Tuesday, July 04, 2006

No more idleness in the desert

Sorry for not updating this blog in a while, I've been running around finalising our preparations to leave. So yes, after a few years out here in the desert we've had enough and decided to head for greener pastures (literally and metaphorically).
This might end up being a long post and I won't be editing it so excuse me if I ramble.

In the last two years, we have seen costs literally shoot through the roof. In 2005 we saw our rent soar, but we hoped this would be an isolated incident. In our minds we thought surely no landlord would hike the rent again on the back of a 35% rise? How f***king wrong we were!

My opinion is that things are not adding up at all, and something has GOT to give. According to an article that came out recently, Dubai ranks amongst the top 25 most expensive cities in the world to live in. Interesting that only last year it was placed at 75th. The fact that it climbed 50 places in a year is just staggering.

A few months ago, Gulf News published an article proudly proclaiming the economy grew by 25% over the previous year. What they didn't tell you was that if you subtracted inflation from this figure, the growth was only around 8%. So yep, inflation was in the double digits. To put this in perspective, most developed countries don't want inflation to be anymore than around 3% a year.

In the first half of the year, the stock market in Dubai lost $76billion dollars. Billion. http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093118672. That's 35% of its value. But people are still smiling, as if its perfectly normal. In any normal country, a loss of 10% is considered a pretty bad crash, but don't you dare use the c-word here. No no, it's just a 'correction' according to the powers that be. Are we really living in a bubble so big we can't see the obvious?

Last October, a friend of mine tried to get me to invest in the stockmarket. Thank God I didn't. I did a bit of research, asked why people invested in stock X instead of stock Y, etc. Soon I realised 90% of the people I knew had no bloody clue what they were doing in the stockmarket! For them it was just a game of putting the money (or for some, their lifesavings) into it and watching the numbers rise. Stockbrokers were the worst. When shares in (insert name) company fell, their standard response was 'not to worry, it will go up again after New Years'. Why New Years, I'd ask. They'd just shrug, 'oh it just does'. They had no bloody clue either.

And now the property market. I really think it's bordering on being ridiculous now. I can't see how the value of a villa can rise by Dhs100,000 in just two months. To me, that really isn't sustainable. Don't get me started on rents either. I know people who were considering moving to Dubai but the number one thing that puts them off are the rents. What is worse is you have no clue what the rent will be like next year, so its impossible to know what your housing allowance/budget should be. And I think asking for Dhs200,000/year for a villa is insane. Even Sharjah is getting expensive, rent-wise and families there are moving further afield to Al Ain. A lot of people I know are fed up and are leaving, to me it seems more people are leaving this summer than before.

A year or two ago I would have laughed if someone said there was a bubble. Well, not laughed but I would have been a bit sceptical. But this time I am wondering. When you look around you, you realise all of this really isn't sustainable at all. Something has GOT to give, and when it does, I think it's going to be very nasty.

We'll be leaving Dubai very shortly, like many others we know. It's been fun in many ways, but I don't think I could put up with it for any longer.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

For all those that say Dubai has no culture..

There are regular musicals and concerts at the Madinat J, Dubai Properties has just purchased 50billion 'deerums' worth of kulcha for the tourists and residents of Dubai. I tell you, what more could you want?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Life in Dubai suburbia

There is a realisation that all is well in Dubai's oldest gated community, when the greatest controversy at the moment is whether 'houseservants' should be allowed to use the communal pools.

"...personally I do not feel comfortable with this, if I go to the pool I like to be able to have a conversation and socialise with people I have something in common with."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Same shit different logo?

So now Etisalat has launched a new identity and a new logo comes as part of the package.

Head Etisalat dishdash's words on the new unveiling:
"Our new identity strengthens our commitment towards achieving new levels of excellence in services offered to our valued customers".

Personally, it reminds of an upside-down teardrop, maybe symbolising the grief and torment customers have to go through when dealing with the company.

You could become even more imaginative and say the green parts represent grass - something to tempt us mere mortals to the attractive force that is Etisalat, like irresistable promotions maybe? Then we get sucked into the white abyss in the middle - this part symbolising the monopoly grip Etisisham has over all of us, with no escape.

This new logo admittedly does a much better job of symbolising everything the company is about than the previous one!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Good things happen to those who wait...

