Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Blog is Blocked in Saudi Arabia!

Hey Guys!

My blog was blocked end of September 2008 in Saudi Arabia so i was not able to post.

I'm in the Philippines right now for a short vacation. Hopefully i can post my vacation experience here in my blog.

You can call me at 09192949885

Sunday, September 28, 2008


The Internet voting for the Photogenic Award of Ginoo and Binibining Pilipinas Saudi Arabia 2008 is now open.

Sixteen young ladies and 16 fresh-looking gentlemen are vying for the most prestigious personality title ever held in Saudi Arabia since 2004 organized by S.E. Productions.

You can view and vote for your chosen candidates by visiting their internet poll or you can visit their web blog.

Voting will end on October 22, 2008 and the Coronation night will be held on October 24, 2008 at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh K.S.A.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New law in pipeline to deter Saudi smokers

A new law to combat smoking in public and workplaces in Saudi Arabia has been drafted and is awaiting Cabinet approval.

Under the proposals, those caught smoking in public places will be fined SR200 ($53).

Suleiman Al-Sabi, secretary-general of the Charitable Society to Combat Smoking, urged those affected by smokers at work and public places to take legal action against them, demanding compensation.

The law, which is expected to come in during 2009, is significant as Saudi Arabia tops the list of tobacco importers, according to 2007 statistics.

Iran is placed second, followed by Jordan, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt. He claimed cigarette smoking has so far caused the death of 3.48 million people worldwide this year, including 13,929 in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Sabi said smoking would be banned in public places such as markets, restaurants, courtyards of mosques, ministries, educational, health, sports and cultural institutions, public transports, lifts and toilets.

Smoking will also banned in workplaces of companies, factories, banks, food manufacturing places as well as petroleum producing, transporting, distributing and refining areas and fuel and gas selling outlets.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

To Love

To love is to share life together
to build special plans just for two
to work side by side
and then smile with pride
as one by one, dreams all come true.

To love is to help and encourage
with smiles and sincere words of praise
to take time to share
to listen and care
in tender, affectionate ways.

To love is to have someone special
one who you can always depend
to be there through the years
sharing laughter and tears
as a partner, a lover, a friend.

To love is to make special memories
of moments you love to recall
of all the good things
that sharing life brings
love is the greatest of all.

I've learned the full meaning
of sharing and caring
and having my dreams all come true;
I've learned the full meaning
of being in love by being
and loving with you.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Work Productivity and Timing in Ramadan

The workdays for non-Muslims remain the same for almost all the companies in Saudi Arabia. While the Muslims observe their Ramadan by shortening their worktime for at least 2 hours, some notable Muslim, don’t like the idea of shortened workdays, noting that Ramadan is a time when followers of Islam should work harder than ever before.

According to them, Ramadan is not an excuse to be lazy but a time to excel under difficult conditions. Coz strife and hardship strengthens society and builds character.

In fact, some international businesses find it more difficult to conduct business with Islamic countries during Ramadan.

Productivity drops during the month, with both the public and private sector observing shorter working days, and business travellers should expect their plans to be disrupted.

International business transaction seems to be disturbed by the timing of Ramadan. Actually, even during regular months, the Middle East working days overlap with the most available time in international business arena.

In Saudi Arabia alone, week-end falls on Thursday and Friday while most countries consider Saturday and Sunday as their business holidays. So the international business operation in Saudi Arabia limits to 3 days only – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Furthermore, the time difference shortens the period. Take for example if a Saudi company transacts business in the Philippines, which has a five-hour difference in GMT. Philippine business hour usually from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (3:00 PM to 12:00 NOON in Saudi Arabia). Saudi business time starts at 7:30 A.M which is 12:30 P.M. in the Philippines. Hence, business hours everyday for both countries is limited to 4 ½ hours maximum (that is, 4 ½ x 3 days (MTW) = 13.5 HOURS in a week.

So during Ramadan, where offices in Saudi open at 9:30 a.m., the business hour transactions can only be possible in the Philippines from 2:30pm to 5:00 pm.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ramadan starts today

Today is being observed as the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

Senior religious councils in Saudi Arabia, said the moon's crescent was not sighted after nightfall on Saturday, and so Sunday would be the last day of the month preceding Ramadan.

It is during this month that Muslims fast. It is called the Fast of Ramadan and lasts the entire month. Ramadan is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation.

During the Fast of Ramadan strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. Unlike in other Muslim countries, in Saudi Arabia, even the non-Muslims are obliged to observe fasting from sunrise to sunset. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden during fasting.

Working hours are reduced mostly for Muslims in private companies here in Saudi Arabia. They start behind 2 hours than non-Muslims. However Government offices had a uniform hours – 9am to 2pm for all their staff.

City roads are eerily quite as the time for breaking fast (sunset) approaches. On the flipside, traffic rushes to life again in the wee hours of the night, as residents flock to restaurants and shopping malls, which stay open late.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shake-up call to protect Saudi foreign workers

Hopefully, OFWs may now be free from their worries of labor malpractice and abuse of their employers once the recommendation of Human rights campaigners in Saudi Arabia shall be considered by the Saudi government.
The National Human Rights Society (NHRS) proposed that the powers of the Labour Ministry and Passport Department relating to foreign workers be transferred to the new organisation.

The proposals come as part of a study carried out by the NHRS on improving the working environment of foreign workers in the country.
The society has already handed over the study to the authorities at the Ministries of Interior and Labour.

The study also recommends certain procedures to abolish the rules defining sponsorship.

They include an end to the practice of the employer holding passports of expatriate workers, doing away with no objection letters, allowing a foreign worker to bring his family to the Kingdom, employer’s consent to process Haj permit, marriage and family visits besides all terms restricting the employees’ freedom.

Friday, August 29, 2008

MTV Arabia to drop music videos in Ramadan

MTV Arabia, the Middle East’s youth entertainment and lifestyle channel, has announced it will mark Ramadan by dropping music videos.

The channel, which launched in November, has brought the Arab world cutting-edge international music as well as the best in Arabic pop and hip hop.

But its Ramadan fare will reflect the solemnity of the Holy Month, according to Samr Al Mazouqi, the channel’s manager.
He said: “The Holy Month is a time for introspection, and we would like to offer our viewers a break from the ordinary fare.

"Though part of a global brand, MTV Arabia is conscious of regional sensitivities and we are keen to respond to the needs and desires of viewers in the Middle East, the vast majority of whom will be fasting, spending time with family, and focusing on their spiritual lives.”

