Monday, February 28, 2005

Northeast of Dabba, Oman Posted by Hello


Regional women's rights reform/reversal roundup - Gulf News

Algeria. Algerian women’s groups yesterday accused President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika of caving in to Islamic parties by watering down a long-awaited reform to improve women’s rights in the country. Unexpectedly, Bouteflika this week ruled against abolishing a regulation that forces women to get permission from a family member or so-called tutor to marry, a requirement which critics have called discriminatory and out of date. “It is a grave discrimination against women, who will remain minors for life,” Meriem Belaala, president of the rights group SOS Women in Distress, said.

Kuwait. Expressing disappointment with the government’s total support for women’s rights, Daifullah Al Buramiyah, a parliament member, announced plans to launch a campaign under the banner, “Under Islamic Sharia women have no political rights”.

Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia may allow women to vote in future elections, the foreign minister of the kingdom said yesterday, but he warned the West to stop pushing for reforms.

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Easy money II: National Partner Law - Gulf News

Dr Khalid Al Khazraji, undersecretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs:

“In the early days, when the national partner law was imposed, it had a noble goal. It was intended as a way for nationals to learn from expatriates and then go and start their own businesses,” Al Khazraji said.

“Unfortunately, the law has not created the desired results. Many nationals rent commercial licenses to expatriates, without learning how to run businesses,” Al Khazraji said.
Easy Money I: From inside the Ministry of Labour - Gulf News

More on the Ministry of Labour crackdown on employees how run businesses using ex pat labor:

Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka’abi, the Labour Minister, told Gulf News he had not banned his employees from receiving work permits. The minister said he was considering these requests to streamline the market and prevent his employees from abusing their positions.

“I have not banned any of the ministry’s employees from receiving work permits, but they should first abide by the ministry’s laws and process the papers of other individuals who have been waiting in line before them. Their private business should not interfere with their work at the ministry.” He also said he wanted to get his employees more involved in their businesses.

“I am completely against UAE nationals who act as sponsors and are not involved in the daily operations of their company. They receive a lump sum at the end of the year without actually doing anything,” he said.

It was illogical, he said, that a person could own 100 licences and know what was going on in each business.

Notice what we're talking about: employees of the ministry which supervises and process work permits for ex pats also having businesses that rely on ex pat labor. And evidently, many of them have lots of these businesses, are not active in the business so much so that they simply receive a lump sum.

Here's the perspective from the employees of the ministry who are not happy about the crackdown:

Yesterday, many other employees said they would happily quit if the minister stood by his decision to stop granting permits for employees’ businesses.

“I take home a monthly salary of about Dh5,000 and I am supporting more than a dozen children. The businesses I have are a major source of income for me and my family. Why would I keep working for the ministry if they remove my main source of income?” said an official, who has been employed at the ministry for more than two decades.

Labour officials have complained they are among the lowest paid government employees and receive no incentives or encouragement.

They could be among the lowest paid government employees because their position (had) allowed them to make money by importing labor and making money. Not all government position provide these opportunities so readily. Where such oppotunities for conflict of interest the government is right to tighten oversight and codes of ethics in the department.

Finally, a connection must be drawn between the incentive of these employees to bring in ex pat labor and the desire of the government to create more opportunties for UAE nationals to find jobs in the private sector at acceptable salaries. The two are in conflict.

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Bahraini blogger arrested - Mahmood's Den. QUOTE. It's too early for me to judge Ali and his arrest. It is however amply demonstrated that once again, the government has overstepped its line probably to derail yet another excellent attempt by the Crown Prince to right this country... just after his Economy Reform launch... UNQUOTE. (ellipses in the original)
Central Bank warns against share payment for new IPOs - Khaleej Times

DUBAI - In a circular dispatched to all the UAE national and foreign banks, UAE Central Bank yesterday asked them to cease lending individuals and corporate sector to pay for shares in the new IPO that is expected to hit the market in the beginning of March, a senior banking official told Khaleej Times.The Central Bank will crack down on banks to make sure that these institutions are adhering to the circular's directions, he added.
The Central Bank has already geared itself up to face the problem by forming a committee to follow up the matter, he said.
Yes, you can't enforce what you are not prepared to enforce.
Prominent UAE nationals open private school - Khaleej Times

DUBAI — A group of prominent UAE nationals and high-profile professionals have announced the setting up of Dubai International Academy, a new school at Emirates Hills that will open in September 2005, accepting students from Nursery to Grade 9 for the first year.

The school will offer an international education, basing its curriculum (following formal acceptance) on the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP) of the Geneva-based International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). The school will open to Grade 11 the following year.
Announcing the establishment of Dubai International Academy, Chairman of the Board, Abdulla Majed Al Ghurair, said: “We are proud to contribute to the development of Dubai and the UAE by establishing a school that will mould our children into responsible citizens empowered with innovative and critical thinking skills and sensitivities vital for success in the 21st century.”

(My emphasis.)

My reading is that the school will seek to draw many Emirati students. Because of the large ex pat community there are many private schools here and some very good. These schools are open to Emiratis, but there a few Emiratis in them. I suspect that a school which had a critical mass of Emirati students would attract more Emiratis from government schools.

I regard this new school as a very important development. If Emiratis students come out of Dubai International Academy better prepared for college than those coming out of government schools, it will put more pressure on government schools to improve.


Maintaining identity biggest challenge for local youths - Khaleej Times. QUOTE. "It is essential that UAE youths become familiar with the philosophies leading to the modernistic western culture and the dangers inherent in them. Integrated education is a viable alternative to preserve the cultural identities of today's youth," concluded Dr Haque. UNQUOTE
After Sharjah move, Ajman plans polls - Khaleej Times

Sharjah has started something of a bidding war in elections. Which emirate will be next? Which wants to be last?

UPDATE: Never mind.


Priority on jobs for UAE local women - Khaleej Times

DUBAI — A majority of UAE national graduates are women and the government’s priority is to provide them jobs, Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Education, has said.

“The majority of UAE national graduates are females and securing career opportunities for them is a priority. Women graduates must know that we are committed to providing them with excellent education and training programmes which one of our most important goals,” Shaikh Nahyan, who is also the Chancellor of Higher Colleges of Technology, told a conference here yesterday titled ‘Women in IT Leading Change’, organised by the Dubai Women's College.

The following makes plain UAE graduates expect to be paid more than nonnationals:

On the major challenges facing fresh UAE graduates in joining the workforce, he said: “On joining the workforce, the UAE nationals face unfair competition from employees of various nationalities, who are earning comparatively lower salaries [than UAE nationals expect]. Fresh UAE national graduates with no prior work experience have certain expectations regarding salary and benefits and finds it hard to compete with their counterparts of other nationalities.”

Al Nahyan noted that unemployment among UAE nationals is unacceptable in a country that depends heavily on expatriate workforce.

“The UAE nationals should enter the private sector and should meet their employers’ needs and expectations."

That is, their employers' needs and expectations with regard to work, not pay.


Universities as a worker cooperative - The Becker-Posner Blog


Posner argues against the view that faculties should be running universities. He points out several problems with such a system, including that professors pursue their own narrow interests instead of the universities long-term goals, that professors are not selected for interpersonal skills, and that universities have become too complex to be run by a faculty collective.

Strangely, he comes down in favor of university trustees as having interests that are better aligned with those of universities. Yet my experience is that trustees typically know little about, and generally do not have much interest in, the universities they oversee, they are intimidated by professors, are not very brave in their trustees’ role, generally go along with whatever is presented to them by university administrations, and very seldom force a university president to quit.


