Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rainbow Sheikh's 'Power Wagon'

Think it looks like a 1950s Dodge? Well, look again.
Desert and oil. These two things sum up the emirate of Abu Dhabi perhaps better than any other feature about it.
Back in 1994, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al-Nahyan, also known as the 'Rainbow Sheikh', due to the fact that he once bought a fleet of Mercedes every colour of the rainbow as a wedding present, decided that he would like to celebrate the desert, by building a very special Bedouin caravan.
He had already constructed several others, including a bizarre spherical creation which is said to be a 1:1,000,000 replica of the world, only with wheels.
However, on this occasion the Rainbow Sheikh chose to honour the pioneers of the oil boom - and show his passion for classic dune-bashing four wheel drives - by building the most incredible replica of a 1950s Dodge Power Wagon, only eight times the size of the real thing.
Built over a period of months, the scale of the construction was limited only by the size of the wheels that the Sheikh could get, which apparently were used on a machine for transporting oil rigs.
The truck is built around a metal frame more reminiscent of static plant, rather than anything mobile. This is emphasised by a flight of stairs leading up to the 'front door' somewhere below the cab, which on our visit was locked, sadly.
However, we have it on good authority that the machine houses just about everything needed for comfortable living, including four large, air conditioned bedrooms (The air-con units are visable behind the false radiator grille) as well as a living room, bathrooms and even a patio in the pick-up bed.
The first thing you notice about the monster is how accurate it is. Every last detail follow that exactly of an early model Dodge. The steering links are in place and there are brakes.
Even more surprisingly (given that this is a caravan) there is an engine, which can apparently be used to propel the truck short distances.
Best of all, you can this see truck alongside the Sheikh's various other creations, several real Power Wagons, a Kenworth 851 and 100-odd cars, including the rainbow Mercedes for free, as His Highness has generously opened his collection to the public.


Gambar dari klikcrazy

bara nafas yang melebar rindu
merentas saujana perbatasan waktu
berlabuh esok di senja kelabu
hayat pun diam tersipu
terkedu merenung seribu kilauan
pecah imbasan foto-foto perjalanan
yang kian pasrah memanjang
nun jauh ke belakang

wajah bertopeng dalam cermin
masih berhias di pelamin
pakaian robek dan usang
jasad kering dan gersang
tahun-tahun yang terperangkap
hari-hari berlalu pun merentap
setiap saat di bingkai kaca
kehidupan monotonous tanpa warna

itulah kita, imej-imej semasa
melantun dari hitam putih kacamata
anak kecil yang sayu menatap
cahaya dari gerhana lanskap
sedang perjuangan belum selesai
semangat semakin longlai
lalu apakah yang masih tinggal
dengan kail sejengkal?

Dubai, 26 Jun 2008

Single in the city: A husband should not be needed for a woman to receive care

‘Excuse me? Excuse me,” I said to the group of female and male nurses sitting sipping tea and coffee at one of the desks in the hospital.
One of them looked up, glanced at me, and ignored me.
“Hey, excuse me, it is an emergency!”
I said a bit more loudly.Nothing.
A man came up next to me and with one clearing of his throat, got a nurse to immediately come to his aid.
I waited until he asked his questions and left, and then I tried to get the attention of the same nurse.
“One minute,” she told me and disappeared into the back.
One minute passed, two minutes, and then five minutes.“Please, I just need to know which room my friend is recovering in,” I said.
Nothing. No one came to my aid. Such a simple request was turning into a great nuisance.
That is when I wished I had a “husband” who could stand by my side and demand service and people would respond. Despite what people like to think or say, it is still a man’s world — particularly in this part of the world.
The minute I raised my voice a bit and tried to sound firm, I got the “evil-eye” from everyone. I could have sworn that one of the male nurses mumbled something under his breath.
Finally, a doctor passed by and I apologised to him for disturbing him over such an easy yet apparently tedious matter, and asked him how to find out where people recovering from a simple operation are put up.
He looked at the same nurse who had been ignoring me and told her to assist me and to actually “take me” to the patient.
The nurse didn’t look pleased.
This reminded me of a similar incident where being a single woman was a disadvantage. It actually happened twice to me, and also to several other single female friends of mine, when trying to get a table at a restaurant.
Just a few days ago I went to a restaurant in one of the fancy hotels here to try to get a table for me and my friends, who were coming from Dubai.
“Reservations?” the hostess asked me.
“No, but could I make a reservation now as my friends will be arriving soon from Dubai?” I asked sweetly.
“No free table,” she said, adding: “We are fully booked.”
The restaurant was completely empty, except for the staff and waiters, and just maybe, around one of its corners, I may have seen a couple sitting at one of the tables.
“We can go in now and then leave before the dinner rush?” I suggested. This was about 6pm.
She snapped at me and said: “No, sorry.”I left and my friends and I ate at another restaurant in the same hotel. This time the host was a man. I’m not sure if that is what made a difference, but I noticed that sometimes women are more aggressive to each other and less helpful. Interestingly enough, the following week I ended up with a male friend of mine at the same restaurant with the same rude hostess.
Same situation, and same day of the week. We had no reservation and the rest of the group was arriving a bit later.
“Reservations?” the hostess asked.
Déjà vu.
“No, we would like a table for four,” said my friend.
“OK, this way,” she said with a big smile and showed us a table near a window.
It wasn’t enough that her mannerisms were different, but the fact that she was so attentive and helpful made me wonder if it was a gender thing after all or the simple fact that single women are not taken seriously.
I polled a few of my single male friends to find out if they had ever experienced the same problems, and they all told me that they never faced the same difficulties as single women in getting tables, services, and their questions answered.
Perhaps it is the way we single women ask for things? I know I have caught myself hesitating and probably sounding unsure of myself when the person I faced was unfriendly.
I certainly felt that single women are treated worse in the Middle East when I heard the following story. My friend Leila recently went to hospital for a simple medical procedure requiring general anaesthesia. She told me that after the medical team had prepared everything and she was dozing off, “everyone just left.”
“I just felt very alone and vulnerable,” she said. She believes that if she had a partner, then that experience would have been easier on her.
I have tested this theory out, and there is a sort of security blanket effect that comes out of having a male colleague, partner, friend, tagging along with you in public.
Growing up in the Gulf, a “mahram” — a male family member that accompanies a woman as her guardian — was “expected” to be with me as a single woman during visits to Islamic or official institutions.
Even though that has changed a lot, there are still some remnants of that tradition. I know for sure that it has affected me, as I find that I do walk more confidently if my brother or father is by my side.

