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07 June, 2006

The Erring Eye

Where to start with the glaring mistakes, misunderstandings and swallowed-down-myths in this Asia Times "Roving Eye - Dubai" article?

1. "Dubai... is a self-described "door to a market of more than 1 billion consumers"."
"Self-described" for a very good reason: it's completely misleading. The vast majority of the billion "consumers" at Dubai's door are dollar-a-day third-worlders. They won't be turning up for a luxury stay at the Ritz Dubailand any time soon.

2. "Most of all, [Sheikh Zayed] had every reason to be proud of his family's intuition and business acumen - as already in the 1940s they had decided to drain Dubai's port while competitors were sleeping."
No. Zayed's family are the Al Nahyans. The Maktoums run Dubai and dredged the Creek. And the "competition" was Sharjah, part of the UAE. And the Creek was actually dredged in the 1950s and Port Rashid built in the 1960s.

3. "Sheikh Zayed was promised as he lay dying that Dubai would continue to flourish - even without gambling casinos. Not for long, it now seems. Arab Las Vegas, anyone?"
Does anyone else find this touching deathbed scene more than a little absurd to imagine? Not to mention completely irrelevant, as Zayed's main concern would have been Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and the UAE as a whole.

4. "In this mish-mash of wealthy Arab women covered in silk black chadors"
Try black georgette abayas.

5. "armies of men in dishdashas and fake gold Rolexes"
Try solid gold. Fakes are for tourists and expats.

6. "In the totally deregulated airport, anyone may land piloting any sort of aircraft."
Time to patch up the Zeppelin with sellotape and book a landing slot - the DCA will be waiting with open arms.

7. "Dubai remains in essence a protectorate - a status not substantially different from the tribal sheikhdoms dominated by the British until 1971."
Just like New York is a protectorate of Washington. (Did someone forget to decommission the Trucial Scouts?)

8. "During the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, Dubai was neutral. Thus no al-Qaeda attacks [...] an al-Qaeda attack on Dubai remains unlikely."
Sez who? Osama?

9. "If only Dubai realised that $300 billion would buy the entire outstanding debt of the developing world."
So? What's the point here, get the chequebook out? The US 2007 military budget is $463 billion, excluding Iraq.

10. "[Sheikh Mohammed] only acceded to power last January after the death of his elder brother"
No. Sheikh Mo has been in power as Crown Prince since 1995 and has singlehandedly driven the development of Dubai long before ascending to the Rulership.

11. "The "diversification" may have been one-sided so far - it revolves around tourism, real estate and commercial projects."
Surely this would make it three-sided? Quite apart from the fact that it also involves trade, heavy industry, aviation, finance, IT and media (unless they're all lumped in as "commercial").

12. "Five years ago, Dubai's Internet City was literally desert sand."
DIC opened in October 2000.

13. "Ibn Battuta... was reborn as a mall [with] "Chinese", "Indian", "Persian" or "Moroccan" halls."
Andalucia, Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India, China. No Morocco. Nor is Morocco in any way interchangeable with Persia.

14. "If she's a woman and works as a maid or in a hotel, she can be sexually harassed - and there will be no recourse."
Sexual harassment is a crime in every emirate of the UAE. Her chances of succeeding in an action may be slim, but there is recourse.

15. "Foreign companies can only operate by paying a UAE kafeel (sponsor, guarantor)"
Not if they're in a freezone, where 100% foreign ownership is permitted.

16. "Everyone knows there's a property-market bubble and the stock market is bound to fall."
Terrible journalism. Nobody "knows". People suspect/predict/reckon/speculate and hedge their interests accordingly. And not everyone agrees...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

he also says the burj dubai will be 484 metres high when the current world's tallest is over 500m

07 June, 2006 04:05  
Blogger dubaibaggie said...

Wow! Obviously trying to compete in the accuracy stakes with GN and one's favourite no. 1 newspaper.

07 June, 2006 07:26  
Blogger inmotion said...

Neither grammer or soul are strong suits of this person. I won't call him / her an author but as you say .. swallowed down myths .. live on because people choose to believe ..

07 June, 2006 09:30  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

Heh heh heh! Great fisking, SD!

