Uber and SPG in Dubai

Uber application on a smartphone

Uber application on a smartphone

Uber and SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) have partnered up for a unique service for their customers. Uber riders can now earn 1 Starpoint for every US$1 (Dhs. 3.70) spent on their Uber rides. Dubai is one of the five selected participating cities to serve this joined special service.

Uber taxi and SPG allow their customers to book their taxi and hotel rooms respectively online through their applications. SPG also allow their customers to check in to their hotel rooms using their smart phones using bluetooth technology for a keyless initiative experience. Both applications can be downloaded from Apple Store and Google Play store.

RTA taxi on Dubai roads

RTA taxi on Dubai roads

Moamin Elatawy, 25, a Senior HR Executive from MARKA stated that he has not heard of Uber Taxi. When told about what it was, he said that, “It might not be as safe and qualified as RTA taxis. RTA taxi drivers are trained straight from the Government.” Elatawy mentioned that he has heard of applications like SPG from different hotels, however, he feels that there won’t be much of a difference as UAE has a law of giving a copy of Emirates ID or passport upon check in. “It will be the same if you book from Booking.com.”, Elatawy said.

Dubai is a tourist destination and is a growing hub. Numerous hotels have popped up over the years in the city. Anina Georgieva, 25, Assistant Front Office Manager from Doubletree by Hilton said that she has not heard of Uber Taxi but has heard of SPG. She said that most hotels have their own services like limousines for their guests. She mentioned that SPG is not the first type of service introduced in Dubai.

SPG application on a smartphone

SPG application on a smartphone

Hilton Loyalty members have been getting a similar point system and have a special application called E-Check in. Hilton Loyalty members can download the application and can directly book from it and choose which particular room they want to book. The map of the hotel is available for the member to choose, similar to choosing a cinema seat when booking for an e-ticket online.

The technology of these two applications is great but getting the public to use it might be a challenge. As Georgieva said, “This type of service will only appeal to executives who travels a lot and not to the general public.” It may start slow now but in the future, specially as Dubai is gearing up for the Expo 2020, the Uber and SPG experience might be one of the most popular to use.

Have you used this service or similar before? What are your thoughts on this? Comment below.

My own thoughts on the refugee / migrant crises

I have been following the refugee crises or I would like to call it as migrant crises. Most of these people are innocent and did not want their own children, parents, wives, husbands, sisters and brothers to go through this difficult ordeal.

It is heartbreaking to read, hear and watch news reports about what they have been going through. Some have walked for months crossing one country to another. Some countries have welcomed them while some have not.

These people have been running away or in hiding since the conflict have started on 2011. If you run after them, I am sure they will not think twice but run due to what is conditioned in their minds, run for safety.

Many people do not realize that they are also just like us. I have put myself in their perspective and I too would have done the same thing that they are doing. Many of us have the luxury or the opportunity to choose to move to another country for a better life.

Imagine having no choice but to leave and drop the life you had before, it would be very difficult. Expats talk about being homesick and missing their own families back home in their homeland. That is sad too. However, imagine being homesick to a life and land you can not go back to right now, that’s heartbreaking.

I grew up traveling due to my parent’s nature of profession. I do admit being angry of my parents uprooting us from one place to another. I had to leave my friends behind, my LIFE. It was a choice that my parents made to help us have a better future.

However what I went through is nothing compared to the refugees. They did not have any other choice but to move out. They do not know where they want to go but do know moving away from their humble homeland is their best option right now.

When I grew up moving, I was confused at times why we were moving again and again, packing and unpacking our boxes. The children among the refugees have harder questions in their heads to fathom for sure.

I always wish for every single one of the refugees specially the children that they do not give up, that they do have a better tomorrow.

Barbie Fashion at Mall of the Emirates

Barbie at Mall of the Emirates

A Barbie exhibition is showcased at Mall of the Emirates this month. It displays 24 collector dolls dressed by international designers like Monique Lhuiller to Calvin Klein. The Barbie dolls are dressed fashionably with mini version of clothes off the runway from designers on different years.