Evidently the Harvard faculty considers itself the owners of the institution; Summers appears to agree, as does Becker.

I disagree. The economic literature on worker cooperatives identifies objections to that form of organization that are pertinent to university governance. The workers have a shorter horizon than the institution. Their interest is to get as much from the institution as they can before they retire; what happens afterwards has no direct effect on them unless their pensions are dependent on the institution’s continued prosperity. That consideration aside (it has no application to most professors' pensions), their incentive is to play a short-run game, to the disadvantage of the institution—and for the further reason that while the faculty as a group might be able to destroy the institution and if so hurt themselves, an individual professor who slacks off or otherwise acts against the best interests of the institution is unlikely to have much effect.

All this is true of Harvard.

A commenter:

There are 1437 words in this post about university governance. Not ONE of them is the word "student."

Of course, to be fair, it is about Harvard and Harvard has very little to do with its students.
Violence Against Women - Gulf News

QUOTE. 16/12/2000. Violence against women, whether it is verbal or physical, is increasing worldwide. The UAE is no exception. There are no official figures on the level of domestic violence in the UAE, but experts agree that the number of reported cases does not reflect the true picture. Head of Special Reports Duraid Al Baik talks to social experts, doctors and police officials about the problem and what needs to be done to stem the violence. UNQUOTE
50% of people in the Gulf are overweight: WHO -Arab News

QUOTE. MANAMA, 14 July 2004 — Studies by the World Health Organization show that over 50 percent of people in the Gulf are overweight or obese, caused by lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits.

High levels of obesity exist particularly among women, but often men too, in many countries as diverse as Egypt and the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.

Obesity rates of 25-30 percent and even higher are typical in Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE. Bahraini girls are among the heaviest in the world. Only one in 10 Bahraini women admits to exercising regularly. According to the Bahrain Center for Studies and Research, the rapid rise in living standards is to blame. Before oil wealth, Gulf Arabs typically ate bread or rice with fish, vegetables and fruit. Meat was rare.

But consumption of sugar, fat and processed foods has shot up and intake of fresh fruit and vegetables has dropped. The study notes people in the UAE consume, on average, 79 kg of meat a year, compared with only 13 kg in less wealthy and more traditional Yemen.

Almost 70 percent of Kuwaiti women suffer from obesity.

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Summers is great - The Becker-Posner Blog


For these actions, Summers—the most exciting and dynamic president that Harvard has had since James Conant—has been (or at least has felt) compelled to undergo a humiliating course of communist-style “reeducation,” involving repeated and increasingly abject confessions, self-criticism, and promises to reform. He has been paraded in a metaphoric dunce cap.


As Harvard’s president, Summers has shown vision, enormous ability, and strength, qualities typically lacking in university presidents, with the exceptions of Edward Levi at Chicago, Gerhard Casper at Stanford, and a few others. If allowed to persist in his endeavors, he will go down as one of the great university presidents of recent decades.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ready for after-the-fall cleaning

Fujairah Posted by Hello

I suspect the owner is a funny man.
Democracy and Religious Humility – Reinhold Niebuhr

5th in a series of quotations.

Religious idealists usually insist that the primary contribution of religion in democratic life is the cultivation of moral idealism which inculcates concern for the other rather than the self. But this is only part of the contribution which profound religion can make. Consistent egotists would, of course, wreck any democratic process; for it requires some decent consideration of the needs of others.

But some of the greatest perils to democracy arise from the fanaticism of moral idealists who are not conscious of the corruption of self-interest in their professed ideals. Democracy therefore requires something more than a religious devotion to moral ideals. It requires religious humility.

The real point of contact between democracy and profound religion is in the spirit of humility which democracy requires and which must be one of the fruits of religion.

Democracy may be challenged from without by the force of barbarism and the creed of cynicism. But its internal peril lies in the conflict of various schools and classes of idealists, who profess different ideals but exhibit a common conviction that their own ideals are perfect.
The Tipping Point - Friedman, NYT

Mr. Koppel was raising the question because he wanted to explore whether the Iraqi elections marked a tipping point in history. I was on the same show, and in mulling over this question more I think that what's so interesting about the Middle East today is that we're actually witnessing three tipping points at once.
Thanks to eight million Iraqis defying "you vote, you die" terrorist threats, Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi "insurgents" trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi "stooges" to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with U.S. help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists.
After the Hariri murder, Lebanese just snapped.
The issue for the Palestinians is no longer about how they resist the Israeli occupation in Gaza, but whether they build a decent mini-state there - a Dubai on the Mediterranean.
Buyouts are perverse - Denver Post

Bite the bullet. Fire him if that's what he deserves.

Don't make him better off than the faculty that are doing their job and playing it straight.
Safe-T-Cam - New South Wales

People respond to incentives.

Speed and fatigue are major factors in heavy vehicle accidents.

Since its introduction in 1995, Safe-T-Cam has proven effective in encouraging behavioural change of heavy vehicle drivers and operators and has contributed to a reduction in the incidence of heavy vehicle speed, driver fatigue and heavy vehicle accidents.

Safe-T-Cam continues to assist the RTA in building profiles of heavy vehicle operators and drivers, and provides valuable information on the incidence of speed and fatigue on major transports routes throughout New South Wales.
A network of cameras takes pictures of the front license plate of passing vehicles with date and time. Speed is measured not instaneously, but by time between cameras. There are penalties for speeding and driving too many hours in a given period.
Bedouin Society in the Emirates: Efficiency of Documents and Narration Dialects, Conference - Khaleej Times

ABU DHABI — Globalistion in its present unilateral form poses a threat to societies, particularly the Arab society, since it endangers the Arab identity and values based on religious teachings, Dr Abdullah Abdul Kareem Al Reyes, Director-General of the Centre for Documentation and Research (CDR), has said.
The conference is the launching pad for a new methodology which the CDR will adopt in fulfiling its multi-purpose missions aimed at serving the UAE society, he said, adding that the conference would be a valuable record of Bedouin heritage, and would document their nomadic life and transfer it from oral narration to written history.
It seems that the aim is preservation of a record of the Bedoin and an appreciation of their culture, not preservation of the Bedoin themselves. The latter is simply impossible except for the few who continue to elect to stay with this rigorous way of life.

But why is that when "prominent historians, anthropologists, diplomats, psychologists, architects, linguists and environmentalists" gather they speak in code. "Efficiency of Documents and Narration Dialects." Mercy. I trust you, you have something important to say.
Spat between Sharjah, Dubai and Al Ain school zones over employee misconduct - Khaleej Times

An easy way to get rid of a bad employee is to quietly to tell him to go find another job. It's easy and it saves a blemish on the organization's record. You may even give him a positive recommendation. He becomes someone else's problem, and if he misbehaves in the next job you have two avenues of escaping criticism: (1) the new employer will duplicate your strategy (and thereby not call you to account), or (2) you can deny you knew of the problem behavior.

This is essentially the problem various Christian dioceses (Catholic and others) have often created by passing problem priests off on one another.

Did it happen in the case of the school zones? We don't know, but for the safety of our children we should be alert to the possibility.

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Fees to be hiked for firms violating laws - Khaleej Times

ABU DHABI — Fees levied on various labour transactions will be hiked for firms violating labours laws and regulations set by the country, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, has said.

Activating penalty laws and imposing fees on services the ministry used to offer free of charge earlier are also in the pipeline, the minister said.

