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Emirates To Allow Mobile Calls On Aircraft November 9, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Dubai, Middle East, News.

Eimrates Airlines 

Dubai-based Emirates Airlines will soon become the first airline to allow passengers to make mobile phone calls while on its flights.  The service is expected to be launched as early as January 2007.

The airline has recently signed a deal with Aeromobile to provide the technology that allows mobiles to be safely used on board.  People hoping to use this service on board Emirates flights will be charged rates similar to international tariffs.

The airline claims that it will tackle complaints from fellow passengers about the use of mobile phones by encouraging people to use silent or vibrate modes on the phone.  Cabin crew will be able to control the system at anytime and can set operating modes appropriate for certain flights (such as selecting text-only operation mode for overnight flights).

Do you really think us Arabs will put our phones on silent?  Never! I’ll probably end up spending the whole flight listening to mobile ringtones to the sounds of Haifa, Nancy, Ragheb Alameh and other extremely annoying songs.  Cinemas in Jordan had to install mobile phone reception blockers because people never switched their phones to silent mode.  You’d be in the middle of a very suspensefull scene, then suddenly, you hear “boos el wawa” blasting from someone’s pocket!

Do you really think people will make phone calls that are strictly business related?  Hell no!  I’ll probably end up sitting next to some freak who, instead of picking up a book or a magazine to read quietly, will end up spending the whole flight talking, yelling and giggling obnoxiously over the phone.  Or better yet, I’ll end up sitting next to one of those annoying guys who spend ours going through every ringtone on their mobile trying to decide which one to choose.

Although this technology may be useful for many, I can’t help but feel the service will be more of an annoyance and a disturbance to passengers rather than a convenience. 


Dubai Presents The World’s Biggest… October 15, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Advertising, Dubai, Middle East.


Dubai has consistently astonished the world with its extravagant projects breaking world records.  We have seen the world’s biggest theme park, shopping malls and even indoor artificial ski fields.

Now comes the Middle East’s largest billboard ad.  Weighing in at a whopping 400 meters long and standing 20 meters high at its highest point, the billboard is promoting one of the cities newest development projects named ‘The Lagoons’.

Using the more than 2,880 hours of man power, the billboard is positioned in a marketing traffic gold mine on the infamous Sheikh Zayed Road.

With up to a quarter of a million motorists passing the billboard each day, it’s fair to say the size will grab a few motorists attention along its 200 meter long stretch.

Dubai Billboard

UAE Authorities Block Skype August 31, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Dubai, News, Technology & Gadgets.

 Skype          Vonage

Many Dubai residents are infuriated over Etisalat’s recent decision to block Voice Over IP (VoiP) applications such as Skype and Vonage all over the country; including free zones such as Media and Internet City.  For a country claiming to be the Business and Technology hub of the Middle East, I think this is definitely a move backwards.  The motive behind the decision may be based on financial grounds.  Out of the 2.5 million people living in the UAE, 1.6 million are expatriates.  There are more phones than people: 1.1 million land lines (operated by Etisalat) and 2.9 million mobile phones.  The motive may also be one of political control. Skype automatically encrypts conversations, making it costly and difficult to tap conversations or determine calling patterns.

Many institutions, corporations, and individuals all over the world use VoiP applications such as Skype or Vonage to cut-down on long distance calling expenses.  The Bank I work for actually just approved the implementation of a VoiP system on all our networks across Jordan because long distance calling rates are sky-high and these applications really help reduce communication costs while just as clear and easy to use as telephones.  So while poorer nations like Jordan are trying to work WITH VOIP technology, wealthier nations such as Dubai are prohibiting it.

Etisalat is the UAE’s telecommunications monopoly.  Angered Dubai residents have taken action against Etisalat, and have put together a petition to try and get the UAE authorities to reverse their decision.  You can find the petition on-line here.

Dubai’s Traffic Problems Solved? August 26, 2006

Posted by O.J. in Dubai.

 Metro 2

Any of you who have been to Dubai within the last few years, or know people who live there, must be fully aware of the traffic problems in that City/Emirate.  It’s horrible!!  It takes 15-20 minutes to get from one side of Shk. Zayed Road to the other.  And with all the construction and detours in the city, it takes double the time to get from point A to point B.  Will the metro project currently underway solve the traffic problems?  It may relieve some of the congestion on Shk. Zayed Road, but doesn’t tackle the problem in other areas of Dubai such as Bur Dubai, Garhoud, Jumeirah, etc.  I’m not really convinced of the feasibility of such a project; but after you expand roads from 3 to 6 lanes and you still suffer with “rush-hour” every hour of the day, what else is there to do?

Here are some decent 3-D images of what Dubai’s metro system (The Dubai Rail Project) is supposed to look like.

Metro 1

Metro 3

Metro Map