Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Restaurants continue to levy Service Charges on Customers

Every one has made a hue and cry about this 10% service charge levied by the restaurants in UAE. Ministry says service charge is illegal and restaurants continue to justify the same. As quoted in the 7 days article “The committee, which is chaired by Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, said that under Consumer Protection Law 26, issued in 2006, restaurants are not allowed to add any service charge to a bill.” If this rule is in the books past 3 years, was the Consumer Protection Committee sleeping or the restaurants were never awake?

I want my money back. A lot is being questioned and discussed about the charges in the local forums and newspapers, which causes further confusion. As per an article published in The National – most of the restaurants remain confused about this rule or rather are taken by surprise. Some of them justify the charge as a means to provide high service standards to their customers. The only question remains that do the restaurants continue to charge or not? As of today the restaurants maintain that if the Ministry insists then they would discontinue the service charge. I believe the statement made by Mr Al Mansouri has fallen on deaf ears – stop the service charge. Have you recently dined out at any restaurants in the past 2 days which levy a service charge?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Facebook and Twitter - Trending Topics 2009

After the search giant, Google and Yahoo, both the social networking websites Twitter and Facebook released a list of trending topics in 2009.

Starting with Twitter, Iran Elections dominated the tweeting scene during the year, followed by Swine Flu. The Hash Tag list also has #iranelections at the 2nd position after #musicmonday. Micheal Jackson was the most popular celebrity on Twitter; similar trend has been noticed in the search engines as well. Google wave is the most discussed technology on the site.

Facebook Memology trends are loosely spread topics ranging from the expected Facebook application to “I”. The most interesting fact is that “Twitter” is one of the trending topics on Facebook, whereas there is absolutely no mention of Facebook on Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg needs to watch this trend carefully.

Amongst Facebook gaming applications Farmville dominates the scene by end of the year. Across the year "Farm" has been the favourite application on the website but later has been subdued by Farmville.

Just in case you were wondering what is FML – “F” stand for you to interpret “M” – My “L” - Life. Its kind of funny, but yeah, this was the second most trending topic on this website.

If we carefully observe the topics, Twitter has more focus on what’s happening around the world whereas Facebook talks about what’s happening in its own world.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

UAE Residents Search for 'Octomom' in 2009 – reveals Google Zeitgeist

Every year Google releases a list of most popular search of the year on the search engine. This is called Google Zeitgeist. Google tracks what people are searching online from most popular news site to restaurant. Below are the rising trends in UAE:

The above chart shows that most of the people in UAE were busy searching for airlines like Fly Dubai, Air India etc. this year. The trend shows that many people are inclined toward low-priced airfares.

Most Popular Airlines
1. emirates airline
2. pia airline
3. flydubai

There is definitely a growing interest to know more about social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. This indicates that businesses need to invest time and money in these sites as this is where most of the people may be spending their time on the Internet.

Fastest Rising: what is ...
1. what is Twitter
2 .what is facebook
3. what is love

There was an urge amongst the UAE resident to understand the economy by searching for what is recession and GDP.

Fastest Rising: what is ...
5. what is recession
6. what is life
7. what is gdp

One of the most interesting stat released in the report was that there is a rising news search among the people in UAE to know more about Nadya-Suleman – the ‘Octomom’ who gave birth to 8 children in Jan 2009.
Slum Dog millionaire and Indian Elections are also amongst the fastest rising news searches.

Fastest Rising News Searches
1. nadya-suleman
2. slumdog-millionaire
فتح الإسلام .3.

The trend to read the news online has definitely caught in UAE and the local news papers need to make a note of it.

Most Popular News Sites
1. gulf news
2. malayalamanorama
الامارات اليوم .3. (al emarat al youm)

Globally the King of Pop Michael Jackson dominated the charts once again: -

Monday, December 14, 2009

Financial Institutions adopt Social Media

Today most of the financial services companies are busy taking a stock of their losses and looking for optimistic signs in their books. While the financial pundits predict the possibility of reviving the economy, I believe listening to your customers is what’s missing in most of the companies. Many financial and non financial companies are busy implementing what then want to but not what the customer needs.

In the era of Internet, Financial Institutions need to cautiously but firmly make place in the Social Media world to receive feedback from the customer. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Linked In are some of the many sites which can as agents for these companies to spread their message.

Many banks have presence on the Facebook, but lack of transactional capability may not attract customers to become a fan or member of that particular page. Having an information page about the products and services would be a good start with, but may not be immensely popular with the customers. Tapping Facebook will require banks to come up with a tricky formula of entertainment, sales and information in addition to providing a secure environment. Yet Facebook’s urge to go public with its user data may be discouraging for many financial intuitions to associate themselves with this website. To meet the legal and compliance requirements would be another horrendous task.

