Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blogging will be light for the next few days.
American University in Dubai
Words and webpage out of sync

Recently, the executive vice president of AUD made this statement:
Whatever is taking place in the United States with the AIU has nothing to do with Dubai.

AUD's own website page on accreditation says:

The American University in Dubai is a branch campus of American InterContinental University, Atlanta, Georgia. American InterContinental University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees. This umbrella accreditation includes all approved branch campuses of the University, including AUD operating in Dubai.

And that statement isn't buried; it's the first item on the page. At one point AUD was happy to claim accreditation through AIU. But when AIU's accreditor puts it on probation, AUD denies there are any consequences for AUD students. There is contradiction between

1. Saying "nothing to do with" AIU's probation by its accreditor


2. Saying that your US accreditation falls under the "umbrella accreditation of the University [AIU] and its approved branch campuses."


Time to rethink the six-month ban :: Emirates Today

A letter (editorial?) in today's Emirates Today echoes one of the recurring themes of The Emirates Economist. Naturally, I approve.

A lot is being said about the Labour Ministry’s desire to ensure, with good intentions, that all companies honour their deals with labourers. This is a welcome sign, as employers do need to have more respect for the law. Some of the practices in the private sector are horrifying. Holding passports of employees and making them work overtime and on holidays without compensation are some of these. There is little appreciation of the situation from most employers because little has been done over the years to remedy it.

Apart from dealing with such issues, the ministry must also accept that the root cause of these abuses is the absolute power that employers have over their employees by virtue of the law itself.

The six-month ban on a large category of working-class people if they change employers is perhaps the most negative aspect of the current law. Most of the employees do not complain because they are afraid that their employers will take advantage of the law and ban them from the country for six months, which will mean a major loss of income.

While an employee, in the event of an unfair dismissal, can go to the Labour Ministry and get an exemption to the rule, most of them neither know the law nor have the appetite to follow a lengthy paper trail to get justice.

In my opinion, the six-month ban was imposed in the 1970s to protect employers who spent money bringing workers to the country from losing them to other companies on arrival. In those days, it was difficult to entice workers to come to the country and hence to have a law such as this made sense.

Today, Dubai is attracting workers from all over. As such, I think it is time to revisit this aspect of the law. I would say that the creation of a free labour market is what is needed.

After the completion of, say, six months of employment, employees in all sectors should be free to change jobs. They should not need “release” letters from their employers if they have spent more than six months with them.

The effect of this will be that employers will have to treat their employees with a great deal more care and, given the forces of a free market, instances of exploitation will dramatically decrease.
. . .
This is what creates efficient labour markets the world over and it needs to be encouraged.

I believe the ministry has done an excellent job focusing on the abuse of the law. It is now time that it amends the necessary aspects of the law, which would make it easier to police the system.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Attack of the Giant East Anglian Sugar Beet.

Biofuel fuel plant under threat.
Seasonal advice from the dismal science, Part 3 of 3 :: Marginal Revolution

Guest blogging at MR, Tim Harford makes some great seasonal suggestions derived from economic reasoning:

1. Don't do your gift buying early.

2. Help your inner dieter gain the upper hand.

3. The world will be a better place when Santa is replaced by Clint Eastwood.

Read the whole thing.
The City :: Virginia Postrel

Postrel quotes from a recent interview of Robert Bruegmann:
"Living in cities has almost always been unpleasant and unhealthy-not something most people wanted. If you were in imperial Rome, crowded into dark, dingy, polluted apartment buildings, it would have been a nightmare. Most cities I looked at had just crushing density until about the 18th century."
Of course Bruegmann isn't saying cities should not be built, or that the people who live in them are making choices inconsistent with their best interests. As Postrel writes at the end of another post:
Most of the problems people attribute to L.A.'s sprawl-notably traffic and long travel times-are actually caused by its density. The same is true in New York, however defined. Forget driving to New Jersey or Connecticut. It can take 45 minutes to travel the roughly five miles from the Upper West Side to Greenwich Village, even if you take the subway. When you pack a lot of people close together, the place tends to get crowded. That's great for culture and commerce, but it ratchets up social stress and makes getting places harder.
There's a lesson here for those of us living in and around Dubai.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The New Palgrave Dictionary: A sneak preview :: New Economist

Looking for pdfs of contributions to the 2006 edition of The New Palgrave? The New Economist, and his commenters, may be your source.
Real estate buyer beware :: Khaleej Times
Industry watchdog :: Dubai market has "holes in the system"

DUBAI — The hard line approach adopted by many real estate developers to buyers failing to keep up payment instalments, even on projects where they fail to meet the pre-sale completion date, is upsetting not only buyers but the entire real estate industry.

The problem is magnified for those investors who have bought properties from the large developers including Emaar and Nakheel.

Emaar is the world's largest property company and Nakheel is one of the leading developers in the region with investments of $12 billion in local real estate projects. Other large developers are also said to have adopted a zero-tolerance stance towards payment arrears.
. . .
If buyers fail to pay these fees, the developer cancels the contract immediately without refunding any of the paid instalments and refusing to negotiate a new instalment package.

This happens even if the developer has failed to meet the completion date as agreed with the buyer at the outset. Consequently, many small investors are stretched financially trying to meet the repayment terms.

This may be because they struggle to meet ongoing and unplanned accommodation costs or because they are speculative investors who fail to derive rental income from the property when expected.
To protect their reputation for being firm on collections, Emaar and Nakheel need to be tough.

But perceptions also matter. The perception is that Emaar and Nakheel shift all the risk of completion delays onto the buyer without being clear with the buyer that that is what the contract says. Do they want that reputation too?

Completion delays come with the business of construction, even with the best of intentions. A good contract will make it clear to buyers what happens when there are delays.

UPDATE. I wonder if this article is representative?: 7DAYS - Should a 2 million dirham villa look like this?


I recently alluded to the possibility that single-sex education could be superior for learning. There is, of course, a well-known alleged downside to single-sex education.


GCC ministers adopt ceiling on expat workforce :: Gulf News

The ceiling will allow GCC countries to assign limits on the number of workers according to their nationalities, Bahrain's Labour Minister Abdul Majeed Al Allawi said.

"Quota system stipulates that each of the six states will set a ceiling for expatriates according to its labour needs but will gradually lower it to limit the number of foreigners and enhance its citizens' employment prospects," he said.


Why people hate economics :: Arnold Kling
And assume most economists have Asperger's

Read the whole thing.

Hardly anyone feels guilty about using tax preparation software rather than paying an accountant to handle their tax returns. Yet many people would tell you that there is something wrong with outsourcing tax preparation to accountants in India.