07 June, 2006 10:23  
Blogger Jassim said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

07 June, 2006 11:34  
Blogger Jassim said...

oh dear.

the mistakes just kept on coming with this one. i never thought when i would have to stop scrolling down the page to reach the end of post.

lol @ Nor is Morocco in any way interchangeable with Persia.

07 June, 2006 11:41  
Blogger BuJ said...

i am not only amused by the misconceptions and inaccuracies in that article but also impressed with your response to them.

07 June, 2006 11:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more ..A 15% minority could not possibly impose either its language or religion on a cosmopolitan majority - especially when religion is the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam..Dubai is not at all "Wahhabi".

07 June, 2006 13:19  
Blogger Alex said...

Surely it would have been a better idea for Sheikh Z to dredge the port...not "drain" it?

The airport one is more accurate than the rest, though..

07 June, 2006 13:24  
Blogger Dubai@Random said...

"…Dubai feels more like Houston - but with better restaurants…"

Wrong again. And especially coming from Hong Kong: Houston has much better Chinese than Dubai.

07 June, 2006 15:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sd why r u being so defensive?

07 June, 2006 16:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree with the artice in the asian times... about time th world finds out !!!!

07 June, 2006 17:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nor is Morocco interchangeable with PERSIA???
Coming from someone who criticizes the egocentrism of this country., I find it quite hilarious..
Anyways, AL-Andalus or Andalucia was conquered by Moroccan dynasties..
Get urself a good history book, and next time u r in costa del sol, remember to visit the Moroccan built palaces..
Persia isnt the only beautiful culture in this world.
Are you digging a local with Iranian/3AJMI roots, and you are trying to impress him???

07 June, 2006 19:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-----Original Message-----
From: Vipul Salvi
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2006 3:59 PM
To: All Dubai Users
Subject: My name is Racism. I live in Dubai.

Be warned. This is a long read.

Little over a month ago, three Indian couples (including my wife and I) attempted to spend an evening at the 360/Marina Deck ­ the resto-club on the premises of Jumeirah Beach Hotel. We were stopped at the entrance for lack of reservation. While we waited on the side making reservations on the phone, two sets of Caucasians, minus reservations, were allowed inside.

What¹s more? The lady on the phone informed us that reservations weren¹t necessary. No scratching of head required, it was pretty clear why this happened to us.

Since then, we¹ve made several attempts to seek answers from Jumeirah Beach Hotel and to raise awareness about this issue.

Over the last month, we¹ve been to the Hotel over three times to meet their Security Manager and their Executive Asst Manager. These conversations
involved: sweet talk, beating around the bush and offering us free drinks which we graciously refused. We¹ve corresponded with their General Manager (e-mails attached) and it took him a good seven days to cook and serve this lie: the Caucasians who gained entry without reservations were residents of the Burj Al Arab. We¹ve contacted the people at The Evening Post, Gulf News and 7 Days. Press laws, or the complete lack of them, doesn¹t allow a newspaper to print the name of the hotel i.e. JUMEIRAH BEACH HOTEL. So all we got was a frilly mention in the Gulf News Tabloid (29th May). We¹ve made an official complaint with the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), but since the hotel has a story of their own, DTCM can¹t do much except increase surveillance/undercover checks at the venue. Which they¹ve promised us.

Why am I telling you all this?

Honestly, I don¹t know.

Maybe you didn¹t know racism lived in Dubai and now you do. Maybe you¹ll think twice before you choose this Friday¹s nightspot. Maybe this has happened before to you or someone you know, you didn¹t know what to do and now you do: DTCM 04 2230000,

Or maybe you¹ll forward this to someone and they¹ll find a voice.

Think about it and thanks for your time,

Vipul salvi & savia mahajan

The following mail was sent by six of us individually to the GM, JBH.

Sub: Letter of Complaint
Mr.Robert Kunkler
General Manager,
Jumeirah Beach Hotel,


It is with deep regret and great shock that we bring to your notice the appalling service meted out to us at your highly respected hotel ­ Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

We (names mentioned below) are 3 married couples of Indian origin residing in Dubai. We arrived at your hotel at 23:45 on the night of April 28 to spend a wonderful evening at your renowned 360/Marina Deck.