During my research, I came across an application on Facebook that allows users to perform financial transactions - Fiserv's MyMoney, which is now only available to credit unions, and may be offered to banks in the near future. Facebook users download the application, which helps them find and join a credit union,  view account histories and balances, and make transfers.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo, ING DIRECT and First American Bank are among the many financial institutions using Twitter for marketing. Twitter is a tool which can be used to directly interact with your customers and inform them about the services. The live time reply facility on Twitter can help a company obtain feedback or resolve customer issues. Twitter can help bank’s build long term relationships and give a more personal feel to it. Click here to follow your bank on Twitter

As I said before, financial institutions need to be Cautious with their presence in Social Media. One of the possible threats could be a fraudster posing as a bank employee and asking customer for credentials by setting up a similar profile. Online squatter could register themselves on financial institutions name on social media sites and then negotiate with the companies to buy them back. Alternatively, phising attacks are anyways looming on the Internet and you may be redirected to a site where there is possibility of compromising your personal details

Banks are yet to experiment with this space to come out with a solid working model. Expecting a ROI on spend is not the way forward, as Social Media is still in its infancy stage trying to develop such a model. This is just another form of communication tool available to reach to your customers which will ultimately in long term bring the dollars.

Can we handle the rains?

Ohhhhh God!

It took us 4 hours to travel from Shaikh Zayed Road to Al Mulla Plaza..damn this is just not good. Some of the rumors taking rounds in the market were…

  1. Emirates road was blocked
  2. Airport road was jammed
  3. Some mall like Khalidiya and Al Wahda Malls in Abu Dhabi and Ibn Batutta Mall in Dubai had a leakage
  4. The roof of Mercato Mall had some damage and the rains had caused severe damage
  5. A storm is expeted to hit Dubai and Sharjah in 2 hours time (I saw it on Twitter around 08:00 hrs)

Check out the pics of various location in Sharjah and Dubai drenched in water.

We had to take several brakes on our journey to Sharjah as the traffic scene refused to improve. Surprisingly once we reached the Al Tawoon mall road in Sharjah the roads were clear. One of the reasons could be that Sharjah had taken precautionary steps to battle water logging this year. Similar situation occurred in January 2008, whereby many commuters had faced similar issues and Dubai was quoted to have lost millions due to the heavy pouring.

We would like to hear your story. Please share your commuting experiences of the day.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Al Adil Store - Survivor in the age of Internet

My mom usually does her grocery shopping at the Al Adil store. Out of curiosity I accompanied her last week to the shop to observe the customer profile and category of product offered at the store.

A quick summary of the store :

In 1984, Adil Store was opened in order to cater to the needs of the Indian house wife residing in Dubai. Clients from far off places like Abu-Dhabi, Sharjah, Al Ain, Fujairah use to come to the Bur-Dubai supermarket. Encouraged by this tremendous response, two more Branches were opened - One in Abu-Dhabi and the other in Sharjah.

The store is driven by goods and services. This store is an answer to all the Indian cravings of quality Indian pulses, Spices, Dals, Beans, Lentils, Peas, Rice, Wheat Groceries, Pickles, Branded and miscellaneous Non- food Items. Over the years the customer base has widened from just house wives to prestigious 5 Star Hotels- Like Hilton, Sheraton Group to reputed catering companies Like- Emirates Abela, Intercat, Albert Abela & Co to Dubai Duty Free
Due to the large population of Indians in Dubai, there is a lot of word-of-mouth advertising of this store through customers who frequent the store. The store also has a dedicated website – which however, needs some revisions and which needs to be kept up-to-date. The management also claims to have enlarged and sustained a wide category of customers without any break for the last 15 years.

The various products at Al Adil are exported in bulk from India, by Tulaja Exports to a warehouse in Al Quoz, where the bulk items are repacked into packs of 50gms to 50 kgs, depending on the expected demand of the various products. This is the stage where the Dirham price is finalised and the various products dispatched to each of the outlets.

Price is fixed and there is no scope for bargaining in this ‘fixed’ price store. But the philosophy of the owners is that customers wouldn’t mind paying few dirhams more (than the rupee price) for a brand / product that gives them a taste of home. – It seems that their philosophy has turned out to be a highly profitable service model.

I was startled to discover how this mini chain store has become part of the daily Indian house hold in UAE. Almost every Indian housewife is aware of this brand and has shopped at least once in their life time in Dubai.
Strange but true! In this Internet age these stores are survivors having bare minimum presence on the Internet but managing to attract customers. I couldn’t find a single picture of the shop on the Internet, but numerous interviews of the store owner Dhananjay Datar. Well done Mr. Datar to get the business going.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dubai Fountain at Burj Dubai Lake

It is so mesmerizing to see the world largest dancing fountain, set on the Burj Dubai Lake, shooting water as high as 500 ft.
The Dubai Fountain has daily shows scheduled every 20 minutes starting at 06:00 pm. Check out the daily schedule of the fountain show.

The fountain has 1.5 million lumens of projected light and uses 22,000 gallons of airborne water.

The below video has the show performed on the world renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Con te partiro (Time to Say Goodbye).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Seasonal End to Sharjah Traffic Woes

Sharjah Municipality has set up dams near the Sharjah International Airport, Emirates Road, Al Dhaid Road heading toward Sharjah and industrial areas to avoid water logging during the rainy season.

Small dams have been built in these high traffic areas to ensure smooth flow of vehicles during rains.
Sharjah Municipality says please call the number emergency municipality number 993 in case of any complaints.
Cheers to the Sharjah Municipality for being proactive and taking the lead. Other emirate’s should get a cue from this move and take similar measures.

