Friday, August 31, 2007

To us must you return

To us must you return
M Yusuf Khan/HINDUSTAN TIMES New Delhi, August 30, 2007

A friend called the other day, sounding pensive. He had lost a dear friend the previous day. His friend had sent a ‘friendship day' SMS to him and thirty others wishing them well and hoping to enjoy their friendship for many years.

He died that very afternoon of a massive heart attack. My friend's biggest regret was that he did not reply immediately but postponed messaging to the evening, an evening that never came.

The Quran says: Every soul shall have a taste of death … to us must you return (35:21). If there is any thing certain in this life it is death. Yet the very mention of it is considered inauspicious and unpleasant.

We are scared of so many things in life and we try to overcome the fear by rationalising. Somehow we do not apply the same approach to our fear of death.

Death, most believe, is transition from one life to another. But the next life is not the extension of the one we are living and that is the scary part.

We go to another world or life alone, not knowing what awaits us. But the Sufis look at the death differently. They long to be united with their beloved God and for them death provides the opportunity to fulfill their mission.

The uncertainty of life should never be a reason for gloom. On the contrary it should encourage us to treat every day as special, make us try and complete our unfinished tasks with a sense of urgency.

It should urge us to enjoy every moment and to be nice and kind to the people around us. When Alexander the Great, who ruled half the then known world, died, his hands were placed outside the coffin as willed by him.

This was to remind all that everyone, pauper or the king, would go from this world empty-handed. In most Sufi orders, death is remembered as a daily ritual in one form or the other. It brings humility, softens the heart and makes us humane.

Abu Dhabi Awards winners to get honours

Abu Dhabi Awards winners to get honours
By Dina El Shammaa, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 28, 2007, 18:43

Abu Dhabi: The winners of the Abu Dhabi Awards 2007 will be honoured in mid-December.

The nominations for '2007 awards' will be held between September 9 to October 7. The judging period will be held in October and November, which will be followed by an awards ceremony.

General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will present an award to the ten winners at the Emirates Palace by mid-December.

The awards will mainly go to the top ten nominees recognized by residents and citizens for their humanitarian acts and contributions to the society.

"The award honors citizens and residents who have contributed to building a greater sense of community and social welfare within Abu Dhabi. Everyone is given the chance to nominate those whose goodness knows no limits and in doing so share in their goodwill," said Mariam Ameri from the Organizing Committee in Abu Dhabi.

All nominations are reviewed individually and reported by a nomination panel. This is then reviewed by a judging committee comprising senior government officials. The merit of those people nominated will determine the final number of awards given.

The nomination process requires completing a "nomination form" available at stands in 26 key locations, including malls in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. The form can either be faxed or posted back and there are no limits to the number of people one person can nominate.

"Let your voice speak of their actions, in honouring people in this way. The awards raise awareness of the value of such contributions and in turn encourage others to make similar contributions," stressed Amiri.

The 2006 awards received over 50,000 nominations, up from 42,000 in 2005. Three winners of the 2005 awards were present at the conference and spoke to the media.

"I never thought or expected to win this award. I received a call to bring along my husband and children to attend the event. They never gave me details. I only knew I was one of the winners when they announced my name that same day," said Amira Al Shaibani.

Al Shaibani received nominations for her efforts in 1982 in a project to build a sports centre for children with special needs in the UAE.

Huda Kanoo, was nominated for her efforts in establishing the Abu Dhabi Classical Music and Arts Foundation in 1996 and a music library at the National Library in Abu Dhabi.

In addition, she launched an award carrying her name as a contribution to urge students to participate and compete at the Abu Dhabi Festival for Classical Music.

Dr. B.R. Shetty known for his medical achievements established the New Medical Center (NMC) Hospital with branches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

He also opened the National Hospital, New National Medical Centre, NMC Specialty Hospitals and NMC Family Clinic that treats over one million patients a year.

"My father came to this country in 1973 with only 8 Dollars in his pocket. If it weren't for this country offering opportunities and opening their arms to him he wouldn't have succeeded in helping others and we wouldn't have received this award today," said one of Shetty's daughters who represented him in his absence.

About the ADA 2007 Awards

-Through the commitment of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi has chosen to celebrate compassionate individuals who have silently volunteered their time to build and support the community of Abu Dhabi.

-The Emirate of Abu Dhabi recognizes the accomplishments of individuals through the Abu Dhabi Awards 2007, which marks the third year of awards.

-2005 was the inaugural year of the event


To make the Emirate of Abu Dhabi a better place, where humanity and goodness are cherished and celebrated.


To encourage and motivate citizens and residents of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to reach out and help each other live more fulfilling and rewarding lives.

Who can nominate

-Residents and citizens of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, including Al Ain and the Western Region.

-Those who know someone whose goodness has contributed to the community and spirit of Abu Dhabi.

Why Participate?

-Recognize and celebrate citizens and residents of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi who have contributed to building a greater sense of community and social welfare within Abu Dhabi.

-The awards raise awareness of the value of such contributions and in turn encourage others to make similar contributions.

The Nomination Process

-Going to any of the many nomination stations across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi including roving nomination stations

-Filling out a nomination form, these are currently being delivered to homes across the UAE and can be returned by post, fax or by placing them in collection boxes placed at the nomination stations.


-Filling out your nomination form and faxing it 800-333-00

Previous winner summaries

Winners 2006

Ahmad Khalifa Al Suwaidi
Dedicated his life and money to the welfare of the local community. He played an important role in the union of the UAE and was personal advisor to the Nation's late father

Shaikh Salem bin Ham Al Amri
Strong supporter of the protection and welfare of the UAE
Contributed immensely to the protection and welfare of the nation both before and after the union and contributed to the social development in Abu Dhabi through the National Consultative Council

Shamsa Hazim Al Muhairi
Active member of the Abu Dhabi Women Development Association. Al Muhairi created awareness on the importance of women's education and other social problems facing today's community. Al Muhairi also launched a health program in the Emirate in cooperation with UNICEF and was pivotal in the establishment of the UAE Women Affairs bureau in 1991

Ahmed Awad Kareem
In collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Municipality, contributed to developing several important infrastructure projects in the Emirate including the establishment of the current industrial area

Sana'a Darwish Al Kitby
Dedicated her efforts to supporting people with special needs, women in the Emirate and autistic children. She contributed to the establishment of the General Women's Union and the Abu Dhabi Women's Development Association

Dr. Izzeidein Ibrahim Mustafa
Established several cultural and social associations, including the Women's Union in the UAE

Wahida Ibrahim
Contributed to the education sector by providing free classes to special students and organized fund raising activities to support her school

Ahlam Yahya Al Shateri
Created a platform for parents, teachers and children to better use their time and better understand each others needs. Al Shateri delivers seminars to promote loyalty to the country and charitable causes

Shaikha Siddeeqa Al Qasimi
One of the first UAE women graduates and a leader in supporting education and her school is now known as being one of the best governmental schools in the country. Al Qasimi focused on educating women and helping them excel in their communities and businesses and promoted principles of equality and ethics among her students

Winners in 2005

Dr Rawdha Al Mutawa
Established the Abu Dhabi Business Women Council, Chairwoman of the Gulf Business Committee and a member of the board of directors of the UAE Red Crescent
Strong supporter of National business women

The Late Abdul Jaleel Mohammad Al Fahim
His desire to help others led him into the trading business to allow him the means and resources to fulfill his selfless goals. His activities and generosity contributed to the economic backbone of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Amira Al Shaibani
In 1982 Amira Al Shaibani spearheaded a project to build a sports centre for children with special needs in the Emirate.
She also launched the Olympics for children with special needs.

