Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tsunami Hits The UAE!

I sent a family friend off at the airport after tarawih tonight. My villa is about ten minutes away from Dubai International Airport but it took 45 painful minutes to reach. The unusual traffic jam was very bad as thousands of Dubai expats rushing to balik kampung for Raya!

It was at least 5 km traffic jam from my villa and worse from two other directions, Garhoud bridge and Deira area which the crawling vehicles converged into a single lane to the departure hall.

I had to circle around and drove through maze of back lane, to avoid the snail pace on all main routes. Our friends had to literally run to the terminal few hundred meters away through crowded space. Time was ticking before the final call.

Astonishingly, from my observation, the same number of passengers on both departure and arrival terminals.

That's Dubai for you. And most of the faces are of course, foreigners, especially from South Asia region, they are the majority among the diversified residents here while males outnumbering females, 4 to 1.

Not surprising some prominent Emirati academics are voicing out their concerns on the 'TSUNAMI' that hits this expatriate land of opportunities. Their fear is not unfounded as they are not only minority, their country is under attacks demographically from all directions.

National identity faces 'tsunami' of challenges
By Samir Salama

Abu Dhabi: High growth rates, obsession with international role models and unbalanced local-federal relationships could undermine the UAE's national identity, Emirati academics fear.
They urged to find a formula that would balance high growth rates and economic diversity on the one hand with protecting national identity on the other.
"Our national identity faces a tsunami of challenges and difficulties made by Emiratis and foreigners alike. Many Emiratis are worried about their future and I believe it's time to stop, breathe and think over the development process," said Dr Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, professor of Political Science at UAE University, Al Ain.
Dr Abdullah told a roundtable discussion, held at the Federal National Council about the challenges faced by the national identity, that the UAE had a unique position.

"We should belong to the UAE Federation in the first place and not to an emirate or local identity. Loyalty in good and bad times should be to our homeland and not to a group of emirates."

He fears the local identity is growing by the day at the expense of the federal identity.
"Local departments, local investments, local services, local budgets ... all take priority, while all that is federal is declining. This unbalanced local-federal relationship could undermine national identity."
Dr Abdullah also warned that the UAE's obsession with international standards and role models is also a major threat against the national identity.
"Our plans and strategies are worked out by foreign experts. Developing our Parliament is given to foreign consultants, all our 2020 and 2030 plans are done by foreign experts, education development is also in the hands of foreigners. This expertise comes with its problems," he added.
Dr Abdullah told Gulf News: "With each new development initiative comes new investment opportunities, and more demographic risk factors at the same time. Each development project worth Dh100 billion brings to the country 100,000 expatriates.
"If the investment is worth Dh2.2 trillion in two years, that means 2.2 million expatriates will come to the country, more than three times the number of nationals."
According to a recent Labour Ministry report, the more than 3.1 million foreign workers make up more than 90 per cent of the workforce in the UAE.
Dr Mouza Gobash, professor of Sociology at the UAE University, thinks Emiratis run the risk of becoming a minority in their own country.
"A political decision is needed to stop the influx of foreign immigration into the UAE and reduce the pace of steadily growing growth," Dr Gobash said.
"We are selling lands and properties to foreigners. We are crying over three islands taken by Iran, even though we are selling entire cities," she added.

Expat growth widens UAE demographic gap

The ratio of foreign to local population in the UAE has remained high in the past years and is expected to widen in the future because of a rapid growth in expatriates, official figures showed yesterday.
The country's total population was estimated at around 4.48 million at the end of 2007 and is projected to grow 6.12 per cent to nearly 4.76 million at the end of 2008 and by 6.31 per cent to 5.06 million at the end of 2009, showed the figures by the Ministry of Economy.
Dubai is projected to outnumber Abu Dhabi for the first time at the end of this year and in 2009, while Sharjah will remain the third largest populated emirate.

The figures showed the 2007 population comprised 864,000 UAE nationals and 3.62 million expatriates, up from 839,000 nationals and 3.39 million foreigners in 2006. The bulk of them are based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
A breakdown showed the native population grew by around 2.9 per cent in 2007 while growth in expatriates was 6.9 per cent.
In 2008, the local population is forecast to grow by 3.2 per cent against 6.8 per cent for the expatriates while growth in natives next year is projected at 3.4 per cent and in the foreign population at nearly 6.9 per cent.