I hope this will bring an end to the traffic woes in Sharjah during the rainy season.Click here to read more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Google Voice Search - Please Raise Your Voices

Google has gone one step further in the field of Search. Now you can search on the command of your voice. Google Search by voice is now available on Nokia S60 phones. S60 phones are any of your ESeries or NSeries phone running on a Symbion operating system. Yell any thing on your phone from Dubai to Digital and your effort will be recognized. Check out the below video for details.

The new application will also be allow Chinese users to search in Mandarin. Check out the post published on Official Google Blog for further reading.

Note that the application is for version 3 of Nokia S60 - more recent phones running version 5 (touch screen) are not yet supported. To download the application go to m.google.com
So what are you waiting for get you mobile phone and start yelling ;)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cool Twitter Conference - Dubai

The Eighteenth Twitter Conference will be held in Dubai, on 18th Nov 2009. The event will be held at Media Rotana, Barsha. The event is being held in association with Total IT Solutions of Dubai.
The event is being organized world wide in association with a Washington, DC-based technology group, The Cool Blue Company LLC.
The Cool Twitter Conference provides an environment for developers, people in business, and buffs from several fields of discipline, who would like to enhance their understanding of maximizing the power of Twitter, and contribute to the discussion of how to benefit from this real time social media site.

For a complete list of speakers and other details click here or follow @SaleemFancy on twitter.

Some of the upcoming Cool Twitter Conferences: -

Orange County - Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Philadelphia - Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Pittsburgh - Friday, November 13th, 2009

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Minneapolis - Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Government 2.5 - Washington, DC - December 14th & 15th

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Social Search - Be Part of the Experiment

Social search or a social search engine is a type of web search method that determines the relevance of search results by considering the interactions or contributions of users (courtesy Wikipedia)

Well Social Search in simple terms is ability to search content (blogs, pics, reviews etc) uploaded by people in your Social Circle. These people can be your connections on Linked in, your friends on Facebook, your Twitter buddies etc.

Guys….Google is giving us an opportunity to be part of their experiments. These experiments cover fields like Search Wiki with sound, Key board short cuts Accessible View and Google Social Search – my favourite. Now this is something really interesting. Oops you still haven’t signed on for the experiment ?

What are you waiting for click here and sign up :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

GeekFest 2.0 - Great Meet :)

This one was a really well organized event at an implausible location like Shelters. Thanks to Alex for getting all the geeks together under one roof. This was an event which didn't require registration/entrance fees/'wasta' ;) Some of the highlights of the evening were …

Catalin Marin – He spoke on the High Dynamic Range, photography and how can we master it using Photoshop. Thanks Catalin for sharing the techniques, it was a great help

James Piecowye and Giorgio Ungania – The Tedx Dubai heroes were also present to share with us the back stage chaos they went through to organize such an excellent event

Narain Jashanmal – Shared with us his views on e books and how this business model is shifting from print to online. He also informed us that Jashanmal is soon stepping into the online world with the launch of online website to sell books based on a Barnes and Nobles model.
I had left by the time the 4th speaker was expected to take control of the smart, private screening room - though I was keen to listen to him :(
Looking forward to Geek Fest 3.0

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tedx Dubai – A Fulfilling Experience

Attending Tedx Dubai was just so fulfilling. For once I felt, yeah! Someone is thinking here :)

Tedx is an independently organized event which is a major success for Dubaians. We had 19 passionate speakers highlighting topics ranging from social media to marginalized communities to traditional food to biophotonics. TED is an annual global event where some of the people are invited to share what they are most passionate about. "TED" stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.

Conference from 10 am – 6:30pm with three short breaks

Where: Palladium, Media City

The event was well organized in a world class auditorium with good food, and superior seating arrangement…all this was done without asking for a penny from the attendees. Now that’s what I call exceptional sponsorship.

Some of the highlights of the events were:

Samar Jodha – He has dedicated his life to a marginalized community called phaneng in North East of India for their revival. He doesn’t believe in just clicking photos and displaying them in art galleries rather has gone ahead in rebuilding this almost extinct community. He has managed to set up eco tourism projects at the village and helps the community build business for their own survival.

Mohamed and Rashid Parham Al Awadhi – The Wild Peeta brothers did an excellently coordinated presentation and demonstrated the ability to create a world class Shawarma brand.

Leo Laporte – Spoke about how User Generated Content has brought an end to the monopoly of big media empires.

Joichi Ito – This speaker explained what exactly goes in the background of Internet content and its legalities. Being a venture capitalist he gave all of us some investment tips.

Paul Bennett – The speaker from IDEO inspired all of us to think about “Your Idea of Dubai”.

Dr. Naif Al Mutawa: He was undoubtedly the funniest presenter of the evening, who has managed to create The99, which is creation of dozens of animated super heroes representing different countries.

Masrat Daud – The 8 day academy girl, illustrated her determination to change the world in 8 days. She managed to at least educate gals in a village west of India changed their mindset about functional education.

Bashar Atiyat – The Bedouin in Hollywood explained to the audience the how does one accept change in culture.

Abed Ayyad- Explained to the audience the importance of Biophotonics and why UAE should look into introducing this latest technology in the country.

Dubai Abdulla Abulhoul – I was amused to see this youngest presenter at the event who remarkably is the Middle East’s youngest Director.

Check out this link for quotes from all the speeches.