Colonel Edward Wilson
Supervised and trained the first defense battalions between 1964 and 1968, which evolved into the UAE Armed Forces
Established the Royal Stables, whose first cornerstones were laid by the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Major General Hamad Al Khaili
The late Shaikh Zayed civil escort until the establishment of the Special Guards in 1971. He joined many training courses and was promoted up the military ranks till he received the rank of Major General. A sleepless soldier, man of strength and careful protector of the safety of the leader

Huda Kanoo
Established the Abu Dhabi Classical Music and Arts Foundation in 1996 and a music library at the National Library in Abu Dhabi. Kanoo launched an award carrying her name as a contribution to urge students to participate and compete at the Abu Dhabi Festival for Classical Music

Pat & Marian Kennedy
Established the first hospital in Al Ain. Their efforts significantly contributed to the reduction of mortality rates, particularly among infants, and raised the birth rates during the many years they spent in Abu Dhabi. At least 4,000 babies came to life by virtue of their efforts.

Major General Khalfan Al Rumaithi
Served Abu Dhabi for 45 years and occupied many military posts from the day he joined the Trucial Oman Scouts.
Founded the Emiri Guards. This service earned him the UAE first-class medal

Sally Benge
Sally approached the Future Centre to provide help for a group of children from Central Hospital. Sally looks after them all day, every day in return for the Future Centre taking them in and giving them homes. She has since adopted and sponsored other children

B R Shetty
His sense of purpose and determination culminated in the establishment of the NMC Hospital in Abu Dhabi, the first of its kind in the country, with branches in Dubai and Sharjah following that. These hospitals along with National Hospital, New National Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi, the state of the art NMC Specialty Hospitals in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain and NMC Family Clinic, Dubai treat over one million patients a year

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Places to visit in UAE - Jebel Hafeet Mountain, Al Ain

Just have a look what they have created in a desert...

The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the greatest driving road in the world. Stretching for 7.3 miles and climbing nearly 4,000 feet, it boasts 60 corners and a surface so smooth that it would flatter a racetrack. It could easily be described as the eighth wonder of the world, but almost nothing is known about its creation.

The road is cut into the Jebel Hafeet Mountain , the highest peak in the United Arab Emirates , the oil-rich Persian Gulf state. The mountain spans the border with Oman and lies about 90 minutes' drive southeast of the thriving city of Dubai . It looks down upon a dusty, desert landscape that belies a nation of astonishing wealth.

Jebel Hafeet (Arabic: جبل حفيت) (variously translated Jabal, Jabel and Jebal) is a mountain primarily in the United Arab Emirates on the outskirts of Al Ain. The mountain actually straddles part of the border with Oman. The mountain rises 1240 meters and offers an impressive view over the city, with what has been described as "the greatest driving road in the world" extending to the summit. Jebel Hafeet was a well-known landmark through out the area's history and is a contemporary tourist attraction. An extensive natural cave system winds through Jebel Hafeet.

At the foothills of Jabal Hafeet lies the Green Mubazarrah, a well developed tourist attraction. At the Green Mubazarrah, hot-water springs gush forth in little streams and form a lake. Swimming pools and jacuzzis are scattered all over the Green Mubazarrah. Jebel Hafeet is also home to a wide range of animals including bats, foxes, snakes, etc.

It is often incorrectly labelled U.A.E's highest mountain (as it is certainly the most well-known); this honor actually belongs to Jabal Yibir.

The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road extends for 7.3 mi (11.7 km) up the mountain, rising 4000 ft (1219 m). With 21 corners and three lanes (two climbing and one descending), the immaculate road was called the greatest driving road in the world by The road scales the mountain and ends at a parking lot with only a hotel and a palace belonging to the country's rulers.

Jebel Hafeet Road is the challenge for cyclists who frequently come over to train. The Jebel Hafeet Mercure Challenge is a yearly road cycling competition taking place somewhere in January. National & international riders take part in climbing the 8% average ascent of the mighty mountain.

Hotels: Hotel Mercure Grand Jebel HafeetJebel Hafeet P O BOX 24476 0 AL AIN - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Tel : (+971)3/7838888 - Fax : (+971)3/7839000 - @ :

Nearby Tourist spots:

Lake HOT SPRINGS LAKE (10.00km)
OLYMPIC SPORTS Centre (15.00km)

Venezuela wants two US oil firms to leave

Venezuela wants two US oil firms to leave
30 Aug, 2007, 1410 hrs IST, AGENCIES

CARACAS: The Venezuelan government wants two US oil giants that refuse to come under state control to leave and is not offering compensation, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said.

Exxon Mobil and Conoco Phillips have refused to fall in line with a law passed by President Hugo Chavez's leftist government forcing multinationals to give at least 60 percent of the capital in their Venezuelan operations to the state-controlled Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA).

Venezuela is one of the world's top 10 oil producers and a major supplier to the US, its biggest customer.

But Ramirez said late Wednesday, "We are negotiating with the companies that have not accepted our laws in order to finalize their departure from the country."

The minister said that the era of "oil openness is over" and highlighted that no compensation would be given to the US companies.

"We have been very clear since last year: quite simply, it does not interest us to work with companies that do not accept our laws," Ramirez said as he left a Venezuelan parliament debate on energy.

He added that those companies which do work with PDVSA would be allowed to stay in "the biggest oil reserve on the planet" for at least 25 years.

Venezuela is the only Latin-American member of OPEC, the main oil producers' cartel. Officially it produces about three million barrels of oil per day but the International Energy Agency has given a figure of 2.6 million.

About half of the production goes to the US. There is an estimated 230 billion barrels of oil in Venezuela's Orinoco field but 78 billion are proved.

Military precision

Military precision
Kelly Crane, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 29, 2007, 23:46

The term "bootcamp" generally conjures up images of outdoor, military-style fitness training, with sergeants barking orders at, more often than not, unfit new recruits who, by the looks on their faces, are already totally regretting what they signed up for.

Well, you wouldn't be far wrong.

So remind me, why do people enrol to be a part of this madness? The answer is simple - it's torture, but it works.
Bootcamp training is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but advocates are effusive about the fitness benefits and the entire experience, and this style of training is growing in popularity.

But being Dubai we have to go that one step further. Instead of just a decision as to whether you'd like someone to yell at you and make you do sit-ups at a time even before you normally wake up, Dubai gives you the opportunity to pick whether you'd like to partake in this madness in either the hot or the cold. Well, sit tight for just a minute while tabloid! does the research for you by checking out boot camp in the snow and sand right here in the city.

The verdict

Admittedly, I didn't do somersaults when my alarm went off at 5.20am on a Sunday morning and I knew what lay ahead. But at 7am, when it was all over, it was worth the pain (or at least I think it was - I may have been so exhausted, I was delirious).

I reluctantly signed up for the Military Bootcamp and met Corey Oliver (who is too fit for words) at the Open Beach, behind the Village shopping mall on Beach Road in Jumeirah.

That's when it really hit me: there wasn't just one stupidly-energetic and overly-fit person to bark at me - there were four. I nearly died on the spot.

So, is it hard?

Yes, but not impossible. The thing which first struck me about bootcamp was the fact there were people of all levels of fitness involved.

From super-fit rugby players getting super, super fit in the run-up to the start of the new season, to guys and girls who have not lifted a finger nor got out of breath for years.

It was wake-up time and it happened in a flash. Somehow, these guys seem to whip you into a state of utter denial, where you really do believe in yourself and what your body is capable of.

Even the guys who said they would normally cook up a million excuses as to why they can't work out - "my back is stiff", "I'm too busy" or "too old" - found themselves immersed in the passion for the team-building exercise that bootcamps promote.

Don't be afraid

Although the team pulls together as one, bootcamp works for each individual because you all push yourself to your own personal breaking point, whether that is 10 sit-ups or 100.

Everyone encourages each other and the sessions are broken down to work on different aspects of fitness across the week, so you are never working the same muscles too much.

T-shirts are issued according to rank - solider, commando or elite - and the guys are always on hand to offer advice.
Sessions involve a warm-up and cool-down, bodyweight exercises, running, stretching, relays and exercises with a partner.

Boxing and all the old basics, like sit-ups and push-ups, lunges, along with rope running, rifle carrying and a good old run, certainly keep your heart racing throughout.

Training "al fresco" is also invigorating, especially when your team pick up penalties along the way which result in you having to do the usual routine in the puddles at the beach. Yes, be warned - Corey and the boys will ensure results but they won't let you get away with much.

