ass. Keep the bills paid, you will see no problem. Don't let them try you on, and there is nothing illegal about calling them on it. Jackoffs.

BTW.I am happy to supply this bank employee's number to anyone interested for verification.

Dubai Ministry of them

The poor muffins. I think if they gave an award for the most useless piece of shit on the internet, it goes to the UAE MOL. Just a pile of steaming camel poo. As far as a self-service site....balls. Completely useless!
In no particular order:

1. Good luck finding the English link
2. If you find it, any forms are in Arabic
3. Most (if not all links are broken)
4. The maps do not enlarge=useless
5. No one answers the phone numbers given
6. Shittiest gov't self-help site on the net.

I was totally shocked. The e-portal should be functional and informative to reduce call and visit volume, would you not think? I guess they have covered all bases by (1)making the site so useless, you give up surfing, then decide to call, so (2) when you finally find the phone number after 30 minutes of surfing, they don't answer. After getting so annoyed you are "going to drive down there and do this in person"..the maps don't load and you can't see where the hell to go.

Not impressed, but so appropriate for here. I would give them a piece of my mind, but don't know how to get a hold of them. Yet another official agency appointed the AOTW. (I am seeing a trend here, sadly).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I know..more coming

Sorry gang. Been a busy time fighting with CSI. Have some ideas for some topical posts. Check back later tonight. (watching some local dudes get shit-canned right now) Strongbow, tequila shots and mixed company. Infidels. (I am having an over priced coffee) What is awesome is they are speaking English for some reason!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shout Out to Montenegro!

I am interested who is reading the blog. As mentioned before, Google Analytics is a powerful tool. You can see who visits, from where and how long, etc. Since the blog has been live, several hundred people per seek visit, but no one cares to comment. A blog can be interactive as well as helpful. As mentioned before, I frequent a local Dubai Expat Forum, a decent tool for advice whether visiting or considering a permanent move here.

I'd be curious to know what is on the reader's mind. I find it amazing that most South Africans read the blog from beginning to end, spending almost half an hour on average on the site. The next is Iran. Albeit only 5 unique visits, they spend an average of 15 minutes.

I am still considering a national tour in Malaysia. 97 unique visitors?!?! What are you learning? What do you need to know? What is the connection between Malaysia and Dubai?

Comments are open, readers. Chime in!

P.S. Montenegro....your board of tourism needs some marketing lessons. Those ads on CNN look like they were produced by a high school media class. Looks lovely, though.

485 Dirhams for a Friday Night!

And all I did was go grocery shopping! Seems everyone I know is out of town so I had nothing to do. The Mrs. had a night out with the ladies, so I dropped her off and made a move for Choitram's. I was hungry as hell and DYING for some bacon, and I knew I could get my fix at Choitram's. My covert pork-op led me to the infidel section around 9:30 last night. My vision was blurry from bacon withdrawal, but I knew I could make it. I was like a kid in a candy store there, but drew the line at 3.5 lbs. of bacon. Half a pound for dinner and the rest to stash in the freezer.

Last night's trip to the grocers was not a weekly "shop", but more of a sustenance trip. Like no combination of any items in the house could possibly pass for a meal, so I HAD to go. I walked in the door fully knowing that I was hungry and to avoid the impulse purchases, barring a small item to snack on for the trip home.

It is a little strange to go into a grocery store you are not familiar with, as you need to be on your guard. It is like you are on foreign turf, in a strange country and you literally need to keep your hand on your wallet. All those items you toss into the basket at your local, you need to double check for price on foreign soil. For example: a block of cheese that costs 12 AED at my cornershop is 26 AED here. Why? Back on the shelf with it. I was armed with a list, so if I stuck to it, I would be okay (other than the tin of cashews that were designated my drive snack)