In recent years, TED has expanded to include an international conference, TEDGlobal; media initiatives, including TED Talks and TED.com; and the TED Prize.

Thank you Tedx Dubai for the invite and hope to see you again next year.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Etisalat to launch Branded Mobile Phones

The country’s largest service provider will launch it own mobile phone targeting mass market as reported in Business 24-7. The phone will be launched in a week’s time as reported by the vice president of product marketing. The phone will be priced @ of AED 300 and feature mobile broadband applications, service portal Weyak and other customizations. Etisalat used to offer customized handset to its customers from  1994 – 1996. Etisalat had launched the iPhone packages for its Wasel and Postpaid customers earlier this year.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Elements of Humanity

Make magazine interviewed some of the greatest minds working in the field of science and technology. The people interviewed have various fascinations like microbes, chess, sharks, fossils, periodic tables etc. The magazine asks these great thinkers what they would like to do for the planet. Hey, if you do have any ideas about science and tech do share it with the site, to have you own space. Check out this amazing mutimedia website with great ideas http://elementsofhumanity.com/

Monday, September 28, 2009

Malicious Ads slip past Google

All the Fire Fox fans, please be careful with downloading the latest browser version. An ad on Google actually directs you to firefox.mozilla-now.com, a site that tries to get users to pay $2.50/month for an ongoing support.

Mozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser born from Netscape Communicator Suite. Firefox has 22.98% usage share of web browsers as of August 2009, making it the second most popular browser in terms of current use worldwide after Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which stands at 66.97% share.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Courier – Microsoft’s ‘Secret Tablet’ Photo’s Leaked

Gizmodo a tech blog got its hands on what it believes is the secret new tablet computer being developed by Microsoft. This 7 inch new tablet PC has two screens, opens like a book and is designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus. Courier is believed to be in a "late prototype" stage of development. It's not a tablet, it's a booklet.

Check out the article and initial video of the device.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sharjah Power Outage - Summary

Summary of the Sharjah Power Outages past 1 month.

(Attached is the map highlighting the areas most impacted by the outages in RED)

14 Aug 09 –15 Sep 09 – Intermittent power failures across Sharjah, leading to complete blackout on a number of days.

- Electricity failures continued for few days and no satisfactory explanation from Sewa officials increased doubts on the recovery from the outage. News papers reported that Sewa helpline would not answer calls or were not able to give appropriate clarification to the residents.

- Business Losses - 5-7 million/day as per an economist (Gulf news 14th September 09)

Few quotes from the Sewa officials in the local news papers,

- A senior Sewa official said that the power cut was caused by a problem with one of the main generators, and that the first phase of emergency plan was being implemented – Khaleejtimes 20th Aug 09

- According to Essa Al Zarouni, Director of Control Section at Sewa, the power outage occurred because the electricity supplied was more than capacity- Khaleejtimes 20th Aug 09

- A senior official at the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) said the power outage occurred due to an overload at one of the generators at the main power plant- Gulf News 27th Aug 09

Points to note -

  • Street lights continue to be switched on as early as 06:00 in the morning

  • No compensation plan for companies who incurred losses

  • Sewa management has till date not disclosed the exact reason for these intermittent outages, but has accepted that the authorities were not able to keep up with the development across the emirate.

The power situation has considerably improved over the past few days as reported in today's newspaper

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dubai Metro Halted

News – Dubai Metro has been halted, rumour is that one of the passengers on the train pressed the emergency. Due to this all the stations are shut until further notice. The Rashidiya station was jam packed a while ago…

Another rumor is that it was a signal failure due to which the trains were halted and all the stations were shut. It took more than 3 hours for the passengers traveling to and fro from Nakheel Harbour to the Airport station.

Nevertheless, Dubai Metro is certainly an achievement and will definitely contribute to the development of the emirate.

Girl Who Silenced the UN for 5 Minutes


Awesome video! The speech was given by Severen Suzuki representing ECO at Rio De Janerio in 1992 highlighting environmental issues that we continue to face now. We really need to clean up our act, and help save the planet. Selfish and greedy people continue to exploit the planet even though the world leaders were made aware of the environmental problems 17 years ago.

To honour the video lets celebrate UAE Earth Hour - on 30 September 2009.

Calling all the UAEens to switch off lights at home on 30 Sep 09. What say ?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Reviewing the September '08 Credit Crises

It was almost a year ago when, Lehman Brothers, one of world’s most trustworthy investment bank collapsed. This led to global financial panic, crashing of stock markets, housing crises failure of major investment houses etc. The series of event took place last September spreading panic world wide among bankers and destabilizing the financial system. When the dust had settled most of the world markets were down and big power houses were competing for government fund support.

While the crisis was on its peak in the West, the UAE governments were confident enough to pass this phase. UAE is also feeling the tremors of the crises, but the waves took a while to reach the Middle East.

The world governments have been predicting an optimistic forecast, whilst the world was in recession since October 2007. The world leaders failed to recognize the same which has led to the current crises.

The job is still not done, as the finance ministers of G20 nations meet to discuss “exit strategies”.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Twitter will track your Location

You can now be tracked on Twitter J.Don’t be scared. Twitter is planning to add a location feature in its micro blogging platform. Twitter co founder Biz Stone informed that the new API will allow developers to add latitude and longitude to any tweet.

