Saturday, August 28, 2010

City of Life

Genre: Independent
Watching a film made in the Emirates and actually set in the Emirates, let alone about actual life in the Emirates, is a new experience for many of us. Sure, there have been Bollywood flicks showing glittering skyscrapers as backdrops for mob bosses and dance routines, and the occasional Hollywood production that might pass through the country or portray it as another.

City of Life is about Dubai. Instant appeal on that point alone. Several weeks into release and people still flocked to the theatres that did screen the first mainstream Emirati feature film. It was a rare chance to see Karama's City Corner supermarket, the massive DIFC and other landmarks, iconic on levels global and local, on the silver screen in a slick film with world-class cinematography.

And if the production values weren't enough, the casting seems to have pulled in some major star power. The Tudors' Natalie Dormer played the role of an Eastern European flight attendant, and Jason Flemyng, who starred in the likes The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Clash of the Titans, played a high-living British advertising exec. The talents of Indian film industry big-timers Javed Jaffrey and Sonu Sood powered the South Asian cohort, playing an entertainment kingpin and a taxi driver respectively. While I am not really acquainted with the Arab film world, I thought Ahmed Ahmed and The Narcicyst did well as Emiratis in different social strata, trying to reconcile austere tradition with glamorous modernity.

When I first heard, long ago, that the film revolved around a car crash as a denouement, I feared it might be a remake of the multi-Oscar Crash. Fortunately, it was not. Three plot streams, one European, one South Asian, and one Emirati, did converge at said crash. With dialog delivered partly in native tongues and subtitled when so, each story depicted the experiences of living in Dubai for each group. Posh villas and yachts. Hovels and taxis. The small cafeteria with creatively-named juice mixes. The dusty lanes in the rough-hewn bungalow communities. The soaring towers sparkling with light reflected off other soaring towers. The glitzy parties. The seedy bars.

We also get to see glimpses of realistic but (in Dubai) taboo themes, like premarital sex (officially illegal here), amateur road stunt displays, ethnic stereotyping, worker exploitation and young Muslims' occasional haram indulgences. One would expect the villains to get their just desserts in the end, of course. That said, I could not help but get a pontification-heavy vibe off the film at some points, especially towards the finale.

I still recommend the film as a whole, the work of director and writer Ali F. Mostafa. The film definitely hits all the right spots for a Dubaiker. We get a glimpse into the experiences of different social classes, different cultures and different story-lines, all reflected to some extent in the real society, demographics and happenings in Dubai. Especially the interweaving of plot devices within and among the plot-lines, the film paces and develops well. The production quality is, once again, world-class, and the use of camera techniques is excellent. Mostafa hopes to see Emirati films as regular theatre features, and I wish him and other Dubai-based film-makers all the best for that.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Metal sticks to body of London woman (real life Magneto)
Dubbed the human magnet, Allison of Holloway, North London says she is often embarrassed by the effect, which she has been told is down to a heightened electromagnetic current running through her body.

The accounts manager says coins, safety pins, magnets, spanners and even a metal lid from a Vaseline pot can stay on her body for up to 45 minutes without falling off.

When the pulse is at its strongest, she says she can even dance in her living room without them coming off.

For as long as she can remember, she explains, her body has set off car alarms, interrupted the TV signal and blown out light bulbs.


10K+ Chinese Break Human-Domino Record
It looks like there's a world record for everything.

In the city of Ordos, located in Inner Mongolia in northern China, 10,267 people dressed in color-coordinated outfits and toppled, all in the name of the Guinness book.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The One With The Four Husbands
A controversial episode from a satirical Saudi television show was finally aired on Saturday, despite coming under fire from scholars and viewers.

The "Multiple Husbands" episode, the fourth to be shown on the 17th series of Tash Ma Tash, revolves around a woman with four husbands who wants to divorce one so she can marry for the fifth time.

It is based on Saudi columnist Nadine Al-Bidair's article "My Four Husbands and I," published last December in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri Al-Youm. The column created a major Islamic debate and received massive criticism.


I didn't even know KSA allowed satire shows, or even a sense of humor.