The channel will continue to play programmes from MTV’s international roster of reality shows, celebrity news and pop culture documentaries.

As is customary with television channels across the region, MTV Arabia will air the call to prayer during Maghreb.

A free to air channel, MTV Arabia broadcasts from Dubai and is available on the Nilesat and Arabsat platforms.

Source: Arabian Business News

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Travelers Beware!

The Custom authority at the King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh had been very strict checking the baggages, particularly CD’s and DVD’s containing movies, softwares and anything prohibited in the Kingdom. Anyone who happens to bring in these items may take time waiting at the Airport for the authorities to check each and every CDs they found.

That was before, when enticing piece of hardware like flask disks, memory cards and external hard drives were still not found in the market.

But with the emerging of low-priced and convenient flash disks, memory cards, cellphones and external hard drives, anyone can store data, particularly pornographic materials, pirated softwares, etc where he can bring unnoticingly inside the Kingdom.

But be warned! If you think you can get away with the law in the Kingdom, think again!

Recently, my friend informed me that his officemates were caught with pornographic movies and pictures stored in their flask disks and hard drives. The police authorities at the international airport are equipped with gadgets, card readers, etc. to inspect all the electronic devices found in your possessions. They are now detained and maybe end up in jail for this violation.

So if ever you travel back to the Kingdom, its advisable not to bring any device containing prohibited materials which may bring you problem at the immigration.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New security rules for Saudi visitors

All passengers arriving at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Airport in Jeddah and Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz Airport in Madina will be fingerprinted under new security plans.

The fingerprinting will begin this Haj season, and is part of a new package designed to eliminate the problem of overstayers, the Saudi Gazette reported. All foreign residents and visitors will be fingerprinted, said Brigadier General Zaid Al-Turaifi, director of the Passport Institute.

When a foreign national is fingerprinted, all his or her relevant data will be stored in a database, the newspaper reported.

Information includes the person’s full name, employer, religion, and country of origin as well as the validity of his or her residence permit (iqama) or visa. A digital photo of the person will also be saved in the database.

Saudi girl, 8, in plea for divorce

A court in Saudi Arabia is reported to be preparing to hear a plea for divorce from an eight-year-old girl who has been married off to a man in his 50s.

The Saudi newspaper al-Watan said on Sunday the girl had been married off to the man by her father without her knowledge.

The child's mother is thought to be pushing for the marriage to be annulled although the father opposes the move.
In April, a court in neighbouring Yemen annulled the arranged marriage of another eight-year-old girl. She had been married to a 28-year-old man.

Child-protection groups say children are often given away in return for hefty dowries, or as a result of old customs in which a father promises his infant daughters and sons to cousins out of a belief that marriage will protect them from illicit relationships. Activists have called for an end to the practice.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Its Better to be Safe than Sorry!

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is once again issuing a reminder in the wake of reports of Filipinos victimized by housebreakers. The most recent case is that of an OFW chemist who forgot to lock the main door of their flat when he arrived from work.

Four unknown persons entered his flat and his huge built was no match when he was assaulted by the group and subsequently hit by an iron in he head. His arms and feet were tied, mouth was taped, upbraided and terribly horrified when his body was sprinkled with alcohol. He was probably burned if not two of the thieves were in a hurry. However, all his important belongings, money and gifts that he bought for his family for his scheduled final exit this month was taken. To make matters worst, he was denied admission in the hospital because he has no identification, medical issuance card and police report.

Although the above was reported via email to the embassy and in the process of verifying its authenticity, the Embassy deems that it may be worthwhile to circulate it to our families, friends and fellow “kababayans” since we have nothing to lose if we remind them to be extra cautious of their everyday’s safety.

Safety and security ate the result of collective consensus and public investment..they do not just happen.


In line with the observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Embassy of the Philippines in Riyadh would like to inform the General Public that effective on Sunday, 31 August 2008 or Monday, 01 September 2008 (depending on the sighting of the new moon), its regular office hours will commence from 10:00 am up to 3:00 pm only from Saturday to Wednesday. This will last until the Eid Al Fitr holidays which will start on 24 or 25 September 2008.
The Thursday schedule from 8:00 am to 12 noon of the Consular Section of the Embassy is suspended for the duration of the Ramadan.
The Embassy will resume its regular working hours after the Eid Al Fitr holidays.
The aforementioned schedule is in accordance with the directives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1st Miss Earth Design Competition

Riyadh top fashion models showcase collections of Emil Santos (a fashion designer based in Riyadh) during the Ystilo Fashion Show at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh

I received an email below regarding the forthcoming Miss Earth Design Competition and hopefully more fashion designers from Saudi Arabia will be encouraged to participate.

We in Carousel Productions recognize not only beauty and wit, we also discover and appreciate talents worthy of international acclaim. This year, for the first time in the Miss Earth pageant history, we are launching a project that will showcase the skills and creativity of professional or even budding designers here in the Philippines and even abroad, on fusing fashion and Filipino culture in coming up with timeless designs that are eco-friendly perfect for the Earth's most beautiful.

The 1st Miss Earth Design Competition is open to professional, non-professional and students who have experience, is learning or even just plain enthusiastic about the field of fashion design. You can join solo or form a design and implementation team of no more than 3 members. One important requirement is your ability to translate the sketches into real garments when chosen. Meaning, you will do it yourself or you have the capacity to outsource people to do it for you. The inspiration for the design is the Philippines; our culture, products, people, festivals, resources. Designs made in the past shall be allowed as long as it has not been showcased to the public (i.e. no media coverage, not shown in a national, local event).

Interested parties must complete the entry form which you can get by emailing and submit the all the requirements in a short brown envelope to: 7 Ideal St., Shaw Blvd. Mandaluyong City on or before September 30, 2008. You can send as many sketches as you want.

Contents of the envelope:

1. Completely filled-out application form (please print multiple for teams) You can use additional sheets if the pages are not enough. Please submit comprehensive fashion design CV if you have one.

2. Sketches (back and forth) ideally colored or send pictures if they are already made

Top 90 sketches (or corresponding number of candidates) will be chosen to be worn by the candidates for Miss Earth 2008 to be showcased in the commemorative calendar made each year distributed to sponsors, franchise holders and made available for public purchase. The names of the 90 designers (or corresponding number of candidates) will also be featured. Not only that, the clothes will be worn by the Miss Earth beauties in a fashion show were the top 3 designs will be awarded.