Military Bootcamp

Who: Physical Advantage (fitness solutions).
Where: Open beach (behind the Village), sunset beach (next to the Burj Al Arab) and Safa Park.
When: Starting from September 2: Course One: Sunday 6am, Tuesday 6am, Thursday 6am.

Course Two: Sunday 8pm, Tuesday 8pm, Thursday 8pm.
Course Three: Monday 6am, Wednesday 6am, Friday 6am.
Course Four: Monday 8pm, Wednesday 8pm, Friday 6pm.

What: Physical Advantage, based at The Fairmont Dubai, began bootcamps in Dubai on January 29, 2007.
Military Bootcamp has been scientifically designed to achieve optimum results in the minimum time, no matter what your current fitness level is. The basic programme consists of three 60-minute sessions a week over four weeks.
Why: To lose weight, get fit and tone every muscle in your body.
Contact: Corey on 050-8487940, email or visit
Cost: Dh950 for 12 sessions.

There's snow way

The Renegade Bootcamp team has just introduced sessions which take place in the snow at Ski Dubai. Personal trainer Ziggy Darwish said the sessions have been well received and can offer some clients welcome relief from the summer heat.

He said: "The sessions can only be described as refreshing even though they are still hard work because it is a great deal of uphill work.

"It is cold at first but the body works harder in the cold so you soon warm up."

Ski Dubai courses are priced at Dh650 for six sessions or Dh120 for one.


Athletes who want a winning edge should take in the right nutrition. When you drink enough water and eat a balanced diet, your body can make energy efficiently and fuel top performance. It also enables you to make the most of your athletic talents and gain more strength, power and endurance when you train. Base your diet on a variety of factors including your age, size and physical condition, and the type of exercise you are doing.


Water is the most important factor in sport nutrition. It makes up about 60 per cent of body weight and is involved in almost every bodily process.

Your body cannot make or store water, so you must replace what you eliminate (through urine and sweat).

Everyone should drink at least two quarts (eight cups) of water each day and athletes need more. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after sport to stay hydrated and avoid overheating. When you work out or compete, especially in hot weather, try to closely match the amount of fluid you drink with the amount you lose to sweat.

Do not disturb - Taking time off

I haven't posted any photos for quite some time. I was thinking of it while coming to my car last night. And our friend here was taking his time off. I did not waste an opportunity to capture his reactions.

It was a very hot day and it's nice to take a short cat sleep at this time before the owner comes!

Is he here alreday, too early and too short, I should have selected another car.

I think he is not the one, let me sleep for some more time.

What was that I was dreaming, this guy disturbed me.....

Hey, I told you not to disturb me now. Come back later.

And he goes to sleep again!!!

Mubadala to develop Dh4.4b city in Malaysia

Mubadala to develop Dh4.4b city in Malaysia
Gulf News Report / Published: August 29, 2007, 23:58

Dubai: Mubadala Development Company, Abu Dhabi government's investment arm, will lead a consortium of Gulf investors to develop a Dh4.4 billion ($1.2 billion integrated international city development in Malaysia's the Iskandar Development Region (IDR).

The company yesterday signed a series of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with partners on the project, to be developed over 20 years.

"This landmark investment will represent the single largest foreign real estate development in Malaysia, one of the largest real estate developments in the region and one of the largest single foreign investments ever in Malaysia," Mubadala said.

Growth strategy

Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, CEO and managing director of Mubadala, said, "We believe strongly that sustainable development built upon a solid infrastructure attracts global brands and pays continuing dividends. This is an integral part of our growth strategy in Abu Dhabi and beyond. Node 1 fits well with our vision and investment objectives and Mubadala is pleased to be part of this endeavour."

Abu Dhabi-based developer Aldar Properties will act as its Master Development Manager for IDR, referred to as Node 1.

Aldar chairman Ahmad Al Sayegh, said, "Node 1 has the opportunity to be a showcase of new ideas and standards in development and Aldar is committed to its success."

The conditional agreements entered by South Johor Investment Corporation Berhad (SJIC), through its subsidiary Rim City Sdn Bhd (RCSB) yesterday were with three leading consortiums, led by Mubadala, Kuwait Finance House and Millennium Development International Company.

The consortiums will invest more than $1.2 billion of initial investment for land and infrastructure to develop three clusters, namely the Lifestyle and Leisure cluster, the Cultural cluster and the Financial District. These three clusters will consist of nine distinctly themed zones.

Node 1 is a development spread over approximately 9.02 million square metres, located in the area of Nusajaya.

Impressive show by UAE girls in karate championship

Impressive show by UAE girls in karate championship
By Alaric Gomes, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 29, 2007, 23:46

Dubai: The UAE girls karate team walked away with six medals at the end of the open karate meet that concluded in Grado, Italy yesterday.

Led by UAE skipper, Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the team picked up one gold, four silver and one bronze at the day-long competition.

Nearly 650 athletes from 16 countries participated in the competition that was held to mark the end of a ten-day camp.

More than 150 athletes took part in the Kata competition, while the rest participated in the Kumite competition.

The UAE's medal hunt was led by young Haya Juma, who won the individual gold in the Kata competition.

She also picked up a silver medal in the individual Kumite in the under 45 kgs category for beginners.

Inspirational role

Shaikha Maitha herself was inspirational, winning the silver in the over 60 kgs category.

Two more silver medals came from Lana Ali in the under 51 kgs Cadets category and Mai Omran in the under 70 kgs Cadets category, while Noor Nasser bagged a bronze in the under 55kgs beginners category.

The UAE team attended special training sessions with the Italian national squad at the end of the competition. The team is scheduled to arrive in Dubai today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Prices of essentials poised to spiral

Cooperatives and supermarkets say they will not be able to hold on to their prices of essential commodities for much longer.

Prices of essentials poised to spiral
By Himendra Mohan Kumar, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 28, 2007, 23:23

Abu Dhabi: Prices of essentials in the UAE might go up in the coming months, large retailers say.

Cooperatives and supermarkets say they will not be able to hold on to their prices of essential commodities for much longer, despite efforts by the UAE's Ministry of Economy to curb inflation, as suppliers are threatening to pull out amid squeezed profitability and rising costs.

"The suppliers have restrictions from the ministry and they say they can't afford to supply at the current prices. If they increase their prices, then we have no choice but to pass them on to the customers," Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society's purchase manager N.S. Jayan told Gulf News.

Retailers say the prices of rice, wheat, cooking oil and milk powder are under pressure as suppliers are citing increased production and transportation costs, insufficient crop and an uptrend in domestic and overseas demand as reasons for raising the prices.

Ebrahim Al Bahr, assistant general manager at Union Cooperative Society in Dubai, said they will hold on to their current prices until Ramadan.

"After that, the Ministry of Economy will sit with the suppliers and we will then get an overall picture of where the prices are headed."

Last year, the prices of food items surged dramatically during Ramadan. It became serious enough for the Ministry of Economy to interfere and issue warnings.

The situation had resulted in the establishment of the Consumer Protection Department by the ministry.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yahoo Mail adds SMS, drops beta tag

Yahoo Mail adds SMS, drops beta tag

AP[ MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2007 02:14:25 PM]

SAN FRANCISCO: Yahoo Inc. will introduce new features for its popular Web-based e-mail programme, including software that allows computer users to type text messages on a keyboard and send them directly to someone's cell phone.

The enhancements make it easier to send e-mail, instant messages or text messages from a single Web site - no need to launch or toggle between separate applications or devices. It will take up to six weeks for all the new features to become available to all 254 million Yahoo Mail subscribers in 21 languages worldwide.

The most obvious beneficiaries will be parents, who will be able to use their keyboards to type messages sent to their children's cell phones - no thumb-twisting typing on a dial pad, said Yahoo Vice President John Kremer.

"We're giving you the right way to connect at the right time with right person," said Kremer, whose two preteen sons vastly prefer text and instant messages to e-mail.