He said the move comes in the wake of the ministry's efforts to come up with new revenue generation plans to fund developmental projects launched by the ministry.
"This move will help the ministry's efforts to have new sources of revenue in the light of financial cuts imposed by the Ministry of Finance in the budgetory allocations for the Labour Ministry," Dr Kaabi told Khaleej Times yesterday.

Odd, but not surprising. The government cuts your budget. Though there's no mention that the government says you may institute fee for service, you create fee for service.

And your decision to enforce existing penalty laws is predicated not by whether the laws should be enforced (why haven't they? perhaps it was not good law), but because you cannot proceed with the agency's initiatives without some form of revenue.

There's nothing wrong with the government instituting fee for service. But fees above cost of service are taxes, and create the same inefficiencies as taxes.

Penalties deter undesirable behavior. They serve that purpose, not revenue generation.
Whether weather incentives work - Marginal Revolution

We'll have to wait and see what the weather brings.
Call for a workable emiratisation policy for private sector - Gulf News

Opening of this opinion piece:
By S S A Zaidi, Special to Gulf News

A recent study conducted by the Media International Centre claims emiratisation efforts have not solved the problem of unemployment among UAE nationals.

One problem highlighted is the lack of will on the part of the private sector to recruit UAE nationals, who make up 1 per cent of its total workforce. This state of affairs calls for developing a workable emiratisation policy for the private sector.

Resolutions issued by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs stipulate trading companies with 50 or more employees should ensure at least 2 per cent of their workforce consists of UAE nationals. Insurance companies should make sure at least 5 per cent of their workforce consists of UAE nationals; for banks, it is 4 per cent.

His conclusion:

The emiratisation policy can thus have two prongs:

One part of the policy should be to enforce the employment quota system across all sectors, prescribing an annual increase of the percentage of sectoral workforces that must be UAE nationals.

The other prong requires all financial institutions and other private sector firms, the Department of Economic Development and the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Establishment to join together to ensure UAE nationals have many opportunities to set up their own businesses.

My take: Private sector firms do recruit nationals. There is little unemployment in the usual sense. The gap that exists is a gap between the wages and working conditions that nationals seek, and those that employers are willing to provide.

And nationals are disadvantaged because the contract terms over which they cannot negotiate, but expats can. First, nationals cannot negotiate away their rights to contest termination by the employer, but expats can. Second, nationals cannot negotiate away their right to change jobs, but expats can (under UAE law the default for expats is that they cannot change jobs in the UAE without their employer's permission).

It is also sometimes said there is a Catch 22 -- that employers demand all hires have experience. It's true that employers can always find someone experienced by recruiting an expat. But it cannot be claimed that there is discrimination against the unexperienced. If the unexperienced are saying they are willing to take a job if only they are paid the salary for an experienced person, this is not unemployment. This unwillingness to accept the employer's offer.

(As far as small business goes, the points are similar. When nationals are competing against non-nationals profitability will be determined by the return non-nationals are willing to accept. If nationals in small business demand a higher return, they will have to be subsidized in perpetuity, or be given protection from competition.)

Remedies. If the objective is to increase employment of nationals in the private sector, then quotas are one answer. So far quotas have not been strictly enforced. Thus we have not seen their likely consequences: increased costs that will manifest themselves in higher consumer prices and business closures (or a slowing of their expansion). Strict enforcement of quotas would slow the growth of the non-oil sector of the economy.

The alternative to quotas is a mix of policies such as: subsidies to employers who hire nationals, quotas on importing labor, freedom for expats to change jobs, and equal treatment of nationals and expats with respect to inalienable rights at termination.

Such an alternative would also benefit the children of expats who have grown up in the UAE and want to start their own livelihood here. This segment of the population has received little examination or attention, but they think of the UAE as home. What this means for the future of the UAE is something to be pondered further.

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Sharjah elections move wins wide applause - Khaleej Times

Shamsa Hilal Al Zaabi, member of the Sharjah Consultative Council, said that good is expected to be harvested by both the leaders and the public.

“The move, taken by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, increases the trust of the public in him. It as well reflects the Ruler’s trust in the capability of the general public in administering their affairs by themselves.” She added: “Establishing trust and confidence on both the sides leads to better maintainance of the general welfare, which is the most important factor for the stability and development of any community. Even if the general public had not openly called for election of councils earlier, they always wished for that to happen. With his deep wisdom and vision, Dr Shaikh Sultan has sensed the needs and demands of the masses.”

The council is now appointed, but will become elected. Since she (and one other woman) is a member of the council it appears women will be allowed run and to vote.
A Forensic Evaluation of Blogging - voluntaryXchange

QUOTE. So there you have it: the non-monetary valuation placed on blogging by the market is substantially higher than the monetary valuation placed on me by my employer. Of course, I am providing most of that blogging value as consumer surplus to my readers, but I now have some idea of how hard I should be working them over to convert that into producer surplus. UNQUOTE.
The Overstretch Myth - Foreign Affairs, David H. Levey and Stuart S. Brown

(Italicized paragraphs are quotes. Bold is my emphasis.)


The resurgence of U.S. economic and political power in the 1990s momentarily put such fears to rest. But recently, a new threat to the sustainability of U.S. hegemony has emerged: excessive dependence on foreign capital and growing foreign debt. As former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has said, "there is something odd about the world's greatest power being the world's greatest debtor."

The U.S. economy, according to doubters, rests on an unsustainable accumulation of foreign debt.


Focusing exclusively on the NIIP obscures the United States' institutional, technological, and demographic advantages. Such advantages are further bolstered by the underlying complementarities between the U.S. economy and the economies of the developing world -- especially those in Asia. The United States continues to reap major gains from what Charles de Gaulle called its "exorbitant privilege," its unique role in providing global liquidity by running chronic external imbalances. The resulting inflow of productivity-enhancing capital has strengthened its underlying economic position.

Only one development could upset this optimistic prognosis: an end to the technological dynamism, openness to trade, and flexibility that have powered the U.S. economy. The biggest threat to U.S. hegemony, accordingly, stems not from the sentiments of foreign investors, but from protectionism and isolationism at home.

The irony: So, on this reasoning, the agenda of the left in the U.S. is internally consistent. If the U.S. closes its doors to foreign investment in the U.S. its multi-dimensional worldwide hegemony will end.
Cheating by Professors - Division of Labour

Division of Labour seems to have the roundup on stories about academic cheaters:

1. Ward Churchill, University of Colorado. Said he was an Indian. Not. Sold art as his own; it's a mirror image of someone else's work. Here, too.

2. Prof. at Tel Aviv U medical school. Falsifying data, forgery.

3. German anthropologist. Falsehoods, manipulations, research hoax.

4. Oklahoma State geography professor. Serial plagiarizer.
Privatize the units but not the commons - Division of Labour

The result is predictable and sad. The heat doesn't work, roofs leave, landscaping is nil and the building exteriors are crumbling. Meanwhile, the individual flats are quite nice on the inside--but how long before the buildings fall apart?
Division of Labour is a team blog. One member is Deidre McCloskey, though no posts yet from her.

Via another group economics blog, the Knowledge Problem. Over there, Lynne Kiesling is doing some interesting ruminating about organic competition v. managed competition. And dressing for success, too.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Liwa Posted by Hello
Anglican primates uphold unity in response to Windsor Report - Episcopal News Service

My subtitle: Anglicans are uncommonly civil

Episcopalians are the American branch of the worldwide Anglican communion. They abandoned the name Anglican following the American War of Independence and kept the name Episcopal with the successful conclusion of that conflict. But they've never stopped being Anglican even when it got a bit difficult when the Americans lacked a bishop -- bishops can only be made by other bishops. But that obstacle was eventually worked around and the rift with the UK church healed.

