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Will the UAE depeg?


UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has confirmed the federation is considering removing the dirham’s peg to the US dollar, while saying he is confident that inflation in the federation will solve itself.

I’ll take that as a “maybe“.

How about Bahrain?

Bahrain’s crown prince said on Saturday that even talking about revaluing the local currency against the dollar was irresponsible and the country had no plans to adjust the value of the dinar.

I’ll take that as “no effin’ chance boyo“!

So how are your purchases doing in the ever increasing – and completely obfuscated – inflationary economy in Bahrain? They say that even dog food is up by BD2 per bag and it’s set to rise again next week, so go and stock up!


Got Talent?

shameless advertising post coming up!
If you do, then we need you!

At Gulf Broadcast we always need new and daring talented people. We’re looking to immediately build a database of freelancers whom we can use in our production, if you would like to be listed and contacted (and well compensated too) please drop me a line; we’re looking for:

    1. voice-over talent, both male and female in different age-groups and languages and accents. If you think you have a nice voice, send us a recording. The format should be MP3 and if your voice has been used in actual video/radio production, then send us a selection from that program for us to listen to and keep in our database;
    2. on-camera talent, both male and female hosts/presenters/interviewers of different age-groups. The person should be presentable and well turned out. Send us the standard photographs to keep on file as well as a full bio and a clip if you have it;
    3. models, both male and female ready to do business, fashion and other shoots; send us the standard photographs to keep on file as well as a full bio and samples of the work you were featured in;
    4. producers who can research and write scripts, track record is required obviously, but if you think you can do it and work under pressure, show us your stuff;
    5. sound technicians, both on-location recordists and post. If you’re applying for post then you’d better know how to drive a Protools rig, else if you want to do the on-location stuff, you’d better be prepared to be dropped from a very high building if the sound is screwed up when it comes to post!
    6. script writers are always welcome too. Show us what you’ve done before and how creative you can be.

In all of the above, please remember that at Gulf Broadcast we’re interested in the corporate video field at the moment only, we don’t really want to do TVCs, feature films and other stuff, so keep that in mind.

So come on, give me a call and let’s rock this town!


Bahrain on the front page

There is nothing better than having a warm breakfast on a very cold day. Couple that with reading a good newspaper and find that your country is mentioned in a good light on the front page, and one would have an excellent start to the day:

Alcoa Faces Allegation By Bahrain of Bribery
By Glenn R. Simpson

A company controlled by the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain accused Alcoa Corp. of a 15-year conspiracy involving overcharging, fraud and bribery.

WSJ - ALBA corruption caseA suit in federal court in Pittsburgh by Aluminum Bahrain BSC alleged that Alcoa steered payments for an aluminum precursor ingredient to a group of tiny companies abroad, in order to pay kickbacks to a Bahraini “senior government official.” The Bahraini firm, known as Alba, alleged that Alcoa had overcharged it for the precursor material, alumina.

Bank records and invoices show that more than $2 billion in Alba’s payments for alumina passed from Bahrain to tiny companies in Singapore, Switzerland and the Isle of Guernsey. The suit alleged that some of the money found is way back to officials involved in granting the contracts.

“Defendants…furthered their fraud through bribes paid to one or more official of the Government of Bahrain,” said the suit, which didn’t name the officials and didn’t cite any direct evidence of such payments.
The Wall Street Journal – 28 Feb, ’08 subscription required for full article

Fantastic, not because something is seriously about to unravel here, and hopefully several culpable morons would be indicted (holding breath) but the real good story is that it seems Mumtalakat has opted to file the suit in a US court against a US company. Why is that significant I hear you ask? Well, because the defendant in the US court will ask for full disclosure of documents to sustain and support the fraud allegation, something I believed that Bahrain and its government is not ready to do, but this – hopefully – will prove my error. Washing dirty laundry in public sends a clear message that the cause of that dirty laundry will no longer be tolerated. Transparency has a chance of infusing all levels of the system.

It is high time that this squandering of resources, corruption and nepotism is ended and funds judiciously used to better the lives of regular Bahrainis.

Carry on like this for a little longer and get some results in actually impeaching and throwing corrupt officials in jail for the rest of their natural, and I would be the first in line to elect Talal Al-Zain as Speaker, Mohammed bin Essa as Prime Minister and their boss as God!


“The Protection of Traditional Values”

I cringe whenever I hear or read those words. Why? Because they are always used as a pretext to restrict an intrinsic freedom or used as a justification for trouncing all over a basic human right.

