Tag Archives: Kim Kardashian

166. Road Names

What is the most annoying thing in the world? Vevuzelas? Bluebottle flies? Kardashians? The answer is none of these; it is in fact the bureaucratic mentality that prevents anything from happening within a reasonable timeframe.

It seems that wherever you go, local councils and governments want to spend as long on any given project as possible, seemingly to do nothing more than justify their existence. Take for example a very British conundrum; do you have any idea how much red tape you need to tear through to get a new park bench installed? No, neither do I. But only because when I stumbled across the procedure online I fell asleep after page 74. It is horrendous. Why does it need to take so long to put a bench in a park? You buy a bench, engrave the brass plaque with the name of a locally renowned goose, and place it in situ. A bench needs planning permission. Why? Put it there, and if enough Guardian readers complain about it then pick it up and move it somewhere else.

This type of mindless bureaucracy, it seems, is a global pandemic. Even those whom reside in the most remote outback wastelands of Mongolia need permission to paint pots. Why can’t those running the show just get things done? Why wait? Alex Salmond wants his vote on Scottish independence, why keep with him waiting until 2015 or whenever it is, just let him do it so we can all get back to work.

Cock-A-Dobby, Jumeriah Lake Towers, please.

Cock-A-Dobby, Jumeriah Lake Towers, please.

It therefore came as no surprise to me yesterday that it is to take five years to rename all the roads in Dubai. Allow me to explain the situation: The road naming system in the UAE is, by its own admission, a joke. There are snippets of sense, such as the main motorways being given numbers like E11, E22, E66 and so on, and of course we have the big landmark roads like Shiekh Zayed Road which are easy to identify. But everything else is a mish-mash of incomprehensible balderdash.

In order to understand the incumbent numbering system you need a mind of such ability that you would be able to crucify Stephen Hawking on Countdown, in the same way that a ferret could outsmart Kim Karsdashian in a game of Battleships. It is all so dreadfully hateful.

Along with the numbers there are also roads named after Sheikhs and prominent Emiratis, and that is normal. It’s no different from road names like Victoria Avenue, Kings Road, Albert Road, Elizabeth Street, and so on. But it can get confusing sometimes. If I’m navigating the Dubai traffic looking for Khaled Bin Khalifa Street, invariably I will get confused and end up on Khalifa Bin Khaled Street.

The new system means that every single road in Dubai is to be renamed, and in keeping with global tradition, the names are to reflect the local district and its history. Take the coastal area, Jumierah. Roads along the coast are to take their names from fish, famous boats, and an array of other nautical paraphernalia. Great, it will be like Portsmouth; Fish Street. Cod Cresent. HMS Ark Royal Avenue. Navy Mews.

The Trade Centre area is to be named after various currencies, which sounds fine, but there are only a finite amount of currencies in the world, so expansion of the Trade Centre would be halted should the limit be reached. Unless they build more roads off Dollar Drive, in which case they can raise the debt ceiling to whatever fictional level they like…

The thing is, this renaming programme is going to take five years, and for the life of me I can’t fathom why. How hard can it be? You break the city up into zones, as they have done, and just go nuts. Honestly, if they were to get in touch with me then I could rename the whole city in a day. Just give me a copy of the Viz Profanisaurus and immunity from prosecution and before you know it you’ll be driving through Uphill Gardens and Bell End, past Busty View and before you know it you’ll be back home on Penistone Road.

Problem solved.

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159. Names

Once upon a time, before microwave meals, “reality” TV, and iPhones, we used to identify each other with our noses. Much like dogs, we knew who the other guy was by having a good sniff. Of course when the population began to increase, it became harder and harder to differentiate one odour from another. One day, a man known as “Smells-like-athletes-foot” stood up and said that he would henceforth be known as Steve. And so the name was born.

Soon enough monikers became all the rage. Before too long there were magic books full of characters, all with different names. It was probably the single greatest invention in the entire history of the human race. No longer did our forebears have to refer to each other with grunts or with mad adjectives, no, now they had a one-stop calling card.

The most common name in the world today is Mohammed. But this is exaggerated since there are several permutations; Muhammed, Muhammad, Mohamed, Muhamad, and so on. This is mainly down to Anglicisation, since the name is the same in Arabic. But it can cause confusion, however.

The typical Arabic male name is one of only about 15-20 possibilities in the UAE; Mohammed, Khaled, Saif, Saeed, Khalifa, Zayed, Ali, Ahmed, Saud, Mubarak, Hamdan, Hamad…you know. Further, there are only a few different family names, too. This can make things very tricky.

In my normal day job, I have to deal with lots of customers. It is common for groups of young men to turn up, and in such a case I need to work out who is who. “Mohammed Al Baloushi” I say. As it turns out, in a group of seven of then, four will have the same name. We then have to pick though the ID cards to try and unravel the mystery; it can be a nightmare.

But here’s the thing; it doesn’t bother me at all. I think that only having a small selection of traditional names is brilliant. It maintains identity, tradition; something that a lot of Westerners have forgotten. As an added bonus, it also cuts out a large chunk of bullying material. No, really. Think back to school, 75% of all bullying is having your name rhymed with something derogatory; Fartin’ Martin, for example. If you tried that with the Arabic names you’d end up insulting at least two or three other family members, or even yourself. This would render the exercise pointless.

