Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dubai loses the plot - no sexy sexy times for expats. And the airport project strikes water

Photo: Thinking of a holiday in Dubai? You had better behave! [getty images]

The way Dubai is repeatedly imprisoning people for insignificant 'offenses' is certain to start to impact the tourist trade, as word spreads that you could be thrown in jail for such terrible crimes as kissing in public or sending sexy text messages.

Someone is losing the plot in the Emirate.

In the latest story, 2 Emirates cabin crew have been given 3 months in prison for sending each other sexy text messages, reduced on appeal from the original sentence of six months and deportation. The woman's husband had obtained the texts from the national telecom provider in a divorce dispute, and seems to be somewhat filled with a desire for revenge and to win custody of his child. It seems sending sexy texts in the UAE amounts to the crime of "coercion to the commitment of sin".

You've been warned.

The National has the story, but it's all over the net today.

Airline pair jailed over sex texting
Awad Mustafa
March 17. 2010
DUBAI // Two Emirates Airline cabin crew have been jailed for three months for exchanging lewd text messages.

RS, 42, a flight attendant, and EB, 47, a cabin services supervisor, were convicted of “coercion to commit sin” after sending each other sexually themed SMS messages, according to court documents released yesterday.

The pair, both Indian, were sentenced to six months in prison and deportation by the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors in December.

The court said the texts “fulfilled all the necessary angles of coercion to the commitment of sin”.

The Appeals Court upheld that decision last week. But it halved their jail sentences and scrapped the deportation orders. There was not enough evidence to prove that the pair had extramarital relations, it added.

The flight attendant’s sister, BM, 25, was also convicted of perjury and sentenced to three months and deportation by the lower court. Her deportation order was withdrawn on appeal.

The case first went to court after the flight attendant’s husband, SG, filed a lawsuit against his wife in March 2009 claiming that she was involved in an illicit relationship with the supervisor.

The couple had been embroiled in a divorce battle since 2007.

SG has now gained sole custody of their four-year-old son, although it was not clear when the couple divorced.

During the divorce proceedings, SG requested that the courts order Etisalat to produce copies of his wife’s text messages, which, he said, proved the illicit relationship.

The telecoms provider turned them over to the court in October 2008.

Five months later, the flight attendant’s husband filed a criminal complaint against her, charging her with having an affair and saying her text messages were an insult to Islam.

She told police that her sister sent the messages to the supervisor, who also denied any relationship with RS. He told officers that he had been seeing her sister for the past four years. Prosecutors decided that was untrue, however, leading to the perjury charge against the sister.

Meanwhile, Muscat Airport runway costs go up at least Half a Billion dollars.

Muscat's new airport is in trouble. A Ministry official was quoted in the papers as saying the new runway would be delayed for 2 years and cost an extra $500 million due to hitting seawater.

What the official didn't mention that the project screwed up big time. Not only did they skimp by not doing basic geotechnical investigation - drilling exploratory boreholes to sample the rock and soil where the runway was planned - but my sources tell me similar problems had already hit the sewage waste water project last year, and so should have been obvious.

The problem is the contractors needed to dig quite deep to make a proper runway that can be engineered to last and withstand being pounded by planes landing all day. And the excavation, on land right by the ocean, needed to be a lot deeper than the level of the aquifer. Doh!

My sources, who know a thing or two about engineering, also said $500 million was a low estimate, and it could end up adding an extra billion dollars, almost doubling the cost of the runway. This is because they will have to build it up even higher, and thus needing a LOT more rock and sand.

Reuters reported that the extension of Oman's main airport in Muscat will be delayed by 2 years and may cost the state up to an extra USD 500 million after runway excavations hit seawater.

The official said that the Muscat airport extension will now be completed in 2014, not in 2012 as expected due to soft ground which contractors come across in some places. He said that it would cost the government up to USD 500 million to pay for reinforcements to fill affected ground in places where civil work excavations hit seawater.

Speaking of cock-ups, in other news, The Asian Beach Games project, despite rumours to the contrary, will apparently be ready on time. Even my sources confirm this, not just OMRAN.

