Saturday, February 28, 2009


Enough for the cold night and day! It’s now time to lock your winter coats in the drawer. Welcome the summer and have fun with the sea, sand and sun. The winter is over!

The heat of the sun is no surprise in Dubai. As I headed to the office this morning I noticed myself a bit of awkwardness. People were no longer wearing their winter coats as they used to wear every morning. The environment is no longer cold and chilly. These are few signs indicating that summer is approaching. I was aware the climate is changing. A couple of days ago I had a flu. I only have this illness (as I call it) twice in a year – before and after summer.

During summer, Dubai’s temperature reaches to 50-65 degrees. Thirty minutes of exposure under the sun and you will become a grilled potato. That’s how scorching the heat of the sun. According to the studies, to get Vitamin D, a man needs to expose himself to the sunlight from 5-8 o’clock in the morning only. Sunlight after eight is dangerous – you could be dehydrated or suffer from skin disorders.

To stay fit and healthy, I have here simple summer tips for you:

• Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. The SPF should be at least 15 and protect against UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen - about one ounce per sitting for a young adult. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly.

• The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.

• Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

• Drink up to 8 glasses of water a day.

• Drink plenty of juices.

These are only simple tips. I hope these will help you guys. Enjoy the summer!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to make your day happy

Every person wants to be happy every day. But not everybody can make his day happy.

When I arrived in our office this morning I saw my colleague in a bad mood. He used to be a very happy person. A man who loves to smile and laugh even in your little mistake. But today he is definitely different. In my curiosity I talked to him in a manner that could cheer him up but he became more stuck and silly.

There are times that we don’t feel to be happy the whole day. There are also times that we are happy in the morning but completely upset in the afternoon. We can’t prevent this from happening. Everything happens in the way we least expected. I got a few tips on how to be happy the whole day.

Here’s what we can do:

Start your day with a smile. How you do that? The first time you open your eyes say some positive thing about yourself. “Thanks God I am still handsome today”! Well it sounds flattering but by continuously saying this in the morning you will be used to it and you will gain more confidence and self-esteem. Starting your day with a smile will make your day productive.
Be grateful. Say good things for everybody around you. Saying “Good Morning”, “Guess you had a good sleep” will not only make other people feel great but will also give you a promising day ahead.
Visualize your day. Before heading for work, think what you want in your day ahead. I am sure you don’t want negative things to complete your day. Imagine yourself in the office concentrating on the urgent assignment you had from your boss. He needs it in the meeting with the investors at eleven thirty. Before ten o’clock you finished it and handed it to your boss. After the meeting he asked you to come in his office. He gave you his winsome smile and congratulated you. Well, it is obvious that because of the report you made he got deals with the investors. Isn’t it the day you want?
End your day with a smile. Before closing your eyes at night, make a recap of your day. Ask yourself with this question, “How’s my day?” Recollect all those events from the time you wake up until the time you wear your pajama. If you can count more bad events don’t be depressed instead forget them, smile and close your eyes.

Well, that’s how simple. I applied these tips and they worked. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Job for Jordan

My friend and college classmate, Jordan, phoned me last night. He informed me that he found a job in one of the consultancy firms in Sharjah. I could sense through his voice that he was happy - happy because for almost two months of seeking for a suitable position he finally landed on the right one. Well, I congratulated him. If his company gives him the right compensation, then, he is in the right track. I am happy for him.

But I could not keep myself from worries. I have heard many complaints about some of the companies in the UAE. There are companies that don’t pay good salary. Some companies also don’t provide visa and working permit. What if because of the recession Jordan’s employer will not process his residence visa and will not give him a lawful salary? Actually, he admitted that he will be getting a salary which is below the current minimum wage in Sharjah. But he has no choice. He needs to survive. If he does not accept the salary offer the company will not care. Many jobless needs work regardless how small the salary is.

Jordan is one of those people I respect. He is intelligent and had always been admired by our Accounting instructors for his accuracy. He is a good accountant with long-term experience in banks. The company where he is now must be blessed. Jordan is an asset. With his expertise and dedication in his work, the company will never regret of hiring him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Investing in Dubai

With the alarming situation Dubai is facing nowadays, there is no doubt local and foreign investors are worried about their investment. Many companies if not giving up their businesses are planning to terminate some of their employees and reduce overhead by cutting 20-50 per cent of their salary expenses.

