Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Dubai was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago. The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095, in the "Book of Geography" by Abu Abdullah al-Bakri. Documented records of Dubai exist only after 1799. In the 19th century the Al Abu Falasa clan (House of Al-Falasi) established Dubai, which remained a dependent of Abu Dhabi until 1833. In 1833 the Al Maktoum dynasty, descendants of the House of Al-Falasi, left Abu Dhabi and took over Dubai from the Abu Fasala clan without resistance. Dubai came under the British by the "Exclusive Agreement" of 1892. Then two catastrophes struck the town; first in 1841 a smallpox epidemic broke out in the Bur Dubai and in 1894 fire swept through Deira burning down most homes.
Dubai was an important port of call for foreign traders, mainly from India, many of whom settled down in the town, known for its pearl exports until the 1930s. Dubai's pearl industry perished during World War I, and later by the Great Depression of the late 1920s, causing a mass migration of people to other parts of the Persian Gulf. Since its inception, Dubai was constantly at war with Abu Dhabi. In 1947 a border dispute escalated into war between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which was settled by the British. Border disputes continued even after the formation of the UAE until 1979.
Electricity, telephones and an airport were established in Dubai in the 1950s by the British. In 1966 oil was discovered after which the town granted concessions to international oil companies. This led to a massive influx of foreign workers, mainly Indians and Pakistanis, making the population Dubai from 1968 to 1975 grow by 300%. Now there are about 12,00,000 (1.2 million) Indians in Dubai, making it one-third or about 33% of Dubai population.
On 2 December 1971 Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and five other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after Britain left in 1971. In the 1970s, Dubai continued to grow from revenues from oil and trade, even as the city saw an influx of Lebanese immigrants fleeing the civil war in Lebanon. The Jebel Ali port, reputedly the world's largest man-made port, was established in 1979. Jafza (Jebel Ali Free Zone) was built around the port in 1985 to provide foreign companies unrestricted import of labor and export capital.
During the Persian Gulf War of 1990 Dubai banks faced massive withdrawal of funds. In 1990s, however, many foreign trading communities, from Kuwait during the Gulf War, and later from Bahrain during the Shia unrest, moved their businesses to Dubai. Also, Dubai provided refueling bases to allied forces lead by USA at the Jebel Ali Free Zone during the Gulf War and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Oil price hikes after the war forced Dubai to focus on trade and tourism, which are now the main source of income, oil contributing only about 6% of Dubai’s revenues.
The flourishing Jebel Ali Free Zone lead to duplicating its model to establish new free zones, such as Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Maritime City and more. The construction of Burj Al Arab, the world's tallest freestanding hotel, and new residential properties were used to promote Dubai to the world’s richest and celebrity people. Since 2002 there has been an increase in private real estate investment in recreating projects such as The Palm Islands, The World Islands, Burj Dubai and The Dynamic Tower. But economic growth has been accompanied by high inflation (11.2% as of 2007), resulting in huge increase in cost of living. Dubai is the second most expensive city in the Gulf Region and 20th most expensive city in the world.
Dubai's government runs under a constitutional monarchy, and has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since 1833. The current ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Prime Minister of the UAE, and member of the Supreme Council of the Union (SCU) of the emirates.
Though Article 25 of the Constitution of the UAE provides for the equitable treatment of all persons with regard to race, nationality, religion and social status, many of Dubai's 250,000 foreign laborers live in conditions described by Human Rights Watch as being "less than human." NPR reports that workers "typically live eight to a room, sending home a portion of their salary to their families, whom they don't see for years at a time." On 21 March 2006, workers at the construction site of Burj Dubai, upset over bus timings and working conditions, rioted damaging cars, offices, computers and construction tools. The global recession has caused the working class of Dubai to be hard hit, with many workers not being paid and not being able to leave Dubai.