This service can be exploited by marketers to target their respective geographical customer segments. This can help marketers/retailers to offer their customers limited time discounts or inform about various events in their immediate proximity.

Twitter informs that the data will not be stored for an extended period of time. If you are a developer this is the right time to create some interesting applications on Twitter. Follow me on twitter @kapilkb :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yahoo Plans to acquire Maktoob

Yahoo has finally taken a plunge in the Arabic world by acquiring Maktoob.com, the largest Arab web portal and online community. GCC companies can now target their ads toward Arabic speaking customers using the Yahoo portal. Last year, I had met online sales director for Yahoo Middle East at a conference who confirmed that Yahoo had previously attempted to acquire Maktoob, but was not able to meet the financial expectations of the website management. The formalities of the merger are expected to be completed by 4th quarter of this year.

Soon Arab users will be using the Yahoo Messenger and Mail on Maktoob. Yahoo last month signed a 10-year search pact with Microsoft that will enable the company it to become the exclusive global sales force for both partners' premium advertisers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fancy a Gucci Car Seatbelt?

The Fashion bug is trying to get into our car seat belts. The following article was reported in
7days newspaper, stating that UAE Road Safety officials are trying to encourage young drivers to wear seatbelts while driving by introducing fashionable and stylish straps.

Many young drivers don’t consider it cool and deem it as a cowardly act to wear seat belts while they are behind the wheels. As per the article, the latest figures by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) shows that only 11 per cent of Emiratis and 44 per cent of expats wear seatbelts, which I believe is one of the many reasons for causing horrific deaths in car accidents.

History of Seat Belts – The first known seat belt was introduced in 1958 in Volvo cars. Aircraft engineer Bohlin was consulted by Volvo to help it design a seat belt. Within 5 years most of the cars were equipped with a belt in the front seats after 1958.

Perhaps, wearing an Armani or Gucci seatbelt will become a style statement or a way of expressing oneself in the elite class of society. Do you think drivers would ever like to have a branded car seatbelt or would it just be another fad?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Emirates ID Catch

Yeah! I have finally got my Emirates ID done. It took me just 2 hours to complete the formalities. I just wanted to make every one aware of the renewal procedures for the ID and wanted to share my frustration with the potential ID takers.

For Illustration Purposes

My Visa Expires in September 2010
I went to register for the ID card in August 2009

Emirates ID Charges – 100 per year (for the year you have a valid visa)

I had to end up paying AED 200, ‘cause I went to register for the ID a month earlier. Had I gone in September 2009 for the ID, I would have paid only AED 100. I requested the official at the center to issue me the card from September 2009, thus enabling me to pay only AED 100, but my pleas fell deaf on her ears. To add to my frustration I will have to pay AED 300 next year upon renewing my visa.

Friends please ensure you are not being charged more than what you need to pay. Ideally, try registering for the ID exactly a year before your visa expires.
Click here for the Emirates ID Schedule

Is your email Throttled ?

Many companies are busy sending emails to their customers to promote their products and services. ISPs (Internet Service Provider) monitor and manage emails sent via their servers to ensure they are not being flooded by spammers. Besides blocking and filtering nowadays ISPs use throttling technique to block emails from a user having vague reputation or has been known to spam the servers.

Throttling is a technique where by an ISP allows a limited number of emails from a sender for a set period and blocks any emails beyond that limit. Throttling is a liberal process versus completely blocking emails from a sender. Many ISPs use it to manage message delivery from high-volume senders or questionable sources. Presently the trend is changing as throttling is used because of the sender's reputation as well.
I wonder if Etisalat would ever use Throttling technique on various spam SMS sent on our mobile phones.

Check out this link on Wikipedia, which claims that Etisalat uses throttling technique (in a negative way) to block peer-to-peer traffic, gaming and other types of traffic to reduce load on its oversubscribed international links.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

RTA to launch 10 Metro Stations

I have just come to know that on 09/09/09 RTA will launch only 10 stations. Below is the list of 10 probable stations that may be launched in Sep : -

- Rashidiya
- Deira City Center
- Al Rigga
- Union Square
- Burjuman Square
- Al Jafiliya Station
- Financial Center (DIFC)
- Mall of Emirates
- Jumeirah Island
- Dubai Airport Terminal 1

The inauguration will be done at the Financial Center Station. Most of the stations will have limited retail outlets open to the public as they are still under construction.

Also check out the new website launched by RTA http://metrogis.rta.ae/. The website provides information about Metro lines, stations, running time and multi-modal interchange points using the Geographical Information System (GIS).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Speculations Surrounding Dubai Metro Launch

41 Days left for the launch of Dubai Metro. One of Dubai’s most ambitious projects is coming to an end. On September 09, 2009 RTA will launch the Red Line. Some of the facts of this line: -

Estimated Passenger Traffic – 600,000 per day
Total Stations – 29
Route – Rashidiya – Jebel Ali
Length – 52.1 km

As an estimate by RTA, the Red and Green Lines will serve 1.2 million passengers on an average day, that is, approx. 27,000 passengers per hour for each line, and 355 million passengers per aer year when both lines are fully operational. And it will comprise 12% of the total trips in Dubai. Bus routes and stops will be organized around the backbone of the metro system. Taxi stations and park-and-ride facilities & services will be provided in the key metro stations.