Winners will be chosen based on the following criteria:

40 pts. Relevance to the theme and aptness of design
20 pts. Use of the latest fashion trends in materials, colours and trims
20 pts. Wearability and usefulness for purpose
10 pts. Accuracy of representation (of Philippine culture, products, etc)
10 pts. Over-all impact

With a grand total of 100 points.

Please feel free to pass this on to friends.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New insurance charge for Dubai visitors

Visitors and tourists coming to Dubai will have to pay about Dh1 for each day of stay in the country, a senior Dubai Naturalization and Residency Department (DNRD) official announced today.

The cost was revealed in a press conference announcing the selection of two local insurers – Amman and Oman Insurance – to provide visa applicants with the mandatory health insurance to complete entry permit procedures.

Brig. Obaid Mehayer Bin Suroor, Acting Director of DNRD, said: “Counters for these insurance companies will be set up at all DNRD branches to offer their services to customers when they apply for entry permits. The system of these companies will soon be linked with DNRD’s online services.”

The two were picked out of several companies who presented proposals to DNRD.
Brig. Bin Suroor, said: “We received several proposals from different companies. We chose the suitable one which offers special services at competitive prices.”
Health insurance for a 30-day visit visa will cost Dh40, and Dh90 for a 90-day visa. A 180-day entry permit costs Dh185.

This clears the initial confusion over health insurance coverage for visitors or tourists, which has been made mandatory under the newly-implemented visa regulations from July 29 following the issuance of Ministerial Decision No. 322/2008. z
Brig. Bin Suroor said people are free to get health insurance coverage from the company they want but the insurance policy should hold the same terms and conditions of the deal DNRD had with the health insurers.

“The coverage of insurance policy should be for a minimum of Dh150,000 for a person per visit to the UAE only and against emergency cases and accidents during the visitor stay in the country. Moreover, the medical coverage will be through a network covered by the insurance companies,” he added.

“The insured person will receive treatment in a shared room and 100% coverage for medication, surgery, and hospital fees in addition to teeth and rehabilitation treatment in accidents cases.

Brig. Bin Suroor said: “The agreement says that insurance companies will bear the cost up to Dh7,000 of repatriating the body back to the country of the visitor in case of death.”

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Goodnews! 1,000 'offensive' websites to be unblocked in Dubai!

Etisalat and du will be told to unblock access to more than 1,000 websites that UAE censors had deemed offensive.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) will instruct web service providers to unblock the sites as part of its new “internet access management” policy.

The new policy will require the government-controlled internet provider duopoly of Etisalat and du to unblock the sites before August 29.
While TRA officials were unable to specify the websites that will be unblocked, the paper says they are likely to include internet forums and social networking sites whose administrators have removed material that TRA officials considered questionable or offensive.

Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, TRA Board Member and Director General, said: "We have always considered the interests and benefits of consumers throughout the formulation of this policy, which laws are directed to protect Internet users, because we believe in the role of the internet as a primary mean of acquiring knowledge.

"Given the fact of the commercial, economic and media work environment of many governmental bodies and institutions in the country, the TRA has implemented some exceptions on blocking access to certain websites, which contents may be commensurate with the nature of their work, where they might be in dire need to know vital information via the Internet that is at the core of their work. We don't want the blocking system to have a negative impact on their work and activity."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Flash news: 55 arrests after suspected 'gay party'

At least 55 people have been arrested following a police bust at an alleged homosexual party in eastern Saudi Arabia.

According to police, drugs and alcohol were found at the farm near Qatif, while two young men were allegedly found wearing women’s makeup and dancing on stage.

Many of those arrested were Filipinos and Pakistanis.
A labor attaché at the Embassy is now trying to help them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How the new UAE visa rules will affect you

Changes to visa regulations in the UAE could result in the country being free of illegal immigrants by the end of the year,, but new visa regulations, which will be introduced today, have created a lot of confusion among local people and visitors.

Here is the guide to how the changes will affect you.

Citizens from the 33 countries which currently receive entry permits on arrival will largely be unaffected by the new rules. The only difference is that these entry permits can only be renewed for an additional 30 days rather than 60 days at a cost of 620 dirhams.

The following nations are exempt: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, US and Vatican City.

Passport holders in countries not exempt must pay a refundable deposit of 1,000 dirhams (US$272) and be covered by health insurance for the period of their stay.

A visit visa will not be required for tourists who book into hotels or who book holidays through a registered tour operator or agency. Instead, they must carry a tourist visa, costing 100 dirhams, which can be issued through the hotel or agency.

The tourist agency will have to pay 75,000 dirhams to the government when opening the agency and a refundable 1,000 dirhams for every visa for tourists from certain countries. The company must also provide a full itinerary for the traveller for their stay.

A visit visa can be applied for 60 days, prior to entering the country, is valid for 30 days, and can be renewed once for an additional 30 days at a charge of 610 dirhams if processed online and 620 dirhams if submitted manually at the Department of Naturalization and Residency offices (DRND).

The cost of issuing a tourist visa is 210 dirhams if processed online and 220 dirhams if submitted by hand at the DNRD office.

Residents can apply for a 30 day or 90 day visit visa for their spouse or blood relative, but will not be allowed to sponsor friends.

The new regulations will put an end to ‘visa runs’. Those without residency will have to pay the renewal fee or leave the country for at least 30 days before returning.

Visa runs to Kish Island, Oman and other neighbouring countries have also been stopped. People wanting to change their visas must return to their home countries.
Every week we issue about 250 visas for Iranian and Filipino passport holders at a cost of 600dhs each.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Riyadh deportation centre overflowing

A deportation centre in Riyadh is overflowing with ‘runaway’ maids, convicts and foreigners denied entry into the country as the cost of flights out of Saudi Arabia soars.

Detainees are kept in camps before they are deported to their home countries and are given the option to return early if they pay for their own flights.

But Saudi Airlines has more than doubled the price of a single flight, citing a labour counselor at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Riyadh.
Filipino maids are staying at an embassy-run safe house waiting to return.
Days ago, the Philippine Embassy issued an advisory to all Filipinos not to runaway from their employer, instead, they must seek the assistance of the Embassy POLO Office for any job-related problems. Likewise, Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor discourages Filipinos, who travel to Jeddah risking themselves to travel by backdoor, saying that the Saudi government is now tightening its campaign against those expatriates who shall go on exit from the Kingdom without proper documentation.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

40 transvestites face deportation

Dubai- Forty cross-dressing tourists have been arrested in shopping malls and other public places in Dubai and they will be deported soon.