The Gods of Galadari are smiling down on the face of Desert Idleness once again, for they have lifted the ban on my viewing their website, allowing unfettered access. It's a pity though that, during my absence, they haven't been able to do away with those pop up ads that open up as soon as you enter the site. While the journalistic qualities of our 'Number one newspaper' *cough* *giggle* leaves a lot to be desired, it is obvious they've been directing their manpower into churning out extremely determined pop-ups that evade the two - one browser-inbuilt the other stand-alone - popup blockers on my computer.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Time to go?

Up until recently, we enjoyed living in Dubai. No shortage of things to do, or places to see. It was until last year around the times when the conversation around the dinner table was about how your landlord had bumped up your rent by Dhs40,000 that we started to think Dubai was starting to lose it.
Forget traffic and ridiculous rents, Dubai has lost its charm. A few years ago, you thought of the Palm (the first one mind you, not the second and third copycats) as a wonder of the world. It sounded amazing and everyone talked about it excitedly. Now, everytime a development is announced, you think "how ridiculous" or "when will this end?"

Mentally, Dubai can be draining. I think everyone whos lived here has had that conversation about the superficiality of the place, so I won't go into that. But its obvious the mindset of the newly arrived expats has changed. Take a look at the 7days letters page with the city's versions of 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' whinging on and on. Now, expats expect the place to resemble our home countries. In a way you can't blame them as the government seems to be bending over backwards to accomodate expats.

Not to mention the stupid rise in the cost of living. Last year our landlord served a notice a month before renewal, raising our rent several times more than 10% of the (back then) current rent. After negotations with the landlord who refused to budge, and the company we work for, the latter agreed to pay for the full rent increase. Now this year, he wants to raise it by another Dhs20000, an increase of 15%. Someone else on our compound got served a rent increase notice, and it seems inevitable we will be getting a similar one. Our company haven't decided whether they still swallow the rent increase or if we will foot the bill. Costs are going up and up, while the quality of life has dramatically decreased. Full expat packages are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and its becoming harder to attract people to come and live in Dubai once they get an idea of the cost of living and compare it to what salaries they're being offered.

Now, we have the possibility of relocating and are seriously considering it. For us and many others we know like Keefie, it's very simple - Dubai has lost its charm. But should we leave, or stick it out for another year or two and see if those pesky rents and other costs fall? Bearing in mind VAT is coming in next year, giving greedy businessmen another opportunity to jack up prices, somehow I doubt they will.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Useless idiots

Today, I had to call a sporting goods shop to find out if they stocked a certain product I was looking for.

Person on Telephone: Good Afternoon
Me: Hello, do you have xxx in stock?
Person on Telephone: *short pause* I don't know.
Me: *shock* You don't know?
Person on Telephone: No, I don't know.
Me: *pause* Er, well goodbye then.

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! You don't know? You don't KNOW?!! Well what are you paid to do then! Do you expect me to tell you over the phone how to find out whether a certain item is in stock or not?
I'm not one of those fussy expats who writes to 7Days to complain about the 'poor' standard of living here while sipping some Earl Grey and instructing the maid to go buy some new solid gold toilets for the house, but some people really are just clueless! Then again it probably wasn't his fault as maybe he wasn't equipped with grey matter between his ears. Sigh.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

There are some things the Dubai PR machine would rather keep hushed...

...except they can do nothing when the international press picks up the news.

1) Workers at the Burj Dubai strike over pitiful wages and poor working conditions, causing damage worth over $1 million.

2) Mumbai-bound Emirates flight in near miss incident.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

She does it again

Just when you thought 7Days' resident trash-spewer Lizzy Millar couldn't get any worse, out she comes with her latest 'article' on JLo.
Dizzy Lizzy asks "who in their right mind would go to see her perform?"
Probably a lot less than the number who would pay her to stop belching utter garbage on the pages of the tabloid.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Here comes the fall...

How kind of those above to release the property law the day after 7days reports of the biggest UAE stock market crash yet. There is obviously a fear that the property market might take the same heavy tumble, so the hope is this long-awaited law might soften one, if (or when?) there is one.

Has anyone noticed how the word 'crash' seems to be against the moral and ethical fabric of UAE society, and is never used by the more conservative rags when describing what has been happening to the stock market? Does it instill great fear in the hearts of those who hear the word? I wouldn't be surprised if it was on some sort of Journalistic Banned Words List produced by the Dubai Propoganda Machine. From now on, whenever you see the word 'correction', think 'crash'.

