Friday, December 30, 2011

The most visited blogposts of 2011

Another year has gone by and its time to look back at the year that was. Here is a list of the popular posts from 2011. This is a list of popular posts not necessarily in order of hits.

1. Karama Market
2. Bur Dubai Souk
3. The only Hindu temple in Dubai
4. Dragon Mart
5. Al Ghusais
6. Mini Manila
7. Dubai's Angels
8. Safa Park
9. Al Fahidi Fort
10. Abras

Friday, December 2, 2011

40 years of pride

UAE is 40 years old and I am proud of being witness to the growth of such a wonderful country.

Its been a long journey from pearl diving to being home to the tallest building in the world. UAE has come a long way. Bear in mind that this nation is no more than 4 decades old and the success it has achieved in this short time is nothing short of phenomenal. There is a lot to celebrate. 

I remember having arrived in UAE many years ago to join my current organisation. Many of my friends in those days used to tell me about how much UAE had changed in just a few years. There were buildings in areas that used to be just patches of sand. Small single lane roads that turned into large highways in a matter of a few years. I remember that a drive to the old Hard Rock Cafe was like driving out into the desert. 

And yet in the last few years that I have resided in UAE, I can look make in amazement. Everything has changed so much. Everything has become so much better.

I am fully aware of some of the problems that continue till date. There is no doubt that UAE lags behind in a few areas. But let's not for a moment lose sight of the huge progress this nation has made over the last few years. I cannot think of many other countries that have achieved so much in 40 years. 

Today I feel proud of being a resident of this wonderful nation. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dubai's Angels

In a city that is known more for its glitz and glamour, nothing beats the experience of seeing the more humane side of the city. It is Dubai's blessing to have an angel in the form of Roshni Raimalwala and her band of happy volunteers who go out each Friday doing small deeds full of goodness for the city's under privileged. 

Roshni is part of a beautiful concept build around social service. Roshni and her group of volunteers visit various parts of Dubai and distribute food and groceries to the not so lucky. They spend a lot of time during the week collecting material for donors. This includes donations in kind like sugar, rice, tea bags, soap, toothpaste etc. These are then put together in packets by the volunteers and distributed each week.

At times it is easy to get blinded by the success of Dubai. Dubai is home to the rich and famous. And yet behind all the glitz, Dubai is also home to many poor residents who work hard to keep the city in shape. These mostly include workers from Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Philippines. Roshni and her volunteers visit these workers from time to time and support them with free food and groceries. Even though the labourers are taken care of by their employers and earn a salary, a hot pipping biryani and supply of essential groceries goes a long way in making life easier.

The picture below shows one such activity that was conducted recently. I know that many of the volunteers and Roshni herself may not be happy with publicity and are happy to stay away from the limelight. But such beautiful acts of kindness deserve every bit of support. 

If you'd like to support this concept, you can get in touch with Roshni at +971 50 8585903.  I did and I hope to support this project as much as possible. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How genuine are Dubai's online deals?

Its the next big thing in town. Everyone is talking about the big discount websites where everything appears to be flying off the virtual shelves. 

I have subscribed to a few of these sites Souq, Gonabit, Groupon, Cobone etc but I must confess I am yet to make a purchase till date. Nonetheless what freaks me out are a few recent offers that I received which appear to be absolute cons. At least that is the way they appear given that these are supposed to be 'offers' and not regular purchases form any online shop. So what exactly is the value proposition that these sites bring to the table. 

Here are screen shots of a few that I received in my mailbox. 

To any other person, these may appear like fantastic deals. But not to me!!! The new Blackberry 9860 at AED 1,999/-??????????? The model has been selling at AED 1,999/- at most well known retailers since the day this product was launched. in fact shows the old price at AED 2,700/- and the deal price at AED 2,049/-. So made a few calls to some of my friends at Axiom Telecom only to confirm that the product was available at Axiom Telecom on the same day at AED 1,999/-!

So are our online deal sites in fact misleading the public? Are these really deals or an attempt to cheat the gullible customer?  So what exactly is the reference point to benchmark the 'old' price? Is this the price at some odd retail outlet in some corner of Deira or is this the lowest/highest price at an established retailer? Or should this be the recommended retail price set by the manufacturer?

I am not sure if the onus lies with the respective online site? Or should this be the responsibility of the respective seller who uses the services of sites like Souq, Cobone or Groupon? Ultimately and irrespective of the legal interpretation, should the online sites be accountable for the offers being made by a third party? In the case of the offer shown above, it appears that the offer on itself is made by a seller named Daily Deals and may not be a promise from Souq.  

I am yet to take advantage of any of the online deals so far and based on this case, I may be one of the many who will remain suspicious of the deals that pop into the mailbox.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Kawha experience

Arabic coffeee or Kawha is a very important part of local hospitality. One of the many things you will experience during a visit to the local family is Kawha. In fact it is considered an insult to the host if you refuse the first round of coffee. Remember that you continue to get refills of Kawha until you signal that you have had enough. And the only way to do this is a slight shake of the cup. I remember my uncle once telling us about his experience in the 70's when he ended up have several cups of coffee as he had not yet understood the system!

Hierarchy is an important part of life here and this can be seen in the way coffee is served. The first person to be served is usually the most important person in the room. Age takes precedence over rank and hence the older people in the room are usually served first.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cleaning Burj Khalifa

It is the tallest building in the world. And most people I have met are excited to go up to the top floors for a majestic view of Dubai.

So would the guys who clean the building share the same excitement? 

