Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kampung Cina di Dubai

Oleh kerana dua orang anak memerlukan kasut baru, kami ke Dragon Mart di Chinatown, International City Dubai yang menawarkan 100% produk-produk buatan negara China. Kasut BATA buatan Malaysia mereka lunyai setelah dua bulan bersekolah!

Dragon Mart asalnya mempunyai 4 ribu gerai dan mungkin dua pertiga beroperasi Chinatown adalah sebahagian dari International City yang mempunyai kluster pelbagai negara dunia dan yang terkini, Forbidden City.
Dubai kini mempunyai 200,000 warga negara China yang bekerja dan berniaga. Dragon Mart adalah pusat terbesar orang Cina berkumpul di Timur Tengah.

Dalam ekonomi merudum dan kemelut kewangan dunia, Dragon Mart masih penuh sesak dengan pengunjung, malah sewaktu pulang jam 8 malam, traffic jam sepanjang jalan masuk!
Dragon Mart ini panjangnya dalam 1.2 km! Berjalan dua kali pusing sudah cukup baik sebagai exercise. Meriah suasana.
Barangan yang dijual tidaklah semurah dulu dan peniaga dari China sudah jual mahal kerana pengunjung yang ramai hampir setiap hari.


Kebetulan sepanjang di Dragon Mart, seorang ahli perniagaan Dubai menelefon dan mengulas situasi semasa. Beliau yakin yang Dubai masih dalam keadaan baik untuk menghadapi dan menangani kemelut semasa. Keyakinan beliau terhadap kepimpinan UAE sangat tinggi.
Mungkin Dragon Mart menjadi petunjuk kecairan walaupun Bursa Saham Dubai dan Abu Dhabi jatuh merudum.

Saya terlibat secara langsung dengan pembinaan Dragon Mart pada tahun 2003 dahulu dengan menjadi perekabentuk sistem IT & Telekom, termasuk fasa pertama International City - Chinatown. Dibuka secara rasmi Disember 2004.
Pengalaman menarik kerana inilah penglibatan pertama dalam pembinaan kompleks membeli belah dan kluster apartmen kos murah. Mulanya saya mahu memasang kabel optik fiber sepenuhnya di Dragon Mart tetapi mengubah ke kabel biasa kerana tidak memerlukan sistem canggih.
Begitupun, kesemua kluster International City, seperti mana projek lain di bawah Nakheel, menggunakan teknologi IP sepenuhnya dan fiber terus ke rumah.


Dragon Mart adalah hasil kerjasama kerajaan China dan Dubai (melalui Nakheel) sebagai hab produk China di Timur Tengah.

Bahasa Melayu di Malaysia, Bahasa Arab di UAE


Membaca kontraversi mengenai penggunaan bahasa lain di papan tanda jalan di Pulau Pinang membawa kepada persoalan dan dilema bahasa Melayu di Malaysia.
United Malays National Organisation yang membawa ketuanan Melayu sebagai obor perjuangan sendiri masih berjiwa Inggeris dalam nama parti terbesar Melayu sedunia itu. Penggunaan bahasa Inggeris dalam pengajaran Sains dan Matematik oleh pemimpin United Malays National Organisation sendiri adalah langkah ke belakang yang mesti dirombak untuk mendaulatkan bahasa Melayu diperingkat akademik.

Saya sendiri adalah generasi yang mendapat pendidikan ke peringkat SPM dalam bahasa Melayu sepenuhnya. Setelah SPM, saya dihantar ke UiTM untuk kursus intensif bahasa Inggeris sebelum dihantar ke New Zealand.
Kursus 6 bulan itu berjaya memberikan saya kefahaman bahasa Inggeris yang sepatutnya menjadi pengisian dari Tingkatan 1 lagi dalam menguasai bahasa Inggeris. Di New Zealand, sewaktu di Tingkatan 7, saya mengambil subjek bahasa Inggeris yang mempunyai bahan kesusasteraan Inggeris dan New Zealand. Mulanya terkial-kial tetapi akhirnya, alhamdulillah menambah minat saya untuk menguasai bahasa Inggeris sehingga mengambil subjek minor ke tahun dua dalam kesusasteraan Inggeris.

Dilema yang sama dihadapi oleh bahasa Arab di UAE ketika ini!


How will Arabic be preserved with rules like these?

