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More Radar on Qatar Roads to Trap Violators

Qatar makes some great laws – like fining those who go through red lights, or who drive near the speed of light. . . but when the violators turn out to be mostly young Qattari men, who pays the fines? Does anyone pay the fines?


From Doha News:

In an effort to tackle bad driving in Qatar, the Ministry of Interior plans to set up speed radars every two to four kilometers on major roads, Traffic Department Director Brig. Mohamed Saad Al Kharji has said.

Additionally, some 120 radars are being installed to catch drivers who overtake others from the right lane, the Qatar Tribune reports Al Kharji as saying.

He added that the software of speed radars that are already installed on the roads would be updated so that they could also catch such violators.

No timeline for when the cameras would be installed was disclosed. But last fall, the MOI announced it would be rolling out radars to catch queue-jumpers.

Using the “slow” right lane to overtake vehicles in the left lane is a traffic violation punishable by a QR500 ticket, but among one of several rules flouted by motorists here.


In Qatar, traffic violators are rarely pulled over by police officers, despite brief campaigns to step up enforcement. In 2012, plainclothes police officers began ticketing drivers who overtook other vehicles on the right.

And at the end of last year, the traffic department began a three-month campaign to ticket those who violate road rules, including drivers who hadn’t fastened their seat belts, used their phones while driving, and rode without a license.

Both initiatives were lauded by many residents who said enforcement is key to improving safety on the roads, but neither seem to have lasted.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Doha, Education, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Qatar, Safety | Leave a comment

IMF Says Negative Publicity Will Force Qatar to Pay Laborers More

DUBAI: Qatar will likely face higher labor costs as a result of publicity about deaths of migrant construction workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup football tournament, the International Monetary Fund said. The Guardian newspaper reported in September that dozens of Nepali workers had died during the summer in Qatar and that laborers were not given enough food and water.

Qatar, which has denied the Guardian’s findings, has seen an increasing influx of foreigners, now estimated at 1.8 million, with its population rising 10 percent in 2013.

“Working conditions of some construction workers and domestic help have made global headlines and could affect the availability and cost of hiring new workers in the future,” the Fund said after completing annual consultations with Qatar.

“This would hinder growth since the success of Qatar’s current development model depends importantly on the ability to rapidly hire expatriate workers,” it said.

The gas-rich nation has planned to spend some $140 billion in the run-up to the World Cup on new infrastructure projects, including a metro, port and airport.

Such large public investments entail a possibility of overheating in the near term and low return and overcapacity in the medium term, the IMF warned. “In particular, the extent to which public investment will durably boost private sector productivity remains uncertainty,” it said.

Certain big-ticket projects such as the metro, port and airport have been scaled down or divided into phases to reduce the overcapacity risk, and the authorities are preparing a shortlist of critical projects, the IMF said without details.

However, the large-scale nature of the program has led to implementation delays and cost overruns and Qatar will continue facing the risk of cost escalation given its commitment to a compressed timetable ahead of the World Cup, it also said.

Increasing government spending may push the fiscal balance into a deficit over the medium term when combined with flat production of liquefied natural gas, falling crude oil output from mature fields and lower hydrocarbon prices.

“The public debt ratio is expected to fall, but the headline budget balance could … turn into deficit over the medium term, while the current account surplus could drop to 5 percent of GDP,” the IMF said.

The country’s fiscal surplus could shrink to 6.8 percent of GDP this year from an estimated 11.0 percent in 2013, and further to 4.2 percent in 2015, the IMF said, cutting its October forecasts of 8.4 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

The government intends to reduce public debt over time from an estimated 33.1 percent of GDP in 2013 by trimming foreign borrowings and domestic loans. It would continue issuing government securities to support bond market development.

The IMF also raised its forecast for economic growth to 5.9 percent this year and 7.1 percent in 2015, from 5.0 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, in its October regional outlook.

Inflation should remain benign at 3.3 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2015, the IMF said, less than 4.0 percent forecast for both years in October, as a decline in commodity prices will help reduce pressure from strong economic activity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 10, 2014, on page 5.