I ended up with a total of 32 items...not all different, had some multiples of some but here is a synopsis with the Australian Dollar equivalent beside (as that is our next move), then the price for the same product available at Safeway in the US. (I'm not American, but we can all relate to the USD):
1. Toilet tissue AED 54/ AUD $23 (USD $7)
2. 1 litre milk AED 10/ AUD $4.25 (USD $3)
3. Butterball Turkey roast AED 60/ AUD $25 (USD $15)
4. 6 cans of cat food AED 30/ AUD $13.79 (USD $6)
5. 8-pack AA Batteries AED 23/ AUD $10.00 (USD $6)
6. 4 potatoes AED 02/ AUD $ 1.00 (USD $1)
7. Carton Marlboro lites AED 65/ AUD $26.50 (USD $30)
8. 4x 40w Light bulbs AED 8/ AUD $ 3.50 (USD $8)
9. Nescafe instant coffee AED 15/ AUD $ 6.50 (USD $4)
10. 3x1 lb. Bacon AED 93/ AUD $39.50 (USD $11)
11. 1/2 lb. Bacon AED 20/ AUD $ 8.50 (USD $3)
12. 250g Dutch Gouda chz. AED 17/ AUD $ 7.00 (USD $4)
13. 1/2 loaf white bread AED 4/ AUD $ 1.75 (USD $2)
14. q-tips AED 5/ AUD $ 2.00 (USD $2)
15. 4Xcans of baked beans AED 32/ AUD $14.00 (USD $8)
16. 4X sausage rolls AED 10/ AUD $ 4.00 (USD $4)
17. Doritos (small) AED 6/ AUD $ 2.25 (USD $3)
18. 5x peperoni sticks AED 16/ AUD $ 7.00 (USD $3)
19. Can of cashews salted AED 15/ AUD $ 7.25 (USD $5)

TOTALS-------------------> AED 485/AUD $206.79(USD $125)

You can throw out the items that are at or close to par, but the totals don't lie. take a look at the items, then think about it. The price of shit tickets is out of control, no wonder there are ass hoses in every bathroom. The bacon price is on par with truffles (I guess it IS a rare delicacy around here). Even things like the turkey roast and cat food are crazy. You can see by comparison to the USD prices, if everything is over priced, how quickly your grocery bill can get nuts. YES, rents are coming down to an extortionate level vs. murderous level, however, the cost of living is still crazy. After excursions like this, it makes me want to cut and run. In Australia, for 206 dollars, I could have a trolley filled to the top, not just a few random bags I can carry in one trip.

For those of you still considering the move here, be cautious. Don't let people trick you into thinking things are getting cheaper. I had a discussion with a recruiting agency last week regarding the cost of living and they have no idea. Hold your ground and let them know how it is just to buy groceries here.

BTW, the can of cashews I bought for the drive home never happened. I went to pop the top and the stupid pull-tab came off. I only bought them for the drive, but instead, had a 15AED passenger on my seat that now required a can opener. I should have just gone to McDonald's.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

This week's 'hole protects us...

...helps us make decisions and parents us and leads us from our devious ways. By being the moral compass of the internet, DU is able to decide for me (and you) what internet sites we can visit. I will admit, things are looser now than were when DU first introduced the proxy last year. A fellow blogger has a few dandy posts here. I recommend the blog as well, quite good reading the archived bits and he says he will be updating again soon. Seriously, how frustrating is it to see this page:

I read a quote on the aforementioned blog that something like 40% of the 'net is filtered or scrubbed for us here. In fact, the company that does it, Secure Computing, calls their morality tools "Webwashers". How appropriate. I am a big boy, I can make my own decisions and have my own moral compass, but like everything else here, the decision is made for you.

As a complete shocker, I see that the new "screw-you-we-say-no" page has changed! There is no longer any reference to the Religious, Cultural and Moral values of the UAE...yada yada yada. Let me double check. Yep, not there anymore. Instead they just say "because we said so". I guess that shoots my research and argument into the shitter. (I actually researched this one!) Well, those of us that have lived here for a while are familiar with the "consistent with.....etc. page". I guess I can assume we all know why the internet is washed here, the same reason you can't have a beer before sundown during Ramadan. Avoid temptation. If it's not available, you can't cheat, right?

Like I said in the opening paragraph, they ARE getting better, loosey-goosey, or maybe they did a while ago and I didn't notice. Or maybe the net-washers are in for repair. I dunno. I have been going through a list of sites that were published here and to my surprise, most sites were readily available. We have all had hassles with Youtube, Facebook and others (almost daily) as they are being scrubbed as we get the info into our computers. In fact, I would go so far as to high-five DU in their chilling out.

