Tag Archives: Culture

I wonder if he had Dubya’s ducking skills?

Shoe-thrower gets a taste of own medicine

His attacker was an exiled pro-US Iraqi journalist

  • Reuters
  • Published:  December 3, 2009 by Gulf News

Paris: An Iraqi reporter imprisoned for throwing his shoes at US President George W. Bush found himself on the receiving end of a similar footwear attack in Paris on Tuesday.

Muntadar Al Zaidi, whose flare-up against Bush last December turned into a symbol of Iraqi anger, was speaking at a news conference to promote his campaign for victims of the war in Iraq when a man in the audience hurled a shoe at him.

It hit the wall next to his head and a scuffle ensued in the audience, television footage showed.

French media said the attacker was an exiled Iraqi journalist who spoke in defence of US policy, accusing Al Zaidi of siding with a dictatorship, before throwing his shoe. Al Zaidi’s own outburst summed up the feelings of many Iraqis about the US military invasion of Iraq and the ensuing bloodshed and sectarian killing.

Millions of people around the world saw images of him shouting “this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog,” during a news conference by the former US leader, before throwing his shoes at him.

Al Zaidi, a television reporter, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for assaulting a head of state. This was later reduced to one year and he was released in September.


When I Googled ‘dubya’ I found this


Saudi king scraps flogging for woman journalist

I applaud yet another moderate but responsible decision from the Saudi ruling family… this is a part of a very promising pattern.

From Gulf News

Information Ministry spokesman says King Abdullah ordered that the 60 lashes sentence for Rozanna Al Yami be dropped.

Riyadh: The Saudi king has waived the lashing punishment for a Saudi female journalist charged with involvement in a TV sex show

(Sophie: actually the show was about societal taboos and featured one episode where a Saudi national spoke about his active sex life.  He has been jailed for the acts he admitted to during this interview.)

The Information Ministry spokesman on Monday says King Abdullah ordered that the 60 lashes sentence for Rozanna al-Yami be dropped.

She was charged with involvement in a TV show in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex, a taboo subject in the ultraconservative country.

Al Yami, who has denied the charges against her, is believed to be the first woman Saudi journalist to get a flogging punishment.

Spokesman Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza says the king ordered her case and that of another woman journalist – also accused of involvement in the program – be referred to an Information Ministry committee.


Ramadan Kareem everyone!

It’s Ramadan and the entire country is in festival mode.  No eating or drinking during the day is DEFINITELY made up for at night.

We had out first Iftar meal yesterday, that is the traditional meal to break the fast.  Iftar is served at the first prayer call of the evening. It was about 6:45.

Iftar Menu

Jallab and Dates

Jallab is  a drink made from dates,  grape molasses and rose water, then smoked with Arabic incense. It was served with crushed ice and floating pine nuts.

To me it tastes like liquified Turkish Delight.



Lentil Soup


Main Course: Tenderloin beef with onions and baby potatoes

Date based desert, like date eclairs or date pie.

Oh this won’t last!

Had to laugh at this article explaining that Dubai Bank is going to make the Abaya mandatory for ALL female staff from now onwards.

If you read it carefully you will notice the memo was released by an HR Manager and so far none of the bank officials have been able to confirm it.

My bet: As soon as the officials in Dubai hear of this the bank will be asked to issue a statement correcting this misconception. It will go down as one of those ‘Dubai rumours’.

I mean, even Sheikh Mohammed’s wife doesn’t wear the Abaya for official functions!

The whole thing is ridiculous.

Dubai Bank says all female staff must wear abayas

By Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporter
Published: August 21, 2009, 22:50

Dubai: All female staff at Dubai Bank, Muslim and non-Muslim, must wear a shailah (head scarf) and abaya (black cloak covering the whole body) starting this Ramadan, Gulf News has learnt.

A memo sent to staff on Thursday says the bank has decided that all Muslim and non-Muslim female staff must wear a shailah and abaya.

A Dubai Bank official who would not reveal his name said a memo was issued to this effect by the human resources manager, informing employees that starting from the first day of Ramadan all female employees must wear a shailah and abaya regardless of their religion.

“Our bank is Islamic and must follow Sharia in all respects, which will satisfy our clients,” he said. While the decision takes effect beginning first of Ramadan, it has become a rule and part of the dress code for female employees at all times.

Gulf News contacted Dubai Bank on several occasions, but officials would not comment on the memo. (Editor: Yeah, I bet they wouldn’t.  It seems to have been unofficially released and someone will be asked politely to get their house in order and issue a statement saying it was ‘a false rumour’).

Gulf News has learnt that the proposal on the dress code was made by the bank’s Fatwa and Sharia Supervisory Board in June and it was endorsed by the management. A circular was then issued on Thursday.

