Page 1

:: A R T :: C U L T U R E :: C O U T U R E :: f i n a n ce :: T R A V E L :: g our m et ::



A R A C I N G M A C H I N E O N T H E W R I S T*


Skeletonized, automatic Winding chronograph movement Annular calendar with oversized date and month indicator 12-hour totalizer 60-minute countdown timer Chronograph flyback function Hand ground titanium baseplate and bridges Rotor with ceramic ball bearings Special tungsten-colbolt alloy rotor weight 6-positional, variable rotor geometry With 18-carat white gold wings Balance wheel in Glucydur with 3 arms Frequency : 28 800 vph (4Hz) Moment of inertia : 4,8 mg.cm2 62 Jewels Incabloc for bottom plate and balance cock Water resistant to 50 meters Finished and polished by hand Limited edition of 10 pieces


:: section ::2011


In This


09 Digest

Your quarterly news update

11 Wealth Talk

17 Blazing a Trail

How Edge of Arabia is pioneering contemporary art from Saudi Arabia

Mark Friedenthal, Head of Asset Management, ADCB, answers some common questions

20 A Recipe for Succession

14 A Perfect Fit

23 Exploring New Depths

 aster tailor Leonard Logsdail talks M about trends in bespoke suit-making

What to think about when preparing a successor for your business

Hawkes Ocean Submersibles give its users the sensation of flying underwater Issue 17



2011 :: :: section

Welcome Note R 36



28 Prosper, Preserve, Enjoy

ADCB’s wealth management has undergone a series of changes. What does this mean for you?

33 Location, Location, Location!

A look inside the stunning Saadiyat Beach Villas, set in one of the most beautiful locations in the UAE

41 Digging the Dirt on Truffles

36 Natural Treasures

44 Tapping into ‘Asia light’

Eco-resorts have popped up in some of the remotest places on Earth. We explore the trend of high-end ecotourism

 Describing the process that goes into finding the ‘king of funghi’

Why Gulf investors are increasingly looking at Singapore to set up their business

Contact for ADCB:

Editorial Editorial Director Philip Fenton Editor Melissa Sleiman Copy Editor Salil Kumar Arabic Editor Kinan Shohof Design Advertising Photography


Creative Director Fredrick Dittlau Creative Director Carl Bergman Designer Mohammad Marei Advertising Sales Director Owen Stableford Tel: +971 55 688 0956, TH Bandula

Cover Image: Angelfish

amadan was a period in which we aimed to make a fresh start on things. As the sole sponsor of the Ramadan Pavilion at Emirates Palace, ADCB celebrated the true spirit of Ramadan with traditional arab hospitality with authentic cuisine, stunning design and contemporary atmosphere (see page 12). A fresh approach was also what we had in mind when we introduced changes to the Excellency proposition (see page 28) – through the ‘Prosper, Preserve and Enjoy Your Wealth’ strategy we have enhanced our services to meet your needs. The motto can be applied to this issue of Excellency as well, which is full of ideas on how to make the most out of life. The Saadiyat Beach Villas on page 33 will soon give home owners a taste of luxury living by the ocean. In addition, exploring new depths can literally be achieved while piloting ocean submersibles that allow its users to fly underwater. In our exclusive interview on page 23, we explain how the sport may soon be introduced to the Middle East. Speaking of traversing the seas, we explore a trend that is changing the way people travel on page 36. With the World Green Tourism conference set to take place in Abu Dhabi in December, what better way to show your concern for the environment than to opt for a luxurious eco-resort? And even for business we increasingly find ourselves charting new waters. With many companies from the Gulf expanding into emerging markets, Singapore is fast gaining popularity as a base for setting up a business. Turn to page 44 for more. Last but not least, we take a closer look at Edge of Arabia, an art organisation that is changing the world’s perception of life in Saudi Arabia. As always, we welcome your comments on Excellency. If you would like to share your thoughts, please email us at

Martin Scott Chief Marketing Officer ADCB

MODERN. CONTEMPORARY. ABU DHABI ART. 16 - 19 November 2011 Saadiyat Cultural District Abu Dhabi, UAE

Organised by:

Principal sponsor:

Associate sponsor:


MONTEGRAPPA MIDDLE EAST FZCO P.O. Box 48071 - Dubai - UAE • Tel. ++971 4 2990352 •

MUHAMMAD ALI and associated marks are trademarks of Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC © MAE LLC

dig st

Sailing T that’s anything but plain

his year’s Monaco Yacht Show was once again one of the most glamorous and high net-worth events in the nation’s glittering social calendar. Held between September 21 and 24 on the Cote d’Azur, the event had boating aficionados and epicureans admire more than 100 super yachts, 40 of which made their worldwide debut. This year’s line-up included Imagine, a spectacular 64-metre vessel built in The Netherlands, and Mugler Spire, a tiny 9.5-metre super-boat capable of doing over 90 knots. Among the yachts for sale were the Big Fish, fresh from a global exploration that included Antarctica, and the new 39-metre Snowbird, which is described as a “floating art gallery”. The Monaco Yacht Show is more than just a flashy exhibition, however. Every day special events, gala dinners and cocktail parties attracted the rich and famous and raised substantial funds for various charities. The show acts on behalf of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which aims to accelerate sustainable projects and solutions on a global scale. Issue 17


dig st :: section ::

Mahmoud Said’s Petite fille d’Assiout

Luxury rides Shopping for a new car? Mercedes-Benz released its sporty new SLS AMG Cabriolet in September. The two-seater sports an aluminium space frame body, a 6.3-litre V8 front-mid engine developing a peak output of 420kW (571hp), a sevenspeed dual clutch transmission, and a sports suspension with aluminium double wishbones.


passengers passed through the UAE capital’s airport between January and June 2011, according to a report by Abu Dhabi Airports Company. That is an 11.7 per cent increase compared to the same period last year. 010

masterpieces go under the hammer


asterpieces of modern Middle Eastern art will be among the early highlights of this autumn’s ‘Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art’ sale at the Dubai branch of Christie’s on October 26 and 27. The sale will be held at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, with pre-sale viewing from the Sunday prior to the sale. “We already have an impressive line-up of consignments and this is a positive indication for a strong sale offering many of the masters of modern art alongside contemporary works from the most cutting-edge artists,” said Hala Khayat, a specialist in charge of the sale. The sale will be led by two masterpieces by the father of Egyptian art, Mahmoud Said (1897-1964) – Petite fille d’Assiout (1945), which shows a young maidservant, and Hag Ali (1924), a portrait of an old man. Both are expected to fetch between AED918,000 and AED1.1 million. Other artists in the star-studded line-up include Farhad Moshiri (Iran), Fateh Moudarres (Syria) and Chafic Abboud (Lebanon). The Turkish section includes works by Burcak Bingol, Ferhat Deniz and Gulay Topdemir.

:: section ::


wealth Need help with money matters? Mark Friedenthal, Head of Asset Management, ADCB, answers some common questions How do you determine a client’s appetite for risk?