In doing the research for this post I stumbled across something surprising. SKYPE is accessible and free for download. I just did it tonight, no VPN. Switching to current affairs, the Israeli Government porthole is available. I thought all things Israeli were banned? Again, I'm impressed, DU. Again, maybe an accident. In researching, I found a few surprising things. Firstly, that Youtube was once blocked, as was social-retard site Twitter, of which I am a member. (went full retard second post). I was totally shocked to see that a site like UAE is readily available. They don't say nice things about the powers-that-be on that site.

If we fully delve into the sensitive nature of the UAE morality and internet blocking, there are a few weird ones. Why is the Budweiser website available? It always has been, as well as various other "infidel juice" websites. I don't get that one, infidel juice is evil. Other infidel-related activities that have been, and still are freely available are web pages with instructions how to obtain "herbal products" in Amsterdam, as well as pages of "herbal remedy coffee shops". I was totally shocked before my recent trip there that the ads and links are all over when you Google ANYTHING Amsterdam related. Like that is the only reason for going.

My wife and I download a great deal of torrents, as the TV also sucks here. (Hey that's provided by DU as well). We use a couple of very pedestrian sites to get our boob-tube. Occasionally, there are some good TV shows on I won't link it, as it is blocked. Apparently this site has some bad-boy, internet voodoo tools on it, but rather than blocking those sections, they block the whole damn site! Thanks guys!

This one is funny, but again an example of how they are loosening up there at DU. A family friend was looking at having some cosmetic surgery to fix some Caesarian scars on her tummy. She had seen Dr. 90210 on TV, but could not access the site to read about the procedure. When she called me I thought she was joking when she said the site was blocked. I went over and installed "my little friend" in her computer and Bob's yer uncle. Why was it blocked? It had pictues of Vajay-jays on it. These weren't s.e.xy V's, but medical Vajay's. C'mon DU, a Doctor's website? It just occurred to me to re-check, and lo-and-behold, it works fine, even the photos.

Now the dodgy shit. We all know the internet is ripe with porn. Seems you can't Google anything without there being an element of porn listed. What about dating? Is that SUCH a problem? I happen to know someone here in Dubai that genuinely wants to connect with someone. If you are not into the bar scene, work long hours, etc. How does a middle aged lady meet someone. I, for one, applaud her in being resourceful enough to look to internet match-making sites. The problem is, is blocked here. Seems you were meant to be solo and lonely here, the problem compounded if you work for a Government or local business with no social outlets. If you Google "Dubai dating Forum" you get pages of links available. Mostly forums and expat help sites, but still the same opportunities avail themselves there. The opportunities are there for fornicating if you like.

Something I noticed and long suspected is that the DU webwashing machines are language related or something to that effect. I still can't figure it out. Some sites load, some don't. By the time I wrote this and then went to make sure links worked, etc. some didn't. Are they following me? How did that happen? At least be consistent in your blocking, right? The parameters are fed into the the computer and it scrubs and culls until someone actually fills in the "bitch" form and submits it. That's fine and dandy, but why are mellow, low key dating sites blocked, but much more raunchy, foreign sites are not? Seeing as we were just in Amsterdam, the land of alleged debauchery, I Googled "Amsterdam escort service" and got pages of results that loaded, actually every second one loaded. Not sure what the deal is there. I was sure it was because they had a .nl extension, that's why they would load. I was kinda right, but not really. I don't get it. Seems you can't meet a nice ladyfriend or manfriend online here, but you CAN line up your hooker for a trip abroad. Try it and see what you get.

The real gaping hole in the whole net-washing thing is peer-to-peer filesharing sites like Limewire. It seems Limewire is turning into the same bag of shit that Napster and Kazaa once were. You type into the search box "Paris Hilton" because you want to hear her new cutting-edge-I-want-to-be-relevant single, but instead, it is nothing but links to her "film debut" and the occasional song. All the content on Limewire is downloadable, so what is DU doing to sensor that? Internet censorship is a touchy issue everywhere in the world. I am of the opinion that the individual user can make their choice what sites to visit and which ones not to. For those that want to protect their kids, they can download or install filters for their kids (although I am sure the kids are smart enough to hack around it). I think the random blocking, although admittedly getting more liberal is another perfect example of a half-assed attempt by the powers that be to instill their values and morals on the rest of us.