The changes come amid fierce competition among providers of free, Web-based e-mail services. Yahoo and Microsoft Corp's Hotmail have long dominated the niche, but Google Inc's Gmail has grown quickly since its introduction in April 2004.

In February, Yahoo announced that it would provide unlimited storage space, and earlier this month Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said Hotmail would increase free storage from 2 to 5 gigabytes. Time Warner Inc's AOL, the fourth largest e-mail provider, began offering unlimited storage last summer. Google provides nearly 3 gigabytes.

Happy Raksha Bandhan

Happy Raksha Bandhan... Artist Sudarsan Pattnaik makes a sculpture of Rakhi, with a message against terrorism inscribed on it, at Puri beach in Orissa on Monday.

And this special one to all my sisters......... Please select the one you like and wish for me Good luck. Team 1 protection is all yours.

Taqa readies $4b buyout plan

Taqa readies $4b buyout plan
By Himendra Mohan Kumar, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 27, 2007, 23:06

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), plans to invest Dh14.68 billion ($4 billion) in new energy acquisitions over the next 12 months, the company's chief executive said yesterday.

"We are looking at opportunities in Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Norway, The Netherlands, UK, Canada and possibly, the US," Peter Barker-Homek told Gulf News.

At present, Taqa has investments, assets and operations in 10 countries - UAE, Canada, Ghana, India, Morocco, The Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UK and the US.

Barker-Homek said Taqa's latest upstream acquisition - Pioneer Canada - will go through the normal regulatory approval process and is expected to be completed "probably in November this year."

Taqa said last week that it will acquire the Calgary-based upstream petroleum exploration company for $540 million from Pioneer's parent - the US-based Pioneer Natural Resources Company.

Pioneer Canada, which has operations in the western Canadian sedimentary basin, would be Taqa's fifth overseas acquisition since November 2006.

Post acquisition of Pioneer Canada, Taqa's debt-to equity ratio would be 80 per cent debt and 20 per cent equity.

Talking about the company's debts, he said: "We have $3.5 billion in bonds that we have issued to the global financial community. In addition, we have, through a syndication of banks, about $6.5 in project finance in our subsidiaries in the UAE." Barker-Homek said Taqa's assets are worth $16 billion.


The combined output of Taqa's upstream assets is currently a little more than 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Even if there are no further acquisitions by the company, Taqa can sustain its current production level for several years, said Barker-Homek. "Right now, the average reserve life of our oil and gas properties is 12 years," he said.

Barker-Homek said Taqa plans to invest $300 million in 2007 to boost output at its oil and natural gas producing assets. "Since January this year, we have invested about $200 million."

Barker-Homek felt Taqa is grossly undervalued on the Abu Dhabi Securities Market.

"The earnings potential of the company is currently not reflected in the share price. I think the market is probably waiting to see if our acquisitions will add value to shareholders. We plan to maintain and increase the dividend that we established last year," Barker-Homek added.

New masterplan to offer growth roadmap

New masterplan to offer growth roadmap
By Saifur Rahman, Business News Editor GULF NEWS Published: August 27, 2007, 23:06

Dubai: The newly announced Dubai Urban Development Framework (DUDF) will offer a comprehensive roadmap for Dubai's future up to 2020 and beyond, according to a top government official, that would solve the main concerns of today's urban life.

"The DUDF is our roadmap for the future of Dubai in offering sustainable growth that will look into environmental and social aspects of the urbanisation," Ahmad Bin Bayat, secretary-general of Dubai Executive Council, told Gulf News in an interview.

Dubai, which has witnessed an explosive growth over the last half-decades due to government's major economic initiatives, has been trying to cope with the rapid-fire expansion, leading to inflationary pressures.

The emirate's GDP grew 16 per cent year-on-year over the last few years while the foreign trade skyrocketed in recent years.

More than 80 per cent of the UAE's Dh510 billion ($139 billion) merchandise trade are conducted through Dubai, while the city's attractive hard infrastructure is attracting massive investments that is adding further pressure on its capacity, pushing the property and rent prices higher - beyond the reach of the middle income group.

In the recent years, traffic and skyrocketing rents have been identified by the city's residents as the major cause for concern.

"In 14 months time, the consortium will offer an integrated masterplan that will be based on the future needs of Dubai's growing population, in terms of land use, traffic impact , water and electricity consumption requirement, etc," he said.

The government has not yet re-calculate the population growth projections yet.

"The consortium, in its masterplan, will suggest that and the plan will be based on those calculations. We did not give any projections," Bin Byat said.

The DUDF project will be guided by the Urban Planning Committee (UPC) of Dubai Government and by Ahmad Bin Bayat, a UPC statement said yesterday.

The project falls in line with Dubai's nine-year vision and is part of the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 (DSP) announced earlier this year.

"The DSP articulates the collective vision and strategy of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It focuses on economic development, social development, security, justice and safety, infrastructure, land and environment and public sector excellence," the statement said.

The UPC has key stakeholders including Dubai Municipality, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Dubai Land Department, and The Executive Office, as well as developers like Dubai Holdings, Emaar and Nakheel.

Technical experts from each of these organisations will be part of a task force which will help prepare the DUDF. The project will be administered by the Executive Council Secretariat and managed and directed by Dubai-based consultants, Halcrow.

"Environment and sustainability will be key in the masterplan as Dubai has now grown to become an international metropolis," Bin Byat said.

"Therefore, Dubai needs a different approach to its future development and growth where all the aspects will be integrated into the plan so that we no longer face the usual problems like traffic and other issues."

An Advisory Panel, which will have specialists and representatives from globally-recognised companies as members, will be formed to provide independent guidance to the project.

The long term Vision will provide clear direction and establish shared aspirations for the city-region, particularly in improving environmental, economic and social sustainability and business conditions in the city. It will develop quality of life targets, seeking to firmly position Dubai within the short list of the world's most 'liveable' places.

The Emirate-wide 'City and Regional Planning Framework' will seek to establish a strong integration between the increasingly complex governmental, quasi-governmental and private stakeholder relationships of the city. Key elements of the Framework will include: integrated land use and mobility, housing provision, economic and demographic growth, urban character and design, heritage management, integrated community facilities provision, civic harmony and sustainability strategy.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Are Leaders Born?

Are Leaders Born?

Most people fantasise about being in a leader’s shoes. But many believe this would remain wishful thinking because they are convinced that leaders are born. For them, people who influence their societies and workplaces are the ones who are born into certain families, have a certain pedigree and possess certain traits. According to research at the London School of Economics (LSE), leaders are very rarely born. Instead, they are the ones who are willing to take a decision to lead in situations when it is most expected from them.

Leaders are rarely born because:
They often do not carry any legacy nor are they from great families. People who have initiated and propagated great changes are seldom there because of a birthright. They emerged as and remained great leaders out of their own merit. They began with a decision to take on leadership and a determination to lead a cause that they believed in.

Traditionally, leadership skills were always thought to be something people are born with; that leadership is about being genetically lucky. But as researchers correlated scores on IQ and personality tests, they found only a modest and moderate relationship that did not differentiate leaders from non-leaders in any way. Even a behavioural correlation established the same. So, leaders were proved to be non-distinguishable from other people in terms of their intelligence and other abilities. Even as we study history, leaders seldom appear to have a past where they exhibited some extraordinary physical or mental capabilities, setting them several notches above other people. On the contrary, many of the world’s great leaders had been branded below average or just average individuals at some point in their lives. Each of them emerged as leaders because they took a decision to lead.

Leaders are hardly ever exceptional. And they need not be. Leadership is not something with which you are born, it is not inherited, but it is something you decide to do. Leaders are the ones who are bold enough to take a decision when they are faced with a defining moment.

If we examine corporate leaders, we see that this hypothesis holds good most of the time. Take Henry Ford. He not only revolutionised industrial production, but also had such influence over the 20th century economy and society that his combination of mass production, high wages and low prices to consumers is still called “Fordism”. His parents were poor immigrants from Western England where they were evicted from their land in Somerset. They underwent great tribulations as they came over to America looking for a new start.