Neither economists nor non-economists tend to think of tax preparation software as an alien outsider trying to steal our jobs. However, many non-economists' type M brains instinctively think of Indian accountants as trying to do us harm. Economists are trained to look at international trade through the same type C eyes that we view technological innovation, and we are constantly amazed by the general public's hostility toward it.
Via winterspeak.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Seasonal advice from the dismal science, Part 2 of 3 :: Marginal Revolution

I'm happy to report my parents combined tip #1 and tip #2 and improved on them by giving cash to charity in the names of their kids and grandkids. We reciprocated.
Academics from the disciplines of economics, sociology, history, and political science: which have the least disciplinary concensus on issues of economic regulations, personal-choice restrictions, and military action abroad?

Answer here: Marginal Revolution: Do right-wing or left-wing academics have a "narrower tent"

Here's a big hint: Another of the findings of the study is that left-wing academics aren't diverse when it comes to policy views. Right-wing academics are.
Drivers exploited by high insurance costs :: Emirates Today

Companies in the UAE are charging more than they are legally allowed for car insurance, thereby encouraging many drivers to take to the roads uninsured.

Some companies are raising the cost of insurance despite a federal law prohibiting them from charging more than five per cent of the value of the vehicle.
"Exploited" is a word for the editorial page, not the news page.

These appear to be the facts: Some insurance companies decline to insure some kinds of automobiles at the legal maximum premium of 5% of their value. They either quote a higher rate, or do not offer insurance those kinds of cars.

Some things are not clear from the news report. Is it legal for a company to refuse to quote? If - as the article suggests - insurance companies are making profits, what are the conditions of entry into the market? And who determines what the value of the automobile is?

The more plausible storyline for this article is that the 5% limit on premiums is so low that for some kinds of automobiles the numbers of car owners seeking insurance is more than the insurers are willing to provide. In short, there is a shortage created by a government imposed price ceiling.

Why are insurers willing to charge 5 percent or less for some cars and not others? Because not all cars are created equal and some cars are more likely to be driven by drivers with poor driving records. Some cars are more expensive to repair per dollar of value (one example would be older cars). And we can all name cars that are favored by reckless drivers.

Emirates Today is asking insurance companies to bear the costs that some consumers create by choice of the kind of car they purchase and the way they drive it. Who is exploiting who?

Aside: In the quote above it is stated that some drivers are choosing to go uninsured. Note that when an uninsured driver is at fault in an accident the other driver is harmed twice - by the inconvenience of the accident itself and the hassle created because the uninsured driver is uninsured. Unfortunately, there is really no good solutions to uninsured drivers unless you are willing to adopt severe penalties for driving uninsured.

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Huge fine imposed on bank :: Emirates Today

ABN AMRO bank is in the process of cleaning up its UAE operations after the United States Federal Reserve imposed an $80 million (Dh294m) penalty on the Netherlands-based bank.
The fine is the second largest action of its kind in US banking history after Swiss bank UBS was fined $100m (Dh367m) in 2004.

The order passed against the bank on Monday said its Dubai branch was, between 1997 and 2004,“able to develop and implement ‘special procedures’ for certain fund transfers, check clearing operations, and letter of credit transactions that were designed and used to circumvent the… laws of the US” that were designed to prevent money-laundering by terrorist organisations.

ABN AMRO has not contested these charges and will pay the penalty in the time frame specified, which is 10 days. In a statement, it accepted that employees of its Dubai branch processed wire transfers between 1997 and 2004 on behalf of Iranian and Libyan clients.
UAE media has great influence in Iran :: MehrNews
Brain drain, capital flight

TEHRAN, Dec. 20 (MNA) -- The dailies of the United Arab Emirates have increased their endeavors to accelerate capital flight from Iran to Dubai and other cities in the Persian Gulf country by publishing some special reports over the past few days.
I had no idea Iranians were such avid readers of Arab-language newspapers in the UAE.

Actually, I rather doubt it. The UAE newspapers are merely reporting the capital flight from Iran. The UAE has great influence in Iran because of Iran's own policies have made the UAE a comparatively attractive place for Iranians and/or their capital to flee - to live, to learn, and to invest.

Quoting MehrNews:
Unfortunately, none of the Iranian officials’ promises to terminate illegal goods trafficking to Dubai and to return the assets of both the public and private sectors to Iran have been realized.

It has been repeatedly said that if conditions similar to those in Dubai were provided in Iranian free trade zones, Iranians would certainly return their assets to the country. However, it seems that Iranian officials are incapable of providing such conditions, so these slogans will never become reality.

Although discussions on how to return the assets of Iranians to the country have been held in recent months, the level of investment in Dubai by Iranians tells another story.

A UAE television network recently reported that during the first three months of the current year, some $200 billion had been invested in Dubai by 400,000 Iranian nationals while economic experts have predicted that this figure will rise to $300 billion by the end of the year.

Presently, over 6,500 Iranian companies are based in Dubai and 10,000 Iranian students are studying in the UAE. Over 25 percent of Dubai’s population is Iranian.

Commenting on the matter, Abbas Bolur Forushan, the chairman of the Council of Iranian Businessmen Living in Dubai, recently said, “If Iranian ports and banks would provide the necessary facilities for Iranian investors, and if the port cities’ affairs were managed efficiently, Iranian businessmen’s rush to Dubai would be terminated.”

He also expressed concern about Iran’s brain drain and capital flight problems, adding that Iranian officials should initiate expert research studies to determine the causes of the brain drain and capital flight.


Saudi Arabia plans $26bn 'economic city' :: Financial Times

The project, expected to be largely financed by the private sector, is part of intensifying Saudi efforts to take advantage of the new oil boom to diversify the economy and create jobs for a fast-growing population.
. . .
The city will be located north of Jeddah on 55m square metres of land and will include a new seaport as well as financial and industrial districts. The project even has a tourism angle in a deeply traditional country, promising to create a waterside resort with hotels and an 18-hole golf course.

The project's lead developer is Emaar Properties, the company that has played a leading role in developing Dubai, the nearby emirate whose economic diversification model is being emulated elsewhere in the Gulf.

A statement from Sagia yesterday said a group of companies from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had been formed to facilitate investments for the project.

They include the Saudi Binladen group, one of the largest contractors.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Unlikely: Iran denies media reports of attack on Ahmadinejad :: Gulf News

Unlikely because the alleged attackers were smugglers. The smugglers would be out of work if the Islamic republic fell, and its elaborate system of controls on imports and exports fell with it. Those controls are the source of the smugglers' profits.

In other news, here's the latest in smuggling opportunities in Iran.


Two news items in one :: AFP

Item 1: Iraqis are free to demonstrate without fear of reprisals from their government.

Item 2: "Iraq faces gas shortages despite low prices." Uh, let's make that because of low prices.

Some extracts from the article:
The Iraqi government has brought in higher petrol prices, which are still among cheapest in the world, provoking an angry demonstration in the depressed southern town of Kut.
. . .
One litre (.25 gallon) of leaded petrol has risen from 50 to 150 dinars (three US cents to one US dollar), oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said Sunday. "We are going to save 500 million dollars each year, which will go towards funds for poor families, managed by the labour and social affairs and planning ministries," Jihad told AFP.
. . .
Government officials have long said that the government-subsidized fuel prices encourage criminals to smuggle fuel to Iraq's neighbours.
Those so-called criminals are merely using the fuel in the best way they know how, which in this case means reselling it to someone who places a higher value on it.