Rym Ghazal

To promote growth tomorrow, we must preserve resources today

Reconciling global economic growth, especially in developing countries, with the intensifying constraints on global supplies of energy, food, land, and water is the great question of our time. Commodity prices are soaring worldwide, not only for headline items like food and energy, but for metals, arable land, fresh water, and other crucial inputs to growth, because increased demand is pushing up against limited global supplies. Worldwide economic growth is already slowing under the pressures of $135-per-barrel oil and grain prices that have more than doubled in the past year.
A new global growth strategy is needed to maintain global economic progress. The basic issue is that the world economy is now so large that it is hitting against limits never before experienced. There are 6.7 billion people, and the population continues to rise by around 75 million per year, notably in the world’s poorest countries. Annual output per person, adjusted for price levels in different parts of the world, averages around $10,000, implying total output of around $67 trillion.
There is, of course, an enormous gap between rich countries, at roughly $40,000 per person, and the poorest, at $1,000 per person or less. But many poor countries, most famously China and India, have achieved extraordinary economic growth in recent years by harnessing cutting-edge technologies. As a result, the world economy has been growing at around 5 per cent per year in recent years. At that rate, the world economy would double in size in 14 years.
This is possible, however, only if the key growth inputs remain in ample supply, and if human-made climate change is counteracted. If the supply of vital inputs is constrained or the climate destabilised, prices will rise sharply, industrial production and consumer spending will fall, and world economic growth will slow, perhaps sharply.Many free-market ideologues ridicule the idea that natural resource constraints will now cause a significant slowdown in global growth. They say that fears of “running out of resources,” notably food and energy, have been with us for 200 years, and we never succumbed. Indeed, output has continued to rise much faster than population.
This view has some truth. Better technologies have allowed the world economy to continue to grow despite tough resource constraints in the past. But simplistic free-market optimism is misplaced for at least four reasons.First, history has already shown how resource constraints can hinder global economic growth. After the upwards jump in energy prices in 1973, annual global growth fell from roughly 5 per cent between 1960 and 1973 to around 3 per cent between 1973 and 1989.
Second, the world economy is vastly larger than in the past, so that demand for key commodities and energy inputs is also vastly larger.Third, we have already used up many of the low-cost options that were once available. Low-cost oil is rapidly being depleted. The same is true for ground water. Land is also increasingly scarce.Finally, our past technological triumphs did not actually conserve natural resources, but instead enabled humanity to mine and use these resources at a lower overall cost, thereby hastening their depletion.
Looking ahead, the world economy will need to introduce alternative technologies that conserve energy, water, and land, or that enable us to use new forms of renewable energy (such as solar and wind power) at much lower cost than today. Many such technologies exist, and even better technologies can be developed. One key problem is that the alternative technologies are often more expensive than the resource-depleting technologies now in use.
For example, farmers around the world could reduce their water use dramatically by switching from conventional irrigation to drip irrigation, which uses a series of tubes to deliver water directly to each plant while preserving or raising crop yields. Yet the investment in drip irrigation is generally more expensive than less-efficient irrigation methods. Poor farmers may lack the capital to invest in it, or may lack the incentive to do so if water is taken directly from publicly available sources or if the government is subsidising its use.
Similar examples abound. With greater investments, it will be possible to raise farm yields, lower energy use to heat and cool buildings, achieve greater fuel efficiency for cars, and more. With new investments in research and development, still further improvements in technologies can be achieved. Yet investments in new resource-saving technologies are not being made at a sufficient scale, because market signals don’t give the right incentives, and because governments are not yet co-operating adequately to develop and spread their use.
If we continue on our current course – leaving fate to the markets, and leaving governments to compete with each other over scarce oil and food – global growth will slow under the pressures of resource constraints. But if the world co-operates on the research, development, demonstration, and diffusion of resource-saving technologies and renewable energy sources, we will be able to continue to achieve rapid economic progress.
A good place to start would be the climate-change negotiations, now underway. The rich world should commit to financing a massive program of technology development – renewable energy, fuel-efficient cars, and green buildings – and to a program of technology transfer to developing countries. Such a commitment would also give crucial confidence to poor countries that climate-change control will not become a barrier to long-term economic development.

Jeffrey Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.