Untitled by Paul Guiragossian

Determining a client’s risk profile, and consequently their risk appetite, is probably the single most important thing in the interaction between a relationship manager and client. This vital piece of insight will help shape the future investment choices available to the client. At ADCB we have developed a Risk Profiling Questionnaire which, through a series of basic questions, allows us to gauge the level of risk appropriate for each client. There are a few key areas and considerations that have an impact on the risk profile. Considerations such as age and expected investment holding period are important as they indicate the level of volatility that can be tolerated. Investments products and securities generally have much higher short-term volatility than long-term volatility, so a younger investor with a longer time horizon would have a much higher risk tolerance than an older investor who is close to retirement. It is important that investors understand the products that they are buying, so we also need to consider investment experience of the client to avoid offering complex products to investors who are only accustomed to basic banking products such as fixed deposits. When is it advisable for a client to go for options that involve a higher degree of risk?

From Farhad Moshiri’s Jar series

There is a direct correlation between risk and return, meaning that higher risk products would be expected to deliver higher returns. Understanding how much the client is prepared to lose will give some insight into how much risk this client can take. We should consider the percentage of total wealth that the client would like to put as risk. If an investment represents only a small proportion of total wealth there would be a much

greater propensity to take on high risk investment products. What kind of guaranteed products do you offer? Are they tied to a certain period wherein I will not be able to use the funds?

Guaranteed or structured products are investments that offer protection of invested capital, usually with fixed or variable income linked to a reference risky asset such as an equity or commodity index, currency or interest rate. At ADCB, we follow an open architecture approach to structured products. This means that we can work with third party banks and financial institutions or our own ADCB treasury where this is in the best interest of the client.

A “ younger investor with a longer time horizon would have a much higher risk tolerance than an older investor who is close to retirement.” Structured products generally have fixed tenure and maturity dates ranging from several months to several years, where longer dated products offer more attractive payouts than shorter ones. Most structured products provide for some level of secondary market liquidity, but it is extremely important to remember that the capital guarantee will only be applicable on maturity of the product. This means that there is a very high risk of partial capital loss if a structured product is redeemed early. It is also very important to note that while capital is guaranteed, this guarantee is contingent on the solvency of the guarantor, so always consider the issuer’s credit rating before buying structured products. Issue 17


dig st :: section ::

Food Delights

Luxury food emporium Jones the Grocer is bringing its fresh food to residents in Dubai following the launch of two Abu Dhabi stores earlier this year. Offering gourmet delights from exclusive brands around the world, it recently opened its first Dubai outlet in the residential area of Al Manara (located on Sheikh Zayed Road, opposite Times Square). The Australian brand’s outlet includes a 156seat café, an interactive tea and coffee counter, a bread and pastries corner, a walk-in cheese room (where shoppers will discover the finest international cheeses and will be able to create a platter to share with Mediterranean antipasti) and meats from the butcher.

Razor Sharp

Male shoppers of Bloomingdale’s were treated to a complimentary barber shave at grooming salon b.shine last summer. Pampered with products from Acqua di Parma’s Collezione Barbiere, a range delicately perfumed with Colonia fragrance, they were able to revel in the Italian art of shaving. The product line is for sale at Bloomingdale’s in Dubai Mall.


An Evening of Sharing ADCB sponsored the Ramadan Pavilion at Emirates Palace during the Holy Month. The Pavilion, set up on the hotel’s magnificent terrace, gave guests the opportunity to mingle while enjoying a sumptuous buffet from Mezlai, billed as the first Emirati restaurant in the UAE.

Watch this space Swiss watch-maker Montblanc is marking the 190th anniversary of the chronograph in style with unique timepieces in honour of the technology’s inventor. The Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph Anniversary Edition will be available in strictly limited editions of 190 watches in 18-carat red gold, 90 watches in 18-carat white gold and 25 watches in platinum.

Invest in your most precious asset - time Royal Jet’s 100 Club has been specially developed for corporate customers and provides attractive charter rates with generous discounts and guaranteed aircraft availability when you commit to as little as 20 hours flying time in the program. Unlike some other jet card programs there is no advance payment or financial commitment and the more you fly with us, the greater your discount. Royal Jet is the world’s leading private jet service and our 100 Club gives you the ultimate return on your investment - many hours of valuable time saved every time you choose one of our private jets over commercial flights. Find out about the 100 Club at, or for a presentation call us on +971 2 505 1500, or email

Voted World’s Leading Private Jet Service 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010

dig st :: section ::

A Perfect Fit he youngest man ever to set up on the legendary Savile Row in London, master tailor Leonard Logsdail has been bringing quintessential English style to the world for the past four decades. His bespoke tailoring company, Logsdail London, counts celebrities such as Michael Douglas, Denzel Washington and Matt Damon among its customers, and made all of the suits for American Psycho, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps and The Good Shepard. While he is based in New York, Logsdail also operates out of Dubai and travels around the world for clients and commissions. His creations generally start at around AED5,000 and can go up to AED250,000 depending on the fabrics.


Leonard Logsdail, known as one of the best tailors in the world, explains what distinguishes a bespoke suit from the rest

How does one make sure their clothes fit their personality and are not wearing them instead?

It’s the suit that makes the man and not the other way around. However, I think most men, by the time they get to me, have a fair idea of what suits them and what they look good in. It’s my job to find them fabrics that then are fit for the purpose for which they need to suit – business, wedding, travel or something else.

The only time I remind clients about the more ‘interesting’ fabrics may be to remind them of their age… some fabrics lend themselves to the younger buck, and as I get older I have to remind myself sometimes! How do style connoisseurs recognise a hand-made suit?

The giveaway is the functional, or surgeon cuffs as we call them. The button holes on the cuffs that actually work are a sign that

:: section ::

The Logsdail London store in Dubai

“Technology has had an influence – clients want pockets made to fit their business gadgets, so I sometimes measure not only the clients, but also their phones or other gadgets.”

What are your thoughts on rare fabrics such as vicuña, produced by South American camelids?

They are stunning fabrics, but very fine, so not to be recommended to be worn on the subway every day. They are perfect for a special occasion such as a wedding. However, the cost of them prohibits their use – vicuña for example is very rare nowadays, so the price is huge. What kind of personalisation do clients opt for?

Monograms are still very popular, and colourful designs in lining can make a suit very individual. Gadgets also determine gentlemen’s choice and special pockets are very popular. How personally involved are you in the creation of each suit?

your suit was made for you. Also look at the neck – a bespoke suit normally fits snug to the neck whereas on many occasions an ‘off the peg’ stands away from the neck.

made to fit their business gadgets, so I sometimes measure not only the clients, but also their phones or other gadgets. What is your favourite fabric to work with?

How has suit-making changed since you first started on Savile Row in the 1970s?

Fabrics have become much lighter – many are now an average of nine to 11 ounces per yard, whereas when I started it was more like double that. Also linings have become much more colourful, and technology has had an influence – clients want pockets

Pure Merino Wool. It’s such an intriguing fabric – elastic, strong, pliable, and absorbs colour beautifully…the king of men’s suit fabrics in my mind. Cashmere has a wonderful softness, of course, but for my money, wool is the most wonderful fibre. Zegna also have a cool effect fabric that is a percentage cooler than other fabrics.

Not as much as I would like, but I see every order that Simon [Parton, Logsdail London’s Head Tailor] takes in Dubai so I do have a good understanding of what he is selling there. Logsdail London in Dubai also offer their ‘Signature’ Range – where I will personally fly over to Dubai and measure the client, cut his pattern, and so on. That’s a minimum of five suits, but a few clients have taken us up on this on a regular basis. I travel a lot to clients in the US and I was recently in Belgium too. You have attracted the attention of the A-listers and style savants across the globe. Do you have a policy on who you will work with?

