Home Thoughts from Dubai and Dublin

It is with regret that after 8 years of Home Thoughts from Dubai (and in recent years HT from Dubai and Dublin) that it will cease to be published from April 2013. The Genesis of the blog was twofold – one to communicate how my new life in Dubai was on ‘the war front’ and two to maintain a level of contact with friends and family around the world.

It developed a life of its own and at its peak in April 2008 had 9,265 ‘hits’ in just one week. From the ‘Igor days’ (for those who remember that lunatic), the bank notes that ‘blew’ out of my car (because I had the hood down. Clever !!), running out of petrol in the desert, asking an Arab friend (it was my first days in Dubai) what his Christian name was and many many more memories and experiences. Yes they were some of the ‘naive years’. But memories that will last forever. And I know for many of you the value or interest was as much in the unfettered personal opinions I expressed on political, economic and cultural events around the world as it was in HT’s humourous content. Sometimes both mixed.

But for reasons of a career decision I have made and where my personal views may be interpreted (or mis interpreted) as representing or being condoned by the Company to which I am now committing some of my next few years, it is appropriate and wise that I cease Home Thoughts. For now. I have left some ‘harmless’ archive material on the site including the Memory of my Mother. So evidence of HT’s existence will remain.

I will always remain grateful to you all for the wonderful support, comments and friendships that you provided over these 8 precious years. It was this more than anything that propelled me to commit the many hours every week (and in recent years every month) necessary to keep the blog interesting and content balanced. My Mother was one of its greatest fans. But what else would you expect from a Mother. Yes there will be lots of wonderful memories and experiences from these 94 months (for those of you who think I am bad at arithmetic, it was not quite 8 years) which will remain a valuable chapter in my life. And who knows what the future holds. Maybe someday it will return – maybe from another wonderful part of the world


So to all of you who have been part of my HT life, and hopefully will remain so in my ‘new life’, a very sincere THANK YOU. You are and will always remain special and part of me. With these words I leave you

Goodbye never hurts unless its forever !! 

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Home Thoughts from Dubai and Dublin

Did you know

a) Men can get breast cancer (some men have the tissue from which it develops) but the incidence is less than 1 in 100 relative to women

b) the smallest (by number and capitalisation) Stock Exchange in the world is the one in Mongolia – which is a country with one of the largest mineral resource bases on the Planet

c) the population of North Korea is 24 million – thankfully not all as mad as their leader

d) and while on this geography – it’s (North Korea) land mass is about 1.5 times that of the island of Ireland (which has a population of 5 m – inclusive of the North) and its GDP is about one quarter of Ireland’s (ie without Northern Ireland – sorry Nige)

e) that the letter ‘G’ on a Euro banknote indicates it is from Cyprus. Yep each country has its own ‘identifier’. ‘V’ Spain, ‘M’ Portugal, ‘S’ Italy ‘Y’ Greece and ‘T’ Ireland – wrapping up the PIIGS. ‘X’ being Germany. But don’t worry ALL Euro banknotes are ‘guaranteed’ by European National Governments. But who was it decided that ‘G’ should be for Cyprus (the weakest Euro member) and not Germany (the strongest)

Thought for the Month : Is it just me or is Kim Jong-un (of North Korean)  the most insane national leader ever to populate this Planet ? If an author wrote a book with such content (ie his behaviours, thinking etc) you would be forgiven for believing that fiction had been taken too far and should best have been left alone. But I guess ‘strange’ is something that is not usual or unusual to us – or not within what we consider ‘normal’.

What’s happening in the UAE :