More recently, the Episcopalians got themselves in hot water with the Anglican communion by consecrating an openly gay bishop. Canadian Anglicans also crossed a line regarding blessing of gay marriages.

I'm pretty sure that would not have caused a stir except that third world members had strong objections. If it was up to the English curch and the Archbishop of Canterbury I have a feeling that the attitude toward the American and Canadians churches would be to-each-his-own. There'd be no membership revolt in the UK because there aren't many members left in the church, just income-generating real estate to create the appearance of lively church.

The communion has let the Americans (and Canadians) know that they're not happy with their actions, and that it was inconsiderate of them not to consider the effect of their actions on the worldwide communion.

Which brings me to my subtitle, uncommonly civil. Here's what an advisory board of five primates (bishops) came up with:

The 5-page communiqué requested that the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada "voluntarily withdraw" their representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council, the Communion's main legislative body, until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008. It reaffirmed the importance of provincial autonomy and interdependence, and committed the primates to the pastoral support and care of homosexuals. It also committed the primates to a promise "neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions," calling on Williams to appoint a panel that could supervise the "adequacy of pastoral provisions" for those in theological dispute with their bishop or province.

Carnley described the weeklong meeting as "a very agreeable process .... because it was clear that we were all of a common mind." He emphasized that the North American churches are not being asked to withdraw from the Anglican Communion. "We see the need for a listening process and we think that the withdrawal of members from the ACC will create a space ... to allow the listening process to happen," he said. "Just as importantly we have called on the primates to cease cross-boundary intervention. The intervention of bishops from outside that church is unhelpful and we have committed ourselves unanimously."

Probably I'm only reflecting my ignorance, but is there any other organization which would handle a dispute this way? And where else except in the Anglican communion would this be the response:

In an interview with ENS following the meeting, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said that "the week had been difficult but we have emerged in a very good place."

"The report seeks to make space in a number of areas for different perspectives to be held with integrity," he added. "My sense is that the communiqué ... asks for us to slow down a bit, lets us make room for one another, let us reason together, lets us explore more deeply some of the underlying issues that are represented by some of the actions that have recently occurred."

One thing that has become very clear through listening to the voices of other primates, Griswold added, is "how very different the contexts are in which we seek to articulate the Gospel and be faithful to the ministry of Christ."

Saudi Vote Stirs New Enthusiasm - WP

QUOTE. During his Riyadh campaign, Quayid said, voters often asked why he wanted to be on a municipal council that was nothing but "a decoration" put up under "American pressure."

His answer: "When I ran in the first place, I did not look at the authority of the council. . . . I thought about a constitutional institution that is elected for the first time in Saudi Arabia, in my age. I thought I wanted to be part of this process."


So, why did the Iraqi Shiites pick Jaafari? - Arab News

There are at least three reasons.

The first is that Jaafari’s presence at the head of a new interim government could deprive both Shiite and Sunni fundamentalists of their main claim that the new Iraqi leadership consists of a bunch of anti-religious personalities determined to reduce the role of Islam in Iraqi society.
The second reason why Jaafari was chosen is his good standing among Arab Sunnis who stayed away from the elections in large numbers.

And third,

Jaafari also has the added advantage of having consistently opposed the policy of de-Baathification, so ardently advocated by his principal Shiite political rival Ahmad Chalabi. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civil servants, businessmen, and military personnel, who had carried Baath Party membership cards to remain in the game or even to stay alive, regard Jaafari as the only Shiite leader capable of preventing a witch-hunt against them.


Although the Shiites account for some 60 percent of Iraq’s population the total length of time in which they held the premiership amounted to no more than four years over a period of eight decades. Not surprisingly, almost all of Jaafari’s predecessors were known as “token Shiites”, brought under the limelight to help the Sunni-dominated regime negotiate a rough patch.

There is another, more important, difference between Jaafari and his predecessors as prime minister: They were all secular politicians. Jaafari, however, is the leader of the main wing of the Al-Daawah (The Call) Party, Iraq’s oldest political-religious organization. A glance at Al-Daawah’s memorandum of association could have a chilling effect on any reader concerned about the use of religion as a political ideology.
So, how concerned should supporters of democracy in Iraq be? Were those who claim that Iraq without a despot like Saddam Hussein is bound to fall into the hands of Khomeinist loonies right after all? Is Iraq to be transformed into a religious dictatorship under the Islamist slogan of: One man, one vote, once?

I picked up a book in the library today, Imams and Emirs - State, Religion and Sects in Islam (1990) by Fuad I Khuri. It looks to be quite good, though it lacks an index which is not a good sign.

But here's a paragraph from the back cover which seems to have implications for the evolution of Iraq towards democracy:

Conflict and contradiction among Muslims centre around two poles: the ulama [imams], who derive their authority from religious dogma, and the emirs and sultans who base their authority on power and coercion. In Sunni Islam, for instance, the ulama's role is subsidiary to that of the power elites, but among the Shi'a it is the ulama themselves who form the power elites. After reviewing the ideological and organizational characteristics of individual sects, Khuri addresses the issue of religious change under the heading 'Brethren or Citizens'. Here, he deals with the interplay between religions, state and nationalism and discusses the contradictions between modern state structures and the Islamic umma [the Muslim community]. Already, he argues, some religious concepts are taking on nationalistic meanings.
Condoleezza Rice's Commanding Clothes - Robin Givhan, WP

Rice boldly eschewed the typical fare chosen by powerful American women on the world stage. She was not wearing a bland suit with a loose-fitting skirt and short boxy jacket with a pair of sensible pumps. She did not cloak her power in photogenic hues, a feminine brooch and a non-threatening aesthetic. Rice looked as though she was prepared to talk tough, knock heads and do a freeze-frame "Matrix" jump kick if necessary. Who wouldn't give her ensemble a double take -- all the while hoping not to rub her the wrong way?
Fashion blogging. My recollection is that as National Security advisor her dress did not stand out. It is a job where you may be powerful, but you don't want to stand out from the President or the Secretary of State in persona or dress.

So I don't think the press is just paying more attention. She is dressing differently. To me it's not so much the design of the clothes as the tailoring and the evident quality. If it were a man, I expect he'd begin wearing higher quality suits, but the difference between a $500 suit and a $2000 suit doesn't stand out so much except in person -- or if you're wearing the suit.

Is there some economics here? Are women able to transform their image more easily than men? What implications would that have?

There is some economic examination of these questions. Daniel Hamermesh and co-authors, for example, ask the question, Dress for Success - Does Primping Pay? Their answer: yes, but more so for women.

At any rate, Rice never dressed in a loose skirt, shirt and boxy jacket that I remember.
UAE first country to have test tube camel - Khaleej Times

World's first test-tube camel born in UAE - Gulf News

Camel racing is big amongst the UAE elite. We know that artificial insemination is a no-no in world of thoroughbred horses. Despite the dangers this ban presents, there is greater concern to prevent fraud about the sire.

In the case of the test-tube camel there is also a female donor.

There is a market in high-end racing camels. I wonder whether there any fraud concerns as in the market thoroughbred horses.
Mubarak Orders Election Amendment - ABC News

CAIRO, Egypt Feb 26, 2005 — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday ordered a review and amendment of the country's presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls in September.

"This morning I have asked the parliament and the Shura Council to amend Article 76 of the constitution, which deals with the election of the president to discuss it and suggest the appropriate amendment to be in line with this stage of our nation's history," Mubarak said in a speech broadcast live on Egyptian television.

