Sunday, April 19, 2009

The week in review: Now THAT was a party

1. I checked out the Pine Leaf Boys, a Cajun band from Lafayette, Lousiana, at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. I was a little more taken with the Arabic oud player who opened the show, but it was cute to see these young musicians still a bit befuddled about their US State department-organised visit to the Middle East. Then there was the audience, which didn't seem to know what to think, but obviously liked it. The frontman Wilson Savoy was a little befuddled when we all clapped for an encore. "They told me y'all don't do encores. They said if we do encores, everyone would just leave."



2. For the first time, Abu Dhabi Police offer a reward to catch a criminal. Dh50,000 (Cdn16,500) for information on the wherabouts of a man wanted in the death of his wife's friend (CORR "friend's wife) in Al Ain in 2005.

3. A group of experts met in the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah to discuss equality when it comes to diyya, or compensation for accidental death, also known as "blood money". Under UAE federal law, anyone who accidentally commits a harmful act that causes the death of another must pay Dh200,000 for male victims. In RAK, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it's the same amount for women's families, but in the other emirates, the obligation usually is to pay half. Obviously this concept, which is not at all unique to the UAE, is far-out foreign to many of us in the Western world. But if you accept that it happens here, by law, for the time being anyway, it's shocking to think there are areas where a woman's life is valued by half to that of a man.

4. Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed takes questions from the media on his official website. Re: the financial crisis? "The worst is over and behind us," he said, adding that no company or bank has declared bankruptcy. Democracy in the UAE? Not so much.

5. The National turned one; most of us are still standing, as is, more importantly, the paper, and on Friday night we all celebrated at the Hiltonia Beach Club. I couldn't believe what a difference a year makes; I crept into the party last year, one day off the plane, not knowing a soul. This year 10 of us spent an the afternoon on an aged yacht watching the Red Bull Air Race over the Corniche before composing ourselves and afterwards, half the newsroom turned up to continue the party at my company flat. Our editor-in-chief Martin Newland gave a stirring speech ("some people have left," he said, "sod them") addressing some of the tougher things that have happened, and told us we have done more in our journalism careers in one year than most people have in a lifetime. Who knows if those words are true; it's definitely very hard to tell most days when you are just slogging through. But as the lights of Marina Mall twinkled across the water, and a warm breeze blew across us, I took them and remained glad I came.

21 comments:

Anton said...

For item no. 2, i think the guy is being hunted down for killing his firend's wife...not his wife's friend...

Ann Marie McQueen said...

Nice one Anton. Thanks...

Abid said...

"it's shocking to think there are areas where a woman's life is valued by half to that of a man."

It's because women also have the right to sit on their ass and do nothing and be provided for by their husbands.

Men don't have that rihgt; they *must* work to provide for their dependents.

Phillip said...

"Our editor-in-chief Martin Newland gave a stirring speech ("some people have left," he said, "sod them") .... "*** Thanks, Martin! ***

JP said...

Current Poll: Is Abid a hit with the ladies?
(I'm guessing he does OK)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Marie McQueen said...

Anonymous stop being so obnoxious or I will block you from this blog. I can do that, can't I? I can, I think...

Graeme Baker said...

Well, the bank account of 'Three Harleys' Newland is certainly doing more than most journalists do in a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

mmm, so are you going to ban Graeme too? Are you going all UAE on freedom of speech there AM?

Ann Marie McQueen said...

Graeme puts his name to it...plus he's funny.

Anonymous said...

"Graeme puts his name to it...plus he's funny."

So freedom of speech is only applicable if you are not anonymous and/or funny?

Seems like a double standard to me...

Anonymous said...

Just for the record - I'm the first anonymous, not the second. So you have two. And, sadly, I am forced to remain anonymous until such time as I am ready to leave. I think, despite your protestations you know why this is.
Anyway, I have zero beef with you and enjoy your blog immensly, read it nearly every day. But, the reality is, it ain't great here, and we are not allowed to say that until we leave.

Anonymous said...

One last thing, I'm not proud of this, but I'm here for the money, and I need more. I've put many of the things I believe on the back burner for now, sold out for a handful of silver. This won't always be the case and in time I'll comment here under my name. Hopefully sooner rather than later. (anon no. 1)

Trish said...

JP: I'm just sitting here on my ass right now and I am sure I am worth double dead, than what Abid is :) He should get the heck back to work if you ask me.

Ann: I'm loving the dramz on this post. And your power.

Jeannine said...

Great post. If I'm not mistaken it's received the most comments too. After having spent four months in AD I'm with the two anons on the issues, and I can understand why they would remain nameless too. Keep it up, your blog is getting va va voom baby!

Ann Marie McQueen said...

Anonymous no. 1 I like you so much more when you're reasonable like that.

(BTW: Anonymous no. 2 doesn't count 'cause I know who it is)

Abid: This time around, words fail me.

adevents said...

Obviously Anonymous number 1 and Anonymous number 2 are working for the National too, and I can see exactly what they mean, but I believe this is one of your responsibilities as long as you are here, to try to change or to develop the journalism practice I believe this one of the reasons why the National newspaper been launched , not only to take some money and leave. After all this is a thirty something years old country and lot of things needs to be developed.
However, Ann your blog is great and I am a fan since day1 keep it up.

Ann Marie McQueen said...

One last thing: this is just not going to be a place for people to be hateful about The National, ie using the word "idiots" to describe people here or replicating that hideous salary leak in any form. I work there, my name is on this blog, enough said.

Most everything else, ie Abid's latest shocker, should be fine. And, I might add, mostly very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

adevents, press freedom cannot be imposed on a country by outsiders, it has to be introduced by that country's own citizens. I don't see a rush by Emirati's to do that. What more, if anyone at The National tried, they would be fired.

Graeme Baker said...

Hideous salary leak? It was a great example of transparency.

Anonymous said...

Yip, the salery leak was valid. No money to pay promised bonuses to staff? You think Martin didn't get a bonus?