  1. Is some of the shine coming off the Dubai Dream ? A magnificent City that has achieved wonderful and unimaginable things. A City of just two million people that has catapulted itself into one of the most fascinating holiday and business geographies on the Planet. And I am one who has given a large percentage of the second half of my life to supporting and living in this wonderful place. BUT, unfortunately, with all this success has come an arrogance and contempt amongst some of its people for the West and what the West stands for. And so it was a very bad month for Dubai. From the horse doping scandal, to the alleged  torturing (which I really struggle to believe) of three Britons held on drugs charges in jail (whether they are innocent or guilty is not the point) to the constant contempt that Nakheel continue to display to its customers. Yes a sad month. A month that requires some action from the Authorities to re position Dubai and have it recognised for all the right things.
  2. Many of you will know that if you are in debt arrears in the UAE or otherwise with unpaid financial obligations, you can be arrested. Sometimes this can be at the most inconvenient time of day. Like when you are attempting your ‘escape’ at the airport. The plane is just hours away from carrying you towards your freedom. But the person/s you owe money to have lodged a claim and with this (usually) comes a ‘travel ban’. Something that is registered on the system that the Immigration Officer at the airport will see as he punches your details into his computer. Well now Dubai has introduced an initiative that will still allow you to travel if you find yourself in such an embarrassing mess. Residents (of Dubai) with unsettled bills can now leave the country by paying the outstanding amount at the Dubai Airport — thanks to the new ‘Pay as you go’ service. Launched this month by Dubai Court with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), in cooperation with Dubai Police and Emirates NBD, the service allows residents to clear any financial claims against them at the immigration counter before boarding their flight. Fantastic. Assuming the debt is ‘manageable’ and you have the cash with you !!!!  I am presuming ‘the credit card’ will not be adequate as the Issuer is probably the person who lodged the complaint. The new system not only aims to carry out rulings issued by courts and the judicial committees, but also ‘help’ people with unsettled bills–related travel bans to clear the amounts at the immigration counter using the new electronic pay-as-you-go system.
  3. The banks in the UAE have had an excellent first quarter trading. Emirates NBD (total assets Euro 80 billion), the largest of the banks, had a particularly stunning 31% growth in profits. All bank balance sheets displayed good liquidity (deposits), strong capital (equity) and excellent LDR (loan to deposit ratios). The banks are fully back in the lending game – where the margins they extract from customers would be considered criminal in the western world – and competition has increased, albeit not obvious in the rates they charge for loans. As I have said many times before it is the fact that banks are sufficiently well capitalised and liquid that allows (or compels) them to assist (or pursue) lending activity.
  4. Come on. How many of you truly know where Yekaterinburg is ? Yes I suppose the ‘burg’ gives you a slight clue !! Well this is the City which Russia has put forward to the 2020 Expo World Fair. And have committed US$ 2 billion in an effort to win Global support. With Thailand, Brazil and Turkey filling in the other ‘application slots’, the UAE (in the form of Dubai) has some stiff competition. But IF we are successful this will just serve to add to the recovery in all aspects of Dubai’s global investment rehabilitation. And global recognition of this Region as one of the leading venue’s for such important events. Fingers crossed.
  5. Further great Global recognition of Dubai and what has been achieved here. This month Dubai International Airport has been confirmed as the fastest growing airport in the world. And from an already high passenger base. Regular Readers will probably get sick of my drawing Global attention to the truly remarkable nature of this achievement. I mean the population of Dubai is just 2 million. It also lends enormous strength to the case I made to the Dubai Government a few years back that we should start the ‘branding’ of the UAE as the ‘Middle World’ and not the Middle East. There is no doubt that Dubai (and Abu Dhabi) are now truly global travel hubs and powers.
  6. Dubai is also to be the location for the largest gold processing centre in the MENA Region. Kaloti Group, a local Dubai Group, has announced it is to build a US$60 million state-of-the-art gold and precious metals refinery  – and this is expected to be one of the world’s largest such facilities. It is also to have a smelting operation in Dubai. The refinery is scheduled for completion in late 2014.The new 15,000 m2 refinery will have a capacity to produce up to 1,400 tonnes of gold and 600 tonnes of silver and other precious metals and a mint department to produce gold ingots and coins.
  7. For those of you who have visited the UAE you will be aware that many of the roads are called after various tribal/ruling leaders of the country – past and present. There is also the reciprocal respect each Emirate has for the other through recognising (through ‘road names’) leaders from a neighbouring Emirate. Nowhere is this more obvious than between Dubai and Abu Dhabi where the stretch (with some small stretches of exception) of road that brings you from Dubai airport to Abu Dhabi airport (over 100 kms) is Sheikh Zayed Rd in Dubai (in honour of the first Ruler of Abu Dhabi) and when one gets into the Emirate of Abu Dhabi this (Sheikh Zayed Rd) becomes Mohamed bin Rashid Rd (after the founder Ruler from Dubai). Indeed many of the daughters and sons of the respective ruling families of Dubai and Abu Dhabi marry each other. But I drift a bit. Dubai recently changed the name of one of its three major highways from Emirates Road to Mohammed bin Zayed Rd (again remember Zayed being from the Abu Dhabi Royal line). So we no longer have an Emirates Road. Well not exactly. There was a road known as the Dubai By-Pass Road (only three years old) which has now been renamed as, yes you got it folks, Emirates Road. It will now take some time for us ‘Locals’ to get used to Emirates Road not being Emirates Road anymore !!!!
  8. There are on average 14 earthquakes in Iran every year. Most are ‘low scale’ ones but the larger one’s (magnitude 6 or more) have impacts on my life. Yep unfortunately some Southern parts of Iran are as close as Liverpool is to Dublin. And so the Northern Emirates, and Dubai, tend to get little, and sometimes more, tremors from its Persian neighbours. And the ‘larger’ ones, like the one this month, cause some of the tall buildings in Dubai to shake and be evacuated. This month my apartment block was one of the ‘chosen ones’. Thankfully, I was not there. But a timely reminder of just how close Iran is to the UAE. In geography terms !!!!!
  9. Many of you will know, and fear, the speeds that cars travel in Dubai. Fearless and arrogant stuff. While speeding camera’s ‘capture’ some of the culprits and speeding fine revenues continue as a healthy revenue stream, it seems the Dubai police have decided on ‘a variation’ to catching these wannabee F1 drivers. Yep the Dubai Police Department has just added a £360,000 Lamborghini Aventador to its armoury. This two-door, two-seater sports car, which can reach speeds of up to 217mph, has been painted in the green-and-white colours of the Dubai police force. It can go from 0 to 62mph in 2.9 seconds. The Dubai car may not end up roaring after lawbreakers in very high-speed car chases, however. Instead, it will be mostly dispatched to tourist areas to show – in the words of deputy police director, Gen Khamis Matter al-Muzaina – “how classy Dubai is’. What next ?
  10. In an exciting (well for employers) new change to the ‘sick day’ laws in Dubai the Government this month issued the following. As part of the recently announced changes to the health regulatory system of Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the doctor’s sick leave certificates will have to be registered online, even if it covers just one day. Previously, a day of sick leave did not require a doctor’s certificate, but with this new rule come a couple of implications, which might change the way residents think about taking a sick leave.Recently, the DHA announced that sick leave will have to be registered electronically from May 1, 2013, with the aim of creating more transparency in the issuance of the sick leave notes.