Michael J. Totten interviews Egyptian blogger Big Pharoah.
Tehran calls for spread of democracy to PGCC.


First rule of diplomacy: Call others by the name they prefer.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The civilian death toll :: Althouse

We can only speculate what the total number would have been if there were two bars on the graph for each of those conflicts, one for the civil war and one for the intervention. By the same token, we cannot know what the length of the bar for Iraq and Afghanistan would be if there had been no intervention and therefore no second bar splitting up the total number.
We can only speculate what would happen if Murtha gets his wish for an early withdrawal from Iraq. But I think the answer is pretty clear.

Here's some guys who did some pretty informed speculation before the intervention in Iraq.

By the way, why isn't Darfur getting more attention? Lack of intervention there sure isn't going well.


It's all about the oil.
Gulfnews: Private sector now preferred by nationals :: Gulf News

The headline does not reflect reality. But the article itself provides anecdotal evidence that attitudes are changing.

UPDATE: Emarati has thoughts on the matter.


Road tolls update :: Emirates Today

Emirates Today follows up on some basic questions concerning implementation of tolls in Dubai.
if the main purpose of Dubai’s proposed road toll system is to reduce traffic congestion, residents might pay different rates at different times of the day, depending on the volume of traffic.

“Toll systems can perform a number of functions,” said Josef Czako, director of international business development at Kapsch, one of the three companies to submit a bid for a Dubai Municipality tender for the project in April this year.

. . . “They can finance new infrastructure, help manage traffic flow, reduce negative environmental impacts, or enforce a combination of all these,” said Czako, explaining that how the system is implemented would depend on what goals the authorities want to see on the roads.

Flexible tariffs with higher rates during peak hours might be on the cards if spreading out traffic is the major concern for Dubai’s authorities, he said.
Whatever the goals, it is important that the toll system in place does not create additional traffic build-up, said Czako. “The toll charging scheme should not create any congestion,” he said.

The most basic form of toll collection involves drivers stopping at toll gates and handing out cash to collectors, Czako said.

However, with a capacity of only 200-300 cars per lane per hour, this system can cause traffic build-up and delays, he added.

“Looking at Dubai, I cannot imagine having this on the road,” he said, as Dubai’s roads have no space to fit the booths that would be required.
My emphasis.


Media bias is real :: UCLA news

The Groseclose and Milyo working paper has been out for some time, so this ain't news. For the average reader this is an accessible introduction to the method and results of the study.

A few extracts:
Groseclose and Milyo based their research on a standard gauge of a lawmaker's support for liberal causes. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) tracks the percentage of times that each lawmaker votes on the liberal side of an issue. Based on these votes, the ADA assigns a numerical score to each lawmaker, where "100" is the most liberal and "0" is the most conservative. After adjustments to compensate for disproportionate representation that the Senate gives to low‑population states and the lack of representation for the District of Columbia, the average ADA score in Congress (50.1) was assumed to represent the political position of the average U.S. voter.

Groseclose and Milyo then directed 21 research assistants — most of them college students — to scour U.S. media coverage of the past 10 years. They tallied the number of times each media outlet referred to think tanks and policy groups, such as the left-leaning NAACP or the right-leaning Heritage Foundation.

Next, they did the same exercise with speeches of U.S. lawmakers. If a media outlet displayed a citation pattern similar to that of a lawmaker, then Groseclose and Milyo's method assigned both a similar ADA score.
. . .
Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS' "Evening News," The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.
. . .
"If viewers spent an equal amount of time watching Fox's 'Special Report' as ABC's 'World News' and NBC's 'Nightly News,' then they would receive a nearly perfectly balanced version of the news," said Milyo, an associate professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
UPDATE: CBS News provides a roundup of the critism the study is taking.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Protected special interests riot :: Media Blog on National Review Online

The demonstration was largely composed of agricultural and labor unions from South Korea — a fully modernized, growing and dynamic economy. Yet here were its protected special interests, doing violence to the beautiful city of Hong Kong — a city which grew from nothing but the unfettered power of the free market — in order to keep the high tariffs that raise the price Korean consumers pay for rice to seven times above the world average and prevent rice farmers in poor countries from exporting to Korea.

A privileged class in a rich country has come to Hong Kong to attack its police officers and protest a WTO that the influence of protectionists has rendered so pathetically weak, its members can't even make the smallest concessions here in Hong Kong to break the deadlock and move forward on a trade-liberalizing agenda that would lift millions out of poverty.
Emirati princess wannabees :: An Emaratis Thoughts

Emarati figures that the alliance between The Marriage Fund and The Ministry for Family Affairs "means that local-expat marriages will begin to decline." No locals to marry, no princess dreams to fufill, means we will be seeing them going into spinsterhood as well.

Emarati continues: "Those Marriage fund people are Determined. Why not start a special crack commando team to maintain the purity of the Emarati Race as well?"


Update: Spread of democracy in the Middle East :: Gateway Pundit

Includes a nice picture.

MORE: "Al Qaeda was humiliated during the elections, after having proclaimed that voting was against Islam, and that good Moslems should rise up and prevent this abomination."

Both links from Instapundit.


WTO roundup ::

Instapundit gives a nice roundup of news and commentary on the protest surrounding the WTO meeting in Hong Kong. Check it out.

One point though: He quotes a news source as writing, "[protestors] are concerned that WTO efforts to open up global markets will enrich wealthy nations at the expense of poor and developing countries." His rejoinder: "Actually, of course, they have this exactly backwards."

No. Opening up global markets will not enrich rich nations at the expense of the poor nations. And opening up global markets will not enrich the poor nations at the expense of the rich nations.

Opening up global markets will enrich rich and poor nations at the expense of the protected industries in the rich countries.
Yes, we have bananas :: Tim Harford

Tim writes:
Imagine a dream scenario in which the trade ministers emerge from their negotiations this weekend holding hands and proclaiming an end to all agricultural protectionism. What then?

For, say, a banana picker in the Central African Republic, not a lot. The trade barriers at the borders of the rich world may have disappeared, but if our picker wants to sell his bananas abroad he first has to get them onto a ship bound for America or Europe. That takes 116 days, and an incredible 38 signatures - each one an opportunity for some official to collect a bribe. Something is rotten here, and not just the bananas.
. . .
determined growers can move bananas along even lousy roads. The real problem is elsewhere: three-quarters of delays are the result of red tape, not port handling or inland transport. These delays, caused by senseless bureaucracy, unnecessary forms and archaic inspection practices, can often be eliminated with a stroke of a pen by a country's chief executive.
. . .
Kamal Nath, has called for rich countries to "eliminate export subsidies as fast as possible." And so they should, but Mr. Nath might take note that an Indian exporter needs to collect 22 signatures on 10 documents - that puts India in the bottom 20 countries in the world for letting its own entrepreneurs trade across borders. Celso Amorim, Brazil's foreign minister, has condemned farming subsidies as "the most harmful single piece of commerce." The subsidies are indeed repugnant, but Brazilian exporters need 39 days to get their produce onto a ship, too long for some agricultural goods.