It is as if “Traditions” are sacrosanct, enshrined and set in gold. They – we are led to believe – are the very essence of perfection.

This is not so of course, just like any other society on Earth, we do have traditions which are shameful, ones that we should diligently work at eradicating. But if we are faced with this oft-used mantra of “protection of our traditional values”, we might as well forget about the rest of the world and be content in our own little cocoon. Our isolation, in this case, is completely voluntary and well deserved.

We all know of course that protection of traditions or values are farthest from their minds. What they want to protect Рnot to put too fine a point on it Рare their well exposed derri̬res!

Witness the latest “protection” visited upon us by the two old stalwarts of human rights and personal freedoms and democracy: Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They have successfully towed 21 other countries – this valuable rock amongst them – to put their thumb-prints on a document restricting broadcasting – sorry, sorry, it’s not restriction, but really at attempt at

organization and putting rules and restrictions to increase the investment opportunities in these channels and ascending by the presented informational message.

Ah yes, of course. The minister of disinformation of Egypt continues:

Al-Fiqi said that there is a state of randomization in the satellite channels which don’t differentiate from the random housing in some countries. The examples of such randomization are many, such as transforming the channel possession without rules and its deviation from the registered form, besides the programs of jugglery and nakedness and so on.

Other than suddenly and categorically understanding what actually ails our own beloved BNA, I have no idea what they guy is going on about. Click the link and have some comic relief, maybe you’ll make head or tails of that erudite piece of journalism. Oh, and his wit and effervescent personality, of course.

The document being non-binding is moot of cousre. Yet, only Lebanon specifically opposed it, while Qatar is “studying” it. The others, well, they follow the piper.

Remembering all of these organisational efforts which we have signed into, you can imagine the tears of mirth pouring down my face while reading Al-Waqt this morning. You see, our illustrious Shura Council are discussing legislation for the establishment of private radio and television stations! [translate]

Now, with “organising” measures which

allows authorities to withdraw permits from satellite channels deemed to have offended Arab leaders or national or religious symbols.

Who in their right mind is going to establish anything in these countries, let alone enter into the highly unpredictable and treacherous world of visual and aural media?

Ah well, let me just be on record in thanking Ebrahim Bashmi & Co. in the Shura Council on their valiant efforts over the last 6 years in trying to codify modern and fair press and media laws which will elevate and protect the basic and most important human right, the freedom of expression, and humbly tell them to not bother. The high blood pressure they and other honest persons endure, is really just not worth it. Leave it to the Internet to give them real heart-burn!

What they want; really, is nothing more than the traditional noddy dog backed by the various excellent musical themes of Monty Python on their screens.

Let them have it, and a wise company would take its money elsewhere.


Chicken for lunch?

I’m not sure what those “guest workers” are complaining about. Really. They just hear a rumour by the Indian Ambassador that his country is planning a minimum wage for their citizens working in the Gulf for BD100 ($265) a month, and they automatically think that they should be included in that new criteria. Not only that, they mistakenly assume that as they are working on multi-billion Dollar projects, they think that their contractors – their benefactors – whom they wrongfully accuse of enslaving them and who make no qualms of reiterating that status in their provision of comfy accommodation complete with amenities, could actually afford to raise their wages! I think they just conveniently forget that they have already agreed to their BD57 dinars ($150) a month they legally – and I stress – legally signed in India or wherever they were recruited from. And come on, they don’t know much business, do they? Budgets have long been set and any variation would actually kill the poor downtrodden contractors!

Blah. Those people are never satisfied. I mean, just look at how well they are treated! They are even given wholesome and well prepared chicken for lunch!

Pissing on the chicken tenderises them for cooking… yum!

Don’t these people realise that some Arabs in our beloved Arab World still cannot afford the luxury of meat for their daily diet? I’ve heard that some even run after the zoo animals’ feed carts crying “feed us meat, feed us meat, we want meat” and fight even lions for the privilege. Roman gladiators would be impressed, I tell you.

Regardless, I join Mr. Sameer Nass, the chairman of the Construction Committee at the Chamber of Commerce who rightly says: “This will not do“. I agree with him, all of those rabble rousers should be sent home, carted off in a ship and dumped at the closest port of call in their countries of origin. That will teach them. Way above their station, they are. They should know that we could easily import labour from other and more deserving places in the world whom we will undoubtedly shower with our largess. Isn’t some Gulf countries already negotiating with Vietnam and parts of Africa for labour? Africa should be easy really, we’ve had hundreds of years of experience in that continent, but Vietnam I’m not too sure of. Other than them soundly defeating the Americans, I don’t know much about them, but that should make them a bit more of a “security risk,” I should think, but seeing as how our intelligence community actually assisted the Thais where our boys “provide accurate information on the continuing insurgency in the three Thai southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat“, we do do our homework and that security risk shouldn’t be an issue, considering how far our intelligence tentacles reach!

