Archive for the ‘Gulf + 1’ Category

Economist correspondent blogs about the difficulty of finding local art in Abu Dhabi. Ironic, given the emirate’s aspirations.

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Culture in the Gulf

It’s been clear for a a few years now that Abu Dhabi has been seething with envy towards its oil-poor, commercial super-hub neighbor. Naturally, it wouldnt make too much sense to compete in the same niche. And so they’ve picked culture (no new news, really, though), a concept which, for some reason, i find hilarious.

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Jazeera reports on labor strikes in Dubai on Sunday:

[O]n Sunday, labourers ignored threats of deportation and refused to go to work, demanding pay increases, improved housing and better transportation services to construction sites.


Ali bin Abdullah al-Kaabi, Dubai’s minister of labour, described workers’ behaviour as “uncivilised”, saying they were tampering with national security and endangering residents’ safety.

Threats of deportation may no longer carry much weight. It seems working in the gulf may no longer be worth it for the Indian laborers:

But construction companies do not want more workers to leave as they struggle to find enough to complete existing projects following a government amnesty that gave free tickets home to illegal labourers.

In June, the government offered an amnesty to illegal workers and were promptly swamped by 280,000 applications for exit papers.

A booming economy in India means that many Indian labourers no longer see the need to travel to Dubai and the Gulf, said Bernard Raj, managing director of the Dubai-based Keith International, which supplies Indian workers.

“In the past, when we go for recruitment of workers we were able to choose whomever we wanted. Now the turnout of candidates is very low,” he said.

I’ve posted on this before: Dubai [2], Qatar.

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Saudi divorce over face?!

i found this to be absolutely hilarious.

Since it’s in Arabic, briefly: Woman got fuming mad, left her husband’s house because he purportedly tried to sneak a glance at her face while she was asleep. Funnily enough, they;’ve been married for some 30 years and have children. Now, i know that Khamees (e)Msheit is one of the most conservative Saudi regions, but this custom is just… heh. At least they’re not pawning it off as Islam.

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Labor in Qatar

The Angry Arab has posted an anecdotal letter on the plight of laborers in Qatar. Naturally, this extends to other gulf countries like Saudia and the Emirates.

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National Public Radio has a six-part series on Iran and its neighbors that’s up on their website. According to the series, while Iranian leaders have long perceived their nation as the deserving leading power in the Middle East, it has only ever stumbled along trying to get there. It is only recent external factors that have raised the profile and influence of Iran. But this rise, framed as it has been since Safavid rule in opposition to Arab, Sunni neighbors, sparks fears among the rest of the countries in the region.

Naturally, this means that Saudi Arabia, taken to be the de facto leader of the moderate (or Sunni, or whatever the catch-phrase is) counterbalance is supposed to step up to the plate. However, many in Saudia believe this to be unrealistic because of both regional factors, and perhaps more importantly, domestic security and politics of religion. As such, they may, at least until the next US president, bide their time trying to minimize potential military confrontation. Although, with hardliners becoming scarcer in the administration, US policy is likely the continuing application of political and economic pressure.

Israel is framed in nuclear terms.

Syria, is a relationship shaped by common foes: Israel, Saddam’s Iraq and now the US. Iraq, on the other hand, is intertwined with Iran on multiple levels, including religion, history and politics.

Not very in depth. But interesting in that it is less tainted by American perspectives and fallacies than most of what’s in the media.

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“Losing My Jihadism”

Someone pointed me to this article in the washington post by a writer (and apparently former imam) who tried salafism and decided the violence wasnt for him. He advocates Islam’s need for a reformation. Needless to say, he’s rather unliked.

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