In our company alone, there is a threat that our boss will cut our salary up to 25%, three times higher than the increase of last year. I don't think it is right in the first place. But, if we put ourselves to the shoes of our boss, like them we will also do everything to save the company. Being a project and real estate management company that relies income from foreign investors, we could feel as most companies do that we are in dire financial situation.

Before the recession, I never heard any expatriate whining about how miserable to live in Dubai. While it is true that prices of commodities were soaring, still nobody wanted to leave. Dubai was a dream. But now, I doubt. Many people are competing to hand-over the keys of their apartments to the Landlords and trying to catch the last trip. At the same time investors are hesitant to pay their suppliers and contractors. The worst part is that they are revising the contracts already approved before the recession to bring the current prices of materials and services in the market.


Before the recession, Dubai was the number one choice for property investors. It is no surprise that many of foreign investors have sold or re-mortgaged their investment in the UK and Europe to invest in Dubai with hope of great results. Let me cite some reasons why these people chose Dubai.

1. Dubai is Desirable

Dubai is a desirable location because of a lot of factors. This desirability means that it will continue to be popular for tourism, new residents and businesses. The population of Dubai is set to continue to grow at an amazing rate. Tourists are set to increase to 15m per year by 2010 and to 40m by 2015. It has great weather with sunshine all the year around. It has a very low crime and safe environment. Dubai has been voted the world's safest city for 4 years in succession. The population in Dubai is very cosmopolitan with over 85% of residents being expatriates. Resident Visas are easily available with appropriate residential property purchase. Dubai is a tax haven and a tertiary home for international property buyers and the worlds wealthy - East & West.

2. Great Tourist Attractions

Dubai is the world's leading tourist attractions and a World Leader in many fields. It is a home of various developments. Dubailand is a huge development located towards the desert. It consists of 6 themed worlds & comprising over 200 individual projects. It will soon become the biggest, most varied leisure, entertainment & tourist attraction on the planet 7 times the size of Disney World in Florida. Dubailand expects to employ 300,000 and attract 200,000 visitors per day. The Burj Dubai is the tallest building in the world- It is the iconic landmark, much taller than any other structure. Dubai is building the world's largest airport with twice the capacity of Heathrow. Great Sports Tournaments are held like Dubai Tennis Open, Golf's Dubai Desert Classic, the Dubai Rugby Sevens, the Dubai Grand Prix of Nations and the Dubai World Cup. Extensive Beaches with an enormous beach front, much of it created via the Palms. There are over 47 shopping malls that offer all the leading world brands. Among of these are the Ibn Battuta Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Mall of Dubai and the biggest mall in the world - Mall of Arabia.

3. Strong Economy

The Government of Dubai had the vision to produce a 30 year plan to replace the oil economy with Tourism, Financial Services and Real Estate. Part of this plan was to make Dubai the business capital of the world and the link between the West and growing economies of China and India. Dubai is on schedule with this plan. The high oil price has provided the government with even more investment than forecast and will ensure that this plan is successful.

4. Massive Investment in Real Estate

The investment and growth in property is effectively underwritten by the Government of UAE, which has continued to benefit from oil revenues at a higher rate, and for a longer time than expected. Here are just some of major projects that are essential to fulfilling the massive demand and will provide great investment opportunities for UK buyers.

5. High Property Value Growth

Due to desirability and strong economy, the population of Dubai is set to increase at record rates fuelling demand for property. For the last 3 years property growth rates have been 18%, 23% and 28% respectively compared to the growth in the UK which is set to zero or negative during the current year. The high growth is likely to continue in Dubai at record rates. Dubai was unique in allowing foreigners to buy Freehold property. The buying process is simple, no limitations or restrictions! Anyone can buy! There is no stamp duty, legal fees or survey costs involved in buying freehold property in Dubai.