Where we come from though, names evolve with time. They are treated as fashion accessories. For example, nothing dictates a new wave of name popularity quite like a royal birth. In the 1940’s, Charles was very popular amongst Brits, so too was Anne in the 1950’s. When William was born in 1982, so to was one out of every five boys for the following year.

She smelled like the cafeteria, so I named her "Burger, hold the gherkins, fries, ketchup, but no mayo. Maybe a little mayo". Isn't she adorable?

She smelled like the cafeteria, so I named her “Burger, hold the gherkins, fries, ketchup, but no mayo. Maybe a little mayo”. Isn’t she adorable?

The problem is that we are all so mad when it comes to names. The Beckham family didn’t help; Brooklyn? Romeo? Cruz? Harper? Then what about Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow; Apple?! Michael Jackson called his son Prince Michael II, aka Blanket. Are they all barking mad? Does having lots of money give you the right to name your spawn after what you see in a Bed, Bath, & Beyond catalogue?

We absorb the celebrity world like a sponge and all of a sudden we find ourselves living in a world where for name inspiration we simply look through the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, or the ethnic food section in the supermarket.

Before you know it you’re spooling through the voters register in the town hall and you’re drowning in a world of Ear Bud’s, Venus’s, Pepto-Bismol’s, and Rogan Josh’s. This pandemic has hit breaking point in recent years. It is all so hateful.

I yearn for a world where we can have freedom and where we are left alone, but I want a world where names make sense, and where I don’t have to vomit every time I do a friend search on Facebook. The UAE has it under control. A list of a dozen or so traditional Arabic names gives the country credibility. Ok, it makes calling a register a living nightmare, as I’m sure it would at passport control, or in a police station. But at least they will never be bullied because of their name.

North West?! For God’s sake, Kim. It would have been kinder to have named her after something you smelled in the hospital.

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152. Bieber

One day I want to be a real boy

One day I want to be a real boy

We all have people we dislike for no obvious reason. We can’t quite put our finger on it, but there is usually a certain quality that just gets under our skin. Some, when pushed though, can dig reasons from the muddiest of pits. Maybe you don’t like a co-worker because they are useless. Maybe there is a man in your local pub who, when he eats bar nuts, does so at such a volume it sounds as if HMS Ark Royal is knocking on the door. Then there are those in the public eye. We hate those who we see as stupid, like a Kardashian, or a Jersey Shore. Sometimes we don’t like these people because of how they behave. Maybe they are violent, a charlatan, a manipulator, or even a poor role model.

I can name many people who at least one of the aforementioned adjectives could be applied. But all four? My God, does such a person exist? Could it be Ming the Merciless? Perhaps, but he is fictional. Goldfinger? Professor James Moriarty? The Joker? No, all fictional. Does a person with these attributes actually exist in the real world? The only person who I can think of that can have violence, fraud, manipulation and poor guidance attached to his name is, alarmingly, Justin Bieber.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, what does that punk kid from Canada have to do with the UAE? And more so, why do I care? Well, he was here last week and, frankly, made a complete wally of himself, and I found it funny.

Now, I have to be careful here for two reasons; firstly, I heard on the radio today that a Filipina was fined AED 1000 for calling someone “stupid” in the street in Dubai. So I will have to refrain from name calling. Secondly, Bieber has a substantial following, a full-blown religion by all accounts. He has the ear of hundreds of millions world over, whereas I have the ear of 50-60 UAE expats and a German company called “Strudle-big.” By typing further, I am putting my life on the line and risking the vengeance of the Bieberati…

Justin Bieber did not impress me last week. There, take that. The young, greasy haired, pin-up boy performed two “gigs” at the Dubai Sevens stadium last week and thought that it would be a good idea to keep everyone waiting for two hours, at both concerts. Of course we all know that in the music industry it is fashionable to turn up late, but sadly for Bieber his fanbase aren’t in the music industry, they’re in the school industry. And Saturday and Sunday nights are school nights in the UAE.

After his first evening soiree on a rugby pitch, he decided that he would go and take in a few sights in Dubai. Being only a young whippersnapper – 19 – he is two years shy of the legal drinking age, plus he doesn’t have an alcohol license. For reasons I don’t fully understand, he was given special permission to enter a nightclub in Dubai that I have never heard of. He went in looking moody, so tried to order a drink. Amusingly he was declined service and he was next spotted hanging from the roof of a Range Rover in Jumeriah.

During the last of his two shows, Bieber was commissioned by his puppeteers to play the piano and sing a song, at the same time. Clearly, this upset the fans somewhat as a young boy charged on stage to grab the young Canadian, sending the piano tumbling down the stage and landing upside down. Bieber was rushed to the side of the stage as the assailant was – fittingly, given the venue – rugby tackled to the ground. I have seen the videos; did anyone else find it rather odd that through all the brouhaha, the tackling, the piano, the groping, that he continued to play both the piano and sing completely un-phased? Despite the piano lying broken on the floor and he being cuddled by a man in a black suit?

I’m sorry, no. But if I had paid a gazillion Dirhams to see my music idol then I would expect the full show. If I want to listen to a recording I will pop a CD in the car. How would you feel if, on your wedding day, your partner held up a dicta-phone with a pre-recorded “I do” on it? No, you want to hear the real words.

