Did you know

a) in December 2012 there are FIVE Saturdays, Sunday’s and Monday’s. This ONLY happens every 324 years. The Chinese call it a ‘Money Bag’ month

b) the worlds longest pregnancy was 375 days – and it is NOT strange for a woman to be pregnant for ‘periods’ up to 1 year (its just that doctors tend to induce birth if ‘the nine month norm’ is exceeded

c) You can only smell 1/20th as well as a dog

d) he word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat,” which means “the king is dead.”  and

e) In 1626, the Dutch purchased Manhattan Island from the Lenape Native Americans for 60 guilders (about $1000). The English conquered the city from the Dutch in 1664, and “New Amsterdam” became “New York.” In 1698, New York City only had a population of 4,937 people. New York City served as the capital of the United States in the 1780s before it was moved to Philadelphia and then Washington D.C.

Somethings to reflect upon during the coming month :

a) By the time a women realizes her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she’s wrong

b) (for children) – When your mum is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair

c)I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter

d)  Ahhh…I see the know-it-all fairy has visited us again

e) A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship and

f) in response to somebody saying something stupid thinking it was funny ‘Oh I get it …….like humour …….  but different’

What’s happening in the UAE :

  1. A two-month amnesty has been granted to illegal residents, allowing them to leave the country without penalty or regularise their visas. to obtain outpasses and leave the country without penalties, or regularise their visas, after payment of fines between December 4 and February 3 there will be no extension or exception whatsoever of the amnesty scheme” a resident who overstayed his or her visa can come forward with their passports and air tickets to obtain an outpass, get their fines waived, and leave the country Passports withheld by residency department in absconding cases, will be handed over to their holders As many as 342,000 illegal immigrants took advantage of the last amnesty declared in 2007.
  2. Yes I know the years are passing me by and additional ‘age lines’ appear every month but I have set up a new Freezone company in Dubai. I mean what else would you do when living in this tax free sunny beach-rich  part of the world !! That’s it employ another 20 people (with the associated headaches) and take on another 150 + customers (with the associated headaches) and put yourself through the arduous and painful process associated with being an English speaking Christian in the Muslim Arab World. Well thankfully the DMCC Freezone of Dubai – encouraged by the entrepreneurial thinking of Sheikh Mohammed and the attendant legislation – has seduced me from the beaches and ‘mortgaged’ me to another 4 years of work. And so Pretty Polly Cleaning enters a new stage of growth
  3. One thought that struck me during the month as I was attempting to explain to a guy in Dubai Labour Dept what a ‘model’ company we were, was when I explained the many incremental payments/bonuses we pay to staff. When I got to the point that we pay Christmas bonuses I thought it better to ‘back off’ and call them (the Christmas bonus) ‘Islamic New Year Recognitions’ – avoided any reference to the ‘Christian thing’ !! And I thought that I had grown into somebody who ‘said it as it is’ !!!
  4. The UAE has been surprisingly quick in getting the Emirates ID card system up and running. Every resident of any of the 7 Emirates now MUST have one. So in just two years the Emirates has succeeded in issuing 5 million + cards – even more impressive when you think that more than 4 million of these people do not speak English or Arabic. And have varying levels of education. And the detail that is contained on each card required physical 20 minute + ‘interviews’ with each and every resident. So well done to all at Immigration & Residency Dept. The logistical challenge is over. And on a separate point EVERY Dubai Government transaction now requires that you produce your Emirates ID to complete the transaction (or to even get an entry pass to the counter).
  5. An ‘interesting’ variation to the rule that you find yourself in jail if you are responsible for a bounced cheque in Dubai (and the UAE) was introduced into law this month. Emirati’s are no longer subject to this rule. So be careful about accepting a cheque from an Emirati from now on.
  6. Having BBQ’s on the balcony of your apartment has always been against the laws of Dubai. However, the decree does not include buildings in free zones and freehold properties in Dubai. This is all, understandably, about to change. Freezones will no longer be a place free from the health and safety laws as they apply to cooking on your balcony overlooking the City or the Palm
  7. One, not related to 6 above, major event in Dubai this month was a fire in a building in Jumeirah Lake Towers (yes where I live. Well not the exact building but the general area). The entire building (which was 60% occupied at the time of the fire – 5 am in the morning) was destroyed. Thankfully there were no fatalities. As Dubai is only in its ‘insurance infancy’ there has been the predictable run for the exits in terms of who is responsible for compensation payments. Yep watch the space. There will be lots of grief for landlords and building occupants/tenants as they discover what is and what is not covered by insurance etc.
  8. 2013 has been declared the year of Emiritisation – where the Government will apply demands on the private sector to recruit and employ far more Emirati’s than they have in the past. Apparently only 1% of Emirati’s are employed in the Private Sector. Hardly surprising given the salaries in Government and holidays given to Government employees are about 50% more generous than the Private Sector can afford. I wonder how many Emirati’s will apply to Pretty Polly and take up the broom, vacuum and rubber gloves !!!
  9. This is National Day weekend in the UAE. Four days off (well only if you work in Government – seems nothing is different in any part of the world !!). 41 years of Independence. And the City of Dubai is alive with cars (including mine) painted and decorated with the colours, flags, badges, photos etc of the UAE. I should really YouTube my car for you. But then how do I do that from the beach !!!


Currency Corner :

A month which saw the Japanese Yen fall to new lows against the US$ – a ‘call’ made by Home Thoughts earlier in the year. In fact the $/Yen movement was THE CERTAINTY predicted by HT in April of this year. At the time the cross rate was 76.20. This month it touched 82.75. A ‘profit’ of 8% . The Euro held reasonably firm during the month although Greek troubles did cause occasional weakening – falling to 1.2720 at one stage. The credit downgrading of France by Moody’s was almost ignored, while Sterling attracted much negative attention, driven largely by it’s completely correct stance on blocking any increase in the EU spending budget – which is already ridiculously out of control. I do see the Euro remaining weak into year end and a rate of 1.27 against the Greenback will probably be seen. The Yen should recover marginally against the US Dollar once the new (Japanese) parliamentary elections are out of the way.

Expect Sterling to recover value over the first half of 2013 as the gloomiest economic predictions on the Economy prove exaggerated.

Equity Corner :

What a really interesting month. Early part quiet as we ran into the American Presidential election. Then 48 hours of positive reaction to Obama being re-elected. And the equities fell over the cliff. Literally. Worries about a stand off between Republicans (controlling the House of Representatives in the US) and the Democrats (who controlled the Senate and of course the President) led to beliefs that US fiscal and monetary differences would not be solved and the US would be forced into a recession and possibly a further debt downgrade. Add to this the fact that the financial solution spun together for Greece is already proving impossible to deliver (Home Thoughts told you this in July 2009, May 2010 and September last year). Further debt write offs’s (including money lent by already financially stressed Ireland) are inevitable. The Dow Jones fell 1100 points in just two weeks. Anyhow the final part of the month, as we moved into Thanksgiving, saw equity investors ignore all the gloomy stuff and help the market recover. And over the final 8 days the market had a ‘miraculous’ 4% recovery – despite some US Republicans still believing they will be able to obstruct Democratic Budget and tax raising plans.

We are despite all the volatility having some successes.

Best has been MY SHARE CERTAINTY FOR 2012. Invensys sold it’s rail business to Siemans and promised to pay 50% of the proceeds to shareholders. A real sweet deal and the share price jumped 45% over two days. A nice 70% jump since the start of the year. So not bad. Although there have been many price upgrades over the past few days (some as high as £4) I think it is time to take profits at c £3.20

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