The visitors were held after police launched a campaign against transvestites in May. The 40 offenders were referred to the Public Prosecution, which issued an administrative deportation order against them, UAE daily Gulf News reported.

All of those arrested were visitors and tourists and not residents, police stressed. Any man or woman who dresses up and behaves like the opposite gender in public will be questioned and legal action will be taken against him or her, police chiefs have warned.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Meaning

To love is to share life together
to build special plans just for two
to work side by side
and then smile with pride
as one by one, dreams all come true.

To love is to help and encourage
with smiles and sincere words of praise
to take time to share
to listen and care
in tender, affectionate ways.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Love Is ...

Love is the greatest feeling,
Love is like a play,
Love is what I feel for you,
Each and every day,
Love is like a smile,
Love is like a song,
Love is a great emotion,
That keeps us going strong,
I love you with my heart,
My body and my soul,
I love the way I keep loving,
Like a love I can't control,
So remember when your eyes meet mine,
I love you with all my heart,
And I have poured my entire soul into you,
Right from the very start.

Dubai to bid for Olympics!

Dubai will bid for the Olympic Games and will host it at Dubai Sports City.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also vice president and prime minister of the UAE, was briefing journalists on a flight from Beijing to Shanghai as part of his state visit to China when he revealed his intention to begin studying an Olympic bid.

He declined to give further details and did not name a target year to host the games.
Dubai Sport City is currently under construction and will feature a 25,000-seater cricket stadium, a 60,000-seater outdoor arena that could hold track and field events, and a 10,000-seater multi-purpose indoor arena.

It will be one of the largest sports complexes in the world.

Dubai has long been associated with major sporting events and global sports sponsorship deals. The emirate already hosts professional tennis, golf and rugby events.

The UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, will host its first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix next year.

Monday, June 30, 2008

UAE temperature hits 51.4 degrees

Temperatures in the UAE surged as high as 51.4 degrees Celsius on Sunday, the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology said.

The sweltering 51.4 degrees was recorded at Minhad Airport, an inland military base, UAE daily Khaleej Times reported on Monday.

A spokesperson for the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology told the newspaper Abu Dhabi reached 48.3 degrees on Sunday - its hottest this year, while in Jebel Ali, temperatures hit 49 degrees.
Dubai International Airport meteorology equipment recorded 46.7 degrees and Sharjah 48.5 degrees, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said Dubai's highest temperature ever, recorded on August 9, and August 15 in 1999, was 47.5 degrees.

Meanwhile, the centre is forecasting temperatures of about 45 degrees on Monday and Tuesday in Dubai, with Abu Dhabi likely to hit 47 degrees and Al Ain predicted to reach 48 degrees.

This is an unedited email received from Sajid Thechikkodan
Sent: Sun 29-Jun-08 13:37Subject:

Criminals in Batha

Dear All,

I'm Sajid T. K. residing in Batha Dist. Riyadh, working in Best Rent A Car Company would like to explain an incident happened to me last Friday at 03:00PM by expecting this may help the readers to be vigilant about new fraud team/tactics.

In Batha, I was just parking my car beside my residence building - suddenly one car with security lights and microphone appeared behind me and announced in Arabic, like the Traffic Police, that I'm doing something wrong - there were two guys in the car and one came out and neared to my car and asked me why you reverse the car? He asked me to show Istimarah, ID, etc. I asked him who are you - he said I'm police - I asked him where is the uniform - he said we are coming after duty. I was just took my wallet to show him the Istimarah, suddenly he snatched my wallet and started checking one by one. He saw money (SR.1,500) in my wallet and asked me from where you have this much money? at that moment I felt that they may be fake police so I snatched back my wallet and asked him to show me his ID - by the time my car's original Istimarah, my Iqama, family's Iqmah and my driving license were with him. He said come to our car we will show you our ID. While nearing to their car they asked me to enter into their car and told me that they want take me to their Mudheer – I refused to enter to their car but he tried by catching my neck and forced to put me inside the car and one time they succeeded but I came out. Then one guy started beating me and other guy started to kicking me so I felt things becoming verse and I decided to defend and beaten them back as much as possible. Between the beating I was freed from their hands and I ran into my residence building. I was just climbing fast the stairs my wife called to my mobile and I asked her to open the door immediately and I entered inside our flat.

After few minutes somebody was knocking in our door but we didn't open. After sometime again someone started knocking and said we are your neighborhood shopkeeper we have got some of your documents from the street. So I open the door and they gave my ID and License and My Daughter's ID - but I lost my wife's ID and my car's original Istimarah and Ownership Card. In fact the shopkeeper had called the Police while our fighting but they didn't appear.

Anyhow I went to Batha Police station in the evening and informed the guys car's details and reported them the incidents. I understand from the Police Officers' conversation that there were similar cases same day have been reported already. After longtime waiting they have provided me all necessary paper which may help me to reproduce my lost documents.

I hope this may help us to be aware about some new type of tactics by the criminal.

May GOD bless us all.

Sajid Thecikkodan

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New On-Line Application Process for the Issuance of the POEA Travel Exit Clearance for Balik-Manggagawa/ Workers-On- Leave (BM/WOL)

The POEA, in its letter dated 13 June 2008, has informed of the new-on-line application process for the issuance of the POEA travel exit clearance for Balik-Manggagawa/ workers-on- leave (BM/WOL).
Previously, OFWs would have to proceed to the POEA office and Philippine Overseas Labor Offices to apply for their exit clearance. With this online application system, the OFW can avail of the 2-way delivery system through the internet and have the clearance delivered back to their residence. There will be no need to go to the POEA. Since the application is online, this can be done virtually anywhere where there is an internet connection. This gives OFWs more time to spend with family and friends while vacationing in the Philippines.

To apply, the BM/WOL simply logs onto www.oecdelivery and follow the instructions as detailed in the website. The service is available nationwide.

Should the BM/WOL decide not to avail of the 2-way Delivery System, they have the option to print out the OFW Info Sheet after applying on line and proceed to the POEA to file their application.

The BM/WOL may also secure their POEA travel exit clearance at the following:

a.. Balik-Manggagawa Processing Division (BMPD), Service Area, POEA, Blas F. Ople Bldg., Ortigas corner EDSA, Mandaluyong City
b. POEA Regional Centers/Regional Extension Units ( REUs ) and Satellite Offices
c. POEA-deputized OWWA Regional Offices and Units
d. Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) in various Philippine Embassies and Consulates abroad
e. Exit Clearance One-Way Delivery System (Dropbox) POEA Service Area
f. POEA, REU-La Union, Cagayan de Oro, Tacloban, Davao, POLO-Jeddah and Singapore, for the issuance of the Multiple Travel Exit Clearance (MTEC). The MTEC is a set of two or more clearances issued to workers-on-leave/ balik-manggagawa (BM/WOL) for use as an exit document within a period of twelve months from date of issuance. It allows the WOL/BM who exits from the Philippines more than once in a period of 12 months to secure his exit clearance on a one-time basis.

