Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Faidhi School Project Video 2008 at Sheffield


High Inflation Is actually Good For the UAE!

If you are living here in the UAE, there are more pressing matters to think of, beside of course the mercury level is already reaching 50 degree. The simmering heat is normal during summer and most residents, if not already gone, are leaving for vacation, including myself.

I have been reading a lot of articles on the current inflation that hits us hard. The spiralling cost is real and most of the expatriates will have to change their lifestyles as well.

A report says:

Nothing about the economy is more emotive than the cost of living. Having a wealth of information - on stock markets, levels of supply and demand, and the balance of trade - is all well and good. But, when it comes down to it, what the majority of people care about most is how it will hit their pockets.
And people’s pockets have been well and truly hit. In 2007 inflation in the UAE stood – officially – at 11.1 per cent, its highest level in at least 20 years. Rents have risen so much that the government moved to introduce a cap on price rises; the cost of everyday items is creeping up as the quality of life creeps down.
Yet some believe that high inflation is a good thing for residents. One commentator says that rising prices represent “the oil that drives the economy”, and are merely a consequence of rapid development and a booming property sector. The argument is that - as more and more people come to live and work in the UAE - intense demand (especially on rental properties) will inevitably drive up prices as the country attempts to fast-track its economy. But residents will, eventually, reap the rewards of this.
Another more controversial view is that high inflation is good because it can actually deter people from coming to live and work in the UAE. Businessman and commentator Sultan Al Qassimi says that – while he is in favour of immigration – “the country just can’t take any more people coming in”.
Al Qassimi believes that a higher cost of living may bring a better quality of life because it means fewer people will be putting pressure on essential services and infrastructure, like the roads.
Do you agree? Are we paying more, but getting a better quality of life?
Or is the rising cost of living deterring workers who could be of benefit to the economy, while spelling poorer living conditions (and higher levels of personal debt) for those already living in the UAE?

Finally, I bought a car… now I just need somewhere to park it

By Jen Gerson

After four months of fighting fellow commuters for the winning hail, cheating my fellow man out of cabs as they drew up, and even sometimes standing directly in the path of an oncoming taxi only to be refused service because I was not travelling as far as Mussafah, I had had enough. It was now far too hot for this tripe, I decided… and no one had told me that the municipality was to launch a bus service. So I bought a car.
As so often happens, I have traded one set of problems for another. Although I no longer have to bear the brunt of the mid-morning sun while waiting for a taxi that may never come, I do have to contend with the green sentinels perched at all corners of Hamdan Street: the portents of the imminent arrival of paid parking. In a recent interview, Abdulla al Shamsi, the director of roads and infrastructure with the Abu Dhabi municipality, said that the green parking machines are not yet functioning as the laws required to enforce parking infractions have not yet been put in place. He was very proud, however, that the green machines are the latest and greatest in the field of parking technology and will accept coins, credit cards and even allow drivers to recharge their stubs by mobile phone.
The new machines do offer one considerable downside, however: They mean we will all have to pay for parking. But Mr al Shamsi assures us that this will not be an out-and-out cash grab; the meters are intended as a means of reducing traffic and nudging drivers into the paid, multi-storey car parks. There is one problem with that theory, as anyone who has attempted a 33-point turn through a triple-parked back street can attest: the car parks are full, too.
The municipality has said that additional parking towers are to be built across the city to alleviate the nightly parking smash and dash. This sounds wonderful, until we see where they are to be placed: in the Tourist Club area and in the east of the island, away from central Hamdan and Electra Streets, where parking is most problematic.
So why would new parking towers not be placed in the most congested areas?
“There’s no room there,” the municipality said. Thanks, we had noticed. The municipality does admit, however, that it does not want to improve the parking situation too much, as that would encourage new residents to buy more cars.
The Abu Dhabi municipality does not have an easy beat. It has to manage a city that is growing exponentially and a road system that is at, or over, capacity. According to Mr al Shamsi, the number of cars on the motorways has doubled in each of the past two years.
Any city in the world would be straining under that kind of growth. But fresh fields of shaded free parking spaces on their own will not create a further spurt in car sales. In Abu Dhabi, the car is king because there is no viable alternative. I would have been happy to skip the expense and trouble of a car but, as a recent report pointed out, the number of taxis in the city had increased by only eight per cent in the past decade, while the population had grown by 70 per cent. Because of this strain, depending on cabs is not a reliable way to get to and from work. The new bus service I have yet to test and now never will.
The lack of an inter-emirate train system makes seeing friends and doing business in Dubai inconvenient and expensive without a car. Entire swaths of Abu Dhabi, including attractions such as the Zayed Sports Complex, the summer festival at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Khalifa City and the Bateen neighbourhood are virtually inaccessible without private transportation. The city has been built for the car and parking meters are not going to stop people from buying them. Where there is no alternative, the meters are just going to add to the spiralling cost of living.
How is it that we can build the world’s next major cultural district in less than a decade, the planet’s most expensive hotel, and yet omit to pencil in bike lanes or hire enough taxis? Why has it taken two years of congested roads to implement a basic bus system?
Although the municipality has not said when it will start charging for parking on Hamdan Street, it has promised that the system would only come on line with the availability of public transit. Well, the buses are here now, so the charges are unlikely to be far behind. In the meantime, I am just one more driver with nowhere to park.


Did Anwar frame himself?