This should help get rid of fraudulent, capricious and unnecessary ‘sick days’.  And from next month onward manual issuance of a sick leave note will be penalised with a Dh5,000 fine.


OK –  Time to Laugh, if you have not already. Fun Corner :

Two Luis Suarez jokes to start this month

Suarez would have bitten Frank Lampard but he’s watching his cholesterol.

If you’d have offered Luis Suarez a point before this game he’d have bitten your hand off.

Some ‘thoughtful’ one liners

  1. If a woman wants to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead – get married. Katherine Hepburn
  2. Never hit a man with glasses. Hit him with a baseball bat.
  3. My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right.
  4. Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.
  5. It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden stop at the end.
  6. Crowded elevators smell different to midgets.
  7. Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.
  8. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  9. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  10. I discovered I scream the same way whether I’m about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.
  11. A bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist.
  12. I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
  13. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  14. A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
  15. We have enough gun control. What we need is idiot control.
  16. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  17. I should’ve known it wasn’t going to work out between my ex-wife and me. After all, I’m a Libra and she’s a bitch.
  18. A little boy asked his father, “Daddy, how much does it cost to get married?” Father replied, “I don’t know son, I’m still paying.”
  19. With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.
  20. Women may not hit harder, but they hit lower.
  21. Knowledge is power, and power corrupts. So study hard and be evil.

And I thought it would be good this month to have some old classics. Sorry for those who have heard these too many times before :

A girl asks her boyfriend to come over Friday night and have dinner with her parents. This being a big event, the girl tells her boyfriend that after dinner, she would like to go out and “do it” for the first time. Well, the boy is ecstatic, but he has never done it before, so he takes a trip to the pharmacist to get some protection. The pharmacist helps the boy for about an hour. He tells the boy everything there is to know about protection and doing it. At the register, the pharmacist asks the boy how many he’d like to buy; a 3-pack, a 10-pack, or a family pack. The boy insists on the family pack because he thinks he will be very busy, it being his first time and all. That night, the boy shows up at the girl’s parent’s house and meets his girlfriend at the door. “Oh I’m so excited for you to meet my parents, come on in.” The boy goes inside and is taken to the dinner table where the girl’s parents are seated. The boy quickly offers to say grace and bows his head. A minute passes, and the boy still deep in prayer with his head down. Ten minutes pass and still no movement from the boy. Finally, after 20 minutes with his head down, the girlfriend leans over and whispers to her boyfriend, “I had no idea you were so religious.” The boy turns and whispers back, “I had no idea your father was a pharmacist.”

One day, a teacher, a garbage collector and a lawyer wound up together at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter informed them that in order to get into Heaven, they would each have to answer one question. St. Peter addressed the teacher and asked, “What was the name of the ship that crashed into an iceberg? They just made a movie about it.” The teacher answered quickly, “That would be the Titanic.” St. Peter let him through the gate. St. Peter turned to the garbage man and decided to make the question a little harder, “How many people died on the ship?” Fortunately for him, the trash man had just seen the movie and answered, “About 1,500.” “That’s right! You may enter.” St. Peter then turned to the lawyer. “Name them.”

Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked a young engineer who was fresh out of MIT, “What starting salary were you thinking about?” The Engineer said, “In the neighborhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.” The interviewer said, “Well, what would you say to a package of 5 weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every 2 years – say, a red Corvette?” The Engineer sat up straight and said, “Wow! Are you kidding?” The interviewer replied, “Yeah, but you started it.”

There were two lovers, who were really into spiritualism and reincarnation. They vowed that if either died, the other one remaining would try to contact the partner in the other world exactly 30 days after their death. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, the young man died in a car wreck. True to her word, his sweetheart tried to contact him in the spirit world exactly 30 days later. At the seance, she called out, “John, John, this is Martha. Do you hear me?” A ghostly voice answered her, “Yes Martha, this is John. I can hear you.” Martha tearfully asked, “Oh John, what is it like where you are?” “It’s beautiful. There are azure skies, a soft breeze, sunshine most of the time.” “What do you do all day?” asked Martha. “Well, Martha, we get up before sunrise, eat some good breakfast, and there’s nothing but making love until noon. After lunch, we nap until two and then make love again until about five. After dinner, we go at it again until we fall asleep about 11 p.m.” Martha was somewhat taken aback. “Is that what heaven really is like?” “Heaven? I’m not in heaven, Martha.” “Well, then, where are you?” “I’m a rabbit in Arizona.”