As a child, Ford was quiet and inward looking, and spent much of his time around his mother. She died while he was very young, leading him into depression. His father despised him for not showing any interest or skill in farm work and literally wrote Henry off, saying he would never amount to anything. During most of his younger days, Ford apprenticed as a low-level machinist at various places, not even earning enough to lead a decent living. He did not own anything that could make him a born leader — no birthright, no pedigree and certainly no extraordinary attributes. Nobody ever recognised that he could do anything worthwhile. But when he took the decision to lead, he went on to be one of the greatest leaders the corporate world has ever seen. He brought on a new age of industrialisation and urbanisation owing mostly to his leadership in the automobile industry.

Even if we look at India, we see several first-generation corporate leaders who have built and led their empires, devoid of any family legacy. We can either learn from all their success stories and strive to be leaders ourselves, or we can retreat into our shell, presuming leadership to be something beyond our reach, reserved for those born with silver spoons in their mouths.

by Sangeeth Varghese / moneycontrol
The author is a leadership scholar from the LSE and founder of LeadCap. His book, Decide to Lead: Eight Decisions That Can Make You A Leader, will soon be published by Businessworld. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Shocked into creative living

Shocked into creative living
27 Aug, 2007, 0253 hrs IST,K VIJAYARAGHAVAN, TNN

The process of “getting tired of being tired”, in a larger context, can also be extended to one’s advantage, through waking up to the shocking realisation that he is drifting and is dissipating his talents and potential. It was rightly noted that even fault finding and impatience can be virtues, provided these are directed upon oneself.

In this manner, the seeker realises his infirmities and limitations — the starting point to laying down a path to emerge into a new world of excellence, right relationships and joie de vivre. This verily is also process of ‘waking up to make one’s dreams come true’.

The immortal Kannada film, Hamsagethe powerfully depicts the progression in the transformation of Venkanna, a gifted singer, who also yearns for moral perfection. In stages, through particular interactions and developments in his life, he overcomes the retarding factors of arrogance, pride, infatuation and overconfidence, which stand in the way of the pursuit of his vision.

Though accomplished and gifted in many ways, he realises that he has miles to go to even comprehend the spark of that divinity, which verily is that power, in all bliss and joy and harmony with all aspects within and without, expressed often as outpourings of true Bhakthi.

The prerequisite, therefore, in many cases, for this awakening, is often that of being shocked into feelings of dissatisfaction, if not disgust, with one’s present state of mind, body, heart and soul. This state within is also reflected in situations, relationships and circumstances which attend upon him. Such wake-up calls, as blessings in disguises, transform, sometimes, even the most ordinary into extraordinary beings, endowed with supreme powers.

The story is often told of a great saint and poet, who once was highly attached to worldly comforts and fiercely infatuated with his newly wedded wife. One day, during the height of his over powering passion, his wife jokingly taunted him, “Why don’t you divert at least a part of this attachment for me to God?” As if instantaneously, the young man experienced a metamorphosis, to realise his mission in life.

Indeed, contentment stays as a virtue, only when applied to material and mundane pursuits. For sublime aspirations, the seeking aspirant should hitch his wagon to the highest star. Only then would he be truly fulfilled and be satisfied in the self by his own self, delighting in himself and be genuinely contended — in the manner conceived of by Bhagawad Gita.

Soap that cleans clothes with less water

Soap that cleans clothes with less water
27 Aug, 2007, 1131 hrs IST, IANS
MELBOURNE: Wasting water to rinse that extra lather from your clothes may be a thing of the past now. Scientists in Australia have developed a detergent that cleans clothes with less water.

Normal detergents contain surfactant molecules, which are oil-friendly at one end to capture dirt and water-friendly at the other to pull it away. They also tend to form bubbles, which require extra water to rinse.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, have made a surfactant that only forms bubbles under mildly alkaline (that contain soluble mineral salts) conditions.

The unusual product, which is a biological detergent, has been named pepfactant because it is made from peptides (specific acids).

The inventors - Annette Dexter and Anton Middleberg - said the unique aspect of pepfactants is that it can be switched on or off, depending on its intended application.

For example, in laundry detergents there's a built-in pH (a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of water) change that occurs between the wash and rinse cycles.

Pepfactants designed to respond to that change could be added to the detergent to reduce the rinse time, reports UPI news wire.

Detergents tend to be alkaline, so during a wash cycle the molecules link to form bubbles. The rinse water lowers the pH, breaking the bubbles apart, so less water is needed to wash out the lather.

Soap bubbles that collapse once clothes are clean could reduce the water needed during washing, the scientists said.

Pepfactants could also control the mixing of oil and water in industrial processes, according to a report in the online edition of New Scientist.

Dexter believes the more near-term application might develop in the personal care area, such as a shampoo, conditioner, skin cream or hand wash. There also could be potential applications for eye drops, she added.

Dubai to reshape urban development

Dubai to reshape urban development
Gulf News Report Published: August 26, 2007, 18:06

Dubai: Dubai's Urban Planning Committee on Saturday awarded a prestigious contract to a consortium headed by internationally acclaimed Urbis (Australia) to prepare the Dubai Urban Development Framework (DUDF), with support from environmental and engineering experts WSP Group.

The project, expected to be completed in 14 months, seeks to create an innovative, flexible and fully integrated development planning and management framework for Dubai to the year 2020 and beyond. Urbis won the contract out of four consortia which were shortlisted from a total of 39 companies in the race.

A key driver for the vision of Dubai is the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 (DSP). The DSP articulates the vision and strategy of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

It focuses on economic development, social development, security, justice and safety, infrastructure, land and environment and public sector excellence.

Ahmad Bin Bayat, Secretary General of Dubai Executive Council, said: "Dubai has been globally recognised as one of the most dynamic and fast growing economies. The scale and pace of this development are being fuelled by the launch of spectacular and innovative mega real estate projects and other investment opportunities, which have exceeded expectations."

"The DUDF is an ambitious plan and places particular emphasis on the need for innovative thinking, while leading to the creation of new and exciting approaches to Dubai's city planning. The Framework will also serve as the vehicle for translating DSP into an appropriate set of strategies, special plans, policies and guidelines."

UAE's top air carriers express keen interest in new airport in Kerala

UAE's top air carriers express keen interest in new airport in Kerala
By Ivan Gale, Staff Reporter / GULF NEWS Published: August 26, 2007, 23:40

Dubai: A new airport in Kerala is drawing the interest of local air carriers, as heavy demand on existing routes has led them to schedule additional frequencies.

The Kerala government is in the process of acquiring 1,200 acres of land for the upcoming new airport at Kannur, located in the uppermost portion of the state north of Calicut.

Construction of the airport will take roughly three months once the land has been acquired, local media reported.

Already, Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia said they harbour hopes of flying there once necessary governmental approvals have been made.

Currently travel between Kerala and the UAE is at all all-time high, due to the large numbers of Indian labourers and professionals working in the UAE as well as leisure travellers.

"Any new airport development in Kerala, and in fact anywhere in India, is of great interest to Etihad because of the strong customer demand for air travel between the country and Abu Dhabi," said Eain Burns, vice president of corporate communications.

Just three months after launching flights to Kerala, Etihad said it would add more flights there.

"We started flying in May to Kerala and both Cochin and Tiruvananthapuram have performed so well that we will add extra flights to both cities at the end of October," Burns said.

According to the Kerala government, inbound tourism is expected to grow by 10 per cent once the airport is in operation. In 2006, Kerala took in five million domestic visitors, and 450,000 international travellers.

Emirates airline has been a beneficiary of this rise in air travel, experiencing 85 per cent load factors on its Kerala flights.

Recently, it added three frequencies to Cochin.

"Given the burgeoning Indian market, Emirates is keen to expand its India operation by commencing services to new destinations and increasing flights on existing routes," an Emirates spokesperson said. Currently, Emirates said it has no firm plans to fly to Kannur.

“Mission impossible”: Beaking the speed of light

“Mission impossible”: Beaking the speed of light
(DPA)27 August 2007

HAMBURG - Two German physicists from the University of Koblenz claim to have done the impossible and broken the speed of light.