For more information, the OFWs may also visit POEA website at ph.

The new system is part of POEAʼs continuous effort to provide quality service to OFWs.

SOURCE: Philippine Embassy

Sunday, June 22, 2008


When I'm with you,
eternity is a step away,
my love continues to grow,
with each passing day.

This treasure of love,
I cherish within my soul,
how much I love you...
you'll never really know.

You bring a joy to my heart,
I've never felt before,
with each smile in your face,
I love you more and more.

Whenever we say goodbye,
whenever we part,
know I hold you dearly,
deep inside my heart.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tarek is now Tony Phillipp

Latest photo of Tarek (a.k.a. Tony Phillipp); Tarek's appearance during a fashion show in Riyadh dubbed as "Ystilo"

In my recent visit to Tarek's friendster account, i was surprised to see the new photos for the promotion of GMA's Daisy Syete Season 18 (Prince Charming and the Maids)..

Way back in Riyadh, Tarek appeared in several fashion shows but we didn't thought that someday he will take our advise seriously to enter showbiz. Seeing great potentials from him - the height, the looks and everything, we encouraged him to try his luck in showbiz coz we're sure that he can easily find a notch in showbiz.

Finally, he grabbed the opportunity in showbiz.

In the Philippines, watch Daisy Syete every Monday to Friday after Eat Bulaga. In Riyadh, it will take 6- 8 months before this Episode 18 will be finally be shown in GMA Pinoy TV.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Saudi woman arrested for flouting driving ban

Saudi police have detained a woman for violating rules banning women from driving in the conservative Muslim country last Sunday.

The woman from Buraida north of Riyadh was stopped by a police patrol after driving 10 kilometres to collect her husband.

The woman's "legal guardian" - her husband - was required to sign a declaration that he would not allow her to drive again, it said. It was not immediately clear if she was released or would face legal action.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that forbids women from driving on the basis of fatwas, or religious opinions, from clerics who say it is un-Islamic.
Saudi media has reported a number of cases over the past year where women flouted the ban, which some civil rights activists have begun lobbying the government publicly to lift.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Thanks for being such a good friend to me.
You've opened up my eyes to things I couldn't see.
I hope we last forever, you know.
So that everyday our love will grow.
You've been there, through thick and thin.
And now I can truly say I can call you a friend.
I hate to have to share you with others,
Like other friends, your sister, your brother, your mother.
Other people may have no clue
about the closeness between me and you.
But,all I want to say Is
Thank You!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saudi temperatures risk topping 80 Celsius

The temeprature is high during noon time in Riyadh.

Faisal Al-Zawad, head of forecasting at the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment, Ministry of Defence and Aviation in the Eastern Province, has concluded surface temperatures in Saudi Arabia could top 70 to 80 degrees Celsius. At present the temperature here in Saudi range from 45C to a high 50C+ during noon time.

His research, based on historical analysis of records dating back to 1961, is based on average temperatures, but would mean that summer temperatures could be high enough to melt plastic such as the uPVC used in pipes, plumbing and window frames.
The rise in temperature as a result of increasing emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will have significant impact on Saudi Arabia’s national economy, rise in energy demand, social lifestyle of the population and production and consumption. Global warming can have big effects on agriculture, energy consumptions and various other aspects of daily life.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Its my 1st anniversary!

The pendulum has not stopped from swinging and time flies so fast that I didn’t noticed my blog has turned one year already.

At first, I intend to concentrate writing unconventional stories of my personal (love)life… but concealing the identity of the people whom I care about and considered "great spice" of my life. I still have to respect their privacy.

There’s something wonderful about sharing. It makes the world go round…

I was determined to share rather than decorate…

I desire to be known as a person with so much to reveal so others may learn and entertain.

I want others to know, just like what I did, that sometimes our heart is as rude as our brain and I want someone to follow their hearts by all means… but intelligently…

I was nominated by Khalean for the G-Spot Blog and Uncomposed Gentlemen last year which prompted me to continue blogging. I was able to get my DSL account in November so my enthusiasm to blog has intensified.

However, the risk is inevitable in the place where I am right now.. Bloggers are bound to go behind their norms and regulations or else they may end up in bars with a bonus of a hundred lashes.

Months ago, a blogger was arrested and detained for criticizing the government in his blog, which was denounced by the Human Rights group “Freedom without Border”. This incident prompted all bloggers, including me, to be aware of everything that might affect the norms and traditions of an ultra-conservative society.

Hence, I decided that instead of a more sexually enticing and provocative blogs, I shall accommodate informative reports, occasions and announcements pertaining to the life of OFWs in the Middle East.

To my readers, please bear with me if my blog may not be as extremely eccentric as before… just wish me more blog-year to come!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Let's keep it that way....

Ssshhh dont let no one know
but i'll be your secret baby
that no one knows about
hoping no one will ever find out
what goes on between us two,
keeping you my secret while i watch you
i want us to become us and no one knows about it
so lets keep it this way
and i know that they'll figure it all out one day

Monday, June 2, 2008

Philippine Independence Day Activities at the Philippine Embassy Unveiled

The Embassy of the Philippines in Riyadh would like to invite all Filipino expatriates working and/or residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to join in the commemoration of the 110th Anniversary of the Philippine Independence Day by attending the below list of activities prepared for the said occasion.
As we remember the gallant heroes who fought for our country’s freedom, the Embassy would like call on all Filipinos within its jurisdiction to unite with one another in the task of nation building in the forthcoming momentous event. This occasion is one area where we can certainly transcend the narrow confines of our self-interests and prejudices and celebrate together as one people and one nation, and one vision for our country.

Mabuhay ang Pilipino sa Araw ng Ating Kasarinlan!