However, the project is beset with problems, with chaotic redesigns on the fly coupled with the immovable date for completion in November this year, as Oman hosts the Asian Beach Games. The bits that will appear on TV are already finished, and the hotel will be OK. But the athletes village will be a Heath Robinson affair that will not be built to last, and plans to create yet another OMRAN mini-city at the site have been shelved, replaced by a now 4 star hotel (was 3 star) and the usual Integrated Tourist Development we know and love.

There are also persistent rumours of sweet contracts being awarded** to people who just happen to be closely related to senior people at Omran and the Ministries of both Sport and Tourism. To enable things to be done super quickly, CEO of OMRAN, Mr. Wael bin Ahmed Al Lawati, appears to have been given the ability to by-pass normal tender board procedures. I'm sure that there is no way such a removal of standard oversight would lead to contracts being given to relatives or buddies.

Coincidentally and totally unrelated, as the deadline approaches the budget is going through the roof. So while the project will scrape home and will look great on TV, the costs will be huge and the final product nothing like as grand as what was originally approved.

Small wonder the leadership of the project, under the responsibility of the Muscat Asian Beach Games Organising Committee (MABGOC) and Director General Eng. Habib Macki, have been replaced resigned. On Tuesday, Muscat Daily reported that executive Director Sheikh Soud bin Hamed Al Rawahi had decided to spend more time with his family due to the pressure of work.... In January, Talal al Kishry the deputy Director of Operations resigned also.

But it's only Government money after all.

** Dear Mr State Auditor, maybe have a look at the contracts surrounding the Convention Centre...


  1. The duplicity and hypocrisy of Dubai is astounding. Jailed, a criminal record for kissing yet one can go to a bar where prostitutes clearly tout for business and Arabs are some of the biggest clients.

    I've always thought of Dubai as a cosmetic place, high on image and low in content; one day is enough for me. Dubai, as suggested, will suffer for these actions which can only be viewed by the civilised world as ignorant and backward.

  2. What double standard? Surely the recently reported buggaring of a hapless Afghan truck drivers is fair game and in no way leaps out to some regally blinkered judge that it is somehow not quite right. After all it wasn't texted! Maybe Divine justice exists, one can only hope, if it does, then Hell will be full of very hirsute chaps!

  3. That’s extraordinary – how quickly half a billion can be typed out ; almost as quickly as the one billion typed when talking about Blue City – omg thats one and a half billion – I cant believe it took only a few seconds to type that - could it be spent as quickly?

    The Asian Beach Games is the first project OMRAN has been involved in from start to finish (assuming they last the course – a play on words referring to games :) . Among their currently operating projects is the 12 room hotel at Ras al Jinz and 21 room hotel on Masirah which, though the hotel was finished in 2007, opened in 2010 . Other projects include “Salam Yiti” and “Saraya Bandar Jissah”.

    OMRAN with Her Excellency. Dr Rajiha Abdul Ameer Ali Al Lawati and Eng. Wael Al Lawati as head of the board of directors and management restively might have been given the ability to by-pass normal tender board procedures, was that by Dr Ali Mohammed Moosa Al Lawati the new Chairman of the Tender board ? That might be first time a government body has willingly given up some powers .

    Any update on the exciting news of the Yacht Club

  4. Should we conclude that all this change of attitude in Dubai has become apparent after Abu Dhabi came with helping hand.

    There are many more such gaffes which can happen only in Oman while implementing projects starting with Oman Mining, Oman Waste Water (chinese adventure), Sohar Refinery (huge problems after commissioning), Omantel's pakistan tour, Blue City. People who were here for long time will know about Oman Housing Bank and ONIC stories.

  5. The story in Muscat Daily regarding the airport most have been a cover up for other problems but probably the easiest one to present for the people as it makes logic taking the location into consideration. However, the soft soil conditions has been known for a long time and the ground improvement contract was tendered as a separate contract some 1½ year ago (tender no 198/2008) and the work is almost complete - drive along 18th November Street and have a look next to the new radar station. The contractor is not removing soil but using a technique called stone columns.

    The most interesting is why the soft soil conditions were used as cover up when it is very easy to document that the story is untrue! Is it true that HE the Minister of Transport is no longer Chairman of Tenderboard and the Terminal contract is still not awarded despite it was tendered in late 2008? Maybe problems in Tenderboard and the terminal contract is the real problem!

  6. Any more details regarding the contracts awarded to relatives and friends?

    Supporting documents probably or other facts! As the word "roumers" does not help much really!