If their claims are confirmed, they will have proved wrong Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which requires an infinite amount of energy to propel an object at more than 186,000 miles per second.

However, Dr Gunter Nimtz and Dr Alfons Stahlhofen, say they have possibly breached a key tenet of that theory.

They say they have conducted an experiment in which microwave photons - energetic packets of light - travelled “instantaneously” between a pair of prisms that had been moved from a few millimetres to up to one metre apart.

When the prisms were placed together, photons fired at one edge passed straight through them, as expected.

After they were moved apart, most of the photons reflected off the first prism they encountered and were picked up by a detector. But a few photons appeared to “tunnel” through the gap separating them as if the prisms were still held together.

Although these photons had travelled further, they arrived at their detector at exactly the same time as the reflected photons. In effect, they had travelled faster than light.

Dr Gunter Nimtz, one of the physicists from the University of Koblenz, told New Scientist magazine: “This is the only violation of special relativity that I know of.”

The duo say being able to travel faster than the speed of light would lead to a wide variety of bizarre consequences.

For instance, an astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving, they said.

The scientists said they were investigating a phenomenon called quantum tunnelling, which allows sub-atomic particles to break apparently unbreakable laws.

“For the time being, this is the only violation of special relativity that I know of,” Dr Nimtz told New Scientist magazine.

Happy Onam

It's a hot hot sunny day here in Abu Dhabi. Onam 2007 is here and it is being celebrated all over by Keralites today. I take this opportunity to wish all my readers on this special day.
O - Orumayode (with Unity)
N - Nanmayude (with lots of Good will)
A - Agoshangalode (with lots of festivities)
M - Manusharellam (all mankind)

an Onam of joy, peace, happiness, prosperity to all of you.

Wish it rained here in the coming days as the month of Ramadan is nearby and the temperature has to come down a bit to favour all those who religiously follow the holy month.

Team 1 news letter - Onam Special

On behalf of Team 1, I wish all my readers a very happy and prosperous Onam. Please write to us at for your special copy of Team 1 Onam special.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Majestic mosque gets finishing touches

Majestic mosque gets finishing touches By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 18, 2007, 00:05

Abu Dhabi: More than 1,500 workers, supervisors, designers and engineers are working feverishly to put the final touches on Shaikh Zayed Mosque, which can accommodate about 40,000 worshippers.

The mosque is scheduled to open at the end of Ramadan for Eid prayers and its main prayer hall can accommodate about 5,000 worshippers, said project manager Khowla Salem Al Sulaimani.

The striking domes of the mosque are reportedly the largest ever built on any mosque.

"Two international Islamic organisations have confirmed it is the third largest in the world," said Khowla, but notes that its main striking features are its domes, the biggest among any mosque in the world.

The General Secretariat Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) based in Saudi Arabia, and the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture in Turkey have confirmed the 22,412 square metre mosque to be the third-largest in the world.

Even before its completion, the Shaikh Zayed Mosque, which cost about Dh2.1 billion, has become famous around the world. A huge chandelier is installed in the main prayer hall. An Iranian carpet will also be placed in the main prayer hall and is the largest hand-woven carpet in the world.

The carpet was woven by about 1,200 Iranian women. The carpet which costs Dh30 million was delivered to Abu Dhabi last week.

The 16.5 metre chandelier was imported from Germany. The seven chandeliers in the mosque cost about Dh30 million.

The main dome which is 87 metres high with a diameter of 32.8 metres, is the largest in the world. While the other 81 domes are of traditional Moroccan design.

Distinct features

The main door of the mosque is made completely of glass and is 12.2 metres high. The 7 metres wide door weighs about 2.2 tonnes and has beautiful floral designs.

The prayer halls are decorated with Italian white marble and are inlaid with floral designs. Various designs are used for different parts of the mosque.

The courtyard is decorated with white marble from Greece, while its 1,048 columns are being decorated by workers from India, points out Khowla, who is proud to be working on a world famous project.

The outside walls of the Shaikh Zayed Mosque are of traditional Turkish design. Worshippers entering the mosque will get a fantastic view of the entire structure, reflected in the waters surrounding it.

Artificial lakes laden with dark tiles surround the mosque.

The four minarets of the Shaikh Zayed Mosque reach a towering height of 107 metres and can be seen from far off.

"The whole structure is on an elevated position as the foundation has been laid 9.5 metres above ground level," said the project manager.

Municipal Affairs Department of the Abu Dhabi Municipality is supervising the finishing touches on the Shaikh Zayed Mosque, one of the ten largest mosques in the world.

Director of the Shaikh Zayed mosque project Khowla Al Sulaimani said that the main prayer hall of the mosque is expected to be opened during the final days of the month of Ramadan. The carpet to be spread in the prayer hall arrived yesterday from Iran.

Different colours
The 5,000 square metre carpet is the largest of its kind in the world and is handmade with 35 tonnes of wool and cotton.
Public relations director at the Municipal Affairs Department Mubarak Saif Al Mazroui said that the Shaikh Zayed Mosque is a magnificent addition to Islamic architectural splendour, and will become a landmark in the UAE and the region as a whole.

The main prayer hall under three large domes can accommodate over forty thousand worshippers.

The main prayer hall under three large domes can accommodate over forty thousand worshippers.

Car Roll Over’ simulator will increase seat belt awareness

Car Roll Over’ simulator will increase seat belt awareness
By Joy Sengupta /KHALEEJ TIMES 26 August 2007

DUBAI — The Emirates Driving Institute has introduced the ‘Car Roll Over’ simulator to make drivers realise the importance of using seat belt as a safety measure.
The ‘Car Roll Over’ gives the students an actual feeling and the body movements of the driver when his car turns topsy turvy in an accident, Muhammed Arif, the Advance Driving Instructor and First Lecturer of the Institute, said yesterday.

“The apparatus would also make the people realise the fact that people inside the car have got more chances of survival if they have fastened their seats belts as it holds them tight to the seat in the case of an accident resulting in the car roll over,” he said.

“There are many organsations who have been talking about the importance of seat belts since a long time now. Fines have also been imposed on the violators. But still, there are people who don’t care. A majority of them don’t understand the importance of seat belts. We realised that a practical knowledge about how the belt works would be helpful,” he said. The system had been imported from Volvo, a popular commercial transport solutions based in Sweden.

“This is a whole car. We ask the person to sit in it and then fasten the seat belt. Then we revolve the car upside down. One can easily feel the pressure on the back and the neck when the car is turning,” Arif said.

“But then if one is fastened, the belt does not allow the person to crash out through the windscreen or get thrown in some other corner of the car. This considerably reduces the risk. Also, the air bag coming out from the front after the crash is beneficial only if you are fastened. This apparatus would indeed make people realise the importance of seat belts,” he added.

The official stated that another apparatus, called the ‘Seat Belt Convensor’ was also useful in making people aware. “In this, we try to make people know the kind of impact the car has when it hits something. It is again the seatbelt which does not let the person move out of the seat. Otherwise he can crash out of the car through the windscreen,” pointed Arif.

The official said that soon they would be opening these machines for the common people. “Anyone would be free to come down to the centre and experience this. People should know about the importance of seat belts. Seat belts are life savers,” he emphasised.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cartoon Corner

Two moons on 27 August

Two moons on 27 August*

*27th Aug the Whole World is waiting for...*

Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting August.

It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will
cultivate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles of earth. Be
sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth
has 2 moons. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.

Share this with your friends as NO ONE ALIVE TODAY will ever see it

Between the signals

I was at the signal yesterday and managed to capture these moments. 30 seconds or may be lesser. How fast the Sun is travelling - anyone interested to calculate whether he is over speeding or not. By the feel of the hot weather even at this time of the evening, I felt he was a bit fast.

Parents hard hit by rising stationary cost

Parents hard hit by rising stationary cost
By Daniel Bardsley and Abbas Al Lawati, Staff Reporters /GULF NEWS Published: August 25, 2007, 00:24

Dubai: Many parents say they are finding it difficult to cope with the rising cost of uniforms, stationary, textbooks and all the other things they have to buy for their children every year.