If one is to believe the statements coming out of Government, then one major concern is the way in which the whole nature and ethos of what is being described as the “UAE’s national identity” is being undermined and lost as a result of the development of the past 30 or 40 years. Indeed, this year has been dubbed “Year of National Identity” – how to define it and how to preserve it.
There are many reasons for the “undermining”, which certainly exists. At one level, it’s a simple reflection of the change in the country’s demography. What was, in large measure, an Arab country in the not-so-distant past is now one where more than 80 per cent of the population are non-Emiratis, and where over two thirds, at a guess, are non-Arabs. Not only are languages other than Arabic widely used, such as Urdu, English, Bengali, Malayalam, and, increasingly, Mandarin and the various Filipino languages, but a new lingua franca has emerged, and is spreading, which is a curious mix of Arabic, Urdu and English words and a highly-simplified grammar. I call it “Urdubic”, though others may have their own name for it.
At another level, the threat to national identity comes from increasing globalisation – whether it be in business, on television channels, absorbed as a by-product of education overseas, or in a non-native tongue at home. That’s not just a matter of language, of course, but in culture and daily life. Even in food – where the all-pervasive presence of American fast-food chains affects almost all, with a consequent rise in obesity and heart disease.
My concern, however, is with language, particularly the use of Arabic. Of course English is widely used in business, and, indeed, in Government. It would be difficult to engage with the outside world otherwise. It is absolutely right that English is considered to be a high priority in both Government and private schools. Any young Emirati today who lacks fluency in English will be at a clear disadvantage to better-equipped compatriots in the future.
I worry, though, that, in the drive to promote a knowledge of English as a second language, the need to promote Arabic as a first language is being sidelined.I am not bothered about those who have a different mother tongue and for whom Arabic will always be a second language, though I regret that so many expatriate non-Arabs make no effort to try to learn a few simple words. That’s pitiful. Rather, I am concerned about those for whom Arabic is a first language.
I am told by colleagues who recruit native Arabic speakers, including Emiratis, into positions where a proper level of Arabic literacy is required, that all too often the standards even of university graduates with degrees in the Arabic language are simply not up to scratch. That must be in part due to the teaching they receive, both in school and university, as well as the use of Arabic at home.I recently had an interesting conversation with the headmistress of one of Abu Dhabi’s leading primary schools. Around 20 per cent of her students are Emiratis and in some classes there’s an almost 50-50 split between those with Arabic as the mother tongue (Emiratis and others) and the rest, many whose first language is English but many from Europe, India and elsewhere.
The language of instruction in the school is English, so that, naturally, takes priority. In accordance with Ministry of Education guidelines, the school provides Arabic only at the kindergarten or foundation stages (up to five years old) for those whose mother tongue is Arabic, in two 20-minute conversation classes a week. Is that really sufficient for Emirati and other Arab children, particularly those being brought up in homes where parents, sadly, might devolve much of the responsibility for their children to employees who speak no Arabic whatsoever? Will those children ever be properly fluent in their mother tongue?
I have a particular interest in the topic because my wife, a native Arabic speaker, and I have a small child currently in the kindergarten stage. It will be a hard task to bring her up to be as bilingual as possible, though we’re trying. She is having the twice-weekly conversation classes and, provided her level stays high enough, she should go on to the formal classes in Arabic for native speakers next year.
I gather, though, that the rough rule used by the Ministry of Education to determine whether a child should go into “native speaker” classes is based on the nationality of the father. How, I wonder, do they assess a couple of Arab birth who have taken up British, Canadian or American citizenship? There are plenty of those around.And as for mixed marriages, I, as a Briton, would be ruled out from the start. Were my child to be put in a class next year designed for those for whom Arabic is not a mother tongue – simple beginners – it would be a distinct step backwards. I have no quarrel with the school: they don’t set the guidelines and, rightly, must focus on English.
Language is, surely, a fundamental part of national identity. So what is the Ministry of Education doing to tackle this issue of declining Arabic literacy skills among so many of the country’s native Arabic speakers, Emiratis and others?After more than 30 years here, I should, I concede, speak much better Arabic than I do. I hope that my young child will do so, and my wife and I intend to make the effort to ensure that she does. But I’m well aware it’s not going to be easy. Shu Sawee?