It doesn't have to be that way. China can get exports moving in 20 days, the United States in nine days. Danish exporters can ship in five days.
. . .
governments of poor countries must do far more to help their own citizens by reforming the
Byzantine obstacles that stand in their way. One day rich countries may finally allow poor farmers to sell them beef, sugar or rice. It would be a disaster if their own governments prevented those poor farmers from taking full advantage of that opportunity.

Thanks to The EclectEcon for the link. Check out his post - there's value added!

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Why can't the English explain who they are? What is a British passport? What is the difference amongst: England, Great Britain, UK, and the British Isles?
Press release: New National ID Law guarantees privacy :: Emirates Identity Authority

Even after 9/11 most Americans from across the political spectrum are very resistant to the notion of a national ID card. This also seems to be true in other countries.

Is the same true in the UAE? The press release makes it sound like a wonderful thing that will benefit all residents of the UAE, both citizens and expats.
Dubai Education Council reviews strategy

Shaikh Mohammad was speaking while presiding over the meeting of the Dubai Education Council. The council reviewed a report on mechanisms to implement its strategy to develop and modernise education.

He said the human element plays a key role in implementing the education development strategy and upgrading the level of education of its various branches and stages, to further develop the performance of teaching and administrative staff at both private and public schools in Dubai.


Education will not change until graduates get paid based on what they know rather than who they know.

Education will not change until educators can assign grades based on what the student knows without fear of retribution.

Education will not change until good teachers see that the system rewards good teaching and roots out poor teachers.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Editorial: Voice of the People :: Arab News

It was the voice of the Iraqi people that was being heard yesterday, not the bomb blasts of the terrorists. What little violence there was as millions crowded toward their local polling stations only served to demonstrate how incoherent and pointless are the efforts of the men of violence to change the country through further bloodshed.

President Jalal Talabani had asked Iraqis to treat election day as a day of celebration and celebrate is what most people did.
Via Instapundit who has several links to Iraqi election coverage.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Is co-education best? :: WTVM

Is co-education best, or same sex education? It's not a no-brainer.


How to amplify a natural disaster :: Dynamist Blog

How? Use the strong arm of the government to prevent foreign suppliers from rushing in when domestic supplies are disrupted.

Who loses? The consumer.

Sweet. I was not aware that sugar was an infant industry, or essential to defense in the event of war. Or, is it that this is the government's way of encouraging parents to set a good example for their kids by giving up sugar?

Wake up America. Be bold. Be bolder, even, than this. Cut agricultural subsidies and protections unilaterally. That might even shame Europe into following suit. You surely will win friends in developing countries. Trade is more uplifting and more likely to create friendly relations than the dependency relationship of foreign aid.

UPDATE: The Club for Growth points out that the regulations protecting the US sugar industry are killing the US candy industry. Hello.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

American University in Dubai to remain accredited :: Emirates Today


Diplomas and credit hours from the American University in Dubai (AUD) will remain accredited despite action taken against the university’s parent body in the United States.

A report in the Chicago Tribune said that the American InterContinental University (AIU) was in danger of losing its accreditation after it was put on probation for two years for not meeting the commission’s requirements, which included filing reports on time.The action was taken by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“Whatever is taking place in the United States with the AIU has nothing to do with Dubai,” said Elias Bousaab, executive vice-president of AUD.

Bousaab said even if the umbrella institute should fail to meet those conditions, certification for the Dubai franchise came from the UAE’s Ministry of Education and would not be affected.

“Regardless of what happens with AIU, we still have separate accreditation, which we submitted to the Southern Association commission a few months ago. It is being processed right now,” Bousaab said, responding to concerns that AUD students may find their education discredited should they shift to America.
UPDATE: The Bermuda Sun provides information from the subscription-only story from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Doubts raised over U.S. university

An American college that recently held a student recruitment drive in Bermuda has been put on probation by its accrediting body, but the reasons aren’t clear.

According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education this week, as American InterContinental University (AIU) was being reaccredited in 2002, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) gave it two years to correct a number of problems related to ‘institutional effectiveness’.
. . .
The article quoted bank analyst Jeffrey Silber as saying the school’s problems seem to stem from “noncompliance with certain core requirements, such as programme content, full-time faculty, integrity of students’ academic records, and admissions policies, as well as non-compliance with standards such as governance, and administrative structure, and institutional effectiveness”.

He was citing a discussion he had with a SACS official about AIU.
. . .
AIU has five accredited campuses in the U.S. and two overseas, in addition to online-only programmes.
Total enrolment at the American campuses and online is about 30,000.
More - top investor's criticism:

We are troubled by recent CECO comments about the "excellent" relationship between CECO and one of the industry's top accreditation bodies, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). SACS has placed CECO's crown jewel, American InterContinental University (AIU), directly on probationary status, not wasting time on a warning period. CECO's comments were misleading and the stock fell nearly 12% on that news. Everything is definitely not O.K. at CECO these days. Where is the accountability?
More - industry analysis of Career Education Corp.

More - American InterContinental University website states:
American InterContinental University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate, Bachelor's and Master's degrees. This umbrella accreditation includes the following branch campuses of the University: AIU-Buckhead; AIU-Dunwoody; AIU-South Florida; AIU-Houston; AIU-London; AIU-Los Angeles; AIU-Online (originating in Illinois); and American University-Dubai.
Emphasis added.

Later - More. See what Steve Bostik, Career Education Corporation's largest shareholder, wrote in May of 2005:
The irony is that, in less than one year our Company's earnings have continued to grow, but CECO stockholders have suffered a staggering $4 billion decline in market value. I believe that CECO's dismal stock market performance reflects a profound lack of investor confidence in CECO's future. . . . I believe that CECO's Board has allowed management to lose sight of the Company's primary mission of providing quality education services; under these directors, CECO management has sacrificed the quality of student programs, resulting in the severe escalation of student attrition - all for the sake of a "top-line growth strategy" that cannot be sustained. At the same time, our Company has been besieged by regulatory, accreditation and legal problems amid serious allegations related to management's conduct and operation of the business.

Over the past two years, the "black clouds" have persisted, despite CECO's strong earnings performance:
* Complaints to accreditation agencies, including ACCSCT(2) and SACS(2),
some of which have resulted in accreditation warnings and schools placed
on probation;
* Multiple class-action lawsuits against CECO and its senior management,
and derivative lawsuits against the CECO directors;
* SEC and Department of Justice investigations, and EEOC(3) findings of
sexual harassment at CECO schools;
* Negative media coverage of the company, including a "60 Minutes" expose.
Emphasis added.