Now some speculations going around in the market on the launch of Dubai Metro

- Local media has been reporting that Metro will not be fully operational on day one.

- RTA still maintains that all the stations will be operational on the launch date

- Some of the resources have said only 9-10 stations will be active and other stations will be launched gradually over a period of 2 months

- The inauguration will be done at the DIFC station

- One of the stations may not hold any retail outlets but has been bought by one of the local financial institution

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Why ?

Why does the earth face the sky?
Why do the royals stay at high?
Why is the poor always suppressed?
Why is the rich always depressed?

Why does the sunrise and moon never?
Will she achieve her dreams ever?
Why can’t women put mascara with mouth closed?
When he got an opportunity he never showed.

Why is that the rain drops but snowfalls?
Why are the skyscrapers very tall?
Why are miniature things priced high?
Things man can’t afford to buy.

Why are people separated by border?
Birds’ fly free, no body gives them order.
Why is success met with delight?
Why is failure never lent a sight?

When you are out of office you are wandering around
But when your boss is out he is taking a business round.

I tried very hard, but couldn’t reach very far
I am living life but I am at war.
War being fought, to know the “whys” about the planet.
I have understood few but many are unanswered yet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Al Aweer Fruit and Vegetable Market

I recently visited the Dubai Central and Vegetable Market in Al Aweer, which was designed to meet the requirements of the Emirate's vegetables and fruits trade until the year 2012.
The wholesale market comprises seven blocks consisting of a total of 284 outlets, while the retail market has four blocks consisting of 150 vegetable, meat and fish outlets. Each shop in the wholesale market is provided with two parking lots for loading goods on one side and two parking lots for unloading imported goods on the other side. The layout of the market has been put down product wise – Fruits in one location and vegetables in the other; and within each section you have specific areas for potatoes, onions, etc. The market has been operational since 2003, after the shifting of the Hamriyah Central Market

View Larger Map

The market was constructed at a total cost of Dh152.27 million. As for the amenities offered to the public and traders, there is a mosque, car service and fuelling stations, garbage collection areas, police station, civil defence unit, post office, bank, supermarket, pharmacy, cafeteria, restaurants, labour accommodation, parking lots.
Given the fact that it is upto each trader to ensure his own suppliers; and the knowledge and understanding that the traders/ truckers exhibit is what compensates for the lack of a supply chain monitoring system and what helps the place to work like a well-oiled machine. Additionally, the level of cleanliness exhibited is far superior for a wet vegetable/ fruit market
Work at the market starts at 3am when long-distance vans arrive carrying fresh loads of vegetables shipped from across the Subcontinent. Traders have been dealing with the same wholesalers for years and their communication has by now been perfected.

To summarize a walk past the bunches of bananas from India, watermelons and musk melons from Holland, okra and spinach from Oman, Egypt and Jordan, apples and strawberries from US and Australia ... one will feel like around the world in 80 minutes!

Guys, its recession time and eating healthy and affordable fruits and vegetables make sense. Check out this place for your grocery shopping.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Social Media Challenging Search Engines

Attention: all the online businesses seeking to drive traffic from Search Engines. Yeah.. people are spending more time on Social Networks than on Search Engines. Some of the sites have started reporting some improbable facts, one being; Facebook sends more traffic
their way than Google, according to Adage.com

Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook etc are becoming huge contributors to the traffic on a website. Media planners have started to ensure that a social media element is present in every campaign they carry out.

Due to the economic downturn companies are looking for innovative ways to market their product and services. Clients who don’t have money will seek different ways to promote their products and services at no extra cost or are economical.

It is time media profoundly research this element and website entrepreneurs create a Social Media Revenue Model.

If this happens we can expect an emergence of Social Media Specialists in the market. There will be agencies specializing only in Social Media promotion.

Friday, April 3, 2009

UAE Banks ease Mortgage Lending

Two major international banks have decided to boost the property market in UAE by opening the liquidity tap.

HSBC declared that it will now offer 75 percent financing on completed villas, 70 percent on completed apartments and 50 percent on off-plan units. The applicants must earn a minimum of AED20,000 per month, irrespective of their nationality. The maximum loan term is five to 25 years, or until the borrower reaches the age of 65, which ever occurs first, and interest will start from 8.5 percent, on a variable rate.

Just 24 hours post the announcement of HSBC's ease in lending, rival Barclays announced that it would lend aggressively in UAE property market. Currently Barclays is lending 60 percent on villas and apartments in UAE and is not financing off-plan properties

Hopefully most of the banks will adopt similar policies by offering loans but at lower interest rates. This will certainly pull out Dubai from the current Credit Crises.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Visit to Sharjah Aquarium

I recently visited the Sharjah Aquarium (Museum) and was astonished by its facilities and exquisiteness. The museum has over 250 species to see, from the smallest clown fish to moray eels, and poisonous snakes to sharks. They also have an underwater journey (something like the Underwater Park in Sentosa, Singapore and the one in Dubai Mall). They have actually tried to replicate the old Sharjah maritime city and taken raw material of old vessels lying in the dockyards. You can see the smaller marine life found in the rock pools, coral reefs, lagoons and mangroves.

