Category Archives: textblog

My Blog Partners for 2012

Happy new year to all the readers of Umar Siddiqi dot com.

As we start the new year, here’s a shout out to everyone I worked with in 2012

BlackBerry

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It’s been a pleasure to work with BlackBerry as BlackBerry Super Fan. I thoroughly enjoyed using BB Bold 9790, and the participation in BlackBerry contest was great. I am looking forward to continue working with them in 2013 and waiting anxiously for BlackBerry 10 platform to launch.

Groupon

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I worked with the daily deals website Groupon. I am a regular user of Groupon and the partnership with Groupon is expected to benefit my readers in form of Groupon vouchers.

Audi

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Audi was perhaps one of the most interesting partners in 2012. I totally loved the A1, and 2013 looks promising with more auto reviews and giveaways. Stay tuned for all the fun.

Thanks to all the partners for their support in bringing quality content to my readers. I have big plans for my blog for 2013. I hope you will continue to follow my blog through RSS, Facebook, or twitter.

Don’t get into trouble while in Dubai

This post is brought to you by HSBC BANK

Welcome to Dubai

You enjoy a huge hike in salary compared to back home. Your employer has thrown in accommodation as part of the employment package. You cruise in the latest luxury SUV. Taxes – what taxes?

The expatriate lifestyle sure feels sweet!

But cost of living is very much a relative state of affairs, or should that be state of mind? Dubai is a city like no other, ready to help separate the foolish from their hard-earned cash. Live the high life and pretty soon you’ll feel as poor as the proverbial church mouse before each month’s end. Don’t think about a personal loan to tide you over either or to pay off any debts. It’s the sort of slippery slope frowned upon in Muslim countries across the Middle East. Live within your means unless you want to end up behind bars.

Some Important Laws of Dubai

Dubai is governed by Sharia laws, which, to Westerners, can often appear harsh and unyielding. People can be sent to prison for being unable to pay off their debt.

According to a recent article in the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK, an average of 2,500 people left the United Arab Emirates every month last year, with some of them leaving behind unpaid debts.

The article adds, “Writing a cheque which bounces is a criminal offence and there are no clear bankruptcy laws. This means that banks can be inflexible and unclear on repayments of loans.

“However, for those Brits who leave Dubai without paying their debts they could still end up in trouble. Once they have left the UAE, a creditor could pass a criminal file onto Interpol.”

It’s always a smart idea to get to know the laws of the country you intend visiting or living in because ignorance is never a defence, anywhere. Good personal finance is vital. Bank loans are readily available but never borrow more than you can comfortably pay back. Watch out for exorbitant interest rates and use a loan calculator, if there is one, so you know roughly what the monthly repayments are likely to be.

The UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice is well worth reading in advance of any visit to the UAE. The advice is useful for all visitors, not just those from the UK.

Around one million British nationals visit the UAE every year and most visits are trouble-free, says the FCO. Visitors are not only strongly advised to familiarize themselves with local laws and customs, but they should respect them, too, because they form the foundation of the UAE’s rich cultural traditions.

The FCO says, “Hobbies that involve cameras and binoculars, such as bird watching and plane spotting, may be misunderstood – particularly near military sites, government buildings and airports.

The importation of narcotics, pork products and pornography into the UAE is illegal. Videos, books, and magazines may be subject to scrutiny and may be censored.

There is zero tolerance for drugs-related offences. The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession, of even residual amounts, of drugs are severe.

Non-Muslim residents can obtain liquor licences to consume alcohol in private homes. Alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs, but it is a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public.

Women should dress modestly when in public areas, such as shopping malls. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible. Swimming attire should be worn only on beaches or at swimming pools, and not in other public areas.

Swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and offenders can be prosecuted. Offenders have, in the past, received six-month jail sentences for such acts, and some have been deported.

Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public.
Cross-dressing is illegal.

Sex outside of marriage is illegal and if any offenders are brought to the attention of the UAE authorities they run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation. Same sex marriages are not recognized.

It is against the law to live together or share the same hotel room with someone of the opposite sex to whom you are not married or closely related. Homosexual relationships are illegal.

This is not to scare you but just to inform you about some of the laws in Dubai and UAE which might not be that apparent to some visitors and expats.

The FCO website has a lot more detailed information available and is well worth bookmarking in order to keep up to date. Check it out here.

Where are you from

It’s been two years since I posted here about discrimination.

Since then I myself have started inquiring about someone’s ethnicity soon after meeting with them. After getting this knowledge I devise my strategy of how to deal with that person.

And not to mention the countless times I have been subjected to such interrogation like which country, city and district I come from.

Culture and Human Nature

Maybe this is just a culture of Dubai. Maybe this is just a culture of any multicultural place. Maybe it’s just human nature.