A prisoner in jail receives a letter from his wife: “Dear Husband, I have decided to plant some lettuce in the back garden. When is the best time to plant them?” The prisoner, knowing that the prison guards read all mail, replied in a letter: “Dear Wife, whatever you do, do not touch the back garden. That is where I hid all the money.” A week or so later, he received another letter from his wife: “Dear Husband, You wouldn’t believe what happened, some men came with shovels to the house, and dug up all the back garden.” The prisoner wrote another letter back: “Dear wife, now is the best time to plant the lettuce.”

Three friends die in a car accident and they go to an orientation in heaven. They are all asked, “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you? The first guy says,”I would like to hear them say that I was a great doctor of my time, and a great family man.” The second guy says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher which made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.” The last guy replies, “I would like to hear them say … Look, He’s Moving!

Maid answers phone. He says, “Can I speak to my wife?” She says, “No, she’s upstairs in bed with her boyfriend.” He’s maid–says, “Ok, go to the hall closet and take out my shotgun. Go upstairs and kill them both.” Being the loyal maid, she says, “Ok.” 5 minutes later she picks up the phone and says, “Ok, they’re both dead. What should I do with the bodies?” He says, “Throw them in the pool, and I’ll take care of them when I get home.” She says, “We don’t have a pool.” He asks, “Is this 555-1234?#

A guy comes home completely drunk one night. He lurches through the door and is met by his scowling wife, who is most definitely not happy. “Where the hell have you been all night?” she demands. “At this fantastic new bar,” he says. “The Golden Saloon. Everything there is golden. It’s got huge golden doors, a golden floor, the works – hell, even the urinal’s gold!” The wife still doesn’t believe his story, and the next day checks the phone book, finding a place across town called the Golden Saloon. She calls up the place to check her husband’s story. “Is this the Golden Saloon?” she asks when the bartender answers the phone. “Yes it is,” bartender answers. “Do you have huge golden doors?” “Sure do.” “Do you have golden floors?” “Most certainly do.” “What about golden urinals?” There’s a long pause, then the woman hears the bartender yelling, “Hey, Duke, I think I got a lead on the guy that pissed in your saxophone last night!

A wife and her husband were having a dinner party for some important guests. The wife was very excited about this and wanted everything to be perfect. At the very last minute, she realized that she didn’t have any snails for the dinner party, so she asked her husband to run down to the beach with the bucket to gather some snails. Very grudgingly he agreed. He took the bucket, walked out the door, down the steps, and out to the beach. As he was collecting the snails , he noticed a beautiful woman strolling alongside the water just a little further down the beach. He kept thinking to himself, “Wouldn’t it be great if she would even just come down and talk to me?” He went back to gathering the snails. All of a sudden he looked up, and the beautiful woman was standing right over him. They started talking and she invited him back to her place. They ended up spending the night together. At seven o’clock the next morning he woke up and exclaimed, “Oh no!!! My wife’s dinner party!!!” He gathered all his clothes, put them on real fast, grabbed his bucket, and ran out the door. He ran down the beach all the way to his apartment. He ran up the stairs of his apartment. He was in such a hurry that when he got to the top of the stairs, he dropped the bucket of snails. There were snails all down the stairs. The door opened just then, with a very angry wife standing in the door way wondering where he’s been all this time. He looked at the snails all down the steps, then he looked at her, then back at the snails and said, “Come on guys, we’re almost there!!”

A red neck walks into a hardware store and asks for a chain saw that will cut 6 trees in one hour. The salesman recommends the top of the line model. The red neck is suitably impressed, and buys it. The next day he brings it back and says, “This chainsaw is defective. It would only cut down 1 tree and it took ALL DAMN DAY!” The salesman takes the chain saw, starts it up to see what’s wrong, and the red neck asks, “What’s that noise?

A pirate was talking to a “land-lubber” in a bar. The land-lubber noticed that, like any self-respecting pirate, this guy had a peg leg, a hook in place of one of his hands and a patch over one eye. The land-lubber just had to find out how the pirate got in such bad shape. He asked the pirate, “How did you loose your leg?” The pirate responded, “I lost me leg in a battle off the coast of Jamaica!” His new acquaintance was still curious so he asked, “What about you hand. Did you loose it at the same time?” “No,” answered the pirate. “I lost it to the sharks off the Florida Keys.” Finally, the land-lubber asked, “I notice you also have an eye patch. How did you loose your eye? The pirate answered, “I was sleeping on a beach when a seagull flew over and crapped right in me eye.” The land-lubber asked, “How could a little seagull crap make you loose your eye?” The pirate snapped, “It was the day after I got me hook!”