Judicial rulings in Dubai with regard to foreign nationals were under dark cloud, for instance, the alleged attempts to cover up the rape of the 15-year-old French-Swiss girl Alexandre Robert and the recent mass imprisonment of migrant laborers, most of whom from India, on account of their protests against poor wages and living conditions. Prostitution, though illegal, is conspicuously present in the emirate because of the economy dependence on real estate, tourism and trade. AMCIPS found that women from Russia, Ethiopia and some African countries are the most common prostitutes, while Indian prostitutes are part of an organized prostitution network. A 2007 PBS documentary entitled “Dubai: Night Secrets” reported that prostitution in clubs is tolerated by authorities.
According to the Statistics Center of Dubai, the population of Dubai was 1,422,000 as of 2006, with only about 15% made up of UAE nationals. About 80% of the expatriate population is Asian, chiefly Indians (51%), Pakistani (15%), Bangladeshi (10%) and others (10%), and in addition 16% (or 288,000 persons) living in collective labor camps were not identified by nationality, but were believed to be primarily Asian.
The UAE's Provisional Constitution declares Islam the official state religion, but Dubai also has large Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and other religious communities. Non-Muslim religious groups are permitted to advertise group functions but distributing religious literature is strictly prohibited under penalty of criminal prosecution, imprisonment and deportation for “engaging in behaviour offensive to Islam”.
Burj Dubai, currently the tallest building in the world, is being built primarily by poor immigrants from South Asia. Press reports indicated in 2006 that skilled carpenters at the site were paid the equivalent of UK£4.34 a day and the migrant laborers paid only UK£2.84, hardly enough to sustain in the skyrocketing prices of Dubai. As a result, on 21 March 2006, about 2,500 workers upset over buses that were delayed for the end of their shifts took to riots. As of 17 June 2008 there were 7,500 skilled workers employed in the construction of Burj Dubai, unskilled workers not counted.
Dubai's gross domestic product as of 2005 was US$37 billion and now the Dubai Government sits on a debt of US$ 80 billion, out of which 75% is caused by the government owned Dubai World, chaired by Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem. On November 26, 2009, Dubai proposed to delay repayment of its debt, which raised the risk of the largest government default since the Argentine debt crisis in 2001, as Dubai World asked to delay for six months payment on $59 billion of debt.
As a result stock markets and financial institutions around the world cracked on Friday. The emerging markets like Hong Kong and South Korea fell by 5%. Taiwan 3%, Australia and China 2%, and the Indian Sensex fell by 645 points to settle back at 223 points (1.3%).
Over a million Indians work in Dubai, i.e., one-third or 33.33% of the Dubai population. They send home about 10 to 12% (over Rs 24, 300 crores) of the total remittance of US$ 52 billion (Rs 2,43, 000 crores) Indians send from abroad. If Dubai World’s request for repayment of its debts is not accepted, there would be a huge crash of Dubai economy leading to job losses for Indians and other migrant communities. The most affected would be workers from Indian states if Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab.
At present 12% of India’s total foreign remittances come from Dubai and 8% of India’s non-oil exports go to Dubai. Though the Indian Government sources say the Dubai financial collapse will not affect India much, most people in India feel it is going to affect a lot of people.
However, there is a ray of hope if what Al Jazeera and other agencies report come true: “Abu Dhabi to 'assist' Dubai World” – “Abu Dhabi is moving to bail out on a selective basis the state-owned Dubai World, whose debt default led to a sharp drop in global markets, a senior official has said”.
Abu Dhabi Investment Authority alone manages over half a trillion US dollars, and if they want they can easily bail out Dubai with a Government debt of US$ 80 billion out of which US$ 59 billion is that of Dubai World. It is a drop in the ocean compared to half-a-trillion US dollar! Abu Dhabi is one of the wealthiest states in the world and analysts feel it can easily bail out Dubai, both being prominent emirates of the UAE.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
For the 24-year-old Pune-born actress Mugdha Godse Madhur Bhandarkar's hit film Fashion (2008) was a turning point in her career. The Femina Miss India 2004 Semi-Finalist and accomplished model continued her performance in Fashion with films such as “All The Best: Fun Begins” and “Jail”, the 2009 releases out of which the former was a moderate hit while Jail in which she played the female lead was received well by her fans and the audience.