2008 Philippine Independence Day Activities

6th June 2008 (Friday)
7:30 am – 10:00 pm
Philippine Embassy Ground
Flag Raising Ceremony
Sports Exhibition, Friendship Games, Martial Arts Exhibition
Food Festival

13 June 2008 (Friday)

7:30am to 10:00 pm

Opening - Cameraderie Photo Exhibits and Contests
Film Showing “Katas ng Saudi”

20th June 2008 (Friday)
6:00 pm to 10:00 PM

FILCOM Night (Cultural Presentation of Philippine International schools in Riyadh)

25,26 & 27 June 2008

8:00am to 5:00 pm – Seminar Workshop for Teachers of Philippine international schools

27 June 2008

Lecture on Pinoy Pop Culture

Saturday, May 31, 2008

BJ Fabricante wins Mukha ng Pinoy!

We’re supposed to administer the month-long summer festival of a mall in Batha last night (actually, it was our 2nd week already) but we sneaked out early since two of our friends and protégées (JC Manuel and BJ Fabricante) will compete to the “Search for Mukha ng Pinoy 2009 para sa Kalendaryong Pilipino” in Al Fawaq Science International School.

JC was G. Pilipinas Riyadh 2005 and featured as one of the desert hunks. Actually, we always support him in all his shows and competitions. In return, whenever we need his expertise to fix our laptops/PCs and do some graphic designs, he is always there to help us.

Johnny “BJ” Fabricante was G. Maharlika Jeddah 2004. He was working before in a newly-opened Jeddah Hilton Hotel, which is owned/managed by our company. Actually, that time, my boss was trying to convince me to work in Jeddah Hilton. He offered me a hefty salary package, but I declined because I just feel not comfortable working in Western province.

We watched the show from the start while enduring patiently the terrible heat inside. It was already late afternoon, but the tremendous temperature was too extreme.

Seeing the candidates one by one during the first appearance in their regional costume, BJ and JC stood noticingly among the rest of the male contestants. I know one of them will be the winner. BJ’s handsomeness and lofty height (6’2”) and JC’s mestizo-looks were their matchless possessions.

During the final Q&A, JC was asked about the issue of divorce in the Philippines and he immediately said that he favors divorce in order for the couples to veer away from domestic problems and start new life, while BJ’s, without any qualm expressed his objection on the same-sex marriages because of religion. However, he asked for indulgence from the audience since some of the crowds may feel upset of what he believes. On the contrary, his answer was well delivered and made him the first Mukha ng Pinoy titleholder. JC’s got the 2nd runner-up title.

Well, the show might not be as grandiose and well-orchestrated compared to the G. PIlipinas Saudi Arabia search, but I appreciate the effort of Sining Pinoy. There were productions lapses, technical glitches and uncontinuity of the program, but I guess the Sining Pinoy should take their first show as a challenge to improve more.

More pictures of BJ once I officially proclaim him as a desert hunk soon…

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cross-dressers collared in crackdown

There is an emerging trend of men dressed as women and vice versa in the UAE markets and streets and police in Dubai have arrested several men and women for cross-dressing in what they said was a campaign to preserve the social values of the cosmopolitan Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub.

The detainees were being referred to the public prosecutor as part of the one-week campaign called "Preserve Our Social Values", though it was not clear what charges would be brought.

Dubai is part of the seven-member United Arab Emirates, a Muslim country where cross-dressing is frowned upon but whose population is dominated by migrants with diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.It is a city of sky-scrapers and mega-developments, which attracts foreign workers ranging from well-paid Western executives to low-wage Asian labourers. Tourists may wear bikinis and drink cocktails at hotel nightclubs but sex outside marriage is banned as is homosexual behaviour.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


The way you whisper in my ear is so seductive.
The way our fingers fit between each other.
So seductive the way you move.
Its so seductive the way I kiss you.
As you begin to lick me.
I start to moan.
So seductive, the way I scream your name.
So seductive the way we make love.
I'm so seduced by your sexiness.
So seductive under the silky sheets.
So seduced by your love.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

MRP to be launched at the Embassy

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio P. Villamor

The Philippine Embassy wishes to inform the Filipino community as well as all Saudi companies and individuals employing Filipino workers that, upon instruction by the Department of Foreign Affairs, it is scheduled to begin the implementation of the Machine Readable Passport project on 31 May 2008.

Following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the MRP, for guidance:

What is MRP?

A machine-readable passport is a passport where the data on the identity page is encoded in optical character recognition format, and is capable of being read by a passport machine reader at international borders.

Why MRP?

One of the benefits of having an MRP is the faster processing of arriving passengers by immigration officials at ports or borders.

Moreover, MRP is more secure compared to manually read passports that preceded them. The public can rest assured that it is tamper-resistant and fully compliant with the standards and requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Philippine MRP, which comes in maroon cover, also has more pages (44) than the old, green passport (32).

What are some of the security features of the MRP?

The security features of the Philippine MRP include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) watermarked paper and colored fibers
2) ultraviolet (UV)-reactive inks
3) a combination of security prints, such as fine lines with modulation, guilloche design, art screen and dash effects and microtext
4) laser-perforated alpha-numeric serial numbers
5) security laminates that are ultra thin with strong adhesion to prevent chemical, thermal or mechanical forgery
6) high-level origination and high image definition
7) high security animated and color switch optical imaging
8) nano imaging

All relevant government agencies as well as foreign governments have been fully apprised of the features of the new Philippine passport and are thus able to detect forgeries and discrepancies which are prejudicial to those using forged or fake passports.

What are the important changes in the procedure of application for MRP?

Many OFWs have been quite familiar with the requirements and procedure for passport application. However, some significant changes have been introduced into the process of applying for and securing an MRP, to wit:

1) Personal appearance is required for everyone applying for new, renewal of old passport, and replacement of lost passport, except for minors below 8 years old and those over 65 years old. This is so that they can affix their thumb marks and sign the MRP printable form.

2) In compliance with international standards, passport size photos to be submitted must have a royal blue, instead of white, background. The size of the facial image should be at least 70-80% of the photo. This is very important since improper photos or mishandling of the photos will result in outright rejection of the passport application.

The detailed guidelines on the submission of new photo requirement for MRP can be found at the Philippine Embassy website: or at the Department of Foreign Affairs website:

3) After the usual verification, processing and payment of SR200.00, the applicant will proceed to the designated area and present his/her verified and processed application form for encoding. The applicant shall affix his/her fingerprints and signature on the MRP printable form, also called the Computer Generated Format (CGF), upon making sure that all the data contained therein are correct.

4) All the CGFs will then be sent via special diplomatic pouch on a weekly basis to the Department of Foreign Affairs office at the PICC where the printing of MRPs is centrally located.

5) Due to the centralized system of printing and maintaining passport database in Manila, the turnaround time for the release of the MRPs at the Foreign Service Establishments will be thirty (30) calendar days.