6. High Rental Yields

Rental yields in the UK are about 3% compared with 7% to 14% in Dubai. The demand is currently so high that the UAE government has put a limit on permitted rent increases to control this. Rental yields also suggest that Dubai property will continue to rise, as the market is not mature. There are no limits on commercial rentals which continue to increase. Dubai hotels have one of the highest occupancy rates in the world at around 85% on average and this is likely to continue as growth in demand will outstrip the growth in supply.

7. No Tax

There is no income Tax or Capital Gains Tax in Dubai. No Corporate Tax either- The only exceptions to this are oil producing companies and branches of foreign banks. There are also no restrictions on capital repatriation which means that your funds can be easily taken out of Dubai if required.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coping with global crisis

The global financial crisis of 2008–2009 is an ongoing major financial crisis. It became prominently visible in September 2008 with the failure, merger, or conservatorship of several large United States-based financial firms. The underlying causes leading to the crisis had been reported in business journals for many months before September, with commentary about the financial stability of leading U.S. and European investment banks, insurance firms and mortgage banks consequent to the subprime mortgage crisis.
Beginning with failures of large financial institutions in the United States, it rapidly evolved into a global credit crisis, deflation and sharp reductions in shipping resulting in a number of European bank failures and declines in various stock indexes, and large reductions in the market value of equities (stock) and commodities worldwide. The credit crisis was exacerbated by Section 128 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 which allowed the Federal Reserve System to pay interest on excess reserve requirement balances held on deposit from banks, removing the longstanding incentive for banks to extend credit instead of hoard cash on deposit with the Fed. The crisis led to a liquidity problem and the de-leveraging of financial institutions especially in the United States and Europe, which further accelerated the liquidity crisis, and a decrease in international shipping and commerce. World political leaders and national ministers of finance and central bank directors have coordinated their efforts to reduce fears but the crisis is ongoing and continues to change, evolving at the close of October into a currency crisis with investors transferring vast capital resources into stronger currencies such as the yen, the dollar and the Swiss franc, leading many emergent economies to seek aid from the International Monetary Fund. The crisis was triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis and is an acute phase of the financial crisis of 2007–2009.

Since the global financial crisis started mainly in the United States, ways, actions and strategies must start also in the US. Let me cite some ways of coping with this global dilemma that the US had already started or should have started.

The Federal Reserve, Treasury, and Securities and Exchange Commission took several steps on September 19 to intervene in the crisis. To stop the potential run on money market mutual funds, the Treasury also announced on September 19 a new $50 billion program to insure the investments, similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) program. Part of the announcements included temporary exceptions to section 23A and 23B (Regulation W), allowing financial groups to more easily share funds within their group. The exceptions would expire on January 30, 2009, unless extended by the Federal Reserve Board. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced termination of short-selling of 799 financial stocks, as well as action against naked short selling, as part of its reaction to the mortgage crisis.

The US must work quickly in a bipartisan fashion to resolve this crisis and restore its financial sector so capital is flowing again and it can avert an even broader economic catastrophe. It also should recognize that economic recovery requires the US to act, not just to address the crisis on Wall Street, but also the crisis on Main Street and around kitchen tables across America.

Even if the Treasury recovers some or most of its investment over time, this initial outlay of up to $700 billion is sobering. And in return for their support, the American people must be assured that the deal reflects some basic principles.

• No blank check. If the US grants the Treasury broad authority to address the immediate crisis, it must insist on independent accountability and oversight. Given the breach of trust it had seen and the magnitude of the taxpayer money involved, there can be no blank check.

• Rescue requires mutual responsibility. As taxpayers are asked to take extraordinary steps to protect US financial system, it is only appropriate to expect those institutions that benefit to help protect American homeowners and the American economy. American people cannot underwrite continued irresponsibility, where CEOs cash in, regulators look the other way. The US cannot abet and reward the unconscionable practices that triggered this crisis. It has to end them.

• Taxpayers should be protected. This should not be a handout to Wall Street. It should be structured in a way that maximizes the ability of taxpayers to recoup their investment. Going forward, the US needs to make sure that the institutions that benefit from financial insurance also bear the cost of that insurance.

• Help homeowners stay in their homes. This crisis started with homeowners and they bear the brunt of the nearly unprecedented collapse in housing prices.

• A global response. This is a global financial crisis and it requires a global solution. The United States must lead, but it must also insist that other nations, who have a huge stake in the outcome, join the US in helping to secure the financial markets.

