Campaign Middle East
emerged into the scene antagonizing just about everyone in the industry. On many occasions media professionals would call the folks at Campaign “the outcasts who were rejected by the industry, now seeking revenge.” It is interesting how this strategy has worked out so well for them. In fact, it has now become a rather popular publication, read by the same people who despise it very much.
Now with the “Campaign Awards” coming up, it is rather amusing how everyone now is actually looking forward to those awards. Kudos to the folks at Campaign for bringing some refreshing change to the industry.
Al Ain Taxi
Audit or shut it?
It is no secret that advertising is an extremely important part of any marketing plan for any organization. It’s not something only newly launched companies need, but even existing and well established companies absolutely need to sustain its position and growth.
Advertising costs have consistently been increasing in the Middle East. Increasing costs for what is already overpriced is nothing new to the region. What is interesting here is that this is happening despite pleads, followed by threats by major advertisers to audit publications. Those very publications that are failing to audit are the ones increasing the advertising rates.
Could it possibly be, that they are attempting to maintain their revenue from the expected boycott from some of the main players in the advertising industry? If so, such tactics will not last for very long. Only big players can afford to pay such high rates and so that takes them back to square 1.
Auditing may be a bad thing for some in the short-term. However, it most certainly is going to be of benefit to a lot of publications, giving them legitimacy and proof of their success. Or will it?
Jordan Jollies – Day Two
After breakfast at the hotel we had breakfast and checked out. In case you’re interested the triple room was 28 JD for the night. Our plan for the day was to head north to Jerash. Jerash is an old Roman town – lots and lots of ruins.Jordan’s main road system is very easy to understand. It’s all north-south, and all to do with connecting Amman in the north and Aqaba in the south. There are three roads: the Desert Highway to the east is a modern, high-speed motorway. The westernmost road runs along the Dead Sea coast for most of its length. But the best road for tourists is the Kings Highway, also known as the Kings Road and the Kings Way. It follows an ancient trading route and it’s not a motorway. Some sections of it are dual-carriageway, but long stretches are two-lane blacktop and seriously wiggly.We took the Kings Highway north, and had our first experience of Jordan’s extremely unflat landscape. For miles and miles we were heading down into the Jordan Valley. By the time the River Jordan hits the Dead Sea it is 800 meters below sea level. Add that to the mountains that are over 1000 meters above sea level and you have a recipe for some very picturesque sights.Charl at The Mariam Hotel in Madaba had recommended The Olive Branch Hotel in Jerash. Being stupid we assumed it would be in the middle of the town, but of course we were wrong. I bought a SIM card from FastLink, one of Jordan’s three mobile operators, and called the hotel. It is about 7 km outside the town, on top of a mountain.The drive to the hotel was fairly hairy, especially the last couple of kilometers where we left the main road and went into almost vertical mode. I don’t think I managed to get the car out of first gear all the way up. But of course, when you get up there you have an utterly mind-blowing view.Having checked in we then went back down to Jerash to do the Roman stuff. There’s a bunch of tourist shops clustered around the entrance and Offspring and I were both talked into buying keffiyahs (which turned out to be extremely useful in Jordan’s winter climate – it’s a hat, it’s a scarf, it’s a towel. Dip a corner into soup and it’s a ready source of nutrients) .The Roman city of Jerash is huge: we probably spent three or four hours exploring it. There are two amphitheatres, a racetrack, numerous temples and other things. We had lunch at the Rest House in the Roman site, and then BetterArf announced she wanted to look at the (allegedly) nearby Dibbin National Park. No, I could not find it. But we did have a very exciting drive through the edge of the Suf Refugee Camp and then up, down and around a mountain.Back at the hotel just after dusk, Offspring retired to bed and BetterArf and I went to see if there was any food or beer kicking about in the hotel. We found the dining room. It was cold, stark and initially unwelcoming. There was a log fire in one corner but there was a cluster of people around it so we had to huddle around a gas heater. After a while all but one of the cluster disappeared and the remaining guy invited us over. He was a social worker with UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) as were the rest of the cluster. They were in this hotel for a two-week training course. The rest of the gang began to drift back after a while and we began to learn a lot more about Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan than we had bargained for. Actually I never knew there were any such things.Eventually the Director of the Agency turned up, and so did the food. She invited us to dine with them and was very keen to arrange for us to visit some of the larger camps. We declined.
The Hajj and its impact on Saudi Arabia and the Mu…
The Hajj and its impact on Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world :: SUSRIS
It has an uncritical press release approach, but this essay is of interest to anyone interested in the scale of the Hajj and the operational challenges that accompany it.