Thus, it is extremely important that all the documentary and procedural requirements are carefully observed to avoid unnecessary delay or inconvenience.

Can applicants have their old passports back while waiting for their MRPs?

Old passports submitted for renewal will be returned to the applicants and, if still valid, will not be cancelled immediately. But they will have to present their old passports again to the Embassy for cancellation upon the release of their new Machine Readable Passports.

Can all walk-in applicants be accommodated?

As much as possible, the Embassy wishes to serve all passport applicants arriving on any given day. However, due to the human and logistical constraints in launching the new system, the Embassy will adopt a progressive system of implementation.

During the first week from the start of the MRP implementation (May 31 – June 5), the Embassy can accommodate only up to 100 applicants a day including the usual Thursday morning schedule. In the second week (June 7 – 11 only since June 12 is an official holiday), the Embassy can accept a maximum of 120 applicants per day. In the next third and fourth weeks (June 14 – 26), 150 applicants will be served. After which, the Embassy may receive up to 200 applicants per day.

In addition, during the first month (May 31 – June 26) of MRP issuance, the Embassy would give priority to those whose passports are scheduled to expire in less than three (3) months time. Those whose passports are still valid for more than three (3) months will be asked to apply later.

What will happen to the old, green passports?

The old, green passport or the Machine Readable Ready Passport (MRRP) will remain valid up to its date of expiration. Until then, there is no need to have it renewed unless required by immigration authorities for visa issuance. However, the supply of this type of passport is now very limited and unstable. As the Embassy shifts to the much improved MRPs, the delivery of the service will progress on a gradual basis until it reaches optimum level in one month’s time.

What options are available for those who need a passport immediately?

Those who unfortunately find themselves in emergency situations (e.g. sudden death in the family or repatriation for medical treatment) and urgently need to renew their expired passports may apply for either the old, green passport or Travel Document.

Will there still be “Embassy on Wheels” to serve Filipino communities outside Riyadh?

In consideration of the travel time and cost that will be incurred by most passport applicants in faraway places outside the Riyadh region, the Embassy will resume its outreach service called “Embassy on Wheels” to process their passport applications. Such service can be brought back to Al-Khobar at the end of June 2008 once the necessary preparations are completed.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Assorted Gulf News

Saudi time to replace GMT?

The entire world should ditch GMT as the universal time standard and instead use Saudi time - the true centre of the Earth, according to Muslim scholars.

Speaking at a conference in Qatar, Muslim scientists and clerics called for Saudi time should be adopted as the new standard, stating reasons such as Mecca being the direction all Muslims face to pray.

One delegate said that unlike other longitudes Mecca was in perfect alignment to magnetic north.

Others labelled GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) a colonial relic imposed by the British and said it was high time for it to be replaced.

The conference, 'Mecca, the Centre of the Earth, Theory and Practice', is geared around looking for and discussing Koranic precedents for modern science.

UAE: Maid-swapping in UAE

Sponsors of domestic workers will be able to release staff on a three-month temporary transfer under new rules designed to reduce the number of illegal workers in the UAE.

Under the new rules, sponsorship of housemaids can be transferred for a one-off period of three months, at a cost of 500 dirhams to the second sponsor.
If the sponsor of a maid agrees or wishes to transfer the maid to the sponsorship of another eligible person this can be done by entering into a new temporary work contract between the maid at the second (temporary) sponsor.

Bahrain: Sponsorship system to be scrapped by year-end

Bahrain plans to scrap its sponsorship system by the end of this year as part of measures to liberalise the kingdom’s labour market.

Bahrain government wanted to promote the free movement of labour as well as stamp out human rights abuses and human trafficking.

The plan was submitted for approval at the GCC summit in December, but a final decision has been deferred until the next summit at the end of this year in Muscat.
Lawmakers formally call for expat residency cap

Lawmakers have called for the controversial plan to cap how long expatriates can live in the Gulf be brought into force in the UAE.

A new legislation limiting unskilled workers, which make up a large percentage of the UAE's population of over four million, to six year, after which they will have to leave the country.

Under the legislation, labourers, housemaids, farmers and herders would be banned from renewing their work visas after six years and would only be able to return to the UAE by going through the entire visa application process again..

The recommendation has been submitted to the government for consideration.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Harry Chua's picture @ Men in the Philippines blog

I am a regular viewer of RD Dantes' Hot Men in the Philippines blogspot and i was surprised to see Harry Chua's photo posted in his blog Harry's Game.

Here's the original picture i took during the G. Albay 2004 search..

with some digital manipulations, like removing the judge's hand and the other contestant at the back, here's how it appears in RD Dantes' blog.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Saudi Arabia: Fingerprinting Must for Iqama Services Starting May 17

Saudi Arabia will introduce mandatory fingerprinting on all expatriate workers starting Saturday, Maj. Gen. Salim Al-Belaihed, director general of the Passport Department, announced yesterday.

Fingerprinting will be required for issuing new iqamas (resident permits), changing professions and transferring sponsorships starting on Saturday, 17th May 2008.

The employers should approach passport offices across the country without delay to complete the fingerprinting of their workers to ensure their workers' fingerprints are taken when applying for iqamas.

Experts say that fingerprinting would help combat forgery and prevent the entry and exit of criminals.

Due to the huge number of expatriates in the Kingdom, the department would rent buildings in major cities to accommodate them to complete the process. Passport officials may also visit big factories and companies to provide the service.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Opray presents Charice!

Full video of Charice guesting in Oprah!
Youtube courtesy of: Charice PempengcO

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Atlantis: Lost continent found in Dubai

Lost continent

In 370 BC, Greek philosopher Plato recounted the legendary tale of Atlantis, the lost civilization, in his writings.

He described how a mysterious continent had existed more than 10,000 years earlier and it was located near the Straits of Gibraltar.

Described as a highly evolved society, the great civilization apparently met the end of its rule over Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa when natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes destroyed a continent that has never been confirmed as ever having existed.

Ancient lore says Atlantis sank below the seas never to be seen again, while others have speculated that volcanic eruptions could have wiped out such a civilization in islands off ancient Greece.
After 2,500 years, the legend of Atlantis lives on.

The lost continent is being resurrected in the form of Dubai’s Dh5.50 billion ($1.5 billion) tribute to the ancient Greek civilization.

According to world-renowned resort firm Kerzner International, its masterpiece development on the outer reaches of The Palm Jumeirah, called Atlantis, will throw open its gates to the public in September, one month earlier than planned.