The higher growth in the expatriates boosted their ratio to the whole population from around 80.1 per cent in 2006 to 80.7 per cent in 2007. The report projected the ratio to rise to 81.2 per cent in 2008 and 81.7 per cent in 2009.

Experts attributed the rapid expatriate growth to their high number and an influx of foreigners over the past few years because of the economic boom. They noted that growth in the local population is considered high given their relatively low number, which has more than doubled over the past 15 years.

The figures showed Abu Dhabi was the most populated emirate in the UAE at the end of 2007, with a total 1.493 million people. Dubai was second, with around 1.478 million, followed by Sharjah, with nearly 882,000.

But the report forecast Dubai would outnumber Abu Dhabi in 2008, as its population will rise to 1.59 million while Abu Dhabi will have 1.55 million. Dubai, the Middle East's commercial and business hub, was projected to maintain that status in 2009, with its population projected to reach 1.722 million.

Abu Dhabi's population was forecast at 1.62 million.

At the end of 2007, Abu Dhabi was the most populated emirate while Umm Al-Quwain was the least populated, with around 52,000.
Dubai had the largest ratio of expatriates in 2007, standing at 75.8 per cent, while Umm Al Quwain had the lowest ratio of 61.5 per cent.
The UAE has recorded one of the highest population growth rates in the world over the past two decades but this has not affected its per capita income because of the rapid nominal growth in its economy.

From around Dh76,600 in 2006, the country's per capita income more than doubled to Dh162,000 in 2007 after its gross domestic product leaped by around 17 per cent from Dh624 billion to Dh729bn.

The income is projected to swell further this year as the GDP is expected to make similar leaps because of a surge in oil prices.
The report showed the UAE population included 3.08 million males and 1.4 million females at the end of 2007. The breakdown is projected at 3.28 million males and 1.47 million females in 2008 and 3.5 million males and 1.58 million females in 2009.

More Vacancies in the UAE for you!

A US$ 3.5 Billion project in United Arab Emirates has IMMEDIATE requirement for the following positions:

Senior Process Engineers (25 Positions)

Senior Piping Engineers (25 Positions)

Senior Pipeline Engineers (15 Positions)

Senior Rotating Equipment Engineers (10 Positions)

Senior Risk and Safety Design Engineers (5 Positions)

Senior Loss Prevention Engineers (5 Positions)

Senior Telecom Engineers (5 Positions)

Senior Metallurgist, Corrosion engineers (10 Positions)

Principal/Lead Engineers (40 Positions)

The positions will be based in Sharjah (long term) and the package will include basic salary, accommodation, transportation, educational assistance and guaranteed bonuses. In addition to this, the candidates will also be entitled to family status, insurance for self and family, 22 working days annual leave with air tickets for self and family to their home town. Additional incentives are announced separately.


Quotes by Pak Lah - Judge Yourself

5 Sep 2008 The Associated Press (31 occurrences)
"We will see if there is anything concrete to discuss at a suitable time," Abdullah said, but insisted he was getting on with the business of governing.

15 Sep 2008 AFP (21 occurrences)
Reacting to Anwar's statements that he wanted to meet the premier to discuss handover of power, Abdullah told reporters "this is a waste of our time. It is a game of political lies by Anwar Ibrahim and the people are choosing to believe him."

16 Sep 2008 Press Trust of India (17 occurrences)
"A united people is a strong national bulwark against any threat, whether from within or outside the country," Abdullah said.

30 Aug 2008 Hindu (18 occurrences)
"I'm surprised that a member of my Cabinet should come up with that kind of statement," Abdullah was quoted by the Bernama news agency as saying. "It is against what has been agreed to. I am not staying on for the pleasure of staying on."

5 Sep 2008 The Associated Press (31 occurrences)
"I will decide when I want to go...... I will not be staying more than 2010," he told a Press conference on Wednesday.

4 hours ago International Herald Tribune (5 occurrences)
"That is the craziest report I have ever heard," Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told reporters. "There is no meeting with Anwar's people."

23 Sep 2008 International Herald Tribune (5 occurrences)
"I see he (Anwar) is a threat to the economy and probably security," Abdullah told a news conference to announce Najib's new portfolio and his own assumption of the defense ministry post, held by his deputy until now.

18 Sep 2008 eTaiwan News (11 occurrences)
"I will not indicate what plan I will take, what I do will be in the best interests of the people and the country," Abdullah said.

17 Sep 2008 AFP (11 occurrences)
"The world ...... is impressed with Malaysia because not many countries with a multiracial population exist with tolerance, peace and harmony," Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in a speech, which also touched on his government's efforts...

