Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Land of Wind Towers

You have seen them at the Creek, on over-sized villas in Satwa, in the 3-d generated renderings of multi-billion dirhams community projects and prominently at the Madinat Jumeirah. Almost all architects and builders are busy associating these mostly brownish, sometimes rugged and rarely functional vertical openings with some rods sticking out, to the architectural and cultural heritage of Dubai.

So I decided to find out a little more about the most ancient form of air-conditioning and its origin. Early in the 18th century, with the new found wealth out of pearl trade in countries like Bahrain, merchants built houses bringing with them some respective regional architectural aspects. One of the such features was the 'baghdeer' or a natural ventilation system. The hawaya is one of the three types of baghdeer, says, an excellent resource in Islamic architecture. The Burj Al Hawwa or the Wind Towers we refer to today, was meant to take advantage of the prevailing winds allowing the air to funnel into the interiors. The mangrove poles which were often sticking out of the structure provided the much needed tensile strength.

The easy accessibility and availability in the region has rendered this cumbersome natural air cooling system useless over the years. But the revival of these wind towers came from an unlikely place, where people have been exhibiting the Burj Al Hawwa merely as a decorative element; the mangrove poles replaced by concrete rods painted a darker shade of brown.

Illustration courtesy :

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How do you feel?

I feel like the spontaniety is lacking in everything I say and do. How do you feel?

Every few minutes, "searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved."

A very unique concept. Try it out.
Thanks to Leilouta for the link.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The World Cup Branding Story

Since sulking about not being able to watch the FIFA World cup in the comfort of my room wasn’t helping me much, I decided to divert my attention to what went behind the branding and mascot design for the big event.

‘Goleo’, the trouserless furry lion is drawing flak from all quarters, especially in Germany where one of the most respected designer and typographer Erik Spiekermann points out that ‘Goleo’ in its name and form does not represent Germany in any respect. He goes on to say, “We have eagles, gnomes and garden dwarves and what have you, but we don't have lions. That's English or French.”.
So where did the Lion come from? From a British branding agency, ofcourse. In 1998, when a man called Chris Lightfoot was heading the London based brand agency, Interbrand, they were selected to design the logo for FIFA. Since then, he has worked as the primary creative director for FIFA Marketing and has started Whitestone International, which was responsible for branding the Japan-South Korea 2002 World Cup as well.

It seems the German Football Association was so impressed with the 2002 logo that they hired Whitestone to design the 2006 version. Whitestone came up with 'Celebrating Faces Of Football', which I think is quite successful in being ‘friendly’ and ‘contemporary’. However, the negative is that it is trying to tell too many things, especially with the German tricolour swish looking like a last-minute add-on. It is highly unlikely that this cheerful logo from Whitestone will be remembered in the years to come.

As for the ludicrous German lion, I just wish Goleo pay a visit to Dubai to gobble up that ugly yellow caterpillar with a fake smile that makes 47 degree Celsius seem like 60 during the Dubai Summer Shockers. Too bad, the company behind Goleo has gone bankrupt.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Dubizzle is one weird establishment.
According to their website "Dubizzle (pronounced doo-biz-zull) stems from an ancient Greek word, dubizelius, meaning: really-awesome-and-easy-to-use-community -portal-for-Dubai- that-will-be-displayed-and-accessed- through-a-futuristic-device-called-a-computer- that-won't-be-invented-for-another-2-3-thousand-years (rough translation). "
Despite their attempts at bad humour, I searched for 'dubizelius' on Websters and they suggested 'dubiously' which was fine by me, considering the brain behind their corporate logo. I wonder which agency burnt their heads on coming up with such a masterpiece.