We will always be delighted to talk to anyone. If you like our service and the garments we make, then we are just delighted. I suppose you could say our policy is to make a gentleman feel comfortable and stylish regardless of what ‘list’ you’re on. Issue 17


:: ART &:: CULTURE section ::

Blazing A Trail


or artist Abdulnasser Gharem, working from a tiny atelier in Saudi Arabia’s Al Meftaha Arts Village in Abha was as good as it was going to get when it came to expressing his creativity. With limited options to pursue an artistic career in the country, Gharem felt “lucky” he was able to practise art among two dozen other studios in the village. Fast-forward eight years, however, and Gharem’s work is being bought by international art collectors across the globe. His pieces, as well as those of other artists from the region, have brought tremendous

Featured at leading exhibitions across the globe and fetching more than a million dollars for its exquisite art at a Christie’s auction, Edge of Arabia is pioneering contemporary art from Saudi Arabia Written by Ronald Francis Kaiser

success to non-profit organisation Edge of Arabia, which he, British artist Stephen Stapleton and Saudi artist Ahmed Mater founded in 2008. The group organises exhibitions across Europe and the Middle East. From Art

Dubai, to the SOAS Brunei Gallery in London, to this year’s Venice Biennale, it showcases thought-provoking pieces from young Arab talents. Hailed for its unique styles, Edge of Arabia’s primary focus on Saudi Arabian contemporary art has shown a side of the country which previously remained largely unknown. Issue 17


:: section :: Abdulnasser Ghare’s Concrete Block

The works

– selling for a few thousand up to almost a million dollars – include stamp paintings about travelling, large photographs of women wearing traditional jewellery during their day jobs, objects such as an illuminating antenna that symbolises Saudi children’s search for different voices, and other scenes of daily life. Edge of Arabia started small. Following a chance encounter between the three founders in Saudi Arabia in 2003, they decided artwork should be a window into society or an idea, says Stapleton, Director of the organisation. “We weren’t into pretty pictures or artwork that no one would understand,” he says. “There’s this assumption that Saudi Arabia has no art. Abdulnasser said art was usually incorporated in jewellery or houses, it was not a picture on the wall. With

Above: Abdulnasser Gharem Below: Artwork by Abdulnasser Gharem

our work, what we try to do is open up a conversation.” A main theme throughout the project is changing identities and evolving culture while development takes place. Marhabba, a Lambda print mounted on aluminium, shows two traditionally clad men in the desert before an expansive sky pierced with sunlight, characterising how culture and traditions will persist through times of change. Maharem, on the other hand, taps into the nostalgia of what once was – the 64 tissue boxes stacked together, decorated with posters of classic Arabic films from the 1940s and 50s, are a tribute to the era of Egyptian filmmaking and how that united people across the Middle East. “What’s happening in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and what will happen in Saudi Arabia, is people have identified that creativity and culture are a very central part of developing society,” says Stapleton. “People are hungry to reflect on their own society. Where are we going? What is changing? Saudi Arabia is becoming an important place in the world. What we’re seeing in its art scene can be compared to Paris in the ‘20s or New York in the ‘60s.”

Mater, an artist and practising doctor, adds: “The Gulf is ready for more artistic practice, debate and innovation. There is a new generation engaged in the global conversations about our shared future. Art has an important role to play in inspiring and reflecting positive change.” Patterns and motifs from rural tribe regions pop up in the pieces, but the main influence comes from growing up in an increasingly globalised world, says Gharem, who often draws inspiration from his work as a lieutenant colonel in the Saudi Arabian army. 018

:: ART &:: CULTURE section ::

Ayman Yossri’s Maharem is a tribute to the Egyptian film era

An exhibition at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art

“My art is a marriage between my life as a soldier and as an artist,” he says. “I am influenced by many things around me. I’m not sure how to describe what drives me – it is like when you love someone, it comes from inside you. “I have always been good at drawing. However, the teachers in school weren’t interested in art. They would tell us to draw whatever we felt like. So when I finished college, I began to teach myself different styles. The internet was the only source we got to learn about art.” Following college, he started creating video and art performances. He became a street performer, walking around in a huge plastic bag with a tree in his arms to raise awareness about the environment. “In the beginning, people in Saudi thought that I was crazy,” laughs Gharem. “Then they started to really think about the message behind the art. They joined me, carrying their own trees. At the end of the


Forging a Creative Economy Edge of Arabia has received support from the Ministry of Culture & Information in Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA), which has identified that creative economies could be a significant job creator for the next generation in the Kingdom. In collaboration with SAGIA, the project ran a competition encouraging young talents to submit their art. Ten winners were invited to visit the UK and work together with major institutions and professionals from the British Museum and Tate Modern, among others, to develop their skills and learn how to start their own business.

Marhabba by Sami Al Turki

day I was surrounded by 23 people.” He now repeats the performance around the world. And it is only a matter of time before Edge of Arabia’s pieces become historically important, with demand for the art skyrocketing over the past few years. In April, Edge of Arabia sold six artworks for over a million dollars at a Christie’s auction in Dubai. The highlight of the sale, Gharem’s Message/Messenger piece, a three-metre-wide wood and cooper dome hiding a small dove beneath it, fetched a whopping $852,500 – 10 times as much as it was initially valued at. “With all the investments in the Gulf there is an increased demand for art from the region,” says Stapleton. “It is like buying the first Damien Hirst or Andy Warhol. These artists are trailblazing.” Find out more about the art by visiting Issue 17


Legacies cannot be built on dirhams alone. Sometimes it takes a little bit more to get you where you want to be. With products ranging from Personal Finance to Millionaire Destiny Savings Account and Investments, ADCB Islamic Banking combines the values and traditions of Shari’ah-compliant banking with the world-class performance, service and convenience you trust from ADCB. To apply for any ADCB Islamic Banking product, SMS ISL to 2626 or visit any ADCB branch.

:: section Business::::

A Recipe For


While succession planning is critical for business continuity and stability, it can be a complex and overwhelming process. Melissa Sleiman explores the best ways to prepare the next generation to take control


More than 90 per cent of commercial activity in the GCC is run by family-owned companies, according to research by global management consulting firm Booz & Company. That’s higher than in most other parts of the world, which average 60 to 85 per cent. And while the family aspect is not unusual in business, it does add additional complexities to the mix, according to Walid Chiniara, co-founder and Managing Director of The Family Business Advisory Group, a Dubai-based consultancy firm specialising in succession planning, governance and mediation. He believes one of the main challenges in family governance is to help people “grow out of the idea that this company is mine” – the younger generations may inherit shares in the company, but that does not immediately qualify them to manage the business unless they have the skills to do so.