I would suggest visiting this museum located in Al Khan, Sharjah. There are a bunch of tourist hotels located nearby to this museum. A Maritime Museum located adjacent to it, will be launched in 3 months.

The museum has two floors charmed by exuberant ambience, a small cafeteria and a goodies shop. Once you are done with the museum, you can walk across the new Sharjah corniche. The authorities are also planning to have a boat ride across the Sharjah lagoon in the near future. The place is worth a visit and much better than the Dubai Mall aquarium which is slightly more.
A quick comparison of prices with the Dubai Mall Aquarium: -

Sharjah Aquarium
Adult20 AED/Child (6-15) 10 AED/Child (5 years old &under)Free
Family (2 Adults & 3 Children)50 AED/Adults Groups (6 or more persons) 15 AED
Child Groups (6 or more persons) 5 AED

Dubai Mall Aquarium
Entrance to the Dubai Aquarium Tunnel
Child AED 20 /Adult AED 25
Entrance to the Underwater Zoo & Tunnel per person - AED 50

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bad Weather Predicted in UAE


Got the below warning in an email, hence decided to post on my blog. I am not sure how accurate is the below information.


WEATHER ALARM - 25th March - 1st April

Light Rain / Thunderstorms chance On: Mar 25 – Night / Mar 26 / 29 Mar & 1 Apr / 5 April

Rain / Thunderstorm: Mar 25, Mar 26, Mar 27, Mar 28, Mar 29, Mar 31
Heaviest Rain on: 25 Mar Wed Night and 29 Mar Sunday Morning

Rain / Thunderstorm. Total:23.1 mm Occurring: Mar 25 Mar 26 Mar 27 Mar 28 and 31 Mar.
Heaviest Rain on: Chance on All above dates

Rain / Thunderstorms chance On: Mar 25, Mar 26, Mar 27, Mar 31, 3 Apr and 6 April.
Heaviest Rain on: 25 Mar Wed, 27 Mar Thur and 29 Mar Sunday

Rain / Thunderstorms Chance On: Mar 25 Mar 26 Mar 28, Mar 30, 2 April, 3 April, 5 April and 6 April

Light Rain / Thunderstorms Chance On:Mar 26, Mar 28, Mar 29, 31 Mar and 1 April

SIX Days of Mostly Cloudy Sunny Skies and periods of Rain is predicted by most of the weather channels starting 26th March – 1st April 2009.

Some weather expert’s sees as “bad weather disturbance” heading towards UAE, but for many of us we think as blessing that approach the country before hot summer condition starts.

Those who travel in the weekend out of Abu Dhabi and coming back on Saturday to be cautious on the road.

You may need to cancel outdoor activities in this weekend. Those planning to travel on Sunday 29th Mar or Monday 30th March to Gasco Sites to check the weather again on Saturday.

Particularly Dubai on Sunday Morning to be more careful as heavy rain is expected.


Friday, March 20, 2009

New Decency Law In Dubai

Playing loud music, dancing, nudity, kissing and even holding hands in public is considered inappropriate behaviour under the new guidelines laid down by the authorities of Dubai.

Dubai Executive Council issued a list of public behaviour that is inept for a Muslim country and should be respected by visitors and residents.

Ban on exchange of kisses between men and women and even on holding hands for unmarried couples (I wonder how will they determine the relationship of a couple?)

Pants and skirts have to be of appropriate length and outside clothing should not expose body parts indecently and should not be transparent.
The rule applies to government buildings, malls, streets, restaurants other than common public places. Any one not obeying these rules may not be allowed to enter a at some of the places.

Do check out an article in The National for some more details.

Do you have an opinion on these guidelines ?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

As of this minute 1,508 cities and towns in 80 countries have already committed to VOTE EARTH for Earth Hour 2009,which is a fight against Global Warming.

In simple words on 28th March 2009 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. you need to switch off your lights.

Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are also amongst those 1,508 cities, which will be part of the of the worlds first global election between Earth and global warming. This year, Earth Hour 2009 has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

Go ahead…and turn off your lights ;)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brands in the Digital World

Digital technology is another medium to help a company reach its products and services to a different target segment. It helps to lure an online customer towards your brand. A customer can virtually engage with the brand and know more about its features. There are various methods by which a marketer can reach his customer on the Internet. Some of them are: -

· A dedicated Website for your company/brand/ service etc
· A dedicated blog informing about daily happenings at your company
· Banner ads at various websites
· Viral Marketing via many websites who allow uploading of videos e.g. Youtube
The changes done on an online brand can be very dynamic in nature e.g. the look and feel of the website can be changed overnight. By offering products online we can help a customer engage with the brand.
Web sites need to be branded so that a customer has the confidence while making a purchase. An authentic look of the website will boost customer confidence. Amazon and E bay are classic examples that have strengthened their transaction systems with high security functions, which ensure customers safety while they shop on these sites.
An excellent example of strong online brand building is Amazon.com, where by a customer’s mind recalls Amazon whenever they need to buy books online. The brand awareness and familiarity of Amazon is very high in the minds of a consumer which leads to a strong formation of Brand Equity.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

