Archive for January, 2009

Economic terms that make me cringe


Some of the words and phrases being bandied about in the media at the moment really make me cringe.

The worst offender is ‘soften’, as in ‘Dubai rents soften’. Why not just say that rents have dropped? When rental prices go up, will we be told that they are ‘hardening’?

‘Fatigue’ is another one, as in a recent headline here stating that ‘banks were showing fatigue’. This conjured up an image of various branches emitting snoring sounds across the high street. Apparently a term such as ‘profits hit’ is not good enough. Will banks be ‘looking alert and lively’ during the upturn?

I probably shouldn’t complain about the term ‘liquidity’, which seems to be a long-used and generally accepted term. There’s no logic here – I just don’t like the word. It falls into the same category as ‘Budgen’s’, a former UK supermarket brand, whose name noone in the Saul family could speak without pulling a face.

All together now – Budgens! (You have to shout this at the bottom of the stairs, then scream in disgust and run up to your room to do your homework whilst giggling loudly).

Snow in the UAE


It does get cold here sometimes.

I like the fact that the local dialect in RAK doesn’t have a word for snow.

Snow in the UAE


It does get cold here sometimes.

I like the fact that the local dialect in RAK doesn’t have a word for snow.

Value returns?


When it came to eating out at ‘decent’ restaurants, Dubai never used to be cheap for us, but it did used to be good value.

That value all but disappeared over the last couple of years, with restaurants doubling their prices and charging frankly outrageous amounts for often mediocre food. Goodness knows who was eating there. We certainly weren’t – however good a meal is, there’s a limit to how much I’ll enjoy it if I’m footing the bill. $100 for a small steak registers far too high on my value-for-money-ometer.

Things are changing though. Time Out is now full of special offers – dine before a certain time and get 50% off the bill, two for one deals, etc, etc. Most of these deals mean the price you pay for a meal goes down from ridiculous to simply expensive, but it’s a step in the right direction. I predict prices dropping much lower over the coming months. With lots of well paid construction and real estate jobs having been lost, coupled with British tourists getting 5Dhs to the Pound instead of previous years’ 7.3Dhs, bookings are going to be down this year.

Let’s hope I’m still around to enjoy the return to normality!

Land Rover Experience Sand Driving


Land Rover have a nice video advertising their sand driving expeditions with Land Rover Experience. The video’s taken in Oman, as far as I can work out.

Frankly I’m astonished that the Range Rover manages so well. Our sand driving in a (borrowed) Range Rover earlier this year was very disappointing. Smashing a Range Rover around in the dunes the way they do in the video must mean the car spends most of its life being repaired, as Range Rovers seem to fall to pieces at the first sight of a bump, in my unhappy experience.

Still, I’d love another chance to take someone else’s Rangie out in the sand. Providing it managed more than ten minutes without breaking down, it’d be immense fun to race around in.

Someone’s still buying American cars


Detroit’s output of bulbous, gas guzzling, poor handling, charm-free behemoths may not appeal to the American public any more, but Saudi and Kuwait still love them.

I remember being told that at one time, a number of years ago, Saudi families would automatically get a GMC Suburban for free from the government.
I don’t know if that’s true or not, but given the close ties between the US and its two major oil producing Gulf allies, perhaps an alternative bailout could be put together? All it needs is for every rattling old Chevrolet Caprice on the streets of Riyadh and Kuwait City to be replaced with a spanking new V8 blob. That would keep Detroit going for a few more years.



IANAL, but… is a common abbreviation – I Am Not A Lawyer, but…

I expect IANAE to become common shortly on internet forums – I Am Not An Economist.

Currently my economic musings are limited to statements such as ‘this is just crazy’, ‘I don’t understand how all this happened!’, or ‘when will it all end?’.

Not particularly enlightening analysis from me. To be fair, a lot of the commentary from people who are economists could probably be summarised using the same phrases.



…was the subject of a spam email in my inbox today, followed by the following content from company ‘X’.

Top tip – if you are going to email potential clients, make sure you can count and use a spellchecker. I wonder why they didn’t get anyone to give it a read through before spamming the UAE?

Object : X is launching many services

We are quite please to announce that effective .

This new services will have the following key features:

1. Service your computers and your networks ( INTERNET )

2. supporting contract With low salary

2. Sales the new software

3. Web Design

4. Programing

5. Host and domain

6. Sales PC and Laptop


8. IT consultancy

We truly believe that X company would greatly benefit from this services.

We can setup a demonstration in your office or ours .

Goodbye, Tony Hart


Here’s Tony Hart’s obituary at the BBC.

I used to love watching his programmes with my sister. We would always have tea and biscuits after school and watch Children’s BBC before homework. Thousands of British children will have grown up watching him show us how to be creative. Rather like watching cookery programmes, most of us probably never tried out what he was teaching us to do, but it was always fun to watch.

Amazing to think he served with the Ghurkhas.

I wonder if, in the age of on-demand TV, DVDs and internet downloads, there’s a place for the Tony Harts of the future?

I can’t get to YouTube at the moment, as I’m in Riyadh, but I will find a choice episode of Morse to link to in a future post.

Property Baffled


I took a quick look at property prices in our area, expecting to see that they’d dropped massively, but was surprised to see that the value of our place appears to have gone up over the last couple of months.

This makes no sense, in light of all the articles in the press and the general ‘feel’ of what’s going in Dubai at the moment.

Are these ‘list prices’, with sellers potentially offering big discounts, people in denial, or investors simply holding on to properties they bought in cash – cash that they are happy to have sit around in an empty apartment till things improve?

I had a cold call from an estate agent today, asking if I wanted to sell. We don’t, but it’s almost tempting to pretend that we do, just to get a feel of what the real situation is out there. With rents elsewhere supposedly dropping slowly, I’m wondering if we’ll see any of our neighbours cashing in and moving out?