“what you need to do is draw a line between

the family and the business. But this is not always easy in this region, as traditionally hierarchy is determined by age,” Chiniara says. “In families the eldest typically tends to take over, which could alienate the younger siblings even if they might be more qualified. It is best to start succession planning when the patriarch is still around so he can decide who will be placed where and the children can get his blessings.” The patriarch and company founder plays a key role in determining who will be suitable for what position as he knows his family best. However, external consultants are usually involved as the talks can get quite emotional, especially when addressing people’s weaknesses. Based on this, development areas can be addressed. Sending the children on training courses or hiring external coaches is often the next step. For global companies, allowing a successor to gain global experience is crucial. “Succession planning should not just be putting names in boxes – it is a process involving many discussions,” says Sims. “While you need to be careful about promising people things in future – you never know what will happen – it is important for them to know they’re being developed for something. As a result, they will be more accountable and more inclined to follow through.”



ollowing the birth of the UAE in 1971, a flurry of businesses burst on to the scene and rapidly evolved into the backbone of the country’s economic prosperity. At the time, the founders of these pioneering companies were in the prime of their lives. But as they now edge towards their 80s or 90s, they are forced to think about what, or more specifically who, is next. As a result, the GCC is now facing a transition phase where succession planning has suddenly become a priority. And even company owners in the prime of their life would do well to think about their succession plan in case of an unexpected accident or event. While there is no magic formula, there are some basics that typically apply to every business, said Doris Sims, President of talent management and succession planning consulting firm Succession Builders and author of several books related to the subject. “The most important thing is to give your successor responsibilities in the company – not just hand them over the business,” she advises. “Have them shadow you, so they can form relationships internally and with the clients.” Business owners can increase their successor’s visibility in the company by having them work on the same goals and projects as they are, while also involving them in budgetary and financial decisions. “It is crucial to allow your successor to gain experience with the board of directors,” says Sims. “They could for instance take part in business deals or deliver presentations to the board.” As succession planning can become quite complex and time-consuming, it is preferably done well ahead of retirement. “There are examples of a person not being ready for the position. It can be too overwhelming for someone if they haven’t had enough experience or built relationships with other business partners,” says Sims. She noted that if people have to work with a successor they do not know or trust, they may walk away from the business or even try to sabotage the successor’s career. In this region, business owners often plan to pass over the baton to a child or grandchild, as many companies are family-owned.

:: section ::

Issue 17


:: submersibles :: The Deep Flight Super Falcon in Aqaba, Jordan

Exploring new depths

Hawkes Ocean Technologies’ winged submersibles are the closest mankind has come to flying underwater. Melissa Sleiman talks to world-renowned engineer Graham Hawkes about chasing hammerhead sharks and journeying to the bottom of the ocean


he light slowly fades as Graham Hawkes steeply descends to the depths of the ocean with his 6.2-metre submersible. Speeding past sand falls, exotic fish and exquisite spirals of black coral, which have the scientists on the backseat shrieking with excitement, he pilots ever deeper into inky blackness. Suddenly, a shark appears, cruising around, preying on its next meal. In an unusual role reversal, the vehicle steers towards the hungry predator, chasing it and playfully mimicking its movements before zooming away. The action is taking place just off the shore of Aqaba in Jordan, in the Deep Flight Super Falcon. The craft, which looks like a cross between a fighter plane and an aquatic Ferrari, is just one of a series of winged submersibles designed by Hawkes Ocean Technologies (HOT) for ocean exploration. The only organisation capable of building

vehicles to all depths of the ocean, it is now on its fifth generation of submersibles after unveiling the first prototype in 1996. Nobody builds submersibles quite like Hawkes, a British inventor, designer and engineer who has had a hand in begetting more than half the world’s manned submersibles. “Submersibles typically sink vertically down to the bottom like underwater balloons,” says the bespectacled inventor, who spends most of his days clad in a blue jumpsuit, tweaking his inventions at his bay front workshop in California. “The challenge is to create vehicles with the ability to move in the ocean like big animals do. “Imagine being able to spy-hop with whales, move upside down, search for sunken galleons, or barrel-roll with dolphins. We’ve moved beyond simply going deep to literally flying underwater.”

And it is not just these creations that have made Hawkes a leader in his field. With his six complementary companies, he produces a range of high-technology products for land-based or underwater use. Among them is HOT’s Spider Optic Vehicle, a new genre of remotely operated vehicle being developed for NASA. Hawkes is also a hugely accomplished marine archaeologist and has helped locate more than 350 aircraft- and shipwrecks, including what is believed to be the famous ‘Lost Squadron’ – five Grumman Avengers that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle in 1945. Prior to beginning the Deep Flight project, Hawkes designed the Deep Rover submersible, which was featured in James Cameron’s 3D IMAX film Aliens of the Deep and with which he accomplished the world’s deepest solo dive (914 metres) while personally testing it. Issue 17


:: submersibles ::

Tom Perkins’s super yacht carries a Super Falcon submersible

tech specs

Rudder Water intake

Acrylic canopy


Main wing


The man himself can also be seen on screen, as a villain in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only, piloting the one-person Osel Mantis submersible. “It was hilarious,” he recalls. “I’ll never be invited back. The film crew and producers didn’t find it hilarious, I caused too much damage on the set, but I thought it was a blast.” In purely technological terms, his most impressive creation is the Deep Flight Challenger, which can reach full ocean depth and rise back to the surface within five hours. But it is the Super Falcon that offers the most immediately visceral and – relatively

Ocean exploration missions Hawkes Ocean Technologies counts business magnate Sir Richard Branson and Tom Perkins, one of the founders of leading venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, among others, as some of its regular customers. The latter has such a deep appreciation of ocean life that he is spending the next few years on his Maltese Falcon, one of the world’s largest privately owned super yachts, exploring the ocean with his Super Falcon submersible. “[Hawkes’s] subs are different than all others,” says Perkins. “His is like a fighter plane. It moves pretty quickly so you can explore big areas, chase things, play with things. It’s just a completely different experience – it’s not too expensive and it’s relatively easy to handle. So why doesn’t every super yacht have one? I don’t know the answer to that. I think eventually they will, but it’s new and new things take a while.” Branson, on the other hand, has the ambition to explore a place only two human beings have gone before – to the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Trench. As less than

Graham Hawkes

three per cent of the seafloor has been explored, the dives are expected to provide valuable data. Using the Deep Flight Challenger, a pilot of Virgin Oceanic, a sister company of Virgin Galactic, intends to travel down to the Mariana Trench, located east of the Philippines, later this year. The submersible is capable of withstanding both pressures of over 1,000 atmospheres (approximately the equivalent of a big truck on two square centimetres) and the extreme cold (just slightly above freezing). It was originally created for adventurer Steve Fossett, best known for his solo non-

stop balloon trip around the world, who wanted to use it for the ultimate solo dive record (11km). Fossett’s untimely death in 2007 meant that the Challenger could not be completed. It gathered dust until Branson announced he would use it to travel to the deepest part of each of Earth’s five oceans. The journeys are scheduled to take place over the course of 2011 and 2012. If the design is proven, Virgin is considering exploring the possibility of future missions involving other submarines that can collect samples and facilitate science and research.

speaking – accessible thrills. The sleek submersible reaches speeds of between six and eight knots and is unashamedly built for fun. With its 1,820 kilogrammes it is only half the weight of conventional submersibles, meaning that it can be operated not only from shore base, but from super yachts as well. The standard configuration is twoperson-in-line, but the craft can be custombuilt in three- or four-person versions. Hawkes currently builds them to order and believes they have the potential to reach sales figures similar to those of light aircraft. “Being underwater with the vehicle feels very natural,” he says. “The vehicle takes all Issue 17