He said the amendment would be put to a general public referendum before the presidential polls, scheduled for September. The surprise announcement follows increasing opposition calls for political reforms, including multi-candidate presidential elections.
A skeptic points out that such an amendment would allow Mubarak's son to run without contradicting his statement that the son would not inherit the presidency.

UPDATE: TigerHawk has a roundup on this story and suggests a cause and effect -- Rice's cancellation of a trip to Egypt, and cites human rights activist in Egypt who credit international pressure. (via Instapundit)


Locals go ga ga over Sharjah poll move - Khaleej Times

The headline is not mine. This lengthy article begins:

SHARJAH — The recent formation of the Municipal Councils in Sharjah by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, was described as a step towards democracy and as ‘a prelude to direct elections.’
Ali Al Mahmoud, Vice-Chairman of the Sharjah Consultative Council
believes that adopting democracy gradually is very much needed to avoid any political, economic or social problems. “The UAE communities are still tribal and we are still at a relatively early age of the formation of the country,”he told Khaleej Times. “Sharjah is definitely adopting a more democratic approach, and we hope that other emirates follow suit. Electing people’s representatives has become a necessity, and we should do it ourselves before it is dictated by foreigners. However, while adopting democratic practices, the government should ensure that people of different ideologies are represented on different councils. This will give an opportunity to all to have constructive dialogues and discussions and avoid conflicts,” Al Mahmoud said.
We demand a system for election not only for the members of the municipal council but also the Federal National Council as well as the other executive and consultative bodies in each emirate,” he stressed, observing that having municipal councils is not new to Sharjah nor to the UAE.
Saeed Al Jarwan, member of one of the new nine municipal councils,
described the setting up of municipal councils as being a timely move.“The responsibilities of these councils are huge because they have to look into all issues concerning the well-being of citizens and residents. The new step leads to having organised and appropriate democracy and ‘Shura’ being a prelude to election which is expected to be within a few years,” he said.
Hissah Abdul Rahman Al Midfa,

member of the Sharjah Consultative Council told Khaleej Times that the Ruler’s appointment for just two women in the municipal councils expressed his wisdom. “It is needed to ensure the effectiveness of women in this new field, in addition to gradually making the idea of women members of municipal councils acceptable by the public and gaining their confidence in our capability to represent them in future elections,” she noted.

“In the first two sessions of the Sharjah Consultative Council which was formed in 1999, the appointment of woman was limited to five members. In the third session, he has increased our number to seven members. Being a member of a municipal council is a new experience for a woman, but I am fully confident women members will live up to the resonsibility and will be very efficient and vital when handling family-related issues. The number of women in municipal councils would definitely be increased.”

Dr Ateeq Al Jikka, Political Science professor at the UAE University and Counsellor for the Government of Ras Al Khaimah,
also told a local daily that Sharjah Ruler’s decision has a historic significance. He said the UAE was the only country out of the six-member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, and the countries in the Arab Gulf region, to be affected by political stagnation in this regard, citing lack of general elections in the country. He said the chance of interfering in this regard must not be given to any international body in view of “the repeated calls and advocacy for political reforms that we hear from time to time these days through reports from humanitarian and non-governmental organisations, claiming to be working for transparency, political participation, freedom and many other slogans,” he said, adding "Those slogans are rightful although they hide beneath them sinister ambitions.”
A prominent UAE Arabic language daily editorial is quoted:
In Sharjah, a healthy development has been going on covertly for the past several years, without the hullabaloo of media coverage. This healthy development has seen issues pertaining to the present and future of the country being deliberated upon, besides looking into aspects of creating several options for UAE Nationals, both male and female, who would soon be called upon to shoulder the responsibilities of running the country’s affairs in the near future.
Delay penalties have perverse effect - The Times

Turning back after engine failure would have left airline liable to pay out for delays under new rules on compensation

A BRITISH AIRWAYS jumbo jet carrying 351 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing after an 11-hour transatlantic flight with a failed engine.

The fault occurred on take-off from Los Angeles but the pilot declined all opportunities to land in the US and instead continued on three engines for 5,000 miles to Britain.
Check all that are true:

(1) People respond to incentives

(2) The Law of Unintended Consequences

(3) BA will rue this calculus -- customer backlash

Were it not for the emergency landing, we'd never have known BA was making the tradeoff between on-time arrival and safety. Now we know.

Regulators are sending conflicting signals to airlines. They want them to be safe and they want them to be on time. By introducing late arrival penalties they have created the incentive for airlines to increase the probability of accident -- small probability events, but catastrophic.

It is difficult to monitor safety. It is easy to monitor on-time arrival. Regulators have created very sharp incentives to be on time. That's a mistake when you want the airlines to put in effort in safety and being on time; for an accessible treatment of the equal compensation principle see Milgrom and Roberts.

Other questions come to mind. Why do regulators even need to be penalize lateness? Don't passengers monitor on time arrival rates and punish airlines with bad records?

Economists have also been known to argue that airlines have an overwhelming incentive to avoid accidents -- that accidents trigger a collapse of an airline's customer goodwill. It seems that here we have a case where the airline did risk an accident. Is this because airlines are close to being a breakeven proposition so there's less downside from an accident?
American TV shows lose control of their own distribution - Truck&Barter

T&B (Where Sympathy and Hedonism Collide) points out that "This should come as no surprise and just shows that technology is ahead of yet another segment of the entertainment world."

And receiving countries have lost control of the distribution of American culture, if that ever was something you could control.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Jebel Fayah, UAE Posted by Hello
Should the United States pursue its democratizing path, particularly in the Middle East? - Reason

QUOTE. Should the United States pursue its democratizing path, particularly in the Middle East? It is remarkable how Bush's critics, both from the political left and libertarian right, found themselves in a bind after the Iraqi election. Unlike Jumblatt, most scurried to a fallback position when their predictions of a fiasco proved wrong. A favored option was to warn that Washington had roused an Islamist monster. In that way the critics did a 180-degree turn: implying, initially, that the U.S. was avoiding democratic elections, then, when that proved wrong, that the elections would fail, and, when that again proved wrong, that elections should never have taken place because the victors were mullahs. UNQUOTE
Never mind - BBC

Socialized medicine meets American medicine.
Revenge of the Blog People! - Library Journal

QUOTE. A blog is a species of interactive electronic diary by means of which the unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar, can communicate their thoughts via the web. (Though it sounds like something you would find stuck in a drain, the ugly neologism blog is a contraction of "web log.") Until recently, I had not spent much time thinking about blogs or Blog People. UNQUOTE

(via Instapundit)
blogging Iran, the price is paid - BBC

Iran jails blogger for 14 years

Millions of Iranians view the internet as a place to express themselves

An Iranian weblogger has been jailed for 14 years on charges of spying and aiding foreign counter-revolutionaries. Arash Sigarchi was arrested last month after using his blog to criticise the arrest of other online journalists.
Iranian authorities have arrested about 20 online journalists during the current crackdown.

They accused Mr Sigarchi of a string of crimes against Iranian state, including espionage, insulting the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It's a crime to insult the Supreme Leader. In this case, he's been insulted. But how often has the penalty detered someone from insulting the Supreme Leader? Since it's a crime, isn't it safe to infer that there's plenty to criticize about the Supreme Leader? In a free and open society that's not the case. Criticism of the leader indicates the degree of greivances.

Robert's Rules of Order tell us to the debate the issue, not the person. But sometimes the person is the issue. When it comes to organizations I do think it is appropriate to set the standard that most criticism remains internal -- that it stays in the family. Otherwise, it becomes difficult for the leadership to take criticism, reflect upon, and respond in a way that is good for the organization.