Barbie at Mall of the Emirates

Barbie at Mall of the Emirates

Barbie has been dominating the market for over 50 years. This exhibition is celebrated in honor of Majid Al Futtaim’s 10th year anniversary of Mall of the Emirates. The Barbie dolls are available for the public from September 6, 2015 to September 8, 2015.

A Barbie dressed in Monique Lhuiller design

A Barbie dressed in Monique Lhuiller design

Starting from September 9 to 14, there will be fun activities for Barbie lovers. Barbie Rock’n Royals experience will allow Barbie fans to listen to music, dance, do some creative arts and crafts and play wireless musical instruments with other band members.

Discounted vouchers will be handed out to participants of Barbie Rock’n Royals experience. These vouchers can be used to purchase Barbie Rock’n Royals merchandise available at The Toy Store in Mall of the Emirates. For more check out http://www.malloftheemirates.com or http://www.facebook.com/malloftheemirates

Message from UAE Government

Please be advised that the Government of UAE asks the public to be cautious of what to share in social media about the current situation about the war except from authorised Government agencies. Please also refrain from sharing the pictures of the brave UAE soldiers who recently lost their lives, may they rest in peace. #uae #Dubai #mydubai

Philippines Bureau of Customs – Taxing and Opening Balikbayan Boxes

The Philippines Bureau of Customs (BOC) have declared recently that they will be imposing taxes on all Balikbayan Boxes (boxes sent from Overseas Filipino Workers to the Philippines). They also mentioned that they will now make it compulsory to open the boxes to check. These has led to a lot of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) furious with the said decisions.

Here is a recent interview of Alberto Lina, Head of BOC.

Underwater tennis court in UAE

There has been numerous reports about a design presented to the UAE of an underwater tennis court. It is an interesting idea, out of this world. The idea came from Polish architect, Krzysztof Kotala. He is currently looking investors to fund the project. Engineers have been interviewed and have dubbed the idea as impossible or challenging. Here is a report from DailyMail. What do you think?

It’s traditionally played on grass and clay, but could tennis matches one day take place in a waterproof bubble in an ‘underwater Wimbledon’?

An architect has served up plans for an underwater tennis court complete with a massive curved roof that he envisages would keep the water out and let players see fish swimming above.

He wants to build the glass clad-court in Dubai, which has a track record of pushing the boundaries of architecture and engineering, by building the Burj Tower – the tallest skyscraper in the world – and the man-made Palm Islands, for example.

However, engineers warn that such a design may be prohibitively expensive and incredibly difficult to execute.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3062688/You-Architect-serves-plans-underwater-tennis-court-coast-Dubai.html#ixzz3jMNeQWh1
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

UAE Petrol Prices for August 2015

UAE fuel prices hiked starting 1st August 2015

Fuel prices in the UAE are raised recently this month. One of the main reason was to help boost the UAE economy and reduce the number or cars on the road. The price has risen at least 20% from its original price. If compared to other countries it is still cheaper than the other countries.

Source from Khaleej Times

Source from Khaleej Times

However, the UAE Ministry of Energy announced that they will be revising the prices every month. The prices will not be fixed anymore as how it was in the past.

On 31st July 2015, lots of cars lined up to the petrol stations to fill up their tanks. For some, a difference of 10 dirhams to 15 dirhams when filling their tank full does matter. Imagine having to fill up on average of around 50 dirhams per week for a saloon sized car. With the new price, it will now be around 60 to 75 dirhams per week.

Source from UAE Ministry of Energy website

Source from UAE Ministry of Energy website

Reducing the number of cars on the road will be good as public transportations are available. However, different Emirate have different public transportations. In Dubai, it will make sense as public transport is more accessible and convenient. The train stations and bus stations are connected.

I do hope that this system will work and benefit for the better of the UAE economy properly. Dubai Expo 2020 is coming up so Dubai needs a lot of work to be ready for the Expo.

UAE issues law against hate crimes and discrimination

On July 20th 2015, UAE issued a new law against any hate crimes or discrimination within the country. WAM, the Emirates News Agency released an official public statement as seen below.

