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Ask Ali: On using mobile phones and Saudi visas

Ali Al Saloom explains why Emiratis love their BlackBerries and iPhones.

Dear Ali: Ever since I came to the UAE, I have noticed that many men and women carry two mobile phones. Why is that? TA, Abu Dhabi

Dear TA: That's a sharp observation. It's because we love talking so much, of course.

No seriously, from my observation the main reason many of us have two phones is because the constant introduction of smartphones with better and improved facilities and features than their predecessors.

I like to think this is not about having two phones so that we can talk profusely, but rather two gadgets that complement each other since both of them have features that the other phone doesn't necessarily offer.

For example, we might have a Nokia for keeping in touch with our friends and families, and a BlackBerry for its convenient messenger service and the fact that many companies give their employees a BlackBerry because of its e-mail-friendly system.

Sometimes we buy a phone with the intention of having only one, but then realise that it is not easy to transfer all our contacts, pictures and saved messages from, say, a Nokia to an iPhone or a BlackBerry. Therefore we end up having two phones - and being OK with it.

Some people have two phones because they are influenced by others and think this has become the norm. Remember, we don't like others to view us as being outside the herd.

Additionally, some people like to separate work life and family life. Arabs value family life more than anything, so to us family always comes first.

Don't get me wrong, we do love technology, and that's why you'll notice many of us with a Nokia since it was our favourite phone before the iPhone and the BlackBerry came along and stole our hearts. If you ask me, it's a headache, but I still have two phones as it helps my hectic lifestyle. Whenever I meet someone with one phone, I go: "Wow, here is a unique person."

By the way, I cite Nokia as it dominates our market, but of course many people use other phone brands such as Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and others.

Lastly - and some may oppose my saying this - but some people use different phones for unsavoury reasons, and that includes flirting with and, God forbid, harassing people. If you encounter such an act by a stranger, save the number and report it to the police. You must go to the police station to file a case, but they will take care of tracing and finding out who owns it.

 

Dear Ali: I would like to know what the requirements are for getting a visa and travelling to Saudi Arabia from the UAE on the road in car. I am an Indian passport holder with a UAE residence visa who lives in Dubai. AH, Dubai

Dear AH: You need a visa in advance if you want to travel to Saudi Arabia.

If you are Muslim and want to go for Umra or Haj, you can apply for a special pilgrimage visa.

If you are not a Muslim, you can apply for a visitor's visa, but you need a formal or written invitation from a company or an individual in advance of your application.

Visas for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are handled via agencies and the conditions are very strict. There are many different types of visas, depending on the purpose of travel.

I suggest you contact the Consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Creek, Al Seef Road, Umm Hurair First, 04 397 9777.

 

Language lesson

Arabic: Mohtaram

English: Decent/respectful

If you want to describe someone as respectful in Arabic, you can say: "Hadha al shakhs mohtaram."

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