  7. Why is it that apparently each and every significant project in this lovely country ends up being yet another debacle for Oman? In most cases there are reputable, international consultants and advisors involved who have dealt with similar projects elsewhere and have done so with great results. That's why they are involved in the first place! They should be very able to help deliver these projects successfully, but for some reason they seem to fail in Oman, over and over again.

  8. As one who has worked in 10 Arabic countries I cannot state specifically why Oman fails so much in such ventures but what I have seen is Oman is by far the worst for Wasta. Add to that the need for a sponsor(s) then many projects become difficult to manage. You only have to look at PDO as an example of organised chaos, over-manned and under productive!

  9. "chaotic redesigns on the fly coupled with the immovable date for completion in November this year, as Oman hosts the Asian Beach Games"

    Decide what you want at the start, discuss it, re-decide, plan it , re-discuss, re-plan, finalize, then build;
    flip in almost the reverse sequence;
    couple with an immovable date = Χάος.

  10. Inspite of a slew of international consultants available, there are gaffes like last minute realisation and "urgent budget" requirement just before plant start up, that incoming gas is at high pressure and there is a need for Pressure reducing terminal.
    We all know about how the boat built before Jewel of Muscat just sank before leaving Oman waters!!! How much money was wasted on that?

  11. Well,,

    No matter what gets revealed from corruption it will always be replied by government officials by saying (it's not true, and everything is under control) ...

    Lots of cash goes from under the tables ... that's why a lot projects screw up and get delayed

  12. When are you brainless wildebeests going to get it? This blog is solely intended to spread unfounded rumors and hearsay; anonymously defined as "biased and usually irreverent opinions". The true aspiration is to hint of alleged sex, scandal, conspiracy or dirty laundry purely to promote blog hits. Your mother should have told you to not believe everything in print. Show us fact and we may believe, but alas there is very little fact on this site. An entertaining story but so is the tale about grandmother who found herself pregnant after being abducted by aliens!

  13. Who is dragging you here underwear queen? Listen to what your mother told and don't visit blogs and waste time in putting your opinion.

  14. Underwear Drag Queen; what do you want to do when you leave school?

  15. Underwear Drag Queen should just go home!!!

    It is neither a rumour no here-say that there are considerable challenges presented on the ABG project, and a lot of them are brought about by continual re-designs by the Design team (at the behest of the Client) even NOW, in the last week of March, when completion is required by November.

    This is not a rumour, this is not here-say. It is fact.

  16. i am not having big business brain but how can anyone taking serious company can't organise office move. omran paying 3 office because many months delay because not having management knowledge and how government trusting hundreds of millions of omani peoples money with executive and staffing that not having knowledge deliving project, always all project have big delay big problem,but all not knowing by board,aunti can cover all, always change consultant all internationals bad, good only omran 3 heads having no experiance except having friends up high. progress all only Waeling, even having payment 4 months bonus for all staff,to show like they having good performance, to the aunti minister and oman others, not having problem only spend millions omr to covering all mistakes.everybody knowing such things

  17. re Goantobehere - as eclectic as your English is you are quite correct, in fact much the same as SAMA Dubai's folly of an office next to the Intercon bridge.

  18. Facinating all this speculation! Just to put a few facts straight, and i believe i'm qualified to as i've been involved with the Asian Beach Games since 2007 as a consultant. The permission to bypass Tender Board rules was given prior to Wael being employed by Omran. This waiver was sought, and realised, by the previous CEO as he understood that should normal channels be followed the project would never meet the fixed end date!!!

    Another interesting gem that everyone ignores is the that the original games as sold to Oman had less events and much less athletes. The scheme also only considered temporary accommodation (tent type structures) for the athletes, and temporary finishes to the apartments and hotel with no permanent kitchens, restaurants, etc. With the larger games the hotel is now being fully fitted. Contrary to common gossip the budget has not been blown out the water and to date no contingencies have been spent.

    It's is the first truly fast track design and build project done by the Ministry and although some relationships have suffered and some reputations tarnished I believe that under the circumstances it's a great effort by all involved.

    Finally, i'm not sucking up to Omran. I know that as a consultancy we will be expected to bear the brunt of all allegations and indemnify our Client. Indeed it has already started with the technical disqualification of our tender on the Convention Centre.


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