It was the first day after Christmas vacation in a 3rd grade class. The teacher told the class that each student could tell the class 1 thing they got for Christmas. So, the teacher calls on a girl to come up to the front of the class and tell everyone 1 thing she got. “My daddy got me a Bow-Wow,” she said. The teacher tells the class that they are old enough to know the correct words for things without using nicknames. The teacher tells the girl to try again. The girl thinks real hard …….. “My dad got me a dog,” she said. She sat down and a boy got up and said, “I got a choo-choo!” The teacher scolded him and told him to try again. The boy thought hard and said, “I got an electric train!!” That boy sits down and a really shy kid gets up and sadly says, “I got a book” The teacher feels bad for the kid and she asks, “What was the title of the book??” The boy thinks very hard. The class waits as the boy is thinking. Finally, the boys face brightened and he said, “Winnie The Sh*t!!

Occasionally, airline attendants make an effort to make the “in-flight safety lecture” and their other anouncements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane…”

After landing: “Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced: “Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted.”

From a Southwest Airlines employee…. “Welcome aboard Southwest Flight XXX to YYY. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt, and if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised.

In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face.

If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with two or more small children, decide now which one you love more.

Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, we’ll but try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines.”

“Your seat cushions can be used for flotation, and in the event of an emergency water landing, please take them with our compliments.”

“As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses

And from the pilot during his welcome message: “We are pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry… Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight…!”

Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City: The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump and I know what ya’ll are thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendants’ fault…it was the asphalt!”

Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day. During the final approach the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant came on the PA and announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”

Another flight attendant’s comment on a less than perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a “Thanks for flying XYZ airline.” He said that in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for this little old lady walking with a cane. She said, “Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?” “Why no Ma’am,” said the pilot, “what is it?” The little old lady said, “Did we land or were we shot down?”

After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the Flight Attendant came on with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we’ll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.”

Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go zipping through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of us here at US Airways.

And finally in this month of nostalgic old jokes, some classic blonde one liners

Q: How do you confuse a blonde?

A: You don’t they’re born that way!

Q: What do you call a blonde with half a brain?

A: Very Gifted!

Q: How do blonde braincells die?

A: Alone

Q: What are the worst six years in a blonde’s life?

A: Third Grade!

Q: Why did the blonde get fired from the M&M factory?

A: For throwing out the W’s!

Q: Did you hear about the blonde who just bought an A.M. radio?

A: It took her 2 weeks to figure out that you could play it at night!

Q: Why do blondes smile when there is lightening?

A: They think someone is taking their picture!

Q: There are three third grade girls, a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. Which one has the biggest boobs?

A: The blonde…. she’s 18!

There was a blonde and brunette walking through the woods. The brunette pointed and said look a dead bird the blonde looked up and asked, “where??”.

Q: Three people were walking down the street. Santa Clause, a smart blonde, and a dumb blonde. They all saw a ten dollar bill on the sidewalk. Who got it?

A: The dumb blonde got it because the other two are fictional

Currency Corner :

The value of the Euro is now definitely over-weight. How often will the plaster-merchants at the centre of the Euro ‘finance dept’ realise that the international markets want to see a permanent result for Euro member countries. And there are too many ‘fault lines’ for this to be possible. And this month we realise that everybody got the arithmetic on Cyprus wrong. By a factor of 35%. Hardly within the limits of ‘acceptable variance’. Trust me. Cyprus is irreparably destroyed economically. It does not have an economy with any substance. And the recently constructed temporary solution  is a long way from Troika conditions of being a durable and fully financed one’. So what next. Well Cyprus has the potential to be the first country to leave the Eurozone with all the attendant contagion possibilities through Europe. And of course this will result in another confidence blow to the Euro with normal valuation consequences.

Euro Governments are also struggling with the value of the Euro at current levels. Export and GNP performances are being damaged by an over-valued currency. Euro labour markets and cost bases are too expensive in the current world dominated by a ‘cheap Asia’. So I expect to see the Euro weaken in the second half of this year. While there are some ‘stones’ we could throw at the American economy, it is significantly more resilient than a Europe greater export results.

Finally I am glad that all the Sterling bears have gone back to the forest. For now. Britain showed that its economy is NOT in the toilet as so many economic commentators have led you to believe.

It will be worth following the Italy vs Germany battle over austerity in the months ahead.

Equity Corner :

I am so glad that Glaxo is starting to repay its loyal investors. An 18% increase in the share price (even after a recent day pull back) this year is a nice result. Particularly given that you have also received a 4% dividend a few weeks ago. I think now would be a good time to do what I usually do in these type of situations. Take the profit and find another ‘winner’.