The Fatwa and Sharia Supervisory Board’s proposal, a copy of which has been obtained by Gulf News, says the abaya should not have any embroidery or decoration on it and must not be coloured.

It says any female staff who does not adhere to this dress code should be advised by the human resources department at the bank to follow it.

If the staff member insists on not abiding by the law then the matter should be brought to the notice of the executive member of the Sharia supervisory board who can decide upon action to be taken against that staff.

The bank will encourage employees to wear a shailah and abaya by providing staff with them. The head of the human resources department has been instructed to ensure that employees adhere to the dress code.

The bank has given employees a grace period until after the Eid holiday after which it will become mandatory.

The proposal, signed by Shaikh Mohammad Taqi Usmani, Chairman of the Fatwa and Sharia Supervisory Board of Dubai Bank, says the move will gain customers’ confidence and help market the bank’s products.

Many customers, the proposal said, choose a bank based upon its appearance before considering other aspects. The dress code is essential in determining the bank’s identity as a Sharia compliant institution.

Driving in the UAE

Image Source: http://media.photobucket.com/image/dubai%20car%20accident/nomaadic/26_ae_road_accident03_3.jpg

Image Source: nomaadic

A friend of mine was recently driving with a young Pakistani man from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

As was normal for thing young man, he was travelling at speed of between 160km and 180km per hour, about 1 foot behind a 4WD.

As they are ‘cruising’ along the road they pass a car on the side of the road that has crashed and flipped onto it’s roof.

‘How does that happen?’ muses the young man.

And that, for the uninitiated, is what driving in the Middle East is all about!

The Burqa is not the Problem

Image Source: http://www.aswaaq.ae/

Image Source: http://www.aswaaq.ae/

France’s decision recently to ban the burqa really disappoints me.

Do you know how many accused rapists answer in their defence to the police, ‘But  she had this really short skirt on!’

Do we ban the mini-skirt because some see men think it reflects a loose character in the woman? No we don’t. We don’t because we know that the mini-skirt is not the problem.

Banning mini-skirts is not going to reduce the occurrences of sexual assault. So So why do we think that banning the burqa is going to help women fight oppression?

Economic migrants and refugees come from all across the globe. They bring challenges to their new societies in terms of how to integrate them into the community, while protecting the needs of existing citizens.

We need to accept that the problems refugees bring with them; street violence, protest attacks and oppression of women are characteristics of poor societies .

We need to address the impact of poverty on societies with education, healthcare and access to  social justice. These are things that will truly improve the status of women in our society.

Let’s address the impact of poverty on society, and let different cultures wear their traditions with pride.

Take a look at this article from CNN today regarding women wearing the Hijab if you are interested in this topic.

Dhow Racing

This is something I am itching to find out more about, being a bit of a sailor myself.

Secrets of the sea

By Alex Westcott, Sub-Editor/Writer
Published: July 23, 2009, 22:15


The dhow may have modernised in some ways, but the design principles remain the same as they were in the time of the pearl trade.

It is a sport driven by teamwork. The starting point of the highly competitive dhow race (of which there are two kinds: the al khayour course, a route that features a turn and the al-yoush or al yoush al wahed course, which is a straight course) is decided according to the wind direction of the day, but weather, always volatile, can change at any given moment.

As the dhow glides across the pristine waters of the Gulf coast, it’s easy to become lost in the azure. But the crew remains focused on the task at hand, ensuring that the sail remains taut to produce maximum speed.

The captain remains at the tiller, steering the vessel in the same calculated fashion that he steers his team with a calm directness. He remains constantly aware of the wind’s direction, as this is the deciding factor that can make or break a race.

It is not as easy for a dhow to turn across the wind the way modern yachts do. As the dhow has no weighted keel, balance is precarious. However, its structure is solid and hardy, and each boat is built to withstand the most gruelling skies and waters.

In order to change direction, the mainsail has to be released from the mast (al-sari or al-duqal), lowered and swung to the other side, an exercise that can take over ten minutes timing which, in a race, is crucial.

On a 43-foot dhow, a crew numbers between eight to 15 people, whereas with a 60-foot dhow, the crew can include anywhere between 15 and 35.

Image Source: www.gulfnews.com

It is a sport all about balance. Traditionally, when dhows were used for the transportation of goods by seafaring merchants in the Gulf, the cargo was stored below the deck.

But this also served another purpose it kept the dhow balanced. Today, around 50 bags filled with sand are used to coordinate direction, adjusted according to the wind conditions.

The crew members will also shift their weight in order to balance the dhow, which is why they will often lean over the sides in order to achieve better balance and to prevent the dhow from capsizing.