Contingency planning, which shows our complete preparedness for any eventuality, does not stop at finding alternate sources for manual labourers, of course, witness the 3,000 Thai nurses being trained in Bangkok and who will be deployed here soon. I’m not sure what they will be trained in; however, but whatever it is, I hope they also provided tested prophylactics as some of those Thais have been found blasé about their use; hence, suffer the indignity of being sent home with our material thanks in them. We should welcome them regardless of course, especially as it seems that our ungrateful local nurses seem to want to tread the same route as those unwelcome guest workers.


Internet down. Again.

“We are working as fast as we can.”

Said the Egyptian official off the coast of whose country the severed cable lies. A single cable which has disrupted Internet services across the majority of Middle East and India, bringing some businesses down to their knees. It’s not going to be fixed any time soon, either. It might take up to two weeks to restore data and voice services, predicted some reports.

Severed undersea optical cable

The question is how was this allowed to happen? Not that the cable was severed, this is just an accident which is recurring with much familiarity. The real question is, how is much of the fastest growing economies in the world dependent on a single undersea cable? Didn’t anyone think of a redundancy plan which covers just such an eventuality? One which would withstand such a technical disruption with complete transparency to the customers?

Obviously not. They’re too busy thinking of those grandiose and totally useless schemes of new cities built on man-made dredged islands whose owners are those select few institutional investors who lather at the thought of those billions in profit extracted from the vastly cash rich Sovereign Wealth Funds. A laughable spectacle really, because it’s nothing more than taking money from one pocket and depositing it in the other. But it’s a good scheme. The numbers are pretty. Just like Enron’s.

Regardless. We have a problem, which – in the presence of those funds as well as their generator’s continuous appreciation in world’s markets – could be easily fixed. Our own parliament could contribute too by just once thinking long term and chucking those 40 million [translate] into a fund to create a redundant alternative. An alternative whose profits could easily cover the requirements of those in our community which escalating commodity prices have hurt.

But I won’t be holding my breath to see either solution being adopted.

Short term solutions to long term problems managed by fools does not progress make.


Bush can dance!

President Bush and King Hamad dancing the Ardha in Sekhir Palace in Bahrain - Photo courtesy of Al-Wasat newspaperIt was thrilling seeing Bush dancing the ‘Ardha with our king this afternoon! The guy just pulled that sword out like he was born to it. At last, though, Bush found someone to impart him some culture.

But my opinion doesn’t matter here, tell me what you think if you witnessed the event of the century! (if you haven’t, I’m sure it’ll be on YouTube before too long)


Thanks to RedBelt, here’s the video:


Bahrain fourth richest in the Arab world

According to The Peninsula newspaper quoting the Qatar National Bank, the current rich-ranking in the Arab world goes like this:

The country’s per capita income is projected to hit a whopping $63,262 (QR230,000) this year as per estimates issued by Qatar National Bank (QNB), which in turn was quoting figures given by the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP).

The $63,262 figure is all the more eye-catching considering per capita income was around $40,000 as recently as 2004.

The UAE trailed Qatar by some distance with an estimated $42,427 in per capita income. Kuwait was the third-richest followed by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Outside the GGC region, the pace-setters were Libya, Algeria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Qatar’s GDP is set to grow by another 16% this year according to the report.

At a glance then, we surpass both Saudi and Oman! Right on. Seeing the various huge projects on the island certainly gives credence to these numbers; the story though is much more complex, I should imagine. For instance, the vast majority of projects announced and in progress in Bahrain promise revenues not to be seen by the normal Bahraini on the street. In fact, judging by the new census statistics by the august CIO which puts the number of souls on these islands to more than a million [translation], the first time in history, and which state that half of the population are actually foreign workers, then it doesn’t take an Einstein to determine that a huge chunk of that money being created gets sent abroad, while the even larger chunks of profits are pocketed by very very few people at the top of the pyramid.

True, it should be easy to make money in this burgeoning environment. The fact remains; however, that we are not equal regardless of the level of tenacity and creativity we possess. Even if we are fortunate enough to make some money, judging by the astronomic property prices and the ever rising cost of living, it is only a select few who will be able to afford even a moderately sized comfortable accommodation; thus, by definition, shrinking the middle class even further.