We had the good fortune of meeting your security-in-charge, Mr.Babar, at the entrance of 360/Marina Deck. Mr.Babar stopped us and proceeded to ask us if we had made reservations at 360. And we hadn¹t. Rightly he then told us only people with reservations would be allowed inside. Fair enough. We stepped aside while one of us made a phone call to your hotel to make proper reservations that would allow us a rightful entry.

Here¹s where the story gets interesting.

While we waited on the side, a group of 4 Caucasian guests arrive. Your extremely professional Mr.Babar made an enquiry and realized they suffered a predicament similar to ours: this Caucasian group hadn¹t made reservations either (clearly and distinctly overheard by six pairs of ears and do remember we were less than 3-feet away from the scene of the crime that¹s about to happen).

For an unknown reason, Mr.Babar then flipped through the A4 sheets in his hand and allows this Caucasian group that had no reservations through.

Curious, one of us asked Mr.Babar on what grounds the Caucasian group was allowed entry. To which Mr.Babar asserted, "They are regulars."

Manager of JBH, your Mr.Babar didn¹t have the slightest clue who these Caucasians were. He flipped through a guest list that didn¹t feature their names and let them through becauseŠ because of only one logical reason - the colour of their skin.

Is that too big an accusation? Are we jumping to conclusions?

Well, we waited on the side while another Œwhite¹ couple that had no reservations (as overheard by the same set of six ears) waltzed past the increasingly unpopular Mr.Babar.

We weren¹t going to take this sitting down, so one of us did tell Mr.Babar that he was being racist. Hearing which he bravely shined his flash-light on our faces.

Meanwhile, one of us was still on the phone making reservations remember, well welcome to Part 2. The lady on the phone tells us we needn¹t make reservations and we could simply walk through. At which point she was informed that the strong man at the entrance wasn¹t letting us through. To which she replied, the man at the entrance a.k.a. Mr.Babar had the right to choose who entered. Replying to that, she was asked, "If the man at the door doesn¹t like my face, does that mean we won¹t be allowed in?" She replied, "Yes."

We walked to the main building of your respectable hotel, met the Duty Manager who assisted us and called in your Security Manager, Mr.Oliver Smolcic. He heard us out and offered us his round of compensation that included a night at The Apartment. "Thanks, but no thanks", we said.

Since he was busy dealing with the hotel traffic of Friday night, we agreed to meet him at 17:00 on April 29 to discuss the events at length.

Six of us returned to JBH at 17:00 on April 29 (Saturday) and met Mr. Oliver Smolcic. Mr.Babar wasn't present, but his excuse for his doings the previous night was: we apparently were an unruly bunch that was there to cause trouble.

Mr.Manager, we are not idiots. Three couples don't dress up and go to a hotel to create confusion. We raised our voices only when the moment warranted it. Your Security Manager couldn't offer us a valid excuse for why we weren't allowed entry. And after a while of swimming in circles, we handed him a version of this letter in the hope that it will reach you.

We still await a response.

Mr.Manager, in conclusion, we aren¹t making this an issue bigger than it ought to be. This is Dubai. This is 2006. No one deserves to be treated like a second-class citizen. You are heading one of Dubai¹s finest hotels and this shameful service does not befit the brand you¹ve built.

In conclusion, we are not looking for a free-anything from JBH.

We need:
(a) An answer to why the Caucasians were let in while we weren¹t
(b) A verbal apology from your security guard, Mr.Babar and
(c) A written apology from you.

For further contact, please use the details mentioned below.

Avinash Sampath/MI/SM/VS/RS/RS.

He replied promptly:


Dear Avinash Sampath/MI/SM/VS/RS/RS,

I would like to acknowledge receipt of your emails and wish to thank you for taking the time to write and give me your feedback regarding your recent experience at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. This is certainly not indicative of the usual high standards we continuously strive for.