Whistle blower protection does exist in some countries for employees who reveal misdeeds (or possible misdeeds) by their organization, government or private. Sometimes it is necessary to go public with your criticism. We know that organizations, government and private, do punish whistleblowing employees when they can. We know, too, that some whistleblowers are really just people who have a deserved reputation for an inability to get along well with others.

We can safely say, I think, this is not the case for Mr. Sigarchi.


Can We Buy Off Our Enemies? - The Eclectic Econoclast

Answering for (North?) America, EE says no. Or at least it's not a good idea.

He's right.
MALAK 0IFN^ N$-IF (1886-1918),

pen-name of B§Èiï9at al- B§diya, daughter of 0ifnÊ †§sif, a follower of MuÈammad #Abduh [q.v.], and pioneer protagonist of women's rights in pioneer protagonist of women's rights in Egypt Egypt . She was in 1903 one of the first Egyptian women to receive a teacher's primary certificate and became a teacher in the government girls' school. Her marriage to #Abd al-Satt§r al- B§sil took her to the Fayyåm, where she observed the life of women in nomadic and rural society. She was herself faced with the problem of polygamy, since her husband had married a second wife.

The intellectual influence of her father, her professional training and experience, and the experience of her marriage caused her to become the first Egyptian woman to speak out publicly for the emancipation of women. She wrote articles on the topic in al- ò3arÊda and such women's magazines as al- ò3ins al- laãÊf and founded her own women's organisation, the Ittiȧd al-Nis§" al- Tahù9ÊbÊ.

In 1911 she gave a speech before the Egyptian Congress in Helipolis, in which she [VI:220a] developed a ten-point programme for the improvement of the conditions of women.

(Source: Quoted from The Encyclopaedia of Islam ($))

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Prudence and The Economist

A few weeks back I posted on the subject of the "high" ranking of The Economist news magazine in an academic study of news magazines and the frequency of portrayal of unclothed women.

At the time I reported this matter of factly. Now I'm ready to pontificate.

The Economist's article on the study suggests two attitudes: (1) the photographs are harmless, and (2) the criticism of nudity in the magazine reflects immature American prudishness.

The owners of The Economist should ask themselves this question: Is our editorial policy financially prudent or is it harmful to the profitability of the magazine? In other words, are we alienating half of our potential subscribers and readers -- or more -- worldwide? The advertisers in The Economist will ask themselves the same thing.
Market - The Encylopaedia of Islam ($ reg. req.)

Brief extract:

S— (a.), pl. asw§Î, marketmarket.

1. In the traditional Arab world. SåÎ , market, is a loanword from Aramaic ê9åΧ with the same meaning. Like the French term marché and the English market, the Arabic word såÎ has acquired a double meaning: it denotes both the commercial exchange of goods or services and the place in which this exchange is normally conducted. Analysis of the såÎ is thus of interest to the economic and social historian as well as to the archaeologist and the urban topographer. The substantial textual documentation which is available has as yet been analysed only very partially and the phenomenon of the market, fundamental to the understanding of mediaeval Arab culture, has not, to the present writers' knowledge, been subjected to a thorough and comprehensive conceptual study.

It is also important to recall the importance of commercial activity for pre-Islamic and Islamic civilisation. The socio-economic structures of pre- Islamic Arabia are still inadequately known and have given rise to divergent interpretations, but the importance accorded there to the transport and exchange of merchandise seems clear. According to Rodinson, several maritime emporia were in existence (Aden, #Um§n, Ubulla), as well as temporary markets or fairs distributed throughout the year, asw§Î al- #Arab , although it is not known whether there was anything resembling a unified or regional organisation of such phenomena. M.A. Shaban followed Rodinson in writing: “It is impossible to think of Makka in terms other than trade; its only raison d'être was commerce” (Islamic history, Cambridge 1971, i, 3). However, Patricia Crone has recently disputed the excessive importance attributed to Mecca as regulator of trade between Yemen and Syria. Excavations in the Arabian Peninsula have revealed conurbations including a group of three linked buildings: sanctuary, seat of power and market ( #Abd alRaÈm§n al- •ayyib al- AnߧrÊ, aryat al-F§w, 1981). Muslim tradition holds that Mecca was inhabited and controlled by merchants when the Prophet MuÈammad received there the revelation of the ur"§n; the latter contains allusions to the coming and going of caravans and to the fairs which were held twice a year, close to the city.
Your college or university library should not be without this tremendous resource.
Maternity leave for teachers mandatory in UAE - Khaleej Times
ABU DHABI — Some private schools are allegedly depriving pregnant teachers of the mandatory 45-day paid maternity leave, forcing them to go on unpaid leave.

“I am due next month and I have been asked to take leave for three months starting from March first week. In effect, I don’t get a penny when I go for my delivery,” a teacher of an Indian private school in the capital told ‘Khaleej Times’, requesting anonymity.

The schools do this apparently to avoid paying the women teachers during their confinement. However, under the UAE labour laws, all women employees who have served for at least one academic year, are entitled to 45 days’ maternity leave with full pay. And those who have not completed this period are entitled to 45 days’ leave at half pay.
Times change. Back home in Orkney Springs, I was reading from the minutes of a public school board meeting from early in the 20th century. The issue before the board was the case of a teacher who got married. Teacher who became married were expected to quit - it was in their contract that they could not be married. When this teacher refused to quit, the board fired her.

In the Emirates, newly hired teachers in government schools (school for nationals) cannot be pregnant at the time they take up employment. In the case of teachers recruited from overseas, as many are, there can be many months between when the job offer is accepted and the start of school. The government's interest is that it very difficult to find a replacement teacher in a short amount of time, so it only wants to hire teachers who will not go on leave during the first year in which they are hired. In practice this also means that when it learns a newly-hired teacher is pregnant they terminate her in order to maintain the credibility of the rule. See that story here.

Mandated benefits. The issue in the quote above concerns government-mandated paid pregnancy leave for teachers in private schools.

Once again, we have a case of the government limiting the kinds of contracts into which private parties can enter. What are the consequences of mandating pregnancy leave?

Firstly, it causes schools to prefer male teachers over female teachers. At equal pay a male teacher becomes preferred to an equally qualified female. The female's salary offer will be lower than the males by the expected cost of the maternity benefit.

Second, it harms female teachers of child-bearing age who cannot or choose not to become pregnant. Their counterparts do receive a benefit (or expected benefit), but they do not. Yet they will be paid the same. It places them, actually, in an uncomfortable position. One can imagine they would like the employer to know they definitely will not become pregnant. But proving that would involve divulging very personal and private information.

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Zayed U launching masters in school management - Khaleej Times

QUOTE. ABU DHABI — Zayed University is in the process of evolving a new Masters Degree in Educational Leadership for schools managers and officials aimed at raising the efficiency standards of UAE national employees in the field of education, Dr Hanif Hassan Al Qassimi, Vice President of Zayed University has said. UNQUOTE


The World Bank reconsiders its pension recommendation - The Economist

QUOTE. Eleven years on, the Bank has taken stock, reviewing how reforms have worked and taking account of criticism and new ideas. The result is a new report, to be released on February 21st. “Old-Age Income Support in the 21st Century”, a copy of which The Economist has seen, is intended to be the definitive guide to the Bank's current thinking. Although the authors insist that it does not herald a new policy approach, it certainly does alter the Bank's public position.

