Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day, 2011

When my father was dying, he admitting cheating people when he first started in business, and he was in terror of what the afterlife would bring him in retribution.

But, when I was born, he became scrupulously honest, and, by being scrupulously honest, he made a small fortune.

Of course, as I discovered after his death, like the overwhelming majority of people who make a small fortune, he had made his small fortune by starting with a big one.

Still, unlike most of his competitors, my father never cheated anyone from the day I was born until the day he died, so I hope his sins--all committed before I was born--were forgiven him.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Grand Burstin Hotel Employment Scam

I was riding in a taxi with a driver I use regularly, and he asked me to help him. He'd been offered a 'job' working for the Grand Burstin Hotel as a driver. There really is a Grand Burstin Hotel in the UK, and, according to its website, it is a seaside hotel with rooms including meals starting at just £35 for a single (which is cheap enough that I'd consider staying there if I happened to be in Folkestone). The offer seemed to be on official hotel letterhead with the stamp and signature of a manager.

The offer letter said they would help him get a visa and work permit, and would pay a salary of £3,700 plus room and board. I figured, 'OK. A UK hotel wants to get an Indian driver for £3,700 plus free room and board, and that's a lot less than they'd have to pay a British driver.' So I told him I thought it was legitimate. Then he pointed out that the salary was monthly. So £44,400 plus room and board for a driver. Not b*&%£ likely.

They sent him a picture of what looked like a real UK work permit with his name and photograph (at least to someone who's never seen a real UK work permit), and a picture of a letter saying that the work permit was being held by Inland Revenue and he had to pay £650 to get it released. And, again, the photo of the letter from the Inland Revenue looked like it was on official Inland Revenue letterhead.

Only, of course, the work permit is NOT from UK immigration and the letter demanding £650 is NOT from Inland Revenue.

Further checking showed that there are more than 60,000 ads about 'Jobs available at the Grand Burstin Hotel' posted on the Internet, many posted on bulletin boards that are not intended for employment postings, and none of which has the slightest connection with the real Grand Burstin Hotel.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The new and improved RTA promotional campaign

I haven't written much lately, since this blog is about aspects of the Middle East that seem strange to a Westerner. Not bad, not worse than the West, just different.

And, since the worldwide crash, things in Dubai have looked about like a Western crash. So nothing for DubaiatRandom to report.

But yesterday, I was on one of the new RTA buses.

During the boom, back in '07-'08, it was very hard to get around Dubai. The traffic was terrible for those with cars, and, when the car reached its destination, there was no place to park. Taxis seemed eligible for CITES. And the buses were always full and sped past since they could take no more passengers.

So the RTA used the boom money to order a massive new fleet, but the new fleet didn't arrive until after the crash.

The combination of the new buses and the crash means that one can get around Dubai very well using the buses and the metro. I can usually find a seat (or at least some polite young person who insists on giving me his), and the new buses and the metro are very comfortable, and I can read and relax instead of worrying about traffic. And, as Dubai made a big deal about in '07, most bus stops have shelters, some of which have working A/Cs that keep the shelters at 22 degrees (that's 72º for Americans). Which is nice, since, in the afternoon, it's now 45 degrees in the shade. Of which there isn't any. (That's 113 for Americans.)

One feature of the new buses is that they all have TVs.

But, since the crash, there hasn't been money to hook up all of the TVs in the new buses, so many buses have three or four TVs that sit showing nothing except the screen saver with just the RTA logo.

Yesterday, I got on a bus that had working TVs running a strange programme: 'Try the Dubai buses.'

It was a loop showing animated buses running all over Dubai, with signs, 'The most efficient way to get around Dubai. Try it.'

So, as I rode the bus, I was constantly urged to ride the bus, or at least to give it a try.

This is like a nondescript shop with a flashing neon sign in the very back of the shop asking people to please come in.

I occasionally ride with friends in their cars, and I haven't seen any ads aimed at the people in cars urging them to try the buses.

Only the ads running in that one bus, ads aimed at the RTA bus riders urging them to please try the RTA buses.