I happened to visit the Burj Khalifa a few days back and noticed the cleaning crew at their job. Imagine being suspended several hundred feet about ground? I am sure it must be one hell of a scary job. But for these men, its just another day on the job.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Armani Junior - Fashion Fun Fair

It is not often that I get invited for any event. So when I received an invitation to attend the Armani Junior Fashion Fun Fair with the kids, I was quick to reschedule other plans and head down to Burj Khalifa. 

The guys at Armani Junior had organised a fun fair for their young customers which included models walking down the ramp. The event was well organised with the organizers having taken care of everything for the kids. There were several counters handing out pop corn, ice cream and candy floss. There were clowns keeping the kids entertained while a magician kept them spellbound for part of the evening. Kids could get creative by painting mugs while some of them made necklaces and bracelets from beads. 

The highlight of the evening was of course the fashion show where the new collection of clothes from Armani Junior was on show.  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Neighbourhoods - Victory Heights

Located within the Dubai Sports City area, Victory Heights is a unique villa community set in and around the Ernie Els golf course. It is located off Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed road (old Emirates road) Road adjacent to Dubai's cricket stadium. 

Covering 25 million sq.ft of land, this premium community comprises of 961 villas and townhouses. The community is made up of 8 areas or villages; Estella, Carmen, Esmeralda, Novelia, Oliva, Calida, Morella and Fortuna

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An open letter to Benihana

Dear Benihana,

I am writing to you to lodge my strong protest against the recent lawsuit that you have brought against Mark, a Kuwait based blogger. I understand that you are now suing Mark for his blog post about his recent visit to your restaurant in Kuwait. In case you are not sure which specific post I am referring to, I have provided the link HERE

I have tried to contact you earlier via the contact link at your website However, after waiting for several days, I realise that you have chosen to not respond to me. Hence I am posting an open letter to you hoping that you will read it and reply to me when you feel it is time to.

Please note that I have no opinion about the food you serve and at this point I really don't care. However, I find the recent legal action that you have taken is an attack on ordinary customers (current and potential) like me. I am shocked to note that you have chosen to sue a customer over what appeared to be a fair and balanced review. 

I am absolutely disappointed to note the legal action that you have taken and will be advising my friends across the world to refrain from patronising your restaurant. I am even more disappointed that you have chosen not to respond to my message sent to you via your website. 

My initial reaction was of shock. I was made to believe that the legal action was probably just a local action by the franchisee. However, your silence on the subject over the last few days suggest that you may be in fact a partner in the decision to sue the blogger. 

Please let me know your stand on the subject. I look forward to your response. Nothing short of dropping the legal action, sacking the GM and apologizing to Mark will satisfy your fans across the world.

In case you have not seen the comments from other bloggers in the Middle East, I have  provided links to only a few of them for your review.

Movies, Pizza, Middle East and Entrepreneurship
Half Eaten Man2ouche

Update 15th Feb, 2011

I have received the following response from Benihana of Tokyo:

Benihana of Tokyo, Inc. is aware that a law suit has been filed by its franchisee in Kuwait, the Las Palmas Restaurant Company, against a popular local blogger. 
Since we have not read nor received a copy of the law suit, it would be inappropriate for us to make a comment at this time.  Until we can review all the facts, there is no way for us to know if the reported legal action has merit.
Nevertheless, the Benihana organization takes pride in the quality of its food and the showmanship of its renowned chefs.   We have been in business since 1964 and have become the largest Japanese themed restaurant chain in the world.  All feedback – both positive and negative are taken very seriously.
The Benihana in Kuwait is the newest restaurant in the chain.  It has been opened a little over a month.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mosque in Satwa

I happened to go down to Satwa this morning for some silly errand when I spotted this simply majestic mosque. The building is a recent one having been constructed a few years ago. But the sheer size of the mosque gives it a majestic feel as compared to some of the other buildings around.

Satwa is an enchanting neighbourhood of Dubai. Every time I drive to Satwa, I feel joy. The place reminds me of what most of Dubai used to be many years ago. It's many cramped up shops offer great value for money. A popular spot in Satwa is Al Dhiyafa Road which is home to a whole range of affordable restaurants in Dubai.

If you liked this post, you may also like this one.

Visit other mosques in Dubai by clicking here

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

O Benihana... why?

During our recent trip to Tokyo, our first session included a 2 hour introduction to the Japanese way of life.  Unlike other cities in the world, knowledge of the local way of life and value system is extremely important. Besides being taught a few common terms and sentences in Japanese, the most important part was the introduction to the Japanese concept of Wa. The concept of Harmony.

While the name Benihana of Tokyo has a Japanese connection and the restaurant serves Japanese food, the guys at Benihana have probably never heard of this Japanese concept.

So it was a shock to me to read that the local franchisee of Benihana of Tokyo has filed suit against Mark, a Kuwait based blogger. Mark has written a pretty much ordinary post about his experience at the newly opened Benihana restaurant in Kuwait City. What seemed to me a fair assessment of the restaurant by the blogger appears to have upset the restaurant owners to the extent of filing a claim for compensation. Sued for saying he didn't like the place? Sued for giving such important feedback? In this modern day world of the internet, what a PR fiasco it is turning out to be!!!

Personally, I will be asking my friends in Kuwait to boycott the restaurant until the local restaurant comes out with a clear public apology for this attack on the general public. This legal suit is not just an attack on the blogger but on the entire community.

Click here to reach Mark's blog.

O Benihana. Why? Why did you do it?

If you'd like to contact Benihana of Tokyo, please click here


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