The new report says that the case for the Bank to support pension reform has grown stronger in the past decade. Existing systems are not good enough. “Most pension systems in the world,” it argues, “do not deliver on their social objectives, they contribute to significant distortions in the operation of market economies, and they are not financially sustainable when faced with an ageing population.”
A common story, maid abuse - Gulf News

QUOTE. She ran away more than a month ago and sought assistance from the Sri Lankan Consulate in Dubai.

The woman came to the consulate with burn marks on her hands and legs.

Timely medical attention has almost cured her physically, but the mental scars remain. With a debt of 15,000 Sri Lankan rupees to be repaid back home, she is uncertain of her future.

"An investigation into her case was launched by us and a police complaint was also filed. When the issue of non-payment of salaries was taken up, her sponsor an Egyptian furnished a paper that had Parmeshwari's signature on it
Heya satellite channel tackles women's core and controversial issues in Middle East - Lebanon Daily Star

QUOTE. Dialogue like this isn't common in the Middle East, but it's being dished out every day by Heya (Arabic for "she") satellite television station, broadcast to 15 million women daily, from illiterate denizens of remote villages in Egypt to Prada-clothed fashionistas in Beirut. UNQUOTE


Palestinian Parliament ends impasse and backs new Cabinet - Lebanon Daily Star

Plain speaking:

The Palestinian Parliament approved on Thursday a Cabinet of mostly new faces unassociated with the corruption-plagued era of Yasser Arafat, signaling a commitment to reforms viewed as key to peacemaking.
Later, we read:

Virtually all the new ministers are experts in the field they are to oversee, including 10 with doctorates, a medical doctor, a lawyer, several engineers and several with master's degrees. The new agriculture minister, Walid Abed Rabbo, has a doctorate in human resource management from the U.S. and served in Jordan's agriculture ministry before becoming a consultant to the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry.
A friend tells me that ministers in the Middle East typically are highly educated experts in their fields - indeed, that this it is true throughout positions of management in government. But high education is neither necessary nor sufficient for good government, and can be used as window dressing.

The number of U.S. cabinet secretaries with the PhD is quite small. Condi Rice is the exception.

By the way, a relatively proportion of the Palestinian population is highly educated. People respond to incentives. When it is uncertain what your home will be you will tend to invest in mobile capital, like human capital. It gives the individual a low cost means of escape.
On Larry Summers' sin - Peggy Noonan

QUOTE. His mistake was stepping on the real third rail in American cultural politics. It's not Social Security. It is attempting to reconcile the indisputable equality of all people with their differentness. The left thinks if we're all equal we're all alike. Others say we're all equal but God made us different, too, and maybe he did that to keep things interesting, and maybe he did it because each human group is meant to reflect an aspect of his nature. Our differentness is meant to teach us his infinite variety and complexity. It's all about God. UNQUOTE
Dubai American Academy - International Food Festival

I tagged along today, with a friend and his daughter, to an international food festival put on by parents of students who attend Dubai American Academy. It was my first visit to the campus and I was impressed. The facility is relatively new and has excellent fit and finish. It is clean and well cared for.

Despite the name, Americans are very much a minority -- as evidenced by the food. More on that below.

The location is stunning. The Bujr Al-Arab dominates the skyline to the north. Unexpectedly, rising just next door, to northwest is largest mall in the Emirates, complete with indoor downhill skiing. I expect to see members of the DAA competing in the Winter Olympics in the not too distant future.

Say food, international food and cheap and anyone who knows me knows I should be in heaven. I was. For a cover charge of 20 dirhams (about $7) it was all you could eat. (The drinks were a bit rich for my blood -- my Snapple tea cost 5 dhs -- but I later discovered bottle selling at the standard price of 1 dhs for 650 ml.)

As I say, I was in heaven. In the interest of full reporting I sampled from every stand.

Egypt - A variety of selections including Foul wraps. Foul is a mildly spicy dried bean dish. Rating: *** of 5.

Korea - A good area of selections. I recommend the spicy beef and the noodles.
Rating: ****

Australia - Home baked cookies were the speciality here. The sugar cookies with qualong were very good, and unique.
Rating: ***

South Africa - I could not resist the caramel mint tarts. Unique and yummy. But take it from one who knows, but chase them with Korean spicy beef.
Rating: ****

Palestine - A great variety. I went with a personal favorite, falafel sandwich, and was not disappointed.
Rating: ****

America - The American stand was clearly homemade stuff. (Looking back, I wonder if some of the other stands didn't rely on professionals.) The red white and blue Rice Krispy squares were gooey but not chewy.
Rating: ***

Poland - It's been a long time between perogies. These were tasty, and done the way I like them -- fried.
Rating: ****

UAE - Passed. Too much time cost of waiting in the schwarma line.

Canada - The guys grilling hot dogs were wearing hockey uniforms and the dogs were slow coming off the grill. I knew there was a work dispute in hockey but I didn't know this was what they meant. The dogs were sans pork. For a whole beef dog they weren't bad.
Rating: ***

Italy - Competing in the professionals only category. No parental participation; purely outsource. The parents contracted with an Italian restaurant to provide the food and serve it.
Rating: N/A (DQ)

Switzerland - By far the largest stand. I understand they're the largest nationality at ADA. Europeans like some thing American. Excellent cheeses and candies.
Rating: *****

Japan - Not to be missed sushi.
Rating: ****

Turkey - This was last on my tour. Whatever it was, it was good even though diminishing marginal utility had definitely set in by this time.
Rating: ***

Iran - Very good pistachios. Lots of other choices.
Rating: ***

Hong Kong - By far the smallest stand. The pork dumpling was very good.
Rating: ***

Lebanon - Empty. A simple framed message stated the nation remains in mourning.

Sweden - Classic herring and egg open face sandwich. Rating adjusted for the soy sauce left on my plate from sushi at the Japanese stand.
Rating: ***

Did I miss anyone?

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Mr Bush goes to Europe - BBC Reporter's Blog

QUOTE. The president is wonderfully un-European - refreshingly so in the view of those of us who have worked in Brussels.

He is unsmooth. He stumbles over his sentences. He uses short, plain, sometimes almost babyish words, while the sophisticated multilingual Euro crowd prefer obfuscatory long ones.
And he gets a clear message across, like it or not. He has no need of spin.

It was interesting that on the White House bus back into town, the journalists did not need to compare notes or discuss the president's words and what they meant.
Front Page, Above the Fold -

-----Credit: Washington Post Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Election fever grips Emiratis - Middle East Online

QUOTE. UAE’s academics, members of appointed consultative council come out in favor of elections in Gulf state. UNQUOTE.
Saudi denies any differences with UAE - Khaleej Times

QUOTE. The AFP report quoted Gulf officials as saying that tension emerged as a result of objection of Saudis to UAE plans for a free trade deal with the US. The UAE is set to become the second Gulf country after Bahrain to sign a free trade pact with the US. Talks on a free trade deal are due to start between Washington and Abu Dhabi on March 8, to be followed on March 12 by the launching of similar negotiations with Oman. The report said Bahrain’s free trade deal with the US has angered Riyadh, which sees it as hindering GCC economic integration.

Another official told AFP that the plan to build a causeway between the UAE and Qatar raised tensions up a notch.

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Algerian president supports women’s rights bill - Khaleej Times

QUOTE. ALGIERS — Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Tuesday gave his support to a bill to improve women’s rights despite fierce opposition from religious parties. The reform of a 1984 law plans to ban men from divorcing their wives for no reason and give women access to financial support from their former husbands, an official statement said. It would scrap the need for women to ask permission from a male family member to marry. UNQUOTE.
Women engineering students outnumber males in UAE - Khaleej Times

QUOTE. AL AIN — The UAE has more women engineering students than men, but the number of women taking up technical careers is minuscule, an expert has said.