I know I have spoken many times about a correction to this enormous surge in the value of Global Equities. I believe that ‘that time’ is now nearer than ever. The recovery in many leading global economies is just about complete. Or at least there is reduced need for Sovereigns injecting enormous amounts of liquidity and cash, unlike the last 5 years. Although Governments have had to bleed the tax payer in an effort to fund these liquidity splurges, thus acting as a negative stimulus, most of this tax austerity is now complete. Governments are approaching the point where they can take the foot off the austerity accelerator. A little. Which in turn will hopefully substitute for some of the Government intervention. As you have been told many times. Austerity does not stimulate economic growth. So Governments are now recognising the need for reducing the pain on tax paying populations.

While this should be enough to guarantee a new round of investment in equities, and growth in values, I think the withdrawal or reduction in the levels of cash from Governments, will weigh heavier on investor thinking.

I do however strongly recommend Barclays, again. Results this month were badly affected by the final allocation of restructuring charges. But the underlying income categories – of gross and net income and fee income – remained healthy. Also Barclays tier one capital is now a healthy 11%. So one to tuck away for later in the year. A real buy at £2.90.

Man Group have had a nice run in 2013. With the dividend the share is now £1.15. So a bit of a recovery in the only dog we had in 2012. Aviva is also worth sticking with – having recovered 6% this month.

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Home Thoughts from Dubai and Dublin

Did you know

a) the cigarette lighter was invented before the match

b) like fingerprints everybody’s tongue print is different

c) the name of all continents on the Planet end with the same letter they start with

d) the opposite sides of dice always add up to seven

e) there are 86,400 seconds in a day. The average human lives for just 26,000 days (ie 70 years)

f) Thomas Edison, the man who invented light bulbs, was actually afraid of the dark and

g) that in the USA more fishermen die every year than any other work group – yes including the military and police forces.

What’s happening in the UAE :

  1. You know how time wasteful and sometimes irritating it can be to be in the waiting area of some company/government dept waiting for ‘your number’ to be called ? Every act of ‘inefficiency’ at the processing counters adds to the irritation levels. Well I smiled when I took ‘a number’ at the Du offices in Dubai Mall last week and at the bottom of the extended slip which contained my place in the queue, was a Sudocku puzzle. What a great idea I thought. And from a quasi-government dept.
  2. IMD’s World Competitiveness Centre has released its 2012 ranking of world’s top 60 countries in terms of better management of their cities. The UAE was rated 5th best worldwide in managing cities, better than most developed countries including Germany, Britain, Canada, Japan, Norway, France, Australia, US and many other advanced countries. The top 4 were Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Sweden.
  3. Well it seems that Dubai’s economic recovery has continued into the first quarter of 2013. Property prices (in good locations) up on average 8/10%, budget surplus, FDI up 11% (yoy), new work and residential visa’s up a staggering 21% (again yoy). So when added to the weather, restaurant choices, beaches, low crime rate etc etc back to being a really lovely place to spend most of your year !!
  4. Less positive although in relative terms a positive is that the number of deaths on UAE roads ‘collapsed’ in 2012 to just 628 (2 per day). It was down 15% on the 2011 number (730). The number of accidents however grew from 6,454 (17 per day) to 6,700. Also every week at least one person dies from a driver breaking a red light.
  5. Many of the banks in the UAE are now issuing ‘savings certificates’ which give the owner a greater dividend/interest rate than on a cash deposit. Owners also participate in daily draws/raffles where thousands of monthly prizes can be Euro 10,000 and above. All tax free. Entry levels can be as low as Euro 20
  6. For the past few decades the second most important motorway in Dubai was Emirates Road (Sheikh Zayed being the first). But now consistent with the practices of the Region it has been renamed. No longer to be motorway 311 or Emirates Road. For we now need to refer to it as Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. It won’t be long before the third major motorway way (al Khail) will become a ‘monument’ to one other great name in the history of the Emirates.
  7. It is great to see my great friend Abdulla Mohammad al Gergawi back in a prominent role in Government (new Cabinet announced this month).  And Minister for State is a nicely influential position.  His rehabilitation from the difficult days of 2008 is now complete. The Gergawi’s are a truly lovely family and I am lucky to have his nephew as a partner in Pretty Polly (my cleaning company). Nice to see good things happening to nice people.
  8. UAE airports expect to handle over 100 million passengers per annum by 2015 and as the surge towards this figure gathers momentum so too is the pace of construction at the two main airports. And it looks like the Authorities at Dubai airport either read Home Thoughts from Dubai/Dublin or they think like we do. The Immigration queue problem has abated. It’s a pity my E-Gate card does not work in Abu Dhabi. But I would recommend every resident of the UAE who travels regularly to get an E-Gate card. You then don’t have to worry about the immigration queues. Although if you have luggage on the carrousel that will become your point of frustration – although I have to admit both airports are far better than most airports around the world in terms of reuniting you with your baggage.
  9. The informal mixing culture with which Sheikh Mohammed moves around his Emirate has been scripted many times. On Tuesday last he was spotted going into the newly established Biker’s Café on Jumeirah Beach Road and having lunch. Alone. On Friday last he was again ‘spotted’. This time by the most authoritative journalistic source in Dubai. Yes yours truly. There I was innocently exiting the Burj al Arab when I had cause to look behind me. But continued walking. Until I sensed I was about to bump into somebody. A split second. And when I turned around to recommence my exit (looking the correct direction) I made very ‘brushing contact’ with The Man Himself. Naturally I blurted out some apologetic words ….. in Arabic and thankfully he did not consider this ‘mistake’ an assault. He did not however smile so I presume he was not terribly amused or just does not have the same type of Arabic as myself. Strange also that he does not remember me from the Noodle House at Emirates Towers Hotel in July 2007. I immediately remembered him. We were both dining together. In the same restaurant. Him at table 31 and me at ………………….. table 8 !!!
  10. Bet you never thought Noel Gallagher would be somebody I would go to ‘endure’ !!! Well when you get a VVVIP invitation to his gig on the beach at the Atlantis I am prepared to forgive a lot. Even poor music !!. And so there I was. Be treated regally. And I even recognised two of his songs !!!
  11. I have always felt that in the service industry people make ‘brands’. And so it was this month with Aldar Estates (property company in Abu Dhabi). And I would like to thank Mr Sameer for his wonderful attention to customer needs and providing a truly world class responsiveness to issues that customers may have. As a result my positive view of Aldar as a company and brand has been enormously heightened.
  12. And on the subject of plaudits this month I have to thank Brendan Noonan at Emirates Airlines for his wonderfully quick response and involvement in resolving an an issue that really was not his responsibility. Thanks Brendan.