• Main Street, not just Wall Street. The American people need to know that they should feel the great sense of urgency about the emergency on Main Street as they do the emergency on Wall Street. American leaders must extend their hands in supporting an emergency economic plan for working families — a plan that would help folks cope with rising gas and food prices, save one million jobs through rebuilding schools and roads, help states and cities avoid painful budget cuts and tax increases, and provide retooling assistance to help ensure that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built in America.

• Build a regulatory structure for the 21st century. While there is not time in a week to remake US regulatory structure to prevent abuses in the future, Americans should commit themselves to the kind of reforms. They need new rules of the road for the 21st century economy, together with the means and willingness to enforce them.

The bottom line is that America must change the economic policies that led it down this dangerous path in the first place. For the last eight years, America had an 'on your own-anything goes' philosophy in Washington and on Wall Street that lavished tax cuts on the wealthy and big corporations; that viewed even common-sense regulation and oversight as unwise and unnecessary; and that shredded consumer protections and loosened the rules of the road. Ordinary Americans are now paying the price.
(Note: I do not claim the originality of this text.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My site was blocked

I could not believe what I saw when I opened this site this morning. Beyond my expectation and far from my anticipation my site was blocked by our ISP. I did not understand why they did this. As what I’ve read in the screen, my site has been blocked because it did not abide the internet laws and protocols of the Emirates. Did I post anything wrong against the Emirates?

I could not remember. Maybe I have few complaints to the institutions but not to the Emirates in particular. I have not posted illicit images and anti-government articles. Maybe I talked about recession and plights of real estate agents in Dubai but those articles are not destructive in nature. Maybe I had write-ups about the unacceptable behavior of taxi drivers lifting me to wrong places in Dubai but it’s not enough to execute penalty against my site as I only wanted to call the attention of the taxi operators.

Or was it because I posted an article on how the Belhasa Driving Institute operates? That its students have to spend thousands of dirhams before getting the Gold Card? I don’t think this article is unethical. My blog is not a newspaper. It’s my personal blog. Or was it because I shared to the world how happy I am with Google Adsense? That within three days I earned USD 134.80.

I really don’t know the reason why it was blocked for about 2 hours. Maybe they wanted to quantify and review the contents of my blog. Whatever the reasons behind it, it’s up to them. The issue is over. I am grateful that after a couple of hours they found my blog worthy to operate.

Indeed, I’d like to keep a promise to my ISP. I understand the norms, cultures and laws of the Emirates, therefore, from now on I will be too careful with my write-ups.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who says Google Adsense doesn't make sense?

If your purpose of blogging is for money, you tend to buy ideas from other bloggers how to realize it. I started blogging less than a year ago with different hosts for the intension of making money out of it. But, somehow, my desire to monetize my blog had never become a reality. Maybe my articles are not worth reading, I thought. Or maybe I forgot to follow the principles of blogging.

One day, an idea flashed into my mind. What if I have to join forums and discussions with other bloggers? Maybe this could help me explained why my blog is not earning. I had Google ads but my account was empty. It seemed that no body is clicking them.

I signed up with blogcatalog and began to participate in discussions with my fellow bloggers. From blogcatalog, I gained ideas and strategies. Though not all ideas from other members were acceptable, at least, they helped me in any manner.

There are different ways to monetize your blog. First, you have to drive traffic into your site. How you will do that? Marketing. Establish friendships from other bloggers. This is called give-and-take relationship – a two-way movement. Both of you will promote each other's blog through exchanging of links. Visit your friends' blog and leave a brief comment. Second, sign up with mybloglog, blogcatalog and linkreferal. They are extremely good in promoting your blog. I had signed up with them and I've been satisfied.

The good news is, my income with Good Adsense abruptly increase. Who can imagine a new and small site with an alexa rank of 21 million plus and with an income of only USD2.44 will reach rank number 14 million plus and earn income of USD134.80 in just three days?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's, what's your story?