Please rest assured that I will personally look into your complaint and shall revert back to you within seven working days. In the meantime please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience this has caused you.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Kunkler
General Manager
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
P O Box 11416, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Telephone number +971 4 3480000, Direct number +971 4 4068102 Fax number +971 4 3480082 Visit us at

6 days later, another mail from him:


Dear Avinash Sampath/MI/SM/VS/RS/RS,
Thank you for your letter dated 1st of May 2006. I was indeed very concerned to read the content of your correspondence and immediately initiated a full and comprehensive investigation.

Please allow me to take this opportunity to clarify the reservations and entrance policy at 360. Due to the popularity of this venue the demand far exceeds the available capacity especially on a Friday where we play host to our Revolve Nights. To ensure the comfort and safety of all guests we do adhere to a strict limit on capacity, the flow of guests is subsequently controlled by operating a guest and invitation list. Guests residing at Jumeirah properties are given preferential access and an allocation of seats are kept available for this purpose.

Having reviewed both your interaction with Mr Babar and our Sales Agent I do agree that both colleagues did not communicate this to you in neither an appropriate manner nor in a clear and precise fashion. These shortcomings I will certainly address with the individuals concerned and I apologize for the inconvenience, frustration and distress this has caused to your party.

With reference to the particular persons in question I would like to reassure you that these were indeed guests of our sister property, the Burj Al Arab. As the regular officer on duty Mr Babar did recognize these guests from previous visits earlier in the week and took a minute to verify that there was still space available. I am sure you will appreciate that with over 64 nationalities of colleagues and more than 100 nationalities of guests our colleagues interact daily with a multitude of people; we pride ourselves in welcoming and respecting guests of all cultures and nations. I deeply regret that on this occasion you left our Resort with a very disturbing and negative impression.

Please allow us the opportunity to restore your faith in our ability to warmly welcome all our guests to Jumeirah Beach Hotel. I would be delighted to invite your party to return and enjoy the facilities at our Resort. I do hope you will accept not only my invitation however more importantly my apology for this unfortunate incident.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Best Regards,

Robert Kunkler
General Manager
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
P O Box 11416, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Telephone number +971 4 3480000, Direct number +971 4 4068102 Fax number +971 4 3480082 Visit us at

Obviously unconvinced, we sent this last mail:


Dear Mr.Kunkler,

We are sincerely grateful for your apologies and indeed thankful for taking time out to figure, what we hoped would be, the veritable root of the problem.

But after reading your letter, we are nowhere near convinced as to the reasons why we were dis-allowed entry.

Mr.Babar did not recognize these guests and there was no mention of Burj Al Arab in their conversation with him, you do have to remember, we were right there while this progressed. Further, there was a second couple that was allowed entry with no reservations, we did have a lengthy conversation with your staff on the phone and were clearly told reservations weren¹t required and we could walk in (your staff couldn¹t have gotten your reservation policy completely wrong) and finally, Mr. Oliver Smolcic (your Security
Manager) who interrogated Mr.Babar the next day, made no mention of this group being Burj Al Arab guests, he merely told us he had no answers as to why Mr.Babar did what he did.

In conclusion, Mr.Kunkler, we can keep writing letters to each other, but it is clear you have your side of the story and we have ours.

This is the most personal and pressing issue we¹ve had to deal with and we think the general public needs to know.


Avinash Sampath/MI/SM/VS/RS/RS

07 June, 2006 20:16  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Get urself a good history book, and next time u r in costa del sol, remember to visit the Moroccan built palaces..

Get "urself" a better brain, and try gaining some basic comprehension skills in future.

I refer you this. Designed by the illustrious samuraisam, it is equally applicable to this place.

anon@20.16 - that is correspondence is both sad and shocking.

07 June, 2006 20:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can someone tell me how i can convert a real player formet into mp3?

07 June, 2006 23:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD: 16. "Everyone knows there's a property-market bubble and the stock market is bound to fall."
Terrible journalism. Nobody "knows". People suspect/predict/reckon/speculate and hedge their interests accordingly. And not everyone agrees...

click310: SOME DO

08 June, 2006 03:50  
Blogger LazyOwl said...

Don't jump the gun, wait & look "beyond" what you see.