Dr Maitha Al Shamsi, Assistant Provost for research, said that the WETF would be a part of international efforts to achieve gender equality in science and technology professions.

“The forum will identify obstacles to women who want to pursue their career in technology and engineering and to find solutions,” said Dr Maitha.

She added that there are more women engineering students when compared to men in the UAE, but the number of women engineers and technology professionals is small.

The forum plans to organise help from experienced women professionals to guide and advise female students who are bidding for careers in engineering and technology.

“Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Education and Chancellor of the UAE University, has always been in the forefront in supporting women’s issues and encouraging their participation in economic and industrial development,” she said.


To rectify the situation by promoting the entry of national women in science and technology careers, the UAE University and multinational oil field services company Schlumberger have jointly proposed the Women in Engineering and Technology Forum (WETF).

The forum, the first of its kind in the Middle East that will be expanded to other GCC countries, will be launched at a three-day workshop beginning on March 8 at the women’s campus of the UAE University here.
Asian workers file plaint - Khaleej Times

QUOTE. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Biswadap Sedai, who has been working as a security guard with the company for the last nine months, said: "I have not received my salary, including Dh100 food allowance for the past three months. We survive on only one meal per day and sometimes we manage with just a cup of tea and a piece of bread. Even though we work for 12 hours a day without any holidays, we don't get overtime benefits. The manager of the company visited our camp in Mirrur area and promised we would get our salary by February 17. However, we got nothing."

Another labourer, Irfan Quraishi said: "We got our last salary on November 28. My contract ends early 2007, but I can't carry on working under such miserable conditions. I don't mind continuing work but conditions must change and we should get our dues. There is no medical attention either. I paid around Dh10.000 back home to be recruited in this company."
Car number auction - Khaleej Times

QUOTE. DUBAI — An auction of 58 customised car licence plate numbers here yesterday fetched Dh3.1 million.


The number D199 fetched the highest price of Dh180,000 [$49.000].
UAE Labor Minister to staff: you are not traders - Khaleej Times

QUOTE. ABU DHABI — Some employees of the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry have resented the minister’s action in rejecting their visa applications for recruiting workers for businesses they run in a personal capacity. They wondered whether the minister, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, had the right to block these visas, which would damage their businesses. They feel their applications were turned down without valid reasons despite complying with all conditions.

“When I tried to explain the reason behind rejecting my application for recruiting three labourers for my business needs, the minister asked me to either become a businessman or stick to my job as a ministry employee,” one of the aggrieved employees told Khaleej Times on condition of anonymity. The employee lamented that the minister told him that ministry employees were not traders.
Civic bodies will lead to polls in Sharjah: Sultan - Khaleej Times

QUOTE. SHARJAH — The formation of the municipal councils in Sharjah are a prelude to direct municipal elections, His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has stated. He was speaking at a function in which the recently appointed members of nine Municipal Councils in Sharjah took the oath of office before him on Tuesday. “The councils will act as an actual tool for looking after people’s interests and providing them with civic services,” Dr Shaikh Sultan said after the swearing-in of the 88 members of the nine councils.


He urged the council members to work for solving citizens’ social problems such as debts in a manner that would respect their privacy.

Dr Shaikh Sultan called for the need for coordination and cooperation among the municipal councils, the Sharjah Executive Council and the Sharjah Administrative Development Committee in discussing and finding solutions for the problems of the emirate and its people. This, he said, must be done away from profit-making, mudslinging or deriving of social and publicity benefit.


Dr Shaikh Sultan underlined a move by the Sharjah government last year to increase total annual grants for citizens to Dh360 million, up by more than Dh100 million from the previous year.
More women take to driving cabs in Fujairah - Gulf News

QUOTE."I used to get a monthly cash assistance from the association to help support my retired husband and five children. Three months ago, I got my new driver's licence and decided to drive a taxi to pick up female passengers, just like the other woman cabbies in Fujairah," Raeesa said.

"Needy UAE national families are being urged to be productive rather than wait for assistance. The service also benefits our local community by introducing women cabbies who can pick up women passengers," Ahmad Saeed Mattar, assistant director of the Association for Administrative and Financial Affairs, told Gulf News.


Landlord doubles apartment rents - Gulf News

QUOTE. Dubai: Tenants in a building in Al Ghusais were shocked to receive a notice that their rent was being increased nearly 100 per cent. The tenants have joined forces to fight the move. "We are not going to pay the increased rent because it is unacceptable. The landlord is trying to exploit the situation as there are hardly any apartments available in Dubai," a tenant told Gulf News. UNQUOTE
Rent can be increased only after 3 years - Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The chamber reports:

Al Khadar warned landlords against intentionally disconnecting electricity and water supplies to tenants refusing to pay extra rents levied on them. “The tenant has the full right to abstain from paying the extra hike if they have not completed three years in the same flat,” he said. “This is a ridiculous and inhumane action by the landlords to force the tenants either to pay the extra rent or to vacate the flat. This is illegal and I urge any tenant facing such a problem to lodge a complaint at the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa). In case no immediate action is taken by Sewa, the tenants should file a case against the landlord, following which the judge will order the reconnection of the electric and water supplies at the tenants home on the same day. Within the first three years of signing a contract, a landlord does not have the right to forcefully vacate a flat without the will of the tenant,” he reiterated.
Two things are of interest in this statement. First, Sharjah is actively involved in ensuring that landlords live up to the terms of the contracts with their tenants. Second, tenants and landlords are legally constrained to enter into contracts which fix the rent for no shorter than 3 years. When demand is growing this may create a black market in shorter term contracts. And demand is growing rapidly. As the chamber notes:

Replying to a question regarding the exorbitant hike in the rents and whether there was any authority responsible in controlling the exaggerated hike in the rents, Al Khadar noted that the main reason for the hike was due to the economic development witnessed in the emirate of Sharjah.
In addition, many who work in Dubai choose to reside in Sharjah where rents are lower. Dubai, of course is also growing rapidly.

Besides tenants failure to pay, landlords do have avenues of escape before a contract reaches term:

If the tenant uses the property for any purpose that contradicts moral and religious clauses, or in case the landlord wishes to demolish or reconstruct the leased property after obtaining a licence from the municipality, he has the full right to force the tenant to vacate.
Under these rules, landlords experiencing a divergence between the contract rent and the market rent will be more likely to monitor their tenant behavior, or to convert the building to nonresidential use. The latter effect, of course, is directly contrary to what would happen under laissez faire following an increase in demand; there, more housing would be provided when rents increase.

If you are particularly interested in housing issues go here for a nice example of how legal limits on contracting harm UAE citizens.

Along the coastal road to Khasab, Musandam, Oman Posted by Hello


Google "library" sparks French warcry - Reuters

French warcry? Do the French have a word for that? I trust it is not borrowed from Anglo-Saxons.

PARIS (Reuters) - France's national library has raised a "warcry" over plans by Google to put books from some of the world's great libraries on the Internet and wants to ensure the project does not lead a domination of American ideas.

Jean-Noel Jeanneney, who heads France's national library and is a noted historian, says Google's choice of works is likely to favour Anglo-Saxon ideas and the English language.

He wants the European Union to balance this with its own programme and its own Internet search engines.
This is too precious. Classic old-Europe thinking. Problem?; call the government, or in this case the supra government.

I'm not familiar with any government initiated websites that have enjoyed the kind of success the profit-motived firms have had.