And, one more thing, from Inside Higher Ed:
in a year in which it faced a court fight over the revocation of the accreditation of Edward Waters College, the accrediting group stopped short of any such actions this time around — which its officials insist had nothing to do with the legal challenge.

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UAE mission 'UK's biggest defaulter' :: Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE is the UK's biggest congestion charge defaulter, according to media reports.

The UAE embassy in London has accumulated a deficit of £452,650 (about Dh2,950,000), more than any other embassy in London, according to a list released by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
A bit ironic given Dubai's plan to introduce tolls to cut down on highway traffic congestion.

This is publicity the UAE is getting in London from The Independent:
The worst offender is the United Arab Emirates, whose embassy in south Kensington has accumulated 4,859 fines worth more than £450,000. Between them the worst ten offenders alone owe £1.9 million from 20,804 unpaid fines.
And, from the Financial Times:
The United Arab Emirates, with £452,650, and Angola with £392,750, topped the list of missions with the most outstanding congestion charge fines. In a list dominated by developing countries, the US made an entry at 10, with 933 congestion charge fines worth £62,250.

The US and other countries contend the congestion charge on motorists entering central London is a form of tax from which embassies are immune. Since May, Germany has stopped paying the charge although its embassy is outside the zone.

Other leading non-payers in the period since introduction of the charge in 2003 and November 10, 2005 are Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Europe and Kyoto: Do as I say, not as I do.
Posner takes on fat.

Political correctness has reduced the use of ridicule to enforce social norms.

All this said, the case for public intervention to reduce obesity is uncertain. The main costs of obesity, in increased illness and disability, are borne by the obese themselves, which greatly weakens the economic case for intervention. True, the obese are able to shift some of their medical and disability costs to others through the Medicaid, Medicare, and social security disability programs, which are subsidized health and disability programs that do not limit benefits to the obese even though the obese experience increased illness and disability as a consequence of their obesity. Yet the benefits of preventive health can be exaggerated. It increases the percentage of the elderly in the population, and the elderly are very heavy demanders of expensive--and subsidized--health care and pensions.
Yes, he did just say what you think he said.

I suggest reading the whole thing.

Here's a story from the UAE: New study will seek reasons for obesity.
Proposed Arabian railway network includes stations on UAE coast :: ameInfo
Possibly impossible dream?

In a presentation on the General Overview of the Current & Future of Arab Rail, Murhaf Al Sabouni, General Secretary of the Syria-based Arab Railway Union, revealed that Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah could be main line stops on the 1,860km 'third artery' of the proposed rail network between Basra and Muscat. The northern emirates of Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain and Ras Al Khaimah, along with Fujairah on the country's east coast would be branch line stations, Al Sabouni revealed. In theory, the creation of an Arabian railway network would enable train journeys from Dubai to Damascus, Beirut or Cairo.
Ajman tops in rents increase in UAE :: TradeArabia
70% in one year

According to an annual research by Dubai-based property services company Asteco, the average increase in rents for two and three-bedroom apartments in Ajman was 69 per cent and 76 per cent respectively.
A lot of this increase in price is driven by the increase in demand for Ajman apartments due to renters fleeing the rent increases in Dubai. A toll to enter Dubai would dampen demand for Ajman apartments and trim the ranks of those who work in Dubai but live outside in neighboring Sharjah or Ajman.

For readers who are not familiar with the UAE, the city of Dubai abuts the city of Sharjah in the neighboring of Sharjah. The tiny emirate of Ajman in turn abuts Sharjah city. All three lie on the Gulf. Many people live in Sharjah or Ajman and commute to work in Dubai.

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Reality-based survey answers

Which population appears to be more in touch with reality?

A. Poll finds Iraqis optimistic - PJM

B. 43% of Americans surveyed think US is in a recession - Mahalanobis

Which is more in tune with the media's message?

Monday, December 12, 2005

A trade deficit with a babysitter :: Tim Harford

Trade policy made easy, but not too easy. Even a trade negotiator should be able to understand.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A fil for your thoughts :: The EclectEcon

The EclectEcon has had a long, quixotic quest to ban the penny from Canada and the US. In this post (link above) he turns his attention to the fil were his argument holds a fortiori. The preference by most customers for rounding to the dirham supports the argument.

In The Emirates Today article he cites he wisely skipped over this tricky bit:
Sometimes customers want only what is owed to them, causing headaches for retailers.

“Once a customer waited for hours because she would not let us write off five fils. Her bill included 55 fils and she insisted paying that amount and would not take the 50 fils change from us,” said Esquerra.

Esquerra said she kept some small change for such occasions. “We don’t get it from the banks, so I have saved some for customers who are adamant.”
Is there a cultural reason that a customer might refuse to have her change rounded up in her favor?
New toll system to curb Dubai traffic :: Gulf News

Read the whole thing.

The nightmare is that the cure may be worse than the disease at least initially. It takes time to collect tolls, and not everyone will have transponders.

Charging for road use when there is congestion is a classic example taught in basic economics courses. What's neglected in those stories is the costs of collecting the toll, particularly the time cost. There has of course been a huge drop in these costs of collection due to the use of transponder technology, and with that an increasing use of tolls to deal with congestion problems.

This accompanying story in Gulf News is the nightmare scenario. Extract:
Dubai may set up road tolls on some internal roads that are congested, including a manual toll on Al Muraqqabat Road, sources said.

Other streets under consideration include Bank Street, Baniyas Street and Al Maktoum Street.

The plans form part of a proposal by the Dubai Road and Transport Authority to install a manual and electronic toll system in and around Dubai with specific focus on entry from Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, sources told Gulf News.
Time of day rates? Rates should be lower at times when congestion is less. I do not see a mention of time of day rates in these reports.


Why Dubai may be next target for terror attacks :: thebusinessonline
Western pleasuredome

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-in-command of al-Qaeda, recently declared that “secular countries neighbouring Iraq” have become targets.

Of these the most evident is Dubai, under Iran’s direct gaze overlooking the Strait of Hormuz, to which the authoritative Merchant International Group of corporate intelligence analysis has drawn attention recently. It has become a kind of western pleasuredome nestling in one of the most dangerous regions of the world. . . .

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

$100 oil? :: Econbrowser

James D. Hamilton reminds us that back in July some were predicting oil would reach $100 per barrel before the end of 2005.

See, also, his recent post on oil sands.
UAE's second telecom firm to start operations in mid-2006 :: Khaleej Times

ABU DHABI — The UAE’s second telecommunications operator, Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company (EITC), is expected to start commercial operations by the middle of next year. EITC will have a paid-up capital of Dh4 billion.
According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA), the new operator will be offering mobile services, which is expected to cover most of the UAE, fixed phone lines, Internet and other services.

