Friday, October 17, 2008

Inside Dubai's Labour Camps

As early as 6 am today, I made my way to a community park near my house in Twar 3, to play tennis with my second son, Faidhi. Been long time I played tennis, like last time was 20 years ago. Faidhi is a beginner and I was never a good tennis player, or for other sports for that matter.

Surprisingly, there were already few groups of Filipinos there playing! And we had to wait for a while before the court was free. The adjacent basketball court was filled up by Filipinos as well.

Then by 8am we went for another tennis court in Mirdiff park. Faidhi was eager to play with his coach, a friend who is playing regularly with his family. Muhaimin played soccer with some Arab kids and I made a quick dash to our favourite mamak restaurant in Qusais for a breakfast with my wife.

Returning from breakfast, we drove along 'Sonapur', a labour camp area in Muhaisnah through Mizhar, on the other side of Mirdiff. The area was busy and bustling with activities on Friday morning. Their only off day.
Hundreds of them were seen walking across the emirates road highway to go to Lulu Village Hypermarket, which is where our mamak restaurant situated.
I have never been inside the labour camps and wonder how's life inside those bird nest-like buildings.
However, no one can deny that these labourers are the real 'builders' of modern Dubai and their contributions are not without recognition from the government. From year 2000, when I arrived in Dubai as an expat until now, under both UAE Presidents and HH Sheikh Mohamed, there have been a lot of improvements and progress in accommodating these labourers.
You can read an article from Guardian and view more photos here from Guardian, New York Times,
and Al Jazeera News.

The Dubai beach-sex British couple - stupid and irresponsible

Dubai is a city so full of contradiction, says BBC.
It's a strict conservative society, where it's illegal to be gay or to kiss your wife in public - but also a city that caters for almost every Western taste.
They have attracted so many expats over the years Emiratis are now the minority, barely 20% of the population.
In one sense the Emiratis should be congratulated for their tolerance, and other Middle Eastern countries look on enviously as the economy expands at a staggering rate.
But at what cost to their culture?
Some blame the cheap package holidays which travel companies are now selling. For Britons, Dubai is now the second most popular, long-haul destination after Florida - last year attracting over one million British tourists.

I hardly go to the Dubai beaches these days. Normally, we go to 'paid beaches' with other Malaysian families. Most public parks only allow women and children during weekdays and families only on weekends.

Weekdays or weekends, there will be a lot of mat sallehs relaxing on Dubai beautiful beaches.

Nor surprising, on all the open beaches (free), there will be a lot more Pakistani or Indian or Bangla men in their traditional garbs enjoying watching the ladies sunbathing or swimming as normal scenarios in western countries.

These Pakistani or Indian or Bangla men are mostly labourers and they are single here. Cuci mata is part of their weekends. They come to the beaches by bus loads just like other foreign tourists, sightseeing all over metropolitan Dubai. Except they have a sole intention, to see white naked skins.

Some were caught watching too close for comfort or kacau-kacau, termed here as sexual harrasment to these female mat sallehs. Police is watching them watching lustily the half-naked bodies under the sun.
Last few weeks, one of the big news here is about a Briton couple caught having sex on the open beach!

The Dubai beach-sex couple weren't just stupid, they were irresponsible
There is no better recruiter for al-Qaeda than Westerners thumbing their noses at the laws of Islamic countries

Having taken the odd nocturnal stroll along Norfolk's beaches, I am no stranger to the sound of rustling grasses and cries of delight in the sand dunes. And I can't say that I've ever suffered a Mary Whitehouse moment and fired off a missive about moral decay to the council, the local newspaper or anyone else. So long as plein-airists choose a quiet spot away from children and don't leave behind condoms or broken bottles, as far as I am concerned, they can carry on frolicking from Bognor to Blackpool.
But not in Dubai. The most shocking thing about the case of Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors, who have just been jailed for three months there after being found guilty of having sex on a beach, is that they themselves appear to be shocked.
While they deny actually having sex, they admit “kissing and canoodling” and drinking in public - which they must surely have known, and if not they were warned by a policeman that evening - were in themselves imprisonable offences in Dubai.
If Palmer and Acors expect me to write an Amnesty International-style letter to the Emir begging for mercy, they can forget it. They haven't just been stupid, they have been thoroughly irresponsible. There is no better recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda than the sight of Westerners trying to thumb their noses at the laws of Islamic countries.
It would be very easy for Dubai to turn a blind eye to the behaviour of British tourists and expatriates: to say to themselves, we may not like it, but we like the foreign currency too much to discourage these free-spending Westerners.

That is the Faustian pact into which so many holiday destinations around the world have entered, with inevitable results: Westerners start to behave like outlaws, doing things that they wouldn't dare do at home. We've all seen it: the crowds of young men on the Costas who get even more drunk and swear even more loudly than they would on a night out in Basingstoke.
It doesn't end there: just look at Gary Glitter and the other British sex tourists who seek to exploit what they perceive to be a reluctance on the part of courts in the Far East to prosecute foully behaved Westerners.
Laudably, Dubai has made it quite clear that while it will accommodate Westerners taking a glass of wine with their supper and exposing their legs on the beach, it will otherwise preserve its standards of decency, even if it means putting at risk its burgeoning tourist industry. It has taken great pains to publish information on what is and what is not acceptable on its beaches.

Malaysiakini - Dr M's grand plan: Mukhriz as PM

Yes, Najib is Tun Razak's son. Tun Razak is our 2nd PM.
Tunku has no sons and daughters in politics. Tun Dr. Ismail used to have a son as an MP.

Tun Hussien's son is Hishamudin who is also Najib's cousin and is now going for UMNO's VP seat.
Pak Lah has KJ, his son in law who is running for Youth chief seat, againts Mukhriz.

And Mukhriz of course is Tun M's son. If Najib to become a PM, to end the curse of R.A.H.M.A.N theory, Hisham may follow his father, uncle and cousin's footsteps.

Then Mukhriz to be the PM-in-waiting.

They are all UMNO sons and after 51 years of merdeka, the elites have become the royal families in politics, like Ghandi, Bhutto, Kennedy and some Arab leaders.
More reasons to end UMNO hegemony.

Anwar has a daughter in parliament. Kit Siang has a Chief Minister in his family. Karpal Singah has two sons to continue his legacy.
While MCA leaders have also brother or sons to carry their families' surnames. And Sarawak's first family is going to be around for long time to come.

Hello to other 25 million Malaysians, are we not capable to produce real leaders outside this circle of hopeless generation?