(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Safety, Social Issues, Work Related Issues | | 2 Comments

Saudis Protest Female Death While Paramedics Barred from Campus

Thank you, John Mueller, for forwarding this high interest topic:
Abdullah Al-Shihri And Aya Batrawy, Associated Press | February 6, 2014 | Last Updated:Feb 6 3:24 PM ET

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Thousands of Saudis vented their anger online over a report Thursday that staff at a Riyadh university had barred male paramedics from entering a women’s-only campus to assist a student who had suffered a heart attack and later died.
The Okaz newspaper said administrators at the King Saud University impeded efforts by the paramedics to save the student’s life because of rules banning men from being onsite. According to the paper, the incident took place on Wednesday and the university staff took an hour before allowing the paramedics in.
However, the university’s rector, Badran Al-Omar, denied the report, saying there was no hesitation in letting the paramedics in. He said the university did all it could to save the life of the student, who was identified as Amna Bawazeer.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Health Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Safety, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues | , | Leave a comment

Headlight Flashing to Warn of Police is Free Speech

This is big news for people in my area, because they often flash lights to warn of speed traps ahead.

Warning Drivers Of Speed Traps With Flashing Headlights Is Free Speech
A federal judge in St. Louis has set the benchmark

A federal judge in St. Louis ruled Monday that a driver flashing their lights to warn other drivers of an impending speed trap is protected free speech.

On November 22, 2012 Michael Elli received a ticket for flashing his lights to warn fellow drivers of a speed trap, according to Fox 2. The American Civil Liberties Union helped Elli fight the $1,000 ticket all the way to federal court.

Judge Henry Autrey of St. Louis ruled a driver has the right to flash their lights under the First Amendment. Autrey issued an injunction to stop Ellisville Police from enforcing the policy.

“If you’re at the gas station on the corner and someone says ‘Hey be careful over there, there’s a speed trap,’ that’s protected speech. You can’t be ticketed for that. This is no different,” Tony Rothert, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Fox 2.

A lawyer for the police in Ellisville said the department isn’t affected by the ruling, as this kind of ticket has only been issued five or so times in the last decade. Across the country, however, the ruling will be considered the benchmark for such cases.

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Communication, Community, Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Free Speech, Law and Order, Safety, Social Issues | | Leave a comment

Pensacola Ice Storm

Timing is everything. I had wait to get these photos until enough ice had formed to make it interesting, but before I lost what little light we had with the clouds, rain, sleet and now freezing rain.

If you are the praying kind, I ask your prayers for the homeless, those without heat, those who still have to make it home (so far the roads are OK but the bridges may start icing soon) and for these poor helpless birds seeking shelter on a night which will show them no pity.







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January 28, 2014 Posted by | Birds, ExPat Life, Florida, Gardens, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Safety, Wildlife | 6 Comments

Driving While Incapacitated

Today we had one of those adrenalin experiences I haven’t had since leaving Kuwait. As we turned left onto a major thoroughfare, we were almost side-swiped on the left by a car turning left and driving the wrong way down the lane into which we were turning.

Fortunately, AdventureMan saw him in plenty of time, and made room. So we were behind this guy. Normally we just assume people are inattentive, or arrogant. For us, it’s not that important; just let ’em go their way.

Today, our eyes were as wide as saucers. This same driver kept driving over into the left hand lane. At first, I thought he was going to turn, but he made no turn. AdventureMan honked, to alert him to the fact that he was in the lane where cars were coming his way, headed right into him, we thought maybe he was texting.

Then he shifted all the way over headed into the parking lane, then wove back into the oncoming traffic. Fortunately, all the traffic – and this driver – were all going relatively slowly and the oncoming traffic pulled over. Everyone could see something was not normal.


AdventureMan spotted a police car, just behind us, and pulled over so that the police car would be directly behind this driver. The police car put on the flashers and this driver was oblivious, just continued weaving from the oncoming traffic to the parking lane, until after a very long 30 – 45 seconds, the siren sounded. It was as if the driver woke up – and maybe he did. He pulled over.

AdventureMan and I had one of those conversations where we look for the right word. This driver was more than impaired. Truly, this driver was totally incapacitated in some way. Maybe he had just come from the hospital where he had been up for several nights with his terminally ill wife, in which case he was driving-while-sleep-deprived, a condition that happens more than you would like to think. Maybe he had the flu, and his medication had knocked him for a loop? Maybe he was falling down drunk? Maybe he was on some kind of drug? Maybe he was just driving-while-oblivious, texting?

We will never know. A couple hours later, we passed along the same stretch of road and watched a tow truck haul the car away as the police watched. We hope that whoever the driver was has been hospitalized, or taken somewhere he cannot harm himself. We are also very thankful that we were behind this driver, not in front of him or coming from the other direction. It was one of life’s little adventures.

