Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Setting Up in Dubai by Essam Al Tamimi

For people pondering a move to the UAE, this book by Essam Al Tamimi gives plenty of helpful information but to people thinking of establishing a business in the Emirates, Setting Up in Dubai is compulsory reading, especially if one is eager to avoid the pitfalls and expedite the process smoothly.

General Information
Admittedly this book has a Dubai focus but the general information and many of the issues addressed have application to the entire UAE and much of the Middle East. Setting Up in Sharjah is also becoming available and other books in this series are anticipated.

Subjects in the introductory survey examine the history of Dubai, the statistical growth of non-oil commodities, the UAE and Dubai political systems (with names of the major current office holders) and information about climate, population, postal services, telecommunications, the media, currency, major holidays, trade fairs, exhibitions and conferences and religion.

Author Essam Al Tamimi is well equipped to write such a book having practiced in commercial law and litigation in the UAE and the GCC countries since 1985, he has gone on to accumulate a wide range of local and international legal expertise and is the Founder and Senior Partner of the Al Tamimi legal firm (reputed to be ‘the largest law firm in the Middle East’).

While having a broad focus, this handbook concentrates on the legal issues of establishing a business. General information is given on the legal profession in the UAE and Dubai, charts are supplied to explain how federal laws are formulated and transacted, insights are conveyed as to how federal law, local law and Sharia (Islamic) law relate and what courts deal with which legal problem or procedure. The author gives practical details on how one files court action, the current cost of court fees and the different processes one pursues for disputes to do with labor, tenancy and civil matters.

Immigration and Customs
This major section describes in detail the matters to do with immigration, employment and visa issues for workers, partners and children.

The different processes from initial application to changing visa status while within the country are clearly illustrated in charts that show the sequence of steps. Helpful information is provided on registering a new born baby, securing domestic help and transferring employment sponsorship from one person to another.

Customs regulations and procedures are covered in depth as they relate to people, goods, business equipment and vehicles.

Business in Dubai
This chapter acquaints readers with procedures and requirements for establishing a business in Dubai.

The function and responsibilities of organizations that oversee businesses are outlined with information on the Chamber of Commerce, the Dubai Department of Economic Development, the Dubai Municipality, the UAE Ministries of Economy & Planning and Finance & Industry, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the UAE Central Bank, the Dubai Lands Department and the Dubai international Financial Centre.

The legal structures, laws and business entities are explained and those deemed to be of special value to foreign investors are highlighted. These address the full spectrum of issues from establishment, to continuing a business, through to terminating an operation. Different types of company procedures are described and how things differ in various parts of Dubai including the Free Zones and Business Parks.

The procedures for obtaining business licenses are given with the costs of setting up a business in the different zones plus specific guidelines for industrial projects, insurance companies, engineering consultancies, auditing firms, hotels and other accommodation, medical establishments and investment companies.

This book is interested in readers getting the detail, assisting them to see clearly each step in a process and notifying them as to which activities require special approval or authorization.

Employment Issues
Essam Al Tamimi gives an overview of the UAE Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs before highlighting the distinctive features of employment in Dubai to do with such vital matters as working hours, salaries and packaging, common salary scales (according to business and ethic origins of employees), taxation issues and labor cards.

Unique aspects of Emirati labor laws are described including the practical matters of termination, repatriation responsibilities, end of service benefits and accident compensation.

Housing and Accommodation
A narrative furnished with colorful illustrations gives readers an idea of the different types of accommodation that exist in Dubai. This chapter covers procedures to do with property ownership and offers a selection of housing estates that can be purchased in this emirate. The FAQ about renting are explained.

Health and Education
The well-advanced health care in Dubai and the UAE is described with practical information on such things as how one obtains a medical card.

Education options for one’s family and workers are summarized from nursery through to tertiary education plus specialized courses in such things as Arabic language.

Information is provided on how one obtains a driving license and another useful chart outlines 100 different driving offences and the anticipated monetary fine and ‘black’ or demerit point likely to be incurred. As this regularly changes, readers are pointed to the appropriate web site for up-to-date information and the method for discovering whether or not drivers have been booked.

Information is given on purchasing, registering and insuring a vehicle with tips provided on renting transport and using the different forms of public transport.

Following the dictum, “All work and no play…”, this book contains information on leisure and cultural pursuits, commencing with shopping(!), and including water sports and land sports such as golf and the distinctive Emirati pursuits of wadi bashing and camel riding. There is information on the nightlife of Dubai, eating out and a thumbnail sketch of places to see.