The UAE government owns 50 per cent of the capital of the new company, while Mubadala Development Company and Emirates Communication and Technology LLC own 25 per cent each of EITC.
samuraisam posts links to additional reports on this story at UAE community blog.

See also the story at Emirates Today.


American InterContinental University faces possible loss of accreditation ::
Burying the lede

Dec. 7--One of Career Education Corp.'s biggest for-profit colleges, American InterContinental University, is in danger of losing its accreditation after a regional evaluation body placed it on probation on Tuesday.

News of the probation sent shares down 11.9 percent, to $34.22, in Nasdaq trading Tuesday. The onetime highflier hit $70 in April 2004.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, one of eight regional accrediting bodies, has numerous concerns about the school's compliance with broad standards, including the integrity of student academic records and the accuracy of admissions and recruiting practices, said its president, Belle Wheelan.

Wheelan said she did not have details about the problems identified by the commission, known as SACS, because she was travelling after closing the commission's annual meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday. SACS plans to post some of its findings in the matter on its Web site later this week.
. . .
The action taken by SACS deepens the regulatory and legal woes facing Career Education, one of the nation's largest chains of for-profit colleges with more than 80 campuses in the United States and abroad. Such schools have become bigger in recent years by branching out into traditional subjects such as business and law and offering more bachelor's and graduate degrees.
But their growth has been dogged by persistent allegations of fraud.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California are investigating the business practices at some Career Education's schools after receiving student complaints about misleading sales practices. The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education recently concluded that the Career Education's Brooks Institute of Photography had persuaded prospective students to enroll by "willfully misleading" them about their job prospects and earning potential after graduation. As part of its punishment, the school must give an undetermined sum in restitution to students who have attended since 1999. Career Education said it believes the allegations to be false or grossly exaggerated and plans to challenge the findings at a public hearing.

The Department of Education is now investigating the concerns at the company's schools, preventing Career Education from making acquisitions or adding locations until the review is completed. The company also is fighting numerous lawsuits brought by current and former students alleging other misdeeds, such as poor instruction, incompetent faculty and financial-aid fraud.
In the UAE, only American University in Dubai is affiliated with American InterContinental.

UPDATE: The company's press release is here. American Intercontinental's online literature reads "A Real Education From a Real University American InterContinental University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's degrees. For more information visit SACS website"


Contractors to invest in first 'luxury' labour camp :: Construction Week

Construction Week has learned that other developers are also drawing up plans to build similar new camps in anticipation of a licensing scheme covering the sector.

The US $27 million (AED100 million) development will offer high quality facilities, cleaning services and security to site workers — in stark contrast to the squalid accommodation typically associated with labour camps in the Gulf.

The site has been chosen to service several mega-projects in close proximity. Contractors will be able to invest in 99 year leases and the minimum investment will be for nine rooms.
. . .
Abu Dhabi are also drawing up plans for a new generation of labour camps designed to service the expected surge in construction activity within the emirate over the next five years.

“We have been approached by several developers and quasi governmental organisations looking at the feasibility of developing housing compounds that enhance human rights for lower paid workers,” said Simon Townsend, director, CBRE.
. . .
The acute shortage of labour accommodation in Dubai has pushed up rents and forced contractors to cram more workers into dormitory-style accommodation.

CW recently uncovered a family-sized villa in the Dubai suburb of Satwa where 87 Indian construction workers had been forced to live.
Emphasis added.

Not sure "forced" is the proper term in either of the last two sentences. Contractors choose to cram workers into dormitory-style accomodation. At the same time there is plenty of evidence of workers choosing to poorer accomodation when the alternative is one that involves a longer commute, or more money out of their pocket.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tim Harford, undercover economist, provides advice to the principals of arranged marriages. He suggests that the agents pay the principals (in this case, the parents) by the results. Unfortunately, most of his answer is behind the wall of Financial Times of premium content. Oh well, maybe we wouldn't have any answer if FT didn't get something to pay Harford for his advice.

UPDATE: As if on cue, the UAE Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs publishes a study of divorce amongst nationals in the UAE.


Consumer confidence slips in UAE, but remains positive according to the MasterIndex :: AMEInfo

The current UAE MasterIndex score of 78.1, out of a possible score of 100, is down on the 92.9 and 83.0 scores received six months and a year ago respectively, but remains fairly positive by regional and Asia Pacific standards.
. . .
United Arab Emirates consumer sentiments on Regular Income (91.3) and the Economy (90.0) continue to be very optimistic, while those on Stock Market (74.7), Employment (69.5) and Quality of Life (65.0), though weaker than previous surveys, remain positive.
. . .
Bi-annual Master Index surveys have been held across SAMEA for the past two years and across Asia Pacific for the last 12 years.

Senior Economist and Middle East Analyst at the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit, David Butter said 'For the second half of 2005 the scores for the UAE are lower than those for the first half of the year, appearing to indicate a drop in consumer confidence. However, the fall in the overall index is not so extreme year-on-year, and there seems to be a pattern of the quality of life scores being markedly lower for surveys taken at the height of summer, when living conditions in the Gulf are at their most uncomfortable,

'The most likely explanation for this erosion in confidence about personal status is the rise in inflation. This is only partially reflected in the official figures, which put inflation for the UAE as a whole at 5% for 2004. These figures do not take into account the central importance of accommodation costs for the majority of the UAE's working population. In many instances rents and service charges have gone up by more than 25 percent over the past 18 months, although some relief has been provided by the government's decision to award 25% increases in salaries for nationals and 15% raises for expatriates,' David Butter added.

'The rising cost of living is a factor in the growth prospects of Dubai's knowledge economy. Those who might like to use Dubai as a base for advanced professional services are now concerned at the rising cost base. These concerns may start to ease over the next two-to-three years as a slew of new accommodation comes onto the market for rent or long-term leasehold. . . .'

On a market basis, Saudi Arabia (98.5) and Kuwait (90.7) continue to top the list of countries with the highest consumer sentiments. They are followed by the United Arab Emirates (78.1), India (73.1), South Africa (71.2), Egypt (62.3) and Lebanon (up slightly to 59.2).
Saudi Arabia is 98.5 and the UAE is 78.1? Something's off somewhere in this survey.

MasterCard publishes its results here.

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They're Mideastern, They're Rockers, and They're All Women :: Gateway Pundit

Another item for the Unintended Consequences Watch: Ban on mixing of men and women spurs growth of all girl bands in the Middle East and North Africa. Depending on your point of view this may or may not be an example showing that not all unintended consequences are adverse.

As counterpoint, I note that compulsory co-ed schooling in Iran has meant that some families have kept their daughters out of school.


Are Islamic Leaders Changing Their Tune? :: Gateway Pundit

The refreshingly optimistic Gateway Pundit provides an excellent roundup of stories on the theme of self reflection in the Islamic world. The ability to self reflect is one of the highest and rarest human virtues, in my humble opinion.