Equity Corner :

Another good month for shares although events in Europe, or should I say Cyprus, did bring a temporary halt to what looked like a relentless journey to constant new daily highs on the Dow Jones. And eventually the S&P.  So all is well on the Planet. At least this is the message from investment and pension funds, and now that most dangerous of investment groups NY taxi drivers. So the US has once again become the proxy for the rest of the world. And so we all happily enter a new bubble. While it is never wise to ‘take on’ the market or the sentiment that so often controls its direction, surely it is obvious to many commentators that Western Governments have never been so loaded with debt (and through their Central Banks with debt instruments that are in many cases worth far less than face value), there has never been more pressure on them to get budgetry arithmetic in order and unemployment remains the single biggest challenge in returning these economies to some level of acceptable growth/health. So please a little more thought before we jump into the markets at these levels. I do however like the following medium term plays (having made nice returns so far this year out of our 2013 tips – BG Group, Glaxo, 888 and Prudential) Aviva and Barclays. Aviva because the last set of results (recently) ‘kitchened sinked’ so much and Barclays because it has been way over-sold while the market has been going the opposite direction. On a six month view I feel very positive on these two

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Home Thoughts from Dubai and Dublin

Did you know

a) Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents

b) depending on your weight you can lose between 320 and 700 calories playing golf (carrying your own club’s and no caddy car !!)

c) while it is difficult to be precise Hinduism is the oldest religion which can be evidenced by writings

d) the location of the worlds tallest tree (named Hyperion), is kept secret from all but a select few scientists (great so anybody can declare the tallest/largest/biggest/longest something and keep the proof ‘secret’ !!)

e) In 1819, the USA purchased Florida from Spain for the cancellation of a $5 million debt.

What’s happening in the UAE :