So being the fourth richest of 22 countries and very highly ranked in the world as well, is not an indication of contentment. In fact, the widening gap between the rich and the poor coupled with the shrinking middle class will continue to sustain the feelings of resentment between these layers as we have already been experiencing over the last few years.

I think that the only way to redress the balance is for the government itself to take a real initiative in which it promotes inclusiveness and fairness in the distribution of wealth. Without societal justice as a basis, conflicts and demonstrations will unfortunately become the norm.


…and now, some light stuff

…and now, some light stuff

3 Minute Management Course training for 2008

Lesson 1
A man is getting into the shower as his wife is getting out, when the doorbell rings. She quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs.
She opens the door to Bob, the next door neighbor. Before she says a word, Bob says, “I’ll give you $800 to drop that towel.”
After thinking for a moment, she drops it and stands naked in front of Bob. After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves.
Wrapping herself in the towel, as she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks:
“Who was that?”
“It was Bob the next door neighbor” she replies.
“Great!” the husband says, “did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?”

Moral of the story:
If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders (and Management team), in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2
A priest offered a Nun a lift. As she sat in the car, she could not help but reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.
The nun said, “Father, remember Psalm 129?” He removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.
The nun once again said, “Father, remember Psalm 129?”
The priest apologized “Sorry sister but the flesh is weak”. Arriving at the convent, the nun went on her way. On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, “Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.”

Moral of the story:
If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 3
A sales rep, an administration clerk and their manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie pops out. The Genie says, “I’ll give each of you just one wish”.
“Me first! Me first!” says the admin clerk. “I want to be in the Bahamas , driving a speedboat, without a care in the world”. Puff! She’s gone.
“Me next! Me next!” says the sales rep. “I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life”. Puff! He’s gone.
“OK, you’re up”, the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch”.

Moral of the story:
Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, “Can I also sit like you and do nothing?” The eagle answered: “Sure, why not.”
So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story:
To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 5
A turkey was chatting with a bull. “I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey, “but I haven’t got the energy.” “Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with nutrients.”
The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.
The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally, after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story:
Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.

Lesson 6
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.
A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Moral of the story:
1. Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
2. Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
3. And when you’re in deep shit, it’s best to keep your mouth shut!

I just got this in an email from a friend, and as I love you all, I thought I would share with you… I hope at the very least it has put a smile on your face!

Have a wonderful day.


Scorned by a friend, championed by the enemy?

There must have been quite a run on dental surgeries over the last couple of days which continues today and possibly for a few days to come. The reason is not a sudden national oral hygiene awareness, but a condition borne of gnashed teeth to the point of shattering!

King Hamad meets Ahmedinejad

Why I hear you ask? Well, Ahmedinejad was Bahrain’s Santa yesterday. Yes, I know, his timing has always been off a bit, it’s still a few weeks until the presents are opened, but he came bearing very welcome gifts nonetheless, ones that the whole nation – especially the government and business community – has afforded them a huge sigh of relief. Bahrain, no thanks to our familial-tied Qatar, will now have guaranteed access to up to 2 billion cubic feet of gas a day to run its power stations which subsequently will directly shore the burgeoning plethora of energy-hungry projects; hence, one could say that Iran – much to the chagrin of even some parliamentarians and rabid anti-Iran personages – will have a direct hand in Bahrain’s future growth.

There must have been quite a run on dental surgeries

But, will that now translate into a recognition that Iran will have much more political influence over decisions made in this country? I would say very probably. After all, one doesn’t bite the hand that feeds. One hopes; however, that influence is somewhat tempered with a modicum of good sense and neighbourliness.

Much like the Iranian nuclear ambitions, I don’t particularly know where the fallouts of this agreement will take us. I am willing to give it a chance and a good measure of the benefit of doubt as I would assume that the architects of such vital agreement are a bunch of cool and calculating business heads rather than ones who are given to believe their own rhetoric. But then it could also be purely political in which the price paid could well be the US Navy is sent packing! But let’s just assume that it’s all business first and all other considerations second.

will that now translate into a recognition that Iran will have much more political influence over decisions made in this country?

You’re more than welcome Father Ahmedinejad and thanks for the prezzies. They are much appreciated. You should have stayed and chilled with us a bit. Maybe now that business is once again firmly established between our so far estranged countries, this minnow will dampen a bit of your fire to the better of all concerned.

It is indeed business which is the catalyst of rapprochement, rather than the naturally divisive worlds of religions and politics.