The head of our company’s real estate department is wearing full red today. She looks very lovely, compassionate and executive. She makes a perfect example of a middle aged woman who, despite of pressures in work, life and issues brought by global crisis of today, find herself to celebrate the day of hearts, the day of love, or whatever you call it.
What’s special of today’s occasion? I asked this question to our head, the lady in red (just for today I think). I was amazed by her reply. She said 15 years ago, she gave her heart to the man who first kissed her. But she did not expect that the man she loved was a family man. Upon knowing the truth, she already loved the man and did not want to let him go. One day, while they were in a restaurant celebrating Valentine’s, the wife of her man came in with outrageous behavior. The man had to make his choice to end the trouble brought by her wife. Unfortunately he did not choose her. But since then she had no other reason to celebrate Valentine’s. She just wanted to recall the memories of her past love.

Don’t you think she is weird? She was rejected and now she wanted to be reminded always of this man. Well, I did not dig more details of her love life. It’s not my business, actually. If I were the one to share my love story, like her, I will keep some secrets for me. Nobody can force you to tell your stories.

Anyway, to everyone who knows how to value the essence of love, Happy Valentine’s!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Off-the-road driving

I am a little bit depressed today. It's not because I have nobody to date this coming Valentine's or because I am exhausted and foolishly mad of this unfriendly sandstorm that keeps on disturbing Dubai since yesterday. By the way, include the disaster it brought. I have to wash again all my clothes I laundered yesterday. Yes, they were all dry and ready to iron but you can not bear to feel the sands. Who can dare to wear them?

Anyway, I went to my driving class today and did a little argument with my instructor. As my final test is scheduled on the 1st of March 2009, he asked me to clear my accountabilities in the cashier otherwise my final test will be cancelled. I insisted to pay because I already paid my bills in advance, if I'm not mistaken, that was last July.

He explained to me details by details. Okay, I have to listen to him or else my efforts, time and money will earn nothing.

• If you have 2 year-old or more driver's license in your country, you are only required to attend 20 classes, if none, 40 classes is a must. This applies to all nationalities other than citizens of Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Brunei and most of the European countries, who can directly convert their local driver's license by just paying a minimal amount. Off course, without attending boring classes. Per class is AED 100.00. Do the USD conversion.
• After completing your classes, you will be given a free assessment by your instructor. If you failed, he will advise you to get 12 additional classes. That is 12 by AED 100.00. In my case, my instructor did not advise me. He just told me to pay for the additional classes we took without my idea that those classes have to be paid.
• If your instructor, after completing those additional classes, has confidence in your driving skill, he will endorse you to an assessment test. This test is to be conducted by the head instructor. If you can not impress the head instructor, he will give you another 12 classes (again 12 by AED 100.00).
• After completing the additional 12 classes given by the head instructor, you will be submitted to a final road test which is to be conducted by the RTA of Dubai. Again the boring part is if you failed on the final road test, you are required to take 8 classes more (8 by AED100.00) and wait for one month before you can take again the final test.

So, that's it. More or less (but I think more and more) before you can have your dreamed Dubai driver's license you have to spend the following:

• Service charge – AED 60.00
• Typing charges – AED 20.00
• Learn Driving Book – AED 50.00
• Lecture Fees – AED 50.00
• Preliminary Lecture Class – AED 50.00
• Signal Lecture Class – AED 50.00
• Safety Protection Training – AED 100.00
• Knowledge Dirham fee – AED 30.00
• Signal test fee – AED 70.00
• File Open and Learning Card – AED 75.00
• Assessment test fees – AED 100.00
• Road test fees – AED 70.00
• Vehicle service charge – AED 30.00
• Regular classes (suppose you are taking 20 classes) – AED 2,000.00
• Additional classes before assessment (12 classes) – AED 1,200.00
• Additional classes after assessment (12 classes) – AED 1,200.00
• Additional classes if you failed on the final test (8 classes) – AED 800.00
• Fees for special Friday classes like me – AED 475.00

Calculate all the fees above. If you are earning below AED 5000.00 a month, you will be embarrassed to invite your friends on a night life. Should I have the knowledge beforehand that this could be the case, I might not dream this Gold Card.

When wishes become reality

I was not doing anything productive today. It's Thursday – our office holiday. Basically I am at home and alone. I don’t want my day to be boring. I had to go for something that would please me in any manner. Time management, I thought, this would make sense. So I dedicated 90% of my time today to net surfing. The remaining 10% was on TV.