Gaza’s collective self destruction :: BBC NEWS Qu…
Gaza’s collective self destruction :: BBC NEWS
Quote: there is now a growing appreciation of the depth of the malaise in Palestinian society. Hafiz Barghouti, the editor of the newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadeed, has written: “It appears we are neither prepared to change, nor admit that we have failed in running our own affairs. Everyone is busy calculating how to make the biggest possible gains at the homeland’s expense. “While most Palestinians find it easy to blame the occupation for all our ills, it is a fact that the occupation was not as bad as the lawlessness and corruption that we are now facing.”
Via The EclectEcon.
Others will still want to blame the morbidly obese man, and not look to themselves. The past is a given, but the future is in your hands.
Strange alliance: “the Americans, authoritarian Ar…
Strange alliance: “the Americans, authoritarian Arab regimes, radical secularists… and Ayman Zawahiri.”
Prices of sacrificial animals up by 30pc: KT It’s…
Prices of sacrificial animals up by 30pc: KTIt’s not surprising that the price is up, because demand is increased. The author of the Khaleej Times article writes as if he is surprised that consumers don’t buy less when their own increase in demand drives up price.What is surprising is that the price of turkeys in the U.S.A. does not increase at Thanksgiving when it is traditional for American families to roast a turkey. Indeed the price sometimes even falls around that time. The difference between the cases is that frozen turkeys are acceptable substitutes for fresh turkeys, but there is no acceptable suitable for sacrifice of a live animal
Don’t fiddle with our freedom
Does anyone else find this increasingly unlikely, now the founder of these free zones, who has long extolled the virtues of their freedom, is the Vice President of the UAE?”[UAE Telecoms Regulatory Authority director general Mohamed Al] Ghanim warned that [TECOM] must abide by UAE censors, who last week banned access to the online version of Britain’s popular The Sun newspaper.”The Internet will remain censored for cultural reasons. We have to keep our culture protected,” he said. TECOM “will have to abide by the rules”.Dubai’s free zones have lured scores of media brands, including CNN and the BBC, on the promise of freedom from censorship, which is the norm in the Arab world. Some observers fear online censorship within the zones could undermine their reputation as creative hubs.”
Just heard on the BBC that the British Embassy in Amman, Jordan, has been closed due to worries of terrorist attack. Unbelievable.
Jordan Jollies – Day One
Our Royal Jordanian flight from Dubai was due to leave at a very civilized 9.30 a.m. In the end it left an hour late. As we were waiting at the departure gate we spotted a buddy of ours coming through with her dad. They are Palestinian / Jordanian and were on the same flight to Amman. They told us about a million things to add to our already-packed itinerary, and when I said we were hiring a car they told me all about the appalling standard of driving in Jordan. As it turned out, I found that while some of the driving was charismatic, especially that performed by half-blind Bedu who have no idea what a driving licence is, we never actually witnessed a single accident during our entire week there (the same can be said of many other countries, it’s just that in Dubai you think it’s an odd day if you don’t see at least one accident).
The three-hour flight was over in no time (well, ok, three hours if you want to be pedantic), and we had our first encounter with real live Jordanians. We had been told that Jordanians on the whole are the loveliest people on the planet, but for some reason all the nasty ones get jobs at the airport. When you enter Jordan you have to buy a visa (10 JDs). This we duly did, but we were a bit alarmed when we saw a sign on the wall that said visas would only be issued to people with more than three months’ validity on their passport. This was somewhat worrying, as we knew that Offspring’s passport expires in February. And he was already in transit from London, so there was the prospect that he could be put on the next plane out.
Quick note on money. The currency is the Jordanian Dinar (which everyone calls the JayDee). Depending on who you speak to it is divided into 1000 fils or 100 piastres. The JD is pegged to the US dollar (one dinar = 0.7 US$). This means a dinar is worth 5.25 UAE Dirhams, which is conveniently close (for us Brits) to a UK quid.
We had booked a hire car from Monte Carlo Car Hire in Amman. They were supposed to meet us at the airport. But guess what, they weren’t there. So then we had to get a phone card and then try to find out what their phone number was. Yes, of course it’s on the confirmation email they sent me, and yes of course I forgot to print it out. Anyhoo, what had happened with the car delivery guy was that he was waiting at Terminal One, while we had arrived Terminal Two, because of all the additional flights for people going on Hajj.
So, we get to the car. It is not the stylish Peugeot 307 that I had booked, it’s a bloody Mitsubishi Lancer. And it’s black. I hate it, but what to do. It’s pretty much brand new and they’re not going to charge extra for it. (!). We do all the payment stuff. I pay in cash, but they also want to block $500 security deposit against the credit card just in case. In case what, I don’t know. Oh, and if the car gets the slightest ding they’ll be wanting $750.