January 25, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Crime, Cultural, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Safety | Leave a comment

Manyang: Our Friend in South Sudan

God willing, in life, people cross paths and share their stories. I told you about Manyang, how he visited us near Christmas in 2012 and how his story changed our lives. Now, when we hear stories of the South Sudan, it is immediate, it is real, because we know the story of a young boy grown to be a very fine man, who survived the chaos and horrors of the janjaweed invasions and tribal conflicts before his country attained nationhood.

I recently wrote to Manyang, hoping he is still alive. It was that basic. I asked him, if he could, just to let us know he was alive, and that whether he could respond or not, our prayers were with him, for him, his family and his country.

This morning, by the grace of God, I received this wonderful response. Please, join your prayers with ours for Manyang/David, and his country, South Sudan, for peace, safety and prosperity, for justice and equitable distribution of resources.

I am glad to hear from you again. I have been talking of the nice people I was able to meet in Pensacola. Whenever, I talk about these people you are the first people I talk about. I still remember the nice dinner we had in your house.

I think God touched you to worry about my safety. You might have heard from news report the critical condition my country – South Sudan is going through. It is just like the story of my childhood to many other children now.

A political row in the ruling party here, turned violent in Juba, the capital of this country on December 15, 2013. Heavy artillary were fired and sporadic gunfire broke out in most part of the city. it was a genesis of another war which is now going on. Thousands of people were killed only in Juba.

I was in Bor, the captal of Jonglei State, about 125 miles north of Juba. The violent in Juba quickly spread to us in Bor and I was forced to flee to the bush with my family and the rest of the civil population as the town was quickly seized by anti-government forces. I carried my back on my head, walk long distant and drink dirty water again and eat grains when I was in the bush for seven days.

(This is a screenshot from Google Maps; Bor is the “A” north of Juba)

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 9.29.01 AM

(These are photos from Manyang’s BBC blog, referenced below. Please go there to read more in his own words about the terrors of the South Sudan chaos.)

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The government forces recaptured the town and we returned to the town. Many more people were killed and bodies were lying everywhere and there was a terrible smell. The rebels killed everyone they found in the town including old women, lame, deaf and all vulnerable people. And I was wounded in the upper left arm by a stray bullet of soldiers celebrating. The wound has healed and I am fine now.

It did not take long for the rebel to recaptured the town of goverment forces for a second time. And I was force to flee, this time cross the River Nile by boat to a makeshift camp across the river. This was where I got an access to go to Juba which was abit calm at the time. I am now in Juba staying in fear, not knowing where else to go.

God was speaking to you those conditions I was in in December and part of January. We spent Christmas and New Year Day on the run. I am glad for your prayers were able to lead me out of that mess. I still have hope that your prayers will continue to press political leaders to reach a peaceful solution to this crisis.

I have a live blog where I am sharing my bush experiences. You may have a look.

Share my message with the rest of the great people of Pensacola. My heart is always there with you.



January 16, 2014 Posted by | Africa, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Safety, South Sudan, Sudan, Survival | , , , | 1 Comment

NZ Speeding Ad Goes Viral

This is a shocking ad; an ad that shocks the viewer into reviewing priorities

January 10, 2014 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Interconnected, Safety | , | Leave a comment

Christmas Mercies

By the grace of God, we got through the first week of December. By the grace of God, we managed to enjoy our first week in December!




The first week in December this year followed directly after Thanksgiving. Often, there is a weekend between Thanksgiving and December, but this year, December started on Sunday, and there goes one weekend before Christmas. You might wonder why this is even important, but for some reason, there are so many things scheduled the first week of December, on top of the normal things scheduled for the first week of every month – you know, small things like bill paying and making sure your finances are in order🙂


So we had our normal first week of the month – Book Club, babysitting, exercise classes, bible study – AND. And we had a house guest, a very old friend, a friend from all the way back in Tunis, when we were all studying languages, our guest and my husband learning Arabic and me learning French. Our guest and I sang in the community choir together, and he was very much a part of our small expat family. Having him in our home was so easy, we came and went, fortunately at different times. On top of all this, we also had a couple of annual Christmas related events, social events, we had to attend. By the grace of God, it all went smoothly, and – this is the mercy – enjoyably. We weren’t stressed.