:: section :: :: submersibles

In Aqaba

the pressure. You breathe normally as there is enough oxygen for 24 hours. “The machine is quiet and there are no vibrations. It is quite similar to flying a light aircraft – with graphics navigation and flight display not like driving in a race car where you’re terrified and feel the thrill of the machine.” Technology is integrated to keep magnetic signals and electric signature low; there are also special lights so as not to disturb the natural surroundings. It is a matter of minutes before the users feel completely comfortable and the fun can begin. “When you’re underwater you realise that you’re looking at a piece of the planet not many humans have seen before,” says Hawkes. “It almost doesn’t matter what’s there – there’s always another ridge or valley to explore. If you do that for more than an hour I promise you that you’ll find something unexpected – a shipwreck or an encounter with a big animal. They don’t run away.” During one of his many dives, Hawkes has come across giant manta rays and lost shipwrecks, and has interacted with large shivers of hammerhead sharks in the Pacific Ocean. That said, if one does get bored under water, the Super Falcon can stand on its tail and perform incredible aerobatics. “We’ve had a team from the US screaming as we came straight up vertically, punching right up through the surface,” laughs Hawkes. And while it might be light and nimble, the sports submersible is far from fragile. “The machines are very strong. If a whale


hit you, it would probably hurt the creature a lot more than it would hurt you,” he says, before comparing the likelihood of a flooding to a wing falling off an aircraft. In case of emergency, the Super Falcon is positively buoyant and will automatically return to the surface (though it has 24

Try it out Hawkes Ocean Technologies’ workshop is located in Point Richmond, California. Visit for more information or to arrange a test run. Business tycoon Sir Richard Branson is also in the business. His simple submarine version, called the Necker Nymph, is available for hire at $2,500 a day. This three-person aero submarine can travel at speeds of up to six knots underwater. Two passengers sit either side of a trained pilot who will take the submarine down to as deep as 30 metres below the surface. For more information on the Necker Nymph, visit

hours of oxygen onboard and robust communications systems should this fail). “We all have a bit of horror of getting into something small. Most people are claustrophobic – so am I. “What we’ve discovered is that we can put a human into smaller cockpits as long as their head is free and they can see everything. It is like putting a tight-fitting space suit on an astronaut. As soon as the helmet is on, they feel fine.” With the Super Falcon, passengers have a 360-degree view through the dome. As the material of the glass is very close to the optical properties of water, it appears to blend with it, giving the illusion of an open cockpit. If Hawkes has his way, the submersibles will soon be used in Middle Eastern waters as well. He is exploring the option of setting up one of the first underwater bases in the area with Hawkes Ocean Sports, which produces affordable submersibles for recreation and tourism purposes. “The water clarity in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba is very good and has excellent surface conditions,” he says. “One of the greatest experiences is going into the twilight zone, which looks like dawn or dusk, and where you can encounter many exotic species. “The deep ocean habitat contains over 94 per cent of life on this planet. If you think about that, you will realize that what we live on is actually an ocean planet. “We don’t know yet what is exactly out there – that, to me, is the most powerful reason you could have for wanting to explore the ocean.”

Commercial Properties in Abu Dhabi LLJ PROPERTY BUSINESS CENTRE Serviced Offices In Abu Dhabi - Short & Long Term Leases • Ideal for new business set ups or companies looking for immediate space or temporary short term solutions • Competitive pricing and packages Individual offices with 1 to 4 desks Ample FREE parking Flexible contract - No exit fees Call answering & handling

Bookkeeping & account services 24 hour secure access Public relation services

SKY TOWER • The tallest tower on Al Reem Island and a prestigious office location • Commercial for the first 40 floors and residential beyond • Full floors: approximately 23,000 sq ft Individual office units also available: 1,593 to 4,898 sq ft • ‘Boutik’ retail mall in same building complex, accessed directly from lobby • Complete and ready for fit out

PRESTIGE TOWERS • A recently completed development of two office buildings in a strategic location between Musaffah Industrial zone, the airport and the forthcoming ‘Capital District’. Excellent road links in all directions • Office size available: from 2,788 to 20,946 sq ft - Multiple floors also available • As part of the same development there is a large retail mall. Future phases comprise apartments and offices • Complete and ready for fit out

Residential Properties in Abu Dhabi AL GURM RESORT • Waterfront homes of amazing proportions covering 20,000 - 25,000 sq ft with an emphasis on entertaining areas and terraces • Part of the exotic Al Gurm resort featuring luxury boutique hotel and resort in future phases • Available for purchase by UAE Nationals/Companies only

MARINA ROYAL VILLAS • Located in the serene environs of Abu Dhabi’s Breakwater • Idyllic compound of villas enjoy direct access to a private beach and the far-reaching views of the Arabian Gulf • Each garden villa has a private pool with Jacuzzi and sun-terraces • Community pool and recreation area • Tennis courts, spa and salon • Waterfront restaurant and cafe • Available for purchase by UAE Nationals/Companies only

For further details contact us on:

+971 2 495 0500 Abu Dhabi’s Leading Real Estate Agency

:: wealth management ::

Prosper, Preserve & Enjoy ne of the most common misconceptions about wealth management is that it is limited to offering services that will render a steady income. In reality, however, it includes much more than that – ADCB’s Excellency wealth management provides a range of exclusive, tailor-made banking and lifestyle services. Over the past year, a series of changes has allowed the proposition to evolve to meet clients’ needs – from acquiring new tools that deliver custom-made propositions, to offering an unsecured overdraft of AED20,000, to creating a special credit card associated with a variety of luxury lifestyle benefits. “Excellency has come a long way since it was conceived in 2004,” says Al Sadig Al Magboul, Excellency’s Head of Distribution. “We are witnessing a paradigm shift from simply offering a menu of services towards


ADCB Excellency has introduced a host of changes over the past year, expanding a needs-driven approach at every stage of its clients’ wealth journey. Al Sadig Al Magboul, Excellency’s Head of Distribution, explains what that means for you

meeting your financial requirements from a needs-based wealth perspective.” “Excellency has a very holistic approach focusing on three pillars – prosper, preserve and enjoy. Each pillar offers tailor-made solutions for you, whether it is to make your money grow, preserve your money for the future, or enjoy the lifestyle associated with wealth.” Relationship Managers use a range of new tools to map out the financial position of clients and match them with products of potential interest based on their individual needs. A financial profile gives a detailed overview of the client’s situation, uncovering the full picture of spending areas and where someone’s wealth lies. This, in combination with a profile of the client’s appetite for risk, is used to create a custom-made portfolio for the client. Each portfolio is made up of a unique

Services Excellency’s new branding strategy means that its products and services are now divided up into three pillars. Prosper n The Wealth Design investment proposition offers access to more than 20,000 funds. n Unit linked savings plans allow you to invest in financial markets on a set basis with an amount of your choice, with potential returns based on the performance of the funds you choose. n If you have capital available and want to make use of it in future, a lump sum savings plan may be offered by your relationship manager. n Systematic Investment Plans let you benefit from dollar cost-averaging. Preserve n Excellency’s wide savings product

Al Sadig Al Magboul

combination of products and services, including mutual funds hand-picked from ADCB’s Wealth Design. This proposition offers access to over 20,000 funds from various asset classes – including fixed income funds, established and emerging markets, real estate, equity funds, commodities, hedge funds and balanced funds. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Excellency also offers a range of advantages such as the coveted Excellency Visa Infinite Credit Card, which is exclusively available to Excellency clients. The card offers complimentary insurance programs, access to more than 600 VIP lounges at airports, exclusive retailer benefits, and allows the cardholder to earn more TouchPoints than on any other ADCB credit card. Alternatively, with one or all of the Excellency Etihad products (current account, debit card and credit card),

frequent travellers can benefit from receiving Etihad Guest miles instead of TouchPoints for their spending. In addition, clients now benefit from an unsecured overdraft of AED20,000 on their current account and preferential rates on savings products when booked online using ADCB@ctive. Another method through which the proposition distinguishes itself is Excellency’s service-oriented approach. To ensure the client experience is as enjoyable as possible, extra measures have been put in place to smooth communication, says Al Magboul. “Our Relationship Managers are available to guide you every step of the way. Our focus on sound relationship management, as well as our efforts to constantly improve the proposition to offer the best of breed of services, is what makes this experience so exclusive.”