Thankfully, Bieber was able to restrain himself from any physical altercations this time, unlike when he was in London earlier this year. A man with a camera dared to take a photo of the young scamp and Bieber got angry. Ok, the photo man was winding him up, but Bieber should have realised that by the time he was 15 he was going to suffer a life of public interest, drugs, hair and no concept of reality.

He is a temperamental, fraudulent, crowd manipulating, unsavoury spoiled brat. His whole demeanour is wrong. His Twitter account is replete with hollow gratuity towards the fans; “@dubai massive respect. I will always be there for the #fans”. Apart from when you’re 140 minutes late, you little scallywag.

The music industry has a long, rich history of pillaging younglings from their mother’s nests too early; Britney, Christina, Justin, Miley, that weird kid with the face. Bieber is just another Hessian sack with a dollar sign on it. I know as well as you do that he is just a face, a franchise for a lot of men and women in suits to make money, and the worse part? People are still buying into it. Is this what we want the younger generation to look up to?

I like to think of UAE Uncut as a relatively neutral page…sorry I couldn’t finish that sentence without my moral compass spinning out of control. Unlike Bieber, I respect my followers. Make up your own minds on this twerp, but I’ll be damn surprised if you disagree with me.

Or maybe, just maybe, I am wrong. Is Justin Bieber real at all? Is he in actual fact no different to Goldfinger, The Joker, Ming the Merciless or Professor Moriarty? A mere fictional character simply to bring balance to this world of saints?

Nah, the guy’s a tool.

Right, then, Bieberati…bring it on…

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144. Driving age

Tonight I am sitting here in my 128th floor office at UAE Uncut Towers with the air conditioning on. I have traded the snow and the bitter cold of the UK for the relentless inferno that is the UAE. Yes, I have returneth. Being back in London last week was, in all honesty, a rather large eye-opener for yours truly. Oh sure it was wonderful to catch up with my friends and family, but as I sat there in The Victoria one afternoon listening to a table of elderly men discuss the proportional differences between their wedding vegetables, I was hit by startling revelation: I am an idiot.

No, really, I am as beef-witted as your out-of-the-box Kardashian. I normally come to this little corner of the internet, rant and rave about the UAE and how the UK is this and that, and then go ahead and contradict myself the following day. But as I sat there eavesdropping on unquestionably the most disturbing conversation held since Charles Manson’s initial get-together, I asked myself what the hell did I see in that place? The old men with mismatched genitals, their ailments, the dinosaur attitude towards busty barmaids; Jesus, where was I? The following day I was back in the same pub and wept a tear from my eye about how much I loved it and how brilliant it was.

Last week I sang the praises of London Transport, but since that time I had to ride the District Line during the rush hour. Standing there with my nose in a stranger’s armpit and a copy of The Metro up my bottom I turned on my own sentiments like a flash. And therein lies the problem; I change opinions like I change underpants (which to put your mind at ease, is a daily routine). Seriously, I cannot keep an opinion for more than a minute without swapping it for a shiny new one whenever the mood takes me. How, then, will I ever be taken seriously as a writer? What use would I be coming before you one day saying that George Osbourne is about as effective a Chancellor as a carrot, and then the next day preach his recession-combating magnificence? I’d be jeered, booed, ridiculed and most likely, shot.

So, is this the end of UAE Uncut? Has my unswerving integrity finally been exposed as nothing more than a charade? Am I just another internet thug with brainwashing intent? Probably, but that won’t stop me telling you what I think about the latest idea of lowering the driving age in the UAE.

Here in the UAE you have to be 18 to learn how to drive; in the UK it is 17. I know a few 17 year olds and the thought of getting into a car with any of them makes we want to set myself alight and jump out of a window. My friends and former colleagues will tell you that I go everywhere flat out, and when I was 17 I was what you would describe as a “little shit.” I passed my test when I was 17 years and 4 months old and on my first day waking up a man I offered to drive my sisters to school. A 1992 1.4 litre Vauxhall Astra estate is a beast that great men still struggle to tame to this day, so when I returned home some 15 minutes after setting off, the bonnet, grille and headlights had gone.

An old family photo of me aged 17 in my old Astra.

An old family photo of me aged 17 in my old Astra.

Yep, I crashed. Into a parked BMW, and drove off. Yikes. By the grace of God my Dad managed to get me off Scott free, but since that time the slow motion replay of me sliding into the back of that navy Beemer forever burns in my mind. Had I not had that crash who knows what may have happened later on, it was, in hindsight, a right of passage. I had discovered the limits early on and that instantly made me a better driver. I was, as a matter of fact, Steve McQueen in my Astra Mustang.

But, and despite next weeks blog that says the total opposite, the driving in the UK is inherently good. We have had 3-4 generations that have dealt with the wheeled beasts and the perils are well-known. Here in the UAE the situation is very different and I doubt very much that people younger than 18 will be of much use. The idea behind the whole thing, apparently, is to relieve the burden from poor old mum and dad. Johnny Teenager would be able to drive a car, with a chaperone, to run errands for his parents. He could do the groceries, pick up the dry cleaning, take little sister to dance practice or cruise around the streets at 3am, sideways, and on fire.