Dr Elizabeth Thomas, 37, a veterinary surgeon from India with two daughters, Evana, eight, and Evita, seven, who both go to an Indian school in Sharjah, said increases in uniform prices had affected her the most.

She estimated that uniform prices had jumped about 10 to 15 per cent during the past 12 months.

"Over the year, the uniform prices have gone higher, there's no doubt," she told Gulf News.

"We get the uniforms from school and for the cost you pay, I certainly feel we could get better quality. Material wise, I could get a better shirt for the same price.

"The way things are now in the UAE, it's really difficult because it's not just the uniforms, it's everything."

Umm Ahmad, an Iraqi whose three children go to private Arabic schools, said uniform prices had gone up.

"Uniform prices have gone up about ten per cent, which is not bad considering that they were not expensive to start with," she said.

She named the rising cost of tuition fees as more of a headache, saying: "The salaries of many residents of the UAE stay the same while expenses such as this are on the rise. Tuition prices go up every year."

Armenia, an Indian whose 15-year-old daughter attends an Indian school in Sharjah, said textbook and writing book price rises had been heavy this year.

"Previously, I've never had to spend more than Dh200 on books, but this year it was Dh300. That is quite a big jump," she said.

Back to school with a bang and a sigh

Back to school with a bang and a sigh
By Daniel Bardsley, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS
Published: August 25, 2007, 00:24

Dubai: The phrase "back to school" has struck fear into the hearts of children for decades, but increasingly, parents as well are beginning to dread the beginning of term.

The reason that mothers and fathers become concerned when the new school year looms is financial: costs of many of the essentials of school life have increased significantly this year.

It is not just the well-documented rises in tuition fees that are causing financial headaches, but also hikes in the price of books, stationery and uniforms.

As reported this month in Gulf News, stationery is now more than twice as expensive as last year for some parents, thanks to increases in the cost of paper and other inflationary pressures.

Parents who used to shell out Dh200 to equip their children with pens, pencils, exercise books and the like now have to pay Dh450.

Increases in the costs of school items are a particular headache to parents already struggling with the rising costs of rent and other major expenses.

Peter Daly, headmaster of Dubai English Speaking College, said textbooks had become much costlier, although in the case of his school, parents do not have to buy them themselves.

"Textbooks are now quite a major part of our budget. I'd say [the increase] must be 10 per cent per annum," he said. "We get our textbooks from the UK and in the last two or three years particularly they have become expensive."

Similarly, with regard to uniforms, Alexandra Sacher-Clynes, director of supplier Wren International, said that the cost of materials had gone up considerably, as the company sourced from the UK and exchange rates had become less favourable.

She said the firm had absorbed this cost as its contracts with schools stipulate the price of uniforms, although other firms that are not locked into contracts have been free to put up prices.

"We haven't increased the prices - we've taken the headache," she said.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Schools hike annual fees for transportation

Schools hike annual fees for transportation
By Preeti Kannan / KHALEEJ TIMES 24 August 2007

DUBAI — As students gear up for the new academic year, their parents are faced with yet another ‘extra expense’ with many schools reportedly choosing to increase transportation fees.

It is learnt that Emirates International School (EIS) has hiked the annual transportation fee from Dh3,300 to Dh5,250 and Dubai International Academy (DIA) from Dh3,300 to Dh5,200. Also, the International School of Choueifat, Dubai, has upped it from Dh3,000 to Dh3,300, while Delhi Public School (DPS) Dubai is learnt to have hiked the fees by Dh150 on some select routes.

DPS Dubai’s rates have changed from Dh 1,650 to Dh1,800 on the Deira and Ghusais routes, while the fee for Bur Dubai and Satwa routes has gone up from Dh1,500 to Dh1,650.

An official from the school, who didn’t want to be named, pointed out that the diesel costs had prompted the move.

Be that as it may, the hike in transportation fees has added to the parents’ cup of woes.

“Any change in the transport fee does pinch our pockets. Already there are so many expenses to be incurred during the course of the year. However, as parents, we have no choice but to depend on the school buses to ferry our children,” says a parent, KN, whose ward is studying in the International School of Choueifat, Dubai.

Another parent, whose child studies in DIA and who didn’t wish to be named, also echoed similar views. “It does upset our budgets when there is such an increase. Nevertheless, we would have to bear the cost if we want to use the school bus.”

Transport company Diamondlease, which provides buses to EIS, Meadows, EIS Jumeirah and DIA, confirmed that the fees have been increased. However, company officials justified the hike, claiming that it was long due because operational costs had gone up considerably.

“We had not increased our rates since DIA started a few years back. The overall operational costs like hiring of drivers, accommodation and visas for them have gone up. Also the time taken to pick up and drop children is longer now. It is financially not viable for us to run buses at a low cost,” said a senior representative of the company, who did not wish to be named.

The principals of EIS Jumeirah and Meadows, however, refused to comment.

ADCCI news

ADCCI announces second five-year strategic plan
Wam/29 July 2007

ABU DHABI — Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) declared its second five-year strategic plan, Salah Salem Al Shamsi, chairman of the Chamber said. “The strategy comes as a result of continuing development that the Chamber has witnessed."

In a Press conference, Eng. Salah said that the strong belief of the Chamber in the importance of setting up a strategy and implementing it, would help any institution to achieve its strategic goals. He assured that the priorities and objectives of the new strategy had been set to serve the economic and construction boom that the UAE is witnessing now.

ADCCI signs deal with Toastmasters

ABU DHABI — The Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) has signed a cooperation agreement with the Toastmasters International, a US company, to adopt its Communication & Leadership Programme.

Ahmad Hassan Al Mansouri, ADCCI director-general, signed the agreement with Ravender Ray, the programme's regional representative, recently.

Al Mansouri said that adopting this international programme comes in the framework of the ADCCI's plan to support the private sector and to create special international educational and training programmes.

"The application of the internationally-known programme is expected to serve the chamber's plans and strategies that aim at developing the services offered to its members and businessmen and linking it to their actual needs," Al Mansouri said, adding that developing communication and leadership skills is considered to be a top priority for any leading company.

Al Mansouri said that the programme aims at supporting the society's needs and requirements, so that it may add knowledge and experience to all those working for different government bodies, local companies, private and official institutions.

He said the Chamber will be the sponsor of more than 10 events, covering communication and leadership programmes, in addition to associated events and exhibitions.

New fees in Dubai dilute benefits of tax exemptions

New fees in Dubai dilute benefits of tax exemptions
By Ahmed A. Elewa, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: July 24, 2007, 23:05

Abu Dhabi: The advantage of tax exemptions in the UAE is being diluted by the many fees imposed on businesses, especially in Dubai, an economic expert said.

Dubai is seeking to multiply its visitors, capitalising on shopping promotions and events such as the ongoing Dubai Summer Surprises and the Dubai Shopping Festival.

However, the emirate risks major retail price hikes compared to other places in the region. The new fees have a multiplier effect not only on retail prices, but on the overall inflation rate.

"Although there are no taxes in Dubai there are many other hidden growing costs, such as the new municipality fee on property, health care, in addition to the Salik toll," said Eckart Woertz, economist at the Gulf Research Centre.

Many other services are witnessing substantial cost increases, including education and warehousing.

"Such additional costs put more pressure on consumers, and with the possibility of a value added tax (VAT) being introduced, the situation can further deteriorate," he added.

Expensive foodstuffs

Dubai's high foodstuff prices could adversely affect the emirate's endeavours to promote itself as a shopping destination.

Therefore, there must be careful consideration before introducing new fees, especially at a time when inflation is soaring as a result of robust economic growth.

"Dubai imports foodstuffs from countries like Europe, Canada and Australia, whose currencies have appreciated substantially against the dollar, hence adding the impact of imported inflation to impacts of domestic origin," Woertz said.

Why is champagne showered during a celebration?

Why is champagne showered during a celebration?