portfolio contains products from globallyrecognised investment houses and insurance providers, both conventional and Shari’ah-compliant. n A range of insurance options can offer suitable protection for you and your family. n With guaranteed savings plans, you will receive back your original investment plus a pre-agreed rate of return, even if the underlying investment sees negative growth. Excellency also provides a range of non-investment-related products such as fixed deposits. n Structured products allow you to satisfy your risk appetite while enjoying the protection of guaranteed capital. Enjoy n The Visa Infinite Credit Card offers elite

services and superior benefits. n Clients will be invited to some of the UAE’s

most popular events and educational seminars, and receive retailer benefits. n Clients receive access to credit facilities that provide instant liquidity such as an overdraft and mortgages. n Complimentary life insurance with coverage of up to AED100,000 is provided to clients. n TouchPoints or Etihad Guest miles are awarded for every dirham spent. Terms and conditions apply.

Issue 17


DUAL GLOBAL MOBILE Global Prepaid Free Roaming SIM * BUSINESS * VACATION * PLEASURE * ONE SIM FOR THE WORLD * VOICE * SMS * DATA (INTERNET) * NO ROAMING CHARGES * FREE INCOMING CALLS For the frequent, periodic & occasional international/regional travelers

Over 203 ROAMING COUNTRIES (Call & Receive) * Global Prepaid Free Roaming SIM with +44 UK & +1 US phone numbers in One SIM * 203 + Roaming Countries (Call & Receive) * Unlimited yearly free ($0) incoming calls in 64 + countries (including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Austria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Brunei, Netherlands, Jordan, Turkey, Cyprus, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Japan, AND many more) * Low Outgoing Call Rates (from 15 cents per minute) * No Monthly Charges, No Connection Fee, No Credit Check, Pay As You Go * SIM works 99% with most GSM phones * Call Forwarding, Waiting, Conferencing, Web Call * No Roaming Charges * No internet connection needed to use the SIM * Recharge airtime 24/7 securely online & manage your account 24/7 & Many more features! To order and for more info visit us online and/or call

Dual Global Mobile SIM - USA Tel: 1-800-991-6518 Order now and get a Free “Preserva Phone”, a value of almost $20. First 400 orders only! WORLDWIDE SHIPPING & 60 day money back guarantee for the SIM * Does not include applicable taxes, shipping & handling

SIM Cost

US $58*

:: saadiyat villas ::




With a breathtaking range of culture and leisure outlets on their doorsteps, the Saadiyat Beach Villas aim to dazzle with a combination of luxury and premium locale ituated in the Saadiyat Beach District, the hospitality hotspot of the 27 sq kilometre Saadiyat Island, 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the Saadiyat Beach Villas are set to be among the most

desirable domiciles in the Middle East. The first phase of the properties (334 units) is due to be delivered by the end of this year – making it the first residential community on the island – with another 287 to follow. An area for beachside apartments is also in the planning stage,

as well as five-star resort residences. Developer Tourism Development & Investment Company hopes the Saadiyat Beach Villas will be snapped up quickly, with prospective buyers already flocking to the 10 show villas currently on display at Jawaher Al Saadiyat. Issue 17


:: saadiyat section :: villas ::

Arabian style connoisseurs can marvel at stunning, arched window frames, colonnaded terraces and intricate mosaic tiles – not to mention carved arches throughout the interiors.


:: saadiyat villas ::

The Mediterranean style has a similar cultural vibe, albeit with more detailing on the railings, stone veneers and high ceiling.

Those looking for something a bit more contemporary will get their architectural kicks from slick, clean lines, striking geometric windows and multi-levelled flat roofs.

Issue 17


:: section ::

Natural T Whether it’s on a remote island only accessible by helicopter or in the heart of the South African Bushveld where the ‘Big 5’ roam free, high-end ecotourism is happening in some of the most pristine places on earth Written by Hayley Baptiste 038

:: eco-resorts :: section :: FrĂŠgate Island Private in the Seychelles

Treasures W

hen the government of Maldives held an underwater meeting in 2009, some viewed it as nothing but a PR stunt. To others, the gathering, which saw a scuba gear-clad cabinet use hand signals to communicate with each other, was a desperate attempt to raise awareness about the dangers of rising sea levels. If environmental experts are to be believed, the islands – which protrude a mere two metres above sea level – will be beneath the ocean within a few decades.

With the picturesque nation reliant on carbon footprint-intensive tourism to sustain its economy, something had to change. Fortunately, hope is to be found in the increasing demand for ecotourism, which allows travellers to enjoy their destination with a cleaner, greener conscience. While the term often conjures up images of granola-munching backpackers and earnest discomfort, there has been a global explosion in recent years of travel options that pull off the Issue 17


:: eco-resorts :: section ::

Longitude 131o lies at the gateway at the dual World Heritage listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia

tricky marriage of luxury and ecological stewardship. Nowadays, you can enjoy five-star facilities in some of the world’s most beautiful, untouched natural settings. “Ecotourism started in the late 1970s and early 80s in Africa, Asia, and the Americas as a way to benefit the local community and get closer to nature,” says Harold Goodwin, Professor of Responsible Tourism Management and a Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University. “As the state of the environment worsened over the past 40 years, luxury ecotourism took off. Up-market tourists are increasingly showing concern for their surroundings.” His assertion is backed up by an analysis by the World Tourism Organisation, a United Nations agency that has identified green tourism as a notable trend in the travel market.

According to various experts,

ecotourism accounts for up to 25 per cent of all leisure travel, depending on what definition is used. Ecotourism is clearly here to stay. And it is getting more comfortable and stylish by the minute.


Desert Islands, Abu Dhabi

Take, for instance, Abu Dhabi’s AED11.5 billion Desert Islands, which combines six nature reserves spread across eight islands, including Sir Bani Yas, home to 68 bird species and other wildlife, and Arabian Wildlife Park, which has successfully bred the cheetah, striped hyena and Arabian oryx.

The resort’s building design tackles water efficiency and waste management, and uses solar and wind energy to power its operations. For the more exotic traveller, Frégate Island Private in the Seychelles stands out. The eco-retreat has introduced an entirely solar-powered guest buggy fleet, conserves endangered birds and turtles, and has planted more than 100,000 trees after two centuries of extensive coconut and cinnamon monoculture industry drastically reduced the nation’s biodiversity. Other luxurious yet eco-sensitive options are the four Sabi Sabi safari lodges set in the heart of the African Sabi Sabi bushveld, overlooking a waterhole and a plain. Their extensive habitat management plan encompasses clearing encroached grasslands, maintaining roads, while waste-water is cleaned naturally through oxidisation dams feeding underground aquifers. While nature-based holidays or ecoexperiences may not have previously registered with wealthier travellers, they are very much aware of them now, says Bradley Cox, Director of Communications at Green Globe Certification, a travel and tourism industries’ certification label for sustainable management and operations.