Let me talk about the interesting story of "Wish Ko lang". Wish Ko Lang (English: My Wish) is a reality program hosted by Ms. Vicky Morales. This is an award-winning program of GMA, Philippines one of the leading TV networks. Of today's episode, one constant viewer was wishing to reunite with her siblings whom she did not see after 1948. She was born in Camiguin Island (an island on the northern part of Mindanao). During the Hibok-Hibok eruption in 1948, she was brought by her neighbor in Manila because during that time the government of Camiguin ordered its people to leave the island. From then, she did not have any chance to see them. But she was wishing that before she dies she could reunite with her sister and brother.

Wish Ko lang, like a genie heard her wish. It investigated the whereabouts of her brother and sister and found them settling in Cagayan de Oro city. To realize her wish, Wisk Ko Lang provided her ticket and iterinary to CDO. There, the siblings reunited after more than 50 years.

I could see the utmost joy of their reunion. They were the happiest people on that moment. Deep within me wanted to share their joy. I know I could relate the story. I, myself, is from Camiguin and like them I wanted to reunite with my family. When? Well, like the wisher, for now I have no idea but I am sure the right time will come.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quick look on the latest networking craze

Have you heard the latest social networking craze? I remembered many years ago, texting was everybody’s favorite. With just 160 characters you could make somebody’s day worthy to smile. Let’s give credit to mobile phones. That was before. And it cost a little.

Today, if you want to send messages to the world, you can use a variety of sms applications. That includes chikka, yahoo messenger, msn and a lot more. But that sounds little difficult and some of them (but not all) requires small amount of money and knowledge application.

Let’s go for a little simpler. How about an application with 140 characters? By the way, what does 140 characters look like? Well, to give you some idea, this article which you are reading now is exactly 140 characters. Don’t you believe?

That’s the maximum length of a blog on the social networking craze of the moment – Twitter. For the uninitiated, Twitter is a microblog. You post your updates on your life and the world around you and your followers can instantly see what you are up to, what you are thinking, how you are feeling or whatever it is you’ve spent your 140 characters imparting to the world.

The messages or updates – Tweets, as they are known in the Twittersphere – have become the de facto means of communication between groups of Tweeps (people) and the most immediate way to gauge the public mood surrounding events.

Sadly, and somewhat predictably, not many Tweeps are able to condense anything meaningful into their allotted character allowance. So banal are many of the updates on the site that the phrase “twittle-cattle” has been assigned to its members. As defined by New Media Dictionary, twittle-cattle are hordes of people patiently queuing up to moo aimlessly at each other in the latest online social networking craze.

Yet for many, the constantly changing nature of microblogs is a godsend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

EU's struggle to maintain border-free market

With British strikes against foreign workers and France hinting at protectionism in the car sector, the economic crisis is putting the EU’s golden rules of free movement of workers and trade to the test.

So far the European Commission has played its role as guardian of the European Union’s treaties, defending the bloc’s single border-free market for goods, services and labor.

In the face of British wildcat strikes against Italian and Portuguese energy sector workers, the EU executive said last week that it’s not in creating barriers and trying to hold back the single market that protects Britain against the crisis. It also warned against French plans to support the car industry, after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said there would be no aid for carmakers that turn around and open a new factory in Czech Republic or somewhere else.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the EU’s presidency, hit back with serious doubts about political involvement in the management of commercial companies and breach of rules of free competition.

Taking France’s lead, Italy announced similar conditions for aid to its automobile industry. The trend is putting growing pressure on the commission to be more flexible about government support for struggling industries just as its president Jose Manuel Barroso and other senior staff seek second mandate.

While unemployment rockets in Spain, Italy and Greece have already seen riots. Meanwhile the temptation of populist policies in Eastern Europe could become huge as the religion’s dream of catching up with western countries evaporates.

The Commission which the policies EU members’ public finances has already been easing up on governments about their deficits, which have spiraled in the face of costly bank bail-outs and economic stimulus measures. Under pressure from several countries, the commission has accepted that governments’ deficits will balloon well over the three per cent of output that they are supposed to respect.