Peter Hellyer is a writer and consultant specialising in the UAE’s heritage and environment. He has also written extensively on the country’s social, political and economic development

Sehari Dalam Sejarah



ruang waktu sebagai muzium
merakam jejak-jejak sejarah
meniti hitam putih perubahan zaman
dari catatan orang biasa
yang kekadang mengulang korban
kemelut pertumpahan darah
atas nama nasionalisme
dan kebangkitan patriotisme
demi asakan survival kabilah

anak-anak adam dan hawa
dari generasi ke generasi
menyalahi mereka yang terdahulu
dalam merentas kemungkinan
bersama inovasi dan revolusi
masa depan pun mengepung realiti semasa
berdiri sayu monumen dan pusara
sebagai musim-musim kemanusiaan
dalam angka-angka bencana

kita masih sahaja berprasangka
dengan sengketa jiwa
melebar api bermusuhan
disebalik kecanggihan teknologi
setelah emosi diasak propaganda
saudagar dan pemimpin durjana
biar yang berbeda antara kita
selapisan warna-warna sejagat
memandu jasad ke satu kiblat!


Fudzail
11 Nov 2008

Is Malaysia constructing a future without oil?


Politics and rhetorics aside, we have yet to hear from both sides of the divide on the planning our nation development without oil. Malaysia’s government depends on some 46 per cent of its revenues from petroleum taxes.

According to Straits Times, economists also raised concerns over the widening deficit for 2009.
Due to the extra spending needed to prop up the economy, the government deficit is being raised to 4.8 per cent of the gross domestic product, from 3.6 per cent previously.


The sharp drop in global crude oil prices is thus worrying, economists say. In recent years, the government depends on oil and gas dug up and sold by national oil company Petronas to funds its spending.

Malaysia has registered a budget deficit every year since 1998.
In other words, the government has been spending more that what it was earning in the last 10 years!

Mr Dzulkefly Ahmad, a lawmaker for the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia pointed out that the drop in crude oil prices could cause an RM18 billion shortfall in projected revenue.
Due to lower prices, the government could see an estimated loss to the tune of RM18 billion to RM25 billion instead of the RM8 billion predicted by Mr Najib, he claimed.


An interesting article below on the UAE endeavour to live without oil!


The Kempinski Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, is home to an exhibition showcasing the under-construction Saadiyat Island development. An exhibition that has been toured, among many, by one George W Bush.

The exhibition is bordered by a wall covered with facts and figures concerning the growth of the UAE. Hidden among this wall is a white board sporting a series of bar charts that may have raised the eyebrows of a keen-eyed Bush on his January visit to the capital.

As the chart states, in 1975, 21.2% of the UAE’s gross domestic product was generated by the service sector, while 67.7% came from the mining and oil industries. By 2005, the service sector accounted for 42.1%, while mining and oil accounted for just 32.8%.

Oil, as we know, cannot last forever. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have begun to demonstrate that it’s time to begin laying the groundwork within which their societies can operate without the financial benefits and guarantees that oil brings to the respective populations.
Abu Dhabi, through such developments as the Louvre and the Guggenheim, has begun to signal its intentions through a gradual shift towards cultural tourism, pursuing its responsibilities to provide its people with cultural amenities worthy of a capital city.

One hundred and twenty kms down the road lies Dubai. The city of man-made islands, super-tall skyscrapers and indoor ski slopes. The city in which you can bob through a shark tank on an inflatable ring is planning to diversify along a very different path.
But there is a fine line to tread between the opening up of a society to a world of globalised traditions, and remaining sensitive to regional traditions. Treading this line becomes even more perilous when the source of income that has been relied upon for generations threatens to run dry.

The peak oil question

In 1956 Marion Hubbert published his theory on the capacity of oil fields and natural gas reserves, correctly predicting that US oil production would peak between the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Hubbert’s predictions were based around a bell-shaped curve, which came to be known as the Hubbert Curve, and the peak as “peak oil.” By theorising that oil production would peak when known reserves were at their highest, Hubbert was able to track the approximate time frame for depletion.
Today, experts are in wide agreement that the point of global peak oil is upon us. In June, Thomas Pickens, BP Capital Management hedge fund chairman, said, “I do believe we have peaked out at 85 million barrels a day globally.”
With a little more urgency, a Financial Times report last year warned that the world would face an oil crisis “within the next five years.” With words such as “crisis” now making their way into the oil man’s vocabulary, just how long do Dubai and Abu Dhabi have left?
Measuring oil reserves is no exact science, and even proven reserves can only be estimated. The BP statistical review of world energy, published last June, estimated the UAE’s proven oil reserves to be 97.8 billion barrels.
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