Queen Alia Airport is about 35km from Amman, but we had taken the advice of Ruth, the author of one of the most informative Jordan websites (www.jordanjubilee.com), and booked into the Mariam Hotel in Madaba. Madaba is 30km from the airport, but it is somewhat smaller (pop: 25,000) and more manageable than Amman (pop: many many lots). Ayman, the car rental bloke, needs to be dropped off about halfway, from where he can get himself back to Amman. On the way he suggests I should get some benzene. Eh? ‘Benzene, benzene, car is empty!’ Ah, petrol. He points out a gas station and after a bit of a kerfuffle caused by me completely failing to recognise it for what it was, we eventually get there and buy some petrol. Gas stations in Jordan are not the thrilling retail experiences that we are used to in the UAE. They are small, tatty, and indicated only by a sign that looks like a red asterisk on a white background. Without Ayman to point it out, it’s entirely possible that we could still be stuck by the roadside somewhere. In a car with no petrol.
We get to Madaba, and it’s a small town with a whole bunch of congestion in the middle. It also has one hell of a one-way system. We are completely unable to find our hotel. We ask directions from numerous lovely people, but none of them work. After about two hours (yes really) of driving around the centre of Madaba, we park outside the Herat Jdoudna artsy-crafty centre. We walk up to the Madaba Inn Hotel. They are extremely helpful and one of them, Rania, volunteers to come with us and show us the way. Brilliant!
We unpack a little bit, and then wander into Madaba for a look round. We visit St George’s Church, which houses the Map Mosaic. This is a map of the Holy Land in mosaic form on the floor of the church, and it was used by archaelogists to pinpoint the locations of many historic events. After that we mooch around the town. There are many people selling little mosaics and woven stuff and embroidered stuff. BetterArf is very keen on embroidery and we spend an hour or two in the shop of Joseph Sawhalla, drinking tea and chatting. When we emerge the sun is setting and weather has become extremely cold. We buy shwarmas and then it is time to go back to the airport to pick up Offspring. We have been reassured by Charl at the Mariam that he will be ok with his visa, and indeed he is. So we pick up our baby, go back to Madaba, have dinner and retire to bed.
Al Ain Taxi
Skinflint’s and Dieter’s Guide To Al Ain Part 1
Ahh, Christmas and New Year are over. Now let’s have a look at the bank account….
Looks like the Taxi has overspent yet again this holiday season. What to do?
Now lets step on the scales….
Looks like the Taxi has overate yet again this holiday season. What to do
Here’s my guide to losing weight and saving dirhams while staying sane. Stay tuned, I’m sure I’ll be back with some idea of what to do. Any ideas you have would be appreciated in the comments section. Thank you.
Bahrain ranked freest Arab economy :: Gulf News Q…
Bahrain ranked freest Arab economy :: Gulf News
Bahrain remained the freest economy in the Middle East and Arab world, according to the 12th annual Index of Economic Freedom by the US-based Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Bahrain was 25th in the overall ranking, well ahead of Japan, Spain, Italy and France. Kuwait, the second freest Arab economy, was 50th in the annual list. The UAE was ranked 65th overall.. . .Countries receive a 1-5 rating, with one being the best, on ten broad measures of economic freedom: trade policy, fiscal burden of government, government intervention in the economy, monetary policy, capital flows and foreign investment, banking and finance, wages and prices, property rights, regulation and informal (or black) market activity.
Abu Dhabi ‘best Arab business city’ :: Gulf News
The UAE capital city of Abu Dhabi is regarded as the best business city in the Arab world. This is according to the annual survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which is part of The Economist Group. The EIU’s Business Trip Index for 2006 covered a total of 127 cities worldwide.. . .Broadly, the index considers five variables in order to assign grade to cities around the world. These are stability, culture and environment, infrastructure, cost and healthcare. The index assigns 25 per cent to each of stability plus culture and environment, 20 per cent to each of infrastructure and cost and the balance of 10 per cent to healthcare.. . .The city of Abu Dhabi achieved the rank of 70 worldwide. This is by far the best performance for any Arab city covered in the survey. With a worldwide ranking of 73, Dubai emerges as the nearest city to challenge Abu Dhabi.
Bollywood legend in smoking row
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has been threatened with legal action over a film poster that depicts him smoking a cigar.
Back in the UAE
We had an utterly marvellous week in Jordan, but our isolation from TV, newspapers and Internet meant that we did not hear about the sad demise of Sheikh Maktoum until yesterday. What a shock!
