Monday, September 22, 2008

Ramadan in Dubai











Ramadan tent owners curry favour with Dubai residents

Restaurant and hotel owners in Dubai are in hot competition during the month of Ramadan to attract a top-notch clientele to "tents" that have proved a hit in the bustling Gulf emirate.

"Dubai has over the years become one of the most cosmopolitan places and I have an international clientele," said Rami Shehada, who runs one of around 35 Ramadan tents strewn across Dubai.
"Ramadan sets the right atmosphere for our business and we take advantage of it," he said, adding he was one of the first to bring the tents concept to the UAE from places such as Egypt and Lebanon.

For Shehada and other restaurant managers, it is perfectly normal that the month should be yet another occasion to make money in a city driven by a business ethos and basking in ostentatious luxury.

Shehada's tent, set up in a park surrounded by brand new buildings, can accommodate up to 600 people for the sundown fast-breaking meal known as "iftar".
Customers pick and choose from an Oriental buffet and spend the evening with friends for around Dh100 per head.

But they usually run up much higher bills as they select their favourite dishes from a separate menu and puff on hubble-bubbles, which are increasingly popular in Dubai despite government efforts to reduce smoking.
Tents set up aboard cruise ships charge as much as Dh600 per person, providing a stark contrast with free iftar meals offered by religious associations, philanthropists and big firms in the city streets and around mosques.

A handful of dates, a plate of rice with meat or chicken and juice make up the menu of the charity iftars.

"I sometimes have to turn down clients, especially over the weekend," said Shehada, boasting that his tent, sponsored by a property developer, is "the most elegant in town".
With music blaring out of flat television screens, his customers relax on spotless white couches in the air-conditioned tent festooned with plants.

The ambiance is similar at a more luxurious tent in a nearby five-star hotel. There, the tent has been erected around a swimming pool surrounded by some of the skyscrapers that have mushroomed in Dubai over the past few years.

The 300 available places have been booked throughout the fasting month, which began on September 1, by firms hosting iftars for their staff or clients. The menu is even richer, with Japanese sushi and Indian curry dishes complementing an assortment of Lebanese hors d'oeuvres.

"I didn't expect to do so well," said Ashok Subba, the tent's Indian manager.

"We are fully booked from iftar until suhur," the dawn meal preceding the start of the daily fast, he said as a band prepared to play Arabic classics and waiters scurried to serve the 300 guests of a leading property developer.

Ramadan is high season for restaurants, confirmed Hamad Mohammad Hareb, an Emirati owner of a restaurant chain.
"Business is better this year despite the rise in the price of foodstuffs," he said, attributing the success of Ramadan tents to the fact that "Dubai keeps attracting people, meaning potential customers".
Hareb was more worried by competition than by the possible impact of the global financial crisis.

"Would you believe that 180 restaurants are going to open in the commercial centre being built around Burj Dubai alone?" he said, referring to the tower which has already become the world's tallest building.

Kenapa Pak Lah Enggan Berundur?

Dengan kenyataan-kenyataan yang menyalahkan Anwar Ibrahim dengan situasi ekonomi dan politik negara, Pak Lah dan kaki goreng media perdana cuba memberikan sedikit ruang bernafas dalam kemelut semasa.

Begitulah keparatnya, kepimpinan BN tidak boleh dipersalahkan walau mereka berkuasa dan menyalahgunakan kuasa untuk survival diri. Menggunakan akta drakonian dan Polis untuk mempertahankan diri yang sudah reput dimamah penyakit dalaman yang kronik seperti rasuah dan penyelewengan amanah rakyat.

PRU12 dan pilihanraya kecil Permatang Pauh menyaksikan rakyat sudah muak, jelak dan benci dengan kepimpinan Pak Lah yang lemah dan tidak berwibawa. Malah ahli-ahli United Malays National Organisation juga sudah memberontak mahukan peralihan kuasa segera bagi memulihkan parti perkauman terbesar negara itu.

Langkah untuk bertukar jawatan Menteri Pertahanan dan Menteri Kewangan dengan Najib juga dianggap melucukan, apalagi Pak Lah tidak melepaskan jawatan pengerusi Khazanah. Sepatutnya dalam tempoh peralihan kuasa yang hanya dua tahun, Pak Lah sudah melepaskan semua jawatan menteri dan pengerusi kepada Najib, kecuali jawatan Perdana Menteri.

Selama ini pun, Pak Lah lebih banyak terlelap dari menjalankan tugas-tugas yang diamanahkan rakyat dan melepaskan tanggungjawab kepada Timbalan Menteri atau Menteri Kedua sahaja. Tugas Pak Lah yang nampak jelas ialah membaca teks ucapan, merasmikan apa-apa majlis rasmi dengan acara memotong tali tas bunga.

Jadi lebih baik dia menumpukan perhatian sebagai PM sahaja, kerana dengan memberikan notis berhenti kerja sehingga tahun 2010 sendiri, Pak Lah hanyalah 'lame duck PM' yang makan gaji buta dan menghabiskan wang rakyat semata-mata.

Apakah yang boleh Pak Lah lakukan dalam dua tahun setelah gagal selama lima tahun?

Kejayaan terbesar Pak Lah ialah dalam lelapnya serta pengaruh anak-beranak dan kroni yang mendapat laba besar dari sikap acuh tidak acuhnya, memberi keyakinan kepada rakyat bahawa BN dan UMNO tidak lagi relevan untuk bekerja demi negara, apalagi bangsa dan agama.

Persoalannnya, walau didesak dan dicemuh, kenapa masih Pak Lah enggan meletak jawatan?

Mungkin kerana kalau dia tidak lagi menjadi PM, pencen dan tiada kerja lain, dia terpaksa berada dibawah Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana (YKP).

Bermakna dia berada dibawah bekas bos lamanya yang menjadi Pengerusi YKP dan berkongsi segala kemudahan yang diberikan, termasuk kapalterbang peribadi Petronas!

Bayangkan kalau Pak Lah terpaksa mengadap Mahathir dan diberikan arahan itu ini. Mahu jatuh ego Pak Lah. Tentunya Mahathir juga tidak sabar untuk membalas dendam dan mengerjakan Pak Lah sebagai budak suruhan seperti Saifool dalam masa minggu orientasi YKP.

He he he. Itu agakan saya sahaja.