But who would the chaperone be, exactly? Mum or dad? Doesn’t that negate the whole thing in the first place? Will a special man with a moustache have to be employed solely as a watchman? Surely it wouldn’t be Jimmy Land Cruiser from over the road? That lunatic is always getting into pickles.

No matter, each car will be fitted with a speed control device that limits the cars capability. Such technology is very simple. You have a device that cuts the spark to the spark plugs, therefore lowering the speed of the engine. But the pistons keep pumping and fuel keeps pouring into the cylinder, so it carbons up and the engine, before too long, will need an expensive overhaul. The reality though is that Johnny Teenager will simply go and borrow his mates Skyline GTR instead.

Where I think we should cut the youths some slack is on the statistics front. I love it when people don’t think about what they’re publishing, and when it was said that 53% of all road accidents are caused by people aged between 18 and 40, it openly implies that 47% of accidents are caused by people aged 41-70. That seems fairly even to me, 100% of people are attributed to road accidents…

Of course the insurance companies won’t want to know. I had to pay £1600 in 2002 for my first full-years insurance; for a 1.4 litre Vauxhall Astra. What would a UAE premium be for a 15 year old in a Lamborghini Gallardo? Seven trillion dirhams?

Mum and dad, I’m afraid, will have to rely on the servants and personal drivers to continue to carry out the errands for now. Johnny Teenager needs to study and reach puberty before he is given the keys to the Ferrari 430. I can kind of see the idea behind this scheme, but then, I really can’t put it into words, either. Everyone has a crash at some point in their lives, and to get it over and done with early on may not be such a bad thing. I am, however, fairly sure that lowering the age below 18 in the UAE would be a disaster and I think back to when I was 17…

…Thank God I crashed on day one, otherwise who knows how dangerous I could have been?

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137. World Expo

You may not believe this, but I am a cynic. Not just your every-day “urgh I don’t eat foreign food” cynic, but a real cynic. In fact, my cynicism is my way of life; it is the default of my very nature. I find it far easier to scoff at something I know nothing about rather than turn around and praise something I know equally nothing about. I prefer to ask questions until I understand something and until I do I don’t like it. I like things to be clear, if I have to read something more than three times then it is not worth knowing. It has failed to arouse my interest and therefore has no right being in my brain library.

I also enjoy being negative. Nothing makes me vomit quite like those who gush at everything they see and hear. “Oooh! That’s amazing” they say as they play with the cup holder in your car. What next? Are they going to start chasing shiny things or claiming that Kim Kardashian is actually a good role model for young girls? There are many names for this kind of person, the most politically correct of which is “idiot”.

Those who come to the UAE and see nothing beyond the high-rise leviathans and countless malls are blind. Do they not notice the rusty buses ferrying the labour classes to and from their holiday camps? Do they not look at a road intersection and think “My God, they really f****d that up.” Or is this just me? Do I only see all the negative stuff before I convince myself that there are positive facets out there? Perhaps.

Anyway, returning to the matter at hand; I like to clearly understand the point of something, and when I don’t I like to research it until I do. So today’s question is: what is the point of the World Expo? You can’t have failed to notice that Dubai is bidding for the 2020 instalment of an event that I don’t fully understand.

Since I was not wowed, and even more confused, by Wikipedia’s explanation of the event, I turned to the private internetters for clues and sadly I have reached my fifth paragraph in today’s epistle and am still none the wiser. A World Expo, or World Fair, is an event held seemingly at random in a pre-designated city. The attractions of this fair vary according to what the host city wants. Generally there will be many other countries showcasing their own lands as tourist or investment destinations. There will also be some people walking around saying how amazing the host city is. It sounds like jolly good fun and on the face of it, why not?

Well, we didn't need Crystal Palace anymore anyway...

Well, we didn’t need Crystal Palace anymore anyway…

But let us take a step back and look at things from a different angle. The first ever World Expo took place in 1851 in London. For the event a grand structure was created; the famous Crystal Palace. The giant greenhouse burned down before too long and its only living legacy is the south London football club who bears the name. The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace was not a success and it financially ruined its owners. One reason was that it was closed on Sundays, the only day people had off work back then.

But things were different in the Victorian era when Britain was at the height of its imperialist ventures. We had men trekking all over the globe, exploring, learning, conquering, and stealing and so on. The British public was craving knowledge of the world after previously knowing nothing beyond those French rascals over the water.

A World’s Fair to showcase the Empire, foreign lands, treasures and different cultures was a sensational idea. It was a chance to show the British people what the imperialists had been up to. This became a regular event with other nations soon joining in.

Today we live in a different world to Henry Kitchener and Queen Victoria. If you want to see what a country is like you can do so at the click of a mouse. You can ask random strangers on Twitter, you can read reviews by Michael Palin or you can simply type whatever you want into Google and you will be presented with all you need.

It is a genius way of doing things that brings the whole Expo business into question: what is the point? Have you seen the plans for the Expo complex? It is insanely big and, obviously, insanely expensive. There is a big push for this to happen but again I do not understand why. My research concludes that the cost of hosting a World Expo far outweighs any financial benefit. They have all been fiscal flops. What kind of business model is this? Don’t forget that Dubai still owes billions of dollars to neighbouring Abu Dhabi after the 2008 collapse. Can it afford to go throwing money around willy nilly?