Blogging in Arabic
I’ve stumbled upon a number of excellent of Arabic blogs which we, English bloggers, are not giving the proper attention they deserve. I myself is guilty of this bad habit of being reluctant to read Arabic entries , for some reason I tend to enjoy Arabic works of literature but not political articles or rigid […]
A pillar of the federation
An interesting and positive obituary on Dubai’s late ruler, Sheikh Maktoum, can be found here:
“It was in 1990 that Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who has died probably of a heart attack aged 62, took over as ruler of Dubai, an accession that followed the death of that wily old fox, his father Sheikh Rashid al-Maktoum. Maktoum was the one to build on his father’s heritage, with one substantive difference – Maktoum was only interested in business, whereas his father had been as interested in the political machinations of the United Arab Emirates as in the economic transformation of Dubai.”
Rights activist hails jail term for wife-beater
Manama: Women’s rights activist Ghada Jamsheer on Thursday hailed a court decision to jail a wife-beater as “a right step to end an endemic plight”.
“I applaud the decision because it will certainly help to put an end to the widespread phenomenon of battering women,” Jamsheer told Gulf News.
“What is needed is that more people […]
As Dubai thrives, an eye on political reform :: cs…
As Dubai thrives, an eye on political reform :: csmonitor.com
Fellow blogger, Secret Dubai, sends this link (above).
Now jammed with gleaming skyscrapers, modern roads, and international corporations, Dubai, almost uniquely among Arab states, has created a modern, diverse economy. It is proof that political liberalization and natural resources are not pre-requisites for development, analysts say.. . .Yet despite its material success, due largely to the foreign workers who make up more than 80 percent of the population, the UAE remains politically medieval. Political power is based on family and wealth alone. With no significant directly elected public body, it is arguably less democratic than even neighboring Saudi Arabia.
In December, the UAE’s president promised to create a democratically elected parliament. Political analysts say that concrete action will be needed as an increasingly educated populace demands greater political participation and accountability.. . .So far, however, the UAE has avoided the attacks on Western targets by Islamic radicals that have taken place in other Gulf states – to the annoyance of some Islamic militants who use the anonymity of the Internet to vent their rage.”What I’ve seen on the Internet forums is some impatience as to why they’re not targeting the Emirates on the grounds of it being a fairly Western society,” says Stephen Ulph, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, citing Internet postings from Spring 2005.
“They accused the rulers of permitting the construction of churches, of actions contradicting sharia, and of allowing women to wear jewelry,” says Mr. Ulph. The Islamists also posted a photograph of the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk refueling in the city’s Jebel Ali port.
“One reason the Emirates have been left untouched is that Dubai is still a useful place for the illicit transfer of funds – for example through the hawala system,” says Ulph, referring to the traditional paperless money-transfer system believed to play a key role in terrorist financing.. . .Although traditional pastimes such as camel-racing and falconry still survive, young locals who aspire to be ‘Western’ are increasingly turning to drinking, drug- taking, and prostitution – although even kissing in public is technically illegal.
Recent articles in The Gulf News, the country’s leading English-language paper, report other societal woes. Last week, the paper reported that the divorce rate is now 48 percent – one of the world’s highest – while the letters page is full of complaints against rising crime, endless traffic jams, and spiraling house prices.
Since few own, perhaps that should be housing prices, not house prices. As far as “turning to prostitution” surely that means young men turning to the services of prostitutes. What is true is that local papers rarely state that it is young locals who are misbehaving – but the CS Monitor just did. This story about Abu Dhabi hooligans is likely about locals.
I don’t perceive a great demand for rapid political reform. Few want to risk what appears to be a conservative system that has, by appearances, worked. They look to the example of Kuwait where the elected officials appear to be too willing to take the welfare state to unsustainable,even catastrophic levels, in order to get reelected.
One of the first steps of finding a solution to a problem is to identify what/where the problem is. Most of the problems we suffer with the service industry here in the UAE is the lack of any form of communication between the consumer and the business owner.
This is what this post is dedicated for; to get everyone to share thoughts, stories and experiences on the service industry in Dubai and the UAE.
The aim is for business owners and decision makers to take note of all the violations and discrepancies that go by unnoticed on daily basis. Issues if not addressed, will ultimately damage the business’ reputation, tarnish its image and in the long run, will effect its bottom line.
I request everyone to share their stories, thoughts and suggestions. Help our business learn from their mistakes.
Lets play an active role in upgrading service levels in the UAE.
I do urge everybody to:
- Be courteous:
This will NOT be a venue for bashing people, businesses or organizations. Any defamatory comments will be moderated and removed. No body is perfect and everyone is entitled to make mistakes. It is our responsibility to help amend others’ mistakes by highlighting them.
- Be clear and concise:
Mention the exact problem, why was it a problem for you and what damage did it cause (if any).
- Be reasonable:
Report issues that were caused by lack of competence, training or product quality. While some problems could be unavoidable, most are.
- Be precise:
Mention the organization’s name, time and date of the situation. Naturally, the sooner the organisation is aware of any problem, the soon they could be solved.
Thank you ..