RTA Fines at Midnight

Parking tickets at midnnight night 2:30.... It seems like RTA inspectors have started working a lot harder now, by charging fines to the public at midnight. I had parked my car in a huge parking lot in Bur Dubai, but adjacent to the footpath. I agree that this is not a parking, but I was not obstructing the allotted parking spaces. At midnight after taking several rounds in the area, I was not able to find a parking therefore I had to leave my car in the parking lot just for 30 minutes. If this is a rule I agree my car was not parked in the allotted area, but charging fines at midnight doesn't make sense. Many of my friends have expressed their concerns on this issue as lack of parking spaces forces many of them leave their cars in unallocated parking spaces. If this adds to the monthly commission of the inspector, then I guess any one will do this. But is that what RTA inspectors are deployed for across the emirate?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Social Media Disorder

Many companies have lost their face in an urge to promote their products on the web. Many employees have been involved in so called unethical practices using various techniques to aggressively promote their company product on the web. Some of these practices are described below: -

Flogging. The creation of a blog which appears to be an organic site, but in fact is sponsored by the organization that may be looking to communicate a message or launch of a new product to the web users. These kinds of techniques can be a PR disaster if uncovered. The company is hoodwinking the users into believing something that is not factual.
When Sony tried to boost sales of its PSP portable gaming unit, it started a blog supposedly by two boys who wanted PSPs for Christmas. When it was revealed as a fake, Sony apologised and took it down.

Astroturfing: Using the web to practice generating fake grassroots enthusiasm. The company may pay for good press to bloggers or other website to write about their products that these people may have never used.

Comment spamming. Flooding online article/blogs with positive comments and making the product/message look more popular than it actually is. Web users may fill in the comments field of a blog with enthusiastic notes about a company.

I am not classifying the above form of social media promotion as unethical. They are all deceptive means to get a user’s attention and deliver the message. It remains debatable if the above techniques are wrong doing of a company or just another way of trying to reach customers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Emirates ID Schedule

Update 12 Jan 2012: -

The application of late fee for expatriates (above 15 years) will be implemented in four phases:

Phase 1: From December 1, 2011

Includes all expatriates in the Northern Emirates: Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman, in addition to all employees in the federal and local public sectors and semi-government organisations and their families

Phase 2: Ffrom february 1, 2012

Includes all expatriates in the Emirate of Sharjah

Phase 3: From April 1, 2012

Includes all expatriates in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi


•The Ministerial Decision No. 25 of 2011 stipulates a penalty of Dh20 per day up to a maximum of Dh1,000 for the following offences:

•Delay in registration or issuance of identity cards, for all categories and age groups

•Delay in renewing ID cards, for all categories and ages (effective 30 days from expiry of the card)

•Delay in reporting any change or modification in the cardholder's personal data or incidents, for all categories and age groups (after 30 days from the date of the change)

•October 31, 2011 will be the deadline for renewing all identity cards expiring up to that date. Any cardholder across the UAE, with the exception of children under 15 years, has 30 days to renew the card from the date of expiry.

Phase 4: From June 1, 2012

Includes all expatriates in the Emirate of Dubai

The board also directed to collect the late fee from anyone across the UAE over the age of 15, applying for a residence.

The following is the schedule issued by Emirates ID Authority for the UAE citizens to register for the ID by end of 2008.

Emirates ID for Group 1
Registration Period - 1 January 2009 – 28 February 2009
Categories - Residents working for Government Sector (Federal and Local Government) and their family members.
Professional residents working for the Private Sector and their family members, including, Holders of Diploma Degree and Higher

Workers in the following fields: - Consultancy, Medical, pharmaceutical, Nursing, Engineering, Media, Marketing, journalism, PRO, IT and Computers, Teaching and Training, Accounting and Auditing, Investments, Law, Sales, and trade license owners.

Emirates ID for Group 2Registration Period - 1 March 2009 – 18 June 2009 –
Categories - Administrative and Craft working residents in the Private Sector and their families, including workers in the following field:

All Crafts according to Ministry of Labour categorizations, Oil, Gas, Industrial, Banks, Insurance, Tourism, Hotel and restaurant industries, shipping, typing, translation and secretaries, storekeepers, receptionists, athletes and students.

Emirates ID for Group 3
Registration Period - 20 June 2009 – 30 September 2009
Categories - Unskilled working Residents, in the Private Sector and their families, including:
Housemaid/Servants, cleaners, Farmers, Fishermen, Private and Public transport drivers, security guards, watchmen, and all other unannounced working fields

Emirates ID for Group 4
Registration Period - 1 October 2009 – 30 December 2010
Categories - Construction Workers in Private Field.

Ensure you book your online appointment now for Emirates ID

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Only 11 Cars Abandoned

As per the Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Chief of Dubai Police, a total of only 11 cars have been abandoned at the Dubai International Airport. He has denied that many people are abandoning their cars at the Airport amid the economic crises and fleeing the country. The news became popular post an article published in The Times Online, stating that, there were 3000 cars abandoned at the Dubai International Airport.
The article in The Times only has the confirmation of the abandoning of cars from an unofficial source. As per article published in The Times, the following has been quoted, “Every day we find more and more cars,” said one senior airport security official, who did not want to be named.”

The UK based newspaper article has been criticized by the General, saying that, “reporter contributed to spreading a rumour that many people are greedy, envious and resentful about the economic growth of Dubai”.


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