But the Oh My Dubai Photos made up for all the wizardry. Somewhat.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sleeping under the Stairs

1 Dhs per hour. That is what the companies in UAE, which are making windfall profits compared to the rest of the world pay a labourer for working overtime, according to Gulf News Property Weekly article. Not that it is surprising. Every day we come across press releases saying "XXX Billion Dollar Project Launched". Don't they have a few more dirhams to spare for these struggling labourers who are giving Dubai the competitive advantage over the rest of the world?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dubai's missing Guiness entry

According to Falapeno, Dubai was robbed off from a distinctive Guinness book entry. Here is what happened.

GG1: "Guinness Book office. Can I help you?"

PM: "Yes. I am calling from Dubai and I've got 50 cranes lined up together in one site. Can you put this in the next Guinness edition?"

GG1: "50 cranes? In a lake or something?"

PM(excitedly): "In a desert!"

GG1: "Huh. Ok. Hold on for a second please"

GG1 to GG2: "Hey theres this dude from Dubai who claims hes got 50 cranes lined up in a desert and he wants an entry into the Guinness Book"

GG2: "Must be the desert heat being hard on him. You know it"

GG1(back on the phone) : "50 cranes you said? But no goose?"

PM: "Goose? No..I mean.. these are cranes all weighing more than 12 tonnes.."


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sorry, Dubai

If Etisalat was swift in blocking Sorry Dubai for what it called objectionable content (read criticism of Etisalat) last year, it obviously does not find anything wrong with the new version which has some interesting messages for Dubai-ans.

Wake up, idiots who think dubai is the best.Cauz any of you havent seen anywhere else like Deutschland,Großbritannien,Amerika,Europa usw.
Whole heartedlyF*** u all

posted by Ahmedinejad at 4:11 PM

Future of dubai?

What is the future of dubai!!Well if it has any!!
IN 40 yrs they run out of oil and thaey can't do anything about
posted by Ahmedinejad at 4:37 AM


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The First Strike

We need to get rid of this guy who represents and advocates everything that a cultured civilisation is not. And I do not mean the 7 foot bulk-heads (with exceptions, ofcourse) who just do what their masters ask them to do. It is the corporations, the companies and the authorities whose deep-rooted ignorance and prejudice that is undermining the very existence of a multi-cultural society.

Gulf News' claims of playing the activist medium against racial discrimination might be a little overstated, but this is defintely step on the right direction.

FYI: You can register complaints against the DTCM, Dubai or Dubai based establishments here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Peoples Game

With each passing game, my frustration on not being able to watch the FIFA World Cup 2006 is growing. E-Vision, ART ...all of you suck. Bigtime.

With apologies to the original Adidas advert.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wonder of Wonders - The Falcons Crotch

A mention of Dubai in the in the present day media is unmistakeably accompanied by references to the rebuilding of the seven wonders of the world. Salim AlMoosa enterprises, with apparently 30 years of experience making castles in the sand has taken up this ambitious (Now, isn't that an understatement) project. If Dubai's architectural vision and capabilities are to be evaluated in 10 years time with a 'landmark' like this, the city has some serious issues to tackle.

Besides the ingenuity of making the project in the shape of the favourite bird of the UAE, the developers have done what no other company or architect has managed to do - make the Eiffel Tower stick out of the Falcon's crotch. Buildings as phallic symbols (unintentionally, I assume) are not very new in the world of architecture, but this one is really going to take the cake. But the real entertainment is on their website - a poetic essay on the vision behind the project and design rationale. Someone please tell me what the following means.

"The objective of Dubai Eiffel Tower [sic] is to provide prestigious units for the elits that are architecuraly sensitive and responsive to the context through using the original Eiffel tower historical statues and worldwide fame, while maximizing the net revenues associated with net development of the project."
"envisioning privacy and intigration in the same time seperation in both horizontal and vertical movement..."
Full text is available here and here.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Silence of the lambs

"There is no accountability and nobody questions the system because there are no political rights," said Mohammed al-Roken, a human rights lawyer and the former head of the Emirates' Jurists Association. "The elites are buying the allegiance of their citizens."