Image Source: www.gulfnews.com

If there is little wind, the captain can elect to dispose of some of the bags to lighten the vessel. But if the wind is stronger, extra bags are needed for greater stability.

The practice of dhow racing dates back centuries. Before arriving in the UAE, dhow racing was going full throttle in Qatar.

The pearl trade between the Gulf and the Far East was facilitated by the sea, and sailing was the quickest means of transport. That was how dhows became part of a livelihood and from this they developed into a sport.

Image Source: www.gulfnews.com

Dubai is one of the busiest dhow ports in the Arabian Gulf, and is a hub for race season. Competitions were initiated in the 1980s.

The race programme is driven at keeping the sailing tradition of the UAE alive. Dhow racing has served as a reminder of the importance of the Emirati’s historic linkages with the sea.

As Captain Al Mazroui explains, you also need balance in terms of experience, which is why an average crew comprises men of different ages.

“Each crew member is a link in the process the older, more experienced men guide and teach the younger members and so the cycle continues across the generations,” he says.

Image Source: www.gulfnews.com

“Being the captain doesn’t make me the best at everything I am the designator and the decision maker. If the wind changes, I am the one who has to make the call on changing the sail. Sometimes of course, the crew members will be dubious, and sometimes I will be wrong, but it’s all part of the sport. One decision pertaining to a change of direction changes everything. As captain I need to know what action to take in the event of change.

“Every captain has his secrets,” smiles the 30-year-old captain. “My father taught me to sail as a young boy, and we now compete against each other. In 2004, I started sailing on my own. We’re both really competitive when we race against each other, but in the end we are still a team because we are family. If I come fourth and he comes first, banter and tongue-in-cheek teasing will always follow! We take everything the other says with a pinch of salt. It’s a sport that strengthens family bonds and builds friendships. It encourages camaraderie with your fellows and that’s more important than the position you come in a race.”

Image Source: www.gulfnews.com

Despite the rapid development that the UAE has undergone in the past decade, the ethos of dhow racing has not changed.

First and foremost, dhow racers are all united by their love of the sea. Like the Emirati traditions of horse breeding, falconry and camel racing, dhow racing “re-enforces UAE tradition and is a reminder of our heritage,” says Al Mazroui.

Sail away

Dhow racing is a practice deeply rooted in Emirati tradition. It’s an age-old ritual of sons learning the ropes at the hands of their fathers.

The wind is not on their side today. The enormous 140-square metre sail al sheraa balloons at the command of the fierce Gulf wind.

It billows gracefully, hanging for a moment in suspension and then whipping down to buffet the young sailors as they try in vain to seize control of the cloth’s unruly dance.

Ropes pass roughly through leathery hands as they form a web around the teakwood vessel the sail, their prey to tame. Yelling above the howling din in Arabic, the young men trot around in swift, startlingly coordinated movements, working in tandem to rein her in the way one would calm a wild horse with patience, passion and a thread of clear communication.

Their captain looks on from a few metres away, content to let them get on with it. Occasionally he chides one of the youngsters or makes a passing suggestion.

They obey diligently, altering their step or relaxing on a tug. The elders lend their weathered arms to the juniors, their years of experience meaning they act almost entirely on instinct. This is the art of dhow racing.

Image Source: www.gulfnews.com

Into the blue

The origin of the word ‘dhow’ remains ambiguous. While some suggest it’s derived from Arabic, other etymologists argue that it could be from the Swahili word for boat.

In the old days, the dhow sail was made of handmade cloth, but today it is made from fabric imported from Europe just one aspect of the modernisation of the craft.

Today’s racing dhow is lighter and therefore faster than its predecessors. Dhows are categorised according to the shape of their hulls, unlike European boats, which are classified according to their sail design.

They are carvel-built, which means that the planks comprising the hull (al haikal or al farmah) are laid flush to one another, rather than overlapping, as is the case with Western boats.

Image Source: www.gulfnews.com

The hull is designed to suit the shallow waters of the Gulf coast. Its flat-bottomed design makes it easy to pull on to the shore.

Timeless tradition

“It’s an invaluable skill,” says Emirati captain Ateeq Mohammad Al Mazroui. “As captain I am the leader of the crew, but no role is of less importance than another. There is of course hierarchy in terms of experience, but at the end of the day, dhow racing is first and foremost about teamwork. It’s a family affair. Chances are if someone sails, his father will have raced, as will his father before him. This is one aspect of dhow racing that hasn’t changed. But everyone has a different mindset, like in any sport. I think priorities have changed and the sport has become more competitive everyone is more driven to win these days,” says Al Mazroui.