Well done to Nicholas Hendriks for voicing what we've been saying all along - the Oasis Centre fire was a setup because its owners wanted to get rid of it. But will Vitamin W get them out of the hot water Mr Hendriks suddenly put them in?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Back in action

I'm back in the blogging world, after a long but unplanned break.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Jumeirah Jane

1. Original Jane
Has spent most of the last decade and perhaps even more withering away in her bougainvillea-strewn Jumeirah home. Other Janes view a friendship with her as something to be proud of. Her kids go to JESS, she shops at Wafi 'because it's the best', and plays tennis with 'the girls' at the One & Only when her husband's out of town and she's feeling lonely.

2. New Money Jane
Her previous life back home was relatively simple and modest until the 'Dear Husband' found a job here in the desertscape and suddenly both of them transformed their lifestyle. Personifies arrogance, name drops at every opportunity and queues up without shame at the Horse Races for the Ahlan! Mag phototaking sessions. She takes the maid for Spinneys shopping trips to push the trolley and to do the general housekeeping ('I don't do domestics darling!')

Ensures the house is spic and span ('Our maid scrubs the tiles, wipes the roof tiles and lives in a two-by-four room but we make sure she is very much a part of the family!') and religiously attends coffee mornings at the Lime Tree Cafe.

This Jane is generally terrified of moving back home to her modest upbringing and enjoys the bubble life of Dubai. Loses the ability of holding deep conversation and will eventually wither away into insignificance.

3. Jittery Jane
This Jane moved to Dubai a few years ago on a slightly-more-than-modest package and has faced a hard time since. Jittery Jane lives on the outskirts of Satwa but has no qualms calling the locality Jumeirah. On the outside she is very much a Jane but on the inside she fears the extravagant prices that seem to be shooting up even further. She disguises herself under a veil to prevent being spotted at an unfashionable Union co-op outlet and is attracted like flies to a garbage can to garage sales. Enjoys trips to The One with the girls but while the others are shaking in glee with their furniture purchases, she is secretely trembling with fright at the price.

This JJ is finding it increasingly harder to fund her lifestyle, but is horrified at the thought of downsizing to a life of Mirdiff Martyrdom, and possibly exclusion from her current social circles, as they realise she really isn't all that glam.

4. ex-Jumeirah Jane
This Jane bought a villa in the freehold developments and moved south to take up residence shortly after completion. Her bland surroundings reflect her personality - soulless and uninspiring. She lunches at the Lakes, shops at Spinneys at the Marina and does without the whole Lime Tree coffee morning rituals altogether, instead preferring to go to indulge in the wife-swapping that is rife in the new communities.
This species is particularly hopeless.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The grim reality of Dubai rents

This is just to show you just exactly how crazy rents have become.

May 2004
4 bedrooms, family room, 4000sq feet, no lake/park view, landscaped garden in The Meadows.
Rent: Dhs120,000 per year

February 2006
4 bedrooms, family room, 4000 sq feet, no lake/park view, landscaped garden in The Meadows.
Rent: Dhs205,000 per year

Where is the sense in all of this?!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

More lies, but are we surprised?

According to Gulf News, the government is set to announce the new property law for Dubai this month. Just how many times have we heard this before? I think Gulf News might have got mixed up - the authorities only announce they are going to release the freehold law every month, but never actually get round to doing it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Forced into a utopia

You may have heard of the recent controversy regarding Google's Image Search tool. As part of its agreement with the Chinese government to censor its search services in that country, the results when you type in 'Tiananmen' in Google.cn Image Search are, shall we say, more light hearted than when you key in the same word into Google.com Image Search.

It makes you wonder what Google search would be like if the service here was censored and what we could or couldn't see was decided for us by an influential group of men in towering dishdashes.

Uncensored search for anything to do with Dubai
Shifting sands see costs escalate on Palm Deira.

There have been reports that the only known coral reef off the shores of Dubai was destroyed during the dredging work [of the Palm Islands].

Nakheel's Garden View Villas went on sale in June 2003, but have never been delivered.

“The golf course we were promised has been cancelled, and they are going to build more villas there.” - Jumeirah Islands resident.

Porsche Cayenne crashes into villa garden in Meadows 5 off the main road

Redback infestation in the Springs, Lakes and Meadows.

Emaar profits fall for third quarter in a row

GCC stock markets are overvalued by more than $300 billion, and the Saudi Arabian bourse may be the most over-inflated in the world, says a report by Japanese investment bank Nomura.
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