Local Customs and Traditions
A chapter presents an overview of religious customs and dos and don’ts, issues related to Ramadan, meeting and greeting, tea and coffee, alcohol purchase and consumption, what to wear when, important tips about what not to photograph, business etiquette and conversation subjects to avoid.

Some basic Arabic words are given to help readers say ‘Hullo’, to count to ten or to instruct the taxi driver to slow down.

The various sections of this book indicate the complexity of life and doing business in another country. Setting Up in Dubai is comprehensive and the inclusion of a CD containing all the application forms one will need for setting up in Dubai is an indication of the book’s very practical use.

Essam Al Tamimi, Setting Up in Dubai Edition 4: Business Investor’s Guide (Dubai: Cross Border Legal Publishing, 2006).

This book is available from Magrudy’s Bookshops in the UAE at a cost of Dh 79.00.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Images: Front cover of Setting Up in Dubai; author, Essam Al Tamimi.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008 ed. Ben Smalley

Why this Book?
The number of media outlets in the Middle East and North Africa is growing in leaps and bounds. Governments are gradually deregulating the media market and allowing independent and privately operated television and radio stations to operate.

Bad News
The introduction notes the rapid expansion but it realistically presents the dark side of the media in this region when editor Ben Smalley writes: “More than 200 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003….2006 is the worst year yet for the freedom of the press in the Arab world.”

One glimmer of hope that is recognized is the September 2007 announcement by the UAE Vice President and PM and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum in which he said that journalists in the UAE would not be imprisoned for their work.

Middle East and North Africa Media Guide
This volume is comprehensive with nearly 500 pages of detailed information. It is a reference and guide book to be dipped into rather than read from cover to cover.

When so many newspapers are going bust around the world it is intriguing to see the large list (with statistics) of papers and magazines that have been launched in 2007.

Newspapers from the region are listed from Algeria to the UAE and in addition are listed according to frequency of publication, language and publisher with all the vital details about websites, contact addresses and circulation figures.

There are now well over 1,000 magazines published in the Middle East and North Africa including more than 60 new titles which were launched in 2007.

The various categories indicate something of the strength of current interest and the expansion of these sectors.

The consumer section includes magazines on news and politics, lifestyle and language, entertainment, celebrity and society, men’s topics, finance, teenage and children, students, literature, art and culture, religion, sports, motoring, boats and yachting, homes and properties, computers and electronics, jobs, careers and education, travel, airport magazines, in-flight magazines and business and trade. Each of these magazines comes with details and a thumbnail description.

The business and trade category has received a boost of 23 new launches in 2007 which reflects the booming construction industry in the region and the thriving exhibition industry. These magazines are grouped according to business and trade and Chamber of Commerce and include magazines on banking and finance, insurance, industry, oil and gas, electricity and water, advertising and marketing, print media and broadcasting, meetings and exhibitions, retailing, telecommunications, IT, architecture and interior design, property and real estate, building and construction, transport, aviation and logistics, military security and defence, medical and health, science, tourism, catering and hospitality, agriculture and farming, the environment and law.

If you flip through the channels on your television you will discover that there is a bewildering array of channels, in fact, over 370 free-to-air satellite channels in the Arab world.

Of this number the privately owned news stations currently represent the biggest sector with 56 channels, followed by 54 music channels (music is a big part of Arab culture) and 38 government owned channels.

The UAE has the highest number of channels in the region.

This Media Guide lists the television channels according to country, language and then their focus—business, property, entertainment, music, sports and motoring, maritime, interactive games and chat, children’s channel, religion, education, shopping and pay-TV networks.

Radio is listed in a similar way to television, however, the introduction highlights the trends in radio stations, technology and audience.

News and Photo Agencies
Contact details for news services (government and independent, international and regional) are given along with television news agencies, photo agencies and stock photo libraries.

Production Companies
The guide has a national listing of companies which create multimedia, television and radio commercials, films, documentaries, music videos, special effects as well as companies that hire related equipment when you are producing your own movie.

New Media
This new chapter addresses the new and fast growing media mainly broadcasting via the Internet and including online advertising.

Internet usage figures are listed and these show that the UAE has the highest rank for the region. The UAE experienced Internet usage growth of 79.7% from 2000-2007 and it currently has a population penetration of 33%.

This section lists IT agencies and websites relating to news, business, consumer, trade and the media.

World Media
While the title of the book has a regional focus, this guide contains useful information that relates to a sampling of major international media outlets across the main categories.

And there is More
A further section of this book lists agencies to do with advertising, public relations, direct marketing, advertising representatives, exhibition organizers and media resources.