So far the European Commission has been quite good at defending. Nobody is even remotely saying that the EU should not have free trade and that free movement of workers should stop.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not that bad

I never had a good sleep last night. My flat mate after signing off the PC put the alarm clock near my bed and accidentally reset it to three-thirty in the morning. The loud sound of the clock disturbed me and awakened all my senses. I forced and re-conditioned my mind to get back to sleep but as if something had moved me out of my bed.

It was a lazy morning. Three-thirty is not my time to get out of bed. I felt a little dizzy but going back to sleep seemed impossible. What will I do in this very early morning? My body clock is set to five and I still have more than one hour to prepare myself for work.

I went on the kitchen and grabbed my favorite mug. Off course, to have a cup of hot coffee is practical to make our body a little warmer. While enjoying the aroma of the lingzhi, I turned on my PC to read on the news headlines via rss installed on my customized toolbar.

After scanning the most recent headlines, I opened my personal e-mail at yahoo. I was surprised to see 1006 unread messages in my inbox. This is a big number of messages I ever had after joining discussions with blogcatalog and signing up with twitter. Most of the messages were coming from other blogcatalog and twitter members whom I sent invitation earlier last night.

To all my friends at blogcatalog and twitter, my million thanks. See you in the discussions and forums. Please keep visiting my blog.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Who's behind the second life of Eman?

This morning, one touching story was served in my table by my most favorite local newspaper in Dubai – 7 Days. The story was about a young Filipina, Desirae Eman, who works in Dubai as a housemaid to feed her family back home. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with heart failure. The doctor found a massive hole in her heart and needs an urgent medical operation to give her a second life. The 4cm by 3cm hole in her heart was critical and must be repaired.

Her employer, Mrs. Oeydis Widmark, a Norwegian national, could not send her to the hospital due to financial issue. But because of her wholeheartedly desire to help and save her housemaid, she decided to seek help from other people. On the latter part of December 2008, the story of Eman through the never-ending effort of Widmark was published in 7 Days.

Eman’s plight touched the hearts of 7 Days readers who dug deep and donated a staggering Dhs 70,000.00 (USD 19,000.00) towards the cost of the operation. On top of their generosity, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, then stepped in and offered to pay for the surgery. He instructed his staff of his own hospital to inform Widmark for the operation.

The operation was successful. Eman is now on the process of recovery.

I could not help myself to feel the emotion Eman had after recovering herself from the surgery. She was very fortunate. Her employer, the Crown Prince, and the people who donated part of their income despite of this unfavorable economic situation must be truly God-given instruments.

How many of us are willing to help? Could there be another Oeydis Widmark who is willing to help out of nothing? Could there be another Prince who is ready to extend his delicate hands to help the needy?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Recession Vs Depression

Depression and Recession are hot topics that experts argue about how to define, but which ordinary folk know when they see them. There is no exact definition of a depression, even now, more than 70 years after the last one ended. That is mainly because the Great Depression is pretty much the only example of the phenomenon that we have, and it is well beyond most people's living memory. The debate is not helped by the fact that, way back then, economic data were scratchy and unreliable at best.

I myself, at the beginning, don’t really understand what is meant by recession. For me, literally, recession comes from the root word recess that means break - recess of the senate session, court hearing and school classes. I was late to know and realize that recession on the broad perspective associates with economy. On the other hand, depression, as I define it, relates to tropical depression, great depression and psychological depression. That's the way I call it.

Gordon Brown, Britain's Prime Minister defines recession as a headlong economic retreat and depression for him means a disaster - a problem on a wholly different scale.
Some are calling our current recession the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It's a comparison most of us can't comprehend but if we tried to ask some folks who lived through the Depression to get some perspective, surely, too many senior citizens will be quiet, pensive on hearing the word depression. It was a time that shaped their lives forever. And it makes today's economic climate feel like paradise.

What we can say is that on the Richter scale of economic events a depression is a calamity, wreaking destruction on human misery on a wide scale that makes a common or garden recession look like a mere hiccup, and a bad recession — such as the one we now seem to be suffering — seem like a severe tremor, but no more.
The best way to understand the relative scale of a depression, as generally understood, compared with a recession is to contrast the economic catastrophe in the US in the 30's with what is happening now, and what took place in the recessions of the 70's, 80's and 90,s.