Why bother going to all the trouble of hiring an expensive architect, finding a builder with some cheap workers, putting together a massive building complex and filling it with things from other countries and then tearing most of it down afterwards? The internet is omnipotent and cannot be beaten, it has all the information. The concept of the World Expo is as archaic as carving out your shopping list on a stone tablet.

Maybe it is just the cynic in me or maybe I am right. But I find it hard to swallow that money should be spent on such things when no benefit will come of it. I can think of many different, better things to spend the money on, such as new buses for the labourers, or a security gate at the airport that keeps out idiots.

Labourers who are looked after a bit better and the extraction of idiots from society: now there is a showcase the UAE could really be proud of.

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122. Contradiction

As you may recall, back in November I went to the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix at Yas Marina; an event that flows as smoothly as its full aforementioned name. Forget the fact that I am an oil-blooded petrol head who has not missed a single Formula 1 Grand Prix in 16 years, my blog focussed more on what the people watching on television would have seen.

If you can think back that far, I passed note that the way people dress and behave at the event leaves those watching at home scratching their heads and asking their wives “but I thought you weren’t allowed to do that over there.” It is understandable, then, that discussions about the UAE and its cultural practices invariably lead to much fist thumping and “I told you so” chatter at the typical British bar. What are the rules? Are you allowed to roam the streets naked or not?

Of course, any country which is centre stage for a world-wide televised event will make an effort to dress itself up and give the impression that it is something else. Take for example the London Olympics last year. My staff at work were watching the opening ceremony and soon bombarded me with questions about the grand old city. They were all in awe of the magnificent spectacle and for the first time had actually seen what London looked like.

Being the dream-smashing realist that I am, they were soon reduced to tears when I told them that London was nothing like what they saw on the box. No, fireworks don’t go off every night; it’s not all clean gutters and freshly painted road markings. There are places like Streatham, Crystal Palace and Hackney. London is as dirty and as grimey as any other city in the world. Stratford, I said, which is where the main Olympic complex was, was the seventh circle of Hell only eight years ago. Under-developed, laden with abandoned warehouses and full to overflowing with narcotics paraphernalia and dead gangsters.

Then there were the people. My men saw all the pretty girls wearing athletics costumes, all the strapping young men in shell-suits and the old athletic legends lighting torches and driving speedboats. When the camera’s zoomed in on the crowds in the grandstand, only the prettiest and most chisel-jawed would suffice. Where were all the obese people? Where were the toothless paupers? These people exist and are as much a part of Britain as the Queen. No, my staff were convinced that this is what London is all the time; beauty, glamour and fireworks.

"Yeah, like, I couldn't find Spot the dog. But like, when I turned it the other way he was, like totes there!"

“Yeah, like, I couldn’t find Spot the dog. But like, when I turned it the other way he was, like, totes there!”

So, those of you back home, I have a question: what do you think the UAE is like? Well, to answer the question I want you to type “The Only Way Is Essex Cast Members In Dubai” into Google and tell me what comes up. Done it? Right. The most recent case of false advertising was only last week. Some air-headed, inflatable Z-lister called Amy Childs was staying at a hotel in Dubai. The same one, it turns out, that I got engaged in. There she is poolside, drink in hand, with her fake-tanned, drawn-on-muscled Ken-doll non-husband of a man. As luck would have it, a professional photographer happened to be passing by so of course a quick photo-shoot was commissioned.

There was Miss. Childs, wearing two pieces of strategically placed string to cover her modesty whilst Ken kissed various parts of her on the sun-lounger. Then, in an effort to dupe us as to her intellect, Miss. Childs was snapped reading a book by the pool bar. The keen-eyed may have noticed that the book was actually upside down. But luckily she was still able to “Spot” the dog. So, in the national UK press we were provided with a full-page spread of an unmarried couple drinking, kissing and canoodling and demonstrating no respect for the local laws.

This happens a lot. Footballers, Reality TV people (I refuse to say “stars”), pop stars, Lewis Hamilton’s…it seems that Dubai is a place where the wealthy can come and strip off and do as they please. How nice it must be to be above the law.

Conversely, last month an Irish welder and a British recruitment officer were sentenced to three months in prison for allegedly having sex in the back of a Dubai taxi. The story has been “well” documented in the British media and indeed over here too. But there are serious flaws with the case. I’ve written about this before also, but a Police-approved medical expert confirmed that there was no sign of intercourse having taken place. Furthermore, the taxi driver was a charlatan and has changed his story thrice, and not once has it matched the details given by the arresting officer who attended the scene.

No, according to the defence, the taxi driver detoured in an effort to make more money. The Irish welder, smart to his antics, spoke up and told the driver that he wouldn’t be paying the extra money. Because the expats had however been consuming alcohol they were an easy target. His false testimony, together with the mismatched story from the officer has landed a potentially innocent couple in prison. They are charged with consuming alcohol, public indecency and sex outside of marriage. They are currently appealing and I hope, for their sake and the reputation of the UAE, that true justice is served.

This, then, a case of words against words with no video or photographic proof either way is in direct contrast to the tabloid-documented display of Miss. Amy Childs and her terracotta, pencil outlined Ken-doll. In The Daily Mail, the story of the arrested couple and the Childs “photo-shoot” appeared three pages apart, so really, what do you make of the UAE?