30 Aug 2008 Sin Chew Jit Poh (15 occurrences)
"There are signs of strain in race relations in this country," Abdullah said. "We cannot allow this situation to continue because it could increase tensions and undermine public order. We need to save Malaysia from racial conflicts."

10 Sep 2008 The Canadian Press (10 occurrences)
"Today, as we face a global environment of higher prices and slower economic growth, I am confident, if we remain united, we shall overcome these challenges," he said in tabling the Budget in Parliament yesterday.

29 Aug 2008 Forbes (17 occurrences)
"I would not be staying longer than 2010," Abdullah said. "It will be more flexible, if I want to go earlier I will tell Najib."

17 Sep 2008 Gulf Times (10 occurrences)
Asked if this could include the use of a law allowing imprisonment without trial, Abdullah said such a provision would be invoked only "if absolutely necessary."

3 hours ago Earthtimes (press release) (2 occurrences)
To a question that the 2010 power transition plan between him and Datuk Seri Najib Razak was not fool-proof as it still hinged on the nomination from Umno divisions, Abdullah said: "We are not on the subject. So please don't ask the question."

8 hours ago The Edge Daily (2 occurrences)
Earlier in the meeting, Abdullah said: "I believe that with inflation having peaked and beginning to abate, our focus should now shift to stimulating and accelerating economic growth, by taking into account the deepening financial crisis in US."

14 hours ago Malaysia Star (2 occurrences)
"The letter is not with me. Zaid met me at home; the letter was sent to the office," Abdullah said.
15 Sep 2008 The Edge Daily (6 occurrences)
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told reporters that if Anwar really had the support of government lawmakers who want to defect, "the whole world would have known" by now.
29 Aug 2008 Malaysia Star (9 occurrences)
"Intra-Asean trade has increased in value to 26% while the US market has come down to 80%. The US market is still very big but the Asean market is growing," Abdullah said.

14 hours ago Malaysia Star (2 occurrences)
Pressed further on the timing, Abdullah said, "It could be between now and June 2010."

17 Sep 2008 Sin Chew Jit Poh (5 occurrences)
Asked whether he would continue chairing the next council meeting, Abdullah replied: "Yes. What makes you think I will not chair it?"

Black September - Malaysia and the UAE

Are we in another episode of Black September? Worse than 9/11?

Bush warns 'entire economy is in danger'

"Without immediate action by Congress, American could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold," Bush said in a 12-minute prime-time address delivered from the White House East Room that he hoped would help rescue his tough-sell bailout package. "Ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession."
Said Bush: "We must not let this happen."

According to Malaysiakini, Foreign direct investment (FDI) outflow in Malaysia has exceeded inflow for the first time ever, underscoring fears that investors might be losing confidence in the government and its economic policies.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report 2008 released today, FDI outflow in Malaysia surpassed inflow by RM8.99 billion in 2007.

Malaysian outflow had surged by 81.9 percent to RM38 billion in 2007 from RM20.89 billion the year before. Inflow, on the other hand, increased by only 39 percent to RM 29.07 billion versus RM20.91 billion in 2006.
Within the 10-member Asean trading bloc, Malaysia was glaring as the only country to record a negative flow.
This took place despite the fact that the Southeast Asian region recorded its highest ever FDI inflow - which leapt 81.1 percent to RM209.2 billion in 2007 from RM115.5 billion in 2006.

While here in the UAE, the news of the day is Perfect storm hits investors!

A staggering Dh110 billion has been wiped off UAE stock markets since the beginning of September as investors reel from a perfect storm of global uncertainty, yo-yoing commodity prices and a series of corruption scandals plaguing prominent real estate and financial corporations.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index dropped 3.97 per cent to close at 3,890.16. In the last three days alone, Dubai has lost 12.07 per cent. The Abu Dhabi Security Exchange Index yesterday fell 2.29 per cent to end at 3,811.08.

In KL, Star reports that Quiet start for Bursa, Asian bourses fall!

At 9.30am, the KL Composite Index was up just 0.37 point to 1,028.77.
Turnover was 59.68 million shares valued at RM52.3mil. There were 69 gainers,
110 losers and 86 counters unchanged.
Among Asian markets, Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 207.58 points or 1.71% to 11,907.45, Shanghai’s A Share Index opened 0.19% lower at 2,323.78 and Singapore’s Straits Times Index declined 1.03% to 2,452.03.