ABU DHABI, 20th July, 2015 (WAM) — The United Arab Emirates has issued a new law against any form of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin following a Decree by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The new law, No. 02 of 2015, criminalises any acts that stoke religious hatred and/or which insult religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or via online media. The law also includes provisions for punishing anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers.

The law is intended to provide a sound foundation for the environment of tolerance, broad­ mindedness and acceptance in the UAE and aims to safeguard people regardless of their origin, beliefs or race, against acts that promote religious hate and intolerance.

Penalties for violation of the various provisions of the law include jail-terms of six months to over 10 years and fines from AED50,000 to AED2 million.

The Anti-Discriminatory Law prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, his prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards. It also has provisions to fight discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin.

The law condemns actions that would comprise hate speech or the promotion of discrimination or violence against others using any form of media, including online, print, radio or visual media.

Strict action will be taken against any form of expressions of hatred or incitement to hate crimes spread in the form of speech and published media.

The law also criminalises any act that amounts to abuse of religion or vandalism of religious rituals, holy sites or symbols, and takes a serious view of violence on the basis of religious doctrines.

The law prohibits any entity or group established specifically to provoke religious hatred and recommends stringent punishments for groups or supporters of any organisations or individuals that are associated with hate crimes. It also bars any kind of events such as conferences and meetings within the UAE organised with the sole purpose of sowing seeds of discrimination, discord or hatred against individuals or groups on the basis of faith, origin or race. Receiving financial support for such activities is also punishable under the new law.

The law encourages anyone involved in any activity that violates the law to voluntarily submit themselves before the authorities and has provisions allowing the courts to waive penalties in such cases.

The new law does not contradict with any other existing laws meant to protect specially privileged groups in the society such as women, children and individuals with disabilities or others.

After sharing the news, numerous associations like the Emirates Human Rights Association and The Islamic European Council praised the UAE for the making this move. UAE has been very stern about keeping all of their citizens and residents safe from all kinds of harm.

Video technology – 360 degree virtual reality

Recently a music video was released by Fort Minor (seen below), a project by Mike Shinoda who is a member from Grammy winning band Linkin Park. He together with Uprising Creative, used a special camera to record 360 degree in virtual reality. The video only works on a Google Chrome browser and a YouTube app.

While watching the video, you will feel immersed in the video, as if you are the person behind the camera. The debate of selective shot on screen can now be answered with this new technology. Imagine watching news and you get to decide which shot you would like to watch.

Other than news, silver screens using this technology will be mind blowing. However, the silver screens are currently focused with 3D technology. This technology with broadcast will be an advantage, choosing the shot you would want to see on your screen. Smart televisions are becoming popular and in the near future these smart televisions are going to become “smarter” with new features.

We are in the information age with multiple screens. Our televisions, laptops, smart phones are just some to name some. Everyone can now choose which screen they would like to use to watch their news or to watch their favourite shows. The 360 degree virtual reality may be an old technology around early 2000s as I have learned through research, it is the first time YouTube has enabled this type of video to be played on their website.

This technology is a great leap in the video community. With this technology, new ideas are going to pop up on how to use it in the media industry. The video below is an example from the entertainment industry. Broadcast and silver screens might come next in the future.

“This 360 Version requires Google Chrome or the YouTube App on Mobile.

Produced by The Uprising Creative (http://theuprisingcreative.com)
Directed by Jeff Nicholas

It’s been nearly ten years since artist and producer Mike Shinoda – founder of Linkin Park – released “The Rising Tied,” the debut studio album from his solo project, Fort Minor. Inspired by his unforgettable experiences over the past decade and the artist within, Mike has just released a brand new Fort Minor song and video titled, “Welcome.” Among the world’s first 360-degree virtual reality (VR) music videos, Shinoda and his collaborators at The Uprising Creative in LA joined forces to fully leverage the power of VR. The result is a unique experience set in Venice Beach where everyone is invited.”