Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hats Off to UAE

20 May 2006

Just kind of chilling out today on my day off. My day off started early at 5am. Got up to use the head and just as I fell back to sleep at about 0530, I got woken up by some kind of firefight over on the highway about a half mile away. So after I fell back to sleep, Eve came knocking at my door about 8am (what felt like only a few minutes from when I’d gotten woke up by the firefight) to let me know that she would be by in a bit to pick up my drawers…No! She wasn’t doing laundry for me; she is moving to Liberty (North Victory) for her new job with “the other guys.” I told her that I’d give her my two sets of plastic free standing four drawer sets since I’m all set to leave here.

Since AAFES is squeezing more money out of their vendors at the bazaar, the price of these drawers (when you can find them now) has shot way up to about $25 from the $13 I originally paid for them. Maybe that says something about the supply and demand as well as the economy here.

We’ve been seeing/hearing a lot more firefighting going on around here lately. Last week we had two car bombs go off about five seconds apart from one another at the checkpoint on the highway. Raymond was packing things up and had the door ajar and said that the impact from the explosions being as close as they were, pulled open the door partially. Then there was a firefight afterward.

Yesterday, the “Big Voice” (imagine Radar from MASH over the speaker but on a much bigger scale) came up to announce that we should remain inside of a hardened facility until an all clear was announced because of incoming rounds of ammunition from yet another firefight on the highway. About an hour later, the all clear was given. One of the sergeants found himself a souvenir from the firefight on the side of our building…over a half mile from the firefight.

The weather has been warm. We hit our first 110F last week but the past couple of days have been around 100F. Not too uncomfortable unless you’re in an office where Fluor Daniels (base services) doesn’t want to permanently fix the air conditioning! We’ve been going back and forth with them. You open a work order for the broken a/c and they ignore it until you call them three or four more times. They’ve rebuilt our compressors about two or three times but the two a/c’s work when they want and just shut down when they’re tired.

I received an email from one of my good friends at home containing an article about Dubai and subtitled with some garbage about what the price of American oil is paying for. I’m going to post my response and a couple of links because I think that these kinds of negative remarks about the UAE are very counterproductive to maintaining an important relationship with a country that is actually one of many of our best friends in the Middle East.

“…First off, it ain't American oil money at work! That is about the furthest from the truth. Dubai has become a convenient, profitable and successful crossroads for the shipping industry and everything passing through the Middle East to include even stuff going to and from India. They have developed into one of the most liberal of Arabic states and have been seriously working to develop themselves as a tourist destination something along the lines of the Middle East Las Vegas. Many of the small Middle Eastern nations (like UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain in particular and even little Djibouti) have been working hard to find a niche in shipping, banking, commerce and the like BECAUSE they don't have the oil and natural gas reserves to last very long or anywhere near as long as Iran, Iraq and Saudi.

People I work with here, in Kuwait and in Qatar oftentimes will take a quick leave to Dubai for three day weekends as it is the perfect place to unwind from our lives here. The one guy I work with here just got back from there and did the indoor mall ski slope and said it was great. He also did the dune buggy trip into the desert. I'm told that it is currently quite the destination for Brits and Aussies. So there is more to Dubai than all the crap you read going on in the States. Too bad that Americans only see the world through red, white and blue colored glasses! If they'd get out a bit more, they'd see that there is more to the world than our borders, our values and our oil needs.

Hope I didn't sound too snotty! :) Living abroad really opens your mind and eyes so that you recognize American bent news-babble when you see it.”

On this subject, I’d like to make a remark about our having defeated the opportunity for the UAE to administer the ports in the US. First off, having a UAE company administer and operate our ports with the US Government overseeing the company is not that bad of an idea. After the successes and profitability that the UAE has had with their own shipping industry in the Middle East, they may actually have some new ideas that could be of use to us.

Let’s just suppose that maybe the UAE port deal was turned down because of certain “connections” in the lobbying industry worrying about having to learn how to pay-off a new group of people to continue smuggling operations at these ports. Let’s not delude ourselves too much that smuggling isn’t a huge operation in the US (with all kinds of heads looking the other way for the correct amount of money.) And lobbying by any other name is still “buying off” whomever to get what you want. Wake up and smell the coffee…lobbyists are basically corporate mafia used by big business to get their way with Congress at your expense…but dressed in better and more expensive suits (right Mr. Abramoff?)…in Fedora’s, mind you. Did you know that hats were back in?
Dave, I ran into Mark Reeves and he told me you were coming home soon. Then I realized I had not read the blog in a couple of months. Highly unusual. Since I printed them for Dave and I to both read. Have a safe trip home. I hope I remember my identity to post this! Let's get together when you are home. -Inga
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