To add to the links that Gateway Pundit provides see this story out the UAE: Terrorists have 'no loyalty to citizens'.
In our democratic elections we shoot voters

Follow the link and scroll down and see some amazing pictures of Egyptian men and women going to the extreme to vote.

Via Gateway Pundit who provides a great roundup "Egyptians dying to vote"of stories.

It's ironic to find the US on the same side as the Muslim Brotherhood. Democracy does not always take you in the direction of greater democracy. See Churchill.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Iran's destructive love affair with cars :: Tehran Times


Tehran Municipality not responsible for air pollution: mayor
. . .
Qalibaf also noted that supporting the private sector in the construction of parking lots is one of the most important plans of the Tehran Municipality.

He stressed that the municipality is not responsible for the current high level of air pollution in Tehran, and added that relevant officials should strive to solve the problem.

Last year, air pollution in Tehran rose to a critical level at least four times, he said.

He lamented that the municipality can neither prevent 1250 additional automobiles from entering Tehran’s streets every day nor implement the plan to phase out run-down cars.

Schools in Tehran were shut down and sick and elderly people told to stay indoors Tuesday as the city continued to choke on a thick blanket of yellow-brown smog.

Tehran's Air Quality Control Unit said the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) -- a standard measurement incorporating carbon monoxide, dust, and other pollutants -- has hovered around the "very unhealthy" level of 160 for several days, AFP reported.

Such alerts are becoming increasingly common, with increased traffic causing the sprawling city's air to be deemed unhealthy for at least 100 days of the year. This week the situation is worse due to a total lack of wind.

Many of the two million plus vehicles in the city of 10 million are more than 20 years old and consume cheap subsidized petrol at an alarming rate. Private car ownership has also exploded, with the public transport system failing to provide adequate coverage.

The government has proposed various steps to resolve the problem, such as phasing out the old cars and restricting vehicle use on certain days of the week -- but so far none have been effectively applied.

According to a recent study, each resident of Tehran - now considered one of the world's most polluted cities - inhales an estimated 7.1 to 9.3 kilograms (15.6 to 20.5 pounds) of dust every year.

Note: The current president of Iran was its former mayor.

Policy Options

Option A: Rationalize prices by removing subsidies on gasoline, and charging for parking. Tax automobiles according to the amount they pollute. Create institutions capable of enforcing the rule of law.

Option B: Distract citizens from internal threat of government's failure to curtail pollution by overstating external threats.


Another UAE blog blocked? :: UAE community blog

Writing at UAE community blog, Secret Dubai reports that a blog is being blocked by the Proxy.

The post that is alleged to have caused that action was a critique of Etisalat. I'd rate the blog as PG (language), but lots of blogs in the UAE qualify for that rating.

UPDATE: 7DAYS - Anger as Etisalat shuts down local website

Etisilat is the sole provider of telephone service and internet service in the UAE. It blocks websites that are deemed contrary to the cultural mores of the country. Last summer Secret Dubai was blocked and visits surged.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Professors Respond to Incentives; and so do students :: The EclectEcon

Whichever way it happens, this result warms the cockles of my economist's heart:
The C.D. Howe Institute recently published a study that shows professors are more productive at universities that have merit-based salaries. Also, students at those universities seem to perform better.
[or, alternatively,] What if good professors and good students tend to select schools that have merit pay for their professors? Then the existence of merit pay would have an incentive effect quite different from "merit pay encourages professors to do a better job."
A fifth of married men are abused at home :: Gulf News

Family violence statistics are often challenged because they are difficult to verify. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blogs fill the information gap left by newspapers :: Emirates Today

The article in the link above refers to this BBC article by Bill Thompson.

Related, see also Muscati's post on blogging culture in the Gulf.
Gulfnews: Camel racing awaits return to golden era :: Gulf News

My question: Instead of robot jockeys why not simply impose a weight minimum on human jockeys?

My question answered: "Demand for jockeys that fit the current guidelines - more than 16 years old and weighing over 45 kg - has been low. The farm has a small handful of 17-year-old jockeys, like Mohammad Ayub from Pakistan, but Yaseen and Kraz said that it will take years before the camels will be ready to handle the bigger, heavier jockeys."

And this assertion poses a moral dilemma for those us who called for an end to using young boys as camel jockeys:
"I came from a poor family. But here, I was making more money than my entire family, more than a general in the Pakistani Army. I sent my money back home, and soon, my family became big traders in our hometown."
UPDATE: Must reading if this topic interests you - Secret Dubai collects together reports of clear abuse of young camel jockeys.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

On the trail to Hanging Gardens

Image hosted by
Outta gas! in Oman :: The Muscatis

Petrol stations have been running out of gas for the past few days. Yesterday I had to drive to three stations till I found one with petrol to fill in. We got a call from someone who works in one of the oil companies about ten days ago warning us that a shortage was coming up and we should't let our car tanks empty. I guess I should have listened to his advice, but a week had passed since he told us and things seemed to be normal till all of a sudden yesterday one station after another started turning away customers.

Apparently the three filling station companies are alloted quotas by Oman Refinery based on orders which they give in advance every three or four months. The last time they placed orders was before the UAE increased their fuel prices and now due to the large numbers of UAE residents in border towns like Buraimi who come in to fill their cars in Oman the petrol supply is running out before the end of the quota period.
This is the sort of thing that gets the economist's blood pumping. And you read it first in Muscati's blog, not the newspaper.

Interesting lesson for those traveling from the UAE into Oman: you may want to tank up with more expensive UAE gasoline before entering Oman.

UPDATE: Coincidently travelled to Oman today to visit Hanging Gardens. Below is a photo I shot of the gas line at the Shell Station - it may be the station Brn mentions in the comments.
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Most of the cars in this line are from the UAE. I enjoy the irony of residents from an oil-rich country country like the UAE crossing the border to buy gasoline cheaper in Oman. I suggest the only solution is for Oman to raise the price of gasoline. Not wishing to wait in line we made sure to refill while still in the UAE.

Another picture here.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Arabs deeply suspicious of US motives, says poll :: Peninsula On-line


In the new poll, 69 per cent of those surveyed doubted that spreading democracy was the real US objective. Oil, protecting Israel, dominating the region and weakening the Muslim world were seen as US goals.

More than half — 58 per cent—said Iraq was less democratic than before the war and three of four said Iraqis were worse off. Asked from a list of countries which they would like to be the superpower, the first choice was France with 21 per cent, followed by China with 13 per cent, Pakistan and Germany tied with 10 per cent, Britain with 7 per cent, the United States with 6 per cent and finally Russia with 5 per cent.
Other reports on the poll:

Voice of America: "Mr. Telhami conducted the survey jointly with the U.S.-based polling group Zogby International. They interviewed a total of 39-hundred people in six countries -- Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. . . . Mr. Telhami said 36 percent of the respondents sympathize with al-Qaida in confronting the United States, but most do not support how the terror group operates or would want to see someone like terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in power."