:: section ::

Ecotourism in the Middle East Ecotourism is seen as a growing sector in the Gulf, with Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency hosting a three-day World Green Tourism conference in December to address travel policies and highlight successful strategies. For more information, visit In addition, a number of eco-resorts have popped up in the region in recent years:

Soneva Fushi by Six Senses, Maldives

“What we’re seeing in the urban experience, particularly with the uptake of global brands around the world, is that shopping experiences on main streets can be very similar. “Nature offers something unique and enjoyable in its own way. Twenty years ago, whale watching didn’t exist. Nowadays, many five-star resorts not only offer boutique surroundings, but nature-based activities as well.” With a new breed of environmentallyconscious tourists on the market, more and more luxury resorts are adapting to incorporate comprehensive emissions and waste strategies with technological solutions like solar hot water generation and recycled water in pools. “In the Caribbean, some places have become very populous,” Cox says. “The amount of bottles and material generated that were brought onto the island have led to ecological problems. By putting recycling and waste management systems in place those are now being turned around.”

Chris Johnson, Director of Wild Jordan, a division of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, adds that aside from being a major economic force for local communities, ecotourism helps generate revenue that can be used to protect special landscapes. “In the Seychelles, they add conservation levies to bills, which are used to help conserve the coastal areas. In many cases the areas suitable for ecotourism are government land. Governments in Africa often sets conditions to establishing highend lodges. In order to get permission, companies need to invest in research and conservation experts.” In the Middle East, however, it is a relatively new sector of tourism, according to Johnson. He believes the drive is primarily coming from the customers as the region has amazing landscape, wildlife, and birds combined with a fascinating culture. “We have very special desert animals such

“People are starting to realise that the experience is at least as valuable as the luxury they find themselves in.” as gazelles, the lynx-like caracal, bulls, birds of prey, and a lot of marine and coastal systems,” he says. “There are good coral reefs, particularly around the warm, shallow seas of the Gulf, which are among some of the richest in the world. “The number of people who support ecotourism options is undoubtedly growing. People are starting to realise that the experience is at least as valuable as the luxury they find themselves in.”

Adrère Amellal, Siwa Oasis

Desert Islands, Abu Dhabi In this collection of eight pristine islands, visitors can get up close and personal with nature and wildlife. The project includes conservation projects for wildlife with all developments built using concrete created according to LEED and ESTIDAMA regulations. Eastern Mangroves, Abu Dhabi This project, which includes a hotel and spa, has been designed to reflect the natural mangrove setting while respecting the sensitive environmental surroundings. The resort occupies a prime position along the eastern shore of Abu Dhabi’s protected Eastern Mangroves District. Al Maha Desert Resort, Dubai The resort conserves nearly five per cent of the emirate’s total land area, including wildlife and more than 6,000 indigenous trees. Similar to Desert Islands it incorporates a number of environmental solutions in its design. Six Senses Hideaway, Zighy Bay, Oman Located in the north of Oman, this resort was designed to blend with the natural surroundings of Zighy Bay and Musandam. An environmental management system is in place to raise awareness on the natural surroundings and preserve its colourful fish, turtles, and corals. Adrère Amellal, Siwa Oasis, Egypt Located in relative isolation around 70 kilometres off the Libyan border, Adrère Amellal continues to attract hordes of celebrities and VIPs – including His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales – eager to experience life in a traditional oasis. The resort is built with indigenous material which have a minimal impact on the environment – the walls consist of a mixture of sun-dried salt rock mixed with clay, with ceilings made of palm beams. Doors, windows and fixtures are made of olive wood from annual tree trimmings. Furnishings are simple, yet of the highest quality, drawing exclusively on local materials and designs.

Issue 17


:: section ::

Digging The Dirt On…



The ‘King of Fungi’, the elusive truffle is found in just a handful of places and commands a small fortune on restaurant menus around the world. Excellency learns more


t first glance the round, warty and irregularly sized tuber, better known as a truffle, looks anything but edible. But to the culinary connoisseur, this elusive, earthy delicacy turns the ordinary into the exquisite with just a mere shaving or sliver. Truffles, which have featured on gourmet menus since Greek and Roman times, have also been used for medicinal purposes. But they don’t come cheap, partly due to the immense difficulty in locating them, as well as intense competition among the world’s ‘truffle hunters’. With truffle dishes commanding outrageous prices on top restaurant menus, and truffle brokers controlling the market, just what is all the fuss about?


:: ::gourmet section ::

“Whosoever says truffle, utters a grand word, which awakens gastronomic ideas...” Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, French epicure and gastronome If you remove the mystique, the truffle is essentially a subterranean tuber that grows on the roots of certain species of tree. Their earthy and pungent aroma is sought out by the sensitive noses of animals, including dogs, which are usually trained to become certified ‘truffle hounds’. There are approximately 50 different species of truffle found not only in Europe, but also in China, Syria, Italy and America. However, there are just three varieties that dominate the commercial market: grey, black and white, each one increasingly desirable – and expensive. France and Italy are the acclaimed centres of truffle harvesting, and offer both the black and white variety, while the grey truffle is found in North America.

The black winter truffle, which is

harvested between December and March, is found in the Périgord region of southwest France, and also in Umbria, Italy. This highly aromatic, pungent fungi is usually cooked before eating, and is so strong that its scent can penetrate the shells of eggs stored nearby. For purists, the platinum credit card equivalent of the truffle is the famed white truffle from Italy. The town of Alba, located in the Piedmont region, is most famously associated with the white truffle, but they are also found in Parma, Modena and Bologna. Also known as the ‘diamond of the kitchen’, the white winter truffle is hunted from October to December. Truffle wholesalers and aficionados can be found in Alba during this period, taking part in the annual truffle auction where prices can reach in excess of £2,500 per kilogramme.

Hotel Principe di Savoie in Milan offers a truffle hunting and tasting package in autumn

The white variety, which is best added raw at the last minute to perfume a dish, has a penetrating, faintly garlicky aroma, with an intense burst of flavour. The preferred ways to serve white truffle include wafer thin shavings in risottos and pasta dishes, as well as simple omelettes or scrambled eggs. Although self-proclaimed truffle experts turn their noses up at the idea of a North American truffle, both Texas and Oregon boast a healthy truffle market, with the fungi enjoying some favourable comparisons to its Italian cousin – and available at a more moderate cost. The job of harvesting truffles is as much of an art as a science, with trained dogs natural partners in hunting down the ripe odour of a mature truffle. Night is considered the ideal

time to hunt for truffles, which lends the occasion a conspiratorial air; and with the top secret location of truffle areas passed down through generations, the cover of darkness is also a necessary part of business practice.

Once sniffed out, truffle gatherers use

a small hand rake to gently uncover the soil hiding the prize. And then the game begins in earnest, with brokers eager to get their product to market as soon as possible, in order to ensure that only the freshest truffles reach the plate of discerning diners before they begin to lose their flavour. These delicate gems also require careful transportation and preparation. The practice of covering them with rice and storing them in a refrigerated room is the first step. Then any soil is brushed off and they are washed until immaculately clean and dried off with a paper towel. This leaves the truffle ready to be shaved or grated on to dishes just prior to serving, using specially designed truffle slicers. While diners are still clamouring for classic truffle-scented dishes, the commercial truffle industry is experiencing a decline. Just over 100 years ago, the annual harvest in Europe reportedly stood at around 2,200 tonnes, which fell sharply to 300 tonnes just prior to the First World War. These days, that figure has slipped to a mere 25 to 150 tonnes per year, ranking the elusive truffle as one of the rarest food commodities on the market – and on your plate. Issue 17


Tapping into A ‘ sia light’ :: investing ::

Singapore is becoming a popular destination for Gulf investors looking to expand their business into emerging markets Written by Ronald Francis Kaiser


estern countries such as the US, UK and Switzerland have, for the past century or so, dominated the wealth management landscape. But as the world recovers from the financial crisis, not to mention America’s latest financial woes, things look set to change. Investors are increasingly focusing on new markets and segments that previously remained untapped.