Hard Rock Cafe to dish up a second serving in Dubai


Hard Rock International will announce today that its Hard Rock Café Dubai will re-open as a new 26,500 square-foot restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel end of the DFC with a large indoor music stage and enough room to comfortably host 300 patrons.

When the lights are turned on, the cafe will be recognised as the largest Hard Rock Café outside of North America featuring the largest Hard Rock Shop in the world touting rock memorabilia.

And, to draw attention to its new creekside location, Hard Rock Café will build the tallest ornamental guitar in the world reaching a height of 118 feet, near the boulevard fronting Festival City.


Monday, August 16, 2010

'I hate my father for my forced marriage, I hate my tribe, and I don't love my wife'
(The National Newspaper)
“I was promised to him on the day I was born,” she said. “They told me it was our custom, the tribal way, that it was Islamic. I know Islam. There is nothing that says you must marry your cousin. In fact it warns that if you do that your children will be unhealthy.”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Project MEGA

Having had my interest in Project MEGA sufficiently raised by the exhibition in DIFC this May, I managed to catch the last MEGA customization workshop held by DUCTAC in MoE today.

As I recall, I was busy designing my own hanfu shortly after this time last year, so I decided to paint my MEGA with hair buns (frustum-shaped, actually, due to the shape of the MEGA's ears), and use glue and the fabric DUCTAC staff kindly found for me to construct a dark blue hanfu for "MEGA gong zhu".

Took a bit of trial and error, some corrections, and some unfortunately hurried painting in the end, but I am proud of her.

Note: Many of the MEGA in the exhibit were customized by actual artists, using their own materials, and in more than just three hours. I just worked by myself with what I was given in that much time.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kittehz Deemannedin Teh Nom

Creemeh kitteh, smowkeh kitteh, orinj kitteh and tabbeh kitteh has voted you-nanny-mousely ... dey wants teh gushifuds and dey wants it nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao!




xkcd: University Website

Sunday, August 1, 2010

UAE Criminals Working Overtime to Finish Nefarious Schemes by Oct 11 Deadline

2010 August 01

Terrorists, assassins, smugglers and extortionists in the United Arab Emirates are at wit's end now that the state telecom authority has announced that it will be blocking untraceable Blackberry services nationwide starting October the 11th.

"I have to work weekends now. When the f*** am I going to watch Twilight: Eclipse?", grumbled Al Qaeda operative Mustafa al-Masri. As he wrestles with the wiring on his third IED of the day, his wizened mentor (who prefers not to be named) paces about their quarters-cum-workshop anxiously. "This is so very bad for business," he sighs, as he checks his BB emails for the eighteenth time in half as many minutes.

Russian mafia hitman Nikolai "Nimrod" Leonov shares the sentiment. "We had a three-day window to get that last big fish," he gripes, referring to a prominent businessman. "Now it's three hours. Besides," he momentarily smirks, "there's that cute lady I met at Marina Mall a few days back, and have been constantly exchanging BB messages with ever since."

D-Company's Santosh Shetty laughs at the irony of his situation. "That courier from the Rajan gang kept taunting me, saying he can 'pwn our n00b operations' now that he got himself some fancy new phone. After months of resistance, I finally caved in and bought one at a Dubai Summer Surprises sale last week," he mopes, twirling his complimentary Modhesh keychain. "Seriously, this sucks! Hmmm," he muses out loud, "you think I can send all my scheduled extortion threats in advance for the rest of the financial year?"

By overseas correspondent Sohan Dsouza for Incredible News Network

Picture credit:



UAE Regulator To Suspend BlackBerry Services From Oct 11
Emirates Telecommunications Corp., or Etisalat, the country's biggest telco, said in an emailed statement that it fully understands the legal and social considerations behind the U.A.E. regulator decision.

"In line with its commitment towards its customers, Etisalat will soon be announcing a range of alternative mobility products and services for its existing blackberry customers," it added.

Dubai-based Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Corp., or Du, said in a statement on WAM that it would fully comply with the TRA's instruction.

The reaction from members of the local business community Sunday was far from understanding.


"In my business time is money, the more time I have to spend in the office to email rather than send an email from any location means I will lose money," he added.