Some people won’t come here because they are afraid of having their collars felt for eating a Twix on the Metro, but others can’t wait to get on the next flight over because they think they’ll bump into Kim Kardashian getting frisky on the beach. That’s why people argue about what this place is really like, no one knows for sure, not even the people that live here.

So, in conclusion, the UAE is kind of what you make it. You can do whatever you like so long as you pretend to be wealthy, pretend to have no talent and hire a photographer to follow you around all week. You will, apart from a few brain-dead zealots looking for autographs because they’ve mistaken you for the guy who voices The Bachelor, be left alone. If, however, you want to be a normal person who earns a modest wage and can’t afford an entourage or 20 gallons of orange body paint then you should really watch your back and always be sure to carry extra money for the cheating taxi driver.

Surviving is purely a game of percentages…

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120. Magazines

So, with Chairman Mao in at number 2, let's find out who tops our list of The 100 Greatest Tyrants...

So, with Chairman Mao in at number 2, let’s find out who tops our list of The 100 Greatest Tyrants…

Before I was old enough to legally get into pubs and nightclubs my weekend nights generally revolved around the television set. After The Simpsons, Father Ted, 999, Strange But True and of course, You’ve Been Framed, there would be the customary Channel 4 program presented by someone like Jimmy Carr with the not-so-mysterious prefix of The top 100… It could, and generally would, be an hour filler of non-stop, useless crap. The top 100 comedy shows, the top 100 comedy show stars, the top 100 comedy show moments, the top 100 comedy show bloopers, the top 100 comedy show credit reels, the top 100 comedy show kitchen sets and so on.

The question is; how valid was each list? Who decided that Only Fools and Horses could in some way be better than Dad’s Army? They’re both brilliant and I could never choose between the two, nor can I think of a situation where I would ever have to. If my future wife was kidnapped, I don’t think her captor would want to know who I thought was the better spiv; Del Boy or Private Walker. He’d make me do something else far more sinister.

The shows would have a collection of people who, according to the dictionary definition of the word, were “celebrities”, in the sense that they had appeared on TV by some means. They were people who only ever played minor support roles, game show panellists, ex-Big Brother contestants and so on. There was no one even remotely worthy of telling me who the best actor of all time could be.

Out of all the Middle Eastern countries, the UAE is the one that has caught Westernisation more so than anyone else. This inevitably means that the culture over here hasn’t just adopted McDonalds, Starbucks and high cholesterol; it too has adopted the pointless and meaningless methods of dictation of our interests and our insatiable need to list things by order of preference.

Now, you and I are smart people, we don’t concede to the likes of The Only Way Is Herpes, America’s Dumbest Criminals or any party political broadcast, we don’t need to be told. We already have a favourite film, a favourite car, a favourite eye-liner and a favourite dog, so why do certain mediums insist on providing us with meaningless lists on such a regular basis?

My fiancé is forever leaving trashy magazines lying around in an attempt, I think, to make me gay. However, since I do the bulk of my reading online I do like to take some reading material into the bathroom each morning…if you know what I mean. So, as I’m sitting there in the bathroom I spool through the latest copy of Ahlan! and – through all the images of scantily-clad women that I assumed were banned in UAE – there is always a list that, as far as I can tell, has absolutely no meaning or relevance whatsoever and has been as well thought out as the Euro.

Recently, in an unnamed publication, I read a list about the top 200 people in the world. Stop right there, “journalists”, how in the name of all that is holy can a list dictate the top 200 people in the world, and by what possible measure? Surely opinion would differ person to person and country to country. Osama Bin Laden was very popular in some quarters, but despised in others. Some people even voted for Tony Blair, so that proves straight away that we don’t all think alike.

Anyway, this list that I came across – complete with glossy pictures and witless captions – gave us some interesting results. Clearly, the writers wanted to make sure that they were covering every angle, so it kind of made no sense at all. Just scraping in at 200 was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and moody bastard who invented Facebook and Oprah Winfrey came home 197th. Curiously, in 185th was Hans Solo. Nicholas Sarkozy was in 174th right behind Mr. UK himself; Alex Salmond. The Queen was 161st and my personal favourite, Ai-Jen Poo, was placed 157th.

The top 100 made for even more entertaining reading, Kim Jong-Un just making the cut. He won’t be pleased though because in at 97th place was Ayatollah Khameni (Barack Obama was 143rd). Somehow, Ellen DeGeneres was 48th with Hilary Clinton 34th, narrowly beating George Clooney. Usain Bolt came in 20th, no fancy dancing this time, mate, and staggeringly Alec Baldwin was 11th.

Then we came to the top 10, and in descending numerical order – and this is not made up – we had at 10th Vidya Balan, Bashar Assad, Aziz Ansari, Anonymous (yes, 7th actually says this), Jose Andres, Marc Andreessen, Ai Wei Wei, Sheldon Adelson, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and at number one: Adele, the singer.

I am not making any of this up and I want you to tell me honestly, how many of the names in the top 10 do you actually recognise? Furthermore, how inappropriate do you think it is to have the current Syrian ruler appear at number nine? And I’m certain that Ai Wei Wei is a made up name. I have no problems with Adele; the plucky singer is very talented. But by what possible measure can she top a list of the world’s greatest people?

