Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wish upon a star

Construction on a building expected to be the world's tallest was interrupted today (22 March 2006) after Asian workers angered by low salaries and mistreatment rioted, smashing cars and offices and causing what a government official said almost US $1 million in damage.

The stoppage also triggered a sympathy strike at Dubai International Airport today, when thousands of laborers building a massive new terminal also laid down their tools, airport and labour officials said.

Some 2,500 workers on the emerging Burj Dubai Tower and surrounding housing developments chased and beat security officers last night, broke into temporary offices and smashed computers and files, and destroyed about two dozen cars and construction machines, witnesses said.

The initial riot was caused by workers angered because buses to their residential camp were delayed after their shifts, witnesses at the site said.

An Interior Ministry official who investigates labour issues, Lt. Col. Rashid Bakhit Al Jumairi, said the rioters caused almost US $1 million in damage.

The workers, employed by Dubai-based construction firm Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke, returned to the vast site today but refused to work.

The protesting workers are among almost a million migrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and elsewhere who have poured into Dubai to provide the low-wage muscle behind one of the world's great building booms.


It's a time bomb....waiting to explode..if the situation is not improved soon.
Average wage for a general construction worker..US$7 per day (Yes, per day!), poor living condition...20 workers cramped into a small room with 10 double decker beds not uncommon...water and electricity cut off erratically when u need them most after a 15 hours hard labour under the wash up and cook your only meal per day...employers threatening to send u home if u refuse to co-operate and talk too much......
It's high time for the authority to cramp hard on those erring employers.
Is it too much to wish for a mandatory minimum wage for the workers..compatible with international standard? Is it too much to wish for a legalised union so that the workers have a place to air their grievances? Is it too much to wish for an established body by the authority to set guidelines for the living and working conditions of the workers?

Monday, March 20, 2006

I want to be an Edutainer

In Dubai....the retail motto is: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing big - bigger than anyone else. Welcome to th IBN BATTUTA MALL!..the latest flavor of the month. It bills itself as Dubai's "biggest themed mall"...named after the 14th century Muslim geographer. The theme is built around the six regions that the explorer visited: China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and Andalusia.

And they hired a couple of full-time "edutainers", whose job is to dress up in ancient robes and offer guided tours through the 1.3km long mall. Interesting...i remember back home..i alway wanted to sign up as a volunteer tour guide for the Asian Civilisation Museum...just for up your all sorts of people...etc
The shops here...nothing to brag about. However, it's really the entire experience..their tagline: Six Malls, One Destination...I love it!
By the way, the blue sky in the picture is fake...they are actually ceilings...if u like the feeling of no sense of day and night while u shop...this one for u!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

What a Twist!

In my previous posting "Duel of Two Cities"...regarding the takeover tussle of the P & O between Dubai and Singapore with the former emerging as the winner...and what a shocker when it's reported on Thursday:
DP World said in a statement that it "has decided to transfer fully the US operations of P & O Ports North America to a United States entity".
The announcement spares Mr. Bush a showdown with the Congress. It comes after leading Republicans told Mr. Bush that Congress would block the takeover, and had enough votes to override the presidential veto.....(source: AGENCIES Washington)
>all in the name of SECURITY..go figure's a real no brainer.

"It will have a chilling effect on Middle East direct investment in companies," said Gary Hufbauer a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics in Washington....meaning Middle East investors may shy away from high-profile purchases of US companies...and put their $$$$$$$$$ where they do not have to repeatedly ensure some paranoid that there's no sinister agenda behind all the deals.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Syriana: The Dubai Connection

"Syriana created an awareness that you can do a high-end movie in Dubai and that it's a new area where feature films can be shot but a lot is going to depend on the development of the industry," says Tim Smythe, CEO of Dubai-based production company Filmworks, which worked on Syriana. "The UAE's movie making business is still very young it has been growing steadily but it is not yet a complete industry and needs constant work."(Gulf News 15 Feb 2006)

I have yet to see the movie..I heard from friends who had...either u love or hate it..because there are so many layers and u need to put on your thinking cap to fully enjoy and understand the entire show. George Clooney won the Best Supporting Actor Award for the movie at the 78th Academy. He was great in ER but I thought it was a waste of his talent in Batman and Robin!

In a nutshell...Syriana is a political thriller....about oil, money,USA, China, Gulf states, spies, bribery, betrayal..economic terrorism etc sounds like everyone wants to rule the world!Its definitely not your usual good versus evil kind of show..u will probably curse and swear if this is not your stuff.

In any case, I doubt..I might be wrong....Syriana will make it to this part of the world...too sensitive and hot for the locals to handle it seems. Apparently, the local censorship board (according to BBC last night)has yet to give the green light..after more than 3 weeks of deliberation. Sounds like a dead lock! It will be ironic when the movie was filmed here in the first instance.I can assure you..Brokeback Mountain will face the same fate as in China :)

Anyway, I read that THE ALCHEMIST will be filmed in UAE, later part of this year..that should be interesting...and hopefully as someone coined it..DUBAIWOOD is in the making!