I am sure it’s hard for anyone to say that his attitude will be no different if the person he is dealing with is from Asia or Europe. It does make a difference. There are prejudices associated with every race, religion, and nationality, and we act based on that, whether it’s right or wrong is different discussion. But the fact is that it happens.

To make matters worse, we generalize from our experiences. If I had a bad experience with a person belonging to a certain ethnic background, then I would always avoid people from that ethnicity, even if they are nice people. Just I had a single bad experience I will always be reluctant to give that race another chance. This obviously is not fair but again it’s human nature.

In business dealings, people prefer working with people who share a common origin with them. Again this applies more in a place where multiple ethnicity dwells. Sometimes this even surpasses merit. I would naturally want to hire someone who is from my own country, preferably from my own city, so that I can connect with him better, so that I can speak with him in my native language, and overall feel comfortable. But by doing so I might unintentionally overlook a deserving candidate who might be more qualified for that job, just because he belong to a different part of the planet. But my rationalization would be that he would get a job at a place where people from his country work.

I have seen organizations with high percentage of employees from a certain country or region because of this reason. If the leader of the organization changes and someone else comes from a different background, then within two to three years the company will be transformed and you will see many people working in that company who will be from the same country or region as the person running the company.

An Ideal World

In an ideal world, I would deal with people purely based on their individual characteristics, and not on their ethnic background. It would not make a difference to me if I have to work with an Asian, European, or North American boss. I would prefer my team members to be the smartest, most talented, and most qualified, no matter where they are from. And lastly, I would treat every experience of dealing with people as an isolated incident and not give any unfair treatment to other people based on that experience.

If only this was an ideal world.

So what should we all do about it

Well in my opinion, we should try to give everyone a chance. At least try to do that. Even if we know how bad a reputation is for a certain ethnicity, at least try to analyze a person from there independently of any stereotype. Try to work with a person as long as you can without inquiring about their nationality. It’s hard to be different but it’s worth it in the end.

The world is anyway turning into a global village. So why not treat everyone as a fellow villager.

Think about it.

Visit Dubai

This is the best time to visit Dubai.

December through end of February is the most recommended time to visit Dubai.

For starters, the weather is at its best during these months. It has already rained three times so far in November (a big deal for Dubai as it hardly rains) which has brought the day time temperature to below 25 C, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as exploring beaches, adventure at water parks, or thrilling at dessert safari.

Moreover, this is the time when Global Village is at its full swing, and it’s a must visit place while you are in Dubai.

And how can I not mention the Dubai Shopping Festival, which happens in the month of January.

Combine this with other activities like World Parachuting Championship, Dubai International Film Festival, Rugby Sevens, and series of concerts featuring world renowned artists, Dubai is the perfect place to be.

So pack your bags and come on over. You are bound a have a good time.

Review – Audi A1

Audi is the newest partner of this blog and to start it off they gave me their latest A1 for five days to test and review it on my blog. I got the Ambition edition with S line sports package.

After five days I didn’t want to return the car. That’s how much I enjoyed it.

I had never imagined that such a small engine could produce so much torque that you could actually feel like the car would just start flying if it had wings. Once inside it doesn’t feel like a hot hatch at all, it feels like a full size sports sedan. Not only it feels like it, it also runs like one. The grip on the road feels strong and sturdy and you don’t get any less attention than say a BMW 5 series.

In reality Audi A1 competes with Mini Cooper. Whenever Audi A1 is mentioned, it is mandatory to mention the Mini, so I will do the same. Now don’t get me wrong, Mini Cooper has been around for a long long time, and it deserves the respect it has earned, but the interior of the car doesn’t appeal me. It looks too old fashioned, like, something from 80s, those big round meters look like a submarine control panel. See I am not even trying to make fun of the Mini, it just what comes in my mind when I see it. It might have been a great car in 80s or 90s but now it just looks too outdated.

The A1, on the other hand, looks amazing. It’s modern yet beautiful. And it’s appealing. Really Appealing. So much that I was looking for excuses to get out and drive it. Now I might look a little old driving such compact vehicle but driving the A1 made me feel young again. It did actually turn a few heads as it is still quite rare on the roads plus the car does looks stylish enough to get second looks.

So what is my verdict? I think it’s a fabulous car if you want small car with big power. Don’t expect too much cargo or passenger capacity since it has only 2 doors and rear seats don’t have much leg room but that’s what expected of these cars.

If you are single (or even a couple with no kids) then this can be the right car for you. However for families with kids this could be a good second or third car. And with only 5.9 l/100km of fuel consumption, it won’t be heavy on pocket (after the initial purchase).

Whatever be the use, I am sure Audi A1 will thrill you enough to drive it again and again, like it did for me.