Compare that with the experience of the Great Depression in the US. Then, US national income and output from the economy — GDP — collapsed by 30 per cent over a number of years: it dropped by 8.6 per cent in 1930 alone, and then by another 6.4 per cent in 1931, 13 per cent in 1932, and 1.3 per cent in 1933. Recovery in 1934 to 1937 was followed by a relapse. The proportion of the workforce lining up for the dole and at soup kitchens surged from 2 per cent to a quarter of those of working age, output from US factories halved, consumer prices fell by a quarter as the economy slid into deflation, four-fifths of the value of the US stock market was wiped out, from the Wall Street crash onwards, and house prices fell by nearly a third.

The great US crash of the Depression was the ultimate bust. It followed the Roaring Twenties, perhaps the ultimate boom, and sowed the seeds of the disaster that followed. The Depression was a heavy price to pay for the party of the century; the mother of all hangovers. Before the bust, Capital Economics notes that US house prices had surged by 70 per cent from the turn of the century until 1925; commodity prices rocketed in the wake of the First World War, in another echo of recent times; and share prices charged upwards.

Yet the British experience was very different. Britain skipped the Roaring Twenties, spending that decade in the doldrums. Come the Depression, Britain's experience was less searing, although undeniably painful. In the early Thirties, GDP plunged by about 5 per cent – so roughly twice as bad a fall as is expected in the present UK downturn on a worse case scenario. At the same time, share prices tumbled by more than two-fifths from their peak, and the unemployment rate doubled from 7 per cent to 15 per cent.

In reality, for Britain the period of the US Great Depression was less brutal than the start of the Twenties, when the exhausted nation paid the price for the toil of the Great War. No sooner had victory over Germany been secured, than economic defeat loomed, with the economy shrinking by 10.9 per cent in 1919, by 6 per cent in 2910 and by 8.1 per cent in 1921. Overall, during those three years the UK's GDP plummeted by 23 per cent, mirroring the fate of the US a decade later.

Depression may have no precise definition, but it not word to be bandied about carelessly, not a fate to be tempted.

I think economic depression is also leading to a psychological depression to those near the vortex of the event.
Even if the recovery starts by 2010 or 2011 the trauma of the episode is likely to linger on for years to come which is more worrying.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How far do we go?

It is hard to get an exact description for the UAE property market at the moment. The Dubai Land Department figures continue to show a flow of regular sales albeit at distressed prices, while nobody is trying to sell at the price levels of last autumn is stuck with their real estate with no sign of a potential buyer.

According to the real estate agents 20-40% price reduction are now necessary to secure a sale. Dubai has been suffering a very sharp drop in prices, in a short period, but actually fairly typical of a market correction in an emerging one.

It is also true that lending conditions have become much tougher. I am new in real estate industry as an accountant. Almost every day I receive calls from our tenants requesting for holding their checks because they don’t have enough balance on their account, their salary has not yet transferred or processed. These are just simple alibis. As an accountant, I have no doubts that these people are telling me the half-truth. But what is more unbelievable is that when some tenants reasoned out that their personal loans have not yet approved or released by the bank. During the recession period, Dubai banks are becoming more conservative. Many banks are not granting anymore personal loans and credit cards especially to expatriates working in the real estate companies. A couple of weeks ago I was wondering why I couldn’t use my First Gulf Bank credit card. I called the customer service and found out that my credit limit was reduced. I was surprised. I did not even receive a notice about the reduction. Banks are desperate and dried up.

But it is an exaggeration to think that bank lending has dried up entirely in the UAE. Last week, my officemate received a ring from Standard Chartered Bank asking for possible customers for its mortgages. As a homeowner and without mortgages, the bank immediately agreed to lend her up to 70% of the value of her villa with a mortgage rate of around 8%.

I can see the bank’s risk is pretty low if an existing owner re-mortgages to buy a second property, but it certainly flies in the face of the idea that bank finance is impossible in the UAE right now. You might need a higher salary and require a higher deposit but it looks as if mortgages rates are already in decline. The UAE Central Bank base rate cut from 1.5% to 1% is having an impact.