Looking to expand their business and complement their operations in the Middle East, investors from the Gulf are being drawn to Asia as a major emerging market. Singapore, in particular, is rising fast in popularity. Excellency can reveal that the GCC is currently working on a free trade agreement with Singapore – the first to be signed with another country.

“We have seen more GCC firms setting up regional base in Singapore. We expect the trend to increase once Saudi Arabia ratifies our GCC-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and it comes into force,” says Cody Lee, Director, Global Business Division at Singapore Business Federation. “Middle Eastern companies based here are mostly in financial services, petrochemical, trading, investments and airlines business.”

:: section ::

Issue 17


:: investing section :: ::

According to statistics from Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, 319 businesses in the country are currently owned by companies from the Middle East (of which 103 are from the United Arab Emirates). Among them is Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), the Abu Dhabi government’s main technology investment vehicle, which is owned by Mubadala. ATIC acquired Singapore’s Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing in 2009, one of the world’s top dedicated semiconductor foundries. “When it comes to the semiconductor industry, Singapore is a model,” says Brian Lott, Executive Director of Communications at ATIC. “It combines sophisticated manufacturing expertise with a strong polytechnic, higher education and R&D base, giving its electronics industry an ecosystem of talent and innovation.” Emirates National Oil Company’s (Enoc) terminal operator Horizon Terminals Limited has also identified Singapore as a hub for global growth. In 2006 it joined forces with four other companies to form Horizon Singapore Terminals, which owns a bulk-liquids terminal on Singapore’s Jurong Island, the country’s petrochemical hub, for oil storage. In subsequent years it continued to rapidly expand its capacity on the island. The location is currently one of the largest independent bulk liquid storage terminal facilities in the Far East, and a key partner in the development of Singapore’s oil logistics infrastructure, which has made


it the largest bunker port in the world. “I think [Singapore] is a major petroleum hub. This is a good start for us and we could not be a global player without having a presence in Singapore,” says Hussain Sultan, Group CEO and Board Member of Enoc. Lim Swee Say, a cabinet minister in the prime minister’s office, pointed to the opportunities for Middle East companies in Singapore. “Middle East companies are looking outwards to diversify and internationalise their operations. As trade and business ties between our two regions continue to expand, the potential for multinational cross-investments, technology partnerships, and joint ventures will continue to grow.” Around 7,000 multinational corporations,

:: section ::

A snapshot of Singapore Have a few days to spare after closing your business deals? We list some of the city’s hottest attractions One thing is certain: Singapore will not disappoint travellers with a taste for luxury and adventure. From breathtaking art, culture, and exciting Formula One events to sumptuous dining and opulent fashion, the city’s attractions are matched by few others. The Marina Bay Sands is a case in point. Featuring 2,560 luxury hotel rooms and suites, a designer shopping centre, seven celebritychef restaurants, a state-of-theart convention centre and the world’s first ArtScience Museum, which encompasses art, science, media, technology, design and architecture, it is a paradise for sophisticated travellers. Singapore is also the place to be for shoppers as it offers a collection of high-end luxury labels and unique pieces from Asian designers. Unsurprisingly, Marina Bay Sands has a strong showing here, boasting The Shoppes, Singapore’s first large-scale luxury shopping destination filled with exclusive brands such as Chanel, Burberry, Coach and Gucci. It will also be the site of the region’s

flagship Louis Vuitton store, which is due to open towards the end of the year in a floating crystalshaped pavilion. Singapore’s most famous shopping street, Orchard Road, offers malls such as the ION Orchard, which combines highend brands as well as up-andcoming Singaporean designers like Lionel Leo and Tina Tan-Leo,

and local label Raoul. For those seeking something a bit different, Haji Lane, with its rich Islamic history and culture, heaves with one-of-a-kind pieces and distinctive accessories. Singapore is even emerging as something of a gastronomic powerhouse. Top tips include Iggy’s (East meets West fusion), Les Amis (French cuisine), Restaurant Andre (ditto), Wild Rocket (modern Singaporean), Cut Singapore (steak), Waku Ghin (Japanese cuisine), and Chinois by Susur Lee (Chinese with a contemporary twist). While Singapore may be

developing rapidly, it is doing so while being environmentally conscious. In June 2012, the first phase of its Gardens by the Bay project – three waterfront gardens in the heart of Marina Bay – will be complete. The 54-hectare expanse includes two state-of the-art cooled conservatories displaying plants from the Mediterranean and tropical montane regions. The development will comprise 101 hectares across three waterfront sites in the Marina Bay Area. Visit for more information.

Issue 16


:: investing section :: ::

including 4,000 regional headquarters, operate in Singapore, he adds. Ali Ahmad, CEO of Makara Capital, which is headquartered in Singapore and has an office in Jeddah, says Singapore perfectly connects to the structure of the Middle East. “It offers two business jurisdictions that suit companies from the Gulf – English common law and Shari’a law. This is why Middle Eastern investors are tempted to go for Singapore over another country in Asia.” For business owners, it can act as an incubator to launch operations in Asia. “You could see Singapore as ‘Asia light’ since it is such a melting pot of cultures,” says Ahmad. He points out that it is considered one of the safest havens in the world – intellectual property rights are instantly covered, and setting up a business that is owned 100 per cent by foreigners is not a problem either. Singapore provides significant financial advantages to investors as it does not tax on capital gains, real estate, offshore capital or inheritance. The government has several agencies and schemes designed to benefit businesses. Its Economic Development Board (EDB) helps large multinationals move to Singapore to set up global and regional headquarters, acting as an ambassador and offering support schemes. If it is a small or medium enterprise (SME) that is being established, Spring Singapore helps manage them, providing loans and grants to set up infrastructure and operations. “The government of Singapore is extremely helpful in setting up a business,” says Paul Bradley, speaking from experience in setting up two SMEs and businesses for three global multinationals.


“The government of Singapore is extremely helpful in setting up a business.” Bradley is the Chairman and CEO of Caprica International, a company committed to integrating global networks into transformational business opportunities, President of Asia Capital Enterprises, and Vice Chairman of Supply Chain Asia, a community dedicated to bringing logistics and supply chain professionals in Asia together.

“The EDB immediately came in proactively when I was asked to establish the headquarters of a multinational here,” he says. “They subsidised staff training for locals as this is part of their mission to build a knowledge society. “They will ask you to serve on their advisory boards, will share with you their strategies, and make you an active partner in the future of their country, even though you are a foreigner,” says Bradley, who plays a role supporting new SME companies as a ‘CEO mentor’ appointed by Spring Singapore. “Singapore is fast becoming the power centre for business. From here-out you can fly to the whole Asia-Pacific region. The quality of life is good, there is an interesting mix of cultures – it is the perfect place to be based at.”

ADCB Excellency  

adcb bank, adcb excellency