I was stressed a little yesterday. The last two days have been horrible for me, in terms of climate. You know, I like NO air conditioning, I like temperatures in the 60s and 70s (F) but the temperatures were almost 80 and HUMID. Bad enough I had to turn on our A/C last night so I could sleep, and feeling so grumpy. I really need to get the Christmas decorations up this weekend so I can get on with my December, enjoy the Christmas ambiance and not have to stress about getting things done. But how do you get Christmas decorations up when you are hot and sweaty, it just isn’t right.


Major mercy – when I woke up this morning, I was wrapped warmly in my quilts and . . . I wasn’t feeling hot or sweaty. As as matter of fact, overnight the temperatures had fallen into the 40’s! Woooo HOOOO, out came all the Christmas boxes and tubs; AdventureMan got busy putting up the lights, I pulled out the other things and we got busy. Around lunch time we had a wonderful lunch, and then went searching for more light; I hadn’t bought enough to cover the length of our porch. After four fruitless stops (the lights had to match or it was all for nothing) we came home empty handed and I checked online for where this brand was sold. It was Home Depot, the one store we hadn’t stopped at because I was so sure I hadn’t bought them there. Wooo HOOOO, one quick trip and we have all the lights we need and AdventureMan got them all up.


AdventureMan is more scrupulous than I am about some things. He . . . . read the instructions on the lights. Have you ever done that? Like where it talks about amps and resistance and fire warnings? LOL, I love a lot of lights, and will string lights on lights on lights. Somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind I sort of knew it might be dangerous, but AdventureMan takes those things seriously. The good thing is that we are still married, and much more safely wired than when I was doing it.


I can hear my son scoffing when I say that today was God’s mercy on me, but to him I say God makes it to rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, and as undeserving as I am, today he gave me exactly what I needed – a chilly, Christmas-decorating kind of day. Thanks be to God.

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cultural, Living Conditions, Relationships, Safety, Shopping | 6 Comments

American Shedding Reliance on Cars

. . . in bigger cities where good public transportation is available, at least. But across the board, Americans are driving less. When I was a young woman living in Seattle, I took the bus to work. It was fast, reliable and I got to read going to and fro. A generation later, my son would park his car at the park and ride lot and take the bus into downtown. When you have GOOD public transportation, it makes a lot of sense. Found this article on AOL Auto News:

Commuters are shedding their reliance on cars.

They’re not driving to work in their own vehicles as often as they once did. They’re not carpooling with other workers as often. They’re increasingly using public transportation or simply working from home.

Those are the conclusions of a study released this week by U.S. PIRG, which reviewed data from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and U.S. Census figures.

It says the proportion of workers commuting in private vehicles, either alone or in a car pool, declined in 99 of the 100 largest urban areas in America between since 2000.

Newark, New Jersey saw the greatest percentage of workers put down their keys, with a 4.8 percent drop, followed by Washington D.C., down 4.7 percent and Austin, Texas, down 4.5 percent.

In recent years, there have been numerous indications that Americans overall are shifting away from driving. The number of per capita vehicle miles traveled reached its peak in 2004. This study claims to be the first to specifically look at the decline in American cities.

“Many existing transportation plans continue to reflect outdated assumptions that the number of miles driven will continue to rise steadily over time,” wrote Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst at U.S. PIRG and the study’s author. “Officials at all levels should revisit transportation plans to ensure they reflect recent declines in driving and new understandings of the future demand for travel.”

The U.S. PIRG study details changes that on a market-by-market basis. Among its other findings:

– The proportion of residents working form home has increased in every one of the 100 largest urban areas since 2000

– The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 of the 100 largest markets between 2006 and 2011

– The proportion of households with two cars or more decreased in 86 of the 100 largest markets between 2006 and 2011

One of the more notable trends appears to be the death of carpooling as a commuting option. Between 2000 and 2011, carpooling declined 17.8 percent, according to the U.S. PIRG study. Only 9.7 percent of workers now report they share rides to work.

The results are not entirely surprising: The number of Americans who work from home increased 45 percent between 1997 and 2010, according to an earlier study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Curiously, the decline in driving hasn’t dampened demand for cars. Automakers expect to sell approximately 16.4 million vehicles this year, according to the latest projections released earlier this week. It’s the best year for auto sales since 2007, when more than 17 million cars were sold.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.

December 7, 2013 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Safety, Seattle | Leave a comment