Washington Times: "Mr. Telhami said the poll found that France has seen its popularity and influence soar in the region because of its outspoken opposition in 2003 to going to war in Iraq. . . . French President Jacques Chirac received the most votes in a question of which foreign leader was most admired in the Arab world, while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Bush were named the two most disliked foreign leaders. The survey was concluded, however, just before a wave of riots swept France, pitting police against largely Muslim youths in a number of poor, isolated immigrant enclaves."

MENAFN: James Zogby, 8 Nov 05, as printed in Jordan Times - "Arab attitudes towards the United States have somewhat improved in the past year. Having plummeted to a dangerous low point in mid-2004, favourable ratings of the US are now back to their still low, but better, 2002 level."

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Nationality and the rental market :: Khaleej Times

Landlords believe that some nationalities make better tenants than others. They also believe that many persons prefer living in neighborhoods with others of their nationality.

This has always been so. Yet the article was given the headline "Now, landlords turn choosy on tenants nationality." Perhaps that's because discrimination has become cheaper to exercise now that government rent controls have been put in place, creating an apartment shortage. When there's a line waiting for your services, and you can't raise the price, then you can afford to be choosy.

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Unintended comedy, economic news reporting division :: Althouse

So it's bad news that the market worked? That decrease in US gas supplies following Katrina drove up prices that created the incentives for producers to work to restore supplies quickly? And that the market was allowed to work because the threats to cap prices were not carried out?

Yes, New York Times, your economics reporting is shabby, indeed.

By the way, Kaus is right: "Easterbrook's Bad News rule indicates that they'd have written exactly the same piece if a Democrat were in the White House."

In other words, Dox Cox is correct: Economics is rarely a drama.

Those who write it as drama produce unintended comedy instead.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Image:Dabba.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Well that's funny. Someone at Wikipedia is using a photo I took, and not giving me credit. Hey, world, that's my photograph.

"Northeast of Dabba, Oman" is one of my evergreen posts. It generates 15 or so hits a week from google image searches.


Bahrain hit by third night of street violence :: Khaleej Times

The unrest has flared since a committee for Bahrain’s unemployed organized protests against joblessness and to demand an investigation into a claim of an assault by unidentified men, believed to be armed security officials, on committee member Moussa Abdaali.
. . .
A Bahraini official has accused the organizers of attempting to mimic the riots against poverty, crime and unemployment that shook France’s suburbs and cities in late October and November.


Comment of the day

"Good lord, reading that article was like an hour with Dell phone support.

It was accurate, just not easy to take in."
Heh. I resemble that remark (I'm pretty sure it's Norm Crosby).
Is the British blogosphere lagging behind the U.S.? :: Online Journalism Review

Paul Bergen says, yes, and that the reasons are that the British MSM is more polarized and the British people are less polarized. Not sure I buy his argument.

But I do agree that the major American media present themselves as the fair and balanced view from nowhere, as if that is possible.

My guess is that the British blogosphere lags because the Brits have a corner pub culture where the neighborhood gathers daily to chew the fat, argue politics, listen to the local pontificators, and read the newspapers. There is no such counterpart in the U.S.

The U.S. blogosphere is serving some of the functions of the corner pub culture.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Emirates to hold limited voting :: Guardian

The United Arab Emirates announced Thursday it will hold a limited form of voting to pick members of a consultative council, a small step toward widening political participation in a country that has never held elections.

The reform is a limited one, allowing a select group to vote to choose half the members of the Federal National Council, the closest body the country has to a parliament, though it does not have legislative powers. The other half of the council's members will continue to be appointed.
. . .
Under the reform, the leader of each emirate will continue to select half of his representatives. He will also select a larger group of people who will vote among themselves to pick the other half.

The Emirates is the only country among the six Gulf Cooperation Council members that has yet to hold any form of political elections.
ENOC refinery will enable the company to produce its own gasoline for the first time :: Khaleej Times

Dubai's energy group ENOC (Emirates National Oil Company) yesterday announced the $500 million upgrade of its Jebel Ali condensate refinery.

The project will see the installation of 70,000 barrels per stream day (BPSD) of liquefied petroleum gas/naphtha hydrotreater and a 36,000 BPSD crude catalytic reformer and an ancillary processing unit.

The upgrade will enable the company to produce its own gasoline for the first time besides various other upgrades in its oil and gas production.

The new facilities will also operate the plant at full capacity using sour condensates. Mechanical completion of the refinery enhancement is due by the end of 2007.

Hussain Sultan, group chief executive and board member of ENOC, said: "As a leading petroleum player in the UAE, we demonstrate with this expansion both our leadership position and commitment to being the reliable and responsible energy partner of choice."
. . .
Sultan further explained that ENOC refines crude oil from across the region. He named Iran as one of the biggest suppliers besides Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

ENOC export markets reach into Africa and the Far East. He then said that it was also increasingly important to boost the number of filling stations in the United Arab Emirates to meet growing demand.

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Great Moments in Unintended Secondary Effects :: Chicago Boyz

The list is US-centric. The phenomenon is universal.
Gulfnews: Enoc sees two solutions to stemming chronic losses :: Gulf News

Enoc (Emirates National Oil Company?) seeks to permission to be allowed to raise price or be subsidized:

Dubai: Enoc engineer Hussain Sultan said that the loss Enoc suffers from the sale of each gallon of petrol should not be allowed to continue in 2006.
. . .
despite the rise of gasoline prices by 33 per cent in the last six months, the company continues to lose revenue in its retail sales. Eliminating these losses can be done through one of two solutions, argued Sultan. Either the Dubai government could subsidise fuel as is done elsewhere in the GCC or, alternatively, the company should be allowed to let prices reach natural levels according to free-market forces.

Waivers sought

Sultan argued that since Enoc is a commercial organisation, and operated as a profit-making company, it should be freed from any artificial constraints.
. . .
Tayyeb Al Mula, Chief Executive of Enoc, said: "We import approximately 1.5 million tons of oil annually from Saudi Aramco with a value of $400-$500 million per year. He pointed out that the extension of Enoc's existing refinery to a capacity of 120,000 barrels a day would cover the company's needs for two years and reduce Enoc's reliance on imported oil.
Two questions:

1. Why is Enoc importing oil from Aramco when the UAE exports oil to the rest of the world?

2. If Enoc gets a waiver to raise price does it expect that consumers will purchase its gas when they can find a lower price around the corner? Or do they do the plan to raise price only in those areas where there is no rival around the corner? Or do they expect other retail outlets to follow its price increase?


Police and protesters trade charges over riots in Bahrain :: Gulf News

The protests were lead by the Unemployed Committee. Interesting name.


Gulfnews: Qatari body studying six-year job cap on unskilled expat workers :: Gulf News

Why? Do Qatari's want these jobs?

The 6 year limit will make those workers more expensive, meaning that firms will be more willing to

1. Pay Qataris more for doing those same jobs

2. Substitute into the use of higher-skilled workers.