UAE magazines are generally good, so long as they have experienced professionals running them and writing for them. Some of the car magazines for example over here are just franchises of US and UK publications and as such are super reads. But the trashy, glossy, Kardashian-happy guff that forever lists the most inane of things is truly mind-blowing. All the glossy tabloid nonsense will only dumb down a generation, just like reality TV has done. There is nothing real about it.

History will look back at this time and laugh at us. And sadly, I won’t be around to explain that we’re not all idiots. You can see it now in the year 2413, can’t you, The Top 100 stupid things about the 21st Century…

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100. Century

UAE Uncut thanks YOU! And the UAE, without the UAE this would just be a blank, pointless website.

Well, we did it.  We got to 100 blog columns.  In just 9 months I have strung together nearly 100,000 words about all things UAE.  When I first started ranting in my own little corner of cyberspace I envisaged posting one missive of thoughts each week.  Before she was launched, I scribbled down a few areas that I could cover in what is now called UAE Uncut.  I struggled, but I got as far as 23 subjects that I felt I could write about.  For a start I thought that that would be suitable; 23 weeks worth of guff that should cover 6 months.

But no, every morning I opened the paper there was something else that grabbed my attention that required instant ridicule or discussion.  Over the last 100 blogs we have examined many, many different things.  We have spoken of acrobatic plumbers who twirl and dance whilst installing boilers with boot laces.  We have identified that the Apple classes have too much money to spend on what is basically the same product as the one they are replacing.  Tables and chairs not making sense, music all sounding the same and the need to use the hot water tap for cold water and the cold water tap for hot water.  We have compared Emirates Road to communism and have identified the Toyota Land Cruiser as perhaps the greatest threat to mankind since the invention of the nuclear weapon.

Most of the writing I produce is rubbish.  Hatchet job scribbles with spurious connections laden full of poor factual references, sloppy explanations, flawed solutions and highly questionable conclusions.  But now and again sometimes a good one slips through the mill and makes its way through some cables to your computer.  These are usually the ones that do the worst on the stats page, unlike the rubbish ones, which seem to be the most popular.  It is clear, then, that I do not understand my target audience at all.

Every now and again I get to a stage when I think that I have bled the land dry in terms of subject matter.  In the same way that the UAE is worried about the oil running out, I am worried about the blog matter running out.

But no, all it takes is for a mad law to be passed that bans the use of air conditioning between noon and 3pm or for a story about a man who claims to the courts that he was tricked into mainlining heroin into his veins by some children, and bang, we’re back in the game.

Of course without my readers I would just be an angry man shouting at his laptop whenever the mood struck.  Yes I have offended a couple of people, but it’s not my fault that you’re thick and don’t understand irony.  The rest of you guys have been very loyal to UAE Uncut.  For that I am truly grateful.

So, then, 100 down…we’ve barely scratched the surface.

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74. DVD’s

Yesterday I went to Mall of the Emirates, which in case you don’t know, is a Mall in Dubai with an Alp in it.  I’m a funny one with “Malls”, or “Shopping Centres” as they should be called.  No matter where I am in the world, no matter what is on offer or available, the only shops I will ever go in to are ones that sell DVD’s.

Thankfully Mall of the Alpines has a Virgin Megastore, which for a franchise that went bankrupt a few years ago seems to be doing rather well in the economic afterlife.  So I went in and started snaking around all the different DVD genres.  I pick one up, scoff at the price/actor calibre ratio (honestly, who wants to see anything with Vin Diesel in it for AED 85?) put it down and buy something that I already have in my collection at home in London.

Once home the DVD goes into the soon to be archaic DVD player (I swear to the heavens I will not buy a pointless Blu-Ray player until they too are nearly obsolete) and I press play.  I sit there in awe of the directional prowess, the magnificence of the actors, the twisting story and so on until I soon realise that I am becoming confused.  Confused why?  Because something, some crucial scene that is the fulcrum point of the entire film has been cut out.

Now I understand that the UAE has a strict moral code and that everyone always follows it to the letter without question.  No really, there are no reported cases of anyone ever doing anything untoward ever.  It just doesn’t happen…  But really, there are many aspects of cutting scenes out of DVD’s that I simply don’t understand.

Ok, full on pornography isn’t readily available behind the counter over here, nor is it allowed, but it is true that some films do contain scenes of an intimate nature.  I understand that the UAE would rather it wasn’t displayed and fair enough.  But how on Earth do so many films make it on to OSN (the UAE’s satellite network)?  Honestly, I have been flicking through the channels before and stumbled across some films that I think would even be banned in the USA or the Netherlands.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  Who’s in charge?

I wouldn’t lick a Kardashian if she was glazed in honey!

Furthermore, most of the scenes that get cut from DVD’s aren’t of an intimate nature at all.  I have V for Vendetta sitting here, which according to the box and Wikipedia has a run time of 132 minutes, my copy has only 98 minutes of footage.  No wonder I was confused, I missed a quarter of the film, but what was it that I missed exactly?  Stephen Fry appears nude in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, but thanks to some crafty camerawork he really is only topless.  Ok, it’s not that I am dying to see a de-robed Stephen Fry, but what he has to say in the missing scene is fairly important to the film’s plot.