08 June, 2006 04:50  
Blogger moryarti said...

I am surprised he had nothing to say about Dragon Mall.. oh wait a minute .. No I am not :)

08 June, 2006 09:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous at : 07 June, 2006 20:16

From Gulf news:

Published: 06/05/2006 12:00 AM (UAE)

Tourism chief vows to take action
By Shakir Husain, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Dubai's tourism chief on Sunday promised his department will take action if it receives complaints of racism in the city's nightclubs.

A recent Gulf News polls found that 70 per cent of those visiting night clubs faced racial discrimination and were turned away by the bouncers posted at the gates.

Asked what steps Dubai was taking to crack down on such clubs, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) Director-General Khalid Bin Sulayem said: "Leave the surveys [aside]. Give me someone with evidence or someone who [has] complaints ? we will deal with the issue right away."

He said DTCM had a separate section to deal with such complaints and those violating the rules would be fined.

A number of marketing staff responsible for promoting some of Dubai's mega real estate projects have revealed to Gulf News that one night club off Shaikh Zayed Road regularly bars people hailing from different backgrounds from entry on one pretext or another.

Once a group of 15 people, including Europeans and Arabs, from the company, were shocked to see their Indian colleague being stopped from entering the premises.

The bouncer was "being racist and had a supremacist attitude towards me," said the person, who is an American citizen.

"In their own countries these bouncers would think twice before indulging in such behaviour," he said, preferring to remain anonymous.

Threatened with loss of business, the executive assistant manager of the hotel, where the club is located, apologised for "the rude attitude shown by our security guard" and for "denying entry".

A senior executive from a property consulting firm observes that Dubai's cosmopolitan lifestyle attracts people from different countries and such incidents are unhelpful in promoting the city.

Contact numbers and address

The Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing can be contacted on Tel: 971 4 2230000, Fax: 971 4 2230022, e-mail:

08 June, 2006 10:38  
Blogger rummyjohn said...

I know just the solution for the racism problem. We need to send over some Fijians, Tongans, Samoans and Maoris. Big black men who enjoy a fight. Bouncers will be bowing and scraping in no time.

08 June, 2006 11:02  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

17. Unskilled workers will be kicked out after 6 years (or 3 years if they can't renew their visa.

Looks like that labour savant minister wants to have a fresh workforce of maids and labourers every few years. I guess they don't want them to be too comfortable here - I mean, they might even start protesting for their rights if they do!

08 June, 2006 11:34  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I know just the solution for the racism problem. We need to send over some Fijians, Tongans, Samoans and Maoris. Big black men who enjoy a fight.

On behalf of sandlander ladies everywhere - yes please!

08 June, 2006 13:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Secret Dubai, you are truly a pathetic putte with no brains whatsoever.. you surely hae issues, and a Freudian session on a couch( no the usual stuff u do on couch), maybe be of a great help..
Your bias stories about Morocan secretaries amaze me...Your ignorance of other`s cultures dazzles me..
I wont waist anymore of my time with an ignorant Putte..Because thats what you are..
Etisalat better block your ass again, or even take you on a way trip to the desert..
PERSIA??? wait until Persia blows ur ass on the next Chernobyl..
then u might develop a love/hate relationship with Persia

08 June, 2006 20:39  
Blogger samuraisam said...

"I wont waist anymore of my time with an ignorant Putte"

You guys make it so easy.

09 June, 2006 07:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous 20:39: First learn how to write: "I won't Waste my time anymore with an ignorant Pute.."
And no need to be agressive, you just shame yourself !

09 June, 2006 13:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

loooooool good post, you should've sent this post to

and refute them all the way my man ;)

10 June, 2006 04:54  
Blogger secretdubai said...

FYI - and you know who you are - spam gets deleted here.

I don't mind links to interesting, relevant websites, but don't take the piss. If you're trying to sell a domain name you're squatting on all luck to you, but don't use this place as your free ad service.

11 June, 2006 00:26  
Blogger Woke said...

Dear angry anonymous,
Take it easy. SD was pointing out a factual error. I guess it is not right to conclude the court is Moroccan by seeing some Moroccan or Fez architectural features.

And to the second very angry anon(Vipul, I think),
I know it was not a very bright idea. But I went to and send their own post card to the manager wishing them best with their racist policies.
Maybe a few more like that can really annoy them?

11 June, 2006 11:47  

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