If you have missed a category or a listing there is a substantial index and people discovering omissions or creating something new are encouraged to write and ask for a listing in the next edition.

Media Encyclopedia
This book is the regional compendium on all aspects to do with the media and marketing. It is comprehensive with 400 new media listings from across the eighteen countries of the region. It is detailed information rather than a book of essays and articles that present views, opinions and forecasts.

Ben Smalley (ed), Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008 (Dubai: MediaSource, 2008).

This book is available from Magrudy’s Bookshops in the UAE at a cost of Dh 125.00.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Front cover of Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Agamemnon’s Daughter by Ismail Kadare

It is not everyday that one reads a book whose theme is so politically sensitive that it had to be smuggled out of the country in batches but Agamemnon’s Daughter: A Novella and Stories has endured this fate. Penned in Albania in the 1980s by Ismail Kadare, names and locations were dressed in German camouflage and after being couriered to France were then changed back to the original before being translated.

The volume contains three stories by Kadare each set in different periods and times yet linked by many of the same characters and themes.

The novella, Agamemnon’s Daughter, commences with a scene of energetic sensuality. The narrator is practically engaged to somebody else but he is having an affair with Suzanna, the daughter of a man who is a high ranking official in the Albanian political leadership. Surprisingly, the narrator, who is an outspoken journalist, has received an invitation to attend a state rally and as he waits for his lover to meet him it seems that their relationship is in jeopardy.

Although this book has been translated and retranslated it has a poetic flow and is laced with images that are wonderfully descriptive. In illustrating the playfulness of his lover but the potential danger of their relationship the writer says, “She ruffled the hair on the nape of my neck with cold fingers that felt as jagged as broken test tubes.” (p7)

Suzanna had talked to her partner, about ‘sacrificing’ their relationship so as not to do anything that would torpedo her father’s ascendancy. Kadare provides resonance by referring to Robert Grave’s book, The Greek Myths, which includes the tragic story of Agamemnon, the Greek leader, who was prepared to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia, to model to the army his submission and loyalty to the state. This deeper layer and interpretive key gives Kadare the substance on which to plumb the mysterious motives of political leadership that would lead to the sacrifice of one’s nearest and dearest, yet there are further questions about who is actually making the sacrifice.

Akin to Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach or Graham Swift’s Tomorrow, the scope of this novella deals with less than one day or one march to the parade. Told in the first person this helps the author to share his innermost thoughts and describe in detail the fears, the suspicion, the threats, the glances, the betrayals and the constantly shifting craziness of living within the suffocating stranglehold of the single party, communist regime. As the author walks to the parade with questions, doubts and total confusion, the reader is thrust into the frustrating fog, the sense of the void and the exhausting questions that are central to Kafka’s novels and to most totalitarian regimes. One does not know what is happening and why it is happening and this lack of logic and clarity is the ploy of powerful leadership and part of the punishment that is dealt out to dissidents.

On the walk through endless checkpoints to the parade the writer meets people who had an “inextinguishable hankering for the higher slopes” but whose lack of loyalty or the indiscretion of a relative led them overnight to “fall all the way down to the netherworld.” (p37) This ‘snakes and ladders syndrome’ reveals that ascendancy is only achieved by the sacrifice of others. Like a raptor’s need for raw meat to fuel its flight, power is achieved but only tenuously maintained when flesh is given.

The description of the leaders seated in Grandstand A, viewed so close to the power from Grandstand C gives Kadare the chance to contemplate the big question: “By what means did they get that far up?” He inspects them all, one of whom “was smiling at someone else, with a face as worn and as lined as an old fig.” (p64). He analyses their furtive glances and notes their smug veneer—“Everything was smothered in collective joviality as if a generous helping of sauce had been poured over it all so as to even out the taste.” (p61). Why had he been given a seat in Grandstand C and had this access and ascendancy, even if so temporary, been achieved at the sacrifice of Suzanna?

Seated in the grandstand the writer unsuccessfully ponders the reasons for Suzanna’s change of heart and such reflection moves to the Greek Myth, the sacrifice that Stalin made of his son and to the questions pertaining to all leaders who dehumanize and whose decisions lead to the shriveling of life and love.

Agamemnon’s Daughter was a costly book to write and it is an emotionally demanding volume to read. It is a deserving winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2005.

Ismail Kadare, Agamemnon’s Daughter: A Novella and Stories (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2007).

This book is available from Magrudy’s Bookshops in the UAE at a cost of Dh 56.00.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Front cover of Agamemnon’s Daughter; Ismail Kadare.