Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tea Trumps Towers as Dubai Maps Way Back to Future as Trade Hub
BusinessWeek: "Dubai is spending $13 billion on building a new international airport and expanding existing air and shipping terminals. The ruling Al Maktoum family is focusing on the emirate’s traditional strength as a trade hub, after borrowing $109 billion to build record skyscrapers and man-made islands led to the world’s worst property crash last year."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nothing should be ambiguous about what’s indecent
(Sultan Sooud AlQassemi)
It is time that the UAE has a serious conversation with itself about what is and isn’t acceptable in public. It is no longer possible to expect that these issues will sort themselves through a policy of ambiguity. Emiratis must also be brought in to the conversation as stakeholders in the future and shape of their country.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Environmentally friendly shoppers likely to cheat
Environmentally aware consumers are more likely to lie, cheat and be unkind than regular shoppers, a study suggests.

Researchers say that people have a limited stock of goodwill and that being virtuous in one part of life leads to meanness in another. The phenomenon called "compensatory ethics" came to light in a series of experiments ...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

India’s Mobile Users and Missed Calls (
The Indian mobile user has mastered the art of missed call. Instead of leaving voicemail, mobile users in India prefer to dial a number, let it ring a couple of times and hang up. And the person who gets the missed calls knows that someone called them. The missed call can be a pre-arranged signal or pre-arranged message to mean ...


Every month millions of cell phone users are added in India and they continue to flummox marketing folks in the innovative way in which they use their mobile phones.

Quite. With many not even having ever used a landline or pager in their lives, there is no precedent norm of usage to stymie creative approaches to internationally mature but locally novel technology.

Friday, March 12, 2010

DemoCamp Dubai 2010

Held at DKV this year, DemoCamp Dubai (#DemoCampDubai) is a periodic forum for select Dubai-based entrepreneurs to, well, demo their nascent tech business forays to industry experts, venture capitalists and the interested public. DemoCamps have apparently been held in Canada, Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well, and this one was the fifth in the Dubai series. Led by a brief on entrepreneurial tactics by a VC guest speaker, the six presenters were then given 10 minutes each to describe their businesses. As this was my first DemoCamp, I cannot confirm the gripes, but the previous ones seem to have been more casual and geek-oriented than this one, which was accused of being too corporate. Well, there were plenty of suits not to mention a VIP sofa row. Anyway, my observations on each presentation:

    A service-provider for "advergaming" - the insertion of paid-for advertisement sprites into web games built on their compatibility platform. One of the most interesting, original and globally-envisioned, they made a good business decision to only provide the service. Thus, they leave the game-making to the relevant professionals, but can capture the business by providing and encouraging adoption of the platform standard and building up a network effect.
  • FurnishMarketplace
    An exclusively B2B platform for furniture designers, furniture suppliers, hoteliers and real estate developers to post, buy and sell furniture in bulk. It's got a very well-designed search tool and a highly navigation-friendly site with cross-linking everywhere.
    An aspiring Amazon for the Middle East. While facing significant barriers of cross-border discontinuity in delivery and payment, it has some good points with linguistic and regional customization, as well as aiming for a real-time approach to pricing and logistic decision-making. I wish them the best, as the region could do with a good online shopping economy.
    A MENA-specific version of LinkedIn. An employee of a MENA-focused SME myself, I can say that, despite the naysayers, there is nothing particularly disadvantageous in targeting a geographical niche with an existing global business model, as long as the business seeks depth, nuance and engagement in regional coverage, rather than merely following a generic business model while selling to a regional market. It has some teething issues, and took the most flak during the Q&A.
    A service that charges customers to assemble albums of images that are stored in different places on the web. Its selling points appear to be simplicity and various temporal and geographic customization filters that can be applied to visitors. However, this is a service that could easily be replicated by existing social networking sites or photo-hosting sites for free. It could do with a more community-oriented approach, perhaps, and think of other value-added services that would justify whipping out a credit card.
    Information and advertising site for Arab weddings. Targeting a very lucrative market with detailed, relevant information and a highly niche-specific approach. Seeking scalability, but faces barriers in outreach to an otherwise very offline business community. Still, they can count on their current depth and breadth of coverage, and try to hold onto their first-mover advantage.
  • Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Eric Schmidt: Ask what the Web can do for you
    Listen well and be open, because customers and constituents have more information and choice than ever before. If you're not sure, ask them and get feedback. Some of it will be bad, but you will be better off for having had the conversation. Experiment frequently and fail well, learning and getting smarter with each round. As Voltaire noted, the perfect really is the enemy of the good, because if you wait until it's "perfect" someone will produce something more quickly that is merely good - and then iterate fast and often.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    I has a fez!

    A little something I picked up at the DSF creekside souq. Now I can pass for a Turkish nerd.


    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    LMV Spoof: Total Eclipse of the Heart


    Spiiin arouuund, niinjaaas!

    Saudi keen to regulate BlackBerry Messenger for ‘security’
    Yeah, right. Why not go bother MSN and Gmail too? You know, you could just turn off the service, as the terrorist subscriber still depends on local access. If they can get around that, well, they could probably get away with anything. Heck, just offer them an upgrade instead.

    Breathing life into Bastakiya (SSaQ Blog)
    Nowhere else in the Gulf is there such a diversity of architecture inspired by Arab Hijazi masharbiyas, Levantine decorations, North African courtyards and interior Arabian Peninsula windows as well as Islamic calligraphy, Persian Barjeels, and East African a

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Dubai company sets mattress dominoes record (Furniture Today)
    Mattress producer Intercoil International, a Therapedic licensee based here, has landed in the Guinness Book of World Records after arranging the world's longest line of "outdoor human mattress dominoes."

    Young Emirati prepares for gruelling Arctic challenge (Gulf News)
    Dubai: Elham Al Qasimi has pushed her intellectual abilities all her life to make it to the top, be it at the London School of Economics or her number crunching job at JP Morgan.

    But the young Emirati will for the first time submit her body to the extremes of physical endurance in the freezing North Pole this April to become the first Arab woman to set foot in the Arctic.