When majority is still on this sodomee and sondol-u issues, we have more theories coming out from every where. Thanks to the Internet that we are busier nowadays and forget about more pressing issues that affect our lives.

In Dubai, not only Malaysians residing and working here discussing on the lates c4-type of news that changed the course of the day, some other locals and expatriates who are following up Malaysia political scene are also clamouring for more juicy news.

One prominent person, the former Minister of Finance (read here) who said it loudly, "Very cheap!"

I had received more calls yesterday than before and my ears are already tired of listening to this not-so-healthy and not-politically-correct matter and perhaps my kids will not ask me about this sodomee matter when they reach Malaysia soon for vacation.

Anwar was our guest about two weeks ago (here) and he is now all over again accused as a sodomite.

But then again, this is Malaysia and the current youngsters should be more aware of sodomee than before when liwat word first introduced by our former PM with a big 'bang' a decade ago. If I do not explain to my kids the real situation, they can turn into Internet and learn themselves which may be either better of worse, depending on which sites and sides they are inclined to.

The truth is out there, again and we may see things differently with the real truth, otherwise, life is not fun without distractions along the way, unless of course we live in a cave!

To share with you this article from malaysiakini.

Liwat-gate: Who wins, who loses
Ong Kian Ming & Oon Yeoh Jul 1, 08 11:58am
In yesterday's podcast, we discussed the main actors who could be behind the latest attack campaign against de facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim. Today, we want to discuss the winners and losers as a result of this debacle.
It doesn't take a political analyst to conclude that a very large percentage of Malaysians do no believe the allegations made against Anwar.
Most people would summarily dismiss this allegation as politically motivated, and for good reason.It certainly comes at an 'opportune' time as the administration tries to come to grips with the continued speculation about Barisan Nasional MPs crossing over to Pakatan as well as containing the backlash from the petrol price hikes.
It's not like Pakatan Rakyat has been doing everything right either but those who may have been disappointed with the opposition coalition’s shortcomings – like the failure to form a shadow cabinet, the failure of the Pakatan state governments in Penang and Kedah to coordinate on the water-catchment issue, the impatience of Anwar to form the next government – would now swing their sympathy back towards Pakatan or redirect their anger towards BN.

More specifically, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will most definitely receive the brunt of the anger. Some may accuse him of playing a role in all this, especially the masses who might not watch politics very closely.
Others, even if they do not believe that he is responsible, will blame him for not taking a stronger stand in quashing these allegations and finding out who might be responsible for them.
All other things being equal, one might have thought that this would benefit Najib Razak, who is both Abdullah's deputy as well as his rival.
But with the emergence of a photo of the alleged victim standing with one of Najib's aides in the office of the deputy prime minister, any benefit Najib could have gained from the public backlash against Abdullah has gone out the window.
As if Najib didn't already have his hands full trying to fend off the allegations surrounding himself and his wife in regard to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder, he now faces a fresh round of allegations in regard to the Anwar sodomy case. In fact, Najib had to go as far as to hold a press conference to deny any involvement on his part.

Anwar may win Malay sympathy

Undoubtedly the person who has gained most from this allegation is Anwar himself. These allegations, barring a Chua Soi Lek-type video, will hold no water. It has already been dismissed by the public as a political ploy.
Most importantly for Anwar, he has gained a powerful lever to wrench back some of the Malay support that he may have been lost as a result of the scare tactics employed by Umno, and even Dr Mahathir Mohamad, that the Malays would lose out as a result of the opposition gaining strength and even more so if Anwar takes over as PM.

This approach seemed to be gaining some traction amongst the Malay ground, so much so that it prompted rumours of possible Umno-PAS cooperation on issues to do with 'Malay unity'.

So, in an ironic sense, this fresh allegation of sodomy was just the fillip Anwar needed to get Malay sympathy back to his side.Anwar, always the master tactician, has milked this situation to the max. By taking refuge in the Turkish embassy, ostensibly out of fear for his personal safety, he has elevated both the drama as well as the public sympathy for his situation.

While we have no doubt that Anwar has received death threats in the past and probably on a regular basis, it can't be denied that his decision to seek shelter at the Turkish embassy had a strategic value either.

Fortuitously for Anwar, the sodomy allegation came at a time when he was just about to file a police report on the attorney-general and the inspector-general of police alleging that both of them were complicit in fabricating evidence against him. This impeccable timing only bolsters Anwar's claim that the previous sodomy charges were politically motivated as is the current charge.

Did he frame himself?

Last but not least, this latest development actually buys Anwar more time to achieve his aim of toppling the government through crossovers. September 16 is coming up fast and so far there is no indication that there will be a mass crossover happening any time soon. His credibility was at stake.

Now, with what has happened, if September 16 comes and goes without any change of government, no one is going to blame him. After all, he's now busy fighting off a smear campaign and even fearing for his life!

Given that Anwar will benefit enormously from this new sodomy allegation, some of the more cynical folks out there might think that he himself was behind this development in the first place.

We dismiss this scenario as it is way to risky for him to do something like that – that is, to frame himself for sodomy in the hopes of gaining public sympathy. Anwar may be a politician in a hurry but he's not reckless.

In light of the events over the past two days, the planned anti-petrol hike rally on Sunday, July 6, will take on a new dimension. It will morph into an anti-petrol hike, anti-BN, anti-Pak Lah, anti-Najib and pro-Anwar reformasi type rally. Will this be the straw that breaks the BN's grip on government?