The wine-producing region of Champagne in northern France is well known for its special white sparkling wine, which, over the centuries, came to be called by the same name. In its early days, it was produced by French monks living in the region of Champagne and the monks considered the wine holy. Around 496 AD, one of the kings of France was converted to Christianity, and his baptism ceremony took place in the Champagne region. During the ceremony, the priests applied Champagne wine on his body. Since then, Champagne, because of its sparkling and bubbly quality, has become synonymous with joy, and people found it refreshing and enjoyable to spray the wine on one another during celebrations of all kinds. Members of the winning team in sports celebrate their victory by pouring champagne on one another.

— V Venkata Rao, Ahmedabad

Why are athletic events held in anti-clockwise direction?

Why are athletic events held in anti-clockwise direction?

As we know, the Earth rotates in the anti-clockwise direction, and hence, it is much easier to go around a circle in the anti-clockwise direction during sports meets, particularly athletic events. Therefore, all such events are held in the anti-clockwise direction.

— Gautam Barman Roy, N Delhi

Identify your goal and follow instructions

Identify your goal and follow instructions
13 Aug 2007, 0043 hrs IST,Satsang: SADHGURU JAGGI VASUDEV

Only a part of my mind is under my control, the rest of it is not. Tell me, how to control my mind? Now you're driving a car, the drive, drive shaft and steering wheel are in the front wheel. So all you have control over are these two wheels, the rest of the car is actually not in your control. Still, they can take the car wherever you want.

When you're driving, are you aware that there's an explosion happening in the engine? An internal combustion engine means there's an explosion happening. The pistons are moving, the crank shaft is moving, then the drive shaft is moving, then the wheels' axial is moving, the wheels are moving, the other wheel is moving, and so on. You are not aware of all this.

When you're driving, if you just take the steering wheel in your hands it goes where you want. The whole car goes. The same way, if you just take charge of your steering wheel, and steer it properly, everything else goes with it. If you try to take charge of all parts of the car, you will go crazy. If you try to take charge of all the bits and pieces of this car into your control when you're driving, if you start thinking in terms of what could be happening with this part, that part, all these different parts of the car, you will go crazy.

So, you don't have to take your whole mind into your control. You don't even know how many parts in the car exist. You're just controlling two wheels, everything else is following it. Similarly with your mind, your spiritual process, you don't have to take grasp of everything. If you try to take every cell in your body, every atom in your body in one direction, you will go crazy.

When you approach the subjective dimensions of life intellectually, this is what happens, you're trying to take charge of everything. That is not necessary. Just take the steering wheel in your hands, keep it steady and it will go where you want. It will not go anywhere else. So how much of your mind is in your control is not relevant. The right drop is in your hands, that's enough, rest of it follows anyway.

If your intention is just reaching a certain destination, go by the instruction; if you also want to create a bigger possibility, then you have to know many things. If you want to manufacture a car, you have to understand many things, know all the parts. Driving a car, and manufacturing a car, they are two very different things. Are you looking for enlightenment or do you want to become a guru?

If you are just looking for enlightenment, you don't bother about all these things. Just the way your driving instructor taught you how to drive. He may not be educated like you, he may not know anything that you know. Just take his instructions, steadily you get to drive.

Similarly, if you just want to go to a place you call as liberation, enlightenment or freedom, blissfulness, peacefulness; if you want to get there, just take a few driving lessons, that's all. You don't worry about all the complexities of creation.

Seven-day Inner Engineering class, Delhi Aug 15-21, Gurgaon Sept 12-18, Noida Oct 3-9. Contact: 9810291461 or 9811309576.

Four Mudras Of Tantra: Live In The Present

Four Mudras Of Tantra: Live In The Present
15 Aug 2007, 0133 hrs IST,Osho

Tantra talks about four seals, four mudras. To attain to the ultimate, a person passes through four doors; he has to open four locks. Those four locks are called four mudras.

The first mudra is karma mudra. It is the outermost door, the periphery of your being. Karma means action, is the outermost core of your being. What you do is your periphery. You hate or kill somebody, you love or protect somebody.

Action is the outermost part of your being.

The first seal is opened through becoming total in your action. Whatso-ever you do, do totally, and there will arise great joy, not by repeating some mantra, but by doing it totally. If you are angry, be totally angry; and be fully aware of your anger, anger will disappear one day. You have understood it. It can be dropped now. Anything that is understood can be dropped easily.

Only non-understood things go on hanging around you. Remember, Tantra is scientific. It does not say: Repeat a mantra. It says: Become aware in your action.

The second seal is called gyana mudra — a little deeper and more inner than the first — that is somewhat like knowledge. Action is the outermost thing, knowledge is a little deeper. You can watch what i am doing, you cannot watch what i am knowing. Knowing is inner.

Now, start knowing what you really know, and stop believing things which you really don't know. Somebody asks you "Is there a God?" and you say "Yes, God is". Do you really know? If you don't know, please don't say that you do. Say "I don't know". If you are honest and you only say what you know, and you only believe what you know, the second lock will be broken. False knowledge is the enemy of true knowledge. And all beliefs are false knowledge; you simply believe them.

Out of a hundred things you will be unburdened of almost 98. Only a few things will remain that you really know. You will feel great freedom. Your head will not be so heavy. And with that freedom and weightlessness you enter the second mudra. The third mudra is called samaya mudra. Samaya means time. Knowledge has disappeared, you are only in the now; only the purest of time has remained. Watch, meditate over it. In the now-moment, there is no knowledge. Knowledge is always about past. Just this moment, what do you know? Nothing is known.

So samaya mudra is to be in this moment. Ordinarily you think that past, present and future are three divisions of time; that is not the Tantra understanding. Tantra says: Only present is time. Past is not, it has already gone. Future is not, it has not come yet. Only the present is. To be in the present is to be really in time. Otherwise you are either in memory or you are in dreams, both of which are delusions.

So the third seal is broken by being in the now.

The fourth seal is called mahamudra, the great gesture, the innermost, like space. Now, purest space has remained. Action, knowing, time, space — these are the four seals. Space is your innermost core, the hub of the wheel, or the centre of the cyclone. In your innermost emptiness is space, sky. These are the three layers: of time, of knowing, of action. These are the four seals to be broken.

Excerpted from The Tantra Vision Vol 2, courtesy Osho International Foundation.

IGNOU - Retail through distance mode

Retail through distance mode
20 Aug 2007, 1927 hrs IST,TNN

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in association with the Retailers Association of India (RAI), has recently announced a one-year diploma in retail, through distance mode, from January 2008.

At the launch of the programme, N V Narasimham, director, school of management studies, Ignou, said that the programme would have a strong practical face of management studies, as each student would have to undergo a minimum of six-month internship with a retail organisation to have a first hand experience. The intern would also get a stipend during this period.

According to RAI, the retail sector would provide nearly 2.2 million employment opportunities by 2009. Also, the organised retail's current demand stands two-lakh at present. Today, India has 12 million retailers, both in organised and unorganised, accounting for over US$ 260-billion industry.

V N Rajasekharan Pillai, vice chancellor, Ignou, said: "The course was designed after a brainstorming session with over 30 experts from IIMs, corporates, open universities and other academic institutions. We would like to make this a dynamic programme, wherein the learners would return and add context to the curriculum, thus helping us upgrade it. This will help achieve a dynamic change in the curriculum and retail practice."

The vice chancellor also announced, that by January 2009, RAI-Ignou would complete designing the BBA course in retail, and those who complete the diploma would be eligible to study for further two years to get the BBA degree.
B S Nagesh, chairman, RAI and managing director, Shopper's Stop, said that RAI, apart from Ignou, has a tie-up with 15 other academic institutions of higher learning and aims to modernise the retail sector in the country.

He said: "We can invest in technology, but without proper education, we won't be able to modernise the sector. As such, 80% of the retailers are still in the unorganised sector. As more students opt for specialised courses, consumers will see modern retailing technology not only in the large organised retail sector, but also with the next door retailer."

He further added that: "This will not only help educate and employ students, but would also help them to enjoy a better quality of life, instead of getting into some menial job."