Atlantis, The Palm will be the largest destination resort of its kind in the Middle East, according to the firm, and is modelled after the first Atlantis built in the Bahamas in the early 1990s.

Entertainment galore

After almost four years of planning and construction, Atlantis, The Palm has culminated in a 46-hectare manmade island marvel, crowned by the imposing Royal Towers Hotel, a 1,539-room oasis resort that is surrounded by open-air marine lagoons and stocked with 65,000 marine animals from the Gulf and beyond.

Water world

Nearby, in the 17-hectare Aquaventure water park, seven water slides reach down from a 30-metre high Mesopotamian temple dubbed Ziggurat. A 2.3-kilometre whitewater river wends its way around the island while dozens of underwater tubes and hidden passageways lead to sunken Atlantis ruins guarded by creatures of the deep.
Connected to the apex of the Palm by an oversea monorail and an undersea car tunnel, 5,000 people are expected to visit the desert-island paradise daily.

Paying customers won’t just comprise jet-setting tourists only. Dubai residents can spend Dh220 for a day pass to take in the underwater sunken Greek columns, shop at 17 retail outlets, sample fare served by the world’s top chefs and enjoy the solitude of a beach that is as exclusive as one can find in the city.

" The Lost Chambers features a "maze of underground tunnels offering underwater views into the boulevards of the ruins of Atlantis". There are 18 underwater exhibits.

Slide down

Water slides will challenge even the most seasoned theme-park patron.
The Atlantis water adventure system uses 18 million litres of desalinated freshwater to propel tube riders and solo artists through cascades and tidal waves and whitewater rapids, to sheer vertical drops.

At the Ziggurat temple, for example, a 27.5 metre near-vertical drop called the "Leap of Faith" plunges sliders down the face of the structure and into a freshwater tube that descends into a salt water lagoon filled with sharks. Water-sliders never come in contact with the sharks, however, as the tube carries riders straight through the lagoon into a large wading pool beyond.

And then there is the Torrent, a ride through rapids fed by a wave generator that "simulates a wave surge that is capable of swells reaching almost two metres high at over 94,000 litres per minute".

Room rates of Dh1,666 ($454) a night will help pay their salaries.

Fishy business at the lagoons

The Atlantis lagoons will feature more than 250 species of sea creatures, some of which will include native Gulf fish which have not been publicly displayed anywhere outside of the Middle East.

42 million litres of salt water will house many exotic local fish.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

If I am dreaming, let me not awake..

It may be a dream i don't want to wake up whenever I go into a relationship...

I must admit, i have to wake up to the point where my dream has to disappear and perhaps, if only I can organize to stay in bed forever and carry on with it...indefinitely!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Old Diriyah is closed!

As part of the Saudi plans to pump up tourism in the country, The Old Diriyah, which was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818, is temporarily closed to the public for renovation for at least 3 years.

Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Chairman of the Board and Secretary General of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) outlined the strategic plan for tourism development in the kingdom which includes the restoration of some tourist spots in the region, antiquities and museums, including exploration, plus accommodation, travel agents, tour operators and tourism masterplans.

The commission has to restructure the industry and highlights the importance that is now given to the tourism sector.

While explaining that the mandate for the Supreme Commission for Tourism and Antiquities was to ensure that tourism adds value to the economy, culture and society, Prince Sultan emphasized that the first major target market was to attract the domestic audience, five million of whom travel overseas each year.

Other initiatives complementing this expansion included the addition of four more airports, bringing the total to 30, plus the construction of gateway airport cities, starting with Jeddah, which would include accommodation, exhibition and conference facilities to target the meetings sector.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Plight of jailed blogger exaggerated by media

According to the kingdom’s Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmed, the media "exaggerated" the plight of jailed Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan, who was released on Saturday after spending four months in a Jeddah prison, despite having no charges pressed against him.

Before his December 10 arrest, Al-Farhan wrote to friends saying he expected to be detained for his writings about a group of reformists arrested in February 2007 for alleged links to terror funding. Al-Farhan had also criticised a number of influential Saudi figures as well as religious extremism in the kingdom.

However Price Ahmed said Al-Farhan had been arrested for mistakes he had committed, according to a report from Saudi Press Agency.

“The issue [of Al-Farhan] was not that important as it represented the mistake committed by a person on himself. A man who commits a mistake should bear its result,” the agency quoted Prince Ahmed.

Prince Ahmed did not confirm whether Al-Farhan had been released after his arrest four months ago.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shoot the Difference!

I have a reason to be proud of myself. I appreciate the amazing progress I am managing to make… I do what I’m good in doing..

Last week, I enrolled in a 2-week Basic Digital Photography Session , hoping that i could not just “focus-shoot-click” with my Sony DSH 6MP camera, rather learn how to use the aperture, shutterspeed, focal points, ISO, etc. (This is one reason why I posted very seldom in my blog lately!)

All the while, I thought my valuable 3-year old camera is enough to make a good start, but seeing the high quality Canon and Nikon (mostly SLR ranging from US$1,500 to as much as US$10,000 (a 21-megapixels Canon ) that my co-enrollees own, I feel sooo insecure! I though of backing off then. But because I know most of the “Camerades” and my desire to learn how to shoot rightly, I sacrificed my week-end appointment and continue the session.

Our last session was intended for workshop and actual shooting. Supposedly, the original plan was to go to Old Diriyah for an outdoor session, but since it was closed for renovation, the group decided to hold an indoor shooting. 2 Harley Davison bikes, as well as models were provided.

Most of my co-enrollees rolled up their shoots focusing on the subject… and the models. They were so excited to take their best shots, looking for right angles, come closer to the subject and adjusting their cameras.

When I shoot, I always want something different.. a shot that will result on telling a story to the viewer. I just let my colleagues shoot-and-click on some angles without any thoughts of an art.. Me? I stayed afar and when I saw a chance to put my idea in a picture, I took my camera and shoot. Most of them had taken a hundred shots, while I took only few but self-satisfying shots.

After the actual session, I choose the best shots and rushed to the photo studio for printing.

It was judgment and critics day the next morning. When I arrived, there were almost a hundred entries ready to be posted on the wall. I have seen good quality shots, of course taken by a high-quality cameras, but no one has ever make the viewers caught their attention and dig out stories from those pictures, except for my entries. A good-looking critique-cum-judge who is a top advertising mogul in Saudi Arabia, had good reviews of my work. It was so obsequious for a famous advertiser to reward my shots with an inspiring assessment.

The result? Out of a hundred shots, my 2 entries won!