Being been banned indefinitely from writing in local newspapers, having public speeches frequently cancelled at the last minute and being refused permission to set up a human rights organisaion in not exactly the change he was hoping for. As The Guardian finds out..

Although the Washington Post looks at the both sides, the Human Rights Watch minces no words in its analysis of Dubai.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Builder of Big Dreams

TIME magazine has listed the CEO of Dubai Inc. as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in it's May 2006 issue. The article also described Dubai as his 'family run city' and reckons that his subjects fondly call him Sheikh Mo. But what I liked about the article was this rather remarkable illustration above done by Thomas Reis.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Free World Cup Tickets!

I bet you got as excited as the UAE scribes were when they received this offer from the company which claims to light up the world.
As Dubai Media Observer says about the UAE journalists, "Just because they are cheap and hardly competent, doesn't mean you should point it out to their face". Campaign ME did a good job of convincing readers that they were mortified hearing about this offer. They seem to be quite convinced that Phillips is not going to advertise in Campaign anytime in the near future; but to be fair to them, the magazine is a good read.
Kudos to the UAE media fraternity who stood up against this deplorable act.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Now here is an advertising agency that fires clients instead of the other way round. From the Subservient Chicken to the Unboring Ikea lamp, Crispin Porter + Bogusky has a less complicated approach to advertising and marketing than their name suggests - make news and more news. Their relentless pursuit towards this approach has made them the most sought after agency in recent times raising profile of companies ranging from Volkswagen to Coca Cola.
The edgy and often eccentric ideas have drawn criticism from different quarters; has however produced admirable results in terms of product sales and they have been hugely successful in engaging consumers through usage of media like web and TV. Here is Business Week gushing about the people who made advertisements the discussion topic in cocktail parties.

Is it illegal to sit in a car with a lady?

'Emirates Evening Post' a seemingly obscure newspaper, with a not-so-remarkable editorial content, has again raised some uncomfortable questions, albeit unintentionally through their 'Ask your Lawyer' column.
A man and a woman, not legally related (can be friends, colleagues etc) are "not supposed to sit together in a car, or go for movies, or to restaurants etc.. " says the matter-of-fact lawyer to a bizarre question.
Wonder why some half-dressed male and female models clinging together in a showroom opening of an international brand as seen on a popular newspaper doesnt make the cut.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

TIME for Opus Dei

No, I havent seen the movie yet. But the barrrage of criticism has convinced me that I can sit through 'Da Vinci Code' without strangling the film distributor. Ever since the dubious distinction of being the most popular 'lost and found' item from trains was bestowed upon this book, it has become not-so-fashionable to say that you are a Dan Brown fan. It is akin to admitting that you listen to Backstreet Boys(I heard they are back again- Backstreets back, allright- dont get me started ok?).
If you are having frequent heaches trying to find out about the unending mysteries and clues associated with the book, this TIME magazine article about the 'evil' Opus Dei is going to make it worse. There was a report about Opus Dei spending millions of dollars in a PR campaign to strengthen their public image after the book gave them nightmares. Looks like it is working.
Here are some scans from the TIME article. Worth a read.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Culture & Heritage for AED 50 Billion

The word culture, from the Latin colo, -ere, with its root meaning "to cultivate", generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. Different definitions of "culture" reflect different theoretical bases for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity.

Egyptian Culture has 5000 years history of flourishing art, architecture, religion, literature and language. Indian culture is one of the oldest and has retained much of its illustrious art, architectural and musical heritage till date. Almost 1200 years of Roman culture and heritage is considered instrumental in shaping the social structure and civilization we see today.

So when a UAE government-funded property developer gives another-drop-your-jaws- here-is-another-press-release which says that“Culture City will offer the cultural soul that Dubai deserves”, I begin to wonder if you can really buy culture and heritage for 50 billion Dirhams. The not-so-distinguishable clichéd wind-tower(which itself has its origins in Iran and Bahrain) logo makes me all the more skeptical.

So what do you think? Is this the real culture and heritage of Dubai?