I own lots of DVD’s, over 300, and most of them have been brought over from the UK.  All of them are also available here so it’s not like I’m smuggling contraband, it’s because I’m fed up of only getting half my monies worth.  Family Guy is funny.  You can moan about it if you don’t like it, but it is light, low-brow relief.  It provides a cheap laugh that can be very much needed over here sometimes.  For a while it was banned, I can’t think why…  But now it’s back on the shelf, fully uncut, yet we can’t watch Stephen Fry josh with his usual aplomb.  If you watch Family Guy then you will understand my point.

So what may be done?  If the Ministry of DVD Mutilation is going to continue to cut out scenes that are of importance to the film and thereby put people off buying them in the first place therefore damaging the local economy, then may I make a suggestion?  Forget about the nudity, really, we all shower and we all know what’s down there, but let’s ban certain actors instead: Vin Diesel, Val Kilmer, The Rock and of course, the worst actor of the lot of them; Kim Kardashian.

Cutting her out of our lives and replacing her and her stupidity with Stephen Fry and his nipples will only improve our quality of life and get our moral compass’s back on track.  Food for thought…

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67. Road Surprises

“Sorry I was late to the Jazz club… I missed exit 44 and had to do a U-Turn at Mall of the Emirates”

Can we be honest for a minute?  Is there any such thing as a genuine road surprise in the UAE?  I mean it’s total bedlam most of the time with people weaving and swerving across 10 lanes, racing, excessively speeding and crashing into each other, there really is little that can surprise the experienced UAE motorist.  Of course the common denominator with all the foibles is that the offences, or surprises if you will, are committed by human beings.  This is the same species that invented the light bulb, the automobile, the Saturn V5 rocket, the iPhone and Kim Kardashian.  The usual road offenders are from an exclusive club, the club of mankind.  The only known race in the entire universe that can harness electricity and that can communicate with each other instantly from opposite sides of the world and that can travel into space.  We should all be very proud of ourselves.

You therefore assume that since one man was able to invent the steam locomotive that another man would know how to indicate in order to change lanes on Emirates Road.  Not so I’m afraid.  The human race is like no other, our intelligence spectrum ranges from mathematical genius’s like Albert Einstein to, well there’s no point being rude, but someone very thick.  Dog’s generally all have the same level of intelligence, they all sit, heel and bark on command.  Zebra’s are the same; they all have the same mindset as each other.  You will never meet a Giraffe that can build a space rocket, just like you will never meet a Giraffe who stares at the TV all day dribbling watching Kim Kardashian, they are all the same.

But what happens if you are to mix the staid animal race with the hustle and bustle of the busy human rush hour?  You may have stumbled across an article in the news this week about a rogue camel running amok near Dubai Marina.  The video highlights a couple of key points that I think will put us in our place.  But first, the nitty gritty facts…  Did you know that camels are protected by law in the UAE?  Ok, you probably did, but did you know that they are third overall in the class structure?  It’s true.  Did you also know that if, when driving, you hit/kill a camel with your car you have to pay AED 10,000 (£1,750)?  That’s if you whack the thing at night, if you clout into one in the day time the fee for replacement is AED 20,000 (£3,500).

Camels are like cows, they are phenomenally heavy.  A full grown camel can weigh up to 1550lb, that’s over 700kg.  If you are travelling in your Datsun Sunny at 120 Kommunists Per Hour (75 MPH) and you hit a 1550lb camel I fear that you may not survive to pay the dowry.  If by the grace of God you do not succumb to un-survivable injuries when what is effectively crashing into a concrete wall, then you are going to bankrupt yourself.  And this may mean no turkey for Christmas.

So, back to the viral sensation.  The camel was sighted galloping in the middle lane of an overpass.  He was giving it the beans for sure.  But what struck me about the majestic beast was that he was following the driving code more thoroughly than about 75% of the human population.  He was sticking to his lane for starters, between the white lines.  He, or possibly she, it was hard to tell, also knew that there was a car undertaking him/her.  This of course was the camera car, which drew alongside on the rogue camels port side, the camel didn’t swerve over, it looked over its shoulder, saw that there was a car there and maintained its trajectory.

The whole thing was marvellous.  Even the most navigational savvy men and women in the entire world have been known to get lost in Dubai and fall to their knees in tears of despair.  I’ve been there too, driving around in circles looking for a quick way out, swerving across 2-3 lanes just to get off the flyover.  The cameraman even stated that he believed the camel was lost, and rightly so.  But it was the way the camel maintained dignity by not swerving into the path of others, by not leaping in front of the other road users.  It showed a level of consideration seldom seen between humans.

The fate of the camel remains unknown, as does the location of the start of his voyage.  I do suspect however that the minder of the camel made a mistake by not doing his job properly.  An escaped camel could easily have caused so much carnage.  It just goes to prove that a human being made a cock-up, a big one.  He let a camel out on to the streets of Dubai.  The camel found him/herself on a busy Dubai road yet – I think – dealt with the situation superbly, better than a lot of people who have been lost when driving in Dubai.

So there we have it, the answer is found, yes there are genuine road surprises in the UAE, and it’s not as bad as you think.  The camels know how much they cost to replace and this escapee did his best under difficult circumstances to ensure he didn’t inconvenience other road users.  Camels are higher up the class structure for a reason.  Like all animals, they may all have the same level of intelligence as one another, but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid.

They put a lot of humans to shame…

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