Author of this photo says the new Bollywood sensation Mugdha Godse is a famous Indian Model who had her debut in Madhur Bhandarkar's hit film FASHION, and her figure made her an instant hit. True she is quite beautiful and has a very sexy figure to pose for the camera. Any comments? Please write your views on Mugdha Godse.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Featured above is the cover of W magazine featuring Demi Moore with the photo of Anja Rubik wearing the Balmain corset dress by the side of the magazine cover.
Demi Moore’s photo on the cover of W magazine’s December 2009 edition has kicked up a lot of controversy after bloggers claimed that her 'photoshopped' body actually belonged the young Polish fashion model Anja Rubik. To put fat on fire, a photographer from Los Angeles has offered to donate $5,000 to charity if Demi Moore can prove the cover photo was not retouched.
The first criticism was that Moore was missing a part of her hip in the photo on the magazine cover, in reply to which the 47-year-old actress posted her photo on Twitter and claimed that it was the original photo used by W magazine - click here to see Demi Moore's photo on Twitter.
Fashion gurus are of the opinion that there is similarity between the magazine image of Moore and photographs of Anja Rubik wearing the same Balmain corset dress on the runway in Paris earlier this year. They claimed that on the 26-year-old Polish blonde’s image Moore's head was superimposed.
W magazine’s spokesperson said, "We did not do anything unusual or out of the ordinary on Demi Moore for the photo on the cover of W. Demi is an extraordinarily beautiful woman and we feel our cover reflects that."
On the question of airbrushing or photoshopping photos of models and celebrities, renowned fashion photographers from India are of the opinion that almost all photos are slightly changed as most models and celebrities ask them to take care of flaws like dark spots, wrinkles, blemishes, etc., but they do not substantially change any photos. Additionally every photographer uses lighting, make-up, clothing, and many more props to make their work excellent.
Polish model Anja Rubik, born on 12 June 1983 in Poland and now living in New York City, is allegedly the model whose photo has been partly used by a popular magazine to replace the body of the 47-year-old American actress Demi Moore, though both the magazine and Demi Moore strongly deny the allegations. To silence her critics, Demi Moore has posted the original photo on Twitter.
Rubik left Poland in 1988 with her family and while studying in a British high school in Paris, she was introduced to modeling, which she did part-time in favor of her studying. After becoming a full-fledged model she has graced the covers of magazines such as Elle, Numéro, Flair, Russh, Nylon, Vogue Germany and Vogue Paris. Anja Rubik has walked the ramp for international fashion and designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Gucci, Givenchy, Christian Dior, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Chanel, Calvin Klein and many others. She has also appeared in Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2009.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Her celebrated film Dhadkan was one of the films that brought a huge fan following to Shilpa. That must have prompted the members of the brass band to play one of the hit songs from the film. But they were shocked when some people attending the marriage-related ceremony ran towards the band on hearing the song and instructed them to stop playing the song immediately. They were warned not to play any Akshay Kumar's song. The band looked dejected following the interruption. Of course, they made sure that the songs they performed thereafter were totally without Akshay. Forget it Shilpa, everyone may have such a past! But anyway, the band, being paid for playing in the auspicious ceremony, should not have selected any song that reminds her or Raj about her past filmy romantic moments! They should have at least thought of what would have gone on in Shilpa’s mind when her people heard an old song that reminds of her past. It is a lesson for every celebrity who may plan a wedding and call a band to play music. Never call a band that reminds you of your past! Plus, give them an elaborate list of songs that should be played and still a larger list of songs and other entertainment items that should never be played or mentioned, including the names of the people whose names are a strict “no” in such occasions!
Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty who tied the knot with long-term friend Raj Kundra on Sunday at the auspicious ceremony held at Bawa Villa in Khandala, Mumbai, reportedly has broken lots and lots of hearts of her fans. The gorgeous Bollywood celebrity who for over a decade has attracted every man from actors to sportsmen to viewers, has been a sensation wherever she appeared, whether in films, the British reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother, her yoga videos, to meet religious men like Baba Ramdev, the temple priest in Orissa (Priest kisses Shilpa Shetty), or to promote cricket and spas in which she has invested as a businesswoman. Anyway, most of her fans are happy that she is settling down in life and look forward to become a home maker.
Monday, November 23, 2009
As announced earlier, Indian actress Shilpa Shetty’s marriage was solemnized on Sunday with the London-based businessman Raj Kundra in Khandala, a hill station 200 kilometers from Mumbai, India. Her family, friends, colleagues and many other celebrities attended the marriage service and celebrations. The marriage was described as a "fairy-tale wedding" with news about the marriage arrangements published widely in the media. The marriage will be followed by a wedding reception on Tuesday with many more Bollywood and other personalities attending.
Reportedly Shilpa and Raj met in London after she became the winner of the British reality show 'Celebrity Big Brother' in 2007. She took part in the TV show at a time when she was facing a decline in her career. But after winning the show, she hosted ‘Bigg Boss’, the Indian version of Big Brother, and had new film releases including Life in a Metro and Apne. Also, she has turned to many business ventures including investing in IPL cricket, launching her perfume brands, producing and promoting yoga videos and investments in restaurants and health spas.
Shilpa Shetty, aged 34, made her debut in the film Baazigar (1993) and acted in about 40 films of Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu and languages. Some of her notable films are Aag (1994), Dhadkan (2000), Rishtey (2002) and Phir Milenge (2004). Her younger sister Shamita Shetty is also a Bollywood film actress.
Shilpa Shetty was born in Mangalore in a family of the Bunt community, as the eldest daughter of Surendra Shetty and Sunanda Shetty. Bollywood actress Shamita Shetty is her sister. She now lives in Mumbai with her parents and younger sister Shamita, but after marriage, she may be shuttling between India and UK, where she has already purchased a house in Surrey with Raj Kundra.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Shown above is a promo poster of the latest Twilight film called ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ opening on Friday. Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner reunite, with Melissa Rosenberg returning as the screenwriter, for more vampire and werewolf battles after the first installment in the series, ‘Twilight’, the 2008 romantic fantasy film.
Originally published as a series of books, the author Stephenie Meyer says that the idea for the book came to her in a dream. There are four completed books in the Twilight saga: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. A fifth and incomplete book, “Midnight Sun” was leaked incomplete to the internet, and it is still unfinished and according to Meyer, it is on hold indefinitely.
Figures released earlier this week show The Twilight Saga: New Moon is the biggest selling film of all time in terms of US advance bookings, as more fans have pre-booked tickets to New Moon than for Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince or The Dark Knight, according to Fandango, the cinema booking website. Also, it has already sold more advance seats than the original Twilight film in 2008.
According to Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, ‘It's got werewolves, it's got visual effects that turn people into werewolves, it's got motorcycle stunts, you go to Italy. It's probably twice as much as Twilight to film.’
A synopsis of New Moon released by Summit Entertainment says, “Bella Swan is devastated by the abrupt departure of her vampire love, Edward Cullen, but her spirit is rekindled by her growing friendship with the irresistible Jacob Black. Suddenly she finds herself drawn into the world of the werewolves, ancestral enemies of the vampires, and finds her loyalties tested."
Kristen Stewart reappears as Bella Swan, a teenage girl who has fallen in love with Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), a vampire. She is heartbroken when Edward abruptly leaves her, but is raised out of her depression through her friendship with Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), Bella's old childhood friend and a member of the Quileute tribe, who becomes close to Bella after Edward leaves and transforms himself into a werewolf. For much of the film, Edward only appears as a figment of Bella's imagination. Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen) is a member of the Cullen family who can see ‘subjective’ visions of the future and who becomes best friends with Bella.