  1. You may recall last month I told you about the 50% maximum Loan to Value being imposed by the UAE Central Bank on all non Emirati mortgages. The idea (sorry that is what the Authorities are calling it now) has now been reversed and the UAE Central Bank is almost denying it ever introduced the concept. Mmmmm. And so the mortgage market returns to market. Although you never know in the UAE. This statement could also get reversed !!!
  2. Dubai is one of the safest places on the Planet to live. Unless of course you need to use its wonderfully new and state of the art roads/motorways. And February proved that once again the drivers of Dubai have learnt nothing from the annual carnage and statistics. 24 more dead. And a further 24 injured. In one accident. 18 of them poor Bangladeshi workers in a bus. Just going to work. Earning (small amounts of) money so that they can send it home to their equally poor families. What did they do wrong but get up early in the morning and board the company transport bus for their 10/14 hour shift. In this case it was a 75 ton truck driver forget that he was not on a Formula 1 Grand Prix track. Forgetting about the ability of the driver, speed seems a lesson that most drivers in Dubai are incapable of understanding its inherent dangers. Many in the Arab believe that if your time is up with God, then it does not matter if you drive at 10 or 200 kilometers per hour. Yep it has nothing to do with speed or the drivers inability to control or handle a car.
  3. Emirates Airlines and Dubai International Airport are flying !!! Literally. Dubai’s new superjumbo terminal is now fully functional and this will help the airport move towards it’s 70 million passenger traffic target this/next year – and likely to replace Heathrow as the world’s largest (by throughput) international airport by 2015/2016. The new 20 gate Euro 2.5 billion A 380 Concourse(which in itself will handle 19 million passengers annually)  is now fully functional. Not bad for a little Emirate of just 1.8 million people.  But Dubai has always fully understood and planned that the more people you can fly/pass through the airport, the more your ‘sovereign brand’ improves and the more people visit/hub through the Emirate. Well done to all the ‘contributors’ to this success – Emirates Airlines, Dubai Airport Authority and of course the very gifted people at Dubai Duty Free. There is however one SERIOUS issue that the Airport Authorities need to correct and get sorted. The queues at Passport Control are now seriously out of control. In the year of Emiritisation (the UAE Government are pushing for ‘no unemployment’ amongst Emirati’s) surely this problem can be solved. It is a REAL problem that needs to be sorted – queue’s of 1 hour plus are just NOT acceptable.
  4. Constant changes of the rules at Immigration and Labour. Is it really that difficult to let foreign owned companies in Dubai know of these changes as they happen ? Or is this just some tactic that helps bring joy to the employees at Immigration or Labour. It certainly feels that way when you have all the application papers (which normally run to 10 plus pages/tasks), have waited 25 + minutes for your number to be ‘called’ and then you wait as the Immigration/Labour person sets about looking through your submission papers to see what error he/she can discover. And the smile on the face as she/he ‘discovers’ that you have not completed something that is required in a new rule that was introduced. Five minutes ago !!!
  5. Sharjah (one of the seven Emirates of the UAE) has made it illegal to ‘litter’ anywhere on its streets. Not sure what it means, as I thought this was already the case, but I do know it will probably be enforced in an over-zealous way. Such is the way of life in Sharjah
  6. Dubai gave the go ahead on Wednesday (mid month) to plans for a new $1.6 billion island project featuring the world’s largest ferris wheel at its centre, as the Emirate resumes constructing extravagant projects reminiscent of its boom years. Yep I know what you are thinking. Were there any lessons from the collapse of 2008 ? Well it would appear not.
  7. The Dubai Tennis Open was one of the key sports events of Dubai during February. The figurehead for this truly wonderful annual event (although I don’t seem to get invites anymore !!) is one of Ireland’s most charismatic ambassador’s – Colm McLoughlin. Colm counts as one of a small handful of Irish that are veterans of Dubai and are part of the reason that Irish people in the Emirate are loved and respected. His charm and abilities obviously extend way beyond the running of the hugely successful Dubai Duty Free – where annual turnover and profits exceed those of chains such as Marks & Spencer and Harrods. For this year Colm succeeded in persuading 8 of the top 10 female tennis stars (it would have been 9 were it not for a late injury to one of the registered contestants) to participate in the tournament. I am not sure if Colm personally persuades them but some feat !!!! And the tournament would not be the same without him at the helm – so a result  that can be added to his already ‘well populated’ trophy cabinet of personal and business achievements. Now I wonder if I will get tickets to next years competitions !!!
  8. Jumeirah Lakes (JLT) is as many of you will know my ‘bargain’ property location in Dubai. Both rental and purchase. In time this will change. The location is after all directly across the motorway from Dubai Marina where property prices are almost double. And JLT has significantly greater parking facilities. So when the Master Developer at JLT announced this month that it is going to develop a large parkland (55,000 sq mt) within the development, a further positive was added to this locations appeal. And with work expected to be completed by the end of 2013, property prices will only go one way over the next 18/24 months. And of course I live there !!!


Currency Corner :

It seemed that everybody, except Home Thoughts,  believed the Euro crisis was over. Well thanks to our Italian friends, who have a combined National Debt of Euro 1.5 trillion, decided that a comedian and a corrupt Gigolo are better rulers of their Sovereign fate than the financially disciplined Mr Monti.  I expect this strengthening of the $ against the Euro will continue for the rest of the year – with the occasional ‘bounce’ in the Euro related to ‘normal’ trending. The major export economies of Europe will not want to see a strong Euro around for long.

Currency wars were temporarily averted – that is the rush by all the major industrial countries to weaken its currency to assist with growth and export efforts – at the recent  G20 meeting. It passed without any major incident and with no indictment of Japan for implementing a monetary policy that naturally weakened the Yen.

DON’T believe that Sterling is on the way to parity with the Euro. What a rubbish belief, peddled by attention seeking and alarmist currency terrorist’s. The UK economy is no worse than most other ‘Western’ economies as it attempts to reduce it’s Sovereign debt, create employment and revive economic activity. So BUY Sterling as it weakens over the coming weeks. I don’t see the rate going above 90 and will recover as the Euro weakens over the second half of 2013.

Equity Corner :

The all time high for the Dow Jones was 14,164 (day end) or 14,193 (intra day). Despite my prediction that there will be some ‘pull back’ in equities, I now predict this high will be exceeded before we have the ‘pull back’. So expect the Dow Jones to hit an all time high during today/March. Because I view equities as now being over-valued it is difficult to recommend any specific stock to you. All my 2013 share tips have had very impressive starts to the year. But then it would have been hard to find equities that did not have such a good start.

If I was to pick one for you this month it will have to be Aviva. It has not participated in the December or January equity rally and although some strength has come into the price over the past few weeks it still looks cheap relative to sectoral metrics. Financial results are due on March 7th and this should be a catalyst for some price upgrades – assuming global equities stay steady/strong.

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