A special treat for those that read this far:

Another thing that seems to work is if the dirty pictures or video are embedded in a blog. I was researching this piece last night and testing out the proxy and what it picked up and did not pick up. You know how it link-to link-to link...then eventually get lost in the cyber world. Anyhoozles...I ended up on some (I think) German or Czech blog. I can't read a damn thing, but ended up clicking away at the hyperlinks. I was definitely "lost in translation" trying to prove my point. It was just perfect when my wife came downstairs to see me sitting at the computer with some chick stripping in a video window. I didn't ask for it (AFAIK) it was just there. Maybe if DU had their shit together, it would have saved me that hassle. "Sure you're surfing porn for research"...."right".

She is still not talking to me. DU, you are definitely assholes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

However, no Time Frame was Given

This is the closing phrase on most ingenious government schemes here. However, it allows the fellows in the dash that is dish to sneak in their little rules. Some of which are actually beneficial, like the "let's ban 10 year old cars from Jan. 1" rule that was never implemented. Someone on December 29th thought "holy camel shit, what the fck are we going to do with a million 10-year-old-probably-perfectly-fine-can-we-dump-them-in-Sharjah?-cars". Screw it. Lets NOT enforce this rule, however, lets NOT tell anyone, so cars that are 7+ years old are treated like metal lepers. (Anyone want a lovely BMW 2000 Z3).

The rule that is on the table now is the (used to be) much feared mandatory 6 month labour ban if you left your employer. There are certain exceptions to the current rule, but I think it only applies to Astronauts and people with a proven ability to zig-zag through the system. (Those that want to avoid a six month ban can do so, but it is a real pain in the ass). It looks like the rule is up for review and I applaud them. Seems the single-number plate boys are thinking that it is time to come to their senses. It is no longer a hardship to work here as it was a few years back, but it is no treat either. Many of us (including myself and some friends) just don't want to deal with the crap of visas, blood tests, etc. If people are made redundant, they can camp out on their residency permit (bought and paid for) and look for another gig, or just chill on the patio scene.

Further to that, shit might get done around here. Employees might be tempted to leave "DFA Contracting", paying them 100 widgets a month to go work for "Get It Friggin' Done" Contracting for 200 widgets a month. The difference being that DFA has no motivation, but "Get it Done" has. It will help separate the men from the boys and really encourage competition based on quality and expertise. God knows that the main contractor I work with has a grand total of about 4 decent dudes on staff. The rest sleep on the lawn. It would give these guys the ability to say to their bosses, "hey bastards, I perform, people know it, pay me more, or I'm outta here".

Getting rid of the labour ban would ease tensions everywhere. People would be tempted to stay and search out jobs, start businesses, etc. I know personally, until I realized that I could still do visa runs, it was a concern for me. Once that visa is canceled, the clock is ticking. You can't work without an NOC (good luck) and you have 30 days to leave. Leave your remaining rent that you paid, leave your friends, and probably leave your car and a bundle of debt at the airport.

Let's face it, the visa is bought and paid for for three years. Even if you transfer, you need to do all the medical hassle and all the forms again, right? Streamline things (don't think there is an Arabic word for Streamline or efficiency). I propose, if you have covered your probation, and therefor are considered a valued employee, lose the ban, keep the visa. Seems simple enough, right? Dole out NOC's, it means you don't need to pay for people's flights home. It would be helping everyone in my opinion.

What concerns me is the old standby, "No time frame was given". That means it is on the secret program or the never-never program. Pass the law and then shout it from the rooftops. Use your heads. The article is found here, in the Gospel according to Mo. As it is quite lengthy, I'll post it below:

Ministry of Labour to review six-month work ban

By Wafa Issa, Staff Reporter
Last updated: March 01, 2009, 23:04

Dubai: The Ministry of Labour is reviewing the six-month work ban, enforced when a person cancels their work permit, to facilitate for labour movement within the country, said a ministry official.

Abdul Razaq Qambar, training officer at the inspection department at the ministry, said during a seminar on wages aimed at raising awareness on workers' rights, that the review of the six-month ban, including the scrapping of the ban, is on the table.

"The ministry is studying different means to facilitate for labour movement within the country and the reviewing of the ban is part of this," said Qambar.

However, no time frame was given.